Chapter 157: Ignorance was bliss (2)

In the end, An Fei elected to continue striving forward, at least until she reached the exit of the Wu Ji Forest.

Such a decision was elected through the ‘encouragement’ of the little raven by her shoulder, and the abrupt scarlet radiance that erupted from the steel handle-less blade hovering behind her whilst she sulked.

Feeling the dense malevolent aura of bloodthirst envelop her with the sensation of a warm embrace, the young girl hastily took a step forward as if to affirm her choice.

…and here she was, accompanied by the war drums of thunder and rain as she trekked through a completely dry forest, the experience of her feet and ears in complete conflict with the other.

One urged for her to seek shelter from any stray bolts of lethal lightning, whereas the other scoffed in disdain for it stood on solid, dry ground.

As she walked through in a straight line, ignoring the maze of trees and grass, the young girl ensured that one hand grasped onto the hilt of a butterfly sword. Her perception, though restrained to a small radius, swept forth in search of any fearsome enemy.

She had sufficiently learned her lesson from the nine-tailed fox and her crusade of this region of the Wu Ji Forest’s fierce beasts.

However…

“I’m more used to hunting small rabbits and birds for food back then,” the young girl grumbled as she hacked at a cluster of vines hanging from a tree directly to her left.

“At least a small carbine rifle would do the trick, but here, some rabbits would probably swallow me whole, ah.”

An Fei ignored the startled cry of pain from the severed vines and stepped forth, brushing aside any tendrils that attempted to rub against her body.

The little raven narrowly ducked to avoid a swinging vine that aimed for its feathery head, its crimson eyes revealing a dull sheen in confusion.

What is a carbine rifle?

Is that a cultivation technique?

“Seriously, ah!”

An Fei growled to herself in complaint, wondering for the second time whether her decision was the correct one for her sanity.

She was completely unaware when the rumble of thunder had diminished to the extent that it projected mere vibrations within the atmosphere, but the scenery of vines was enough of an irritation.

To her left and right, green vines sashaying to a nonexistent wind. The green vines hung from tree branches and brushed against the ground, forming a natural curtain that obscured a person’s direct view.

To her front, a dense mass of grey vines coiled around a large unknown object, as though a python squeezing the life from its prey.

The pile of vines constricted and expanded at an irregular rhythm, causing An Fei to tilt her head in befuddlement.

Was she in some fierce creature’s domain, as with the experience with that highly disgusting yet powerful bulbous monster of a creature?

C-caw.

The little raven released a startled squawk at the sudden display of vines, its wings gently fluttering as an invisible violet aura seeped into the tranquil and sleepy atmosphere of the Wu Ji Forest.

The violet aura brushed against the surface of the vines as though a greeting, sweeping over the surroundings with a conciliatory gesture.

The vines, however, merely shifted a little, completely disregarding the little raven’s presence.

This in turn caused the little creature to lapse into a momentary panic, and the immortal sentience within the crimson eyes mused in deep thought.

The little raven, after some hesitation, decided to thoroughly jab An Fei’s exposed neck with its feathered head.

“H-hey!”

Caw!

The young human girl and the little raven glared at the other for a brief moment; An Fei soon capitulated, her intuition convincing her to listen to the raven’s deformed cries regardless of how indecipherable they were.

“What now?”

Caw!

“…fierce creature?” the young girl guessed, her spirits dampening when she realized the little raven was energetically hopping on her shoulder whilst vigorously nodding its head.

“Stronger than the nine-winged buzzard back then?”

Caw! Caw! Caw!

“…er… what is that supposed to mean?”

An Fei frowned in confusion, her beautiful and unmasked countenance perfectly conveying her inability to understand the little raven’s shrieks.

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The little creature’s head dipped low at her response, and its golden claws twitched on the leather strap for several seconds before the raven came to a consensus.

Caw!

The little raven leapt from the young girl’s shoulder and flew into the air, perching itself at a branch not too far to An Fei’s right.

“This…” the young girl raised an eyebrow at the little creature’s sudden action, before hesitantly walking towards the little raven’s position with faltering steps.

When she finally stood below the branch that the little raven perched on, the small infuriating creature took flight once more, heading towards a different branch.

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“Y-you!”

Thus, began a relatively crude game of tag, with a young girl chasing after a little raven as small as her palm.

“Come… back here!”

An Fei called out towards the little raven that peered down from its elevated branch, feeling slightly irked by the crimson eyes that stared directly at her forehead.

The young girl felt as though the raven seemed to be harboring no insignificant amount of contempt and disdain for her intelligence, for the creature swung its head to the side as if to inspect a different object.

“You!”

Damned raven!

The young girl clenched her fists as she leapt over a cluster of vines towards the infuriating creature, which only took flight at the last moment.

She promised that once she caught it, she was going to hunt ravens before its eyes to express her dissatisfaction.

Eventually, however, the young girl realized that the little raven was in fact, providing guidance than leading her astray.

Compared to her original intention of simplifying the current objective before her and taking a direct route through the sea of vines, the little raven introduced a series of winding turns and sidesteps whilst traversing the forest.

These maneuvers elapsed more time compared to her path of charging through, but attracted the attention of less fierce creatures in exchange.

The little raven had guided through the vine-filled patch of the forest in a short pace of what was a few hours, without having attracted the attention of a single fierce creature.

When looking behind the path as she braced her foot against the bark of an unlucky tree, An Fei ruminated on the meticulousness behind the little creature’s choreographed path.

…she didn’t exactly remain on the ground, for one.

There were certain occasions that required An Fei to leap from branch to branch, for the little raven had discerned the presence of numerous fierce creatures loitering around on the ground.

Thus, the young girl had to repeatedly climb up the tree, swing herself around thicker branches to cross a larger distance, and hope that she wouldn’t fall partway through.

…the hope took the majority of her mental functions, for her eyes rhythmically memorized the pattern of in which the little raven flew, and mimicked it to the best extent her sore body could cope with.

The only saving grace to her aching muscles and groaning tendons was that had she provoked those fierce creatures within the forest, she would have been able to cover the same amount of distance after having expended the combined effort of several days.

“Xiao Hei, come back…” An Fei wheezed, clutching her heaving chest with a frail hand.

The young girl perched herself on a high branch, her scarlet irises begging for a little raven to return from its temporary post at a tree thirty meters across from her position.

An Fei rested against the back of the tree, her labored breathing and rapid heartbeat with its irregular and certainly unhealthy rhythm nearly sending her into unconsciousness.

Caw!

Having noticed that the young girl was expended to her limits, the little creature unwillingly returned to perch on the leather bag’s strap.

As her eyelashes fluttered, causing her vision to slightly warp from the exhaustion and blurred gaze, An Fei could faintly discern the region of the Wu Ji Forest just beyond the defining boundary of the vine-infested area.

She seemed to have spotted a clear, scenic lake without any branches or leaves hanging overhead; one with a clear view of the moon, revealing the truth of the Wu Ji Forest each nightfall.

The sea of trees gave way to enshrine the large lake, revealing the lonely sentinel that awaited the silver sun’s descent, gazing at the night sky of stars with a wistful sigh.

An Fei wasn’t sure what lay beyond the vined region of the forest and lay directly within her reach, but it was sure to be anything but safe…

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