Dusk was falling upon the village, though the figures of several humans could be seen trekking deeper into the forest rather than out of it.
Their numbers ranged close to the fifties and were all able-bodied young males. In their hands were all sorts of weapons to safeguard themselves and their fellow villagers from any dangerous beasts as they scanned the forest for something.
What they were looking for were ‘ingredients’ to make an ‘elixir’.
Bai Yunfei was in one of these groups to the left.
The solidarity between these villagers astounded Bai Yunfei. Practically everyone in the village sprung into action to search the forest once it was known that another ‘elixir’ was needed to heal uncle Wang’s arm!
The general hunting grounds of the village had already any herb and grass picked clean after generations of hunting and scavenging. In order to find even more ingredients, the villagers had to expand their search to the lands beyond what they were normally familiar with. The lands where the more dangerous beasts could be found.
But in order to find the ingredients to make another elixir, this had to be done, and the villagers were willing to undertake this task.
It was said that the last time the village went on a search for more ingredients the surrounding hundred kilometers was searched. And even then, it took the rigorous searching of dozens of people in order to find enough of it.
A plan was made right there and then to set out at noon. The advance search group was already halfway out from their normal hunting grounds now, but the path was only getting more and more perilous due to the footing and the dangerous beasts. Fortunately, the combined strength of the villagers gave them a great advantage over the beasts and so they were able to avoid taking any damage to continue forward.
The villagers only grew even more determined when night began to fall. Traveling at night was slow, but they would at least be able to reach the lands that had yet to be scavenged by morning if they walked through the night. The earlier they could find the ingredients, the sooner they could return to the village.
“Are you feeling fine, Stone? Do you want a drink?”
Bai Yunfei asked the profusely sweating Stone right next to him. He was worried. A trek as long as this was definitely a hard one for even a grown-up, let alone a seventeen-year-old like Stone.
“I’m…I’m good! I can keep going…!” He panted. He could hardly talk right now with how hard he was breathing.
That didn’t stop him from looking at Bai Yunfei with great respect. “Big…big brother…Tang…why…why doesn’t it seem…like you’re tired? You’re…too strong….”
The amount of distance traveled since the village could make even the most able-bodied hiker fatigued beyond belief. How was Bai Yunfei not even feeling out of breath?
Bai Yunfei smiled. “Haha, I didn’t think my body would be in this great of a shape.”
He remembered when he first woke up in the village. At that time he didn’t even feel strong enough to wear two bracers on his arm. But now, he was definitely feeling fine even after all this walking. And he hadn’t forgotten about how he sent that grizzly bear flying earlier…
“If only I was as strong as big brother Tang!” Stone sighed with a shake of his head.
His eyes caught sight of the shar-pei dog following the group. For some reason, Stone felt as if this dog was giving him a look filled with ‘despise’. Despise for seemingly how Stone was managing himself as he walked…
A dog of all things—one that didn’t even look the picture of health to begin with—was still keeping up with Bai Yunfei without even looking ‘tired’.
Stone could feel his breathing hitch; a dog of all things was looking down on him?! It was unbelievable!
Gritting his teeth, he wiped the sweat off his forehead and paced forward to keep up with the others…
Their pacing lasted another ten minutes before the group was accosted by a menacing growl from the forest up ahead!
“Ah! A tiger! Be careful everyone!”
“Don’t panic! Stay calm and keep your weapons out! Don’t let it pounce at us!”
“Loose the arrows! Loose the arrows! Force it back!”
“Watch out, it’s coming! Ahh!!”
The group descended into panic at once. Several villagers were stumbling backward in retreat while others strode forward to provide assistance for the others with them.
Bai Yunfei felt a muscle in his heart clench. He strode forward with the others.
Another roar. Not even the tree leaves were able to stop themselves from trembling as the roar echoed through the air. Everyone was now gathered in a half-circle formation with the people on the outer perimeter nervously clutching at their weapons. At the center of their formation was a gigantic orange beast.
Bai Yunfei’s heart skipped another beat when he saw what the beast was—a giant tiger!!
A gigantic tiger with more colors than he had limbs!
“Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh…”
Bows twanged one after another as a barrage of arrows was shot at the tiger. But rather than see the tiger have even a single arrow touch its pelt, the villagers gasped as the tiger leaped high into the sky onto a giant tree before kicking off toward a different direction.
It was unharmed!
A shriek penetrated the air when a villager realized the tiger was pouncing in his general direction!
Everyone in that particular part of the formation scattered to avoid the tiger while the others began to loose arrows one after another to prevent their fellow villagers from being eaten. This time, they were successful in preventing the tiger from just barely killing one of the villagers with its claw.
It was shocking how agile this tiger was. For as large its frame was, this tiger was nimble and quick as a small house cat! Though there were a fair near-hits, none of the villagers’ arrows ever landed on the tiger! Every single time when it looked like an arrow might hit the tiger, the tiger’s tail would simply swat the arrow aside and break it in half!
And then it’d jump into the closest group of villagers to attack!
Everyone was frightened beyond belief, especially the younger males. They were all scattered in a desperate attempt to live and were completely useless to mount up a proper defensive formation. The situation seemed hopeless!
Everyone was here to look for ingredients for the elixirs. If they were to all die here without even finding any, the trip would be a terrifying loss for the village!
“Big brother Tang!!”
A frightened, yet hopeful, voice called out above the cries of the others as a figure weaved through the frightened villagers to dash for the villager-hunting tiger!
It was Bai Yunfei!
The villagers were still frightened, but they too had a glimmer of hope now. They had all heard of how the ‘outsider’ had managed to send a grizzly bear flying with just one punch. If that was true, could he possibly turn this situation around on its head then?
Bai Yunfei arrived in front of the tiger almost instantly and landed a devastating punch onto the hip of the tiger!
The tiger didn’t fly away into the air like the villagers hoped. It did give a small hop and stagger a little away from Bai Yunfei, but it was still very much alive and healthy!
The cheering cry from Stone came to an immediate stop. Everyone else seemed crestfallen. Bai Yunfei stared down at his right fist, he seemed a little depressed as well.
The tiger was anything but crestfallen. It was furious. Snarling loudly, the tiger pounced at Bai Yunfei with its right claw ready to tear him to pieces!
There was no time to dodge with how close the tiger was to Bai Yunfei. The sharp claws were already touching at his waist! There was a thud as the rest of the tiger’s paws smashed into Bai Yunfei and sent him flying!
“Big brother Tang!!” Stone shrieked.
Bai Yunfei sailed like a kite without a string through the air before finally crashing into a tree with a mighty crash and falling to the ground.
“Bark!!” The furious barking of a dog could be heard before a golden figure pounced at the tiger. It was Lao Sha!
Lao Sha’s attack was not successful. The tiger merely batted the dog away with its tail. Like the cracking of a whip, the tiger’s tail smashed into the dog and sent it flying towards the same direction as Bai Yunfei for it to tumble beside Bai Yunfei…
Bai Yunfei screamed to himself as he braced for the pain of his flesh being ripped apart to hit him, but…it didn’t come!
He stood up.
“I’m not hurt?!” Bai Yunfei stared almost blankly at himself. Looking down, he patted at the part of his body where he had been hit. The robes he wore had been obliterated, but the golden armor he wore underneath it was completely unblemished. Aside from the small tinge of pain he felt from being hit there, Bai Yunfei felt perfectly fine!
Lao Sha rolled back up to its feet at that time. It shook its head and fur. It looked like it had been wronged and also just a little bit fearful, but the dog didn’t seem hurt at all either.
“What’s…going on here?”
Bai Yunfei was at a loss for words. Why hadn’t his punch been successful? Was…the ‘power’ he showed before something he could only use at specific times?!
Bai Yunfei broke free from his thoughts again as the tiger let out another snarl. His eyes locked onto the tiger’s eyes for a moment before he saw it pounce at him again!
Bai Yunfei’s face went pale from fright. Throwing every other thought out from his mind, Bai Yunfei began to make a hasty retreat!!