The young man walked for another while before he stopped and laughed out loud.
The delighted shivers he had felt before returned alongside the insane laughter that bubbled up in his throat.
He loved fighting and tearing apart. Until he could fully control the feeling he was dependant on moments like these - the ones where he could go all out and not care about keeping his face even and calm.
This time, there was no human around.
Leisurely swinging his sword in his left hand, he raised his right hand up to the fog.
“Come”, he invited laughingly while curling his finger. “Come at me, all of you. If you dare!”
And they came.
The Fog Serpents were more living whips than snakes. From all sides, almost a dozen greenish-white figures darted out, reaching to tear him apart.
Xie Yi jumped up effortlessly, avoiding the attack. It was mere gauging him and nothing he had to worry about.
The ground below him split with loud cracks, the deep gashes the beasts had left behind creating a patchwork design.
Xie Yi beamed.
The dislocated jaws opened up, revealing their long fangs and the barbed skin covering their insides. The long, split tongues slithered out bloody red, testing the air for him.
“Too easy”, Xie Yi scolded, twisting his body so that he could move his foot to step on one of their heads.
The other ten serpents reacted instantly to the movement and wound their bodies to change the direction of their attack.
The moment Xie Yi reached the ground, he darted to the side and towards the mess of stone formations close by.
He heard the serpents hiss behind him as they went back into hiding in annoyance.
The cultivator glanced at his sword.
He had not tried yet whether he could use the demonic arts with spiritual energy. He had avoided trying it as they were too obviously belonging to the Demonic Sect.
However, no one was watching here.
Once the thought took root, Xie Yi could not stop himself.
He lowered his body and leaned his weight on his toes.
If his opponents were using tricks, then he could do so, too. They’d see who was the better one.
With a condescending sneer, Xie Yi watched the fog thicken.
Serpents relied on their sense of smell rather than sight, so they didn’t need a clear view and preferred obstructing their target.
Xie Yi did not hesitate to discard his visual focus in favour of his ears and intuition. With glazed eyes, he stared ahead, waiting for a movement in the air or the tiniest rustling of leaves.
When it came, he channelled his spiritual energy into his sword. Like metallic spikes, it cracked around the blade - no heavier than before, but now clad in barbs and needles.
The first serpent screeched in irritation when its attack didn’t allow it to catch its prey but rather resulted in it earning a bleeding slash that slit open its already dislocated jaw even further.
It trashed on the ground, the long body hitting Xie Yi’s leg from the side when he was unable to calculate the random movements.
Xie Yi glared down at it and let his knee collapse - it was better to take the hit and bend to it rather than try to keep standing and possibly break his leg.
He used the motion to roll to the side.
Fog Serpents had some very annoying habits when they hunted in groups. Once they had a feeling they were going to die anyway, they wouldn’t hesitate to give up their lives to cause the greatest damage possible.
People said that this was both an act of revenge and support for their companions.
Xie Yi intended to get the higher ground by jumping on a rock a bit farther away, but the injured serpent launched itself right into his weapon.
“Damned thing”, Xie Yi cursed, changing the path of his spiritual energy to something like a second layer over his skin.
If he allowed the serpent to wrap itself around him, he’d have trouble freeing himself.
The other serpents were delighted to see their prey in a less advantageous situation.
Half of them darted out like arrows, leaving behind trails of acidic remains where their bodies touched the ground. The white clouds that seeped out of their bodies, blending perfectly into the surroundings, covered them fully.
The other half stayed hidden, waiting for their chance.
Xie Yi growled playfully. He liked feeling annoyed at pesky little things like them, knowing he could destroy them. It was the best!
His sword swung a graceful arc, slicing through the injured serpent that had intended on biting him. Flesh and thin bones parted easily under its movement, the green blood flying everywhere.
Xie Yi was singing as he moved. He couldn’t truly pronounce the words - it was beast language and his vocal cords didn’t go along with it. However, Mingtian had taught him a way to pronounce the words even as a human and while it did not sound exactly like the original, it still had a special charm.
In the foggy area, his voice echoed weirdly, diffusing it completely. Even when making noise he was still in hiding.
With a beautiful smile, he ignored the fog that gnawed at his clothes and exposed skin. It was not strong enough to dissolve him quickly or distract him from his task.
The fog burned in his lungs, reeking of sulfur and blocking his nose. Only the serpents would be able to locate him through the stench.
The sticky blood was making his sword a bit blunter but Xie Yi took no notice of it. Another serpent fell under his strikes, then a third one.
The smallest fourth one had its head directly crushed in his hands.
Xie Yi broke out into uninhibited laughter when he sensed the rest of them flee. They were cowards - none of them were really hurt so running away was their best option.
Snickering, Xie Yi reached out to the ring around his neck. He did have a number of pills with him. Popping one into his mouth, he bent down to dismantle the four dead serpents.
The cores had different sizes and densities, like in his hand. Once he was finished with the third one, he stopped.
Tilting his head, Xie Yi turned to look north. He breathed out through his nose.
“Looks like I’ve got an unwanted visitor.”
The person that stepped out of the fog sneered with disgust. His eyes wandered over Xie Yi - covered in green blood and guts, skin partially dissolving.
Yet, the red eyes were without a hint of care.
“Goddamn demon spawn”, Yao Ming cursed, spitting to the side. “I can’t believe you still dare to show your face in the sect.”
Xie Yi’s eyes lowered as irritation welled up. As expected, the rat had come out.
Right now was a good time - this was a dangerous corner, he was completely alone and Yao Ming was supposed to be out, as well.
“Why wouldn’t I? I haven’t done anything wrong… Contrary to you”, Xie Yi growled. He wasn’t the same as his last life - he had a right to be in the sect.
“Are you kidding me?!” Yao Ming’s outburst was almost surprising. There was some kind of deep fury blazing in his eyes and he spoke full of righteousness. “I’ve said it before. The sect should be thankful if I’m getting rid of you!”
Without another word, Yao Ming drew his sword.
The younger cultivator’s eyes twitched towards it. The sword was a spiritual one and Yao Ming’s personal weapon. It was glowing red with heat, enough to be scalding.
Xie Yi deliberated for a moment.
So many things he could do now. What was the best strategy? The easiest, the safest? He had promised Shi Yue to not always take the riskiest one only to finish a fight faster.
The man smiled. He turned to the last serpent and walked over to it. Yao Ming watched with uncertainty, unwilling to be baited into the first move.
Calmly, the black-haired young man cut the serpent open across its length. His fingers dug into the open flesh, feeling around until they found the core.
The smallest one of all, from the smallest serpent. He rubbed it over his clothes.
“I think we can mutually say we don’t like each other”, he nonchalantly said, holding the core up to the sun. It had a lowered density that let some of the diffused light shine through. “So I’m kinda unwilling to not go all out against you.”
Yao Ming watched him quietly. Xie Yi shot him an emotionless grin.
“You hate me anyway, no matter what I do. Why should I pull my punches?”
He opened his mouth and placed the core on his red tongue. His spiritual energy circulated inside his mouth.
It crunched like grinding stone when he bit on it.