Chapter 44: Primordial Beast
Everyone was busy harvesting beast cores, but as they could carry no more, they slowly had to stop. Instead, they started to roast the meat to get some more energy.
There were so many dead Fierce Beasts and only so many surviving humans that everyone had managed to get their hands on quite a lot of beast cores.
After that, all of them ate the roasted meat while they watched the guards place all the human casualties in a big pile.
"Burn them," the captain ordered after a bit of consideration. "We cannot bring their bodies with us, but we cannot just leave them here either. They will become food for other Fierce Beasts otherwise. They fought bravely; they do not deserve to have their remains gnawed on by Fierce Beasts."
Hearing this, the majority of the youngsters that had been eating happily suddenly swallowed hard and lost their appetite. As the scent of burning flesh got more dominant, many even vomited as they realized that the scent they had found so delicious just moments before was similar to the one of their comrades being burned to ashes.
Luo Zhirou was a tough girl. Although she preferred to bake cakes and make food, she was still not easy to push around, but even she felt sick after realizing that the scent of burning humans was everywhere.
The captain said nothing as he stood in front of the massive pyre. Instead, he made a military salute to the dead. No one spoke either; everyone was busy with their thoughts. Some were petrified over what had happened, while others were in deep thought about how they had survived but their friends had not.
Xue Wei was carefree. He did not know these people that well. No one from Shen Mu's group had died; all of them had fought relatively close to Xue Wei and had received significant assistance from him, and those, in the whole group, who died had been the weakest amongst the entire group.
Although they had died, Xue Wei did not feel a hint of guilt or remorse. He had already done everything he possibly could to assist the other experts who fought the beast horde together with him, and it was impossible for him to do more than he had.
Since he knew that he could not do more than he had, then why should he feel sorry for them or guilty about not doing something impossible?
Still, he respected that they had fought the beasts to the death. For that, he too stood up, stopped eating, and bid his farewell to the many souls of the departed.
"You fought bravely," he muttered as he stood in front of the pyre. "Be satisfied with your performance and head for the cycle of reincarnation. Who knows, you might become a heaven-sent genius in your next lives."
He knew that amongst the dead, many were jealous of him for his sudden surge in talent and even more who were looking up to him.
"I could not save you," Xue Wei continued mumbling, but then his eyes turned sharp, and he glanced at Li Jian, "but if these attacks were caused by someone's greed and desire for vengeance, then I swear that I will avenge you!"
The last bit was said with a hint of killing intent. As he said it, the flame within the pyre suddenly turned incredibly violent as it roared and a small ball of fire shot towards Xue Wei, where it hovered in the air in front of him for a moment before it burnt up.
Xue Wei was stunned. He had not expected the fire to react the way it did, but he nodded his head solemnly and gripped his hands.
"I might not be righteous," he said honestly, "but when I promise something, no one can make me go back on my promise."
Xue Wei had not been the only one to stand around the pyre with a lowered head while muttering some words of parting, but it was only his words that had caused such a strange effect. As to whether or not it was a coincidence, no one knew.
"I believe you heard me," Xue Wei sighed. "I hope it will help you get some peace."
Having said that, he returned to Shen Mu, Luo Zhirou, and the rest of their friends. He was deep in thought as to how exactly he should get rid of Li Jian.
By now, Xue Wei had no doubt that the reason that they were having such a hard time on their way towards the recruitment camp was because Li Jian had made a deal with a Primordial Beast. The problem was just that he did not know whether or not this deal only included his death, or if it also included the death of everyone else.
So far, many had died, but Xue Wei had not been in any real danger. Looking at Li Jian, he saw that the other was also looking at him while gritting his teeth and a hint of madness could be seen in his eyes.
"Captain," Xue Wei suddenly called out, and the captain came to his side. "What can I do for you?" he asked politely. Although he was much stronger than Xue Wei, he knew that the latter had much better talent than him and that he would eventually be overtaken.
It was only a matter of time, and as a result, he wanted to forge a good relationship between the two.
"Captain, I have a theory. I wonder if you would be willing to listen to it?" Xue Wei asked politely, and the captain nodded his head.
"I think I know why so many things have happened to our procession, and I think I found the cause for it," he continued. He was not speaking with a low voice, and many heard what he said. Although no one went closer, everyone quieted down and raised their ears to hear more.
When Xue Wei glanced out the corner of his eyes, he saw that Li Jian was paling and that his hands were constantly tightening and loosening again and again.
"I don't know if Captain heard about the commotion in the Li Mansion before we departed?" Xue Wei asked, and the captain thought back to what had happened.
"I did indeed hear that some amazing expert snuck into the Li Mansion, but as to what this expert wanted, no one knows."
"The expert wanted to tempt Li Fang into doing a deal with them, but Li Fang is a righteous man. He instantly declined."
"What does this have to do with our group?" the captain frowned as he asked, but Xue Wei did not hasten his explanation.
"My theory is that this expert was a Primordial Beast," Xue Wei continued, and suddenly everyone gasped for air. "I also think that most of us have already seen this Primordial Beast, as it was the same person who purchased the Black Horned Mammoth at the auction."
Xue Wei continued, "This woman released a killing intent when she saw me, but not one that contained any force behind it. It is truly peculiar – she could kill me easily, and from the killing intent, I could feel that she wanted to kill me, but she did not."
"Now, I do wonder why she did not kill me. But after contemplating, I realized it was because this would make it too easy to guess who made a deal with her," Xue Wei continued and the captain, who was feeling rather lost, suddenly focused.
"Are you saying that someone is doing all of this to kill you?"
"I do not know if I am the only target," Xue Wei said honestly, "but imagine that you have lost everything you once had because of a person. Would you not also make a deal with someone to get vengeance?"
Just as Xue Wei asked this, Li Jian scrambled to his feet, his body was trembling and his face red.
He lifted a hand and pointed it at Xue Wei, "You are slandering me! You are trying to put the blame on me! But we all know that you hate me, and the reason behind this is that you want to frame me!"
"I have never made a deal with a Primordial Beast; I would never betray humanity! I may hate you, but I am not blind!" Li Jian continued to spit out words, but Xue Wei just crossed his arms over his chest as he listened with a mocking smile on his face.
"Are you blaming Li Jian?" the captain asked after a bit of time, but Xue Wei just laughed.
"I was going to blame the He family. I caused them to lose their most outstanding genius of the younger generation, and their family leader was also crippled because of me and Manager Su."
"In all of Tiankong City, I expected the He family to hate me the most, but seeing how nervous and anxious you are, I wonder, Li Jian, are you perhaps hiding something? Are you claiming to hate me even more than the He family? Did you perhaps strike a deal with a Primordial Beast?"
Xue Wei was smiling brightly now, and his every single word caused Li Jian to become pale and unable to speak.
He cursed himself for having opened his mouth and said something in the first place, because now everyone looked at him with strange expressions. Did Li Jian genuinely have something to do with this?
Li Jian was the one who jumped out like an arrow from a bow, blaming Xue Wei and defending himself, but had he had any reason to defend himself? Why would he defend himself if he had done nothing wrong? Xue Wei had not even blamed him.
Thinking like this, everyone started to feel somewhat puzzled. Had Li Jian gone mad?
"You don't trust me?!" Li Jian scowled. "I need to cool off!" he exclaimed as he stood up and got ready to leave the camp.
"We will be leaving in two hours," The captain said absentmindedly while watching Li Jian enter into the forest in front of them.
"Captain, should we let him go alone? Will it not be dangerous?" one of the guards asked, but the captain just waved his hand. "We have already killed all the beasts. I doubt that the Primordial Beast will make a move on a single person since it has not wiped out our group just yet." The captain sighed.
"There are no Fierce Beasts left within the forest. All of them were part of the beast horde we fought. Just let him cool off, I am more worried that Xue Wei might be speaking the truth and someone truly made a deal with this Primordial Beast since it has never before been this dangerous."
"We will take these two hours of break, and then we will move on. We will press our speed as much as we can so that we can reach the recruitment camp as soon as possible!"
While the captain spoke with his guards, Li Jian entered the forest. He was gnashing his teeth, and his nails dug into his hands.
He felt terrible, and he knew that although people did not fully believe that he had colluded with a Primordial Beast, the seed of doubt had been planted, and it would only grow worse with time.
"Ai, you look dejected," the alluring voice he knew so well called out, and Li Jian stopped in his tracks as he looked at the woman he had struck a deal with.
"We had a deal!" he exclaimed. "You promised me that you would kill Xue Wei! Why is it that so many of our comrades have died, but he is perfectly fine?!"
The woman started laughing, but her laughter was no longer the pearl-like comfortable laughter, but one that was maddening and filled with killing intent.
"Believe me, I wish to kill him," she said as she wiped away a tear from her eye, "but you see, I think you kinda misunderstood something. I never promised you that I would kill him," she grinned, "I promised that this world would not have the both of you in it!"