Chapter 269: Disappearance

Yun Ruoyan saw the two heavenly spirit fruits not thirty feet from her, and she barely suppressed the desire to grab them and run. The four high-rank beasts were staring warily at each other, and none of them had seemed to detect her and Li Mo’s presence.

As a result, Yun Ruoyan took one small step toward the fruits.

“Yan’er, what are you doing?”

Yun Ruoyan was about to sneak over when Li Mo pulled her back. 

“I wanted to snatch the fruits while they’re distracted!”

“The moment you touch one of those fruits, hundreds of the beasts hidden in this grove will start howling, and the four high-rank beasts will instantly pounce on you,” Li Mo replied severely. “Don’t be impatient. We’ll watch and wait.”

The four beasts growled and bristled at each other, their hostility growing stronger and more palpable. Finally, the green-haired slumberbeast howled at the fire-breathing red-furred beast and an ice-launching green-scaled beast opposite it.

This was the first time that Yun Ruoyan had felt its howl from close range. Last time, she had been by the other side of the valley, and the howl had caused large quantities of low- and mid-rank beasts to scamper out of the grove in fright.

At close range, the howl was so overwhelming that Yun Ruoyan felt as though the ground were trembling all around her. If Li Mo hadn’t held his hands around her ears, she would likely have been rendered unconscious by the sound waves alone.

The slumberbeast’s howl had had the same effect on many of the beasts also gathered in the grove, and even the two high-rank magical beasts right opposite it were shaking their heads and trying to dispel the dissonant sound.

At the same time, the bald yellow beast by the slumberbeast’s side lowered its head and rushed toward the red-furred beast on the opposite side, headbutting it in its stomach.

Peng!

The red-furred beast was instantly knocked away, its enormous body sent sailing into a gigantic tree. Because of its bulk and momentum, it crushed both that tree and the next one it impacted. As it landed on the ground, it spat out a mouthful of particularly red blood, which ignited the grasses and shrubs it landed on.

“What’s causing its blood to catch on fire?” Yun Ruoyan asked in shock.

“This yellow-furred beast is earth-attuned, and it has incredible offensive and defensive power. It seems like its attack actually damaged the red-furred, fire-attuned beast’s spiritual vortex, causing an outpouring of fire-attuned spiritual energy.”

To be able to damage one’s spiritual vortex like that…!

The green-scaled beast immediately shot out an array of icicles at the yellow-furred beast. Although it was able to avoid two of the icicles, it was hit by the third. With a harsh, grating sound, the icicle splintered to pieces, leaving a large gash on the yellow-furred beast’s leg.

When the slumberbeast saw its ally hurt, it howled out once more—but this howl was clearly far weaker than the previous one. Each of the slumberbeast’s howl consumed a certain amount of spiritual energy, so its howls would get weaker and weaker when used in succession.

The green-scaled beast only seemed to be stunned for a moment before becoming clear-headed again, and it shot an icicle at the slumberbeast. The slumberbeast’s ungainly body wasn’t suited for dodging. The icicle stabbed into its leg, causing it to tilt and fall to the ground.

The yellow-furred beast gritted its teeth, bore with its wound, and crashed into the green-scaled beast while its attention was diverted by the slumberbeast. Just as its ally had, the green-scaled beast flew into the distance, breaking a few trees as it did so. When it landed, it likewise spat out a mouthful of blood, turning the ground to ice where it landed.

Clearly, its spiritual vortex had also been damaged.

All four of the beasts had taken a debilitating injury, and hundreds of pairs of eyes seemed to be waiting for a precise moment to strike. Just like Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo, they were trying to figure out how to get the fruit and leave in one piece.

“Since all the other beasts are waiting, what if we—”

“Wait some more. We shouldn’t strike before we’re entirely confident. We’ll need patience to find a way to get what we want while minimizing the injuries we take.”

Yun Ruoyan nodded, suppressing her eagerness to get the fruits as she settled in and continued watching on with Li Mo. 

The yellow-furred beast was the one with the lightest injuries among the four high-rank beasts. Its golden eyes swept across the forested backdrop, causing the multitude of beasts hidden in the grove to slink back in retreat. Then, it glanced at the slumberbeast, who nodded toward it, before stepping toward the two heavenly spirit fruits.

Yun Ruoyan looked on anxiously, itching to dart out and grab the fruits.

“This yellow-furred beast is strong,” Li Mo commented. “Not only is it faster than it looks, it can even severely wound the spiritual vortices of beasts at the same level of cultivation. We’d better not try to attack it with brute force. Dumb bird, get out!” Li Mo turned around.

Mo’er, who had been hiding in Li Mo’s broad hood all along, unwillingly poked its head out. Its nemesis was the slumberbeast, whose two howls had so frightened it that it darted into the depths of his hood and refused to come out.

Now that its master was summoning it, however, it had no choice but to comply.

“This is a packet of bewitching powder. Drop it over the yellow-furred beast’s head.” Li Mo handed a small satchel to Mo’er.

Although Mo’er’s voice could induce sleep, it was far lower in cultivation than these four high-rank beasts. Furthermore, with the slumberbeast around, its signature skill would be easily countered. Its only advantages were its size and speed.

Mo’er hesitated for a moment. Only when it saw the slumberbeast lying injured on the ground did it chirp and hop out of Li Mo’s hood, picking up the small satchel with its beak and flying directly for the yellow-furred beast. 

Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo watched on as it flew above the yellow-furred beast, which growled in warning. Ignoring it, Mo’er pecked a hole in the satchel of bewitching powder and began sprinkling the colorless, odorless powder over the yellow-furred beast’s head. The yellow-furred beast felt its nose suddenly start itching, and it let out an enormous sneeze—sucking in even more of the bewitching powder. Because its back was to the other magical beasts, no one else had discovered what had just happened.

Having accomplished its objective, Mo’er chirped and quickly darted back to Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan’s side, cocking its head as it watched the yellow-furred beast’s antics with its two masters.

The yellow-furred beast’s gaze looked a little dazed.

“Alright, we can show ourselves now.” Li Mo took hold of Yun Ruoyan’s hand and walked out into the open with her. Because the heavenly spirit tree had stopped giving off light after its fruits reached maturity, their surroundings were almost entirely dark.

However, since most of the present beasts had some form of night vision, their two silhouettes were clearly visible. As she walked, Yun Ruoyan could feel hundreds of stares on her, tracking her every move.

Li Mo pulled Yun Ruoyan toward the two heavenly spirit fruits, neither rushing nor walking too slowly. The slumberbeast, green-scaled beast, and red-furred beast all tried to stand back up as they let out warning growls. As Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan walked out, they released their auras completely. Li Mo was a peak ninth-rank blademaster, and Yun Ruoyan a peak seventh-rank. Their combined auras would be able to hold back the low- and weaker mid-rank beasts.

Even the three injured high-rank beasts didn’t immediately attack them.

As the slumberbeast howled once more, Mo’er, who had been perched on Li Mo’s shoulder, immediately darted back into his hood. Following the slumberbeast, the other two high-rank beasts also began to growl.

“Mistress, not good! These three high-rank beasts are commanding the nearby beasts to attack you!”

Almost immediately after Qiuqiu’s warning, the surrounding low- and mid-rank beasts emerged from the forest, surrounding Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo. Whereas Yun Ruoyan had long since unsheathed her spiritsteel dagger in preparation for this eventuality, Li Mo seemed completely unperturbed.

As a red-eyed wolf pounced at the two of them, Yun Ruoyan tried to defend herself with the dagger, but Li Mo pulled her into his embrace and darted aside. Before they could land, Yun Ruoyan heard a loud crash: the yellow-furred beast had physically blocked the blow for them.

The red-eyed wolf’s waist had broken from the impact, and it fell dead to the ground. With the yellow-furred beast around, the other magical beasts didn’t dare attack carelessly, and Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo made it to the heavenly spirit fruits without any further disturbance.

Li Mo stooped down to pick up a fist-sized, multicolored heavenly spirit fruit. Yun Ruoyan was about to do the same with the other, but before she could do so, a black, sharp-toothed, long-snouted creature suddenly popped up from the ground right by the fruit’s side and caught it before she could.

“Ah!” Yun Ruoyan cried out and tried to snatch the fruit back, but the mysterious creature had already popped back into the ground and disappeared without a trace.

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