The Primal Frost Deer flung its arms, outstretched and grabbing at Ming Yue. With bounding leaps, It charged at her, trying to gain momentum and control of the fight. The bleeding holes in its body did not slow it down nor did it seem affected in the slightest.
Watching it come closer, Ming Yue jumped up and over the deer as it run under her. The needles that were her Zephyr Claws left her fingers, flying and digging into its body.
With a simple hand motion, the claws grew out of control before bursting and tearing the surrounding flesh. However, this much was not enough.
The Primal Frost Deer howkled with pain, glaring at Ming Yue with its ghostly blue eyes. Suddenly it noticed Lao Gan, turning towards the young merchant. Ming Yue was quite a distance away but he was much closer and by far, the easier target.
"What?!" he was taken aback and began fumbling through his pockets.
From where it stood, the Primal Frost Deer began sprinting towards Lao Gan. This time, it ran on all four of its limbs, giving barely anytime fo Lao Gan to act.
Ming Yue chased after the beast but she was not quick enough and could not reach him in time!
Lao Gan's hands moved furiously, going through every pocket in his clothes, desperately trying to get something. He stepped back slowly, focused on himself. With every passing second, the PRimal Frost Deer came closer, it released a deep roar from its jaws.
Suddenly, the merchant's eyes lit up has his hands suddenly put forth a small vial. It was clear glass vial, its contents was somewhat brown and reddish. It was a thick liquid but had small chunks as if it had been submerging in that thick concoction. That moment of happinenss was replaced with urgency as Lao Gan noticed the Primal Frost Deer was soon to be upon him.
He pulled out the cork and bared it at the beast. What was inside that he thought could deal with the creature?
The Primal Frost Deer did not seem bothered or suspicious and charged at him. Nearing closer, the beast stood back on its hind legs, towering over the young man.
Lao Gan had shut his eyes, hoping that this vial would save him.
The deer moved to grab him when suddenly, a odor entered its nose.
It was...foul. No, it was beyond that.
Walking back a few steps, the beast writhed in pain and tossed its head around, trying to lose the smell but it was impossible.
The vial gave off a strong scent, it was as if every possibly disgusting thing had come together to create this. It was like a latrine that had not been cleaned for years, trash that basking in the hot summer sun. It was worse than a dead corpse, worse than anything the deer had encountered.
Lao Gan grinned as he waved the vial at the beast.
"Heh, who would've thought a beast such as yourself would be victim to this."
With his cocky voice, he stepped forward, forcing the deer back as it covered its sensitive nose. He yelled at the beast, trying to get it to run.
The Primal Frost Deer could not take the smell anymore and attacked the young man, batting him away. Lao Gan was too close to dodge, flying off and slamming into one of the surrounding trees. Fortunately, Ming Yue was able to reach him and conjured a gentle wind to weaken the impact. Lao Gan was left with only a few bruises as he quickly closed up the vial.
Meanwhile, the Primal Frost Deer struggled to recover after what it had just been exposed too. It was a lingering scent that could not go away. It tossed and turned as the smell traveled deeper into its body.
Out of fear and disgust, it began to retreat, staggering backwards before rushing off to find a stream of water to cleanse its nostrils. The group watched it run, crashing through the trees and leaving a path of destruction.
Ming Yue managed to catch a whiff of whatever that vial had and wrinkled her face. Hei Yue and Xiao Yin accompanied her, both of them cowered away from just one sniff.
"Ugh, what is that?" she couldnt help but ask him.
Lao Gan answered with a hapless smile.
"Something I procured in the Chou Kingdom, which exists on an island by the northwestern corner of the continent. It is a popular fermented sauce that is incredibly smelly and equally delicious. It was one of the worst and yet most satisfying experience. This was a bit of a gamble but with its smelliness, I thought this would work", he explained.
"Oh", Ming Yue certainly underestimated this man's dedication for food.
Traveling for something like this seemed incredibly stupid but it certainly showed his determination. The fact that he ate this fermented sauce served to reinforced this.
She helped him up and they both looked in to the direction of where the deer escaped. It left broken trees in its wake. In a distance, they heard its pained cries as it continued suffering the pungent smells.
Lao Gan patted his clothes and checked his wooden backpack, making sure that nothing was broken.
"Well, that was certainly an encounter. One that I do not want to experience again."
He sighed a breath of relief knowing that there were just a few surface scratches.
"Well then, I suppose we should get away before the Prima Frost Deer returns", he said.
Agreeing to his suggestion, they quickly fled the area, getting as far away as they could. They travelled without resting, only stopping when the moon was directly above them. That night, Ming Yue had hunted a small boar for everyone to eat.
At that time, Lao Gan fished out the same vial from before. He looked at Ming Yue and the others before holding the vial at them.
"Do you guys want to try some? It's not the best smell but it has a fascinating taste, it goes especially well with wild game" speaking enthusiastically, his eyes glowed as he shared the vial with them.
Ming Yue hesitated before declining, just that first whiff was enough to ward her off. As much as she trusted his words, she was not ready for that. As for the two beasts by their side, Hei Yue grabbed his piece of boar meat wiht his jaw and quickly retreated as Xiao Yin did the same.
Lao Gan merely shrugged and opened the vial, pouring the thick reddish brown sauce onto his meal. He then devoured it cleanly and enjoyed every last part. From then on, Ming Yue did not breathe when she spoke with him, his smelly breath was truly putrid and not even the clearest of spring water could get rid of it.
But like magic, the smell suddenly disapeared from his mouth after a few days. There wasn't even a trace of it left. Soon enough, The winter landscape had changed and resembled the summer season, with the humid air. The trees were incredibly healthy and flowers bloomed. The bussing of insects was the only thing they heard. The heat was enough for Lao Gan to roll up his arm sleeves all the way to this shoulder.
As for Ming Yue, she wasn't quite bothered by the warm air and barely sweat while Lao Gan breathed heavily and fanned himself.
Apart from the numerous bugs, this area wasn't incredibly dangerous. It was certainly annoying with the bug bites but luckily, Lao Gan had another trinket ready for this moment. It was just another few days before they reached the end of the forest and saw the mountains before them.
There was a countless number of mountains, sharing one particular feature. The peaks were dyed black while the summit of the largest mountain was surrounded with black clouds.
That particular mountain was the infamous Merciless Storm Peak.
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