Stranger Danger

Chapter 17: Tubo

Chapter 17: Tubo

Suddenly, inspiration struck Ye Qing. Hmm, I think that attack was so powerful because the Kung Fu Frog had stacked up its power via multiple qi accumulations. I wonder if I can do the same with my Toad Force?

Not one to sit on an idea, Ye Qing immediately accumulated his qi until a croak sounded from his chest. But instead of releasing the gathered energy like he normally did, he accumulated his qi again until another croak sounded from his chest. It worked. He could feel the Toad Force in his body doubling in size after the success!

“It does work!”

Ye Qing started accumulating qi for the third time, but this time it didn’t work. The true qi suddenly faded after reaching the halfway point.

It’s probably just a familiarity issue. With enough practice, I should be able to accumulate qi a couple more times before reaching my limit!

Ye Qing could feel himself burning up with excitement. What if he could stack up its power nine times like the Kung Fu Frog as well? Just how powerful would his attack be?

Realizing that the Toad Force had massive potential, Ye Qing made up his mind to study it thoroughly as soon as he returned home. Even if his limit turned out to be lower than expected—perhaps he could only accumulate qi five to six times because he was a human, not a frog—it would still increase his combat strength dramatically.

“Thank you for your guidance, brother Frog!” Ye Qing clasped his hands together and thanked the Kung Fu Frog solemnly. Judging from its behavior so far, he was pretty sure that it was one of those intelligent Strangers that could understand human speech.

And he was right. When the Kung Fu Frog heard his thanks, it actually returned the gesture and nodded. It was the very model of a jianghu master.

The Kung Fu Frog still didn’t leave after receiving Ye Qing’s thanks though. It pointed at Ye Qing’s saber first before pointing at itself. Then, it started croaking while swinging its arm around. Ye Qing couldn’t believe what his eyes were telling him, but he asked anyway, “You… want me to teach you the saber?”

“Croak!” The Kung Fu Frog nodded.

“You actually want to learn the saber…” Ye Qing was incredulous to put it mildly. It wasn’t everyday a Stranger asked to learn the martial arts of a human after all. Does it fancy itself a super genius like me or something?

“I can teach you, brother Frog, but it’s not my fault if you can’t pick it up, okay?” Ye Qing warned before snapping a suitable branch from a nearby tree. He then carved it into the shape of a saber before handing it to the Kung Fu Frog. After moving to a clearing and assuming a pose, he said, “I’m going to start now! Watch closely!”

Ye Qing began demonstrating the techniques of the “Five Tigers Door Breaking Saber”. Frankly, the saber art was nothing special. All of its techniques were relatively simple and lacking in variation. In fact, the key of the saber art lay not in its techniques, but the state of the mind. So long as the practitioner executed the saber art with ferocity and violence, they were considered to have grasped the “Five Tigers Door Breaking Saber”.

That was why Ye Qing finished his demonstration in just the span of a few breaths. He did not attempt to hide anything because there was nothing worth hiding. He even slowed down his movements to make sure the Kung Fu Frog would not miss them. It was a frog after all. It made sense that it would have trouble translating his human moves to its froggish body. Let no one say that he was an animal abuser!

Of course, part of the reason Ye Qing was so candid was because he simply did not believe that the Kung Fu Frog could actually pick up the saber art. However…

“Is that enough, brother Frog?” Ye Qing asked after completing his demonstration. He was just about to go through the motions a second time when he saw that the Kung Fu Frog was already starting to practice the saber art with its wooden saber. This would not have surprised Ye Qing—he was quite the hasty learner himself—except the Kung Fu Frog was already executing each and every technique with lightning speed and impeccable precision! It even got the state of the mind right, which meant that it had fully grasped the “Five Tigers Door Breaking Saber” already!

Ye Qing was having trouble picking up his jaw from the floor. What the hell was up with this world? How did a frog pick up a human martial art faster than the human himself? The “Five Tigers Door Breaking Saber” might be a relatively simple saber art, but it had still taken him over two hours to familiarize himself with it. On the other hand, the Kung Fu Frog had learned it after a single demonstration, and

it looked like it was better than him at the saber art already. To say this was embarrassing would be an understatement. This frog had truly bested him in every sense of the word!

That said, he wasn’t a sore loser. Once the Kung Fu Frog was finished, Ye Qing offered it a heartfelt compliment, “You really are a genius, brother Frog!”

The Kung Fu Frog was obviously excited. It croaked out twice before saluting Ye Qing again. The young man grudgingly returned it while telling himself again and again, I’m not a sore loser, I’m not a sore loser…

Suddenly, Ye Qing noticed a strange shape slowly appearing from the foot of Little August Hill. It was slowly walking toward him following a path. It took him a second to realize that it was a Stranger, but one that he had never seen before.

“What the hell is that?” Ye Qing murmured. The Stranger had a tiger’s head but an ox’s body. Around six meters in height, it had four hooves that were literally on fire, three eyes, and a pair of long, sharp horns that looked as crooked as the Yellow River itself. The horns were pitch black and emanated some sort of eerie light. For some reason, the gap between the horns almost looked like a gateway that was connected to another world.

Ye Qing quickly realized that it wasn’t just a feeling. At some point, he saw children crawling in and out of the gap repeatedly. Sometimes they would vanish into the world beyond, and sometimes they would return and run back and forth across the giant horns, playing.

“Seriously, what the hell is that?” murmured Ye Qing again while his heart raced at twice its normal speed. Although the Stranger didn’t give off a powerful presence, he wasn’t nearly stupid enough to treat it lightly, much less walk over to it. He slowly started backing away from the Stranger.

On the first day he joined the watchmen, the very first lesson Fang Nianshui had schooled into his brain was this: rein in your curiosity. Think twice, look twice, and don’t touch anything unless you’re sure it won’t kill you!

The Kung Fu Frog did not share his sentiment, however. He was still getting out of the mysterious Stranger’s way when the frog suddenly leaped forward with incredible speed!

“Brother Frog, don’t—!” It was too late by the time the words had escaped Ye Qing’s mouth.

But as luck would have it, the Kung Fu Frog hit an invisible wall as soon as it went within ten meters of the mysterious Stranger. Actually, calling it an invisible wall would be a mistake. It looked more like the Kung Fu Frog was trapped in some sort of invisible space. No matter how hard it tried to leap up to the Stranger, it just could not reach it no matter what, much less lay a hand on it.

The Stranger itself seemed to be completely uninterested in the Kung Fu Frog. It continued to amble along the path toward August Hill Village.


Finally, the Kung Fu Frog returned to Ye Qing’s side with a single leap. It scratched its bare head while still staring curiously at the ambling Stranger.

Ye Qing had to wipe some sweat off his forehead. Thank goodness the Kung Fu Frog’s actions hadn’t angered the mysterious Stranger, or there was a chance he might have been dragged into the battle.

“I need to go, brother. I’ll see you another day!” Ye Qing bade the Kung Fu Frog goodbye before rushing away in a hurry.

It looked like the mysterious Stranger was heading for August Hill Village, which meant that he needed to report this to the watchmen as soon as possible. At the very least, the village could not be unprepared when the mysterious Stranger showed up. So, Ye Qing took a shortcut and sprinted back to August Hill Village at top speed.

As soon as Ye Qing reached the village entrance, he yelled, “Open the gates! I need to speak with the captain this instant!”

When the gates opened, Ye Qing called out to a guard on the walls, “Where is Captain Lin Hu?”

As he was asking, Lin Hu approached from a distance while asking, “You’re looking for me. What’s wrong?”

Ye Qing cut straight to the chase. “I saw a mysterious Stranger while I was patrolling the area. It’s headed straight for the village.”

“What did it look like?”

“It’s a… oh. I guess you can see it for yourself, captain!”

Ye Qing was about to give Lin Hu a proper description when he looked up and saw none other than the mysterious Stranger walking toward the village. He narrowed his eyes. He had run home using a shortcut, while the mysterious Stranger was ambling at a relaxed pace. He had thought that the Stranger would take at least eight minutes to get here, but clearly he was wrong.

Suddenly, Ye Qing saw a guard on the walls drawing his bow and getting ready to shoot the Stranger. He hurriedly cried out, “Don’t shoot! It’s not the type of Stranger to attack without provocation!”

“Don’t shoot!” Lin Hu added his shout to Ye Qing’s as well. While staring intently at the approaching Stranger, he beckoned a guard to his side and ordered, “Inform Chen Zheng and Granny Xia that they are needed at the village entrance!”

After the guard was gone, Lin Hu grabbed the long saber on his waist and watched the Stranger warily. Large beads of sweat actually started forming on his forehead as the Stranger came closer and closer.

The mysterious Stranger finally came to a stop when it was almost thirty meters away from the village. And then… there was nothing. It simply stood there motionlessly as if it was an inanimate object.

No one dared to relax their guard for even a second though. They continued to look at the mysterious Strangers for any unusual movements.

A short while later, Granny Xia and Chen Zheng rushed over to the village entrance and spotted the Stranger immediately. Chen Zheng frowned as he asked, “What is that thing?”

Lin Hu shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before!”

Granny Xia was scrunching up her eyebrows as if she was trying to dredge up an old memory from her ancient mind. When realization did strike her, her complexion slowly turned as white as she started wobbling like she could collapse at any moment.

Ye Qing hurriedly supported her and asked concernedly, “Granny!? What’s wrong? Do you recognize that Stranger?”

Granny Xia waved her hand to show that she was fine before saying in a heavy tone, “If I’m not misremembering things, I believe that this Stranger… is the legendary Tubo!”

“Tubo?” Ye Qing wasn’t the only one who looked confused. No one present had heard of this name before.

Granny Xia explained, “Tubo is the guardian of the mythical Netherpolis and master of the Nether, land of the dead. It is said to be capable of commanding thousands upon thousands of ghosts. Most importantly, it is said that places visited by Tubo are sure to suffer a lot of deaths!”

Lin Hu asked, “Deaths? Are you saying that this ‘Tubo’ is going to kill us?”

The old woman shook her head. “No, not Tubo. Tubo does not attack the living. It only guides the dead to their rightful place.”

Ye Qing exclaimed in realization, “I get it. You’re saying that something terrible and will cost a lot of lives may happen to our August Hill Village soon?”

“It’s not a possibility, it’s a certainty!” Granny Xia looked like she had aged a couple of years just saying this. “Rumor has it that Tubo had appeared eighteen times in this world, and every time it did the blood ran like a river, and countless people were killed. No one may be spared from this tribulation!”

“What should we do then?” Chen Zheng asked with an ugly look on his face while trembling imperceptibly.

Granny Xia responded, “For now, we can only inform the Anyang Pacification Bureau about this and ask them to send help as quickly as possible. If they move fast enough, we may yet be able to solve our crisis before it happens and save our August Hill Village from disaster.” Gẹtt the l𝒂test 𝒏𝒐v𝒆ls at 𝒏.o/(v)/e/l/bi𝒏(.)co𝒎

“Good! Good. Since there’s no time to waste, I shall send the word immediately,” Chen Zheng exclaimed with much relief before taking his leave.

“I hope we’re not too late,” Granny Xia whispered. She looked incredibly old and feeble at that moment.

Even if the Anyang Pacification Bureau responded to their plea for help immediately, it was still going to take them two days at minimum to arrive. The question was, did August Hill Village have two days left in them?

I sure hope so.

“Huhu, gather the men and see to our expedition duties and defenses immediately. Be on your highest alert until reinforcements arrive!” Granny Xia instructed.

Lin Hu nodded. “At once.”

“I’m going to head home and make the necessary preparations as well. Send someone to my house later. I have some talismans in reserve that should be of use to your people. Let us hope it will be enough to help our August Hill Village survive this tribulation.”

After Granny Xia was gone, Lin Hu used a contact talisman to recall all watchmen who were still patrolling at this time. Then, he mobilized everyone to prepare the defensive measures.

It wasn’t until nine to ten hours later that Ye Qing was finally allowed to return home to catch some rest. There was no time to rest, however. As soon as he slammed the door behind him, he took out the Annon Sutra and spread it across the table. There were now five silver dragon-serpent runes and three gray dragon-serpent runes on the vellum, meaning that he had killed enough Bloodsucking Mosquitoes to earn four silver dragon-serpent runes.

This was cause for celebration, but celebrating was the last thing in his mind right now. He immediately absorbed a silver dragon-serpent rune and threw himself into cultivation. Tubo’s appearance meant that August Hill Village was soon to face a terrible disaster. If he did not grow his strength as soon as possible, if his preparations proved to be insufficient when disaster struck, then everything he had achieved so far would be meaningless!

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