Chapter 43: Beast Horde
The youngsters were not the only ones dropping in this battle, but the guards were also losing more and more of their members.
These guards were all exceptionally skilled in combat and were used to fighting against Fierce Beasts. All of them had gone through a decade in the army, and as a result, they did not panic when the beast horde enveloped them.
These veteran soldiers now turned guards knew that their lives were on the line the moment they had accepted the mission to lead the youngsters to the recruitment camp, but many of them had done it multiple times, and none of them had ever experienced as bloody a trip as this one.
Each guard was in a life-and-death battle with at least one Fierce Beast each, and some of them even took on two at a time. Because of this and how the younger experts sacrificed themselves, the number of beasts slowly dwindled, but more and more human cultivators appeared on the ground with large wounds that had caused them to lose their lives.
Xue Wei was starting to feel beads of sweat appear on his forehead. He was urging the Qi within his body to hold on until the battle finished, but he also knew that he could not continue for much longer.
He had by now, single-handedly, killed more beasts than any other of the youngsters, and rivers of blood flowed like a stream on the ground where he sat, yet no beast dared advance towards him.
A ‘weng’ sound sounded out from the zither. With the last amount of Qi that Xue Wei could muster, he conjured a large-scale wall to knock down every other beast again while killing the lower-ranked beasts that dared to enter his area of effect.
Letting out the final note, the zither in Xue Wei's hands vanished, and he was left with only an ounce of Qi that had returned to his body when the zither vanished.
"I can't fight barehanded against Fierce Beasts," Xue Wei muttered to himself, feeling incredibly feeble. "I do not have enough Qi to use Shattering Mountain Palm or Azure Light Finger more than just once."
"What I could do is create another Qi weapon and use it to fight!" Xue Wei had decided.
"If I go too close to the beasts, then I will be scaring them away. That is rather a peculiar situation. But I cannot use the zither to attack any longer, and a bow and arrow would also require me to have more Qi so that I can create arrows."
Contemplating what to do, Xue Wei stood up and observed the battle that was going on in front of him.
There were now less than half of the youngsters still standing, and the guards had been reduced to two-thirds of their original numbers.
Although this was the case, the beasts were not in a much better situation. Corpses of beasts were everywhere. Especially around Xue Wei and the experts close to him. There was a whole circle of beast carcasses stacked on top of one another.
Just as Xue Wei started to feel that he had done a great job, he felt a sudden chill running down his spine. As he raised his head and looked into the distance, he saw the Black Horned Mammoth standing behind them on the road with the black-cloaked woman seated on top.
A shiver ran through Xue Wei's body. He did not know why, but he had a feeling that this woman was looking at him, and he could feel the sheer pressure a single glance from her gave him.
"Could she be the Primordial Beast?" Xue Wei questioned himself. "Her hand looked pretty human at the auction house," he mused, once again completely ignoring the battles that were ongoing around him. "But Primordial Beasts can take on human shape after reaching a certain point in their cultivation."
"If she is a Primordial Beast, I would also bet that she was the entity that broke into the Li Mansion and was unsuccessful in tempting Li Fang that old bugger, but who knows whether or not she succeeded in tempting Li Jian."
"Knowing Li Jian's hate for me, he would approve right away. He most likely did not know anything about the woman in question."
Xue Wei continued to deduct what he could from what he had seen so far, and the battle raged around him, but no beasts moved close to him.
"If it is indeed her, then Li Jian should have realized it by now," Xue Wei reached a conclusion.
"This trip has been way more dangerous than usual trips to the recruitment camp. The only excuse can be that someone is targeting us, or some of our group."
"It would make sense for it to be a Primordial Beast who has made some deal with Li Jian, but then it does not make sense that the beasts are not even glancing at me. It is as if they fear that I will kill them with a single glare."
"I do not know if this is because there is something in me that scares them," Xue Wei continued to muse, "or if that woman has ordered them to leave me be."
"There was something with the Black Horned Mammoth back then. That time when I first met it, but something like that should not be enough to deter a full beast horde."
"Since this is the case, then I assume that the woman is not done playing with us just yet. She is playing with us like a cat with a mouse, toying with our lives. This is truly a terrible feeling."
"At least we are more than halfway now. However, if she sends another beast horde after us, I fear it will be the end of us."
"It is also peculiar that every group has been tailored to our strength. Even the bandit group was just around the same strength as us."
"Could she have managed to move the bandits too?"
"Xue Wei, you despicable beast!" Li Jian suddenly yelled out, "we are all fighting for our lives here, and all you do is standing still while thinking? Can we trust someone who is that inactive?!"
As Li Jian yelled, he infused Qi into his voice so everyone on the battlefield heard him. He wanted to drag Xue Wei's name into the mud, yet when people looked towards Xue Wei and saw the many corpses that were littered on the ground, no one dared to look down on him. He had been the one to kill the most beasts, and his support had been very important for the experts that had been close to him.
Xue Wei completely ignored Li Jian, who was in a life-and-death struggle with a Fierce Beast; sweat beaded on his forehead and an injury could be seen on his arm.
Sneering, Xue Wei used the Qi he had gotten back from recalling the zither to create a spear. Although he was not formidable with spear techniques, he knew he could aid his friends significantly with this weapon and that the beasts would, hopefully, not run away from him when he still had some distance between them.
Walking towards Luo Zhirou and Shen Mu, who were fighting shoulder to shoulder against two Fierce Beasts at the peak of the Ordinary Warrior rank, close to breaking into the Earth Warrior rank, Xue Wei wielded his spear and stabbed out.
A wail resounded in the surroundings as the beast collapsed. Xue Wei did not have any fancy spear techniques, nor did he have the Qi to use them if he did have them, but he had strength that far outstripped any average Ordinary Warrior.
This simple stab that Xue Wei performed went straight through the Fierce Beast, skewered it, and killed it instantly.
Luo Zhirou took a deep breath and wiped the sweat from her face before she engaged in battle with the next beast that came her way. This beast was not as strong as the previous one, but she had also used up some of her energy, so Luo Zhirou was not able to fight another peak ranked beast.
Xue Wei went to assist Shen Mu after this, and another thrust was sent out, after which one more beast died. Shen Mu nodded to Xue Wei in gratitude, but he had no words to say anything as he knew that he was in a rush. He instantly rushed to the next beast that he could fight.
No one dared let up; only Xue Wei was relatively safe in the midsts of the beast horde. When he turned to look where the Black Horned Mammoth had been just moments before, he found that it had vanished without a trace.
Frowning, he did not know whether or not he was fortunate or in for it now, but he knew that he did not have the power to go against whatever strength this woman controlled. As such, his only option was to hope for the best and continue to fight against these beasts.
Slowly, the battle died out. One-third of the youngsters remained, while half of the guards had survived.
The captain was still alive, but he was severely wounded, and they would have to stay at their location for a short period of time while he took some medicinal plants to heal himself before they could advance again.
"Since we will be staying here for some time, feel free to roast some meat to regain your strength. If you lack money, you can also carve out some of the Beast Cores and take them with you. The recruitment camp is held just outside of the capital, and there should be more than one opportunity to enter Sacred City."
"As a result, you can earn a bit this way. However, the Beast Cores of the beasts equivalent to an Earth Warrior all belong to my guard brothers. They were the ones who slew them, so they are the ones who will benefit from it!"
The order was clear, and although many of the poorer young ones were filled with dissatisfaction over not being able to get their hands on even one beast core from an Earth Ranked beast, they quickly forgot their indignation as they dug out one beast core after another from the heads of these Fierce Beasts.
The commoners were not the only ones who had become filled with greed, but even the nobles and Xue Wei also started to take one beast core after another.
Xue Wei knew that Manager Su had packed a rather significant amount of money for him, but he also knew that he could always use more money. The road of cultivation was long, and when he reached the Earth Warrior rank, there were certain pills that he would be able to consume that could increase his cultivation speed or enhance the strength of his body.
These pills were not cheap, as just one cost around a hundred gold coins, something the commoners would never be able to afford. even Xue Wei, who had enough money to live comfortably for many lives, felt great pain when it came to parting with a hundred gold coins.
Because of this, he decided to take as many beast cores with him as he could. If he could sell them and earn more gold in the capital, he would be able to afford more medicinal herbs and pills.
It was not only he who thought like this, but everyone in the group of youngsters shared his sentiments. Thus, they all began harvesting beast cores.
The task was not straightforward. The carcasses of these beasts were sturdy, and the skull was especially hard. It was near impossible for the weaker experts to carve a hole in the skulls so that they could take out the beast cores.
It was easier for the stronger ones, but even they struggled. Xue Wei, on the other hand, was using his increased strength to quickly dig out one beast core after another, which ended up in his bag.
He did not stop before he felt that his bag could no longer hold any more beast cores, and then he found a big hog-like monster with three serpent tails and flaming hooves. The beast was meaty. Xue Wei started deboning it and then later started a fire where he roasted the meat.