Chapter 111: An Encounter in the Woods

    Chapter 111: An Encounter in the Woods

    Translator: Novel Saga  Editor: Novel Saga

    "Many thanks to you, Brother Shi."

    The young Taoist warrior rejoiced as he heard Shi Mu's reply. He took out a few pieces of charm paper, a bottle of pale-yellow magic ink, and an earth-attribute spirit stone from his bosom. Then, he handed them over to Shi Mu.

    Shi Mu placed the stuff on his table. He then took out a magic brush, and spread-out a piece of charm paper. He held the spirit stone in one hand, and started to draw charm characters with the other.

    The pale-yellow charm characters started to appear on the paper one-by-one. A Golden Armor Charm was completed within a few minutes.

    There was a trace of satisfaction on Shi Mu's face.

    The Golden Armor Charm was the most requested magic charm in the stronghold. So, Shi Mu's success rate in these charms was astonishing even when he didn't use his unusual eyesight.

    He returned the remaining magic ink, paper and spirit stone to the Taoist warrior along with the completed paper charm.

    "Brother Shi is a prodigy when it comes to making magic charms. There are a few Charm Magicians in our Sect who can't draw a single magic charm even after wasting a lot of materials," the Taoist warrior received the charm as he complemented in a joyous tone.

    "Hehe, Brother Qin is over-praising me. But, I won't charge you less; no matter how much you praise me. It's the same old rule - two feat points for one magic charm," Shi Mu joked as he took out his token and placed it on the table.

    "Sure." The youth fished out his own token and rubbed it twice. Two luminous dots flew out from inside it, and submerged into Shi Mu's token.

    The youth expressed his gratitude and started to walk out of the room.

    He had barely pushed open the door when another blue-robed disciple of the Black Turtle Sect walked in and said, "Brother Shi, you're finally back. I want to bother you once again. Please refine a Body-Lifting Charm for me."

    Shi Mu looked outside and saw two more disciples standing outside his door. This made him smile resignedly.

    Bai Yu Xiu still sat by the stone table in the meeting room. His exasperation grew more intense as he witnessed this. He said at once, "The meeting is adjourned". Then, he turned around and walked towards his own stone room. Suddenly, a stern expression flashed in his eyes as the image of a delicate and beautiful figure floated into his mind.

    "Humph! I consider this to be his good luck. But, he wouldn't have the same luck the next time. A primary Hou tian warrior can die at any moment in this damned place," Bai Yu Xiu banged his hand on a wooden table in his room, and said in a wicked tone.

    *** ***

    Shi Mu completed the last requested magic charm after half-an-hour. He smiled as he saw the additional twenty 'feat' points in his token.

    Now, he needed to endure the hardships of war, and await his return to the rear base camp of the union. His accumulated feat points would be of great use to him then.

    The resources of the seven big Sects had been integrated at this base. One could exchange one's feat points for the rare materials stored therein... such as precious spirit stones, powerful magic weapons, rare herbs and pills. It was even possible to obtain other Sects' Cultivation Arts and Martial Arts techniques as long as one had enough feat points.

    Shi Mu closed the door, and sat down cross-legged on his bed. He then took out a small jade bottle, and poured down a Bone-Tempering Pill in his mouth.

    His complexion changed after a while. His face appeared blue at some times, and white at other times. His clothes seemed to have a slight bulge; it seemed as if they were stirred-up by a stream of invisible air.

    Shi Mu opened his eyes after a long time. He seemed to be exulted.

    After all, he had just made a breakthrough, and had climbed-up another level in the Art of Breeding Heavenly Elephants.

    He had been constantly receiving orders to go on expeditions since the last one year. He had been wandering about in the dangerous district, and had led a hard life. However, he never showed any sign of slacking-off in his practice. In fact, his potential had been stimulated in these extreme conditions of war where he had been killing unceasingly.

    He had reached the fourth stage of The Art of Breeding Heavenly Elephants with the assistance of pills. Moreover, he wasn't far from reaching the fifth stage. In addition, he had entered the middle stage of Hou Tian realm at one fell swoop.

    He had also broken through the fourth stage of the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power several months ago with the support of the Moon-Swallowing Art.

    However, the speed of transforming moon energy into the crystal capsule had slowed down ever since he had stepped into the fourth stage. An entire month's effort of accumulating moonlight could only condense into a rice grain-sized crystal grain at his current speed. Moreover, it could enhance his magic power only to the smallest extent. Therefore, he hadn't experienced the euphoric sensation of making progress in his spirit power by accumulating a bean-size moonlight crystal in a long time.

    However, this wasn't a strange phenomenon. The higher the stage of the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power - the greater the level of difficulty in advancement to the next stage.

    Shi Mu had estimated that he'd have to spend at least two years to step into the fifth stage of the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power... even if he took the assistance of the Moon-Swallowing Art.

    He sighed softly. Then, he shook his head and chuckled in a self-ridiculing manner.

    The old saying had turned out to be true - one never gets gratified with what one has. The man who is never content is like a snake who's trying to swallow an elephant. To reach Shi Mu's present state within a span of two years could be considered as an extremely fast rate of growth.

    Shi Mu knew that the Moon-Swallowing Art had been supporting his practice all this time. It was unimaginably weird how he had got access to this Art. However, he still wasn't satisfied with his growth. The human greed is indeed limitless; it can never be fulfilled.

    Shi Mu introspected. Then, his impetuous mood returned to its normal tranquil state. He closed his eyes, and started to practice.

    Time slid-by extremely fast. Soon, it was night.

    The disciples in the stronghold strived vigorously throughout the day. So, they went to take rest at night; except for the ones who were put on the 'night shift' to guard the stronghold.

    Shi Mu quietly pushed-open his door, and tiptoed through the mine tunnel. He soon arrived at the entrance of the huge tree.

    The world outside the mine was pervaded with tranquility. A bright round moon hung in the night sky; it looked exceptionally bright.

    "Brother Shi, are you heading out again?" A disciple stood behind a boulder near the huge tree. He was on the night duty. He stuck out his head and greeted Shi Mu as he noticed him emerge from the tunnel.

    Shi Mu replied with a nod. Then, he advanced in the direction of the nearby woods with a light and relaxed pace.

    Shi Mu always stayed outside on bright moonlit nights. Almost everyone in the stronghold was aware of this.

    However, Shi Mu was quite tactful. Therefore, he had given a proper explanation to the other disciples regarding his strange behavior. He had told them that he had been practicing secret training that required sufficient moonlight. So, he had to go outside during moonlit nights. Surprisingly, no one ever suspected him. After all, there were various strange arts in the world that needed moonlight to be practiced.

    Shi Mu arrived at an open space in the woods after a quarter-of-an-hour. This place was a few kilometers away from the stronghold.

    He carefully examined the surrounding area. He was relieved as he didn't find anything unusual around him.

    He was the sole Charm Magician in his stronghold. So, no one dared to risk his life and spy on him. But still, Shi Mu changed places every time he went out for his night practice to avoid any contingencies.

    He fished-out four pieces of blue paper charms from his bosom. He placed them around him, and started to chant an incantation. The four paper charms gleamed slightly. Then, the gleam dimmed down.

    Shi Mu nodded in satisfaction.

    These four paper charms weren't ordinary. They were called the 'Four-sided' Magic Charms. These four magic charms were used to make a set of four-way 'sealing' formula. It could detect any suspicious thing or sound that appeared within a radius of three-hundred meters.

    Shi Mi had spent more than ten-thousand silvers and a low-grade fire-attribute spirit stone to obtain these magic charms a few months ago. He had exchanged these charms from one of the disciples of the Wind and Fire Sect.

    Therefore, he was always at ease while he practiced the Moon-Swallowing Art.

    He sat down cross-legged after he had set-up the magic formula. He then exhibited the posture of the Moon-Swallowing Art, and entered into his dreamland.

    The moonlight seemed to be flooding like water in his dreamland. Shi Mu reincarnated as the white ape, and gazed at the moon with a raised head. An unending stream of moonlight essence started to enter into his eyes.

    *** ***

    The entire night passed in a flash.

    The sky started to get brighter and clearer. Shi Mu's body twitched as he returned from his dreamland.

    He felt a bean-sized crystal capsule hopping up and down in his mind. It was emitting a faint luster.

    Shi Mu had stopped using the crystal grain ever since he had found that it wouldn't help him as much as before. But, he continued to accumulate the moonlight essence so that the crystal grain could continue to grow bigger. He wanted to see what would happen if the crystal grain turned into something else.

    Shi Mu exhaled a long breath. He then got up to his feet. After that, he turned around and started to walk in the direction of his stronghold.

    The morning sky gradually gained brightness. Mist fluttered in the early morning wind like bands of delicate blue gauze; it looked exquisitely beautiful.

    Shi Mu jumped over a mound as he heard the sound of flowing water. He saw a meandering stream flowing nearby.

    A delighted look appeared on his face. An entire night's practice had drained away his energy; he was thirsty.

    He scuttled to the stream and filled his water bag with fresh water. He was about to drink it when he heard a vague sound of splashing water from the front.

    His complexion changed. He quickly put the water bag away, and pulled out the black blade from his waist. Then, he slowly began to move towards the source of the sound.

    He poked out his head from a clump of dense bushes. He finally saw the source of the sound.

    There was a puddle nearby. It was connected to the rivulet. There was a slender young girl in the puddle. Shi Mu saw her shimmering and bare back. It was covered in the morning mist. Her dark long hair tumbled down her back like a waterfall. Her hair drifted around her in the water like a graceful mist.

    The same 'splashing' sound was produced whenever that girl moved her slender white arms in the water.

    The water droplets slid down her perfectly curved shoulders, and into the stream. Her jade white skin dazzled against the background of the rising sun.

    Shi Mu held his breath. His body froze to the spot; he didn't know how to react.

    The girl turned around in the water; it revealed the soft peaks of her beautifully plump front. Suddenly, Shi Mu caught a glimpse of her face. It was Ke.

    Shi Mu was shocked. He couldn't bear it anymore. He moved a step backwards. Unfortunately, he stepped on a withered twig, and it made a light cracking sound.

    "Who's there?"

    Ke's charming face changed as she quickly moved her arm. Suddenly, a green vine cane darted-out from the water, and rushed towards Shi Mu.

    Shi Mu's complexion changed. He recovered from his stiffness, and quickly stood-up. He then jumped back to dodge the vine.

    'Bang!' there was a loud sound as the vine cane landed on the place where he had stood a moment ago. The powerful attack had made a deep mark on the ground.

    Shi Mu was surprised to see this. He realized that Ke had concealed the majority of her true strength.

    The green vine cane shot from the ground again. It scuttled forward like a spirit snake, and swooped over him.

    Shi Mu's eyebrows winkled. He quickly pulled-out the blade from his waist. He then moved his arm and produced several blade-shadows. These blade-shadows shrouded the vine cane.

    Then, a red light flashed and chopped down the vine branch into a number of pieces.

    The vine cane didn't die even though it was cut into pieces. A black fluid gushed out from the sliced area, and the vine cane started to grow at a lightning speed. Its color turned black, and it started to emit an unpleasant fishy smell.

    Shi Mu was startled. He quickly pulled out his black blade, and placed it horizontally before his body. His other hand moved and fished out a fireball technique paper charm.

    "Oh! Brother Shi... it's you..."

    Shi Mu hadn't realized that Ke had gotten out of the water, and had worn her clothes. Her long black hair weren't tidied-up as yet. They hung wet around her shoulder.

    She was surprised to see Shi Mu standing at that place.
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