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The thing that had appeared to the side and caused Rowan to shout out a warning was a qi beast. However, this was no ordinary qi beast. It was a giant velvet worm and unlike most of the beasts in insect gorge, it could utilise qi techniques. It even had a qi core.

Like the giant centipede that they had seen earlier, the giant velvet worm was hanging out on the side of the gorge wall near the very top.  When Rowan and the others had gone down to the platform, it had detected them and moved forward to hunt its prey.

It had moved its head around the side of the wall to look down at Rowan and the others on the platform and then sprayed at them with its adhesive mucus from two tubes at the front of its head.

Despite Rowan’s shout, they had noticed it too late and a few of them were hit with this sticky, adhesive mucus. Thankfully, because of Avery’s fast reactions, he and Bartholomew were only partially hit. Their movements became slightly restricted from the slime that was covering them but they were still far better off than the polearm user, Ray, who had become affixed to the ground.

He had been hit directly and the force of the spray had knocked him over. He then got almost completely covered by the sticky substance but was thankfully able to protect his mouth; otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to breathe and would suffocate to death. Nevertheless, in just a short moment, the velvet worm had completely knocked one person out of commission and reduced the fighting potential of two others.

The velvet worm proceeded to round the corner of gorge wall and move onto the platform where Rowan and the others were. Because of this, it came into the view of Tom who was still at the top of the slope.

“Augh, that looks nasty” said Tom in disgust. It was a comment on both the situation that Ray found himself in and also the appearance of the qi beast that had just came into his view.

Although the velvet worm hadn’t completely rounded the corner yet, Tom could see that it was rather large, probably 10-15m in length, and, although it actually had dark skin, it was hard to tell because it was covered with many knobbly orange papillae.

“Yeah, I know what you mean” said Harrison, looking at his colleague who had been caked in the glue-like slime.

“Should we go down and help?” asked Tom, unsure of whether or not they should get involved.

“No, its fine, Rowan and the others will be able to take care of it. It can use qi techniques but its body isn’t that strong and it’s also incredibly slow. So long as you don’t get caught in its slime it’s not that difficult to deal with” said Harrison, who had seen them before.

As Tom and Harrison were discussing the situation, the velvet worm was crawling further onto the platform and Rowan and the others were dodging as it continued to spurt more of its glue slime at them. Unfortunately, Lance ended up getting one of his feet stuck to the ground and Pike got hit on the arms.

Lance was stuck struggling, trying to free his foot, while Pike only had his hands stuck to his weapon and ran forward towards the worm. Even though his hands were stuck, his arms could still move freely and he could still easily swing and thrust with his glaive.

Rowan too, found the opportunity to run forward and dodged under a stream of the glue slime to approach the worm’s side. As Pike thrust with his weapon at the worm’s head, Rowan struck at its side with her sword.

The reason the velvet worm was so difficult to deal with was because it was able to gather a fair amount of qi and utilise qi techniques. It utilised its qi in such a way, in conjunction with its natural slime glands, that it produced a very sticky and adhesive glue like substance. The slime was one reason the worm was difficult to deal with, but, another reason was that it was also able to use its qi defensively.

Just before Pike and Rowan’s weapons hit against the worm, an orange hue spread all around its body and their weapons bounced off without causing it any harm. It had expelled its qi outside of its body and created a protective layer around itself. If it wasn’t for this ability, then with its slow speed and large body, even with its slime, it would still be vulnerable in insect gorge. This defensive layer of qi was what protected it from the smaller and quicker qi beasts in the gorge that might try and attack it in places it couldn’t defend against.

“Goddamn!” shouted Pike at his failed blow, however, he didn’t have any time to stay idle as the worm moved its head back and looked directly at him.

Pike quickly dodged to the side and managed to avoid the slime that the worm shot at him, but, he had to continue moving back and was forced away and out of striking distance from the body of the worm. Luckily though, Rowan was still at the beast’s side and Avery and the Bartholomew both took this opportunity to rush in too. The velvet worm might have had a defensive qi layer but as long as they struck at it they would be able to wear it down and exhaust its qi.

Rowan made several quick slashes with her sword then chose to instead point the tip of it at the worm’s body and try and push it in. Avery came in from the side and made a heavy overhead swing with his sword. Bartholomew, because of where he’d been hit with the slime, couldn’t utilise his weapon or his right hand; so instead, he began punching it with his left.

The three of them all managed to land a good few blows in before the worm moved its attention away from Pike and back onto them. Unfortunately for it, the defensive layer of orange qi had noticeably dimmed and before it had completely turned to face them, Rowan managed to puncture it and pierce her sword into the worm’s body.

One stab wound on its large body wasn’t enough to fatally injure it, however, Rowan had pushed her sword into it as deep as it could go and then forced it along the side of its body, creating a deep 3m long cut. This wound was enough to fatally injure it, but, it didn’t die straight away.

The velvet worm started desperately thrashing about and squirting slime out of the two tubes at the front of its head. Everyone was forced to move away from it because even if it wasn’t that physically strong, it could still deliver a blow with the force of 8,000 jin if it hit into them.

A couple of them got hit by its glue-like slime as they retreated back and Bartholomew ended up tripping after stepping in some that was already present on the ground. Thankfully, without the addition of the worm’s qi the glue slime was much easier to deal with. It was also fortunate that the effects of the qi on the slime wore off over time.

“Oh no” Rowan said.

She could see that as the velvet worm was thrashing about, it was in danger of falling off the platform and down into the gorge. She didn’t want that to happen because not only was the worm’s qi core useful for her and its slime glands valuable, if it fell down it could disturb the qi beasts below, riling them up and possibly causing the blue devil beetle to flee.

It was at this moment however that Lance was finally able to free his foot. He ran forward, ditching his own spear and picking up the polearm that Ray, who was still stuck to the ground, was using, then raced forward and impaled the velvet worm with the polearm’s side spike. Using this as leverage he was able to drag the velvet worm further onto the platform and secure it there as it went through its last death throes.

Finally, the velvet worm’s thrashing about died down and became weak. Rowan went forward and stabbed her sword into its head for good measure and then the worm finally ceased all movement.

“Hah…” Rowan exhaled deeply.

“Well that was more than I expected”

“Ahh, can you help me now” called out Ray, still stuck on the ground.

“Hahaha, man look at the state of you” laughed Avery while making his way over to him.

Most of the slime had already hardened by this point and Avery just had to break it apart in order to free him. Everyone else who had been hit by the stuff also started to break it off of themselves, though  Pike had to get help with this because he couldn’t force his hands apart by himself. Only Rowan was able to completely avoid getting hit by it and was as clean as a whistle.

After everyone had gotten the glue like slime off of themselves, Rowan then proceeded to cut open the velvet worm’s head, carefully removing the slime glands and also taking out the yellowish orange qi core.

“Whew, that took longer than I thought. Thankfully the blue devil beetle is still down there and I don’t see much else moving around. We should hurry down and get this over with” said Rowan.

“Oh, by the way” Tom called over to her and then started pointing to somewhere along the top of the gorge that Rowan and the others on the platform couldn’t see.

“About halfway through your fight I realised that there was big blue devil beetle over there. You don’t have to go down into the gorge”

“Hah”

“Argh”

“Goddamn”

Rowan and the guards on the platform all voiced their exasperation, sighing, shaking their heads or putting their heads in their hands.

“Is that true?” Rowan asked towards Harrison.

“Yeah. There’s a mature blue devil beetle wandering around over there. I didn’t see it at first either because it was too far away and hidden behind the trees but it’s definitely there. Since it’s bigger and we won’t have to climb down to get it, we might as well go and get that one instead. Its shell will be thicker and harder as well so it’ll also be more suitable for what you want” said Harrison.

“Well then… I guess we’ll go and get that one then. Almost makes everything we just did pointless” said Rowan.

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jmj1011995

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