Chapter 261: Half-Spirit

“Catch!” Li Mo tossed Guan Ruliu toward Zhuo Yifeng, who deftly caught her. At the same time, Yun Ruoyan shouted, “Li Mo, be careful!”

The vines surrounding Li Mo all attacked at once, enveloping him in their midst in the blink of an eye. Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help thinking back to what had happened in the mountainous cave during the imperial expedition, to the wild vine spirit that she and Zhuo Yifeng had encountered. That spirit was able to suck away one’s vitality, and it was very difficult to deal with unless they attacked its main body directly. 

The vines in front of her were very likely a similar existence to that wild vine spirit. Judging by the number of vines and its offensive capabilities, however, it seemed far superior to the vine spirit Yun Ruoyan had encountered before.

“Those vines will suck away your spiritual energy,” Guan Ruliu croaked out, validating Yun Ruoyan’s hypothesis. 

By this time, Li Mo was completely wrapped up in the vines, and the bundle of vines surrounding him was getting larger and larger with every passing moment. None of the vines attacked her or Zhuo Yifeng; instead, they focused entirely on Li Mo. Likely, the pure spiritual energy emanating from Li Mo’s body was far more enticing to them than they were. 

Yun Ruoyan immediately tossed a fireball at the heart of the vines. After Zhuo Yifeng left Guan Ruliu in a relatively safe area, he also began attacking the vines with his wood-attuned spiritual techniques.

As Yun Ruoyan continued tossing volley after volley at the wild vines, the exterior of the vines began to burn—but it was only a small patch, one which was quickly filled by the innumerable vines present.

Zhuo Yifeng tried using his wild vine arts to control the vines, but his cultivation was clearly insufficient to overcome the vine spirit’s control. Not only did the vines shrug off his attack, some even began to attack him.

Zhuo Yifeng had no choice but to switch to using his bowstring to chop off the approaching vines as he tried to protect him and Guan Ruliu behind him.

Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng’s attacks successfully attracted part of the vine spirit’s attention, but the ball of vines surrounding Li Mo continued to get larger. As it did so, it began to revolve. Yun Ruoyan had no idea what was happening inside, and she began to get more and more anxious.

Ignoring the danger, she began tossing fireballs at the bundle of vines from both hands at once, scorching a path ahead for herself. Then, she ran directly forward.

“Ruoyan! Be careful!” Zhuo Yifeng shouted from behind.

“Zhuo Yifeng, take good care of Senior Sister Guan!” 

Yun Ruoyan wasn’t running toward the vines simply because of a moment of impulse; she had been observing the ball of vines, trying to find any traces of where the vine spirit’s main body could be. Suddenly, she noticed that there was a gigantic tree about fifty feet behind the ball of vines, one which was completely wrapped up in vines. By its roots were a number of thick, engorged vines, the size of pythons. 

As Yun Ruoyan continued lobbing fireballs at the vines approaching her, she followed the trail of engorged vines to their core: a swampy, muddy ground from which the vines emerged. It had originally been hidden by a number of smaller vines. Now that the vines had all begun surrounding Li Mo, however, the heart of the vine spirit had been exposed.

Yun Ruoyan hurriedly threw out another volley of fireballs, then leaped to the heart of the wild vines while unsheathing her spiritsteel dagger. She sliced at the heart of the vines, only to find it far tougher than she had anticipated. Despite the fact that her dagger was able to slice iron as though it were nothing more than mud, it had only been able to create a barely visible nick on the surface of the vine.

The ball of vines wrapping Li Mo up had already grown to the size of a small house. More worryingly, Li Mo hadn’t seemed to do anything from within. In fact, Li Mo was deliberately exuding his spiritual energy, trying to lure all the vines over to attack them all in one go.

However, Yun Ruoyan didn’t have any inkling of this. She was frightened and worried, more so than she had ever been. As she shouted loudly for Li Mo, she began slicing madly at the heart of the vines.

Once, twice, thrice…

Yun Ruoyan didn’t notice the vines slithering toward her and binding her body, but Li Mo did hear her fervent cries from deep within the interior of the vines. He tried to end the battle quickly by expelling the rest of his spiritual energy all at once. 

So attracted were the vines to this massive outpouring of spiritual energy that they gave up on attacking Zhuo Yifeng. Even the vines that had wrapped around Yun Ruoyan began to slither toward the ball surrounding Li Mo instead.

Except for the main vine that grew out of the swampy ground, almost all the remaining vines had rushed toward the ball surrounding Li Mo. It grew more and more massive, and vines swarmed around it so grotesquely that it was a horrifying sight to behold.

Yun Ruoyan continued to slice at the heart of the vine spirit with her dagger, to no avail. Without vines attacking him, Zhuo Yifeng managed to rush to her side. He tried to use his bowstring to saw at the heart of the vine, but it seemed to be as useless as her dagger. Behind them, the ball of vines swiftly grew larger and larger in size, and was almost encroaching on the ground where Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng were standing.

“Ruoyan, this place is dangerous!” Zhuo Yifeng grabbed Yun Ruoyan’s hand. “We have to leave, now!”

As though she hadn’t heard Zhuo Yifeng at all, Yun Ruoyan continued slashing at the vine mindlessly. 

“Don’t pull me!” Yun Ruoyan thundered. “Leave me here! I have to save Li Mo!”

“Given how strong the Slaughtering King is, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing,” Zhuo Yifeng replied, forcefully hoisting her up onto his shoulders and dragging her away despite her protests.

“Let go of me, Zhuo Yifeng! Let go!”

Just as the two of them escaped the nest of wild vines, the gigantic ball surrounding Li Mo began to pulse. Within the ball, Li Mo had heard Yun Ruoyan’s anguished cries, and he decided not to wait any longer. Zhuo Yifeng and Yun Ruoyan could see the ball of vines visibly distorting in shape and becoming oblong.

Zhuo Yifeng stopped moving and put Yun Ruoyan down as they both turned to look at the ball of vines. As it grew larger, the vines wrapped around the ball seemed to go berserk as they tried to flee.

Peng—!

With a loud bang, the ball of vines burst apart, scattering sticks and branches all over. With the bow in his hands, Zhuo Yifeng shielded him and Yun Ruoyan from the bulk of the sticks.

Yun Ruoyan finally saw Li Mo, standing at the epicenter of the explosion.

“Li Mo!”

Li Mo looked at Yun Ruoyan, only able to nod at her before a sudden, shrill scream emerged from the heart of the vines. The three of them all looked toward the swampy ground in unison, only to find a human-like creature waiting for them.

“A wild vine spirit!” Yun Ruoyan cried out. Everyone on the Chenyuan continent knew that wild spirits were far more dangerous than simple magical beasts. The vine spirit’s nude body was speckled with mud, and an engorged vine grew from its brain. It had a head, an upper half-body, and two arms. However, its lower half was nothing more than a tangle of vines: it was a half-spirit, not yet fully formed!

The half-spirit’s eyes were two pitch-black orbs, sweeping over Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng before landing on Li Mo. Li Mo’s eyes gleamed, causing the wild vine spirit to tremble and try to dart back underground in an attempt to flee. 

However, Li Mo grabbed hold of the engorged vine growing from its head and tugged on it, dragging the half-spirit back aboveground as it screamed shrilly once more.

“Trying to leave?” Li Mo thundered at the spirit. “Die!”

In desperation, the half-spirit severed the vine growing on its head. As it landed on the ground, it crawled back into the damp earth like a centipede.

“You dare try to escape?!” Li Mo soared toward the half-spirit’s body, but by the time he arrived by the hole, the half-spirit had completely vanished underground. He leaped down from his sword and pointed a finger at it. The sword let out a resonant cry, then flew into the ground in the direction of Li Mo’s finger. 

Swiftly followed a moderate shaking, accompanied by the vine half-spirit’s shrill screams. Li Mo then directed the sword to return to the surface with the half-spirit in tow. As he sheathed his sword, the half-spirit trembled all over as it begged for mercy by Li Mo’s feet.

Without the slightest hesitation, Li Mo released a gigantic fireball, swallowing the half-spirit whole and leaving naught but ashes behind.

Yun Ruoyan stood behind Zhuo Yifeng, stunned.

“Yan’er.” Li Mo turned and gave her a gentle smile, causing her to blink and finally react.

“Li Mo, are you… alright?” Yun Ruoyan walked up to him and began inspecting him all over.

“Yan’er.” Li Mo cupped Yun Ruoyan’s cheek, his lips curled up into a smile. “Of course I’m alright! But this half-spirit was so sly that if I hadn’t pretended to fall into its trap, it would have escaped my grasp.”

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