Tom looked at the two Red Skinned Boars in the distance and took in their appearance. They each, as their name implied, had red skin and they also each sported a pair of impressively large tusks, which they would use to gore any opponents. Tom could also clearly see that one of them was larger than the other, standing at around 5 and a half foot tall, with the smaller of the two having a total height of just under 5ft.

The size of qi beasts, within each individual species, was generally a good indicator of their level of strength and the appearances of the two boars indicated that the larger of the two could exert a strength rivalling that of a peak body strengthening human expert, while the smaller of the two was likely only comparable to a late stage body strengthening expert of the 9th level.

Tom was able to make this assessment of the two Boars because of the records he had read in the Cardinal clan. Before he had come out here, he had read up on many, not all, but many of the qi beasts that were commonly found in the outer area of the forest, including details about the Red Skinned Boars. This was why he was able to judge their approximate strength at a distance without first getting close and sensing the qi from their bodies.

However, Tom knew though that although size was generally a good indicator of a beast’s strength, especially since most beasts would naturally grow stronger as they grew older and then hit a peak, it certainly shouldn’t be used to guess the strength of qi beasts one didn’t know anything about. This was because although it was a good indicator for each individual species that a person knew about, size didn’t always denote actual strength.

Humans were a good case in point for this. The mature Blue Devil Beetle that Tom had encountered on his last trip into the forest could only exert a bit over 8,000 jin of force, while Rowan, with her comparatively smaller body could exert a force of 10,000 jin. Likewise, this can also be seen in the human population at large. People of the same height and weight would have drastically different strength based on their cultivation level, for example, a non-cultivator and someone at the peak of body strengthening.

Of course, regardless of the physical strength a creature was capable of because of the qi it had infused into its body to strengthen itself, the weight of the creature would also play a role in the force behind its blows, so, a larger and heavier creature would still have more force behind it should it hit into you.

“So, what do you think? Do you reckon you can take one of them on?” asked Adam in anticipation.

Adam had been wanting to fight a qi beast with Tom for some time now and now the opportunity had finally presented itself. Of course, considering the gap in their cultivation levels, anything that Tom was able to fight against would be something that he would be able to easily take down, so, the idea of them fighting together was a little bit farfetched.

Nevertheless, if there were multiple qi beasts, it would still be like they were fighting together and if there were stronger qi beasts, he could still provide Tom with cover, interfering if he was in mortal danger. Furthermore, he could always just refrain from using any qi techniques. He would still be four levels higher in terms of body strengthening when compared to Tom, but, they would be much closer in terms of strength and fighting ability. Plus, such a thing wasn’t exactly an insurmountable gap; there were many cases of people slaying others that had a higher cultivation level than them, especially in the first realm of cultivation.

Actually, across essentially all the realms of cultivation, there were people that were able to kill others that had a higher cultivation than themselves. After all, it wasn’t just about having power, it was also about how that power was applied. This was why many people, at least in the north of the Mantal Kingdom, recognised that they shouldn’t be too cocky or arrogant about their own cultivation level and should always be wary of those a couple of levels below them and especially those that were older and more experienced than them.

“I reckon I’m eating meat tonight” replied Tom, eliciting a laugh from Adam.

“Hmm, but I’ll only be able to take on one of them, the smaller one at that” said Tom regretfully. He found it a great pity that he was still stuck at such a low level of strength where he could barely take on one wild pig.

“That’s ok. There’s no pressure anyway. After all, this is mainly for training purposes, it doesn’t matter even if you fail” said Adam reassuringly.

“I assure you, I won’t fail” said Tom somewhat arrogantly, though to Adam and the others it came across as confidence.

[Even if it’s stronger than me, in the end, it’s just a dumb animal. The bigger one is still a bit out of my reach but I refuse to believe I can’t even take down a single wild pig] thought Tom.

[Good, he seems confident. He must have already formulated a plan] thought Adam as he smiled at Tom.

Adam was feeling more and more excited about what was to come. As well as wanting to go on a hunt with Tom and fight qi beasts together with him, Adam also wanted to essentially one up the experience Tom had had with Rowan where they had hunted and killed a mature Blue Devil Beetle and Giant Velvet Worm.

He had intended to do this by hunting a powerful qi beast with Tom, however, he also knew that that would be pretty reckless and would put Tom in danger. Well, technically just being in the Tainted Forest was dangerous, but, there was still a limit to the risk Tom should be exposed to at his current level of training.

However, right now, they were about to go off and fight with a couple of Red Skinned Boars, some of most powerful qi beasts that were commonly seen close to the forest boundary. They couldn’t compare to the defence of the Blue Devil Beetles that naturally made them tough for body strengthening cultivators to harm, nor could they compare the Giant Velvet Worms’ glue-like slime and ability to use qi, however, their greater physical strength still put them in about the same league as them, though a bit lower because they were easier to handle than the other two and had a much lower economic value.

“Alright, so we don’t endanger the horses, we ought to dismount here and approach them on foot” said Adam.

He’d heard about what had happened on the last hunt and didn’t want a repeat of it. Three horses had been lost on the last hunt and it would be pretty bad if they kept getting their mounts killed.

It wasn’t like they wouldn’t be able to afford more horses but it would still set them back a bit. Besides, what kind of psychopath would have such a blasé attitude about the situation that they would take keep taking horses into the Tainted Forest only to continuously get them killed and then get a new horse? There would always be accidents and unfortunate incidents of course, but still, there’s a limit.

“Marcus, can you look after the horses?” Adam asked his friend as a back-up safety measure.

“Sure, no problem” replied Marcus.

“Thanks” said Adam, before he turned to look at Tom again.

“Anyway, I’ll take care of the big one and then you can have a go at the smaller one on your own. If you need any help, just ask for it and if you’re really struggling, I’ll step in to make sure you don’t get seriously hurt” said Adam, assuring Tom that he’d have the freedom to move about without having to worry about any greater danger.

As far as Adam was concerned, Tom was still inexperienced and wouldn’t necessarily be able to adapt to and perform his best in a dangerous situation. After all, it was common for people new to fighting to hesitate at crucial moments and be distracted by the things going on around them and then fall apart from the pressure.

He wanted to create the best possible environment for Tom to gain experience, where he could be free from distraction and focus solely on the task at hand and where his performance wouldn’t be affected by the mental pressure that so often accompanied danger. Learning to react to multiple targets and other things going on around him at the same time as well as the mental fortitude to be unshaken in the face of adversity could be slowly learnt and built up over time.

Little did Adam know though, there was no chance of Tom doing something like hesitating in combat, nor was there anything that would cause him to feel fear. After all, killing wasn’t exactly something that fazed him and even if he was killed on this planet, at worst he would only lose his bet with Methis and have to wait an untold amount of time before he was finally able to become a Full God or was able to garner someone else’s assistance in helping him populate his world.

Although there was no danger of him hesitating or falling apart in combat due to fear or mental stress, it was possible that he might become a bit hot headed and reckless, as fights would often get his blood boiling. Nevertheless, even when such a thing got his heart pumping he still tended to remain calm, with a clear and focused mind, and had great instincts anyway so it shouldn’t be a cause for concern in regards to fighting.

Furthermore, there was little risk of Tom being distracted in combat or unable to react to the actions of multiple combatants. He was someone with a vast array of fighting experience and wouldn’t become muddleheaded just because he had to split some of his attention to the things happening in his surroundings or to the actions of multiple enemies he was engaged in combat with.

Also, ever since he had been snuck up on and attacked in Hill City, Tom had woken up to the fact that there was a lot of danger on this world and that even if the various dangers that existed here were nothing to him while he was at his peak, he couldn’t afford to ignore them as he was now.

That was why ever since then; he had made more of an effort to not be indifferent to the things going on around him. This was further reinforced when he saw the bodies that were the victims of the mimics. Since then, he made an even greater conscious effort to stay vigilant and pay attention to what was going on around him.

After all, it wouldn’t do him any good if his time here was cut short just because he had done something foolish like underestimate an opponent or got caught completely unawares because he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings. Just imagine if he suddenly got killed and didn’t even know how it had happened, if something happened and he wasn’t able to react to it because he wasn’t paying attention. That would make him a complete and utter laughing stock.

“Like I said, I won’t fail. Now let’s do this” said Tom.

A note from jmj1011995

I plan for Adam to be a recurring character so I wanted to give him a little bit of screentime.

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