Yun Ruoyan was a little worried that the soul-stealing bird would simply fly away after having consumed the evolved bewitching flower’s seed.
“Li Mo, is it going to return?”
Before Li Mo could reply, however, a piercing cry came from the sky. Yun Ruoyan inclined her head to see a black, palm-sized shadow rapidly approaching amidst a multicolored beam of light. The black shadow flew to Yun Ruoyan and hovered in midair, revealing a petite, silver-feathered, brown-eyed, long-beaked bird.
“Is it…?” Yun Ruoyan looked at the bird rather disbelievingly.
“Yes, it’s a mature soul-stealing bird. Once it reaches maturity, it can take on two forms: one larger and more suited for battle, and one smaller for everything else.”
“It’s so cute!” Yun Ruoyan reached out for the palm-sized bird, which obediently landed in Yun Ruoyan’s palm.
“Is it your contracted beast now?” Yun Ruoyan asked as she stroked it. “I don’t remember seeing you enact the ritual.”
“It’s not qualified enough to be my contracted beast, and I’m just commanding it temporarily. You, on the other hand… Yan’er, you fed it the evolved bewitching flower seed that it needed to reach maturity, so it thinks of you like its mistress as well.”
As if agreeing with Li Mo’s words, the soul-stealing bird chirped twice.
“Mistress, it doesn’t like being addressed as a soul-stealing bird,” Qiuqiu informed her. “It wants you to name it!”
Yun Ruoyan smiled, stroking the petite bird once more. “You want me to name you?”
The bird hopped on Yun Ruoyan’s palm and chirped twice.
“Alright!” Yun Ruoyan thought for a moment and snuck a glance at Li Mo, her eyes curving into two crescents. “Shall I call you Mo’er?”
“No!” Li Mo frowned.
“Gegegege.” On the other hand, the soul-stealing bird seemed to be very pleased with the name, and it excitedly flew circles over Yun Ruoyan’s head.
“In that case, you’ll be Mo’er from now on. Mo’er, Mo’er, haha!”
The young girl’s twinkling laughter drifted through the forest as Li Mo shook his head and sighed. Zhuo Yifeng stood by the side, watching the young girl play with her new bird and watching the Slaughtering King—the man whom he hated, but had never personally interacted with.
Ever since his childhood, he had imagined the Slaughtering King as a demon, one who wouldn’t blink despite slaughtering thousands of innocents. In his nightmares, he would imagine Li Mo holding a bloody knife as he decapitated his kinsmen, then walk closer to him with a macabre smile on his face.
Without fail, Zhuo Yifeng awoke from his nightmares drenched in sweat. Now, however, that nightmarish Slaughtering King was smiling at a young girl…
Zhuo Yifeng felt a little dazed.
“Zhuo Yifeng, are you alright?” Yun Ruoyan’s voice suddenly broke him out of his reverie.
“Where are we headed next?” Zhuo Yifeng finally asked.
“First, help me retrieve some of these bewitching flowers’ seeds.” Yun Ruoyan began heading toward the flowerbed. Although the bewitching flowers had all wilted, their seeds still remained on the ground, and the three of them were able to gather quite a number of them.
Mo’er rummaged through the dirt, eating its fill. Qiuqiu had told her that each seed that Mo’er consumed would increase its power, and Yun Ruoyan had experienced this increased effect for herself. “Qiuqiu, is there a limit to how much Mo’er’s power can increase by consuming these seeds?”
“These seeds won’t help a mature soul-stealing bird, Mistress. Mo’er’s only consuming them because it likes the taste.”
“Mo’er, don’t eat all the seeds,” Li Mo suddenly said. Then, he turned to Yun Ruoyan. “Yan’er, you’ve already gotten quite a number of seeds, haven’t you? Leave the rest behind so the bewitching flowers can continue to grow.”
The fifteen seeds that they had collected would be far more than sufficient for concocting a few batches of high-quality intoxicating fog, so she nodded.
“In that case, where should we go next?” Yun Ruoyan asked Li Mo the question that Zhuo Yifeng had asked her. As she spoke, she was interrupted by a grumbling from her stomach, causing both Li Mo and Zhuo Yifeng to look toward her, but she was so used to it that she wasn’t embarrassed at all.
Turning to Zhuo Yifeng, she said, “Let’s get some food first.”
The three of them found a nearby stream, where Zhuo Yifeng began building a fire and roasting the meat from the treehouse with his own special spice mix. Meanwhile, Li Mo took out a flask of wine and began sipping at it slowly.
The roasting meat turned a pleasant golden-brown, and the spices mixed with the meaty aroma to produce a head, concentrated fragrance that seemed to spread throughout the forest.
“It smells amazing!” Yun Ruoyan drew near to the fire. “The scent’s different from before—Zhuo Yifeng, you’ve advanced not only your cultivation, but also your skill at roasting meat!”
In order to ensure that his black-clad senior would keep returning for more meat, Zhuo Yifeng had been spending a significant amount of time to improve his culinary skills, and the spice mix he was currently using was a recent improvement.
He smiled, then continued to twist the skewers to ensure that the meat was evenly roasted, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
“Li Mo, here!” Yun Ruoyan handed Li Mo the first cut of meat. After all, he had given her the opportunity to become Mo’er’s mistress, and she had to thank him somehow.
Li Mo continued sipping his wind, not reaching out for the meat.
“It’s really good! Taste it—it’s not worse than your roasted fish, I promise!”
Li Mo glanced askance at Yun Ruoyan, who smiled winningly back at him. He stretched out two fingers. With a glowing fingertip, he sliced off a small piece of meat from Yun Ruoyan’s skewer, then took a small bite.
“Well?” Yun Ruoyan looked at him expectantly, as though it was meat that she had personally roasted.
Li Mo swallowed. “It’s okay.” He whistled to Mo’er, who came darting down from the skies. Li Mo tossed him the remaining meat in his hand, and Mo’er gulped it down and chirped for more.
“You’re too picky! Look at how easy Mo’er is to feed,” Yun Ruoyan commented, splitting her remaining roast meat with it.
Li Mo’s face turned black.
After having finished the meal, Yun Ruoyan happily wiped the sides of her mouth and asked Li Mo as to their next destination. Zhuo Yifeng reclined against a tree trunk, keenly paying attention to Li Mo’s next words without trying to show it.
“You and Zhuo Yifeng both need actual combat experience,” Li Mo began. “We’re at the outskirts of this forest, so there won’t be very powerful magical beasts around. To fight such beasts, we’ll have to head east deeper into the forest.”
“Wasn’t that fire hog just now a high-rank magical beast?” Zhuo Yifeng asked.
“It was attracted only by the bewitching flower. Now that the flower’s withered, there won’t be any more high-rank beasts around here for quite a while,” Li Mo replied.
“In that case, let’s set out immediately!” Yun Ruoyan’s energy had been fully restored by her meal.
Two hours into the forest, the trio suddenly heard a loud rumbling from up ahead. It seemed to be even louder than the commotion caused by the fire hog, and even the gigantic trees surrounding them had begun to shake.
Neither Yun Ruoyan nor Zhuo Yifeng had much experience fighting such large, strong monsters. Furthermore, since this was an alternate dimension, the size of the beasts was far larger than what either of them were used to. Even with Li Mo around, their faces both turned pale.
Qiuqiu then informed Yun Ruoyan that the magical beast that was approaching wasn’t particularly strong, so it didn’t have much to fear. It appeared almost immediately after Qiuqiu spoke, barrelling through a number of trees and rushing in front of the trio.
The beast appeared to be a giant bull, one as massive as a small mountain, its eyes large enough that they could be used as full-size mirrors. Even more shocking were its two gigantic horns, shiny and sharp. The sunlight reflecting off its horns dazzled both her and Zhuo Yifeng.
“Let’s go!” Zhuo Yifeng nocked a tiger-head arrow on his bow.
“There’s no need,” Li Mo murmured from behind. “Let Yan’er deal with it on her own.”
Yun Ruoyan twisted her head to look at Li Mo, her eyes shocked. It wasn’t that Yun Ruoyan was fearful, but rather that the bull in front of her was so humongous that she had never seen its like.
“Yan’er, are you afraid?” Li Mo teased.
Yun Ruoyan knew that Li Mo was trying to incite her into action. Calmly, she replied, “It’s certainly quite massive, but there won’t be anything to fear once I kill it.”
She retrieved the dagger strapped to her thigh, infused spiritual energy into her legs, and leaped toward the giant bull. Meanwhile, Zhuo Yifeng had pulled his bow taut and was aiming it and the bull’s weak spots, ready to defend Yun Ruoyan at a moment’s notice.
Yun Ruoyan was a peak seventh-rank blademaster, and she could leap thirty feet into the air. However, the bull was easily forty feet tall, so Yun Ruoyan wasn’t able to jump directly onto its back. In mid-air, the giant bull tossed its head toward Yun Ruoyan, trying to gore her with its horns.
Yun Ruoyan used the bull’s momentum to somersault in mid-air, landing gracefully on the bull’s head. The bull tried to shake Yun Ruoyan off, but she stuck a dagger into its forehead and held on tight. Although the bull’s hide was tough and its bones hard, just like other magical beasts, there was a small slit between the two halves of its skull that could easily be penetrated.
Yun Ruoyan accurately guided her dagger into the slit, but it was too short to kill the bull instantaneously. Instead, after being dealt a critical blow, the bull began to buck even more wildly. She held onto the dagger for dear life as her body swung up into the air.Previous Chapter Next Chapter