Sometime in the morning Cai Cao woke up and to his surprise, he found his body entirely covered in leaves. Right beside him was another mound of leaves, with Zhang’s face peeking out of it.
With a hint of hurriedness in his movements, Cai Cao reached his hand toward his chest.
“Phew, it’s still here and working.” Cai Cao said with relief evident in his tone as his hand traced a pendant that hung around his neck was still there and working.
“As long as this is working they’ll never find me and no one will ever know.” He thought as he crawled out from under the pile of leaves and made his way toward the dimming fire that was barely even burning anymore.
As he stood in front of the fire, Cai Cao turned toward Zhang who was fast asleep and the words “thank you” drifted out from his lips and reached Zhang’s deaf ears.
It was not until half an hour later did Zhang awake and joined Cai Cao beside the warm fire.
“Let’s go back to our campsite and gather our things.” Zhang suggested after sitting down beside Cai Cao who replied with a nod.
After putting out their fire with some dirt, our two adventurers departed from their shelter and headed toward where their camp had been. While carefully making their way through the woods and hopefully avoiding any demonic beasts in the area, along with whatever was after them the night before, Zhang and Cai Cao were able to spot Whale Rock as they made their way out of the woods.
At first they were hoping to be able to gather up dried rations and various things, however the moment the area where the camp was coming into view all they could do was sigh.
“MY SHADOW LEOPARD MEAT!!!!!!!! The demonic beast parts!” Zhang yelled at top of his lungs as he fell to his knees. The Blizzard Bear meat was heavenly, so from that he could only imagine how the Shadow Leopard meat would taste, sadly it was now beneath a massive pile of rubble along with the rest of their things. On top of all other things, the Blizzard Bear and Shadow Leopard pelts, fangs, claws, and blood that was lost only served to add to Zhang’s misery.
“We’ll get more. It’s okay.” Cai Cao said as he patted Zhang on the back with a look of pity present on his face.
After Cai Cao’s words the sad expression of Zhang’s face slowly disappeared, slowly getting back onto his feet he made his way toward the pile of rubble. A smile slowly crept onto Zhang’s face as he spotted something sticking out of the debris.
“Thank the heavens!” Zhang cried as he reached his hand out and picked up a sack on the ground that was partially covered by rocks.
Within this bag were the demonic beast fangs, claws, blood and even a large piece of Shadow Leopard meat. With a grin he lifted up the bag and showed Cai Cao who was following behind him, soon a smile also crept onto Cai Cao’s face.
Thus the two of them departed and headed back toward where they had come from. With their prizes reclaimed their current priority was to now stay under the radar and ensure their safety so they can exit the barrier when the three days had passed.
“At least we still have these.” Zhang said in a cheerful manner while patting the sack full of goodies slung over his shoulder as he and Cai Cao were navigating the woods to return to the cave.
“Shhhhh, do you hear that?” Cai Cao said as his hand pressed against Zhang’s chest so that Zhang could stop moving.
The faint sound of a dog’s yelping could be heard not too far from where our two adventurers were.
With a hand gesture from Cai Cao, Zhang withdrew his sword from its scabbard and they slowly moved toward where the sound was coming from. Despite the possible dangers, there was a chance of scoring another big harvest like they had done so yesterday.
Also whatever was making the yelping sound was fairly close to them and their cave so even if they tried to avoid trouble and walk away, there was a chance that trouble would later find them.
Rather than put things off for later and risk being attacked at night, they decided to try to deal with the issue when the sun was up and vision was not dimmed.
Brushing aside the branches obstructing their path, trampling the plants on the forest floor and walking out into a small clearing they spotted a massive carcass that was roughly half the size of the golem they had summoned. The carcass was covered in a luxurious snow white fur, and from simply looking at it anyone would be able to tell that it was some type of wolf or dog, however besides the fur and a few other things the carcass could be described as a husk of its former self much like those who unfortunately encountered the shadowy figure.
Despite being partially obstructed by the carcass’s limbs, Zhang spotted a pair of wolf pups, although they both sported beautiful snow white fur like the massive carcass, one of the pups had icy cold looking blue eyes while it’s sibling had fiery red eyes. These wolf pups were the size of small dogs and were gently brushing against the carcass of what was most likely their mother. From the bony look the two of them sported it was evident that they had not eaten for days.
Generally, infants such as them would be taken care of by their mother until they could fend for themselves but since their mother is now gone it is certain that these pups would not last very long on their own.
Spotting Zhang and Cai Cao the wolf pups began snarling furiously. To Zhang’s surprise as they wolves snarled their eyes began glowing and the tip of their tails along with patches of fur on their feet began emitting fire. The white wolf now had beautiful blueish fire for a tail and legs, while it’s sibling had fierce looking red flames in the same spots.
“Spirit Wolves.” Cai Cao muttered as his eyes were glued onto the wolves.
Without saying a word, Zhang sheathed his sword and placed the sack slung over his shoulder on to the ground. From within the sack he pulled out the piece of Shadow Leopard meat that he had been craving to eat.
With a sigh he also withdrew a small dagger from within his robes and slashed off two bite sized pieces of meat and tossed it to the wolves.
Although they were fairly vigilant against Zhang and Cai Cao, their hunger got the better of them and the two pups pounced on the pieces of meat offered to them.
Before long Zhang presented them with two most pieces of meat, purposely only giving a tiny bit so it would not satiate their hunger. This serve would to further increase their appetite.
After giving the two pups three pieces of meat each, Zhang began leading the wolves to himself by tossing the meat so it landed closer to himself and Cai Cao. As if placing a trail of bread crumbles for the pups to follow.
“Here, try to feed them some.” Zhang said as he handed some small pieces of meat to Cai Cao.
He was trying to make the wolves less wary of them through food in the hopes of making them his pet. It's easy to say that if given the chance then many people would kill to have demonic wolves as their pets.
Although Zhang’s knowledge regarding demonic beasts was lacking, he could tell from the size of their mother, how large these wolves would grow and from that alone he could tell that they could certainly be a force to reckoned with when they reach maturity. He also knew that demonic beasts were generally very hard to tame when they reach maturity, unless the person taming it vastly overpowers the beast.
So for someone like him who hasn’t even reached the fragment realm which is the most basic level of cultivation, acquiring a pet Spirit Wolf would be considered a gift from the heavens.
Following Zhang’s lead, Cai Cao reached out toward the wolf pups with a few pieces of meat on his hand. Moments later the wolf pups were practically eating out of Zhang and Cai Cao’s hands and most if not all of their wariness toward the duo was gone.
“Now for the final test.” Zhang thought as he reached out his hand and began petting one of the wolves. If the pup allows him to pet it then the meat that he had to give up was not wasted.
The moment Zhang’s hand brushed against the soft furry pup its hairs stood on end, but only for a fraction of a second before he turned around and licked Zhang’s hand. With a smile Zhang looked toward Cai Cao, signaling for his friend to follow his lead.
“Good boy.” Zhang said to the wolf pup with red eyes that was in front of him as he placed a large chunk of meat onto the ground for it. Afterward he passed over a piece of Cai Cao who then fed it to the wolf pup with blue eyes.
As the two pups bit at the pieces of meat Zhang and Cai Cao began discussing what to do with the massive Spirit Wolf carcass.
“We can’t do it when they are here or else all of the trust that we built up until now would be wasted. How about you take them back to the cave and I’ll work on gathering what I can.” Zhang said as he looked at the two pups.
“If so then you take the golem summoning scroll, and if trouble appears call out for help.” Cai Cao said as he picked up the two pups with the pieces of meat hanging from their mouths from the ground after handing Zhang the golem scroll and slinging Zhang's sack over his shoulder.
Once the wolves and Cai Cao were out of sight and after he had tucked the scroll into his robes, Zhang withdrew his sword and began harvesting the treasure trove in front of him.
It was clear that this Spirit Wolf was stronger than the bear and leopard, meaning it’s parts would make even better weapons and armor.
“First I should make something to hold everything.” Zhang thought as his sword was driven into the carcass and a large piece of the dead wolf’s pelt was cut out and laid onto the ground.
He began collecting the wolf’s saber sized claws and its sword like fangs and placing them on top of the fur. Once the claws and fangs were collected, Zhang continued to harvest more fur.
“I wonder if it has a…” He thought as he walked toward the wolf’s upper torso and drove his sword into it, cutting a large hole into the carcass. He was of course hoping to see if it had a demonic core or not. Lucky for him a crystal the size of someone’s head began to radiant light as it was struck sunlight coming in from the outside. By the time Zhang finished extracting the demonic core, last rays of light coming from the sun before it hid beneath the horizon.
“Man I’m starving.” He said as his stomach began to rumble. Most of the day had been spent trekking through the woods and cutting up the wolf carcass and did not allow him any time to have a meal.
But he was very happy that they had stumbled upon this carcass because besides all of the valuable demonic beast parts they were able to get, both he and Cai Cao were able to acquire pet Spirit Wolves.
“Hopefully my luck keeps up and we don’t run into any more trouble for the remainder of our time here.” Zhang said with a sigh as he hauled everything he harvested back toward where their cave was.
When he had finally reached the cave and made his way inside, he could smell the Shadow Leopard meat cooking. The pups could be seen playing beside Cai Cao while he grilled the leopard meat over a swaying fire.
Once Zhang tossed his haul into a corner of the cave, he joined them by the fire and a hearty meal was enjoyed.
The remainder of their days in the Graveyard passed by like a breeze, without any troubling events occurring.
The wolves were gradually named, Little Red and Little Blue, according to their eye color. Little Blue became very attached to Cai Cao while Little Red became very attached to Zhang.
The moment the sun rose, Zhang and Cai Cao departed from their cave with both Little Red and Little Blue following behind them. Today was the long awaited day when they could finally exit the Graveyard.
Sensing the excitement that Zhang and Cai Cao were giving off when they spotted the massive gates that led outside the two pups ran about playfully. Seeing that they were home free, our two adventurers could not help but smile.
Once they reached the massive gates, they both pulled out their door sealing talismans and the barrier that had been keeping them trapped within, slowly opened a small exit within itself.
“We’re free!” Zhang and Cai Cao said cheerfully in unison.
“Wait, you two don’t go too far, if someone else sees you they might attack you.” Cai Cao said as he saw that the pups run out of the barrier.
“Let’s get going too, the barrier won’t stay open for long.” Zhang said.
However right before he was able to step outside the boundaries of the Graveyard, a barrage of bony white hands shot out from within the woods and gripped onto Zhang’s body. Pulling on him with immense force.
“He-help!” Zhang screamed.
Turning back in an instant, Cai Cao reached his hand out and grabbed onto Zhang’s hand. However, his strength could not compare to the countless arms that were latched onto Zhang’s body and both of them were being dragged toward the forest.
“Dammit! Go! Go get help!” Zhang said after he realized that there was no way for Cai Cao to free him from his predicament. After the words left his mouth, he released his grip on Cai Cao’s hand and in an instant he was dragged into the woods and out of sight.