“Monkey see, monkey kill. Arthur see, very big hill.”
Singing under his breath as he ran, Arthur headed for the next easy slope. The ground underneath his feet crunched a little, the footing a mixture of hard earth and occasional stubborn weed. Not the most comfortable thing to land upon, though it had the advantage of soaking up the blood and liquids without leaving a giant mudhole.
Not that he was bleeding that much anymore. The rats didn’t puncture deeply with their bites, and the kuching had managed to score long wounds along his side but nothing dangerous or anything his Accelerated Healing could not help.
Arthur regretted not practicing healing and moving at the same time, but he definitely was not going to try that now. Pushing his body to the extreme with a flying leap was one thing. Cultivating while moving, while in a fight for his life, was another thing entirely. If he messed up, which was likely, it would leave him crippled and easy prey.
On the other hand . . .
Arthur began massaging his aura, pulling it apart to form around his third eye. He got the energy ready for a Refined Energy Dart, knowing he was going to need it when he hit the slope. The switchback and the monkeys waiting for him were not going to slow him down, if he had anything to say about it.
He could try lobbing one of the Refined Energy Darts at the monsters above him, but that had the disadvantage of wasting precious energy as well as removing the element of surprise from his attack on the monkeys. Better for the monkeys to think they were the only ones with ranged attacks.
At the same time, he also geared himself up for the use of Heavenly Sage’s Mischief. Energy pulsed through his body as he pulled and shoved it into the right meridians, all in anticipation of the increased burn when he ascended the slope.
When he set foot on it, the monkeys unleashed a sudden barrage of stones. Instinctively, Arthur threw himself sideways into the wall, hiding and dodging the majority of stones and hardened feces.
“You are disgusting!” Arthur shouted at them, wiping at himself and then, giving up. He had no time to waste. The babi ngepet and the surviving rats had managed to make the first level of the hill and were looking for him. Soon enough, they’d charge up the next slope. He needed as much of a headstart as he could with them in play.
Some of the monkeys had hopped closer to look down from above. A thought sparked through Arthur’s mind as he started running, still close to the wall, as the monkeys tried to hit him with angle shots or dropping projectiles on his head.
A dozen feet more and the slope above kept shrinking. The amount of time he had to dodge decreased with each step. Sheltering his head with one raised arm, freely bleeding from a scalp wound that gushed blood down his ear, Arthur kept running.
Biding his time.
Until he judged the monkeys had gotten overconfident, overeager. They reached forward and down, and he jumped. Nearly vertically and only with a little of the built-up momentum of his run, energy pouring the Heavenly Sage’s Mischief to empower his attack.
His spear swung as he ascended, sweeping sideways in a long arc. The highly sharpened edge of tempered steel tore through limbs, chests, and throats with equal measure as the combined momentum and swing injured surprised monsters. Then, as Arthur dropped, he twisted the spear around to strike again. Five of the monkeys dropped, injured or dead, and the others scrambled away in chittering fear.
Landing with a slight stumble, Arthur took off again, heading up the slope at last. The burst of speed from Heavenly Sage’s Mischief would only last so long, until he had to pour more energy into it. There were still many monkeys in fit fighting condition, and not to forget the alpha jenglot waiting just below the hill’s peak.
Once there was only eight feet between him and the next rise, Arthur jumped, grabbed the edge of the next slope with his hand and yanked himself into an upward flip. This time, he only caught a single monkey with the surprise motion, his foot arcing through the air to crack its skull before he landed on the ground.
Around him, the rest of the monkeys had pulled back. With a scream, the largest monkey—the only one with a tuft of red fur on its chest—commanded the rest of its brethren to charge Arthur.
Crouched low, Arthur grinned savagely as he released the Refined Energy Dart at the monkey king. He watched as the glowing object shot from his forehead to strike the leader, who managed to move aside at the last moment so that it only was injured, not killed.
“Arthur see, Arthur kill!”
Not that he was wasting time talking, for he rolled forward and swept his spear low. The attack cut into feet, swept other monkeys off the ground, and broke legs, all while the animals were reacting to the attack on their king. In the chaos, some had rushed to their red-furred leader, others ran away, and a few brave and furious had rushed him.
One managed to clamber up his left side, holding his arm down as it gripped a rock in its hand, banging it against Arthur’s torso. Shrugging his shoulder upwards in an attempt to dislodge it, he ducked his head low and ran forward into the crowd, swinging his other spear one-handed to ward off more monsters.
All the while, he felt the pounding fist of the clinging monster, the slavering hot breath as the creature tried to drag him down. Adrenaline and Heavenly Sage’s Mischief gave him the strength to power his way through, bouncing monkeys off his body. Sometimes, he even turned to let them crash onto his unwanted passenger.
Finally, his passenger lost grip on its fleshy perch. Arthur’s free hand gripped a flailing limb and he finished tearing the simian’s body off—also with some of his own skin and cloth. Then, spinning around, he used the creature and his spear to batter those around him before releasing the monkey after a full 360 degree turn.
Brown figures were crushed against their flying brethren, and a new opening broke between the horde. He started running again, heading for the next slope, one leg limping a little from . . . Well, he wasn’t even sure when he picked up that injury.
Both arms ached, and he was covered in blood and bites. Still . . .
“Monkey bowling, for the win!”