17 Take One for the Team

"Hateful! Hateful! Hateful!"

While Xinzi and co. traded homicidal blows, several monstrous figures gathered at the extreme end of the Burning Hell. Uneven rows of vermilion stone walls, four sinuous magma lakes forming downward slopes that connected to a towering flame altar, and an abundance of narrow craters from which orange flames geysered. True to its name, the Burning Hell was one of those places that welcomed visitors with burning passion and scalding heat. So warm was the reception that most people dared not embrace it—stopping at the entrance instead.

Likewise, the residents of the Burning Hell's deepest holes rarely ventured out of their territories—preventing the White Immortal sect elders from making a correct assessment of the Ice-Fire cave's true dangers. The eight monstrous figures gathering above the stone walls accounted for half of said dangers.

Each above five meters tall, the mysterious beasts ranged from Three-Eyed Tigers to Steaming Apes, including a rare species of Blood Yang Gorilla whose body dazzled the scene through a colorful mixture of red and golden fur. Yet, no matter how eye-catching the Blood Yang Gorilla was, the beasts' eyes didn't budge from the flame altar, in which images of Xinzi, Xia Hu and co. flickered. A winged lion beast hovered above the flames, with ruby-colored, metallic skin and eyes as dark as a starless night.

"Rank two soldiers in the hundreds, rank three officers in the dozens! Can one of you vile mongrels explain to This King why This King's elite troops have vanished from their posts to become fuel for a mutant arm? How can we afford this loss?" The Armored Lion's tail, a metallic cobra, wiggled as his strident voice boomed throughout the cave—forcing the beasts to lower their heads and tremble at their king's fury.

Including Xinzi, all White Immortal sect disciples believed that the Ice Fire cave's strongest beasts didn't exceed rank three. Better, the sect convinced its disciples that said rank three beasts were all newly ascended beasts with low life expectancies. This overconfident assessment stemmed from a simple reason: Blood Spirits.

Just like the sect's Pulse Condensation experts or above dared not step into the Ice-Fire cave for fear of drawing the starving ghosts of the Blood Spirit Valley, rank three beasts or above would instantly become flashy baits that the Blood Spirits would not hesitate to gang up on. In fact, as mysterious beasts innately possessed more Blood Energy than humans, the Blood Spirits would attack them at a faster pace than their human counterparts. At least, that's how things were supposed to be. Reality, however, took a different turn.

The White Immortal sect's leadership couldn't imagine that, not only did the Blood Spirits not hunt down the superior beasts, but they also allowed the birth of a tyrannical rank five Beast King, with several rank four Sentient Beasts at his command. For centuries, this Beast King hoarded the true wealth of the Burning Hell, using it to train a growing army of mighty beasts which he kept secluded in the confines of the infernal cave.

"Great King, this is either the work of one of those so-called demonic formations or a superb black-grade Treasure. Be that as it may, the troops are lost. Now we must make sure that the bald kid can't pull off the same trick again, or we risk losing the remaining half of our army," a colossal rooster said.

"Rubbish! This King wants to go and munch them to the last gonad! But have you forgotten the terms of our treaty with that person? That person provided us with shelter from the Blood Spirits and information on the outside in exchange for our allegiance, restraint and continuous growth! That person will be the one deciding when we can set out to ravage the land. Now, not only have we lost centuries worth of preparations, but once we make a move, we also risk revealing ourselves to the White Immortal sect's higher-ups!"

"COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!" The Armored Lion's cobra tail whipped the air, sending the rooster crashing towards the ceiling with loud crowing sounds.

Never in his life had the mighty Beast King ever felt this wronged. Mysterious beasts might boast several times a human's lifespan, but they also cultivated at a tragic pace. So slow was the average mysterious beast that they could go through decades of cultivation for no noticeable improvement. One could therefore imagine the time and resources that went into raising the rank two and three beasts. If it were only the rank one beasts, so be it. But since when did elite soldiers and officers grow on trees? Without 500 years of hard work, the Armored Lion King couldn't make up for this loss, and the thought sheared his heart. Worse, the Armored Lion King dared not go against his master's orders and avenge this slight.

"The situation calls for extreme measures. I'm sure that with our troops' survival on the line, that person would forgive the transgression. Moreover, as long as we murder them all in one blow, our existence will remain a secret. Great King, we can't afford to be soft." A Steaming Ape chimed in, forcing the Armored Lion King to realize his lack of options. But as the Beast King floundered between reason and fears, the Blood Yang Gorilla's voice echoed, knocking him off his feet.

"The White Immortal sect is indeed worthy of being a top power of Yanzhou. Who could imagine that in a single generation, they'd produce so much talent and beauties...beauties." The Blood Yang Gorilla drooled as he leered at Chun Xu and Dong Ling's luscious curves. But before his brain could draw him into wild phantasms, his king appeared before him.

"Why are you praising the enemy and reducing our morale? Of all the mongrels gathered here, you are the real dog! Die for This King!" The Armored Lion King said, wrapped his tail around the Blood Yang Gorilla's neck and smashed him into the ground.

"Great King, forgive me!" The Blood Yang Gorilla pleaded his case, but for each plea, his boss hoisted him up for their fellow beasts to see, then soaked his butt in the boiling magma lake.

"The Steaming Ape General is correct. We must strike hard and fast. Blood Yang Gorilla General, this is your chance to redeem yourself. I want this bald son of a bitch captured within a minute and the other three's heads hanging as my new chamber pots!"

"Great King, you never had chamber pots!"

"Roll!" Besides himself with rage, the Armored Lion King uttered a strident roar before hurling the Blood Yang Gorilla across the Burning Hell.

"Great King, was this wise? Blood Yang Gorillas became infamous for thinking with their meat. Even as Sentient Beasts, they rank among the most foolish of our kind and would rather hunt beauties than keep their young ones fed. Though the Blood Yang General is undoubtedly the strongest of the rank four Sentient Beasts, I'm afraid he's not suitable for this…"

"Shut up! This King wants them to suffer a fast but brutal death, and as silly as he might be, the Blood Yang General is best suited for this task! Bring the wine and fruits! This King must enjoy a wasteful meal as he watches these impudent whelps get pierced to death by the Gorilla's meat-spear!"

Meanwhile, one-sided battles went on. Dong Ling's Lesser Spirit Snake Sword shifted between its whip and longsword forms, coordinating with her Spirit Snake Sword Art and poisonous skills to contend with Chun Xu. Alas, without even tapping into her Extreme Lightning Sword Art, the Sword Fairy danced around Dong Ling's blows, avoiding or deflecting them with masterful grace while pressuring Dong Ling with blunt but heavy strikes.

Clearly, Chun Xu could have ended the fight in one move but knew that Dong Ling's loss would only shift Xinzi's attention towards her. Needing an excuse to drag things out and get in the perfect range to aim at the Anti-Teleportation Array, the Sword Fairy used her opponent's battle will to her advantage.

Guiding Dong Ling's course through her blows, Chun Xu landed right underneath the Anti-Teleportation Array and threw a palm strike at Dong Ling's chest. Gliding back, Dong Ling avoided the blow by a hair's breadth. Explosive heatwaves poured forth, forcing Dong Ling to use her profound-grade sword as a shield and retreat to avoid colliding with Chun Xu's searing blow.

Not letting go of that opening, the Sword Fairy aimed her sword at the Anti-Teleportation Array. Seven energy swords formed beside the ordinary weapon, erupting with electric arcs and roaring thunder.

With a smile, Xinzi raised Xia Hu by the neck and hurled him at the Anti-Teleportation Array. The swordmaster fell into Chun Xu's path, forcing her to lower her sword. This moment of hesitation was all Dong Ling needed. Purple taipan snakes broke out of the ground, coiled up Chun Xu's legs and sank their fangs into her thighs—injecting liters of monstrous venom in one bite.

The Sword Fairy's reflexes kicked in, bringing forth waves of Sword Qi that sliced the taipans into cluttered pieces. 'Western...mysterious beasts? How?' Chun Xu's words sounded like forced whispers. Her vision blurred, her knees buckled, and she fell onto the broken ground. A knowledgeable cultivator, the Sword Fairy knew that Purple Taipans were mysterious beasts that didn't exist in the Eastern Continent. How did Dong Ling get her hands on two, and from who did she learn these noxious skills?

She wouldn't have the answer now. Carried by the momentum of Xinzi's throw, Xia Hu gathered all the qi he had left for one blow at the array. His hand had not clenched into a full fist that Xinzi appeared a step above, aiming his mutant arm at Xia Hu's face.

"The Golden Lotus be praised. Time to end your pains," Xinzi said, cold-blue flames set his arm ablaze, with each flickering spark staring at Xia Hu like the emissary of death. But before the flames poured out and erased the protagonist from Xinzi's list of troubles, a colossal shadow sprang out of nowhere to loom over Dong Ling and Chun Xu.


The Blood Yang Gorilla didn't beat around the bush. The tyrannical aura of a rank-four Sentient Beast dropped on the scene as it beat its chest for a jarring entrance—sending shivers down the spines of all four White Immortal disciples.

Without hesitation, Xinzi destroyed the Anti-Teleportation Array and tapped his storage ring, summoning a brown gourd from which a floral aroma oozed out.

"Brother Xia, please take one for the team. If we survive this disaster, I swear to repay you!" Xinzi said in an oddly apologetic tone before pouring the gourd's pink-colored fluid on Xia Hu's face. The pretty boy barely had the time to process the change that Xinzi activated three teleportation talismans in succession.

With the first, he appeared beside Dong Ling and grabbed her by the waist. With the second, he seized Chun Xu, but as the third took effect, the Blood Yang Gorilla flew into a rage. Berserk waves of spiritual energy barreled into the runic symbols of Xinzi's teleportation talisman—bamboozling its trajectory!

At that time, the floral aroma and pink liquid now drenching Xia Hu kicked in—perverting the Blood Yang Gorilla's senses. Though the Gorilla had successfully hijacked the talisman, Xinzi, Chun Xu and Dong Ling vanished from the scene while Xia Hu stayed behind to face the Gorilla whose cheeks flushed red.

"Beauty! Beauty! Beauty!" The Blood Yang Gorilla lunged at Xia Hu, grabbed him by the waist and trapped him on his shoulder.

"ARGGGGGH! Let me go! Xinzi, don't leave me behind! HELP! HELP!" Xia Hu thrashed in the gorilla's arms, but to no avail.

'Boy, you will suffer. But in all disasters lie opportunities. I will teach you a unique dual cultivation method. Use it to make the best of a disastrous fate.' The old man's voice resounded in Xia Hu's mind, making the pretty boy grow livid.


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