The progression of the night into the wee hours had remained largely quiet until a primal howl suddenly tore through the hushed atmosphere. It came outside of the Ye Castle, but following that howl was waves of rumbles — a couple of walls were tumbling down.
" What just happened?!"
Lights were instantly lit and flickering within the Ye Castle.
"a monster is in the Castle!"
"Mystical beast invasion!"
Frantic hollers from the clansmen on watchmen duty echoed one after another, rousing everyone else from their slumber.
It did not take much time before a few silhouettes burst into the scene in a manic blur. Ye Changxuan, Ye Zhantian and the rest of the higher-echelon pugilists had arrived.
Ye Chen, too, was sprinting toward the direction of the incident. Before he reached, however, his eyes had already caught whatever was responsible for the initial crash — it was an enormous beast that resembled a lizard!
"A U-Unihorn Lizard?! Everyone, pay heed to its lethal venom!" Ye Changxuan cried above the ding.
Ye Zhantian leapt up and slammed his palm forcefully onto its head. Yet, all that did was to cause the monster's head to tilt to a side while a sharp pain raced through Ye Zhantian's right hand all the way up to his arm.
The Chief understood the implication instantly. "It's not just any normal Unihorn Lizard… It's a Ninth Stage one! Everyone, be careful!"
Although dangerous, a Unihorn Lizard's natural habitat laid within the deepest part of the mountains and forests. They were almost never sighted in areas like these. So why was one of them barging its way into the Ye Castle?
Getting hit by a puny human really roused the Unihorn Lizard's ire. As payback, it swung its tail with all its might, sending several clansmen flying.
The situation was immediately lost in the melee. Ye Changxuan, Ye Zhantian, and other master pugilists took to themselves to confront the Unihorn Lizard directly, while other clansmen — acknowledging their own lack of martial prowess — retreated to the back, grabbing their bows and crossbows to provide ranged support.
It was not exactly new for the House of Ye to face an invasion of a lone mystical beast. In fact, it averaged a few times a year. The reason why the incident today was so different from normal was that all of the beasts till then were, at most, only at the Seventh Stage, and never beyond.
Fortunately, as mystical beast invasions were not exactly unknown to the Ye family, the Castle itself was actually laden with quite a handful of beast traps exactly for occasions like these.
"Lure the beast to the pitfall trap!" Ye Zhantian commanded with a growl.
Pitfall traps were one of the best tools to slay mystical beasts. First, one would lure the beast into the trap, then with a flip of a switch, a boulder would plummet into the trap as another switch ignited the layer of kerosene coated all around the bottom of the pit. By then, it would not matter how advanced a Stage the mystical beast was. It would simply be incinerated to death.
"C-Chief! S-someone has destroyed the mechanism behind the pitfall trap! Even the kerosene is already ignited!" A clansman shrieked.
Ye Zhantian's eyebrows immediately pushed together toward the middle as his chest was slowly but surely sinking into a state of ominous terror--
"—Zhanlong! Where's Ye Moyang?! Find him and get him… before that b.a.s.t.a.r.d runs away!" Ye Zhantian thundered. It could only be an act of a turncoat to destroy a private trap—and no one else fitted that bill more so than Ye Moyang!
Like an arrow fired off from a bow, Ye Zhantian hurled himself toward the direction of the pitfall trap.
Indeed, the pitfall trap was already turned into a lake of fire as the kerosene blazed fiercely. As Unihorn Lizards were fearful of fire, an ignited trap was effectively served as a red flag to them to not get close to it. With the trap out of commission, the Ye family was suddenly left with limited choices. They could either kill it which would take some time and definitely cause immeasurable damages to the Castle or chase it out of the Castle altogether.
The reason why mystical beasts were dangerous was that they were always a lot stronger and more powerful than a human counterpart even if the two occupied the same Stage. It was precisely due to this discrepancy between the humans' and mystical beasts' powers that was starting to take a toll on the only two master fighters who had attained the same Celestial Chi as the intruder—Ye Changxuan and Ye Zhantian.
Twish! Twish! Twish!
Came the sharp, flitting sounds of arrows as they rained down onto the Unihorn Lizard. The damages of these arrows might have been mitigated by the monster's dense hide but the impact from the powerful shots fired off from the Ye Castle's mangonels were still damaging enough.
The Unihorn Lizard's mammoth-sized body— at least three or four zhangs wide — thrashed uncontrollably, its fury increasing dangerously as arrows never ceased raining down on it. Then, suddenly, it ran headfirst into the mangonels themselves.
In a horrifying cacophony of 'ker-rash!', three mangonels crumbled into debris within minutes.
Ye Zhantian was fuming. These weapons had costed the House of Ye a fortune—on top of a ma.s.sive amount of effort to forge!
"You… Stupid beast!" Ye Zhantian hurled himself toward the intemperate beast and lashed out a thunderous wallop.
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Seeing Ye Chen sprawled on the floor, Ye Rou suddenly dashed in the opposite of the ma.s.s's direction. Completely ignoring her own safety, she ran to Ye Chen, hoping to haul him out of his precarious situation.
'It's about to blow up!' Ye Chen's mind shouted as his eyes caught Ye Rou sprinting toward him. Panicked, he lunged and pressed the girl under him, using his own body as a shield—
There was a loud rumble so intense that everyone could feel their eardrums ringing, as if about to be shredded into pieces. Those who did not manage to back away far enough could feel their feet being lifted off the ground as they were thrown backward by an unseen force spreading from the explosion.
Those who managed to stand on a safer distance, however, found themselves witnessing an absurd sight: the mammoth-sized Unihorn Lizard was flung into the air, spun into a backflip, then plummeted down onto the earth in full impact, its innards bursting out from its belly.
The Unihorn Lizard proved itself to be quite determined, struggling to crawl out of Ye Castle despite its near-death state.
Ye Changxuan, who had been one of the quickest to recover from his initial shock, managed to grab a trident from somewhere and stabbed the Unihorn Lizard right on its neck. With a whoosh, the Unihorn Lizard was nailed to the ground.
The beast's legs were still wriggling and sliding, desperate to crawl out of its sealed fate. By the looks of it, the beast would probably take fifteen minutes, at least, to succ.u.mb to death!
The injured clansmen were lying on the ground, receiving help from other clansmen who had not been present during the battle.
Ye Chen suddenly heard a soft whimper under his chest. He had been so preoccupied with what had happened, that he had not really thought about his action completely. But now that the danger had pa.s.sed, he was finally way too cognizant of the fact that he had pressed Ye Rou under his own body the whole time. His face was just a few inches away from hers, while his chest and her bosom were completely pressed together.
Her dress was so thin, Ye Chen could feel the softness of her skin right through it. Not only that, his nose could not help but pick up the bodily aroma of the young, fair maiden.
"Um, Big Brother Ye Chen? C-can you, um, get off now?" Ye Rou's widened eyes were filled with bashfulness. She could feel something lodged in between her thighs—and as soon as she knew what that might have been, her heart skipped a beat.
"Um, that was an emergency. I didn't mean anything else," Ye Chen stood up stiffly. Quietly, he admitted to himself that he did enjoy that temporary moment of intimacy.
"It doesn't matter what you do, Big Brother Ye Chen. I'll never blame you," Ye Rou whispered as she gently brushed off the soot from Ye Chen's clothes.
The young man could feel his heart pounding at Ye Rou's words. Suddenly, a strange emotion had started to take form — and it absolutely refused to leave his heart.
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