Chapter 22 - First Battle
What Lin Mu saw behind the ape beast was a plant that was 2 feet tall. It was dark green in colour and had 6 leaves on its stalk. There was a purple-coloured fruit the size of a grape hanging from it. Lin Mu thought he was hallucinating at first when he saw faint wisps of smoke arising from the fruit.
"Wait, thats not smoke, thats spirit qi!" spoke Lin Mu out loud, before slamming his mouth shut upon remembering what kind of situation he was in.
Thankfully, the beasts did not seem to notice when Lin Mu spoke out loud. The plant that the ape beast was guarding was a spirit herb and that too, one that had already borne fruit. The conflict between the two beasts seemed to be due to the spirit herb.
Beasts had their own innate cultivation talent and did not have the need for cultivation techniques to enter the qi refining realm like humans. But beasts could still consume spirit herbs to increase their speed of cultivation.
Because of this whenever a spirit herb or spirit fruit grew in the wild it was usually fought upon by multiple beasts and sometimes even humans if they discovered it.
Lin Mu had seen some spirit herbs and spirit fruits before, but none of such high quality. The spirit apples which grew in the orchards of Northern town were of the lowest quality of spirit fruit and still cost one gold coin each, Lin Mu could not even imagine how expensive a spirit herb of this quality was worth.
At this moment, wild thoughts were running in Lin Mus mind. He was imagining all methods he could use to snatch the spirit herb and obtain it for his own use.
If I can obtain that spirit herb, Im sure I will enter the qi refining realm with the help of the calming heart sutra. Thought Lin Mu.
Lin Mu kept on observing the beasts while formulating plans for obtaining the spirit herb. Currently, the two beasts were growling at each other, trying to intimidate each other. The ape beast seems to have been guarding the spirit herb for some time, while the panther beast seemed to have just discovered it and was coveting it.
After a couple of minutes, the panther beast could not take it anymore and made the first move. The panther beast pounced on the ape with its claws drawn. The ape beast howled loudly at the panthers approach and extended his arm to intercept the panther. The panther scratched the ape on the chest while the ape slammed the panther with its long arm on its side, which made the panther retreat.
The panther was then circling the ape, looking for the next opportunity to strike. The ape was scratched on its chest and was bleeding from the wound, while the panther seemed to be completely fine after the apes retaliation. From this, one could assume that the panther was the stronger beast of the two, and the ape seemed to be at a disadvantage.
This time the ape lunged forward with its arms stretched up and smashed them together on the back of the panther. A pain-filled cry came out of the panthers mouth, yet it kept its poise and sank its fangs into the knee of the ape. A sickening crunch could be heard as the panther ripped out the kneecap of the ape.
The ape wailed in agony as its eyes turned bloodshot with rage. The beast lost all inhibitions and tangled together with the panther in a mindless fight.
By the end of the fight, the ape beast had lost an eye, with multiple chunks of flesh ripped from its body, and was unable to move due to its injured knee. The panther beast was also heavily injured, having broken multiple ribs and a foreleg, which it was dragging along now.
Both the beasts seemed to be at their last breaths, but the panther was still faring better. The panther was crouching and looking for an opportunity to deliver the final blow. Lin Mu had witnessed the entire battle and was also waiting for an opportunity to strike.
Observing that the ape would not be alive for much longer, Lin Mu approached from the blind spot of the panther. The ape was already blinded in one eye and had become weary due to blood loss. The panther saw the ape swaying and made its move. It tackled the ape to the ground and bit down on its throat.
It held on tight while the ape was blindly raining blows on the panther. Grasping this opportunity, Lin Mu sprinted forward and reached the panther in a couple of breaths. The panther finally heard Lin Mu approaching and had let go of the apes throat to get ready for him, but the ape gripped the limbs of the panther like a vice.
The panther released a loud roar while trying to break free of the apes grip. Lin Mu reached the side of the panther and slashed the short sword at its neck, but missed and cut its back instead, as the beast shifted.
The panther attacked Lin Mu with its hind limbs, which were free and nearly injured him, but Lin Mu could dodge it by sidestepping. The apes grip on one forelimb of the panther weakened, and the panther pried it free.
Lin Mu slashed again and completely missed as the panther was able to twist and turn to dodge his attack. Noticing that the panther was about to break free, Lin Mu held the short sword with both his hands and jumped at it, ignoring the idea of getting injured. The beast clawed at Lin Mu in response which missed his torso and grazed his left arm leaving a shallow cut on it.
Lin Mu put all his weight in and stabbed the panther all the way through its chest. Lin Mu then rolled away, escaping another strike of the panther, leaving the short sword stuck in the panther. Seeing that he was successful in stabbing the panther beast, Lin Mu put distance between him and the panther.
The panther wailed in anguish but could not do much to remove the sword. Now that the ape was dead and had let go of the panther it tried dragging itself towards Lin Mu in a final attempt to attack him, but was too weak and collapsed after not even three steps.
Lin Mu waited for 5 minutes before approaching the panther. He carefully poked the panther with a stick and checked whether it was still alive. Confirming that it was dead, Lin Mu pulled out the short sword from the chest of the beast. A stream of blood then started flowing from the hole in the panthers chest.
Lin Mu put the corpse of the panther into the ring and did the same with the corpse of the ape as well. He then approached the spirit herb and plucked the fruit hanging from it. He was about to pull out the stalk from the ground as well when it withered in an instant and turned to dust. This surprised Lin Mu as he was not expecting this to happen.
Lin Mu examined the small grape-sized purple fruit in his hand. No wisps of spirit qi could be seen rising from the fruit anymore after it was plucked from the stalk. Lin Mu stored the fruit in the ring and prepared to leave the forest.
Lin Mu was lucky enough to not only acquire the fruit of the spirit herb today but was also able to obtain two corpses of possibly high tier beasts. He was lucky that the merchants would be arriving at the town tomorrow and he would be able to sell the corpses along with the box made of fragrant wood. He will definitely be making a lot of money tomorrow, which will hopefully last him the entire winter.
When Lin Mu reached the hunting shack 3 hours later, the first thing that came to his mind was to build a sled so that he would be able to carry the beast corpses to town. He could not let anyone see his usage of the ring, thus could only use this method.
He chopped down some suitable trees and tied them with some tough vines to form a flat sled. He then wove the vines together and attached them to the ends of a wooden pole he made from a sapling, to make a handle with which he could pull the sled.
By the time he was done with all this, it was nighttime. Lin Mu had already set up some meat and rice to cook, so could eat as soon as he finished building the sled.
After eating dinner, Lin Mu immersed himself in practicing the boulder collapsing fist. He practiced all the way until midnight when his concentration finally broke, and he sat down to chant the calming heart sutra.
With the practice that he did in the morning, Lin Mu already sensed that he was close to a breakthrough and thus was not surprised when he finally did, after assimilating all the vital energy from the meat. He felt his skin tingle and itch when he broke through to the 6th stage of the body tempering stage.
He was about to stand up when he felt the ring buzz and lost his balance as a spatial rift appeared right where he was sitting.
"Oh, F*ck." Cursed Lin Mu as he shifted to the side to prevent himself from falling into the rift.
His arm was completely sucked into the spatial rift, leaving him stuck in an awkward position on the ground. If another person was to see Lin Mu in this position, they would probably burst out in laughter.