Han Bei rushed through the green planes. Determination and anger were etched onto his face in an equal measure. Anger at the prey that made a fool out of him, and anger at himself that he allowed the situation to happen in the first place. He swore under his breath, " Heavens damn it, I'll get those mutts even if it's the last thing I do. "
Thankfully all was not lost. While the green wolf managed to escape with its pack it didn't do so unscathed. The danger beast left behind a trickle of its potent blood that might have been invisible to mortal eyes but couldn't be more obvious to anyone or anything with proper spirit sense. Another reason why Han Bei was in such a rush, and not because he wanted to erase the source of his embarrassment before something else had the chance.
The trail led away from the western part of Scavenger plains where Han Bei hunted and towards the central part which was much more active, and where there was a greater chance of running into members of the Skeleton manor. It wasn't that Han Bei didn't care but he was so focused on his current prey that all the warnings and wisdom he held so close to heart turned into nothing more than background noise.
The further along the track went the greater amount of blood was left behind but Han Bei couldn't be happy about it. " Sooner or later something else will catch onto this scent and I will have unwanted competition ". Han Bei flooded his legs with qi and his speed increased as he rushed towards the prey that skipped through his grasp.
As Han Bei finally found that damn wolf he couldn't help but be frustrated. The danger beast was already dead, and it wasn't the injuries left by his attacks that brought the beast down. He observed that 3 men had killed the alpha beast and what was left of its pack. 2 of them were noticeably younger while the last one was an elderly man of indeterminable age thanks to a messy brown beard that covered his faces and attempted to hide his yellow sickly teeth.
" Hunters of some sort? " Han Bei inquisitively thought as he looked for any insignia or other sign that might have allied them with the Skeleton manor and he breathed a bit easier as he found none. The 3 men stared at him and the elder looked like the leader as the 2 youths stood behind him. They wore no robes instead all of them were cloaked in wolve pelts decorated with fangs and skeletal wolf heads. The man that seemed like the leader was armed with a great bronze warhammer while one of his companions used a spear and the other a rusted sword.
With his mood still, foul Han Bei brashly swept over his spirit sense over the group. He felt their surface emotions of surprise and caution but more importantly, he felt their power. 2 of the group were cultivators and only nascent at that. The messy hunter was at the qi completion realm and the youth with the sword was at the qi gathering realm while the swordsman was still a mortal. The younger nascent cultivator had a long face, black hair tied in a ponytail, and weasel-like eyes that constantly darted around looking for threats, while the mortal youth had short blonde hair and a simple, bordering on the brutish, face. He held his rusted sword with a proper mix of caution and confidence.
" I can take them, " was the first, instinctual thought that crossed Han Bei's mind. " I could take away the body of that damned wolf. " He was stronger than them and to some that might be reason enough but not for Han Bei, he had no wish to walk down a path like that. Han Bei closed his eyes and calmed down after a long breath. " No, my arrogance is not their fault. They made the kill and it's their prey." He respectfully bowed his head and was ready to leave, " Good hunting, brothers. "
" Please wait for a moment senior, " the hunter with the messy beard called out. " This must have been your prey, " the hunter continued. Han Bei wasn't surprised that the elderly man called him a senior since seniority among cultivators was not decided by age but by power, still, he stopped and answered, " That might have been so but you're the one that made the kill, it's yours. " The messy hunter was flustered," No, no, no senior. If the great beast hadn't been injured we might have lost our poor lives instead. Please! "
Han Bei was confused. The body of a danger beast was a precious treasure. " Does the old man want to create a relationship with a stronger cultivator? " He scrutinized the messy hunter and even after he passed his spirit sense over the man again he couldn't discern his motives. He wouldn't decline, of course, as his own resources were rather tight and had fallen just under 30 spirit stones after that damned old monk took his share. Not overly grateful but still courteous he thanked the hunter, " Much obliged, " and walked over to the corpse of the alpha green wolf.
The first thing Han Bei noticed was the wound that caused the demise of the beast. The upper part of its head and the snout were crushed into an unrecognizable mess of broken bones and flesh. " Caused by that big-ass hammer no doubt, " he thought to himself. All other injuries were left by the attacks that he made, so it truly seemed that the wolf was on its last breath when it escaped. Unfortunately, the danger beast had bled out during its escape and its body was left dry of most precious resource in its body. The same way an aperture was the foundation of a cultivator's power blood was the foundation of a danger beast. Beasts advanced their bloodline, and subsequently their power, by ingesting precious herbs or devouring other danger beasts with similar elemental affinity. An easy indicator of a beasts affinity was the color of its blood and the alpha green wolf's blood was unsurprisingly bright green color affiliated with the wood element.
As Han Bei went over what remembered of danger beasts he also looked for what other resources he could scavenge from the dead wolf. The pelt was an obvious answer. He took a knife from his bag of holding and divorced the beast from its pelt with practiced ease. " Can't tarry too long otherwise Heaven knows what other monstrosities will be summoned here by the smell of blood. " He stuffed the large pelt inside his bag of holding and was ready to leave when he noticed that there was still a dim green shine to the beasts sharp fangs. For a moment Han Bei extended his spirit sense and made sure no other beasts or creatures approached. He detected no other presences besides the 3 wolf hunters and quickly went to work. At first, he carefully carved out the teeth from the jaws of the beast but it proved to be too time-consuming and by the end, he simply ripped the fangs out with his fingers. " I wonder how precious these are? " His attention was concentrated on the body of the beast and in his rush, he was left wide open.
His feet sank deeper into the ground as Han Bei felt something hit him on the head. He abruptly stood up and turned around. The messy hunter stumbled backward and his weapon almost fell out his hand but he gathered his courage for another attack. " Fall for this grandfather! "
This time Han Bei caught the weapon mid-swing and wrestled it out of the messy hunter's arms. " The hell do you think you're doing. " Han Bei struck the messy hunter with the handle of the warhammer who fell to the ground with blood streaming from his nose. The 2 other hunters attempted to rush in and save their companion, but Han Bei conjured a single ghost that floated right in front of them. The 2 younger hunters immediately stopped, The younger cultivator was rooted to the spot too frightened to move, while the mortal hunter constantly hesitated as if he wanted to rush past the phantom, his simple face strained by indecisiveness while his sword was aimed at the ghost. That stopped when he heard Han Bei's coarse voice. " Young-blood you're courageous I'll give you that much, but don't mistake courage for stupidy otherwise you might make a mistake that you can't recover from. "
Han Bei then turned his gaze to the messy would-be assassin that was still on the ground. His voice was cold as he demanded answers, " Now you're going to tell me why you thought it was a good idea to cave in my skull. " The messy hunter defiantly declared, " This grandfather isn't telling you squat, you monster! " Han Bei coldly smiled and asked with dark amusement, " Are you sure? " The messy hunter stubbornly remained silent while Han Bei repeated the question, " Are you sure? " Met with silence again Han Bei planned to went out at least a fraction of the frustration he felt today. He stepped closer and boldly placed his foot on the messy hunter's crotch. He demanded again, " Now I suggest you talk before you turn in to a grandmother. " The messy hunter turned beet red while his companions cringed from the sight. The hunter roared, " Have you no honor? " Han Bei snorted, " As if you're one to talk about honor."
As the pressure on the old hunter's treasure increased his face twisted in pain and he looked around for help. Han Bei noticed that again the mortal boy felt compelled to move, while the other one seemed too scared to even breathe. " Seems about right. A pup is braver than a dog because it doesn't know what it has to be afraid of. " Still, Han Bei couldn't deny he liked that sort of bravado.
With his spear nearly squashed the old hunter finally cracked, although now his voice had a much higher pitch, " Fine, I'll talk, I'll talk pleasure just spare me some dignity." Han Bei was unmoved, " Then you better talk fast. " The messy hunter swallowed his resentment and confessed, " All the brothels and taverns in Last light are plastered with your face and a promise of 500 spirit stones to anyone that can deliver you dead or alive to the Skeleton manor. "
Han Bei spat to the side, " Of course they would put a fucking bounty on my head wouldn't they." He lifted his foot and the messy hunter breathed a sigh of relief. Han Bei's gaze sharpened as he contemplated what to do with the trio and murderous intent filled his eyes." Probably should get rid of them. " he could end the messy hunter in a second, stun the younger cultivator with a ghost before he broke his neck. He didn't even need to touch the mortal boy, the local wildlife would end him long before he could reach safety.
Neither the messy hunter nor the young cultivator dared to look Han Bei in his cold green eyes as they sensed the bloodthirsty light behind them. Only the mortal boy dared to defy his gaze with a glare one of his own. " This one wouldn't go down without a fight," Han Bei inwardly praised. " That's how a cultivator should be, someone that faces adversity head-on instead of avoiding it. " The more he thought about it the more Han Bei felt it would be a shame to put an end to the youth's path of cultivation before it even started. He hesitated for a while longer and sighed. The ghost faded and the pressure on both youths disappeared.
The murderous glint in Han Bei's eye's dissipated and the old hunter hesitantly asked, " Are you letting us go? '' With a sour face, Han Bei answered, " I am, " before he kicked the messy hunter in the face and knocked him out. The young cultivator stepped back in fear, while the mortal boy shouted in anger, " You bastard! " but before the mortal boy could do anything stupid, Han Bei threw the messy hunter at him, and both of them went down to the ground. Han Bei spoke in a clear and authoritative manner, " Stop shouting, I didn't kill that rat just knocked him out. Now get him out of my sight before I change my mind. "
The mortal boy's face momentary changed to one of relief, and the younger cultivator repeatedly bowed and shouted, " Thank you for your mercy Senior! Thank you very much! " Han Bei ignored the younger cultivator and looked at mortal youth instead who cradled his senior. He smiled as he saw that the boy's eyes had only turned more furious. He turned around pleased that he didn't make a mistake. " The world will definitely be more interesting with more souls like his."
After he walked a distance away Han Bei was joined by another figure in tattered monk robes. With a neutral tone, the old monk commented, " How merciful of a wanted man to let them go." Han Bei shrugged, " Perhaps once they bring back news to the skeleton manor those bone heads will assign a proper bounty on my head. " The old monk chuckled " I imagine the skeleton manor will be grateful enough for your mercy. " Han Bei's tone turned more serious " I'm no demon, I'm not gonna slaughter all those I come across just to hide my tracks like a rat. " The old monk continued in the same neutral tone, " Be sure that your righteousness doesn't cost you your life, little corpse. " Han Bei snorted again, " You're talking as if I'm some sort of a saint. " The old monks' eyes lit up as he remembered something. " Talking about saints, I have something for you." A pale arm emerged from Han Bei's black cloak and caught a round object. It was a pill that Han Bei quickly swallowed. Seconds passed and nothing happened while he shook his head in dismay. " This one is a no go as well. "
Previously he had ingested several different pills yet none had any effect on him, Rejuvenating spirit pill, unfortunately, was no exception. Strength enhancing, cultivation increasing his stomach digested them so completely that none managed to take effect. His body simply rejected the strength brought by the secrets of the alchemists, and Han Bei couldn't hide the disappointment that fact brought to him. Surpiringly it was the old monk that brightened his mood.
The elderly man noticed something and politely asked, " Little corpse, please give me your arm. " Han Bei naturally hesitated as he remembered what happened last time. The old monk asked again, " Come on now, don't be a baby. " Han Bei hesitated for a while longer but with a resigned sigh, he stretched out his arm, precisely because he remembered what happened last time. The old monk scrutinized his arm and Han Bei winced as the old thing touched the bite left by the alpha wolf, not out of the pain but out of expectation for something bizarre. " Only Heaven knows what happens inside that mind of his, " Han Bei thought as he watched the old monk inspect the thick muscle underneath his skin.
Luckily his arm didn't turn inside out or detach itself to become an entity all on its own, instead, the old monk managed to squeeze out a single drop of vicious green liquid that wilted away a small patch of the luminous grass once it fell to the ground. The old monk spoke with familiar fervor, " It's not just medicine that your body rejects but poison as well. "
It didn't take long and Han Bei noticed the positive side of this defect and he chuckled in a silent manner as his mood improved, " What a path it opens up, one where any outside interference is scoffed at and only skill and merit pave the way while all else is discarded. The path of a true immortal. " Yet Han Bei knew that it was just a dream, for the human heart was filled connections and distractions. None but legends have reached the apex and everyone else just shuffled along as high as they could. Han Bei only hoped that his path would lead him to his goals before his flame burned out.