As the deer meat finished cooking atop the fiery hot stone, it was placed on two plates that Zhang had kept in a sack. Upon being placed on the plates Zhang noticed how unappetizing the deer meat looked for some reason however once he took a bit of it, there was no doubt in his mind that Wenji’s cooking was delicious.
“This tastes familiar... “Zhang thought as he ate but couldn’t quite straighten out his thoughts.
After a hearty meal, Zhang poured out the sack of things that he had scavenged off of the bodies of the cultivators slain by the Snow Sloth and began asking Wenji about their uses. He felt there needed to be a sense of trust within their group so he did not even think of hoarding all of the treasures to himself.
Rather than hiding things, since Wenji would definitely be more knowledgeable than him regarding the uses of the treasures he figured he should ask her because knowing the uses of the treasures would be much more beneficial to him than just lugging around a whole sack full of them.
“These ones here are fire talismans that will instantly ignite whatever they are stuck on once a bit of essence is poured into them.” Wenji said as she picked up on of the red colored talismans.
“These scrolls here will summon stone soldiers who will obey the summoner’s every command, they are comparable to fragment realm cultivators.”
“These are Frost talismans that will instantly freeze what they are stuck on.”
“Oh, this copper plate here is able to block a single attack from a core realm cultivator, once a day.” Wenji said as she held up an ordinary looking copper plate.
Once they had gone through every item that Zhang had collected, although Zhang insisted that Wenji takes half of the treasures in the end she only took a few talismans and told him to keep the rest, which served to improve her image in Zhang’s mind even more.
While stuffing the loot back into his sack, Zhang realized that he had totally forgotten about something. He had forgotten to attempt to store things away into the black ring that he wore, he knew that he could withdraw things out of it like the gold coin that he had previously taken out. But he was not sure if he was able to put things away.
So while Wenji was busy cleaning the dishes, Zhang sat on the ground and imagined all of the things within the sack in front of him disappearing and reappearing within his clan’s tomb, which is inside the black ring.
After a few attempts, a small pile of things appeared within the space within the black ring while Zhang’s sack was emptied.
So with his things safely stored away and with the night growing colder, Zhang walked into the large hut that Wenji had constructed and sat down. As he sat down he suddenly realized that there was only a single hut and without counting the pups there were two people. That was when his heart began to beat quickly and his mind began to spin.
“We-we are sleeping together? In the same hut?” He thought as his gaze left the inside of the hut and focused on the otherworldly beauty playing with the pups outside. Generally, men and women do not even stay in the same room together alone let alone sleep in the same place, especially those who have only known each other for a short amount of time.
When accounting for the number of times that Zhang and Wenji had met each other, Zhang couldn’t even imagine what was going to happen.
But of course, it did because not long after Zhang entered the hut, Wenji, and the pups made their way in too. Before long they were both snug underneath two separate beds of leaves while the pups curled up to stay warm. Silly as it was, Zhang could not fall asleep as his heart raced every time he saw the beautiful girl lying not too far from where he was.
So for most of the night Zhang was wide awake and only was able to fall asleep once fatigue truly got the better of them and sent him to the land of dreams.
Once the sun rose and the dreams ended, with a decent supply of food at hand, Zhang and Wenji decided it was time for them to actively go hunt Demonic Beasts for the tournament. Their plan was having the pups track down fragmented realm demonic beasts and hunt two or three a day until they both end up with thirty pelts since trying to go for elementary realm or higher demonic beasts would prove to be very dangerous with only the two of them and the pups.
With the pups taking the lead, Zhang and Wenji departed from camp and walked off into the forest.
“Keep your eyes out for any signs of movement.” Zhang whispered to Wenji who was walking beside him. Not only did they have to keep an eye out for demonic beasts but they also had to keep an eye out for the other contestants of the tournament.
After they had walked a considerable distance from camp the two pups caught the scent of something and began to quicken their pace, leading Zhang and Wenji through thick underbrush. The vines and bushes eventually became so thick that Zhang had to use his sword to hack away at them to create a path.
Before long the group arrived in front of a hillside with a total of six small caves cut into its side. Peering inside one of the caves, Zhang could see something curled up in a brown colored ball.
With a bark, Little Red and Little Blue charged toward one of the caves but before they could get very far out of from the tree line, the creatures living in the caves awoke and made their way outside.
“Diamond Tooth Rats… They teeth are as hard as diamonds so be careful to not get bit.” Wenji said calmly as she pulled out a dagger that was hidden behind a stash that was tied around her waist.
Perhaps it was because of the terrain within the forest or the number of predators because demonic beasts such as Diamond Tooth Rats generally live in massive hordes, but there were currently only six.
“Use the Frost Talismans.” Wenji said as a blue colored talisman shot out from her hand.
Breaths later a similar looking blue colored talisman also flew out of Zhang’s hand toward one of the Diamond Tooth Rats.
Since they were currently outnumbered four to six, Wenji was attempting to freeze some of the rats to ensure that Zhang and herself would not be overwhelmed once the battle began.
Although the rats were fragment realm demonic beasts, they were comparable to those at the peak of the fragment realm and neared the elementary realm in terms of power. Which meant if anyone in Zhang’s group had to face more than one rat at a time they would be easily overwhelmed.
Sadly, only one of the two talismans managed to hit its target while the other stuck to the ground and caused a layer of ice to cover the ground.
“Damn… I missed…” Zhang cursed as another blue color talisman shot out of his hand as the Diamond Tooth Rats began to charge once one of their kin was turned into an ice cube. Luckily for Zhang as the rats were charging blindly toward him one of them was struck by his second talisman after sliding on the layer of ice that formed due to the first talisman. Seconds after the talisman stuck onto it, half of the Diamond Tooth Rat’s body was frozen solid.
As the Diamond Tooth rats closed in, Zhang, Wenji and the pups also charged with weapons and claws ready to draw blood.
Despite their small size the two pups were evenly matched with the rats in terms of cultivation and power, rather they were a tiny bit faster. However due to their small size compared to the rats who were about the size of a person, the pups had trouble dealing large amounts of damage.
Their claws were too short and their fangs would not pierce too deep, making it difficult to slay their opponents.
Zhang on the other hand had his black sword that was able to deal massive damage to the rats as he unleashed a wild frenzy of attacks. Sideward swings followed up by backhanded slashes made it so even if his attacks missed the next one would definitely hit.
But of course despite the fact that Zhang was dealing a substantial damage to his opponent, it was nowhere close to meeting its demise.
While Zhang and the pups were each dealing with their own opponents, Wenji was making quick work of hers. With her unnaturally sharp dagger she carved up the Diamond Tooth Rat that was fighting her. With a few quick slashes and skillful movements, she was able to cut the tendons on its hind legs, rendering its mobility obsolete.
Without the ability to run or dodge the rat became a sitting duck and was quickly slain by a slash through the neck after its arms were disabled. Once she finished off her opponent Wenji set her eyes on the rat that was half frozen.
Seeing how Wenji had already finished off her opponent, Zhang doubled his efforts causing his sword swings to contain double the force that it had before. After hacking off one of that rat’s arms and a leg, Zhang was finally able to put it out of its misery by stabbing through the back of its neck as it laid on the ground.
Making sure his prey was dead Zhang went to aid Little Blue who was the one nearest to him. The Diamond Tooth Rat that had been fighting Little Blue was covered in light wounds that caused its brown fur to drip with blood. The moment Zhang came to Little Blue’s aid the Diamond Tooth Rat’s fate was sealed and it was quickly killed by Zhang with a slash across its neck.
Once it’s opponent was slain, Little Blue quickly sped to where it’s sibling Little Red was to lend its support. The rat that Little Red had been fighting was basically on its last limb by the time Little Blue arrived to help. With an eye missing and dozens of bite marks by its neck, the rat was bleeding profusely. Since it was already losing when facing only a single pup, now that there were two, the Diamond Tooth Rat was quickly killed.
“All done over here.” Wenji said as she pulled her dagger out of the block of ice that the last Diamond Rat was encased in.
“Let’s collect the pelts, claws and fangs and get moving.” Zhang said to Wenji as he crouched down over the corpse of one of the rats.
As quickly as the events seemed, quite some time had passed and it was best to not stay in one place for too long since the sound of fighting and the smell of blood was bound to attract unwanted visitors.
After sheathing his sword, Zhang produced a short dagger from his robes and began dismembering the corpses of the Diamond Tooth Rats. Much like the time the Graveyard, after pelting and retrieving the claws and diamond like fangs of the rats, Zhang collected some of their blood and checked if any of them possessed demonic cores.
“Don’t collect the meat. We aren’t eating rat.” Wenji said with a laugh as she saw that Zhang was about to up off the hind legs of one of the rats.
With a smile, Zhang wiped off the blood from his dagger before putting it away. After hearing Wenji’s words Zhang felt a bit silly because the thought of eating rat meat had never occurred in his head until she reminded him.
But what Zhang and Wenji do not eat, the pups were quick to enjoy. Each pup could be seen gnawing on a large bone and having their fill of Diamond Tooth Rat Meat while Zhang and Wenji were working on pelting the last few rats.
Soon after with their loot in sacks slung over their shoulders, Zhang, Wenji and the pups headed back to their camp. The pelts were equally divided so that Zhang and Wenji would each get three points for the tournament, which is without a doubt a good day’s hunt compared to what the other contestants could possibly have gone through.
However, the day was not over yet and there were still many dangers lurking in the woods so Zhang, Wenji and the pups had to stay alert while navigating through the dense forest.
If they happen to run into some strong demonic beasts or a group of contestants, then their harvest may be lost and perhaps their lives too. To an extent their fears were true because a while after the group departed from the caves where the Diamond Tooth Rats dwelled, dozens of other demonic beasts appeared to feast on the flesh that remained after catching the scent of free blood.
“We make a good team.” Zhang said as he and Wenji were walking through the forest.
“We do.” Wenji replied with a nod and a smile.
With three points each they only needed to kill another fifty-four demonic beasts to make it to the next stage of the tournament, and with roughly twenty-seven days remaining all they needed to do was to hunt at least four demonic beasts a day. Well, to be exact they only needed to obtain four demonic beast pelts a day, since as long as they possess the pelts at the end of the tournament it did not matter if they killed the demonic beasts or not.
So with that in mind, the last few days in the forest would be the most dangerous because everyone would try to find and rob those who have enough points to move onto the next stage of the tournament. However, there were still many days before the tournament would reach that point so Zhang’s first priority is still to survive and not get in over his head.
With prime examples such at the cultivators who attacked the Snow Sloth to show him what recklessness and ill planning resulted in, Zhang was sure to move carefully and only attack demonic beasts that he felt he could defeat.
Had they not run into Diamond Tooth Rats but instead something stronger then he would have instantly fled while gripping the jade slip used to teleport out of the forest in his hand.