The road that led up the hill was not steep. However, the thorny plants made it difficult for them to walk. As they went further into the forest, the weeds were replaced by big trees. Their trunks were thick and there were plenty of branches growing out covering the trail. If they did not remove them, they would not be able to walk any farther.
The trees formed a leafy canopy that covered the sun and made the trail darker. There were a few beams of light penetrating the gaps between the lush branches, which made them all feel like they were walking through an ancient forest. The barren forest had become a playground for wild animals. They could hear insects buzzing and birds chirping around them. Every once in awhile, they also saw pheasants and rabbits. No one knew where those animals came from. Luo Yuan pushed the branches aside and chopped the thorny plants on the ground so that they could keep going.
“Beep. After a sufficient period of practice, you have mastered the basic knife skills.”
Luo Yuan felt pumped up. The knife skills seemed to be easier to master compared to the driving skill. He opened the attribute board and realized he had obtained a point for his knife skills. He looked at his remaining four points and after some short consideration, allocated all of them to the knife skills. He now had five points for his knife skills. He definitely would not have done that under other circumstances considering the only other job that required knife skills was being a chef. His four-point bare-hand fighting skills had always been enough to protect himself.
However, the world seemed to be changing and no one was able to predict the future. The knife skills would be very important in the forest as this mission was a dangerous one. That was the best time for him to upgrade them, and he felt so pumped up and excited at the same time. He could feel that there were some kind of illusions forming in his head but he could not distinguish them clearly. He was idle for a few seconds before he felt some changes in the way he was holding the knife. His body and muscles became hard.
He instinctively tried to control his posture and widened his legs a little. After adjusting his stance, he subconsciously started playing with the knife again. In the blink of an eye, all the leaves in front of him were minced into confetti. Huang Jiahui had happened to watch the scene. She quickly covered her mouth and asked, “Yuan, have you practiced martial arts before?”
“Oh, yes. I have.” Luo Yuan replied when he recovered.
"I see. I’ve practiced free combat before, when I was in the police academy, but I didn’t learn how to fight with a knife because it’s not as useful as a gun," Huang Jiahui replied.
“It’s in the nature of men to show off in front of ladies. Regardless of whether they like them or not,” Wang Fei said with jealousy.
“What you did was real, right? That is awesome!” She thought it was unbelievable.
In fact, Luo Yuan could move 1.5 times faster than the average person. When he combined his knife skills with his flexibility, his fighting ability became astonishing. He could kill anyone before they could even utter a word.
Dexterity did not refer to speed. It referred to ones’ reflexes. It was not a common thing to be able to react 1.5 times faster than most people. His path-clearing speed got faster and faster. His knife-holding and plant-chopping posture had been wrong earlier, which had consumed a lot more of his energy. Since gaining five points in his knife skills, he could fully utilize them and work more efficiently. He cut a bunch of branches down without looking at them, and watched the leaves fall from the trees. However, when his knife made contact with the next branch, he felt something strangely soft touch him.
He took a look and yelled, “Snake!”
He quickly retreated as he felt his head and limbs go numb. It was a green snake with a big triangle-shaped head. Its body was slim, but it was about two meters in length. Luo Yuan butchered it, almost cutting it in two, leaving only a thin layer of skin connecting the two parts of its body.
The snake struggled vigorously despite its agony, exposing its fangs while producing more sounds of suffering.
“What happened?” Captain Chen asked, seeing how stunned Luo Yuan looked. He quickly pulled out his gun and walked towards him.
“There was a snake, and it looked poisonous! I killed it, though,” Luo Yuan replied when he recovered a few seconds later.
“It’s a bamboo snake! Everybody watch out! Those of you who haven’t tightened your trousers, please do it now!” Captain Chen lifted up the snake using a tree branch and threw it farther away while talking to the members of his team. Silently he was thinking, “Bamboo snakes are usually less than a meter long. I‘ve never seen one reach more than two meters! I have no idea what the consequences would be if we got bitten.”
He then looked at Luo Yuan, who was still in panic, and asked him whether he needed someone to take turns with him. Luo Yuan looked at Wang Fei and Zhao Qiang before replying, “I’m good. We just need to be more careful, but it should be fine.” He knew both of them had gotten frightened and would not be able to help with anything.
If one of the cops of the team got injured, the mission would come to an end. He needed their assistance. It would be extremely dangerous for him to go on alone if everyone decided to return. Although he was still really scared of snakes, he could now kill them easily using his abilities and quick reflexes. His self-defense skills were the strongest out of them all. Plus, it would be more dangerous if he had no weapons.
"Alright," Captain Chen looked happy with his answer. He had not been happy at first when Luo Yuan had insisted on following the team, but now he realized that he might actually contribute more than his subordinates.
“I can give you my cap. Please be more careful, Yuan.” Wang Fei said, feeling awkward.
"I’m good, thanks for offering. I heard that bamboo snakes usually attack by jumping down from tree branches. I’m relatively safe actually. It’s safer if you wear a cap," Luo Yuan replied with a smile.
It was in the human nature to try to avoid danger. Even Luo Yuan himself would not have simply entered the forest if he had not been allowed to join the rescue mission. Huang Jiahui looked pale after listening to Luo Yuan. He immediately regretted it. He was afraid that they would just give up and return home. He stopped talking and started walking again.
Huang Jiahui quickly walked towards Luo Yuan and followed him, staying right behind him. She had seen him play with the knife and she believed that that was not a normal skill level. She could not see clearly enough, but she felt that he was very mysterious after recalling the scene of him playing with the knife. She thought that it was best to stick with him for safety. They had reached the end of the road already. The trail was now covered completely by branches. They could only rely on Luo Yuan to find the way.
A black animal appeared in the bushes and then disappeared again. It stood at the grove nearby and stared at them. It was as big as a dog but it looked like a cat with its smooth body and shiny fur that looked like silk. Its cruel eyes were shining like ambers and there was fresh blood dripping from its mouth. Luo Yuan halted immediately and held up his knife in front of his chest, ready to attack.
"Looks like a leopard," said Huang Jiahui with a shaky voice while carefully leaning forward.
Luo Yuan also thought it was a leopard. But how could a leopard be wandering around there?
Everyone had panicked except Captain Chen and Zhao Qiang, who had responded fast by pulling out their guns and firing. The animal got scared and quickly escaped into the grove, crying out loudly.
"That must have been a wildcat. Too bad we didn’t get it." Captain Chen checked, but could not see any blood. "Everyone be more careful. Wildcats are very vindictive. It might come back again," he said.
Hearing that it had just been a wildcat, Wang Fei said, "I’m worried that it won’t come back. I haven’t tried wildcat meat before." He was afraid of those beasts, but subconsciously he did not take wildcats seriously as he thought they were weaker than other wild animals.
“Look who’s getting his courage back! I hope you don’t pee on your pants later,” Zhao Qiang made fun of him.
Wang Fei was aware that he had underperformed earlier and he retorted loudly, "What’s so scary about it? It was just a cat!"
Captain Chen remained silent and somber. He had grown up in a village. He knew that wildcats were fierce, but he had never seen such a big one. A tiger might not have been able to bring down this cat. They were lucky they had guns with them, otherwise they would have just died. Luo Yuan continued cutting down branches so they could keep moving. As he moved on, the groves kept getting lusher, so he decided to take a break and rest for a while.
He could have continued for a little bit longer, however, it would not have been such a good idea to use up all his energy now. He decided not to. When he was about to turn around and tell the team that he needed a rest, he saw something flash across the way.
He lowered his voice and said, "Watch out! That thing has come back again. It’s behind you."
Everyone quickly lifted their guns and checked in every direction, but they did not see anything at all.
"Are you sure it’s here?" Wang Fei asked cockily as he kept swinging his gun around.
“WATCH OUT!” Captain Chen pulled Wang Fei to him and started firing at something behind him.
Wang Fei turned pale as bullets passed by his ears. He could sense death near him. He felt his legs go numb and he slumped down on the thorny bushes nearby, getting a few bloody scratches on his face. No one had the time to look after him.
The wildcat moaned, causing an uproar. In the blink of an eye, a black shadow rushed towards Captain Chen without any warning.