Chapter 128: Caught Up

"We are most likely not being chased anymore," Xue Wei said after they had put some distance between themselves and the village. "The company from the Heping Kingdom is going to suffer some misfortune now. They lured two tribes into a confrontation, but their target was not there."

"Those two tribes will not accept that kind of conclusion, so all their rage will be taken out on the company of soldiers."

"If they somehow manage to survive this calamity, they will most likely continue their search for us in the center of the continent, considering they know about Prophet Lan and me. I have a feeling that even the two tribes involved, the Chaos Vulture Tribe especially, will dispatch a team to hunt us down now that we’ve ran afoul of so many people and factions..." 

"So the fact that we’re here in the Vermilion Forest Kingdom instead will probably come as a total surprise to them, if they ever discover our whereabouts that is. After all, they’re trying to read our minds - so why would we go to this place, right? The kingdom is so small, and it is complete trash when it comes to the standard of cultivation, barely better than the Kingdom of Heping in that regard." 

"Besides, this place has a more diluted density of natural energy from the heaven and earth, which means we’re handicapping ourselves in terms of training speed. However, there is one thing we need to take into consideration."

"Albeit delayed, the speed of our progress won’t be affected as much as you’d think - at most like fifty percent? Rather than living a frantic life of being hunted, we can roam freely – and way more safely – in this place, and we can relax our mental state slightly. This will allow us to carefully raise our strength instead of constantly sacrificing long-term success for short-term survival, which will greatly benefit us in the long run."

Xue Wei explained what he had thought and why he had made the decision to go to the Vermilion Forest Kingdom. Hei Gou nodded his head in approval. Everything his friend said made sense to him.

"Another thing is that if we wish to increase our strength, we need to face off against both beasts and humans alike. We need an ample amount of battle experience, which is our biggest flaw at present," he continued.

"Although we have fought and killed many people, the truth is that we have not been in any truly challenging fights. Either our opponents have not been able to push us to our limits, or they have been so strong our only option was to flee."

"We don't know the actual limits of our strength, and we need to fight to find out! " 

Xue Wei's eyes glistened with excitement as he spoke. He was excited about what their future might hold, and even more so about how their strength would soar and their lives would progress. 

"What nice sentiments," a drawling voice suddenly sounded from behind Xue Wei and Hei Gou. The both of them had been too relaxed and had expected to be safe, yet now they found that three men had already surrounded them. 

There were three of them, all men; a beardy one, a young one, and a short but burly one. Hei Gou and Xue Wei’s faces instantly turned serious when they saw these two, and their eyes glistened. This was their first life-and-death encounter in the Vermilion Forest Kingdom, so they were eager to try out their new strength. 

Xue Wei was currently an eight layer Earth Warrior, and Hei Gou had a Qi capacity equivalent to a fourth layer Sky Warrior, while his physical strength had just broken through to the Heavenly Warrior rank. 

These three, however, were not easy targets. Two of them, the burly man and the middle-aged man, were both ninth layer Sky Warriors, while the young man was a first layer Sky Warrior. 

Hei Gou and Xue Wei looked at one another, and while Hei Gou withdrew his claws, Xue Wei started operating his Qi within his body, ready to use any of his attacks to engage the enemy. 

"Leave the two old men to me," Hei Gou said with a growl that originated from deep in his chest. His eyes were piercing like swords and his lips curled up into a sinister smile. 

Xue Wei nodded his head while looking at the young Sky Warrior. To have become a Sky Warrior at the age of twenty-five was a considerable feat, especially considering that it was a commoner who had reached this rank. 

The two parties did not exchange formalities or speak to each other. It was clear that these three were bandits – they robbed anyone who came by and lived off the villagers when they were idle. 

Xue Wei and Hei Gou could feel their killing intent, so asking about their purpose was stupid. Instead, they prepared to face these three experts. 

Hei Gou's claws were shining in the sunlight; they were completely black, and Hei Gou attached them to his hands. The two bandits did not disturb him. The bandits did not mind waiting, in fact they were chuckling as if this was his futile struggles to survive and they would gladly let him have his final struggles.

Xue Wei had been activating the Qi within his body, but he had not used the Inner Might to create a weapon. Instead, he was preparing to fight with his martial art techniques. 

Although the Inner Might was great, he had no sword arts. He could use the sharpness of the sword created from Qi to kill many people around his own level, but these bandits were all Sky Warriors. To fight them would not be as simple. 

Instead, he put his faith in his other martial arts techniques. He believed that he would be able to fight appropriately while using them, and if all went haywire, he still had the Heart of Fire, the transformation of his arms, and the blood essence at his disposal. 

Xue Wei had multiple hidden cards, but even then he could not help but feel his body shaking. So far he had only fought against people in the Earth Warrior ranks. He had never before fought against someone who was a Sky Warrior, apart from Hei Gou who sometimes sparred against him. 

The blood boiled in Xue Wei's veins, and his body trembled with excitement. 

The last person he had fought against was He Ji, who was a ninth layer Earth Warrior. Back then, he had not used the Forbidden Rush movement technique, nor had he used Mind Infestation. 

Now he had no restrictions, but this opponent was in a completely different realm than himself. Although it might not seem to be a big difference when counting sub-realms, a person who has stepped into the Sky Warrior realm was not to be underestimated by someone in the realm below. 

Xue Wei was unaware of it, but a wide grin had spread on his face from the expectations he had of this battle. That smile made the bandit across of him frown. 

Why would this kid who was a mere Earth Warrior be so eager to do battle with a Sky Warrior? 

Shaking his head, the bandit muttered to himself, "So you want to seem mysterious? That is so silly. You will just die much faster!" 

Having said this, the young man did not hesitate. He flashed forward with a sword in his hands.

The bandit did not have a movement technique. Instead, he had the speed of a Sky Warrior. Although he was fast, Xue Wei did not think too much of the man’s speed. He had the Forbidden Rush movement technique that would allow him to flee from a Fierce Beast with the strength of the Sky Warrior rank – and maybe even a slow Heavenly Warrior beast. 

His movement speed was equivalent to Hei Gou's flying speed. The Forbidden Rush movement technique truly lived up to being a superior martial art.

Xue Wei did not, however, use the Forbidden Rush movement technique to evade the bandit’s attack. Instead, he took a step backward, activated his Qi, and rotated it through his body.

Arcane Fist!

Arcane Fist was a profound martial art technique. It was a step above the Shattering Mountain Palm, and even the Azure Light Finger, in grade. 

This Arcane Fist was not a scouting attack. It contained his full strength, and the fist that shot forward to meet the weapon held a thousand illusions, with fake fist imprints in the air, and an overbearing atmosphere that caught the young bandit by surprise. 

This young bandit did not use a martial art technique to slash down at Xue Wei, but he had coated his weapon with a layer of Qi. 

Although he felt oppressed by the atmosphere of the fist art that Xue Wei had displayed, he did not think that this youngster in front of him was truly dangerous. The boy was after all only an Earth Warrior, a whole realm below him, and he continued to press on with his attack.

Only a brief instance had passed from the moment the young bandit had noticed the fist art until the sword and fist collided against one another. 

A resounding boom shook the ground, dust billowed up, and shockwaves crashed against Hei Gou and the other two older bandits. 

Neither of these three had started their fight yet, opting to instead observe the battle between Xue Wei and the young bandit, but the faces of the two older bandits turned severe when the dust settled.

Neither Xue Wei nor the young bandit had lost ground. Although it had been a bare fist against a sword, the fist had not sustained any damage, not even a scratch. 

Although neither of the two had been pushed back, Xue Wei frowned. He knew that what he had used was a profound martial arts technique, something that was not easy to come by, but although he had used that at his full strength, he had still not managed to push back the Sky Warrior. This alone showed that the gap between the realms was in no way easily traversed.

"I know no sword skills, so although I can make an insanely sharp weapon from Inner Might, I will not be able to use it to the fullest. It is the same with every single attack I use," Xue Wei muttered to himself. 

"The Arcane Fist could do nothing to him, so how can the Azure Light Finger or the Shattering Mountain Palm do anything? They are only superior ranked martial arts."

"I can try the Kick of Forgotten Kings, Mind Infestation, and Seed of Mirage," Xue Wei reached a conclusion. Shortly after, all of a sudden, five beams of light surged from his body before vanishing into thin air. 

These beams of light were precisely the Seed of Mirage. Xue Wei had expended quite a bit of his Qi to create five seeds. 

Although it was quite an expenditure of Qi, Xue Wei did not mind it. It would be able to help him, in the long run, to confuse the opponent and hopefully help him find the weak point where he could strike and end the battle once and for all. 

The two older bandits noticed that the younger one was not a guaranteed winner of their fight. Their expressions turned grave as they turned to look at Hei Gou. 

Both drew their weapons and went straight for the black dog. 

It was clear that these two middle-aged men had fought side by side many years prior. Their movements were fluid and their attacks able to make a pincer attack on Hei Gou, instantly taking the upperhand from him. 

Xue Wei did not have time to see how Hei Gou was doing on his side. He was busy dealing with the young bandit, who was finally starting to take him seriously. 

Although he had not been forced to step back, his sword hand had turned numb, and his entire arm started aching. 

He gritted his teeth as he understood that he was at a disadvantage in their previous encounter, but he did not overthink it. 

"I underestimated you, but that will not happen again! Windwolf Sword Slash!" 

As he called out the name of his martial art technique, the wind in the area picked up, and a wolf's howl seemed to appear in the air as the sword slashed down.

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Author: Tinalynge

Editor: Melinum

Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking

Proofreader: Tue