She looked at both Anqing and Xukun.
\"Both of you seem like good people, I'd hate to see that go unnoticed\", she said.
Surprised by her gesture, neither knew how to reply. After all, this was the first time they had seen her speak warmly of them.
She looked back at the centipede, focusing on the lance. It had shrunk down to an inch at its thickest and a little over a meter in length, but its power had tripled. It was incredibly dense and could pierce stone with out an issue, but would it be able to damage the insect's carapace?
She wasn't sure but at the very least it would be enough to take it's attention away from Shanguan Lei and Ge Yun.
If she were to compress the lance even further, she would risk losing control over it. Ming Yue looked at the centipede and waited for the opportunity.
The insect slowly tightened its circle around the two and as much as they struggled. The space around them grew smaller and smaller.
The centipede reared its lion head, readying to gorge itself. As it watched from several meters above them, something flew through the air, aiming straight for its head. A loud bang came from the impact as the centipede was knocked down.
The sudden attack had caught it off guard and it crashed down to the ground.
Its body loosened and its grip over Shanguan Lei and Ge Yun loosened. Neither knew who had helped them but did not want to linger here.
\"Ge Yun, let's leave quickly! Whoever was willing to help us has probably left.\"
Shanguan Lei grabbed her hand and the pair that were moments away from death, quickly took this chance to escape. They climbed over the centipede's thick body using its stone like skin as footholds. Running towards Ming Yue position, the two escaped with newfound energy.
As dust and smoke settled, the centipede raised its head and looked around, having forgotten about the two. The side of its face had small hole with numerous fractures that spread across its cheek. It looked towards where the attack had come from, trying to identify who had the gall to ambush it.
But Ming Yue had already formed another lance and did not give it a chance to relax.
The moment the centipede faced her, she sent it off. With its explosive speed, the lance smashed into the beast's head. The impact itself was incredible, knocking the Stone Lion Centipede into the ground.
\"We should go\", Ming Yue suddenly spoke and everyone ran away.
This time the centipede was thoroughly angered, letting out a ground shaking roar as it began running towards the group's position. With its many legs, it covered a hundred meters in seconds. It wasn't a rank 5 for nothing and its sharp eyes saw Ming Yue and the others running.
Behind them, the sounds of crushed vegetation and broken trees followed.
The group changed directions often but could not shake off the centipede. It didn't matter if there was another beast or cluster of trees, the centipede blew past it all. It seemed determined to kill these humans and the chase only made it resolute.
Slowly but surely, it was catching up to them. Inching by until the head was only fifty meters behind Ming Yue. All three of them did what they could to slow it down. Anqing pulled out several vials of poison and tossed it at the centipede to no effect. Xukun controlled his sword to cut down trees that were blown away by the centipede. Ming Yue sent off a blade-wind but it only left a scratch. She needed to make a wind lance but under such conditions, that would be difficult to achieve.
Despite their attempts, the centipede was unstoppable.
\"Where is the elder?\" Anqing yelled out in desperation.
\"I knew it! We shouldn't have attacked the centipede and saved them!\" Xukun whined out loud.
The centipede closed in on them, just meters away. It raised its head and readied its jaw, preparing to swallow them all in one bite.
Suddenly, a loud bang rang out as the centipede's head was shot down by whats seemed like black iron ball.
Above them, a ship blotted the sun as it hovered over the centipede. That cannon shot was the first of many as the ship sent off a barrage at the centipede's position.
All three of them called out with relief and stopped running. But it was a short-lived emotion. The ground shook beneath them and without another thought, all of them jumped away from where they stood. The next moment, the ground exploded and the centipede emerged from where they use to stand.
It was intent on swallowing them whole.
But Elder Xiang would not let it do as it pleased.
Several feet above the centipede's head, a great earthen blade formed. A double edged sword, two meters wide and fifteen meters long, pointing down on the insect. Floating above the blade, the elder stood firmly controlling the blade with his hand.
Without warning, he pointed downwards and the giant rock blade smashed into the centipede's body. It roared in pain as the blade had broken off parts of its shell, revealing a slimy interior that was bright pink in color.
The giant insect trembled and dug back into the ground, retreating to wherever it came from.
\"Hmph, filthy insect\", the elder muttered under his breath before going back to the ship.
Gradually, the ship descended landing on the smashed ground where the centipede was. The elder then hopped off, walking towards Ming Yue.
He gave one look at them before turning back.
\"Good none of you guys are hurt, I'm leaving\", he said.
As an elder, he was to watch over them and save them at critical moments. Outside of those two objectives, he would not interfere. After all, they needed to have their own experiences. Ming Yue knew this and so did the others, so they did not find his behavior odd or insulting.
They prepared to leave for the third zone before Shanguan Lei and Ge Yun emerged from the surroundings. They were dirty and tired, covered in injuries and their clothes full of rips.
\"Hm, its you\", Shanguan Lei recognized Anqing and Xukun, looking at them with surprise.
\"Was it you that helped us?\" he asked.
\"It was her that made the first attack, after that it chased after us to here where the Elder scared it off.\"
Anqing pointed at Ming Yue as she spoke.
\"I see. In any case, thank you for saving us, all of you\", he spoke with a whole-hearted tone and bowed with Ge Yun.
\"It's..it's fine\", Anqing stuttered a bit, surprised by their actions.
Xukun walked up to them and supported the two, leading them to Elder Xiang's ship.
\"Please, there is no need to bow. You are both injured\", he said.
Elder Xiang looked at them solemnly.
\"You ventured into the fifth zone, didn't you?\" he questioned. .
The two paused before their faces turned gloomy.
\"Yes, we did\", Ge Yun answered.
\"Hm, how many?\"
\"There were seven of us and now we are the only ones.\"
\"I'm not going to ask you what you went there for, but I hope you do not overestimate yourselves next time. Are you going to come back with me and stay here?\"
\"We're... going to leave.\"
The pair spoke in a somber tone and followed the Elder back into the ship. He turned back and looked back.
\"Girl! I hope you learn from this!\" he yelled out.
They watched as the ship floated up and flew off.
\"Hmm, I wonder what they took that made the centipede follow them all the way to the second zone?\" said Anqing.
\"Whatever it was, it is definitely some great treasure\", Xukun responded.
Ming Yue only watched quietly but she thought about Anqing's questions.
What were they looking for to have traveled into the fifth zone?
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