The beasts were better at sensing than at hearing, so Xie Yi once more raised the level of the concealing spell. There was no need for him to crawl over the ground like this, so he stood up straight and slowly walked forward.
Step by step he walked, halting when the beast twitched. It was dozing in the sun and showing no sign of moving yet other than switching the side it lay on. With its face turned towards the river, Xie Yi could approach it from behind.
Farther away, Shi Yue watched in satisfaction, his hand placed against his chin.
“This is a rather naive strategy”, Yao Ming commented with lowered eyebrows. “He’s hoping that the beast won’t notice him. With his strength, traps would be better.”
Shi Yue moved his violet eyes over for a moment, then redirected them to the small figure. He hummed in disagreement. “Not at all. Traps aren’t suitable for him. He might run head-first into danger, but his reflexes are amazing, he has an astonishing sense for how his opponent might react and is more than capable of concealing his aura. I’ve let him fight against paper-men before and I believe that this is his way of fighting.”
The paper-men were mindless, but worked incredibly well as practice partners. They learned with every fight, growing stronger and stronger while analyzing their opponents. The materials weren’t cheap, but for a Grandmaster, it was mere pocket change.
Yao Ming concealed the displeasure in his eyes by lowering them. “In that case, I truly hope he won’t betray Master Li’s expectations.”
The Grandmaster didn’t respond. He lightly brushed some silver-white hair out of his face, then continued to watch.
Xie Yi was close enough that the beast might notice him at any moment, and halted. His sword was already drawn, reflecting the sunlight on its edge and gleaming. It was a simple sword that he had bought himself from working in the forge - not even a spiritual one.
It was sharp and light, though; two points that were very important as long as he was still so young.
When he had been young in his past life, his fighting style had been like that of an assassin’s. Only when he got more and more stronger did he ignore strategy and just destroyed everything in his way. When fighting with Shi Yue, he had started using all kinds of techniques to have fun and sometimes mixed in his old fighting style.
He did feel a bit brought back to that old past of his again. Sneaking, striking in the dark, using poisoned weapons. He didn’t like setting traps because they were too annoying, but he liked using tricks.
There was a sort of thrill to your enemy noticing that they were dying without even knowing what had happened to them. The more intelligent beasts were the same.
As for the stupid ones like this one… It was just avoiding unnecessary fighting that would just drain his strength and waste his time.
The more Xie Yi thought about it, the less annoyed he became with his situation. he could only slowly change it after all, and wasn’t this fun in its own way?
With his mood turning lighter, his movements became even smoother. He felt the rushing through his channels, softly tingling as it concentrated on his legs and left arm. With a soundless dart forward, his enhancement set his body jolting right forward.
The beast reacted with a jolt of its large body, maybe instinctually rolling itself around. That did put it into a bad spot for a moment, but it was better than being stabbed.
Xie Yi clicked his tongue, then instantaneously followed while whipping his arm after it.
The beast let out a grunting cry as it threw its body forward, ignoring the incoming slash.
Xie Yi felt his arm shuddering. It wasn’t too different from trying to punch a wall. The resistance was too high, sending the backlash through him like a shock. Even evading the beast didn’t help too much with that.
Xie Yi cursed lowly. He had underestimated the thickness of its hide.
The slash did nothing but scratch the surface, so stabbing really was the way to go. He had to make sure to hit the right spot or he would just tire his arm out.
Despite everything, Xie Yi didn’t actually feel a lot of pressure. It was quite possible to evade the beast - it obviously had trouble turning around, meaning he could use this.
Experimentally, he began to dance around it in a circle while keeping some distance.
The beast was unhappy at being played with, but its body wasn’t suitable for quick turns. It could only throw its weight around and try to hit the nimble Xie Yi, who jumped and rolled out of the way over and over again.
Once there was an opening, Xie Yi twisted his body to the side - barely avoiding the rushing boar-like beast - and tried pressing his knife into its side.
He scrunched his eyebrows when the blade stopped moving in and hit something hard - bone.
The angle was too bad to actually reach the heart and the sword lodged itself uncomfortably when the beast jolted away. Xie Yi felt the tug, then lost grip of the blade when his palm tore open once more.
Irritated, he did another dodge and went on a short distance, watching the beast that looked more annoyed than genuinely troubled by the sword in its side.
Beasts weren’t quite like animals, but even less like demonic and spiritual beasts. Those were their own races, but beasts had grown out of mutated animals. Over generations, animals that had access to special nutrition - valuable fields of herbs or spiritual water, sometimes contaminated environments that changed the flora - would develop various mutations ranging from different bodies to heightened intelligence. When those specimen reproduced, the mutation would settle genetically. That was why there was always a high chance of new beasts appearing, contrary to spiritual and demonic types.
As one might guess, the one in front of Xie Yi was indeed an evolved specimen of boar. One of its main points was its amazing vitality.
Xie Yi knew he had to get his sword back, even if only to let the thing truly bleed. Right now, the weapon was clogging the wound, allowing the beast not to feel troubled about bloodloss. Having a sword in your side was surely not comfortable, but beasts often had numbed nerves and fought until their bodies couldn’t move anymore.
Aware of the other losing his main weapon, just like a deer losing its antlers, the boar attacked with revitalized movements.
Still, that didn’t mean that it was actually at the advantage.
Xie Yi wasn’t powerful enough to do it yet, but his sword was hard enough to destroy the boar-beast’s bones.
With a dark glint in his eyes, he lowered his body and stepped back, tempting the beast to dash forward once more. There was another strategy he wanted to try first.
All his energy moved through his channels to the left side of his body, ready to be used. He waited for a second and another, letting the thing come close enough and then sidestepping it just barely and letting himself fall to the ground.
With all his energy freezing up and connecting to the ground like a tree growing its roots deeply into the earth, he reached out for the sword-hilt with both hands and leaned forward.
The pure force of the reckless move jolted his insides and had his channels screaming, but the angle and quality of the sword were just perfect.
Tearing through flesh and bone with the sheer force of the beast’s run, the sword made a sick squelch and angled itself until it slipped out of Xie Yi’s hands again, lying flatly against the beast’s fur.
Xie Yi caught himself, hurriedly scanning his body and satisfied that he hadn’t overestimated his strength. This was still working.
The boar-beast that had its ribs broken and heart torn into two slowed its steps, stumbling and huffing. The ripped organ was bleeding into its insides, unable to pump any blood up into its brain anymore. The beast cried out, unwilling to resign, but before it even managed a full turn, the large body swayed and the legs on his left side gave in.
Xie Yi waited for a moment, then breathed out slowly and stood up, patting his bloody hands against his clothes and walking over to the beast. Just to make sure, he stabbed it right into its eye with the very short knife he kept on the inside of his boots. It wasn’t too suitable for fighting but always useful to have around.
The beast didn’t move anymore, staring lifelessly out of its one remaining eye.
Xie Yi smiled in satisfaction and wiped his knife on its fur, then circled it. Ah, annoying. He would have to ask Shi Yue to turn it around. He couldn’t reach his sword from that angle.
“Master?”, he called out towards the forest, expectantly waiting with bright, shining eyes. With bloody clothes and standing next to the collapsed beast almost his height, the angelic little boy looked just like a demon.