Xiao Fang was heading down the eerie path still running as fast as he could. The torches had ended some time ago, so it was getting darker and darker the deeper he went. Xiao Fang didn't even noticed because he still had his blindfold on.
He entered this path only a few minutes ago, but he could already detect something in the distance. There was what seemed like a large spirit beast and a human corpse laying in the middle of the path. The spirit beast appeared to be a feline, so he initially thought it was the tier 2 beast: white mountain tiger. However, judging from it's size and its features, he quickly realized that wasn't the case.
What Xiao Fang thought was a white tiger, was actually a black panther. The reason he couldn't tell was because black panthers weren't indigenous to this continent.
The black panther had a shoulder height of 5 meters high and a body length of a little less than 13 meters long.
"Tier 3, it must be a tier 3 beast.", he thought excitedly. However, Xiao Fang still found it a bit strange for it to be emitting such a strong and terrifying aura.
Though the tier number of a spirit beast is measured by its strength, it often correlates to its size as well. The stronger the spirit beast, the larger its beast core, which inevitably requires a larger body to hold it.
The cave narrowed, there was a sudden chill in the air, and the path was now pitch black. Step by step he approached the panther that was standing on all fours as if it were simply waiting for him to approach it.
He stopped just a bit more than 20 meters away from it. The panther held its head up high and it emitted the airs of a beast king. Surprisingly, it didn't immediately attack when it saw him.
Xiao Fang inspected his surroundings carefully once more, but found nothing out of the ordinary.
He could feel its peering nocturnal gaze locked onto his body and it made him freeze in anticipation. Like sitting at the apex of a rollercoaster his heart raced as he waited for it to make the first move, but there was still nothing.
The black panther saw his blindfold and its expression changed. It laid down on its stomach and looked at Xiao Fang curiously.
"A beast that didn't attack a human on sight, was their such a thing in this world", Xiao Fang thought.
In a different situation he might of left it alone, but after seeing the human corpse he assumed that wasn't going to be that easy.
He unsheathed his sword and planned to attack it first. However, just as he put his hand on the hilt of his sword, the cat spoke:
"Do you not fear me, boy?", a mysterious female voice sounded out in his head.
Xiao Fang jaw nearly dropped. What shocked him wasn't only the fact that the black panther spoke, but that it did so without moving its mouth.
"How is this possible", Xiao Fang thought.
He was surrounded by body cultivators all his life so, naturally, there were many things he didn't know about the spirit cultivation world.
Xiao Fang said a few words in his head, thinking if he focused hard enough he could communicate with it. Instead, he just made a fool out of himself.
The panther tilted its head in confusion when it saw Xiao Fang making strained faces at it.
"What are you doing?", she asked.
"I'm trying to talk to you with my thoughts, are you ignoring me on purpose?", he finally spoke.
"Pfft hahaha, a mere spirit refinement realm practitioner trying to send me a spirit transmission ahahahaha", she laughed hysterically.
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Xiao Fang didn't understand why she had to send spirit transmissions of her laughter too, it was almost as if she were intentionally trying to mock him.
"How are you able to talk to me?"
"hahahaha...", she didn't reply.
"How did you know that I'm in the spirit refinement realm?", he continued asking questions only to be met with laughter. Though the panther could see his cultivation level, she didn't know his cultivation method.
"How could you not even know that. Is your brain crippled as well?", she said mockingly.
Xiao Fang could usually tolerate insults to reasonable degree, but she touched his reverse scale.
Xiao Fang's eye twitched when he heard her say the word "cripple".
He unsheathe his sword and the sound it made tickled her spine.
Xiao Fang had heard just about enough from this arrogant cat and was ready to rip its spirit core from its body.
"Let's see how long you last against my sword!", he said before pouncing on her.
[ Iron Cutting Iron ]
She dodged it with ease. Just from that swing she was able to determine his strength and couldn't help but be extremely impressed, but it made no difference if he couldn't catch her.
Xiao Fang chased the laughing panther around for a few minutes, but eventually gave up. This was the first time he encountered something faster than himself and it pissed him off. Even worse, he nearly cut her a few times, but now he was convinced she was letting him get close on purpose. He was so mad he would willingly give up his new eyes just to give her a miserable death.
"What kind of spirit beast runs from a martial practitioner!? Are you a beast or a pussy!!", Xiao Fang's shout echoed through the cave.
"You can't even tell that I'm not a spirit beast? You really are stupid", she said.
Xiao Fang looked at the dead man with a pitiful stare.
"He must have died in rage", he thought.
He walked towards the corpse to inspect its body. He wanted to see if there was anything worth looting.
"Hey where are you going? Are you tired already? Hey, hey, dont ignore me when I'm talking to you".
"Piss off", he replied harshly.
"Hey don't get close to that body, you damn cripple", she tried to jump infront of him. Her movements were completely silent and Xiao Fang had his back turned so she assumed he wouldn't see her run passed him.
When Xiao Fang heard her call him a cripple again, he revoked his earlier surrender.
Swordsmen are known to be extremely prideful. Some believe it is what drives them to work so hard in such a grueling cultivation path, but no one was more prideful than Xiao Fang.
His muscles flexed to the max, the ground cracked, and the sword whistled through the air.
[ Iron Cutting Iron! ]
Before the blade could hit she vanished and reappear several meters away. She had to use a costly spirit technique to escape that attack. Luckily she hadn't used to much spirit energy earlier to run from him or else she wouldn't have had enough to escape his last attack.
Xiao Fang saw her panting so he knew that if he were to keep this up she would be forced to flee eventually. She couldn't tease him anymore unless she wanted to die.
"Call me cripple again, and I will kill you", he spoke in a shallow tone. She subconsciously took a step back from him.
Xiao Fang approached the body and searched through the man's body. He found several pills he couldn't identify because he didn't study pill concoctions. He considered just leaving the pills there and just taking the hundreds of valuable looking gold coins, but when he thought about Xun Wei he decided to take it all for her to play with.
When he was done he put his spatial pouch back on his belt and stood up and that's when he saw it. Handing on the bone of his finger was a ring. He knew just by looking at it that it was a spatial ring, because it looked like his father's.
He jumped around excitedly. He couldn't wait to brag about it to his father.
"That old man said the next time he saw me he wanted me to be someone impressive. Little does he know just how impressive I am, hehe", he thought as he rubbed his nose wittingly.
He knew he did absolutely nothing to get the ring, but he could always just tell a heroic story and fuzzy up the details if his father ever asked.
"If his spatial pouch had all these valuable looking things in it, just how amazing will the things in this spatial ring be", he thought, but when he examined the contents within there was only 1 item: a scroll.
The scroll was a bit strange looking, but he decided to wait till he got back to the sect before reading it.
Xiao Fang cleared his throat and composed himself before speaking.
"Spirit animal, spirit beast, what difference does it make when you're both going around killing martial practitioners?", he said in a disappointed tone, but in reality he was somewhat happy she did it.
The panther was silent for a bit, but eventually answered in a melancholy tone:
"I didn't kill him, he was my master".
Xiao Fang regretted speaking so harshly.
"How did he die?", he asked, this time sounding a bit more considerate.
"Ah... long story. Bad men chased us here. There was a big fight, and he got hurt and came here to die", she explained briefly.
"You seem pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. Shouldn't you at least be a little upset?".
"He bought me a week before he died. I hardly knew him. Besides, I'm a spirit animal why should I care about the life or death of a spirit practitioner. They treat my kind like disposable pets. Hey, where are you going?".
"I'd love to stay and chat, but I got people waiting for me", he said before taking off.
"Wait for me", she called out.
"Don't follow me, I'm not an animal shelter".
"Hmph! You think you're so funny huh".
Xiao Fang was patting himself on the back for that one.
"You're just a big meanie!"
"Go tell it to someone who cares", he said before running faster.
"You might not understand this, but spirit animals need spirit energy to survive. We can help each other". Xiao Fang finally understood why she didn't attack him till now. She needed him.
"Hm? What can you do for me", he said after slowing down.
"I can protect you".
Xiao Fang started laughing at her words.
"Yeah, because you did such a great job protecting that other guy".
"That was different. I-I can also tell you a lot about the spirit world. It seems you don't know a lot of things. Spirit transmissions! I remember you asking how I did it. I can teach you"
Xiao Fang stopped abruptly and turned around. She did the same, stopping just a few meters away from him.
"Here's the thing, I live in a sect. If I were to bring you along you'd only be attracting a lot of unwanted attention. So no matter how enticing your offer might sound, I just can't bring you along". Truth was he didn't like her one bit, so he tried to find excuses to make her go away.
"Oh, oh, is that it? I can blend into your sect no problem, look!", she began to shrink and transform.
'What the f..."