Shi Yan bit his fingers and dipped his blood on to his cloak. Both Shi Yin and Shi Yan in the cloak immediately became invisible. Although it was deep, the cave did not lead to a lower altitude. Instead, it lead to a higher grounds within the mountains. The entire cave’s circumference was big, about 15 times that of Shi Yan’s cave.
When Shi Yan walked deeper into the cave, he had to rely on the walls to move. It was way too dark for a normal human to see. Cautious and nimble, his footsteps were silent. For once in his life, he thanked his experience as a thief. Without his background, he would have certainly been found out. Shi Yin, who sat on his shoulders was also keeping her breathing in check. Watching Shi Yan sleathly make his way deeper into the cave, made her realize that he does not wish to get found.
Their efforts paid off once they were almost at the end of the cave. Shi Yan could finally see light. Looking up at the source, he could tell that there was a small hole at the ceiling. The light shone made end of the cave visible. It was a huge chamber. Currently, there was a huge white tiger lying down at the side of the chamber. It’s body was no longer majestic as it once was. Swells and cuts could be seen. From its appearance, it was obvious that this thing was close to death but Shi Yan didn’t get that feeling. He felt that this tiger was still extremely lively, still being able to kill him in a single breath’s time.
Looking at the white tiger from afar, Shi Yan was studying its possible weak points. His hands slowly moved together as his thoughts deepened. Eventually he got back to his old habits.
[This must be the mountain god. I’m not sure why, but I get the feeling that he actually won the battle between the ape. Despite it receiving more injuries than the ape. The ape was not wounded the last time I saw it. But still… this thing feels to be much more threatening than the ape…]
[Why do I feel this way?
Strange, one of its legs is definitely broken. It seemed too distorted to be normal… Its cuts have already dried up but is not fully healed, as least not as of now. But why is its mouth bleeding? …internal injuries? Could it be that the ape have internally injured than the tiger? ]
Shaking his head, Shi Yan could thought that this was too strange. The tiger uses a sharp weapon but the ape definitely uses its hands, a blunt weapon. When I saw gangs use a stick to hit beggars, they would often end up with broken bones and swelling. This is proof that the injuries gotten by the tiger is form the ape. However, that doesn’t explain why the ape doesn’t have a single cut on it. The battle definitely resulted in bloodshed on both sides. Its was impossible for the ape to not be cut.
Shi Yan thought about the bell on Shi Yin’s neck. [That’s it! It healed. Was it some kind of special ability it has? If that’s the case… it’s going to come back soon to attack the tiger! We have to leave now!]
As Shi Yan turned around, the tiger spoke in a deep and dignified voice. “old friend, aren’t you going to greet someone before you leave?”
Shi Yan stood rooted, he didn’t expect the tiger to be able to find him.
[How did he manage to find me? Sound? No, even with sound, it’s impossible to call me an old friend. That means he can see me?]
Cold sweat starts to fall on Shi Yan’s face. He had no choice but to turn around.
Slowly turning around, Shi Yan took off the cloak and covered Shi Yin. Pretending to be Lumi, “Old friend, I wanted to visit you but saw that you were injured… I thought that letting you rest without disturbing you would be appropriate”.
Suddenly, the tiger spoke in an aggressive tone “You are pretty daring to lie to me. Did you think I would not recognize my old friend? Did you really think that I was unable to tell that you have entered my cave?”
“Show yourself!” The tiger roared. The whole cave shook, he puked out some blood while Shi Yan fell to the ground, ears buzzing. As the tiger’s eyes gazed on to the pendant on Shi Yan chest, it silently cursed in its heart.
Shi Yin leaped out of Shi Yan’s shoulder and removed the cloak on her. Her hair was now messy and she felt dizzy but she stood tall, trying to protect the injured Shi Yan behind her. When the tiger’s eyes landed on Shi Yin and his face turned black. His voice turned to become more gentle. “Little Princess, this is no place for you. Go back to the Divine Ocean Palace. You don’t belong here.”
Shi Yin yelled, trying to explain the situation. “Eyyahh! Eyyah… Yah!”.
When the tiger heard her, his face was a little distressed. Finally, he muttered “I see!” And laughed crudely. Then he turned to Shi Yin and asked “Is this your beloved? Your future mate?”
Shi Yin’s face turned a little red. Looking down, she spoke in a soft voice “Eyyaaah”.
The tiger face became solemn, he read some incantation and Shi Yan quickly recovered. “Mortal, I’m not sure what you have done to gain the favor of this little one here. But, you must protect her with all your might. Your fate is going to be that of hardships and numerous trials awaits you”.
Shi Yan did not understand anything. He didn’t manage to hear the Tiger and Shi Yin’s conversation but he understood that there was no enmity between the tiger and themselves at the moment. He thanked Shi Yin in his heart. He knew this situation was only possible with her. However, he could help but asked, “I don’t understand what you are saying. What trials?”
The tiger said in a cold voice and shook its head. “I don’t know. You will have to wait and see for yourself”. He moved his paw and it showed a sleeping little white tiger, about the three times the size of Shi Yin. The larger white tiger looked at the little tiger delicately and spoke, “my little princess, wake up”. He used his large nose to gently caress the small tiger.
The small tiger cutely opened its purple eyes. It stood up and went to lick its father. In a depressed voice, “Little one, your father has to leave soon.” Taking a deep breath, “Father needs to leave you to some of my friends, they will take care of you while I’m away…”.
Shi Yan stood still not muttering a word. He understood what the tiger was planning. He was planning to take a final stance with the ape soon. He wants his daughter to leave, preventing her from being in the crossfire.
Shi Yan thought to himself, scratching the back of his hand.
[Why is he leaving his daughter to us? He seems to be aware that the ape is going to come back. Obviously, he should already have come up some kind of plan beforehand. Why is it the case that he would be more willing to leave his precious daughter to some stranger? Could it be that he trust us more than his plans? Arghhhh! There must be something more to this. The safest option should be to run away! Even in his condition, I highly doubt that he can’t move. Maybe there’s something preventing him from running away? ]
[Hold on, the ape’s sudden actions, his weakening, there must be something else in the background! Some enemy or threat that made him unable to run away. Could it be that the ape was a trap? Or was he a spy? There are too many possibilities! But, at least now I know. There’s another threat that I have to look out for. If he is allowing his daughter to follow us, that means that the unknown threat would not notice his daughter.]
[Even if he survives the battle later, he would not be able to kill us with his daughter as our hostage. I guess there’s more benefits that drawbacks.]
Shi Yan looked at the little tiger and gave a warm smile.
Shi Yin wanted to stop the father tiger from delivering his daughter to Shi Yan. However, she knew that they were in no position to refuse. She understood their difference in strength and didn’t want Shi Yan to get hurt from the father tiger.
The little tiger looked at Shi Yan and Shi Yin. After seeing Shi Yin, she gave a playful smile. The playful little tiger thought that she has found a nice new toy.
The father tiger noticed his daughter’s playful smile and gave a sad smile “darling, why don’t you follow the little fox out for awhile. I need to speak with my old friend here. We need a lot of catching up to do. Be a good girl alright”.
The little tiger gave a nod ‘um’ and followed Shi Yin out of the cave. In front of her father, the little tiger walked casually. After disappearing into the darkness of the cave, she started to chase Shi Yin. Too bad for the little tiger, Shi Yan was a lot faster than her.
After they were gone, the tiger spoke to Shi Yan “boy, show me your true form”.
Shi Yan embrassingly whispered “Um… lord mountain god… I don’t actually know how to return to normal”.
The tiger did not laugh. Instead his expression turned colder, ” Come here”
Shi Yan walked to the front of the tiger. Feeling his strong breathing, Shi Yan couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated by it. The tiger took his paw out and touched the pendant. A purple light covered Shi Yan, and he returned back to his normal body. “I see… no wonder you couldn’t turn back… you haven’t even started to cultivate!” The tiger’s face expressed shocked, after that, it turned to anger.
“Little boy how old are you?” The angry tiger said in a dignified but gentle voice.
“7?” Shi Yan responded with curiosity. He wondered why his age mattered to the tiger.
The tiger’s face expression turned even darker but his voice remained the same. “boy, do you know who I am?”.
Shi Yan shook his head “I’m not sure who you are but does this have anything to do with the situation you are in?”
The tiger was surprised, this boy’s thoughts far exceeded most mortal’s perceptive level. “Yes… I’m in this pitiful state due to my position in this world. I’m not sure if you have heard of me. But I am known as one of the four great beast gods, Byakko”.
When Shi Yan heard the name, he was just confused. He doesn’t pay much attention to rumors and legends. Seeing his confused face, Byakko let out a sigh “boy, you should have already guessed that my life was in danger”. Shi Yan gave a nod, and Byakko continued “My life can be saved thanks to your appearance, or should I say that pendant’s” Byakko took out its paw and pointed to the pendant. The pendant opened up, bringing shock to Shi Yan. Seeing Shi Yan’s shocked expression, Byakko didn’t bother to explain. “Boy, think about yourself, your face, your voice”.
Shi Yan compiled. His decisions did not matter anymore, since his life was literally in the hands of Byakko at the moment. As he thought about himself, his face appeared on the pendant. Byakko closed the pendant, and nothing happened.
Byakko then coughed out a small orb and in a weak voice, “This is my core. It’s my life and cultivation. It’s now in your care, along with my daughter”.
Before Shi Yan could get a clear view of the orb, it already flew directly into his mouth. Shi Yan almost choked but the orb was quick to enter his stomach, allowing him to breathe again. Byakko’s face was now pale, it has weakened a lot. With his final parting words, he yelled to Shi Yan “Boy, run as fast as you can and don’t come back”. After his final sentence, Byakko became silent. His eyes dulled.
Shi Yan understood the urgency of the matter. He knew that Byakko was trying to tell him that the ape was coming. He bowed to the tiger and ran towards the entrance of the cave.
~ After Shi Yan left,
The weakened tiger spoke in an angry but weak voice “Hati! Come out you bastard!”
Soon, Lumi appeared before Byakko in a soft solemn voice “Greetings old friend. It has truly been a long time.”
Byakko snorted. Once he saw Hati, he understood the situation and scolded “What are you and your brother thinking! That boy is just a child! How could you make him go through your trials?”
Hati looked at Byakko with sad eyes “We had no choice, this boy was simply fated to go through our trials. Our era have ended and it is time for the new generations to replace us”. Hati stopped for awhile, looked towards the exit of the cave and continued “You should already know that our tombs are not eternal. They will one day die with us. If we could find someone to take our inheritance, that would be our greatest wish”.
“But still! A child?”
Hati sighed “There was no choice, only a uncultivated child could enter our tomb”.
Byakko no longer bothered to rebuked. “So? What test is he going through currently?”
“Second trial out of four, the test of strength, endurance and courage”.
Byakko thought for a while before speaking again. “He has definitely shown courage and endurance but not strength…”
Hati said in a sad voice, “Indeed… to prove his worth, he needs to kill at least one of the demonic beast in this land. Who’d expect that most of the beast that remained were killed by your guardian. All the few that remained are either in hiding or are too strong for him to face.”
Byakko’s face turned darker, ” If only I could cure the poison in his mind…”
Hati walked forward and sat down, closer to Byakko, “it’s not your fault, your should know that they are still out to hunt for you. The mind control poison ordered him to kill all demonic beast from the mountains. Eventually, if Shi Yan doesn’t hurry, he might just need to kill your daughter to pass the test.”
Byakko calmly explained, “That won’t happen. Once the ape is healed up, he will attack me first. Its life will end here with this body of mine.” Byakko closed his eyes for a moment, expressing deep regret.
Byakko turned solemn and asked Hati, not wanting to talk about the ape any further. “Hati, could you do me a favor and let the boy pass through all your trials? You should already know that now he also carries my life, inheritance and daughter.”
Hati slowly shook his head “Old friend, I’m sorry. The trials must be passed before he can obtain our inheritance. My brother and I both are just remnant souls, just like you now, we don’t have the power and strength to change the test. We are only observers, to see the person who will obtains our inheritance.”
Byakko let out a soft sigh, “That kid’s fate is certainly extraordinary… He not only obtained my inheritance, he’s probably also fated to have yours. That fox of his as well… To think that she would pick him… A human…”.
Hati looked down, “Indeed, their path will be more treacherous than that of me and my siblings… If the boy survives through all the ordeals, the world will definitely experience a great shift. Another era will soon be born with him as the center… it is too bad we wouldn’t be there to see it.”
The tiger chuckled “you might not be able to see it but I will! Don’t worry, once we are both cross the Yellow River, I can spend another eternity telling you his tale!”
Hati gave a cold smile. “I’ll look forward to that day my friend…”
The conversation between the two continued as the old friends catch up. Enjoying some of their last moments together.
Do check out the announcement that is made today!