Chapter 143: The Nagging Troubles of Survival (4)

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Crying aside, the young girl finally put the loose sheets of paper to good use.

A blank sheet grasped in one hand, the other flipping through the numerous pages of the book splayed before her, and the brush help between her teeth, An Fei finally brushed onto the subject of constructing a shelter to use within the forest.

Her basic requirements necessitated ample protection against the elements, and a structure that emphasized portability.

The young girl had little need for the actual shelter to be transferrable from one location to the next; that was hinging on the borders of mental insanity and delusional thoughts given her current available resources within the Wu Ji Forest.

As long as the structure of the shelter was easily replicable, that was enough.

“A rectangular assembly of wooden logs bisected and hollowed to construct a conical structure…” the young girl murmured through clenched teeth, the pair of scarlet irises refusing to depart from the characters spanning the page.

“The hollowed logs are arranged as though the covering of a tent to form a conical appearance, of which the peak is to be removed and replaced with a plateaued article to divert any incoming rainfall… necessary complements of fibrous material include twine to sustain the structure and a mud bastion to insulate the shelter’s composition… that’s no good.”

An Fei paused to scratch the tent-like design from the page, the brush in her hands condemning the idea to an early death.

The brush returned to its original place between the young girl’s lips, the tip barely moistened by the recently ground ink.

“A paneled roof utilizing flattened planks of wood with an enclosure supporting peripheral protection – that’s rather useless when encountering rain – a longhouse… useless, don’t have that much time… ah…”

The young girl closed the book with a rueful gaze, her heart laden with annoyance. The sheets of paper that had been marred by her designs whilst reading were thus scrapped, and An Fei leaned against the edge of the bed, closing her eyes in thought.

“Perhaps… just hollowing out the inside of a tree would do…”

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With that, a week passed in complete tranquility.

The Wu Ji Forest returned to its usual lifestyle following the unexpected event of slaughter, and the sensation of terror diminished within the animals’ hearts after realizing that the mysterious killer had not surfaced for several days.

Once again, such phenomenon warranted mixed responses from the collective consciousness of the creatures residing within the forest.

The animals were relieved that their lives were thus spared from unwarranted killing, whereas the plants exhibited their discontent in as many forms as they could possibly conduct with their meagre existences.

Having lost the tantalizing stream of vitality that had inundated their roots, the pitiful herbs and plantlife could only return to foraging for the scraps of sunlight that seeped through the dense overgrowth.

…neither of them were aware that the killer had not departed from the forest, and was actually thriving alongside –

Boom!

“Oh, come on!”

A dense explosion rang throughout the Wu Ji Forest’s undergrowth as a piercing shockwave erupted through the sea of trees.

From the source of the eruption, a weary figure dashed from within the cover of leaves and branches, weaving through the maze of trees and grass with a fearsome agility.

Roar!

A tiger’s roar soon followed, a brilliant white streak surging at the figure’s heels. The two raced throughout the sea of trees at an incredible pace, the mere sounds of the chase sufficient to terrify the souls of the animals hidden within the knee-height grass.

Ducking underneath a low branch whilst mapping out a possible course to throw off the malignant streak of light nipping at her heels, An Fei couldn’t suppress herself from releasing a curse.

The young girl abruptly yelped, her right palm curling around the thin trunk of a nearby tree to suddenly swing around and reverse her direction, causing the blindly rushing tiger to careen and overshoot its target.

Roar!

The white-furred creature revealed a majestic aura as it glared at the young girl with a wrathful gaze, the pair of eyes threatening to devour the fragile figure before it piece by piece.

The tiger’s powerful jaws opened to reveal a mouth full of sharp teeth, causing the young girl to quiver with unease.

“Easy… now…” An Fei breathed, her right hand extended towards the white tiger as she carefully retreated, a small step at a time.

“This young girl didn’t intend on intruding into your territory… nor did I destroy anything, so… you can let me go – eek!?”

The tiger pounced towards An Fei without a single preparatory sound, causing the young girl to leap towards the side in panic.

With a powerful roar exuding a malignant aura equally domineering as the white tiger, a lotus petal detached itself from the young girl’s lapel, transforming into a meter-long steel blade overflowing with bloodthirst as it stood guard before An Fei.

Grr…

The tiger’s eyes constricted in surprise at the sudden entry of the sword, noticeably blanching at the dense, raw aura seeking blood emanating from the steel blade without a handle.

The intricate hairs along its fur rippled with unease, and the creature lowered its gaze, carefully scrutinizing the young girl before it with a cautionary approach.

Nonetheless, the fierce creature lowered its center of gravity towards its hind legs, the powerful muscles rippling with immense strength as they prepared for a silent but deadly pounce.

The young girl revealed a grimace at the sight of the tiger refusing to leave, her hands darting towards the twin butterfly swords sheathed on her sash.

An Fei glared at the white creature with an expression of discontent, her moon souring to rock bottom as the events of a few moments before stemmed in her mind.

The large tiger proclaiming its royal dignity before her had originated from the other side of the stream’s bank.

A fierce creature from the central regions of the forest, albeit An Fei had little clue regarding its allotment in cultivation.

The boorish tiger had witnessed a young girl drinking from the same stream as it had, and abruptly attacked without a shred of mercy.

Having been caught by surprise, An Fei had unconsciously relied on the usage of the <Steps of Underlying Shadows>’s passive evasion to avoid receiving lethal wounds… which ultimately aggravated the creature to no return.

Having discovered that a weakling shared the same water as its own majestic self… then realizing that it was unable to injure said weakling existence and in exchange incurred several deep wounds, how could the white tiger not become angry to the extent of losing reason?

Roar!

The white tiger glared at the girl with endless wrath circling its eyes, the sharp claws gouging deeply into the earth. The three-meter long creature bared its teeth, an unknown amount of strength surging within its body to produce a miserable torrent of death.

The handle-less sword flashed with anger as it revealed the deadly edge towards the white creature, the inscriptions spanning its length seething with bloodlust.

A deep, scarlet light began to effuse from the steel surface, grossly distorting the forest’s atmosphere with a sinister, hellish hue.

The hind muscles of the tiger rippled, before unwinding in a single release of strength. The white tiger shot forward with an unstoppable momentum, headed directly towards the young girl’s exposed nape.

“Ah…”

An Fei withdrew both butterfly swords from their sheathes, twirling them into a reverse grip grasped before her chest.

As she observed the tiger’s rush towards her chest, the young girl shifted her weight onto her left leg, lowering her center of gravity to properly receive the wrath of a forest king.

Shua!

The expected collision of flesh upon flesh did not reverberate throughout the forest, nor was there the piercing shriek of a young girl’s body shattering into numerous fragments.

Instead, a quiet slash of metal through flesh whispered within the Wu Ji Forest, introducing the shadow of death with a wry smile and an invitational gesture.

An experimental slash towards the tiger’s massive body to trigger the automatic movements of the <Steps of Underlying Shadows>, then relying on her left leg as the primary pivot to pirouette around the creature’s body, the twin butterfly swords lacerating the pristine, smooth white fur with numerous deep cuts.

For good measure, An Fei angled her right shoulder closer towards the ground at the finishing movements of her rotation to hack off the tiger’s tail, before dispelling the accrued momentum by extending her arms to their fullest length.

Boom!

The young girl flashed a cheerful smile towards the white tiger that had rammed its head against the hardened bark of a maple tree instead of the delicate flesh of a young, budding maiden.

As An Fei took a step back to admire her handiwork, she noticed that amongst the numerous cuts besotting the tiger’s body, one had landed at the base of its right hindleg.

Thus, a king of the Wu Ji Forest had lost not only its tail, but also a hindleg – one of its two primary empowerments of strength.

The tiger’s eyes seemed to drip blood as it glared at the young girl, the teeth fully bared in an attempt to cloud its own consciousness to minimize the pain.

The creature appeared to amass an extraordinary quantity of spiritual essence within its body to unleash a dreadful attack onto the hateful –

Caw!

A heavily mangled and distorted cry of a raven suddenly pierced through the entire Wu Ji Forest’s undergrowth, carrying forth limitless resentment, undying pride, and a sinister malice.

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