Along with the valuable materials, he took a paw as a reference to find more tracks. It took only two more days for him to catch a trail and, after climbing up several cliffs, Lin Yun finally saw his second Flaming Inked tiger.
The pitch-black, six meter tall giant was only five hundred meters away. It appeared to be resting while it digested a meal, but Lin Yun knew that solitary demonic beasts were often vigilant. Even with its eyes closed, it could still sense the slightest changes in its surroundings.
“No point in hiding. I’ll attack it head on with my Ferocious Tiger Fist!” Lin Yun said excitedly. Fighting the Saber-toothed Tiger last month had been crucial to his success with this technique. If his hunch was correct, this fight could very well be the key to achieving complete mastery of the Ferocious Tiger Fist.
Lin Yun roared as he lunged for the tiger, fist at the ready. The second he revealed himself the tiger shot awake, bloodlust pouring from its piercing gaze. It let out a deafening roar and the stripes on its body ignited. The flames bellowing from its stripes were nothing like what he’d seen on the previous Flaming Inked Tiger. The last one’s simply glowed like hot coals, this was more akin to a blacksmith’s furnace during war. The heat pouring from its body created a mirage in the surrounding air.
Lin Yun pictured the tiger from the painting in his mind as he waded through the killing aura, but even then he almost succumbed to the fear. This aura was different from the last Flaming Inked Tiger he fought… This was the king of the mountain's aura!
His punch connected squarely with the tiger’s forehead. It was as hard as steel! Reverberations shot up his arm, numbing it. He had barely made a scratch.
The Flaming Inked Tiger let out a roar so powerful it sent Lin Yun’s head spinning. A cacophony of movement came from all around him as birds took flight and demon beasts scattered. This tiger really was the tyrant of the mountain, and Lin Yun was in his home.
The tiger caught him across the chest with a heavy paw. The effortless swipe sent him flying into the trunk of a nearby tree, breaking it. Lin Yun’s mind was racing as he gasped for air. How had those sorry excuses for bandits managed to injure one of these things? Maybe he had been wrong about them...
No. It was that exact reason he was so confident. If even they had managed to injure one, there was no doubt in his mind that he could kill one with his bare hands.
His newfound resolve was tested immediately as the beast rose to its feet. From Lin Yun’s prone position, the six meter tall titan was as imposing as the mountain it called home.
“Come at me!” Lin Yun bellowed, grinning. All doubt had vanished. He was exactly where he needed to be. It had been a long time since he faced a worthy opponent. He would cherish this battle.
The beast was incredibly agile for its size. The gap between them was closed in an instant.
The image of the tiger from the painting flared in his mind’s eye as their attacks met. This time his punch matched the strength of the Flaming Inked Tiger. This was no longer a fight between a man and his bounty. It was a clash between beasts to see who was the true king of the mountain!
Lin Yun staggered a few steps back and the tiger stood dazed. Their eyes locked as they began circling each other. Both were acutely aware that, in a fight between equals, the first to make a mistake would lose. Their hypnotic dance continued as both searched desperately for an opening the other wouldn’t give.
Tired of waiting, the tiger let out a ferocious cry and lunged for Lin Yun’s throat.
“Bring it on!” shouted Lin Yun excitedly. His bones crackled as his aura surged. The image of a tiger appeared behind him as he launched himself to meet the beast mid-flight.
A thousand meters away, a man from the Yun Clan watched in awe. From this distance, it looked like a battle between two ferocious tigers over territory. He had made the right decision when he left the Blood Lily behind during their first encounter.
“How is that possible?! It took four of us ten days to injure one of those things and here he is fighting one barehanded… That kid’s a monster!” he said to himself as he leapt from the branch he had perched on. “It’s a shame he won’t be leaving here alive!”
“How’s the situation?” asked the Yun Clan’s young patriarch impatiently.
“Young patriarch, that brat’s insane. He’s fighting a Flaming Inked Tiger with his bare hands. They seem evenly matched now but I don’t think it will be long before he kills it.”
“You’re shitting me…” the young patriarch said in disbelief. He felt sick as he pictured what would have happened if they had chosen to face Lin Yun a few days prior.
But that was why they were here. He refused to live the rest of his life in fear. Regaining his composure, the young patriarch turned to one of his followers, “Old Four, is your plan reliable? If we fail, we'll all be in trouble.”
“Don’t worry, young patriarch. My plan is fool proof! The Golden Brute Bulls travel in herds of over 300 and are incredibly stupid. You only need to provoke one for the whole herd to stampede. If we set them off in the kid’s direction, he’s done for!” the follower said confidently. “That freak will be trampled into so many pieces we won’t even have to bother hiding the body!”
“Excellent!” A sinister smile rose on the young master’s lips as he continued, “He’s going to regret crossing me!”
“And here I thought that your head was made of steel…” Lin Yun said as he gasped for air. Before him lay the corpse of the Flaming Inked Tiger, skull caved in from Lin Yun’s last punch.
Their fight had lasted an excruciating eight hours in total. A ruler-grade demonic beast was truly formidable. He was still amazed those four men from before even managed to put a scratch on one.
What was even more amazing was that he was still able to stand! Blood Refining Pellets were truly incredible. He could already feel his stamina recovering.
After a short rest, Lin Yun began harvesting the Flaming Inked Tiger’s claws. As he worked, he couldn’t help but be disappointed he hadn’t achieved complete mastery of the Ferocious Tiger Fist during his fight with this magnificent beast. He was excited to see how the technique would transform, especially since he knew the painting had been reshaping it.
Lin Yun was snapped back to reality as he felt the ground around him start to shake.
What’s happening? Is this an earthquake?
Behind him, he saw thick dust covering the sky a thousand meters away. What was more troubling was the heard of gigantic, golden-scaled bulls charging in his direction, each one three times larger than the Flaming Inked Tiger.
Crack! Crack! Crack!
The might of their hooves sent shockwaves through the earth. Any trees unlucky enough to stand in their way were turned to pulp in an instant.
“Shit!” Lin Yun cursed as the colour ran from his face. Where had these bulls even come from?
He would have to figure that out some other time, though, as the herd of bulls were upon him. The thousand meters that had separated them was but a short walk for beasts their size.
Despair crept into Lin Yun’s heart as he assessed the situation before him. There were easily 500 Golden Brute Bulls in this stampede and he had nowhere to run.
Facing death, Lin Yun unleashed the full potential of his body. He accumulated all his internal energy into his fist as he threw a punch at the head of the leading bull with all his might, but he was sent flying instead. The immense counter force shook his entire body. The taste of blood coated his mouth and he felt as if his organs had been torn shreds.