Chapter 139: Come Here!

Zu An quickly scanned the surroundings. There wasn’t anything different about the mountain valley he was in other than the fact that the air was unnaturally crisp and refreshing. 

“Ah Zu, what should we do next?” asked Ji Xiaoxi.

“Let’s just wait here for the time being. There’s something weird about how the rats are reacting to the mountain valley.” Zu An couldn’t see anything amiss about the mountain valley, but he felt that it would be better safe than sorry.

Ji Xiaoxi nodded in agreement. She took out a water bottle from her waist pouch and took a sip. The earlier journey had really tired her out.

After hydrating herself, she passed the water bottle over and asked, “Do you want to have a sip too?”

Zu An shook his head and said, “Nah. I’ll probably finish up the water in that small bottle of yours in a few gulps. You should save it for yourself instead.”

“Don’t worry, this is actually an artifact my father had a runemaster make for me. Despite its small appearance, it’s able to store a lot of water. It’s plenty for the two of us.”

“A storage tool!” Zu An was impressed. 

He took the bottle over and examined it, but he couldn’t spot anything different. However, when he tried gulping it down, he realized that there was almost no end to the supply of water it contained.

Ji Xiaoxi couldn’t help but notice that Zu An was drinking right off the rim of the bottle, and her face reddened. She thought that he would pour it into his mouth instead. Isn’t this an indirect… 

Nevertheless, she quickly calmed herself and said, “It’s not really a storage tool. It can only be used to store water.”

So it’s a downgraded version of a storage ring, Zu An nodded in realization. “Are storage tools artifacts that only exist in the legends?” 

“It’s exaggerating it to say that they only exist in legends, but they’re indeed quite rare. Only top-notch runemasters are capable of forging them, and the space in most of them is limited. Even the larger ones can only store this amount of stuff…” Ji Xiaoxi gestured with her hand to give a rough idea.

So, around a meter cubed big?, Zu An thought.

“Is there anything you want to eat? My father prepared quite a lot of food for me.” As she spoke, Ji Xiaoxi took out all kinds of food from the little pouch. There were desserts, biscuits, and even fruits.

“Woah, are you Dora*mon?!” Zu An was utterly amazed. How in the world is such a small pouch holding so much stuff?! 

“This is also another artifact my father had a runemaster forge for me. It should be considered as a type of storage tool.” There was a faint tinge of red constantly lingering on Ji Xiaoxi’s face as she spoke, making her look incredibly adorable.

“…” Zu An.

It was just a moment ago you told me that storage tools are extremely rare, but it turns out that you have two of them with you. Aren’t you trying to show off to me right now?!

“These are osmanthus cakes bought from Xu Ji. It’s absolutely delicious. These are peach blossom cakes, a special product from the neighboring province. If you don’t like sweet food, I also have nuts with me too…” Ji Xiaoxi fished out a large bunch of tidbits and began introducing them one by one. The gleam in her eyes showed that she was excited to show off her little stash.

Zu An was rendered speechless. “It feels like you’re here to enjoy the scenery as a tourist than to explore the dungeon.”

Ji Xiaoxi scratched her head in embarrassment. “I wasn’t planning on taking so much stuff with me, but my father was worried that I wouldn’t have any food to eat while I’m in here, so he stuffed all of these into my pouch.”

“…” Zu An.

Wow, who could tell that Ji Dengtu actually would be such a doting father?

Speaking of which, why didn’t the Chu clan prepare anything for me then? Ahh, this disparity sure is heartbreaking. Hmmm, it doesn’t seem like Chu Chuyan brought anything with her too though. I guess the Chu clan is stricter with its family members; they think of it as a trial.

Zu An tried his best to make himself feel better. 

There was an expectant look in Ji Xiaoxi’s eyes when she offered her desserts to him, so Zu An felt that it wouldn’t be good to disappoint her. He tried the osmanthus cake, and his eyes immediately lit up in delight. “It’s fragrant!”

Meanwhile, the army of Goldenfur Monstrous Rats, who were still camping outside the mountain valley, flew into a state of rage. What the hell? It’s tired for us to chase you all the way here too! Do you know how parched our throats are after running so several hours straight? How could you picnic right in front of us?!

You have successfully trolled the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats for +6 +6 +6… 

Zu An’s eyes lit up. He was receiving a small number of Rage points from each of the rats, but one must know that there was an army of them here. It was quite a sizeable amount in total.

Knowing that this was a good opportunity to squeeze out more Rage points from them, he turned to look at the army of rats and beckoned them over with a wag of his finger.

“Oh? Why are you all sitting there so pitifully? Why not come in and share our snacks?”

Behind him, Ji Xiaoxi blinked her large eyes in confusion, She couldn’t understand why Zu An was provoking those rats right now, but his tone was so annoying that even someone as mild-tempered as her felt an urge to beat him up.

As for the rats, they couldn’t understand what Zu An was doing, but his provocative tone and gesture were more than enough to fan their anger.

You have successfully trolled the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats for +6 +6 +6… 

Some of them couldn’t stand it and tried to charge over, but barely a few steps later, they hesitantly came to a halt before retreating back down.

Looking at the huge influx of Rage points, Zu An was overjoyed. A true keyboard warrior wouldn’t give up on an opportunity to troll, so he continued taunting them gleefully.

You have successfully trolled the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats for +6 +6 +6… 

Finally, one of the rats finally couldn’t stand it anymore and charged right in. There was a notable bald patch at the back of its head.

With this rat leading the pack, the rest quickly succumbed to their rage and charged in as well. While rushing forth, some of them pricked up their fur, preparing to shoot their thorns.

“Crap. It looks like I accidentally went overboard.”

Alarmed, Zu An immediately turned tail and ran, only to realize that Ji Xiaoxi was still doltishly sitting on the floor, munching on her snacks. He quickly rushed out to grab and her arm and pulled her away with him.

“Ahhh! My candied fruits! I was just about to eat them!!!” Ji Xiaoxi stared at the snacks she had left on the floor with a horrified look on her face.

“I’ll buy them for you once we’re out of the dungeon!” shouted Zu An.

“You said the same thing when you borrowed my handkerchief last time. You still haven’t repaid me yet,” murmured Ji Xiaoxi in discontentment. 

Zu An laughed sheepishly. He had really forgotten about that. “That too. I’ll pay everything back all at once.”

After charging into the mountain valley and seeing that nothing was happening, the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats were further emboldened. With furious squeaks, they continued to chase Zu An tenaciously. That damned human is too hateful! We must rip off his flesh and gobble down his bones in order to vent our anger!

Due to the complicated terrain around the mountain valley, it was much easier for Zu An and Ji Xiaoxi to escape this time around. However, to their dismay, they were still unable to shake the rats off their tail. There were simply far too many of them, and they had a sharp sense of smelling too. No matter how well the two of them were hiding, the rats would find them swiftly and summon their comrades to encircle them.

In the end, they were forced to a corner and decided to seek refuge on a big tree.

Unfortunately, the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats still managed to find them in the end. It took only a few moments for a huge crowd of rats to gather beneath the tree.

They tried to climb up the tree trunk, but unfortunately, there were only so many rats that could climb up the tree trunk at once. Zu An was stronger than each of them, and he also had the advantageous high ground here. As a result, he could basically kill one of them with each slash. 

The leader of the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats stepped atop one of the boulders and began squeaking away. Soon, they abandoned their initial plan to climb up the tree and instead began to nibble away at the tree trunk. Once the tree was felled, they would pounce forward and tear those two humans to shreds.

Hearing the wood gnawing sound coming from below, Zu An started to panic a little. “Xiaoxi, do you have any poison that can knock all of them out?”

Medicine and poison were two sides of a coin. Considering her competence in medicine, it was likely that she was fairly well versed in poison too. 

“I do have something like that,” replied Ji Xiaoxi hesitantly.

“???’ Zu An.

He was just asking out of desperation, not really expecting much out of it, but who could have thought that she really had something like that? If that’s the case, why didn’t you use it earlier? We wouldn’t have to end up in such a desperate position in the first place!

Seemingly seeing through the doubts he had in mind, Ji Xiaoxi explained meekly, “I didn’t think that they have done anything too overboard to justify that. Strictly speaking, we were the ones interrupting their peaceful lives. It feels wrong to poison them to death.”

“…” Zu An.

She’s simply too kind! I really can’t imagine how in the world she managed to survive in this dangerous world to this day with that kind heart of hers.

“What if the tree falls and we get eaten by them?” asked Zu An.

Ji Xiaoxi hesitated a little before replying, “I don’t know. They might just retreat soon. If things really come to that point, I… I’ll poison them.”

Zu An knew that Ji Xiaoxi’s personality, and he felt that it would be going too far to force her to do something that went against her conscience. In truth, things weren’t that dire yet either. He could use Grandgale the moment the tree felled to escape. At the very least, they should be able to break out of the rats’ encirclement.

As for whether they would really be able to escape from the rats or not, he would leave it to the calling of fate.

The two of them didn’t notice that when the corpses of the killed Goldenfur Monstrous Rats fell on the floor, their blood seeped through the ground at an unusually swift pace. There were no puddles of blood at all.

A while later, one of the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats was in the midst of nibbling on the tree trunk when it suddenly cried out in misery.

Zu An quickly took a look, only to see a bone palm striking through its back. As crimson blood flowed down the white bones, it created quite an eerie spectacle.

This sinister event only marked the first of many soon-to-come deaths. More and more screams of agony echoed throughout the mountain valley as the other Goldenfur Monstrous Rats fell to the same fate, penetrated by a white palm.

“Where did those things come from?” Zu An was appalled. He felt like he was watching a horror movie unfolding right before his eyes.

“Big brother Zu, I’m afraid!” Ji Xiaoxi subconsciously hid behind Zu An’s back as she gripped his sleeves tightly.

“Xiaoxi, don’t be scared. I’ll make sure to protect you well,” consoled Zu An.

He was flustered by the unexpected happenings too, but somehow, the presence of a woman in need tended to embolden the guts of a man. He couldn’t allow himself to show cowardice before Xiaoxi.

He carefully examined the situation and soon figured out what was going on.

These bone palms hadn’t appeared out of nowhere; they were rising from the ground. They weren’t just limited to the area around the trees. Where his eyes could see, the soil was loosening as palms rose up and strike at the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats.

“Just how many of them are there?!” Zu An gulped.

Panic devoured the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats. Coming under such a frightening assault, how could they still be in the mood to nibble on the tree trunk? They fled for their life right away, but to their dismay, it was futile. White hands rose from the soil to grab their legs. 

The rats squeaked in desperation, but those bones, despite looking so brittle that they would snap at any moment, harnessed terrifying strength that they couldn’t break out of.

Soon, skeletons began rising from the ground. They weren’t entirely bones yet; most of them were still half covered in flesh, and there were traces of clothes to be seen on them. It was just that their clothes had mostly decomposed from being buried for far too long.

It might be much more accurate to term them as ‘zombies’.

The zombies picked up the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats in their hands, brought them up to their mouths, and began munching down on them. Blood splattered all over the air. The mountain valley was swiftly dominated by two sounds—the despaired cries of the Goldenfur Monstrous Rats and the ripping of flesh. 

It was as if hell had descended upon the world.

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