Nine Paths Of Asura Chapter 17

17 Everyday Choices
Lineir felt the wagon grind to a halt. In a flash he had his hood removed from his eyes and was rapidly casting his gaze about, trying to find the culprits. All the members of the wagon turned to the head, the de facto leader and actual owner of the wagon. In the life of a traveler life or death decisions such as these were in fact everyday choices which had to be made. Only someone both lucky and wise could hope to survive in the long run. As the most experienced of the group, this man was naturally the one best suited to make the choice and every member gave his respect in the form of natural deference.

"Amateurs. They want to take the horse alive. They can't be one of the more established bandit groups. Shield your heads, we ride!"

He lashed the horse and ducked beneath the sides of the wagon as every man immediately covered themselves. Naturally, now that the choice had been made, they were in it till the finish, the bandits would hardly show mercy at this point.

"I told you we should have killed the horse first! Everyone, after them, take down that horse and board the wagon, there's only six of them!" The same voice called out and the whole group quickly emerged from the forest, a dozen men rapidly pursuing. None were mounted, however the path had begun to enter a winding section and the horse with the heavy wagon was unable to change directions quickly. The men fell behind, but not very fast. From their rapidly approaching hands arrow after arrow was fired. However, this only proved their incompetence. Firing an arrow while running is a futile task and none even came close to the wagon.

"See young man, I told you sticking with us was a good idea, if you had been alone on foot, you would have been robbed blind!" The middle aged leader chuckled as he clapped Lineir in the back. As this slap hit Lineir the older man stiffened, his face displaying shock. A dark jagged-headed arrow had penetrated straight through his chest, the tip coming out and spraying dark red drops on Lineir's face.

The man's eyes, light fading, suddenly widened and he grabbed Lineir dragging him down and covering him with his own body. Thump after thump was heard. A few grunts and occasionally the body on top would jolt as new arrows would rain down. When it was over, Lineir staring around could see that the rest of the wagon was dead, the other travelers having nothing but their arms to try to pitifully cover their heads. Amazingly, the man above whispered to him one last time. His willpower was truly ferocious.

"Sorry, this is all I can do for you, maybe if you hadn't been traveling with us this wouldn't have happened. Get away quickly, they're after the treasure in our holds, not you...if you get the chance, tell the king of Dracherus what happened here. Warn him... that the time of end nears..."

Before he could finish, his whispers dropped to nonsense and his head similarly thudded into Lineir's skinny chest. Immediately, Lineir's bone scythes sprang free of his flesh, his heart pounding sickeningly. They pierced the man's body who had shielded him as if thirsty and they wanted to drink. The body was actually lifted off of Lineir slightly, and he tossed it away gently so that it slid off the blades with the rest of the dead crew, all skewered with countless black arrows. A dangerous look filled Lineir's eyes and it almost felt like the air crackled around him and the light blackened.

"Mei... you're right, I am far too soft. I give you my permission to kill whoever did this in any way you wish. Make them suffer!"

"Kiddo, I'm glad you've finally started seeing some sense. But think again. Did you count the number of hits? I did, there were 30 arrows fired in the span of 5 seconds. No mortal can pull off that kind of speed, whoever did it was definitely an unusual cultivator who specializes in speed and long range techniques. While I estimate that the barrage occurred from the left, the chances of us catching up to him are slim to none. At least not before you're covered in arrows. At this stage in cultivation, you are at an inherent disadvantage against this type! I suggest you abandon the wagon and run, your life is far more important than any treasure and these men are already all dead!"

Lineir's rage cooled and his heart rate stabilized to a steady


Like a raging tide overflowing the Yellow River's banks, he was over the wagon side and gone. Instantly, arrow after arrow came at him, but he had an impression of danger every time, and even without looking back his arms would swing back and deflect the arrows with the bony scythes. Since he was running away from the archer at blinding speed, the arrows were only 3/4rths as fast as if they were coming at him standing still, relatively speaking. Had he been going towards the archer instead, they would have been far too fast to deflect. As it was, he was clearly getting away, each arrow came from further and further away. This archer was clearly no fool, he didn't try to run and shoot at the same time.

"Kid, you're still too young. Tell me, what did you leave behind that would have been of great use here?" Lineir was stumped,

"The treasure? I don't even know what it is, and if it's gold or something it's probably too heavy to carry." Mei took this time as a lesson,

"No kiddo, the most important thing in that wagon was the bodies! If you had taken one as a shield, with your new found strength, your escape would have been easy. The dead are dead, a body is just a body, use them. They are part of your environment, and when you one day have to fight in the midst of armies, this lesson will be invaluable. As it is, these bone scythes are really too convenient, and your reflexes are superb, better than they should be. You should not be able to escape completely unscathed. No matter, just take this as a lesson. If you were more powerful you could have avenged your friends promptly and this whole matter would be ended. You need more power."

Lineir took Mei's words to heart. The dead were dead, it was just that at the time he hadn't even considered such a possibility. Not only was the option repulsive, it also was not something he could have done before he began cultivating. There was no way he could have simultaneously carried a body and ran at any great speed. He sighed, he truly was too weak and foolish, had Mei not been here, he would have rushed the archer in a blind rage. With the arrows coming towards him, and his own body moving at high speed dodging or blocking would have been nigh impossible. Foolish, he needed to keep a calm head in any situation.

"Kid, just keep running for a little while, and then go find a hidden place to cultivate. Whoever shot those arrows must have found what they were looking for by now, they should have no interest in chasing a nobody like you. Furthermore, the threat of you, laying in ambush should deter a long range fighter from pursuing you. You should be safe to settle down now and pursue cultivation. Remember, our goal was never the city, even if that person were to chase you, they would expect you to head to Dracherus. Instead, angle yourself to the wilderness entrance. They will never expect that." Lineir felt he owed the man who had saved his life though,

"What about that man's last words though, he asked me to warn Dracherus if I had the chance, shouldn't I head there first?" Mei was obstinate however,

"No, you're still far too weak. Such a trip wouldn't profit you now. The dead are dead, and the treasure is long gone. It's far too late to call for help now. Furthermore, if they are pursuing you, you would be playing right into their hands. You can come back when you're stronger and finish that last request. You need more power first!"
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