In a vast and empty wasteland.
At a glance, this yellow land was littered with grayish-white stones of different shapes and sizes other than the weeds and shrubs.
The blazing sun hung in the air, baking the earth amidst a sky full of yellow dust.
In between this yellow-hued world, a thin and delicate figure sprinted forward.
She was a girl of about six to seven years old. There were light pink plum blossoms embroidered on her yellow silk robe and her raven-black hair was tied into two buns. Her pair of big, black eyes were bright and the small red lips under her delicate nose made her face look exquisite and beautiful.
The girl clutched a rattle-drum the size of her palm in her right hand tightly.
The rattle-drum looked quite used as the drum faces on both sides were slightly yellow. There were several blue snake patterns on it and the two pellets attached at the ends fell on the drum faces from time to time, making soft sounds.
The girl was quite agile for her young age and with just a few movements, she appeared in a clearing in front of a tall bush.
Perhaps she had run too fast, as her fair forehead was covered with beads of sweat. A stream of sweat flowed down from her left cheek and onto her fair and tender neck.
She reached out with her left hand to wipe it away, but did not stop running, her tensed and round face flushed red like a ripe apple.
"Where are you running to, demon!"
At this moment, a man suddenly shouted from a distance behind.
The girl shivered when she heard this and the color in her face drained with fear. Raising her rattle-drum-holding right hand, she turned it as her lips quivered.
A blue light suffused on the drum and as the pellets landed on the drum's surface. It emitted soft sounds and a blue beam shot out from the drum, falling on a cluster of weeds in front of her.
The surface of the weeds were suddenly covered with a layer of blue light, but nothing had happened other than a fleeting flash.
The girl's right hand turned a few more times and a few more rays of blue light fell from the two pellets of the rattle-drum. The extra rays of light landed on the weeds around her, the blue lights accumulating, rising one after another.
After all of this, the girl's face turned even paler, but she did not have the luxury of time to rest. She rushed to burrow into the weeds ahead.
Not long after the girl disappeared into the weeds, clouds of dust flew up from more than a hundred feet behind. Before long, a figure instantaneously appeared in front of the weeds.
As the dust settled, it revealed a huge, bearded man in his forties, holding a shining Steed-Slaying Saber in one hand. He looked very menacing.
His eyes were immediately attracted to the tiny footprints left on the grass and he moved forward, raising his saber to stab into the grass.
At that moment, the grass flashed with a blue light and five long, blue snakes shot out with their mouths opened wide as they lunged at the bearded man.
The bearded man was stunned at first, but he felt for a talisman with his left hand, slapping it onto his body. A white glow emerged and at the same time, his right arm shook, the Steed-Slaying Saber in his hand made a loud buzzing sound and he rushed forward.
A few rays of cold light spun out from the Steed-Slaying Saber. The blue light flashed and three blue snakes were split apart. Then, with two bangs, the other two blue snakes also bounced off the white shield on the man's body and they were also sliced into two by the man's saber.
Those long blue snakes were easily defeated by the bearded man as soon as they appeared. They soon returned to their original forms—several clusters of green weeds.
The bearded man harrumphed and was about to rush into the grass when his expression changed. He put away his Steed-Slaying Saber and stood on the spot.
A rustling sound came from behind him and two figures appeared.
One of them was a young, thin and tall Daoist. His long, gray robe looked a little shabby and he held a white horsetail whisk. The other was a short and tough looking man with a horse-like face. There were some bruises on his face and his hair looked quite messy.
"Daoist Daoists, are you alright?" the bearded man asked as he turned to look at the two men.
"This demon is indeed the daughter of the fox demon. It's really cunning. Daoist Qi and I were in a hurry to catch up and were tricked. But Daoist Yan, why did you stop here? Where is that demon?" the horse-faced man waved his hand and asked with some doubt.
The bearded man said nothing and pointed to the tall grass in front of him. The tiny footprints in front of the grass were still visible.
"Then what are we waiting for? I'll get it done in one fell swoop and capture it." The horse-faced man saw this and wanted to rush into the grass.
"This demon has been on the run for a full day and I think it's at the end of its rope. But it uses illusions of the wood attribute and in this grass, it will be like a fish in water. It will be inappropriate to rush in like that," Daoist Qi narrowed his eyes and said.
"Then are we going to let it escape like this? This demon is so cunning at such a young age, if it becomes an adult, it would cause even more trouble," the horse-faced man said unwillingly as he hesitated for a moment before he stopped moving completely.
"It's our duty as cultivators to rid and subdue demons. Since the three of us have found this fox demon, we will never let it return to the mountains," said the bearded man with awe-inspiring righteousness.
"Daoist Yan, by what you said, have you thought of a countermeasure?" Daoist Qi's eyes darted around as he asked.
"These grasslands are not small. If the three of us blindly chase after it, I'm sure we will be able to catch that demon, but I'm afraid that it will take a lot of effort. I heard that Daoist Feng had bought a Fire Cloud Talisman recently and Daoist Qi is highly skilled in the wind inducing technique. With the two of you working together, this piece of grass will be gone and the demon will be unable to escape," the bearded man said slowly.
"Fire Cloud Talisman… It's not impossible, but after catching that fox, I'll have the fur and nothing else. How about that?" said the horse-faced man as he pondered for a moment.
"No, it must be caught alive." The bearded man shook his head and refused.
"Daoist Yan, why do you say so? My Fire Cloud Talisman is at a mid-beginner class, and it cost me a lot." The horse-faced man's expression darkened and his voice was cold.
"Daoist Feng, calm down a little. If I'm correct, Daoist Yan is an outer disciple of the Blood Saber Sect. I heard not too long ago that the sect issued a mission, that if one catches a demon alive, not only would they be able to become an inner disciple, they can also receive a Bloodsucking Pill and one thousand Spirit Stones as a reward." Daoist Qi glanced at the bearded man meaningfully.
"I didn't expect Daoist Qi to be so well-informed and know so much about our Blood Saber Sect. A straightforward person does not resort to innuendo, if both of you are able to help me catch this fox demon, I'll split all of the Spirit Stones reward equally with the both of you. How about that?" the bearded man said as he looked at the two men with no change in his expression.
"Since Daoist Yan has said so, I have no opinion." Daoist Qi casually waved the horsetail whisk in assent.
"In that case, let's not waste anymore time and just do it," the horse-faced man said and took out a talisman from his bag. After looking at it with a pained expression, he unhesitatingly threw it forward and chanted.
The surface of the talisman suddenly glowed with a red light and then burst into a red flame, like a cloud of fire and pressed down on the weeds below.
Sparked by the cloud of fire, the tall weeds immediately burst into flames.
When Daoist Qi saw this, he flicked the horsetail whisk in his hand after saying a Daoist proclamation that sought the blessings of the Heavenly Lord of the Immeasurable.
In an instant, fierce whooshing sounds could be heard and white, misty wind emerged from the previously placid sky, fanning the flames.
The wind helped the fire and the fire quickly spread among the weeds like a tidal wave, with black smoke mixed with ash rolling in the air.
The three men stared at the fire in front of them without blinking.
"Over there!" Suddenly, Daoist Qi shouted and his body catapulted forward like an arrow, rushing towards some spot in front of him. The horsetail whisk in his hand shook and a faint blue light covered it.
When the bearded man and the horse-faced man heard this, they followed behind Daoist Qi.
Two to three hundred feet away, a small figure suddenly appeared from the burning grass. It was the girl who had run into the grass before.
The yellow silk robe on her was torn in many places and her fair face had turned black from the soot.
She had been hiding in these grasslands and had been carefully changing the direction of her movements, in order to remain hidden from her pursuers. Hearing that there were no sounds coming from behind her, she thought that she could breathe a sigh of relief. However, she did not expect the other party to use fire to force her out.
The girl's face was tense and her expression was full of panic. She rushed forward trying to escape the flames, coughing sporadically.
In the end, she did not escape far before she felt a cool wind behind her and she saw a piece of dense, black silk appear, heading towards her.
Simultaneously, there was another sound from above her head and a large net came crashing down.
Despair appeared in the girl's eyes, but then, her eyes fell on a withered little tree ten feet away. Her eyes lit up and she bit her tongue hard.
The horse-faced man was the slowest, he looked happy when he saw the bearded man working together with Daoist Qi to block the girl's path.
A big piece of black silk fell across the girl and tightly bound her, at the same time, the large black net also fell over her.
But at this moment, a flash of blue light spread across the girl who could not move and she was replaced by a withered tree.
"Substitution magic!" Both the bearded and horse-faced man's expressions darkened when they realised they had been duped once again.
"There!" The horse-faced man busily pointed towards a distance not too far away.
The withered tree that was over there turned into a girl holding a rattle-drum. She fearfully looked back and then turned to rush forward.
"Chase after it!"
Maybe it was because she had used the substitution magic but the girl was even paler and her feet felt light. She was stumbling around like a drunkard and the more she ran the slower her speed became. The distance between the three people behind her rapidly shortened.
The girl suddenly exclaimed as she stumbled over a stone and flew forward, bumping into a huge, gray boulder and pitifully fell onto the ground.
"Keep on running!"
When the three men saw this, they slowed down and slowly encircled her. The horse-faced man even licked his lips eerily.
Together, the three men had chased the girl for almost a day and night and suffered many losses. They naturally felt quite angry, especially the horse-faced man, who even had to use a precious fire cloud talisman.
The girl's body was small and delicate. Under the fierce gazes of the approaching three men, she pressed herself against the huge boulder behind her and huddled into a ball. However, her eyes remained defiant and filled with hatred.
Seeing the expression on the girl's face, the three men did not give it another thought. The horse-faced man stepped forward, raised his hand and said coldly, "Although I can't kill you, I have to teach you a lesson today!"
At this moment, a completely unexpected event occurred.
There was a cracking sound!
Countless tiny cracks appeared on the surface of the huge boulder the girl was pressing herself against and many small stones fell and landed on the body of the girl, making her body tremble from the pain.
When the horse-faced man saw this, he gave a surprised cry. His raised right hand was also suspended in mid-air and the other two men's attention moved away from the girl and on to the huge boulder behind her.
Under the eyes of the three men, the cracks on the surface of the boulder spread like a spider's web. Many pieces of stone peeled off from the boulder and fell to the ground listlessly.
It was rather obvious that the girl did not expect such a strange scene to happen to the boulder behind her and neither did the three men before her. She closed her eyes in fright and held her head with her hands, not daring to move.
With a boom, the huge boulder finally broke apart inch by inch under the loud noises. Large chunks of the boulder flew out and landed on the ground hard, creating small clouds of dust.
The three men were shocked and took several steps back with guarded expressions, but their eyes were still trained in the direction of the boulder.
"W-what is this?" The expression on the horse-faced man changed as he called out in shock.
After the dust settled, it revealed a surprising scene, the boulder had disappeared and in its place was the figure of a very tall man.
He was dressed in a blue shirt; his hair and face covered by a layer of gray lime. His facial features looked rather ordinary and he had dark skin. With his eyes peeled ahead, he seemed a little dull and slow, but he was a head taller than the bearded man.
This sudden turn of events left the young girl and her three hunters dumbfounded.
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