# 69. A Divine Shot
Xu Qi’an’s gaze slowly scanned across his colleagues’ faces, saying deeply “This is saltpetre.”
To the surrounding martial artists with their lack of education and relevant knowledge, “saltpetre” was a completely meaningless name.
Song Tingfeng and the rest exchanged looks, frowning, “Saltpetre?”
Xu Qi’an thought for a moment, “Let me use a different name. Maybe you would know it by the name ‘flaming nitre’; it’s one of the main ingredients in gunpowder.”
Everyone’s expressions turned.
Gunpowder was a secret recipe controlled by the Great Feng, one of its most important methods to suppress the four seas and many smaller countries. Anything that relates to the recipe for gunpowder or its ingredients, the Feng have under very tight control (and especially saltpetre).
Even the Nightwatchers only have a vague idea about what gunpowder is made of.
*There’s a saltpetre mine on Dahuang mountain… there’s no signs of mining…* Song Tingfeng’s face no longer carried any smile, unnaturally serious. He said “Return to the capital immediately, report this.”
Compared to a monster causing havoc, a saltpetre mine was the more important issue by far.
Lyu Qing stared at the white-haired village elder, ordering “Arrest him.”
A saltpetre mine had appeared on Dahuang Mountain, and he as the elder of the closest village knows nothing about it? No matter what, he must be interrogated.
The two bailiffs took the rope coils from their waists, and bound the elder’s hands behind his back, escorting him out.
*The elder should have no knowledge of this, else he wouldn’t have led us here, this isn’t logical… and from analysing his body language, he doesn’t seem to be an insider. An old man with no culture couldn’t be a legendary actor… the reason the monster was scaring away the huihu is because of the Saltpetre mine?*
*Um, it’s not too likely. We’d need to ask a professional to determine when this saltpetre mine was started. We can go from there.*
Xu Qi’an shuffled through the thoughts in his mind, his torch raised, and in that instant he stepped out of the tunnel, he heard Lyu Qing’s sharp scream: “Be careful!”
At the same time, he heard an air-shattering whistling sound, as a black shadow flew from his side, so quick that he didn’t have time to react.
The bronze gong on his chest split, and Xu Qi’an felt as if he was just hit head-on by a high-speed train. The force sent him flying, and for a brief moment his eyes went black.
The sudden ambush caught the group unawares, as they all made different reactions.
The three bailiffs from the capital prefecture drew their swords, and pulled out their crossbows.
Zhu Guangxiao with a sweep of his leg kicked the elder back into the kiln. Song Tingfeng pulled out his sword, and shouted, “Get the fuck inside, don’t come out!”
Lying atop a boulder beside the cave was a two-foot monster resembling a salamander. Its body was armoured with thick plates.
It sported sharp horns on its forehead, its amber vertical pupils were gleaming with a fierce, cold light.
The creature's forelimbs were equipped with four claws, and its cheeks bulged as if hiding a weapon waiting to strike at any moment.
Suddenly, a black shadow, nearly invisible to the naked eye, shot out and headed straight for Song Tingfeng.
He quickly reacted and leaned back, narrowly avoiding a hit to the heart. Lyu Qing sprang into action, swiftly navigating the rocky terrain and gripping her blade with both hands.
The blade began to hum as it vibrated at high frequency.
"Ding ding ding!"
A series of sharp metallic sounds that made one’s teeth ache rang out, as the blade sliced onto the tip of the monster’s tongue, sending sparks flying.
Everyone could see now, that the monster’s long tongue was covered in a layer of fine scales.
Seeming to feel pain, the monster retracted its tongue and propped up its body on all fours. With a condescending manner, it stood atop the boulder and gazed down at the group.
It puffed up its and opened its bloody mouth wide, letting out a heavy roar.
The roar startled the wild birds in the mountains and forests. They fluttered their wings and flew far into the sky.
Song Tingfeng and the others fell into a trance as if someone hit the back of their head with a wooden mallet.
*Refining Spirit...* His blood ran cold. Enduring the dizziness, he hit his chest with the hilt of his knife.
The loud and clear sound of the gong was like a drum in the evening or a bell in the morning. It offset the effect of the roar and brought clarity back to their heads.
After the two parties got rid of the trance, they responded immediately.
While going back, Lyu Qing ordered her two colleagues who were at the peak of Refining Body, "Use your crossbows to help out, and attack its eyes, jaw, and mouth."
They were the relatively soft regions.
Song Tingfeng took off his gong and threw it to Zhu Guangxiao, "You are in charge of controlling its movement. Be careful."
He had seen Xu Qi'an's gong being broken just now. So, he knew that a gong couldn't resist the monster's tongue.
Bringing Xu Qi'an into mind, Song Tingfeng became somewhat sorrowful. Although the gong could withstand a full-strength attack of a Refining Spirit master, the monster had succeeded in a surprise attack.
Xu Qi'an had been caught off guard, and his heart might have been shattered by the remaining force. If he were to be KIA on his first day of service, oh how tragic that would be.
Song Tingfeng restrained his emotions, dragged his dao sword, and dashed to attack the monster from the side.
The salamander's amber eyes moved as if it was about to turn around and stick out its tongue. Zhu Guangxiao acted first and hit the gong to shake the spirit of the monster.
At the same time, he infused his Qi into the blade to produce a thick crescent of blade qi, causing a big temperature difference in the air.
The monster’s body was large, and so it could not avoid it. It lowered his head, using its hard forehead to resist the blade qi. Then, it lashed out its tail, and as if it had eyes on its back, hit Song Tingfeng with frightening precision.
Song Tingfeng blocked the tail using his dao, being thrown backwards.
Lyu Qing came over from the other side to seize the opportunity and stab the monster in the abdomen. However, It managed the avoid the attack as if it had foresight.
Martial artists and monsters in the Refining Spirit Realm had strong spiritual power, which could radiate around them and imprint the surrounding imagery in their minds.
Any type of tracking, ambush, locking, or killing intent couldn't escape the attention of a Refining Spirit realm.
That was the unique ability of the Refining Spirit Realm.
*Fuck me, I almost died before leaving the novice village. I finally broke through to Refining Qi and still haven't graduated from virginity, yet almost killed in the line of duty...* After a brief spell of unconsciousness, Xu Qi’an came to.
Upon hearing the sound of fierce fighting in the distance, he didn't get up, but crawled forward and climbed to a vantage point without anyone noticing.
He took out the small jade mirror in his sleeves and took out the military crossbow and the bone erosion poison that Song Qing had given him. After applying the poison, he raised the military crossbow silently and aimed at the monster while waiting for an opportunity.
Zhu Guangxiao knocked on the gong to shake the monster's spirit, thereby blinding its perception.
Xu Qi'an was about to shoot when the monster suddenly turned over, causing Song Tingfeng and the others to be stunned, wondering about the meaning of its action.
*...Damn it, Sneak attacks don't work on Refining Spirit realms!*
The safest way was to continue to wait and let Song Tingfeng and the others tire the monster and severely damage it and reduce its spiritual sense. Then, he could use the crossbow, a magic weapon capable of harming Refining Spirits, to complete the kill.
Soon, Xu Qi'an had to give up this idea...
Lyu Qing was like a vigorous female leopard, as her two vigorous long legs moved like lightning, and she finally pierced the tip of her vibrating sword into the monster's abdomen.
Fresh blood soaked the blade, and it sizzled as if it had touched red-hot iron.
The monster roared in pain. It tilted its head and its jaw bulged, from which a black shadow shot out into the sky.
Liu Qing's face darkened as her face showed a fearful expression. She knew that she couldn't avoid the blow.
At that time, a figure rushed over and hugged her plump and vigorous body, then rolled her sideways.
Song Tingfeng acted to stab the monster in the soft abdomen, making it unable to chase his companions.
Lyu Qing felt herself being hugged around the waist by a pair of strong arms. A man's heavy body was pressed against her body. While breathing rapidly, she fixed her eyes to see the man on her body, and blurted out in surprise,
"You're not dead!"
Xu Qi'an grinned, "Nearly."
*if it weren't for the Heart Protection Mirror Song Qing had given to me due to my achievements...*
Just as Lyu Qing was about to speak, she saw the monster about to attack them using its tail, so she quickly hugged Xu Qi'an and rolled with him.
Where they had lay a moment earlier, there was now a deep furrow.
"We're even now." Xu Qi'an smiled at her, and the two separated. Then they tacitly cooperated with Song Tingfeng to besiege the monster.
The reason why he had joined the battle instead of sneak attacking was simple: Three Refining Qi Martial Artists couldn't defeat a Refining Spirit Monster.
In the end, the result would have been that the monster wasn't exhausted to death, but Xu Qi'an himself would have become a commander that didn’t help his troops.
Upon seeing that their companion hadn't been killed in action, Zhu Guangxiao and Song Tingfeng's eyes lit up, revealing their joy.
Xu Qi'an took out the Bone Eroding Poison from his robes, wiped it on his blade, then threw the bottle to Lyu Qing, and said, "Put it on your blade."
Lyu Qing glanced at him, took a few steps back, and applied the poison. Then, she threw the poison at Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao.
Song Tingfeng had some bad luck. When he was applying the poison, he was targeted and attacked by the monster. Its long tongue brushed his arm and cut his skin and its scales scratched his bleeding flesh.
Lyu Qing slashed the monster's body and saw that the wound quickly turned black, then emitted a rancid smell. Shen looked at Xu Qi'an with surprise, "It worked!".
Upon Xu Qi'an joining the group, four Refining Qi were teaming up to encircle and two Refining Body were shooting arrows to interfere, so the advantage was quite obvious.
The monster had great strength, and it was skilled in using its tongue.
But, the huge size and structure of the body meant that the monster couldn't move around like a human martial artist, flexible and changeable.
More and more injuries accumulated on its body.
"Be Careful!" Xu Qi'an swung his dao, infused with Qi, to cleave the tail of the monster and saved Lyu Qing who was trading injury for injury with it.
His fingertips cracked, and blood flowed profusely from them.
He glared at Lyu Qing, "Do you want to die? Why's a woman like you acting so desperately?"
Lyu Qing stared at him with wide eyes, and she felt unprecedented feminity, "Yes."
The monster shook the air, and again unleashed a frightening spiritual storm.
Xu Qi'an and the others had been prepared, backing up quickly, retreating out of range for a tongue attack.
Unexpectedly, after the monster forced everyone to go back, It turned around and fled, its claws flying.
It burrowed into the forest by violently knocking down many trees to clear a rough path.
Lyu Qing's flowery face changed colour, "Chase it, We can't let it get away."
Once the monster entered the water, it would be difficult to eliminate it.
Song Tingfeng jumped up and walked on the branches, like a martial arts master with superb *Qinggong*[^1].
He stomped hard on a tree trunk and flew into the air to overlook the entire forest. The muscles of his right hand, which was holding the dao, swelled, and his loose sleeve burst.
The sabre shot out, drawing a bright silver beam in mid-air.
A second later, the painful roar of the monster came from the dense forest.
Exhausted, Song Tingfeng fell into the forest.
Zhu Guangxiao followed up the relay. His qinggong wasn't as good as Song Tingfeng, but his explosive power wasn't weak at all. He ran close to the ground and quickly caught up to the monster, striking with all his might.
The monster, now with a knife stuck in its back, shrugged him off and continued to flee for its life.
Only Lyu Qing and Xu Qi'an were left to pursue. The female constable, who was as vigorous as a female leopard, stubbornly chased the monster. She didn't fall off the trail, but she didn't catch up to it either.
Soon after chasing for a while, the River was in sight.
The monster plunged into the river and splashed some water.
While the female Constable was feeling disappointed, In the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of Xu Qi'an leaping high, taking off a military crossbow from his waist, and pulling the trigger gracefully without aiming at all.
The moment the arrow shot out, a powerful wave of energy erupted.
The female Constable didn't even catch the afterimage of the arrow, but her ears caught the "syiu" sound of it entering the water.
A few seconds later, a miraculous scene happened.
Blood-stained water appeared on the surface of the river, and a two-foot-long monster slowly floated up.
An arrow was lodged into its head, and it was dead.
Lyu Qing turned her head in a daze, looking at the young and upright Nightwatcher.
Xu Qi'an shrugged, "I've always been quite lucky."
[^1]: Light footed martial arts.