(Bonus chapters left: 2)
Dale raced ahead of the other cultivators, dashing off the ground at a fast pace. He made good use of his powerful physical strength, hurtling himself forward at a rapid speed. The only one’s who could keep up were the Watch Commander Bei Bron, Gorgth, and two other experts, one dressed in a smooth green robe while the other wore an expensive looking suit of red lace. None of them were visibly armed. The rest of the Profound Beast Hunters and experts from the Donden Auction House straggled out behind, still giving chase.
The Yellow Thunder Beast continued to flee, making a break for the Mithril mines that connected to the large chain of mountains on the Great Lake Island. The massive wooden construction that was the mines loomed upward nearly a hundred meters, towering but overtowered by the large mountain it rested upon.
The Yellow Thunder Beast, while somewhat slowed down, was still very fast, faster than any of the experts and cultivators here. In terms of strength, from what Dale could tell, Gorgth was the strongest cultivator here. Dale placed himself directly behind Gorgth in strength, though he wasn’t certain of Gorgth’s full power. Right after him was Watch Commander Bei Bron, a mid 3 Star expert, and in last came the two other experts that had joined in from the Auction House. All five of them were at the minimum of the 3 Star Level, with Grogth actually at the peak of the 4 Star level. With Dale’s abnormally tough body, strength, and regenerative powers, while he might not be equal to the 4 Star level, he was certainly close. The experts and Profound Beast Hunters that had fallen behind were a mix of those almost at the 1 Star level, 1 Star experts, and 2 Star experts.
The difference between a 1 Star expert and a 2 Star expert, while large, was not something that skill and strategy couldn’t defeat. The difference between a 2 Star and a 3 Star expert, however, was very significant. There was a reason why the 2 Star experts could not keep up with the ones Dale was running with. Technically, Dale was also a 1 Star expert cultivation wise, but normal rules didn’t really apply to him.
The Yellow Thunder Beast vanished inside the massive wooden structure that oversaw the mines. Dale watched as it tossed aside miners that were moving back and forth between the large main entrance to the side, flinging them away with enough force to break bones.
It took Dale and the group of higher tier experts about thirty seconds before they reached the front of the mine where the beast had fled inside. The entrance was huge, easily a dozen meters high and wide, with wooden supports holding it up. To the sides of this edifice were a few sets of wooden stairs leading to the upper levels of the wooden platform outside. Directly in front was the entrance to the Mithral Mines.
Screams from within spurred Dale and the rest of, chasing after the Yellow Thunder Beast.
The mine cave was brightly lit with lamps cut into the walls. The cave passage was large but not massive, about seven meters wide and five tall, room for several men abreast. The cave walls were a murky gray stained with blue, faint hints of a mysterious metal.
As they raced forward, following the red glowing trail, they passed by the bodies of several miners, some alive some dead. The Yellow Thunder Beast showed no mercy as it ran, ruthlessly knocking aside the workers.
As they ran through the mine, twisting and turning through various passages, Dale yelled out a question to the Watch Commander about something that had been bugging him.
“Watch Commander! I thought the Yellow Thunder Beast only attacked at night?” From what he and the other Profound Beast Hunters had been told, the creature had never been known to attack during the daylight hours.
Bei Bron responded back, slightly out of breath,
“Perhaps it has become bolder. All our previous incidents happened at night, not in the evening like this.”
After running a nearly four hundred meters, Dale and the group followed the twisting red line off down a branching passageway. They passed by several more groaning miners clutching at arms and legs.
“Hold!” Gorgth shouted out as they turned a corner, coming upon a large pile of rocks. The heavily muscled cultivator stretched out his arms forward, small balls of fire appearing in front of him.
This cave passageway ended in a large pile of collapsed rubble, fallen and cracked stone littering the floor. The area was dimly lit by the lamps preceding the collapse, allowing vision. At the top of the large clump of debris and fallen rock was a small, darkness filled hole. The red line of light that the Watch Commander was emanating through his tracking technique shot straight into this hole, and the darkness beyond.
“We had reports of a cave in in the Mine,” Watch Commander Bei Bron began as he caught his breath, “this must be the section where it happened. The beast is inside whatever cave area this branches off to. As of now, this is territory we have yet to explore. The Mithril Mines are relatively new, after all.”
Gorgth ignored the commander, and began to step forward, a look of irritation appearing his face.
“Hmph. Hiding in darkness will not save you, beast! Come out and fight!” Gorgth yelled loudly, jumping up the pile of rubble. He then threw several balls of fire inside the dark tunnel the Yellow Thunder Beast had fled into, lighting it up. After tossing several large burning balls of flame, Gorgth rushed inside loudly.
Dale, the Watch Commander, and the two experts that had joined in all rushed in after Gorgth, keeping an eye on their surroundings.
The inside of the passageway past the caved in area turned out to be huge, easily three or four hundred meters wide and large, sloping downward sharply. Gorgth’s balls of flame burned passively, melted into the walls in various places. While they weren’t extremely bright, they were light enough to light up the area close to the entrance.
And what they lit up, Dale found, was anything but pleasant.
Strewn throughout the large room were a multitude of desiccated, shriveled corpses. Skeletal bones and stray pieces of skin were all that remained on these bodies, that and scraps of clothes that covered nothing. From Dale’s initial scanning glance, he spotted around two dozen bodies.
Watch Commander Bei Bron walked up to one of the bodies near the entrance, kneeling down to examine it. The man picked up a scrap of cloth from the ground, staring at it closely. Dale glanced over, seeing the emblem of a large pool of water and a fish splashing up and down.
The commander let the scrap of cloth fall, turning around to face the dark portion of the room and the rest of the cultivators present.
“Well, now we know why it’s become active,” He said, gesturing at the corpse around them, “these are the bodies of the victims from its previous attacks. This must be its lair.”
The two experts from the auction house looked around uneasily. Dale nodded, thinking it made sense. Gorgth, on the other hand, began to advance into the darkness, the half of the giant room not yet lit up. He held out several balls of burning fire in front of him, preparing to launch them. The red line connecting Watch Commander Bei Bron to the Yellow Thunder Beast ran directly into this area.
A warbling, birdlike screech shook the cave air, originating from the darkened part of the large passageway. As soon as the cry rang out, Gorgth jumped forward with, unleashing a loud battle cry as he let loose with several large balls of fire that were shaped to resemble fists. Dale could tangibly feel the heat from these flames even from nearly a dozen meters away.
These fists of red flame shot through the air, lighting up the darkened half of the room.
The second half of the room was littered with a few more corpses and large clumps of dark blue and black rocks. The cave floor that had originally slanted steeply leveled off in a 30 meter wide base. The back cave wall rose up from this bottom base to the top of this cave area, a roughly 100 meter tall wall.
The Yellow Thunder Beast was currently perched atop this wall, its birdlike mouth split open as it screeched loudly. Electricity flowed around its body as it dodged along the wall, avoiding Gorgth’s fist attacks.
When Gorgth’s fists strikes impacted upon the wall, small explosions of flame shook the air and small craters formed in the rock. Dale shook his head at this. Gorgth was obviously trying to herd the beast, and not going all out, yet even his casual attacks contained such explosive power.
The Yellow Thunder Beast was extremely agile, and dodged alongside the wall as it ran, shooting off small bolts of lightning in response to Gorgth’s long range attack. These bolts of energy shot through the air and collided directly where Gorgth had been standing just a moment ago. When the bolts hit the cave rock, small explosions of electricity peppered the air, cave rock and shrapnel littering the nearby ground. Dale jumped back instinctively, remembering the many energy attacks he had blocked just a few minutes earlier.
In the time it took for the strikes to arrive, Gorgth had already dodged to the left smoothly, years of battle experience and training making the motion second nature. Gorgth continued to fire off several casual fists of flame, forcing the Yellow Thunder Beast lower and closer to the ground.
The Yellow Thunder Beast let out a second loud screech and hopped off the back wall, kicking onto one of the side walls of the cave as Gorgth’s attacks drove it there. While the Yellow Thunder Beast might be extremely fast on land, its agility was severely limited when it was on the cave walls. The creature seemed to have some instinctual understanding of the strength Gorgth held, and was trying to avoid getting close to him.
Gorgth, however, took matters into his own hand.
Upon seeing the creature continuously dodge his attacks, Gorgth began to charge towards the creature, cutting off its path of retreat with several dozen fists of flame. Gorgth’s supply of fire energy seemed to be without end as he pumped out attack after attack of the blistering hot flames, the deadly energy in them easily enough to melt and damage the cave wall, rupturing the tough rock in small explosions.
While Gorgth and the Yellow Thunder Beast were duking it out, Watch Commander Bei Bron had taken the opportunity to retreat to the entrance of this cavern, blocking it. He then pulled out a small iron collapsing bow and unfolding it, flexing it out sharply. A small red aura began to surround the commander as he began to charge up an attack of some sort.
The two experts from the auction house also took a few steps back, preparing to attack the creature. The one wearing a smooth green robe folded his hands together and assumed a praying position, a powerful green aura surrounding him, while the one wearing a dark red lace suit clapped his hands together loudly, using some strange energy technique to turn them a dark red. Dale sensed a powerful aura from this cultivator’s hands, reminding him of the technique Lei Bao practiced, one that strengthened the cultivator’s hands and body as a whole simultaneously.
Dale decided to prepare as well, feeling at his Titanic Sea to judge the energy he had remaining. About a quarter of his Sea remained, enough energy to last him for at least a while. Dale grasped onto his Will as he considered this, commanding his hands to harden and grow tough, small spikes of callus forming on his knuckles. His fists once more became lethal weapons.
Just as Dale finished this, Gorgth landed on the wall next to the Yellow Thunder Beast. A veritable river of flaming fists cut off retreat for the Yellow Thunder Beast, forcing it to charge ahead forward. It had no choice but to engage with Gorgth briefly and then attempt to dodge again. As the creature moved forward, it covered itself in a strange coat of flowing electricity, shielding its body. It dashed madly along the cave wall, trying to skip past Gorgth.
Gorgth, however, had other ideas. As soon as he landed on the wall, Gorgth once again activated the fearsome aura he had emanated when he had briefly fought against Tian Shou.
Powerful, dark red flames licked around Gorgth’s body as he yelled loudly, fiery energy consuming everything near him. This time, Dale could sense Gorgth going all out, his full destructive power at play. As Gorgth released this aura, a large python of flame appeared on the muscular cultivator’s chest, hanging around his neck. This python hovered its head in the air, moving about in a swiveling motion. The fire energy that flowed all around Gorgth seemed to originate from this snake.
When the Yellow Thunder Beast dashed past Gorgth, trying to dodge, Gorgth lashed out with both his right fist and the strange fire python that hung around his neck.
Gorgth’s right fist collided with the electrical aura that covered the Yellow Thunder Beast, slamming against it. As soon as his fist collided with the beast, the creature was slammed into the side of the wall, forming a midsized crater due to the incredible force behind Gorgth’s blow. Explosions of flames hewed away at the nearby cave earth, melting it.
Despite the force behind this strike, the Yellow Thunder Beast got back up immediately, ripping itself out of the earth instantaneously and throwing itself forward as it fled. Cracks formed in the blue grey cave wall, cracks that melted together seamlessly under the influence of the flames Gorgth emanated.
Just as it left the crater, however, Gorgth’s python strike slammed into the Yellow Thunder Beast.
As soon as the python head collided with the sheen of electricity that covered the Yellow Thunder Beast, a miniature explosion shook the air. Dale squinted through the light, his eyes starting to get sore from the constant explosions of energy that had taken place in the past couple minutes.
This explosion, however, was very small and controlled. Despite that, Dale involuntarily leapt back again, feeling a sense of danger. The fire attack that had just been used was extremely hot, to such a degree that Dale knew if he was hit by it, even with his extremely powerful body strengthened by his Divine Ability, Titanic Transformation, he would become badly injured.
The Yellow Thunder Beast was hurtled down away from Gorgth at a lightning quick speed, smashing down hard on the cave floor and coming to an immediate stop as it cratered into the ground, cracks spreading out. A trail of fire accompanied the falling creature as it hit down, parts of it on fire.
For the second time, the creature once more ripped itself out of a crater, screeching loudly as it did. The Yellow Thunder Beast brushed out several small flames that covered its fur, revealing small wounds that bled slightly. A small hole had appeared on the beast’s right shoulder, directly where the python strike had hit. The fur around this hole was burnt black, and the fur around that discolored. The Yellow Thunder Beast seemed to be a bit unsteady as it stood up, jumping backwards and trying to get its bearings.
“Ho ho ho! A tough bugger aren’tcha? That attack would have blow the shoulder off a regular 4 Star Profound Beast. Despite that, your strength is still woefully inadequate.” Gorgth’s voice echoed in the cave as he leapt off the cave wall, landing a dozen meters away from the creature, between it and the exit.
“However. A beast like you, one that only knows how to run, isn’t worth fighting. The rest of you can finish it off.” Gorgth finished his words by stepped back away from the creature and moving to stand by the exit where Watch Commander Bei Bron was standing, still charging the red energy he had formed.
Dale nodded and jumped forward as soon as he heard Gorgth’s words. What the cultivator said made sense. Gorgth had personally told him that he only fought in battles he enjoyed or had to. With that in mind, he was thankful for what Gorgth had already done. With the Yellow Thunder Beast as injured as it was now, its right shoulder badly damaged and its movement slowed, Dale was fully confident in defeating it, even without a sword. Even if he didn’t defeat it entirely himself, killing the beast would put himself in the City Lord’s good graces, and should make it easier for him to attain the resources he needed to grow stronger, his number one goal.
Thus, Dale activated his Shatter Steps technique, the cave floor exploding behind him as he lead his jump attack with a powerful leg sweep to the Yellow Thunder Beast’s face. He soared through the air separated him and the beast, around 10 meters, in a bare moment, his movements precise. Dale used his Perfect Balance to perfectly angle his body as he went in.
The Yellow Thunder Beast, though somewhat unsteady from the burning attacks it had suffered, still brought up its arm in a fast deflective motion, electrical energy flashing as it knocked Dale’s leg to the side. As it did so, a small gleam appeared in the creature’s eyes as it turned away from Dale and on to the two experts from the auction house, both of whom were currently standing still and watching Dale engage.
The creature let out a third screech and, without hesitating, dashed forward towards these two cultivators.