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HC Volume 1: Chapter 18

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Volume 1 Chapter 18 – The Swamp Horror

Both crocodiles were skinned and the leather was placed on top of a stone to dry under the sun. As for the crocodile meat, they barbequed it on top of the bonfire. It only took a moment for the fragrance to be produced. The crocodile meat was chewy, as its fat content was half that of beef, which also increased its taste and texture many times over.

Those two 3-meter long crocodiles could only fill the stomachs of five people.

Leng Yun was currently feeling down, as the thought of Qin Min inevitably entered her mind. Just yesterday, they were having fun together and enjoying each other’s company over a meal. Yet, her life had been forever extinguished from the world in the blink of an eye. Those who had never encountered this sort of feeling before would forever have it engraved in their souls. Leng Yun wanted to believe that her good friend Qin Min was still alive, but it was just denial on her part.

She was not prepared for such a drastic change in her life.

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Zhang Mu handed her a piece of skewered crocodile meat . “Don’t dwell on it too much. You need to eat so you’ll have the energy to battle later.”

“I understand.” Leng Yun nodded her head, before taking the skewer. The crocodile meat had been cooked close to perfection. It was slightly crispy on the outsider, yet the meat was so tender on the inside that every bite would ooze juice.  Leng Yun took a bite, and even though the crocodile meat was kind of tough – the crocodile being old – it suited her just fine.

Sun Bing remarked, “This wetland is actually so big… I doubt trying to get across will be an easy feat.”

Fatty agreed. “Yes. There’s swamp everywhere. It will be very taxing for us to walk across it.”

“Unless we’re going to skirt by the entire swamp?” Chen Ling asked softly. She was observing the surroundings. “It would take us at least one or two days to go around it…”

Zhang Mu, answered everyone’s questions with just one statement, “There are plenty of methods we can use. Don’t worry about it too much.”

After finishing the crocodile meat, it was time for them to continue their journey. The crocodile skins had almost completely dried up due to the afternoon sun. Zhang Mu cut the skins into long strips, and asked the rest of the group to gather reeds. After a while, a huge pile of reeds was stacked in front of them.

“Boss, what’s the use for gathering so many reeds?” Fatty asked. “It’s not like we can eat them…”

Zhang Mu took a piece of reed, and easily broke in two. “By nature, one of the characteristics of a reed is its lightness. Another is its internal air pockets which make it buoyant. We can utilise these reeds to build a raft for us to sail across the marsh. This would definitely be a much better choice than trying to pass through it.”

Leng Yun brightened up at that. “Good idea!”

Fatty, however, was still kind of worried. “What if a crocodile ambushes us?”

Zhang Mu shook his head. “By nature, this area of wetlands does not hold too much water. It was because of the rain yesterday night that the entire wetlands became submerged in water. There won’t be any big water creatures hiding within the water. Still, it pays to be a little careful. There might still be amphibian type creatures like crocodiles around the area.”

“That’s good. That’s good,” Fatty replied happily.

The group continued to make their rafts. They tied together the reeds they had stockpiled with a tough and strong rope, and made two rafts for them to sail on. The leftover reeds were crafted into a sort of lifebuoy devices, in case anyone fell into the marsh.

They found five long bamboo shoots to use as paddles. The group of five then pushed the rafts into the marsh. Leng Yun, Chen Ling and Sun Bing were in one raft, while Fatty shared a raft with Zhang Mu, because he was as fat as two people put together.

It was time to set off.

Zhang Mu rowed ahead with the bamboo paddle. Due to the heavy rain the previous night the swamp was filled with black particles. This gave the illusion that the swamp was deep, although it actually was half a meter in depth, at most. Thick mud bogged beneath the surface. Every time a bamboo paddle entered into the swamp huge bubbles would froth out, releasing a foul odor akin to that of a septic tank.

This was methane produced from the plants in the environment. It was poisonous to humans. The moment someone fell into the swamp would be the moment they died.

The five of them kept their fingers crossed as they traversed through the swamp. There was a change in the terrain after once they had travelled for about 600-700 meters. The depth of the swamp became even deeper. They were surrounded by layers and layers of reeds that were at least 2 meters in height. There were flowers beside the layers of reeds. Every time there was a breeze they could feel the ripples on the water’s surface and the slow swaying of the reeds. They were surrounded by nature in its true glory.

The birds were flying peacefully in the blue skies. The warm breeze made ripples under the bright and majestic sun. It was such a beautiful scene… worthy of being called an art!

Yet nobody was appreciating it!

The group was only thinking one thing – to get out of the wetlands as fast as they could.

Such a place gave people a feeling of terror. Whether or not the rafts would suddenly topple over was a recurring question. After having stayed on high alert for over ten minutes, the group was praying hard, ‘Please let there be no accidents.’ Yet fate was always a bitch.

The situation that they had hoped to avoid, was going to happen.

When the two rafts entered an extraordinary big field of reeds, a ‘Ga ga’ sound could be heard.

Zhang Mu raised his hands to signal the group to stay still. Everyone was nervously looking forward towards the field of reeds.

Sun Bing asked softly, “What happened?”

“There is something up ahead. Let’s take a different route.”

Leng Yun’s heart started palpitating. They were on a raft in a swamp with an unknown depth. The distance to the other side of the bank was over a thousand meters.

The consequences would be dire if they were to be assaulted at this point in time.

Everyone tried their best to observe what was up ahead within the field of reeds. However due to the reeds being too tall, they could see nothing at all. Still, nobody within the group doubted what Zhang Mu had said. They were preparing to head towards another direction. At this moment, a sound was heard from within the field of reeds, as if something was trying to cut across the field. Based on the huge movement of the reeds falling in groups, that something would be huge.

Cold sweat formed on Fatty’s face. “Damn… What exactly is that thing?”

Ever so slowly that ‘thing’ came closer towards the group. Even more reeds were being flattened in its path. Closer… And closer…

Sun Bing readied his shield, ”It’s coming out!”

The reeds close to them began falling apart. That ‘thing’ was going to tunnel out through the field. Yet something strange happened within the next second. The sound within the field of reeds disappeared. The five of them had already prepared themselves for the battle ahead. They became puzzled as nothing came out from the field.

Chen Ling held her axe nervously, “This… Why did it suddenly vanish?”

Grunt!

Amidst the swamp water, huge bubbles started effervescing.

Zhang Mu’s pupils dilated. He shouted ,”Be careful! It’s underwater!”

Peng!

The surface of the swamp water broke apart, revealing a 13-14 meter long huge python. Its body was white in colour with a cyclic pattern. The triangular-shaped head glared at the five of them. It was about 4 stories high, with a body thicker than any man. It was an unprecedented huge python! Or so they thought.

【Swamp Anaconda】(Bronze Elite) , Level 8, 600 Health Points , 300 mana , Attributes: ??, Skills: ??, Description: An extremely brutal anaconda. Due to the effects of powerful evil energy, it has become even more powerful.

Fatty shouted, ”Fuck this! I knew this would happen!”

The Swamp Anaconda was extremely fast. The group could not react in time when it moved. A crushing force came right at them. When the Anaconda swung its tail,  their rafts were instantly destroyed, landing them into the swamp. Every movement they made released methane from underneath. It was so foul that they felt dizzy from just smelling it. The swamp mud they were in was just like chilli powder – it prevented their eyes from opening.

“Damn this! I hate water!” Fatty did not know how to swim. He was just like a big fat pig falling into the sea, frantically screaming out ,”Where in the world did such a big snake come from?!”

This was an anaconda. A boa and a python were not that different in their fundamental characteristics. A boa hatched eggs inside its body and then gave birth (ovoviviparous), while a python laid eggs in a nest. Due to nature, huge snakes generally did not have poison. However, they were extremely fast.  It could also be fatal if one were to be constricted by a snake.

Zhang Mu gasped as he surfaced. He saw that he was at some distance from the rest of the group. The anaconda had already thoroughly destroyed their rafts. Bits and pieces were falling everywhere. Fortunately the five of them had a lifebuoy device with them. This allowed them to float above the swamp. However, they could not breathe properly because their entire faces were covered with mud.

The gigantic Anaconda raised its body up 4 stories high, twisting into a dangerous ‘S’ shape as it prepared for the assault. This species of snake would immediately wrap itself around its target and thoroughly break their victim’s bones. What was worse, the swamp’s current environment meant that an attack would be instant death.

With their lives hanging by a thread, any ordinary person would have panicked. Yet Zhang Mu was still calmly observing the situation. The moment he found a small hope of survival, he immediately shouted out, “The reeds! That field of reeds! Let’s hurry there! Since the field is able to withstand the weight of the anaconda, then it will definitely withstand ours!”

After hearing this the four of them felt as if a life-saving straw had been given to them. Within the swamp, there would be no chance of victory against the Anaconda. However, if they were to battle against it on land, they would at least have a slight chance of winning the fight. Since the field was able to hold up a gigantic boa of 300 kilograms, they would also be able to step on them as if on land.

Leng Yun raised her staff, immediately casting an Ice Arrow towards the Anaconda and inflicted 45 damage. The damage in this case was secondary. It was the slow condition brought about by the Cold-elemental damage that would allow them a chance at surviving this battle. Sun Bing pulled Fatty as they strived towards the field of reeds. Chen Ling followed closely behind them.

“Si Si!”

The Anaconda became furious once it was struck by the ice arrow. It immediately turned its head towards Leng Yun and struck her.

Sun Bing and Fatty immediately climbed onto the reeds after finally having reached them. With a turn of his head, Sun Bing saw that the Swamp Anaconda was about to strike Leng Yun. He instantly cast his spell <Taunt>, and successfully attracted the attention of the furious Anaconda. When the Anaconda glared at Sun Bing, he could feel his soul leaving his body. Without hesitation, he immediately turned tail and ran deeper into the field.

Zhang Mu’s assumption was perfectly right. The entire swamp within the field had became land because of the accumulated mud beneath the reeds. Still, this bit of land was not perfect. When Sun Bing ran he could feel the unevenness of the surface, some parts being deeper than others. Nonetheless, battling on such a terrain was many times better than battling within the swamp itself.

The Anaconda’s speed was extremely fast. It charged towards Sun Bing as if it was a Flood Dragon. Sun Bing immediately started panicking. The moment he took his next step, he knew he was gone. He had actually stepped into one of the swampy areas, causing half his body to fall into the swamp. The gigantic Anaconda immediately slithered its way towards Sun Bing, constricting him with intent to kill.

Sun Bing utilised his defensive technique <Hardened Skin> without delay. It was this technique that allowed him to survive against the constriction of the anaconda. Finally, Zhang Mu had reached the field of reeds as well. However, he was still over 10 meters away from Sun Bing, preventing him from helping him.

Looking at the situation, Fatty roared out and enveloped himself with red energy through his technique of <Brutal Charge>. He charged towards the Anaconda and inflicted 44 points of damage. Due to the momentum of his charge the snake was knocked over. Fatty hacked with his Blade of the Jungle without delay. With a high attacking power of [+24 attack] and an immense strength, he was able to incur huge damage on the boa, inflicting 32 damage on it. This hack of his was able to cut apart the tough scales of the Anaconda.

The Swamp Anaconda screamed in pain. It swung its tail and smacked Fatty’s chest.

Even though the anaconda’s maneuver looked simple, there was terrible strength hidden within this strike.. With a weight of over 125 kilograms, Fatty was thrown across the entire field of reeds as if he weighed nothing.

“Fatty!”

Zhang Mu was startled and quickly reached out towards Fatty.


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