Chapter 42: Imminent Peril
The conviction in Xue Wei's eyes was so overwhelming that both Luo Zhirou and Shen Mu shivered. They knew that he was not joking.
"You can only kill humans that are bandits or evil!" Lou Zhirou interjected with her brows knitted together, a worried expression on her face. Xue Wei smiled at her.
He said nothing, neither declining nor approving, but he smiled and ruffled her hair as he gently chuckled.
Lou Zhirou pouted slightly. "You should take me seriously," she muttered, but she wanted to look adorable in front of Shen Mu, so she did not flare up at the dismissal that Xue Wei showed in response to her words.
Xue Wei talked a bit more with Lou Zhirou and Shen Mu about what they had experienced so far during the trip, about the Genius Camp and what ranking they would get during the recruitment and about the army that they would be joining.
As Xue Wei was alone once more, he looked at Luo Zhirou who had left and bared his teeth in a sinister smile. "I don't care whether or not people are good or evil," he muttered to himself. "I will kill anyone who stands in my way, whether it is an angel or a demon. For me, it does not matter."
As Xue Wei said this he startled and a shiver ran down his spine. “Why would I think like this?” he asked himself with befuddlement. “I am not some bloodthirsty murderer, even if all of them think so, I am just a normal child!”
As Xue Wei was thinking about this, he was feeling uncomfortable. “What is happening to me?” he questioned himself, but he did not have a long time to consider it as he was pulled out from his thoughts by a loud voice.
"Everyone, stop what you are doing!" the captain called out as he looked around him with a frown on his face. He soon kneeled on the ground and placed a hand on the soil, the scowl on his face deepening.
"Something is not right; everyone, get ready to defend yourself if things go awry!"
Everyone felt nervous. So far, the captain had battled with a Sky-realm giant Sand Snake and a group of bandits without ever losing his composure, but he had not been as solemn as he was now.
It was clear that whatever was coming their way was a dangerous threat to all of them, not only the young ones but also the guards.
Everyone understood that this was a severe threat to their group. They did not hesitate as they brandished their weapons and waited nervously for whatever it was that the captain had noticed.
"This is the best location for us to encounter a beast horde. We are just on the outskirts of the forest, and the beasts can only come from in front of us."
"Beast horde?!" as soon as he said beast horde, everyone paled, and a large group of them trembled.
They had heard about beast hordes before. They were the real terror of any army and wandering mercenary group.
Primordial Beasts controlled beast hordes, which could range from some hundred beasts to hundreds of thousands.
All the beasts were Fierce Beasts, and thus their strength could not be underestimated.
"Will we even survive this?" one of the more petrified experts asked with tears in his eyes. "We are still not at the recruitment camp, but we already lost this many of our comrades. Were it not for the ferociousness of Xue Wei, who we all had considered trash, then we would have lost even more of our brothers and sisters."
"Don't jinx us!" another expert sneered. "The other experts have made it to the recruitment camp every single year; we will too!"
"There is a real Primordial Beast controlling this group!" someone exclaimed in shock, and a tremor ran through the entire group. It was common knowledge that Primordial Beasts controlled beast hordes.
Everyone knew that Primordial Beasts existed in every strength, shape, and size. Some of them were strong; some were weaker. Some of them had appearances almost similar to humans, while others looked beastial in their original shape.
Primordial Beasts are incapable of cultivating for some time after birth. They were as weak as ordinary mortals. However, as they grew older, they would become familiar with the method of cultivating and their strength would skyrocket.
If they were lucky, they would be up against a young Primordial Beast that had just started training and hence gotten its human shape under control. A Primordial Beast of that kind might not prove too problematic as there were a chance that the beast horde would be small and that the captain could face off against the primordial beast. However, if it were a fully grown one, then they would have a very slim chance at survival.
"Was she a Primordial Beast?" Li Jian suddenly muttered to himself, his face filled with shock and his eyes open wide. He had not wanted to believe it, but considering that a Giant Sand Snake had attacked them and also now a beast horde, everything pointed towards the fact that she was a Primordial Beast.
"I colluded with a Primordial Beast," he said again, his voice so weak, and trembling. He could not even hear it himself, and the turmoil in his heart was unbearable. He hated primordial beasts, but he equally hated Xue Wei.
"It will be fine," he mumbled, trying to convince himself. "I did nothing wrong. As long as Xue Wei dies, I will be okay. No one will ever know of this deal I made."
Li Jian was more scared for himself than the others. If the world knew that he had worked together with a Primordial Beast, he would get executed right away.
"I should be safe. The beasts should know not to touch me," Li Jian said to himself again and again. He had a deal with the Primordial Beast, and the deal was that Xue Wei would die, while he would survive.
At the same time, the first beast was visible in the distance. The beast horde was leveling the forest in front of them as they ran towards Xue Wei and the rest of the group.
"The beast horde consists of around five thousand beasts!" the captain called out. "There is one Fierce Beast equivalent to a Sky Warrior, around a thousand with the same strength of the Earth Warrior, and the rest are Ordinary Warrior–ranked."
"Although this does not sound too bad, it is, in fact, a disaster for our group!" The captain said with a grave expression on his face.
"I will be dealing with the one that has a strength equal to mine, but we only have around five hundred guards at the Earth Warrior rank, whereas they have a thousand beasts at this level. Each beast has physical strength superior to humans at the same strength, so although they might not be as intelligent, they will be hard to kill fast. That means that five hundred Fierce Beasts with the strength of Earth Warriors will be roaming free."
"At the same time, there are more than three times as many Fierce Beasts as you guys, but I am not so optimistic that I think that each of you can defeat and kill three beasts each!"
"In situations like these, you need to let go of all your hesitation. This is a battle where our entire group is facing peril, but it is against Fierce Beasts!"
"We have to kill these Fierce Beasts with all that we have. We have to rely on someone to kill a whole group of them; we need to not give up hope!"
"We can do it!" every guard called out in unison. Their combined strength was unfathomable for an Ordinary Warrior like these youngsters, and their voices made the ground shake and the incoming beasts hesitate slightly before continuing their charge.
"Here they are!" the captain yelled as he brandished his weapon and jumped into the midst of the beast horde. Everywhere he went, beasts were chopped in half as he made his way to the back of the army where the Fierce Beast with the Sky Warrior strength was located.
He was not the only one who had decided to help out the weaker experts. The Earth Warriors were sweeping through the beasts with the strength of an Ordinary Warrior and did not stop their slaughtering before they reached a suitable opponent.
Slowly, they were becoming fewer, and even fewer who were engaged in battles with weaker beasts, as all of them had found suitable beasts to fight against. Unfortunately, the beasts were many times more numerous than this group of young experts. As a result, one after another, the human experts died.
These humans did not go down without a fight. They all fought to their last breath and would try to take as many beasts with them to the grave as possible.
Whereas some of them failed to kill even one beast, others managed to kill up to six before they died, though they were the minority.
Xue Wei stood in the middle of the group. Fights happened everywhere around him, but no beasts went towards Xue Wei. In fact, it looked as if all of them were walking a massive detour around him.
At first, Xue Wei had not noticed it too much. He had thought that the beasts were too busy looking for weaker prey, but even the Earth Warrior beasts turned their tail whenever it came to confronting Xue Wei.
After realizing this, Xue Wei decided to test it out and moved towards a Fierce Beast. The more intelligent ones would try and resist the urge to flee, while the ones with the least intellect would run away in a rush.
"I wonder why they fear me like this," Xue Wei pondered. He was not busy killing the beasts just yet but instead trying to understand what was going on. Could it be because of his killing intent? However, although it had surfaced within him, it had not been let out yet.
Xue Wei’s hand flickered as a wave of Qi exited his body and he sat down on the ground with a zither created from the Inner Might profound technique in his lap.
"Since they are not coming to me, I don't have to fear them suddenly surrounding me," Xue Wei muttered to himself as he plucked his fingers on the strings, releasing three notes.
These three notes were deep and profound, carrying with them some heavy atmosphere and a large-scale attack that pushed back around two hundred beasts around him.
The youngsters that suddenly had the time to take a breather, as the beasts had been pushed back, all looked at Xue Wei with incredulity.
He had shown them his overbearing and bloody fighting with the sword. He had shown them how he would kill one bandit after another without resting, and even eventually slaughter a third layered Earth Warrior.
But now he was sitting still with a zither in his lap as some refined scholar. He was sending out note after note of music and the soundwaves transformed from being walls that pushed the Fierce Beasts back into a sharp sound wave that would cause deep gashes to appear on the bodies of the weaker beasts; some of them lost limbs, and some even lost their heads!
Xue Wei was calm. Since the beasts kept running away from him, his only option was to use long ranged attacks.
Xue Wei felt that he was becoming one with the music that he was playing. He even went as far as to close his eyes as he played one note after another.
This fight he did nothing but give support to the others, each of his notes pushed back the beasts in his surrounding area, while the weaker beasts would receive wounds, a few of the weakest beasts and the ones injured by the other youngsters would die.
"This is taking a toll on my Qi reserves," Xue Wei sighed as he realized that he had used more than half of his Qi, but he had managed to kill quite a few beasts, but more importantly, he had assisted his comrades greatly and ensured that only a few had died.
The majority of the killed beasts were all weak. They were below the fourth layer of the Ordinary Warrior rank, and thus they had been unable to withstand even a single large-scale attack.
Although Xue Wei was killing and pushing back a mountain of Fierce Beasts, more and more appeared. The cultivators around Xue Wei were relatively safe as their opponents would be thrown back from time to time as an effect of Xue Wei's attacks.
The ones further away were fighting for their lives. They were in imminent peril, falling one after another to the beast horde. There were only four experts in the entire group who were ninth layered Ordinary Warriors, and those were Xue Wei, Luo Zhirou, Li Jian, and Shen Mu.
Luo Zhirou, Li Jian and Shen Mu were gathered at the same location and were doing their very best to take care of as many beasts as they possibly could. Yet, even though they were killing quite a few beasts, they had at most killed a hundred beasts cumulative among them, a far cry from Xue Wei's performance.