Chapter 31: A Demon Creates Havoc
Shen Ying caught up with Yi Qing at the mountain entrance of Blackheaven Sect.
"Master, you really want to join us?" He was a little surprised by this sudden decision of Shen Ying's.
"Cough. You are my chef… disciple!" Shen Ying patted his shoulder and said gravely, "You are going for this experiential training, so of course I worry for you."
"But… this is not my training." This was just a simple sect mission. He only needed to accompany the sect's disciples to the designated location and see to their safety.
Could it be…
Struck with a sudden thought, Yi Qing's eyes lit up and he turned to look at Shen Ying with a face filled with emotion. "Master is trying to remind me that no matter what kind of task, they are all a form of cultivation practice, so I must treat it seriously and be fully prepared. Have no worries, Master. Disciple fully understands your point."
"Er, that's not exactly it…" Whatever makes you happy.
"No?" Perplexed, Yi Qing bowed his head in thought. After pondering for a while, his eyes widened and he asked, "Could it be that… Master thinks that something unusual will happen during this expedition which will put my cultivation to the test and you are worried that I can't cope?"
"Cough, cough, cough…" I'll let you guess.
"Come off it!" Lonemoon, who had tagged along, rolled his eyes and cut to the chase, "The only thing she is worried about is that there will be no one doing the cooking."
"I understand now. In that case… thank you, Master, for your trouble." Yi Qing still wore that look of unwavering conviction. How can Master's well-meaning intentions be understood by outsiders? "Your disciple will definitely not let you down." "Hey, hey hey…" Lonemoon's mouth twitched. Did you even listen to me? When will you recover from your 'brain-damaged fan' sickness?
"Why did you come?" Yi Qing finally turned to look at the person next to him, a chilly look in his eyes. He's trying to steal my master again!
Somewhat shocked by Yi Qing's hostile glare, Lonemoon felt a pang in his heart. Now the Sword Immortal was not even bothering to address him as Supremacy. The difference in his attitude was glaring.
"Why do you ask? If she can go, why can't I?" He could not tolerate such discrimination. "I've come along to protect the both of you as I think this expedition is going to be dangerous." If the both of them left, he would be bored to death.
Yi Qing's expression turned even colder, but he really had no grounds to stop him. He looked at the disciples who had gathered in front and in a loud voice, commanded, "Depart!" Turning around, he summoned his sword and reached his hand out to Shen Ying. "Master, let us go!" Completely ignoring a certain someone next to him, Yi Qing immediately took off with Shen Ying.
"Hey, hey, hey, why are you flying so fast?" Lonemoon also followed behind immediately on his sword.
The disciples, still in the dark: "…" The Soul Formation Supremacy and the Nascent Soul Perfected One are leading the team. This must mean that the level of difficulty on this experiential training mission is off the scale!
The area this experiential training team was assigned to was a remote town located to the south of Blackheaven Sect. The SOS message they had received said that a big demon had appeared near the town three months ago. Quite a number of people had claimed to have seen it. Dozens of people had been killed so far, their organs removed from their bodies. It had been a gruesome spectacle and included among the casualties was a Golden Core Dao Lord. The whole town was in a state of panic. It was in desperation that they requested the Blackheaven Sect for help.
A demon who could take on a Golden Core Dao Lord must have attained at least an eighth-stage cultivation, so Sect Master Qiu had made the decision to let a Nascent Soul Perfected One lead the training team. There were dozens of disciples on this trip who all at the Foundation Establishment stage. The highest among them were only at the Perfected Foundation Establishment stage.
The group flew for half a day before arriving at the small town they were assigned to. The town was not big; everything in it could be taken in at one glance. After settling down at an inn, Yi Qing let the disciples go by themselves to scout for information. After all, this was meant to be their training so he could not intervene too much.
About a dozen disciples came back in the evening after having gone scouting for a whole afternoon, all wearing strange looks on their faces. Their expressions seemed to be one of bewilderment?
"What's wrong?" Lonemoon looked at the disciple nearest him. He seemed to recall him as being the most senior disciple of Yi Qiu. "Cheng An, what have you found?"
"Cheng An, reporting to Uncle-Master." Cheng An stepped forward and cupped his fists. "Our intention had been to ask only those who had seen the demon to find out what kind of demon it was, but after our questioning we found out that about half the town folk had seen this demon."
"Oh, it's that bold?" Lonemoon frowned, motioning him to continue.
"They said that this demon only came out in the middle of the night. It was shrouded in a black Qi, so they couldn't see its appearance at all." Cheng An continued, "The textile shop, the winery, the inn in the west of the town, the school, the rouge shop in the east of the town, and even the houses of the hunter families at the end of the street have been broken into by the demon."
"So it seems that this demon has been wreaking havoc here for a long time." Lonemoon clenched the jade flute in his hand. "How are the people who have seen the monster? What condition are they in?"
Cheng An's face twitched a little and the conflicted expression on his face deepened. "They… have not been harmed." "What?" Lonemoon was confused. How could that be?! "No injuries? But weren't we told that the demon has killed more than a dozen people including a Golden Core cultivator?"
"That is indeed the case." Cheng An nodded and said, "But those who have seen the demon were not injured. I have also checked the pulse of every one of them, but there was no damage to either their mind or body, and they even said that… they seemed to have become even stronger than usual."
When he said this, the other disciples nodded and chipped in with their own accounts.
"That's right. The boss of the textile shop, Old Zhuang, also said that his mental condition has improved."
"The winery boss has no more insomnia."
"The book store master's back pain has gone away."
"The rouge shop owner is cured of the rheumatism in his legs."
Lonemoon: "…" What the hell?
Don't tell me that this demon is doing charitable work during the night? Then how are the deaths of those dozen or so people supposed to be explained? Is this monster trying to fatten people up before killing them?
"The residents whose houses were broken into didn't really lose anything much."
"That's not it! Did something else happen?"
"What is it?"
"The textile shop lost a big rooster." "…" What?
"The winery shop lost two."
"The yellow dog in the book store lost two of his legs."
"The rabbit in the rouge store is missing."
Lonemoon: "…" This affair was turning into a bloody farce. Was this monster trying to be funny? Killing people and taking out their hearts, then doing charity at night. But why had only the domestic animals like chickens and rabbits gone missing? Could it be that it was a fox demon?
He frowned and pondered over it. He came up with a plan, but then remembered that this was the experiential training of the disciples. Unless they met with a situation they couldn't deal with, otherwise he should not intervene. He thus kept his thoughts to himself and swept his gaze over the group before him. "Have you all come up with a plan?"
Everyone was silent and looked at each other for a long time.
No one came forward with any ideas.
Shaking his head, Lonemoon was about to say that they were indeed a green lot and then present his own views. But suddenly, Shen Ying, who had been sitting next to him eating her snacks, interrupted, "It likes to eat chicken. You can catch a few chickens and use them to lure it out."
On hearing this, Lonemoon let out a snort of derision and rolled his eyes. There were so many cultivators here; the demon was not blind, so why would it fall for this ruse? Only a fool would…
"Good idea, Junior Sister!" Cheng An's eyes brightened, turning to look at Shen Ying with an excited expression on his face.
Huh? Holy shit, you are all really dumb!
The other disciples also gathered around Shen Ying.
Disciple 1: "Yeah, why didn't I think of it? This can lure the snake out of its hole!"
Disciple 2: "Junior Sister is really smart. You look unfamiliar, which peak's disciple are you?"
Disciple 3: "Great, why don't we lay out the plan tonight?"
Disciple 4: "Good, we'll adopt Junior Sister's idea. I will buy the chickens!"
Disciple 5: "I am going to set up the array!"
Disciple 6… Yi Qing: What? Was there a profound Dao principle behind Master's casual comment?
Lonemoon suddenly felt deep worry for the future prospect of Blackheaven Sect!
Chapter 32: The Savvy Civet Cat
It was a dark and windy night. A night for catching a demon.
The entire inn, having been cleared of all customers very early on, was filled with silence. There were four or five fat cockerels in a cage in the middle of the inn's inner courtyard, and the flapping of their wings could be heard from time to time.
There was nobody in sight, not even the waiter who normally patrolled the inn in the middle of the night, but a closer examination would reveal a few shadowy figures lying on the roof, under the eaves, behind the door, and even in the shrubs in the courtyard. Every one of them was concentrating on the chickens dozing in the courtyard.
Two hours passed.
Four hours passed. Dead silence.
Six hours passed.
"Ah choo!" Lonemoon let out an involuntary sneeze and was greeted by dozens of chiding eyes. He felt like he must be crazy leaving his bed in the middle of the night to follow this group of mental retards. They had waited for so long but not so much as a demon's hair could be seen.
"Enough. You all should call it off." He nudged at Shen Ying who was next to him. He really didn't want to continue lying on the roof. He had told them that such a harebrained idea wouldn't work. Those Foundation Establishment disciples did not know how to rein in their aura; only a blind demon would be unable to detect a few dozen cultivators full of Spirit Qi. "You and your asinine plan. It would be a miracle if a demon came!"
"It's here!" But just as Lonemoon finished speaking, a disciple called out urgently from below.
A cloud of black Qi descended from the sky. Lonemoon: "…"
Holy shit! It's really the demon!
The cloud of black Qi flew directly towards the chickens in the cage. The court yard immediately resounded with the clucking of chickens. Within moments, the chickens had disappeared. A stack of golden objects could be seen among the chicken feathers in the cage.
"Arh…" The cloud of black Qi, which had grown decidedly bigger, seemed to be burping. It floated up again as if intending to fly away.
"Catch it!" Cheng An shouted. Immediately the array formation was activated and the disciples who had been lying in ambush rushed over with their weapons.
Seemingly startled, the black Qi hurriedly turned around in a circle and began to jump up and down in an attempt to fend off the attacks from the disciples. Perhaps it was because this inner courtyard was too small and there were too many Blackheaven Sect disciples, but the demon actually managed to evade capture.
"Don't panic, junior brothers and sisters defend your assigned formations!" Cheng An was the lead disciple of the sect master. Seeing that it would take time to capture the demon, he instructed everyone to use the array formation to box in the demon.
The chaotic crowd of disciples started retreating at his command, but at the exact moment that they retreated, the Black Qi suddenly burrowed out from the crowd, shot up into the sky and moved to the right.
"Oh no!" An anxious Cheng An looked up and saw that the mass of black Qi had already broken clear of their array formation and was flying directly to the right which was being guarded by…
Shen Ying, Lonemoon and Yi Qing: "…" Cheng An paused for a moment, remembering that this was their experiential training. Making a snap decision, he immediately rushed towards Shen Ying. "Junior Sister, stop that demon!"
Before Shen Ying could react, the blob of black Qi had already flown right up to her. It was greatly bloated and had two black tails behind it. She instinctively reached out and grabbed at a dangling tail, gently pulling it down.
There was a piercing scream and the blob fell onto the roof with a thud. The black Qi around its body dissipated, revealing a young boy dressed in black with two black ears on his head and two fat tails behind him.
Er… Cat-style COS? "Double-Tailed Civet?!" A surprised Lonemoon stepped forward. Isn't this just a sixth-stage demon? But they told us it was eighth-stage?
The human manifestation of the civet cat looked like a teenager. Probably due to the pain from the fall, he hugged his tails pitifully and blew at them. His green eyes were brimming with tears, and he appeared as if he might burst out crying at any moment.
"Meow…" He looked up timidly at the three people in front of him. Suddenly thinking of something, he turned and pulled out a shiny golden object from his bag and pushed it towards them.
Looking closely, Lonemoon saw that it was actually a piece of gold!
Hey! What do you mean by this? Are you trying to bribe us? Seeing no reaction from them, the civet cat pondered for a while and then took another gold piece out of his bag, putting it side by side with the other one.
The three of them: "…" This is one savvy cat.
Still seeing no reaction, the civet cat demon gritted his teeth and poured out all the gold pieces from his bag. Seven or eight gold pieces slid down from the roof. He looked at them meekly and said, "No… no more. Meow."
"…" Lonemoon's mouth twitched. I'm not concerned about the amount! This demon even remembers to settle the bill for his meal! I wonder where he comes from?
"Tell us, why are you killing people?" Trying to ignore the pile of gold, Lonemoon stepped forward and pointed the jade flute in his hand at the civet cat.
"Meow!" The civet cat trembled in fear and tears flowed from his eyes. He shook his head hard, saying, "Exalted Immortal, spare me. I didn't do it. I may not be a vegetarian, but I'm a pure domestic cat. I've never harmed anyone." "Don't try to deny it." Lonemoon deepened his tone. "You dare to say that the chaos in this town was not your doing?"
"I… I did eat a few chickens! But that was because I was hungry. Meow." The civet cat began to cry louder and louder, an expression of deep hurt on his face. "But… but I paid for everything! Really, I didn't harm anyone." Pointing to the gold pieces on the ground, he started counting off his fingers. "I also cured Uncle Wang's waist injury, Uncle Li's aching foot, Uncle Zhao's rheumatism, Auntie Sun's menstrual imbalance…"
"Stop, stop, stop!" You're going way off topic. As a small civet cat demon, you sure know a lot. "How will you explain the dozen people who died in this town, and the Golden Core cultivator who was disemboweled?"
"That… that was the work of the eighth-stage fox demon." The civet cat seemed to think of something and shivered. "I passed by here ten days ago and saw it harming people. It even wanted to grab my things. I wasn't its match, so I hid in this town."
"Hid?" Lonemoon repeated, deep in thought. Then his eyes widened in sudden realization. "You mean that the protection array formation in the town is still in place!" He immediately formed a hand seal and a ray of light flashed from his fingertips and beamed into the sky. Moments later, a transparent shield that covered the entire town came into view—it was really there!
It was standard procedure for the Blackheaven Sect to set up a defensive array formation in every town under their protection to prevent demons, beasts and Fiendish Cultivators from entering and harming the town's mortals; thus, without breaking through this layer of defense, they would have no way of entering the town at all. When Lonemoon first received the message for help from this town saying that there was a demon creating havoc, he had assumed that the defensive array formation had already been broken which was why no one had thought of checking it. And yet here it was.
The fact that the civet cat was able to enter the town meant that he was probably telling the truth. He had never harmed anyone and so there was no trace of baneful Qi in its body which would have triggered the array formation.
Chapter 33: The Eighth-Stage Demon
"Are you certain that there is another demon? An eighth-stage fox demon?"
"Meow, meow, meow." The civet cat nodded his head vigorously.
"So when you appeared in the night to scare the residents, you were actually trying to… prevent them from leaving the town in case they encountered the fox demon?"
"Meow, meow, meow." He nodded his head vigorously. "Once they step out of the town, they will be caught by the fox demon. I have been working very hard to keep everyone from leaving the town."
Holy shit! No wonder those who saw the demon were either merchants or hunters.
"As a civet cat, you should stick to eating fish. Why do you eat other people's chickens?" Lonemoon glanced at the demon. Xi Qiu had told him that those who died had deep claw marks on their body. As the cuts were long and narrow and most of the missing animals in the town were chickens, he had guessed that it might have been a fox demon's work. It had never crossed his mind that there would have been two demons.
"But… but chicken meat is delicious." The civet cat replied timidly.
"Yeah." Shen Ying agreed, nodding. "I also love chicken!"
"Is there any food that you don't like?" Lonemoon turned around and glanced at Shen Ying. "Whose side are you on… Wait, what are you doing?"
Shen Ying's hand, which was in the act of picking up the gold pieces, froze for a moment. "Uh… Just picking up loot out of habit?" How can victory be achieved without picking up loot?
"…" Picking up loot my foot! You think you are playing an online game? I think you just want to pocket the money. I saw you put them in your pocket. "Put down the gold pieces!" "Tch, pig-like teammate."
"What are you talking about? I dare you to repeat it."
"Master." Yi Qing silently stepped forward with a reminder, "Gold holds no meaning for cultivators."
Lonemoon heaved a sigh of relief. Fortunately, the Sword Immortal still retained his smarts.
"Cultivators have always used spirit stones to trade, so why don't we…" Yi Qing suggested earnestly, "get the civet cat to exchange these gold for spirit stones instead."
Enough! Are both of you here to capture the demon or to extort?! ——————
Although the demon was caught on the first day of the experiential training, the matter had yet to be resolved.
To Lonemoon, this matter was getting to be a bit of a headache. An eighth-stage fox demon was equivalent to a late stage Golden Core cultivator. It was obvious that this group of disciples would not be able to deal with it. Only he or Yi Qing could handle it, but the area outside was so vast that he did not know where to start looking for the demon.
"What did the fox demon want to rob from you?" Shen Ying, who had been watching the proceedings by Lonemoon's side, suddenly poked at the civet cat next to her.
The civet cat, who had been trying his utmost to behave like a meek and obedient domestic house cat, froze for a moment. His body, which had been upright, slumped to one side and his expression suddenly became flustered. His big eyes darted left and right, looking as if he wanted speak yet was afraid to. Lonemoon's expression hardened as he remembered about this matter. Yes, the civet cat had said that he entered the town to prevent the fox from robbing him. What was so special about this item that even an eighth-stage fox demon had to have it?
"Tell me the truth. What are you carrying with you?"
"I… I…" Terrified by the look in Lonemoon's eyes, the civet cat trembled in fear. Hesitating, he gritted his teeth and said, "I… I am actually on a mission for the patriarch of our civet cat clan. To… to send our congratulations to the Myriad Demon King for the ascension of his cultivation level. What the fox demon wants is… the gift I'm delivering—the Splendor Lingzhi!"
"Splendor Lingzhi!" Lonemoon was stunned. This was a supreme-grade spirit herb which matured only once in ten thousand years. Not only was it a divine healing medicine, but it could also be refined into a neonate formation pill that could increase a cultivator's neonate formation chances by fifty percent. Even the Blackheaven Sect could only boast one or two of these herbs.
So it turned out the fox demon was thinking of refining a neonate formation pill so that it could raise its cultivation level to that of a tenth-stage Demon Monarch. That was why it was so desperate to get its hands on it. But why did it have to kill people and take out their hearts?
Also, when did the demon world come to have a Myriad Demon King? An ordinary Demon Monarch's cultivation was at the tenth-stage, equivalent to the Nascent Soul stage, but a Myriad Demon King's cultivation was at the twelfth-level which was equivalent to the Soul Formation stage.
"Dear Immortals, I'm really a good little kitty cat. I beg you to release me." The civet cat turned to them and bowed repeatedly. "The ceremony to celebrate the advancement of the Myriad Demon Monarch is in seven days' time. If I am late for it, our clan patriarch will have my skin."
"Okay, okay. We aren't interested in your kitty affairs." Not wishing for further entanglements with this little civet cat demon, Lonemoon waved his hands, saying, "On account of the fact that you really didn't harm anybody, we'll let you go. But from now on, you are not to go out at night to scare people. As for the fox demon, we'll settle our scores with it in due course. You better wait a few days before leaving the town to avoid being robbed again." "Thank you, great Immortals." The civet cat nodded complaisantly. "You can rest assured that I have already hidden it. Even if the fox demon enters the town, it won't be able to find it…"
But before it finished speaking, there came a loud bang from the sky. The upper atmosphere of the entire town suddenly buckled under, followed by a loud cracking sound. The transparent array that had formed a shield in the sky suddenly broke into thousands of pieces, raining tiny bits of fluorescent lights from the sky.
"Defend the formation!" Lonemoon was shocked. Someone had forced an entry into their array formation.
"Demonic aura!" cried out Yi Qing in alarm. Frowning, Yi Qing turned to hop onto his sword and started flying towards the east side of the town.
"Could this be the fox demon? Shen Ying, can you help… Huh? Where did she go?" Lonemoon had wanted to instruct her to look after the other disciples, but realised that Shen Ying, who had been dozing next to him until this moment, had disappeared. And… she had taken the civet cat along with her! Bloody hell, when did she leave?!
Looking in the direction of the demonic aura, Lonemoon had no choice but to set up several layers of array formations to protect the entire inn. Having done this, he turned back to the disciples and said, "You all wait here. Remember not to step outside this formation. I will return in a while."
So saying, he flew off in pursuit of Yi Qing.
They were not far away, just at the east end of the town. It was originally an empty place that was covered with wild grass except for a dry well in the middle.
At this moment, a red figure flew out of the dry well. It was very tall and fur so red that it seemed like it had been dyed in blood, and it was waving its nine flaming red tails wilfully in the air.
It was actually a Nine-Tailed Blood Fox! Yi Qing was the first to fly out on his sword, directly preventing the Blood Fox from escaping.
"My gift!" A voice cried out from behind him. Yi Qing instinctively looked back only to see the civet cat that Shen Ying had brought along. On closer look, Yi Qing saw a rectangular box on the tail of the fox demon.
This fox demon was doing this on purpose. It had already discovered that they had entered the town and also knew the place where the civet cat had hidden his treasure, so it decided to turn the situation to its advantage by letting the civet cat draw away their attention and then used the opportunity to break through the defensive array to steal the gift!
It was just that the demon had not counted on the arrival of a Nascent Soul and even a Soul Formation cultivator; this was why they had managed to uncover its tracks.
Suddenly giving out a loud roar, the huge Blood Fox ignored the sword array that Yi Qing had set up and swept its nine tails directly toward the tip of his sword. Its two tails were instantly cut off, but despite the blood gushing out, it managed to force its way through the array and fly off into the distance.
Yi Qing stood stunned for a moment as did Lonemoon who had just caught up. They had not expected this fox demon to go all out.
"Go after it!" cried out Shen Ying. She was the first to run in the direction of the fox demon. She had flashed past them before they could react, leaving behind a trail of dust.
Only then did the other two men follow after her on their swords. They could barely catch up with the indistinct figure in the distance—she was moving so fast that that it seemed like she was teleporting.
Lonemoon: "…" Is she really running? Since she can run so fast, then why does she always bum rides on other people's swords?!
Yi Qing: "…" Master is a true master. The civet cat: "…" Chase it all you want, but why grab me along with you? On no, I'm going to puke, [vomits]…
Chapter 34: Pursuing the Fox Demon
Yi Qing and Lonemoon were not so much pursuing the fox demon as pursuing Shen Ying who had left them trailing far behind. They followed her right up to the entrance of a cave before stopping.
Shen Ying stood upright at the entrance of the cave… looking like she was mulling over something?
"Is the fox demon hiding in the cave?" Lonemoon flew down and asked. "Why don't you chase after it?"
Shen Ying turned to look at him impassively. Her face did not convey any expression yet to Lonemoon, there was a hint of disdain behind it. "Don't you see the words written on this cave?"
"Words? What words?" Lonemoon was baffled.
She reached out her hand and pointed at the cave entrance. "Trap inside. Please enter quickly!" "Er…"
Indeed, the fox demon clearly knew that it was being pursued. Why of all places would it choose this cave which was obviously a dead end? It was obvious that the fox demon had planned a trap here in advance.
"Then what should we do? There's no other way in." Frowning, Lonemoon countered, "We can't let the fox demon refine a neonate formation pill, otherwise it'll become a Demon Monarch after consuming it and then it'll be even harder to deal with."
"Master." Yi Qing stepped forward with a proposal. "This cave doesn't look deep, so why not let me force it out using a sword array?"
Huh? Sword array?! Is there such a sword array?
Shen Ying nodded her assent. Yi Qing immediately formed a hand seal and the sword in his hand suddenly transformed into thousands of swords, all of which started flying up into the sky following the Spirit Qi he released. Immediately, the entire sky was covered by a dense rain of swords. Yi Qing then formed another hand seal and the rain of swords began to gather and condense in the air. Within moments they had turned into a gigantic, golden sword that reached up to the sky. Yi Qing made a huge leap into the air, his entire body seemingly merging into the golden sword. The whole sky was covered in a dense cloud of Sword Qi.
Lonemoon was stunned. Such surging Sword Qi was something even he might not be capable of summoning forth. In just a few days, Yi Qing had mastered and become one with his Sword Intent.
Lonemoon's heart leaped in excitement. He saw that Yi Qing was changing his sword move. Lifting his right hand, a solemn expression on his face, Yi Qing let out a formidable roar. "Break!" The gigantic sword immediately slammed itself down directly onto the cave. There was a resounding bang and the cave in front of them was sliced in two. The giant sword did not stop there, but instead attacked in different directions: making a side chop, a vertical chop, an oblique chop. It was like chopping vegetables. One chop here… another chop there… yet another… Lonemoon, who had been eagerly looking forward to an awe- inspiring move from Yi Qing: "…"
I'm gonna flip out! This is just plain smashing. You call this forcing it out? This is obviously a demolition operation! Don't think that I can't recognize an excavator when I see one, asshole!
Wait a moment!
Why did he feel that this move looked a little familiar?
Bloody hell, isn't this the sword move that Shen Ying used to part the sea? It seems like you're really applying what you've learned!
"Master…" Seeing that the cave had been diced into a pile of gravel, Yi Qing had flown back. "Okay!" No more traps. "Good job."
Good job my foot! Where's the fox demon? You said you would force it out! It hasn't bloody come out yet!
The civet cat: "…" These people are really terrifying. Kitty wants to go home.
It was only after taking a few deep breaths… that Lonemoon managed to suppress the curses in his heart. He activated his Divine Perception and started probing for the fox demon among the mountain of gravel in front of him. The strange thing was that the demonic aura which had been very pronounced until just now had suddenly vanished without a trace.
"Hey?" Puzzled, Lonemoon stepped forward and announced, "The fox demon is gone."
Yi Qing, who was just as baffled, used his Divine Perception to probe around and did not find any trace of it either. "I was scanning the surrounding area just now and did not see it escaping, so it must still be here." Indeed, if the fox demon could slip away right under their eyes, it would not needed to have sacrificed its two tails to escape. The cultivation of a Blood Fox lay in its tails, so losing two tails at once was very damaging to its cultivation level.
"What's that?" The two of them were planning to search again when Shen Ying suddenly asked them, her hand pointing to a particular spot.
Looking in the direction she was pointing to, Lonemoon saw a pile of gravel there which looked just the same as the rest; he could not spot anything special about it. But out of trust in Shen Ying, he walked over quickly and glanced at the pile of gravel. "Huh?"
"These stones are floating up." Cats having the best night vision, the civet cat had spotted the discrepancy.
But because the stones did not float up much, they had not spotted it just now. Alarmed, Lonemoon immediately formed a hand seal to sweep away the surrounding gravel. A completely intact stone slate could be seen at the bottom. Despite Yi Qing's battering, it had not suffered the slightest crack. And this stone slate… "This is an array formation!" Lonemoon cried out loudly. The lines on the slate were clearly the imprints left by an array formation. He had not made the association earlier because his Spirit Qi was not activated.
"What is the use of this array formation?" asked Yi Qing. He and Shen Ying were laymen when it came to array formations.
Lonemoon looked at the array formation closely before replying, "It looks like an isolating array formation, but the Dharmic talisman on it is different from normal ones. This looks ancient." Wrinkling his brows, he added, "But the fox demon is definitely hiding underneath it."
After he finished activating his Spirit Qi, Lonemoon pressed his hands directly on the stone slate. As if being lit, the markings on the slate shone brightly, the lights spreading wider and wider until it covered the entire pile of gravel. Both big and small pieces of gravel floated up. The stone slate under Lonemoon's feet shook and then began to move apart slowly.
"It's opening!" warned Lonemoon, signaling everybody to move back. Within moments, a huge pit had appeared in the ground. The pit was so deep that one could not see to the bottom and there was a pungent smell emanating from within.
"Demonic aura!" Yi Qing looked up at the other two. "It belongs to the fox demon."
"It really is hiding underneath. After it!" cried Lonemoon, jumping in. This fox demon was so cunning. No wonder it had decided to hide in this cave; the darkness in the cave meant that there was no way they could have detected the array formation, so naturally they would not have been able to locate it as well. It was just that the fox demon had not counted on them dicing apart the cave.
The pit was so deep that they had to fly down for two minutes before they reached the ground. It was pitch black down there. Lonemoon raised his hands to summon a fire. Now they could see that there was nothing around. The whole place was silent. Although the demonic aura was still prominent, there was no sign of the fox demon.
"It's so stinky here!" The civet cat had covered his nose as soon as he landed, reflexively hiding behind Shen Ying. Looking around, Shen Ying reached out and touched the mountain wall. Her hand came back covered in a red goop. "Huh. Is this mountain bleeding?"
Blood? Puzzled, Lonemoon immediately walked over and looked at the dripping mountain wall. He had attributed the redness to the soil here being reddish. But upon closer examination, he realized that the stuff covering the wall was not red soil at all—it was blood.
Could it be…
"Only this side of the mountain wall has blood stains." Yi Qing informed them after having taken a sweep of the surroundings.
Lonemoon frowned, and a terrible suspicion formed in his mind. Pulling aside Shen Ying, he said, "Get back. There may be something behind this mountain wall."
Lonemoon formed a hand seal and the jade flute in his hand at once transformed into a sword. Numerous beams of Sword Qi struck the stone wall. There was a huge bang, and the mountain wall in front collapsed instantly to reveal a wider area.
They were suddenly assailed by the pungent stench of blood. Blood was everywhere; the walls and the ground were all splattered with blood. There were even a few decaying limbs lying scattered on the ground. A square platform stood right in the middle of it all. A red light from an array formation lit up the platform brightly, making the whole place appear even redder.
Lonemoon blurted out, "Blood Sacrifice Array!" It had turned out as he had suspected.
Chapter 35: The Ancient Array Formation
"You actually tracked me right up to this place!" A male voice suddenly sounded out. A figure clad in red was standing at the altar. Although obviously a man, he looked especially seductive with a flirtatious look in his eyes. Nine big, red tails trailed behind his back, two of which were severed, and blood stains could still be seen on the site of the wounds. It was the Nine- Tailed Blood Fox which they had been pursuing.
"Blood Fox, the reason you killed so many people, eviscerating them, was just so you could set up this Blood Sacrifice Array?" Lonemoon frowned and scanned his surroundings. "What are you planning to do?" The Blood Sacrifice Array was a notoriously evil formation array which required the sacrifice of a human heart and the blood of thousands of humans before it could be activated. The array held enormous power. It was rumored that once the array was completed, a blood cloud would form which would drift for thousands of miles, under which no living thing would survive.
Obviously, he had only completed half of this formation; the blood in this array was not enough to condense into a blood cloud which meant that his next step… "You want to slaughter the entire town!" Yi Qing said, stepping forward, evidently coming to the same conclusion as Lonemoon. The dozen or so people he had killed were obviously not enough to activate the Blood Sacrifice Array but if all the people in the town were included, it would be enough. If they had not arrived in time, the entire town would likely have been full of corpses.
"Oh, I had intended to." The Blood Fox snorted, and one of his tails which had seemed to be hiding something suddenly moved a little to the front of his body. He looked down and the previously vicious expression on his face turned tender. Raising his hand, he patted at the tail, his movement so gentle that it seemed as if he was afraid to awaken something. "The town can count itself lucky as the civet cat brought me something even better."
It was only now that they saw he had a baby on his tail. The baby was wrapped in thick fur, revealing only half of his face. His face looked yellow like he was just born, and on the altar behind him was an open box.
"Meow, meow… my gift!" The civet cat burst into tears and looked at the box that had obviously been used. His heart was broken. Ooh, ooh, ooh… his clan's patriarch was going to have his skin.
The Blood Fox looked greatly excited in contrast, the expression in his eyes revealing a hint of madness. Holding the baby on his tail, he muttered, "Once he absorbs the aura of this Splendor Lingzhi, my son will soon… soon awaken."
The reason the Blood Fox had set up the Blood Sacrifice Array was to reverse the baneful Qi of heaven and earth so that he could cure his fox cub. But along the way he had found something even better—the Splendor Lingzhi of the civet cat— so he had devised any and all means to steal it from the civet cat.
"It's no use. Your baby won't wake up," Yi Qing suddenly said coldly.
"What are you talking about!" The Blood Fox suddenly turned violent, his blood-red eyes glaring at Yi Qing. "Splendor Lingzhi can revitalise dead flesh and bones. It is the best healing divine medicine there is, so how can it be useless? My son will soon wake up, right now!"
"You too know that it is just a divine healing medicine, not a medicine for resurrection. Splendor Lingzhi cannot revive a corpse whose soul has already left its body. The fact that this baby has not woken up for so long proves it." Yi Qing continued, "Blood Fox, the baby you are holding was already dead at birth."
"No, impossible!" The Blood Fox looked even more frenzied. "He is my son with Snow Flake, the only bloodline that she has left for me in this world. He cannot be dead! You're talking nonsense! Nonsense!"
Suddenly, the baneful Qi of the Blood Fox surged up and a gust of Yin wind buffeted the entire area. Furrowing his brow, Lonemoon exchanged looks with Yi Qing. The both of them rushed forward, not wanting to continue talking nonsense with this fox demon who had obviously gone insane. Within moments, the whole area was filled with flashes of light from the blade of their swords as they seamlessly switched from one sword move to the next.
The Blood Fox let out a loud roar. His remaining seven tails, which had suddenly grown longer, shot out of the array formation like sharp blades towards the two of them.
"Yi Qing, attack its feet!" No living things could survive within the Blood Sacrifice Array. Although the array was not yet complete, because the Blood Fox was standing at the eye of the array, these blood clouds would still protect their master. They could not touch him unless they forced him out of the array.
Yi Qing nodded, directing the spirit swords around him to fend off the Blood Fox's attack while directly attacking the feet of the fox with the tip of his sword.
"Damn!" The fox demon roared in anger and quickly withdrew one of his tails to shield himself. This tail was instantly cut off. Although he could block their first wave of sword attacks, he could not ward off their second wave. The spirit swords plunged right into the ground under his feet close to the eye of the array, causing the formation to suddenly turn dark. On seeing that a skyful of swords was about to rain down on him, the Blood Fox was left with no choice but to retreat and fly out of the array formation.
Without the support of the Blood Sacrifice Array, the Blood Fox's baneful Qi was immediately reduced by half. The Sword Qi in the air grew even denser. Lonemoon and Yi Qing took this opportunity to break into the array and were about to destroy the formation, when the ground suddenly lit up with another beam of dazzling white light, bathing the entire space in a white glow.
A huge array formation suddenly emerged and instantly covered the original blood array. They felt their whole body become heavy—the array was exerting a force that pressed down on them until they were forced to kneel down on one knee. The Spirit Qi began to flow out from their body continuously into the array.
Damn it, they had been tricked!
"Hahahahaha…" The Blood Fox, who had been standing outside the array, suddenly laughed hysterically. Looking at the two of them coldly, he said, "Hey, did you really think that I did not make any preparations? That I would just sit and wait for death?"
Lonemoon's face darkened in anger, but his body felt like it was being weighed down by a ton of bricks; he couldn't move at all. He tried forming a few hand seals but to no avail. What was this array formation that even he couldn't break through? And it also seemed capable of absorbing their Spirit Qi. He looked at the markings on the array formation closely but found that they were inscribed in some incomprehensible Dharmic talisman characters. They looked like… ancient words!
"This is the ancient Spiritual Annihilation Array!" He widened his eyes in surprise.
"Oh, you know this formation." The fox demon looked at him, slightly surprised, but then the light in his eyes turned more vicious. "Yes, this is indeed an ancient array formation. But as to what it was exactly I too had no idea. It doesn't matter, however, as long as it can hold the two of you down."
"You deliberately led us into the array!" The ancient Spiritual Annihilation Array was a long-lost array formation. Legend had it that it could absorb the Spirit Qi of any creature inside the array. Lonemoon had only seen it described in some ancient records.
This array could not have been set up by the fox demon; it was very likely that it had been there all along. The fox demon had discovered it and so had deliberately set up the Blood Sacrifice Array there, and the Spirit Qi emitted during their attack on the fox demon had happened to activate the array.
"Hmmph, you are right. I have just tried using the Splendor Lingzhi. It really could not revive my son." Swishing his tails, the fox demon swept the box on the altar to the ground.
"My gift…" The civet cat wanted to retrieve the box out of instinct but he could not get up as he was being pressed down by the formation.
"But… you can!" cried out the Blood Fox, his expression becoming increasingly excited. He looked at Yi Qing and Lonemoon like he was looking at a sumptuous feast. "Hahaha… I didn't expect the Blackheaven Sect to send me a Nascent Soul and a Soul Formation cultivator. With the cultivation from the both of you, plus this Blood Sacrifice Array, I can recall the soul of my child. He can be resurrected!"
"You still have thoughts of slaughtering the town's residents!?" cried Lonemoon, looking anxiously at the Blood Fox. "So what if I slaughter them?" The expression on the Blood Fox grew increasingly deranged. Seemingly thinking of something, he clenched his teeth and the murderous intent in his eyes intensified. "That stupid bunch of mortals, they should have died long ago! They… they were the ones who killed my Snow Flake, claiming that human and demons couldn't be together. All a bunch of bullshit! Snow Flake and I really loved each other, so what business was it of theirs? Snow Flake was the love of my life and she died because of them, so they should pay for what they did!"
"…" Holy shit, there was a love story behind all this! Lonemoon had been wondering why the dead baby in the fox demon's arms had a human form—it was because his mother was actually a human.
Chapter 36: The Green Pasture
"If it weren't for that busybody Golden Core cultivator who came looking for death, my Blood Sacrifice Array would not have been delayed until now." The Blood Fox sneered and flung out his tail, sweeping away the spirit sword stuck on the array, and the Blood Sacrifice Array once again began to gleam with white and red glows. "But this is alright too. After my son's resurrection, as long as I devour the both of you, I can at least complete my Core Formation immediately. Hahaha!"
"Stop!" Streams of blood seeped out from the Blood Sacrifice Array, spreading quickly in all directions with most of it spreading towards the small town. Lonemoon panicked and said, "Blood Fox. If you dare to massacre the town, my Blackheaven Sect will never let you go."
The Blood Fox's laughter grew louder. "Blackheaven Sect? So what? There's only two of you here, plus one less than qualified civet cat. As long as I kill all of you, who would know that I was the one who set up the array?"
"Hey…" Suddenly, a voice rang out. Shen Ying, who had been silent till that point and was within the formation array, raised her hand. "You seem to have forgotten about me." "Who are you?!" Shocked, the Blood Fox turned back abruptly. When had this person entered? Was there such a person there before? Moreover…
"Why are you not affected?" She could move around freely in the ancient Spiritual Annihilation Array! How was that possible?!
"Shen Ying!" Lonemoon was delighted. Holy shit! He had totally forgotten that this cheat had also come along. "Quick, destroy this Spiritual Annihilation Array!"
"What array?" Shen Ying looked around. How do I destroy it?
"This thing on the ground that's glowing!" Lonemoon shouted loudly. "You just have to use the spirit swords fallen on the ground nearby to slash at some of those drawings on the ground!"
"Oh." Shen Ying conveniently grabbed a sword from the ground. "You wish!" The Blood Fox's eyes bulged as his fox tails directly targeted Shen Ying. But just as his tails were about to impale her, she suddenly turned back and grabbed the tails, twisting them into a bundle and stopping them from moving another inch forward.
The Blood Fox was shocked. He wanted to retract his tails when Shen Ying suddenly pulled with great force and blood immediately splattered out. The Blood Fox's remaining six tails had been pulled out in one go.
The Blood Fox broke out into sad and shrill cries. Unable to maintain his human form, he tumbled about the array in pain.
"Oh man. It broke off!" Shen Ying appeared surprised as she tossed away the long fox tails in her hands. "I didn't use much strength though."
Yi Qing: "…" Civet cat: "…"
I suddenly feel I'm not needed!
Not bothering with the fox anymore, Shen Ying picked up a sword and moved directly towards the glowing array, and then slashed at the ground with the sword, sticking half of it deep into the earth. A breaking sound was heard as cracks immediately surfaced from the array and the glow grew much dimmer, but it had still not entirely fallen apart.
All Shen Ying could do was to continuously push the sword deeper into the ground. After a while, she felt like that was inconvenient, so she stood up and raised her leg with the intention to stomp the sword into the ground; thus, it was with much force that she stomped on it…
With a great rumbling noise, not only the array but also the surroundings shook tremendously. The ground immediately split apart creating long fissures the width of an arm's length. The array had been completely destroyed, and the white glow it was giving off faded. Lonemoon: "…" You can just smash everything with a single stomp. Why bother with swords!
Yi Qing immediately relaxed. The previous sensation of constraint had disappeared, and even the loss of Spirit Qi had ceased. But just when he stood up, the fox demon on the ground transformed into a cloud of red smoke in an attempt to flee.
Yi Qing conveniently used a sword move to transform and direct dozens of spirit swords to pin the demon on the stone wall so that there was nowhere for him to escape.
"Master, how should we deal with this fox demon?"
Shen Ying looked at the Blood Fox who was half dead on the stone wall, and a trace of uncertainty flashed across her face. She was just about to speak, when Lonemoon stepped forward and said, "There's no need to ask. This fox demon wanted to massacre the city—the death of such a frenzied and unscrupulous demon won't be regretted."
"Hmph, just… kill me if you want!" sneered the Blood Fox. His body was bleeding out ceaselessly, yet he remained fierce. "My only regret is that I didn't manage to kill those mortals in the town to avenge my wife and son."
"You truly have no remorse!" Lonemoon was about to end its life.
However, Shen Ying suddenly said, "Hold on a second, not so fast."
"No way, Shen Ying." Lonemoon pulled at her sleeve. With a face filled with disagreement, he asked her in a low voice, "Don't tell me you sympathize with this demon and want to let him go? That Fiendish Cultivator wasn't evil in nature so it was understandable to let her go! But this fox demon obviously emanates an immensely bloody aura. He's bloodthirsty in nature, so he could harm way more people in the future if released."
"No, I just haven't thought through some stuff. Aren't you all curious…" She pointed at the Blood Fox who, despite having all his tails pulled out, was still subconsciously protecting that dead infant with his broken tails. "The one on his tail. Is that really his son?" "Probably. Why would he risk his life otherwise?" Lonemoon replied.
"But didn't he just say that the kid was born from a human?"
"Yes! He just said so." He nodded. "He fell in love with a human being. He is a demon and with the demonic aura he possesses, there was no way he could live with the human. This is why there's a saying that humans and demons take different paths. Humans have always been afraid of demons, so it's very normal to discriminate against a human in love with a demon. And that's exactly why he wanted revenge on the people in that town."
"Humans and demons really can have children?"
"Guess… so? Isn't there one here?"
"Aren't their reproductive systems different?"
"Oh…" This was a question he really had not considered. So after all that thinking, this was what she actually wanted to ask?
"You see, theoretically, different species are controlled by different gene structures thus will have varying reproductive methods and also reproductive rates, hence the mixing of genes among species will be controlled and restricted, so different species will not be able to procreate together."
"Uh…" Why did it suddenly become so scientific? He studied finance previously, not biology. She couldn't understand him at all. But… for some reason, it sounded logical. What was going on?
"Separate reproductive systems have resulted in restrictions, thus humans and animals cannot procreate. So then…" She tilted her head. "Where did that kid come from?"
Lonemoon and Yi Qing: "…"
After half a minute, everyone turned back to look at the fox demon on the wall, and suddenly his fur seemed to look a tinge greenish.
(⊙ o ⊙)
Nevertheless Shen Ying continued to ask with a serious look, "Hey. Are you sure… you're the biological father of that kid?"
Blood Fox: "…"
A while later…
The fox spewed a mouthful of blood. His mouth twitched but not a single word came out. After a moment, his head dropped to the side and then he breathed no more—he had suffocated himself to death.
Lonemoon and Yi Qing: "…" Their two gazes turned back onto Shen Ying.
"Why are you all looking at me?" Shen Ying paused. "Did I say anything wrong?"
Lonemoon: "…" Holy shit, I don't even know where to begin.
Yi Qing: "…" Same here.
Chapter 37: The Ancient Mystic Realm
"Wu! Wu! My gift… it's gone…" The civet cat cried sorrowfully as he hugged his box to his chest.
Lonemoon walked over and glanced at the half-open box. The spirit herbs in the box were all dried up. Sighing, he said, "These herbs have been sucked dry of their Spirit Qi. Take it easy…" He had thought that the fox demon was keeping these herbs to refine pills and would not have finished them so quickly. Little had he known that the demon had been intending to use them all to save his son. Lonemoon was a step too late.
On hearing this, the civet cat wailed and cried harder.
Shen Ying turned slightly and glanced into the box in the cat's hands. That was when she realised that within it lay a dry, wrinkly…
"How does this look like a carrot? This is a Splendor Lingzhi," Lonemoon corrected.
Curious, she picked the herb up and held it between her forefinger and thumb. Apart from the fact that the herb was purple, it looked exactly like a carrot.
"Wu! Wu! Wu! Without a gift for the Myriad Demon King… meow… I can't go back… meow…" The civet cat continued to wail.
"Well…" Shen Ying hesitated. "Does this Myriad Demon King that you speak of happen to be a rabbit?"
"How did you know?" The civet cat suddenly stopped crying. Looking at Shen Ying with teary eyes, he said, "The Myriad Demon King's… true form is indeed… of the rabbit race."
It was really true!
"You should have said so earlier! That makes things much easier." Shen Ying slapped the civet cat's head. "I'm really close to the rabbit. Don't cry, I'll write a letter to the rabbit for you." She searched her surroundings, and then swiftly tore away a piece of clothing from the person beside her.
"Holy shit! Why did you take away my clothes?" Lonemoon exclaimed, standing there with only his undershirt remaining. Can't you use your own clothes in place of paper? You're really making yourself comfortable with me, aren't you?
"It's your own fault for wearing white. It'll be much easier to see the ink!"
"…" He glanced at everyone standing around him. The cat was in black, Yi Qing was in blue and Shen Ying was in green. He couldn't think of a comeback.
Shen Ying began to write on the piece of clothing. She resorted to using the only 'ink' she could find and smeared blood stains everywhere as a result. Quickly, she finished writing two lines of a message. She placed the piece of clothing in the box and carried it to the cat. "All done. You can hand this to the rabbit. It won't blame you!" "Are… you sure?" The civet cat gingerly held the box, his face a mask of worry.
"Don't worry. It's just a gentle, vegetarian rabbit!"
There's no other option left but to try my luck. The civet cat took in a deep breath and put away the gift box. He was just about to thank Shen Ying when the floor began to shake violently. Cracks began to appear through which a blinding white light shone straight into the sky. It seemed as if something was going to emerge straight out of the ground.
"There's something underground!" Lonemoon shouted to everybody around him. "This place is falling apart. We have to fly out of here!" He made to ride his sword just as the words left his mouth.
"Master!" Yi Qing quickly pulled Shen Ying back onto his sword. Together with the civet cat—who had by then transformed into a cloud of black Qi—he flew out of the cave.
As they emerged from the cave, they realised that the cracks went on for a three to four kilometre radius. All the cracks had the same blinding white light shining through them. A great piece of the land suddenly shot upwards as the ground continued to shake violently. A huge object seemed to be rising from underground, growing taller and taller. Soon, it fully emerged from underground and stood halfway to the sky.
It was at that moment that they saw it. It was a huge mountain peak, even higher than the Main Peak of Blackheaven Sect. Surrounding the peak were different types of strange Dharmic talismans. It was as if there were layers of array formations surrounding the peak.
The mountain peak continued to stand tall as lightning and thunder began to rage down from above. A purple flash of lightning shot through the sky as the surrounding air began to stir. Suddenly, a translucent entrance started to form on the peak. Peering in, one would just be able to make out that there was a plain on the other side. The beautiful Spirit Qi was almost oppressive. It was shockingly dense and also had a hint of a rainbow misty light to it.
Wait. That wasn't Spirit Qi—it was Immortal Qi! "This is an entrance to an ancient mystic realm!" Lonemoon's eyes widened in disbelief. It was no wonder they had come across the ancient Spiritual Annihilation Array in the cave; there had been a whole ancient mystic realm below it. In Azure World, there were plenty of stories regarding ancient times. Although there were plenty of old records on the ancient mystic realm, nobody seemed to know anything about it. Who would have thought that they would discover an entire mystic realm themselves?
"What's a mystic realm?" Shen Ying studied the mountain peak that seemed to have sprung out of nowhere.
Lonemoon turned around to glance at her, barely able to contain his excitement. "A mystic realm is a small world that exists outside of the Azure World. Although mystic realms are smaller in size compared to the Azure World, they form entire worlds on their own. Legend has it that the sorcery which can unlock mystic realms only existed in ancient times. In the Azure World of today, we hardly come across mystic realms. Much less… much less a mystic realm of ancient times.
"Oh, that means… this is only a copy!" "Uh… I guess you could say that." Lonemoon felt as he was thrown from cloud nine back to reality.
Clearing his throat, he regained his composure. He lowered his voice and said, "Ancient mystic realms have resurfaced. We don't know how long this entrance will remain here. Since we're still uncertain when it comes to mystic realms, we should inform the sect of these things as soon as possible. We should also formulate a plan before we venture into the mystic realm." Lonemoon turned back around to look at the crystallic-looking entrance on the peak. He didn't know what to make of the fact that a mystic realm made its appearance near the Blackheaven Sect. "We shouldn't delay any further. Let's head back to the sect now!"
Shen Ying and Yi Qing both nodded without saying a word. Bidding goodbye to the civet cat, they turned and flew toward the Blackheaven Sect.
Things had reached a new level of tension. Lonemoon flew at top speed, almost reaching the maximum speed of sword-riding. They arrived back at the sect in half-time. However, in his heart, there was a faint nagging feeling that he had forgotten something. Ah, forget it. That's not important! Cheng An and the other disciples remained at the inn. "When will Uncle-Master come back to remove this array formation?"
Meanwhile, at the Myriad Demon Temple.
The Rabbit Monarch finally received the gift from the civet cat. On seeing the limp piece of white clothing in the gift box, he picked it up, ready to toss it from his throne.
But that was when it noticed the words written on the cloth:
"Rabbit, I took the carrot that the cat meant to give you. Don't blame him! -Shen Ying"
"Ex… ex… exalted Immortal Shen!" Was its eyes playing tricks on it? Was this really the long-lost Exalted Immortal Shen writing to it? It had to be so—she was the only one who would refer to a Splendor Lingzhi as a carrot.
But she could have just taken the gift. Why… why did she have to leave a note written with blood?
Is this a threat? This is clearly a threat!
But… but what has Rabbit done wrong? Why didn't Exalted Immortal make it clear?
The Rabbit Monarch's tiny heart was thumping. Once again, it felt the all-consuming fear it had felt on that night at the Myriad Demon Congregation. I'm doomed, I'm doomed, I'm doomed… What should Rabbit do?
It paused to think for a moment. Suddenly, it turned around to command, "Someone! Hurry… hurry and take stock of what we have in our treasury… Send everything to Exalted Immortal Shen's old address! And don't leave a single thing behind!" "Also, clean Exalted Immortal Shen's house while you're at it! That's right! Make sure that there's not one speck of dust left behind!"
"Oh, forget it. I'll go there myself…"
Chapter 38: Guests from the Upper World
"I'm going to the Main Peak to look for Xi Qiu." After returning to the Blackheaven Sect, Lonemoon only threw down those words with no regard for the other two and left in a hurry to find the sect master to discuss the matter of the mystic realm.
Yi Qing brought Shen Ying back to Yingyuan Peak, looked at the sky and said, "It's almost noon. Master, please wait for a while. I will go pick up the ingredients for today and be back soon."
"Alright." Shen Ying nodded, and then she went inside the house and immediately laid on the stone table to sleep. So tired! Dealing with that green fox had made her sacrifice her sleep for a night, so she was already nodding off. After laying down for a moment, both of her eyelids were about to close.
Yi Qing, who had just gone out, came back looking conflicted.
"So fast?" Shen Ying tilted her head, glanced at him and asked, "Where's the vegetables you collected?" Didn't he go to pick up the ingredients? Why did he return empty handed? "Master…" Looking all guilty, Yi Qing said, "The people from the Outer Affairs Hall said that we have already hit… the limit for spirit rice collection this month."
"Ah!" She faltered momentarily. "Wasn't it unlimited?"
"Disciple has also only just found out about there being a limit to the amount of spirit rice provided per month." If only he had known, he would not have made so many pastries. It was all that freeloader's fault. Yes, that must be it. He ate too much which was why his master didn't have food to eat now. "The Outer Affairs Hall said spirit stones can be used to exchange with other disciples, but…"
Shen Ying's mouth twitched. "I understand!" They were broke.
After several months of time, she had now finally remembered the largest crisis of her transmigration—poverty!
"Master, do not worry. It will be pay day two days later, then your disciple will be able to receive spirit stones." Yi Qing immediately consoled her. "Moreover, the Blackheaven Sect has many animals nearby, so for the next few days Master will have to suffer a little and eat their meat. I shall go and catch them now!"
Great chef! Shen Ying sighed. As the master, she was so poor that she could not even afford a meal, and she still needed her disciple to go hunt for meat. This was… so convenient!
"Then I'll leave that to you!" Shen Ying patted his shoulders. "Go on, I'll wait for you."
"Alright Master, no problem Master!" Yi Qing nodded hard, turned around and flew off.
Shen Ying sighed once again. When considering the professional qualities of a chef, this one scored full marks.
However, they could not continue on like this. It seemed like it was time to find ways to earn money. If she had known earlier, she would have picked up the gold that the civet cat had dropped earlier on. Her temporary chef was to blame for it. ——————
"Ah choo!" In the main peak, Lonemoon sneezed in the middle of a discussion. Ah? Why does it feel like someone just scolded me?
"Uncle-Master?" Xi Qiu looked at him quizzically.
"It's alright. You may continue."
"Okay. Disciple-Nephew feels that the ancient mystic realm matter is very serious." The resurgence of an ancient mystic realm was a good thing. He had been over the moon when he first heard of the news, especially since it was an ancient mystic realm! Moreover, no one had ever set foot inside it. There could be countless unique gems and jewels hidden inside, so who wouldn't be delighted? Who wouldn't be excited? But after the feelings of joy passed, worries began to surface in his mind. "Previously, that divine light shone through the sky. All the sects must have noticed it and will go to check it out. This resurgence will be known to all in a matter of time." "Yes, I'm clear about that." Lonemoon nodded. "But since this mystic realm has surfaced within Blackheaven Sect domain, there is no reason for us to ignore it. As for entering the mystic realm… you are the sect master, so you shall make the decision."
"I feel that… the period of time a mystic realm remains open has always been limited. Since this matter will be known to all the sects sooner or later, why not we directly inform the Six Schools Three Sects and invite them to enter the mystic realm together to check it out." Xi Qiu lowered his voice and said, "As for the members to be sent, each sect can decide on their own. This is an ancient mystic realm after all. With opportunities come risks—it all depends on one's fate."
"Yes, I think so too." Lonemoon nodded.
"Alright. I shall send letters out to all the sects now." Xi Qiu bowed and left quickly.
Lonemoon pondered about something for a bit and then went to Ling Xiao Peak. This was a huge matter after all, so there was a need to inform the other two Supremacies so as to quickly decide on the members to be sent and wait for all the people from the sects to gather and enter the mystic realm. However, he did not expect surprise visitors even before the Six Schools Three Sects responded.
Three visitors had suddenly appeared above the Blackheaven Sect. Their entrance was accompanied by numerous heavenly sounds and even the sky seemed to have been torn apart. They had arrived by tearing through the void.
Lonemoon and Xi Qiu were momentarily perplexed before they finally came to a realisation—these were people from the Upper Azure World!
Why had people from the Upper Azure World come to a sect in the Middle Azure World?
"Where is your sect master?" The three of them paused in the air for a while. The one on the right glanced at the Main Peak with disdain, seemingly looking down on everything around, and he even released a mild suppressive aura.
It was… the suppressive force of a cultivator of the Soul Formation stage! Shocked, Xi Qiu stepped forward and said, "I am Xi Qiu, the sect master of the Blackheaven Sect. For what matter have you, Supremacies from the Upper Azure World, come here for?"
The three people had finally descended from the air and stopped at the entrance of the Main Peak's hall. They looked over at Xi Qiu, still with much disdain, but when they saw Lonemoon at the side, they were surprised and began to look more alert and careful.
"I am an elder of the Xuan Yuan family in the Upper Azure World. Dao name, Qing Yin. These two are my senior brothers." Qing Yin answered with arrogance as he held his head high.
Xi Qiu was even more shocked. The Xuan Yuan family! The Middle Azure World did not have much information regarding the Upper Azure World, but they certainly had heard of this family; it was one of the four aristocratic families, the top-class families. Why would they suddenly send three of their members to a sect in this world, one of them even an elder at that?
"The resurgence of an ancient mystic realm has set off numerous anomalies in the Upper Azure World, thus we have come by the order of our master to investigate." Qing Yin continued, "The dangers of this mystic realm is currently unknown, and even the Upper Azure World has little knowledge of ancient realms. In case of any problems, we are willing to lend a helping hand to the Middle Azure World and head in first to check it out."
Xi Qiu's face turned black. They had also been attracted by the ancient mystic realm. They were not here to help—they were obviously here to take their share of the loot! From the way they spoke, they even wanted to enter first to gain some spoils. How could this be allowed?!
"Thank you for your kindness, but this mystic realm has appeared within Blackheaven Sect domain and as it would be inconvenient for my sect alone to handle this, we have already sent invitations to each sect to come over and discuss the matter of entering the realm. I am afraid they have already reached the entrance of the mystic realm, so I shall not burden you, Supremacies, to go and test waters."
"What!" Qing Yin was shocked. Apparently, he had not thought that anyone who discovered a mystic realm would have informed other sects to share in it instead of immediately claiming ownership over it. His brows furrowed together, thinking: no wonder they are just some lower realm cultivators. A bunch of idiots! He immediately unleashed his Soul Formation stage suppressive aura towards the Xi Qiu.
Lonemoon, who was at the side, was the first to notice this and so also released a suppressive force which immediately pushed back the other party's imposing aura. So what if they were from the Upper Azure World? The Blackheaven Sect was not to be trifled with.
Taken aback, Qing Yin was pushed to the point where he needed to retreat a step. Never had he imagined that this person who was only of early stage Soul Formation cultivation level would be able to intercept his suppressive aura. He was just about to retaliate, when the silent person in the middle of their group suddenly stepped forward and an opposing suppressive aura of much greater degree was immediately felt.
Lonemoon furrowed his brows, almost unable to withstand it. He looked at the other party in shock—this was not an aura belonging to that of a cultivator at the Soul Formation stage. This person was… a Disintegrating Traveling Immortal!
The so-called Traveling Immortal referred to those who had already reached the Ascension stage, but were unable to ascend successfully. To save their own lives, they had no choice but to disintegrate and become Traveling Immortals. Although a Traveling Immortal was also a cultivator and not considered an actual immortal, they were more powerful than those of the Soul Formation stage. It was just that they did not have the chance to ascend after disintegrating.
What could be lying within that ancient mystic realm for the Upper Azure World, which was already abundant in resources, to send three high level cultivators, one of whom was even a Traveling Immortal?
Chapter 39: Toward the Mystic Realm
"You're a Sword Cultivator!" The Traveling Immortal was surprised. The fact that a cultivator who had just risen to the Soul Formation stage was able to withstand his formidable power could only mean that this cultivator was a Sword Cultivator.
"I am!" Lonemoon replied, growing increasingly wary.
"Senior Brother Qing Lan…" Qing Yin took a step forward, looking as if he was about to speak.
"Forget it!" The Traveling Immortal cut him short. "The news has already spread. We can no longer stop people from entering. I have already warned all of you of the risks present here. From here on out, you're on your own!"
Qing Yin broke out into a devilish grin as a thought sprung into his mind. "In any case, only Nascent Soul stage cultivators would be able to enter the mystic realm. Cultivators from other sects may enter if they please. Formidable beasts are lurking everywhere within the ancient mystic realm. We'll just see how many cultivators you're willing to lose." "Only Nascent Soul stage cultivators can enter," Xi Qiu repeated, his eyes widening in surprise. To think that one had to at least be at the Nascent Soul stage to enter the mystic realm. The Blackheaven Sect didn't lack Nascent Soul stage cultivators, but the Upper Azure World had many more. Even if those at the Nascent Soul stage could enter, they probably wouldn't even be able to make it into the mystic realm.
"The entrance to an ancient mystic realm only reveals itself once every 500 to 1000 years and it will only remain for approximately three months. Those of you from the lower realm had better seize this opportunity," Qing Yin scoffed. With that, the three got onto their swords and disappeared into the horizon.
Needless to say, they were headed for the mystic realm.
"What should we do?" No matter how hard he racked his mind, Xi Qiu couldn't figure a way out. Of course they had to enter the mystic realm, and they had to do it soon. However, they didn't know whether the Upper Azure World would send reinforcements. This was an ancient mystic realm after all! The truth was that the Blackheaven Sect didn't have that many Nascent Soul stage cultivators, so surely they couldn't send every one of them into the ancient mystic realm. Moreover, three of their Soul Formation stage cultivators were still held up in seclusion and could not come out.
"Let me go in and take a look first!" Lonemoon was thinking hard about their situation too. In a low voice, he continued, "There's no point discussing what lies inside the mystic realm. The fact that the three of them are making this trip into the mystic realm shows that they're deliberately going against Blackheaven Sect. It's simply not appropriate to let any of the other Nascent Soul stage cultivators to go after them. I, at least, will be able to protect myself."
"Uncle-Master…" Lonemoon was right to say that he was in the best position to go.
"But I'll still need two people to go with me."
"Yi Qing…" "Oh yes, Perfected Yi Qing." He was a Sword Cultivator himself, comparable to Soul Formation stage Supremacies. He was indeed a good choice.
"And his master."
"What?" Xi Qiu exclaimed. "He… has a master?"
Lonemoon had it all figured out. The Traveling Immortal looked strong and they didn't know what lay before them in the mystic realm. Given their situation, they had no choice but to play dirty. Shen Ying was disgustingly powerful; she would be far more useful than a Soul Formation stage cultivator. She might be lazy, lousy at navigation, a little perverted, troublesome, and annoying, but she was still a safe choice.
He had never fought against a Traveling Immortal before, but Shen Ying seemed on par with the Traveling Immortal. If he and Yi Qing fought alongside her, even if they did not win, they surely would not lose. They had a strong relationship, so surely she would help…
"I'm not going!" Shen Ying immediately retorted, tilting her head slightly sideways as she continued to rest against the table.
Lonemoon's heart seemed to pause beating and his face began to hurt all of a sudden…
"Why?" Never had it crossed his mind that she would refuse him.
"It's going to be so troublesome." Shen Ying detested leaving the house. All she wanted was to rest at home.
"Troublesome my foot!" He reached out and pulled the slob to her feet. "You had better have a better reason than that! What kind of lousy reason is 'it's troublesome'?!" "I'm not going!" She slumped back onto the table. We're about to go through a famine and he's thinking of going out? We should be saving whatever energy we have left.
"Holy shit! Would you take it as you doing me a favour? We're from the same hometown after all. Are you just going to leave me to fend for myself? We're only going to make one trip into the mystic realm. We'll be back in three months at most—they'll pass by in a flash. I got you to Sword Comprehension Peak the last time too. It's time you repaid the favor."
"We shouldn't be leaving the house right now."
"I'm going into hibernation!"
The corner of Lonemoon's mouth twitched. "It's autumn!"
"Oh… well, I'm still going into hibernation!" "Hibernation my ass!" Lonemoon was fuming. He couldn't believe that faced with such a shameless slob, he was helpless but to keep trying to persuade her. "This concerns the entire sect. If you help out this time, your name will go down in history."
"I'm not going. I'm not even getting paid for it!"
Lonemoon felt his blood pressure continue to rise, and his head began to fill with images of him strangling her. He began to take deep breaths to calm himself down. Pausing to think, he then reached into the storage bag at his side, pulled out a bag of spirit stones and tossed them onto the table. They landed with a solid thud.
Shen Ying narrowed her eyes. Still looking like a slob, she slowly reached forward and poked at the bag. She pulled it toward her, opened it slightly and peered inside. All she saw were a couple of superior-grade spirit stones. "Er…" The lazy bum shuffled in her seat and continued, "Three months is way too long…" Never had she ever been away from home for so long.
Another bag landed on the table with a thud.
The slob sat up immediately. She reached for Lonemoon's arm, exclaiming over-enthusiastically, "Father Niu! When do we set off?"
"Get lost! I'm not your Father Niu!"
"Alright, Father Niu!" She picked up the two bags, stood up and scurried into the kitchen. As she approached the kitchen, she sang, "Chef, we have money now! Shall we go to the market?"
"Yes Master, no problem Master! You're amazing, Master!" "…"
So much for good relationship!
As Lonemoon hurried to the entrance of the mystic realm, he quickly realised that the representatives from every other sect were already there. Cultivators of every cultivation stage had gathered around the peak. Clearly, they hadn't heard of the entry requirements.
The three people from the Upper Azure World also stood outside the entrance to the mystic realm. They were right in front. From the looks of it, they had just informed the crowd that only cultivators who were at least at the Nascent Soul stage could enter the mystic realm. Many of the cultivators who stood around them had disappointment written all over their faces. Qing Yin spotted Lonemoon. He intentionally shot a look in Lonemoon's direction and broke into a strange grin. "Look, if it isn't Blackheaven Sect's Sword Cultivator… Ha, we'll meet again in the mystic realm!"
Just as the words were out of his mouth, he stepped into the crystallic-looking entrance with his other two companions.
Lonemoon frowned. From the looks of it, Qing Yin was a vengeful man. He still seemed to be hung up over his inability to force Lonemoon to step down back at the Blackheaven Sect. He also seemed to have made up his mind about making things difficult for Lonemoon in the mystic realm. But lucky for Lonemoon, he had the cheat with him.
He quickly exchanged greetings with his acquaintances and wasted no time in flying into the mystic realm with Yi Qing and Shen Ying in tow. As they crossed through the crystallic-looking entrance, he suddenly noticed that everything around him had gone quiet. Then, all he saw was a blinding light.
In less than ten seconds, they found themselves in a completely foreign forest. The air in the mystic realm was filled with Spirit Qi, tens of times denser than the air outside. It was shocking, to say the least. Surveying his surroundings, Lonemoon couldn't find any sign of Qing Yin or the other cultivators who had entered just minutes before them.
"It looks like the entrance into the mystic realm is completely random." Lonemoon turned to face Yi Qing and continued, "We're lucky that we set up the shadow imitation on our own bodies. Surely we won't get… Ah. Where's Shen Ying?!"
He turned in circles, scanning the area around him. However, the foodie was nowhere to be found.
"Holy shit, we've lost the cheat!" He clearly remembered setting up the shadow imitation on her as well!
Meanwhile, on Shen Ying's end…
Suddenly, a beast as tall as a mountain appeared in front of her very eyes. She tilted her neck upwards to get a clearer view of the beast.
Can this… be eaten?
Chapter 40: The Beast Kings that Guard the Forest
All Shen Ying did was yawn. By the time she started to react, she found herself thrown to the other end of the forest. There were nothing but trees around her. And then, she spotted a leaf waving around and something digging into the ground…
A radish? She stopped in her tracks. Was everything in this world made from the same mould? Why did everything look like moving radishes? She couldn't help but prod at the raidsh saying, "Hey, what are you doing?"
"Ji!" The radish huffed, slowly turning its fat, white body around. It faced Shen Ying and was visibly shocked. It quickly turned back and resumed digging rapidly. "Ji ji ji…" Without checking first if it had dug deep enough, the radish burrowed itself into the half-dug pit. Having gone as far as it could, it then picked up two handfuls of soil and dumped it atop its own head. After that, it stayed as still as it could.
"…" The corner of Shen Ying's mouth twitched. She could almost hear the thoughts in the radish's mind: You can't see me, you can't see me, you can't see this radish… Was this a particularly stupid radish spirit? She squatted down to study it from a closer distance. But all of a sudden, she heard a loud roar coming from her front. Something flashed before her eyes.
Shen Ying lifted her head and her field of vision was covered by a beast which stood as tall as a mountain. She didn't know when or how it appeared. The beast had eyes that looked just like headlights, its gaze transfixed on the radish spirit in the pit.
In a flash, it opened its mouth and bit towards the ground.
The radish's body had a slight green tinge to it at first, but now it was purely white. It could no longer pretend it was just a motionless plant. Just as the beast's teeth hit the soil, the radish jumped out of the pit, panic-stricken. It started to run around in circles exclaiming, "Ji ji ji…"
It had no idea where it was headed. After making one complete circle, it crashed straight into a tree, the leaves atop its head swaying. The radish quickly gathered itself together and looked for an escape route. But to its frustration, there was nowhere it could hide. It then suddenly ran toward Shen Ying and burrowed straight into her clothes. Shen Ying felt it tremble beneath her garments. Just like an ostrich hiding its head underground, the radish left half of its white body exposed.
The beast stood back upright, its mouth full of soil. The radish had managed to escape and the beast's mouth was filled with soil, while the ground had a huge hole where the beast bit into it. Outraged, it widened its eyes. The beast looked around before its gaze settled on Shen Ying. To the beast, Shen Ying was now an enemy who stole its food from right under its nose. The scales on its body began to flare and it bore its teeth in an attempt to intimidate Shen Ying.
A gust of smelly air blew past Shen Ying's face. The beast opened its mouth once again and made another move for the radish. This time, the beast seemed intent on swallowing Shen Ying together with it.
Shen Ying's eyebrows shot up. She reached out and instinctively struck out with a slap. "It stinks!"
There was a loud slap and the beast's head was driven into the soil with the momentum of a metal ball, the huge impact creating an even bigger pit. Half of the beast's body had disappeared into the soil along with its head. It didn't seem like it could get out easily.
Its six legs, which were still above-ground, twitched a little before they went still…
Shen Ying frowned as she waved at the air in front of her nose. It was a while before the smell had completely dissipated; the beast had breathed out a substantial amount of air. Surveying the huge mass of meat in front of her, she considered whether beasts with smelly breath were edible.
It's a pity that Chef isn't with me. I'd better find Chef and Father Niu first. She gave up the thought of eating the beast and turned around, thinking of which direction she should head in to begin her search for the way back. "Why are you following me?" But then she noticed a little tail following close behind her as she started walking—the radish spirit was hopping alongside her.
"Ji ji," the radish replied as it shook the leaves on its head. It hopped quickly to catch up with Shen Ying and used its leaves to wrap around her legs, making excited noises as it went.
What does ji ji even mean? Shen Ying shook her leg to get rid of its leaves. "Run along and dig your little radish pit." She didn't even like radishes.
"Ji…" It lowered its voice as the leaves atop its head seemed to go limp. It looked dejected.
Shen Ying couldn't be bothered with it. She was just about to continue her search when she heard two familiar voices coming from not too far away.
"Shen Ying…" "Master…"
The voices sounded out continuously, one after another. It sounded just like a soundtrack on repeat.
The corner of Shen Ying's mouth twitched and she turned to face the direction of the voices. Passing by the beast's corpse, she pulled it out of the soil and along with her. The surrounding trees were knocked to the ground as she haphazardly dragged the corpse along, throwing sand up into the air. The air in half of the forest began to fill with sand. Now she had a chef.
About five kilometres away, the group of three from the Upper Azure World…
"What was that sound?" Qing Yin paused to survey the surroundings. "What happened in front? Why is the air ahead filled with sand?"
"It looks like someone got unlucky and met with a beast," Qing Lan replied. "From what we've seen, most of the beasts in this realm are at least twelfth-stage beasts, if not beast kings." "Ah! Then we…"
"We have no choice but to make a detour. Let's go!"
Lonemoon and Yi Qing still remembered the last time they spent forever looking for a certain someone who had been just across the river. Not wanting history to repeat itself, they took turns to call out to Shen Ying, making sure that they didn't miss a single beat. They had been shouting for a full hour before they noticed Shen Ying, strolling toward them with boredom written all over her face. Behind her, she was dragging along… a mountain?!
"Master." Yi Qing ran toward her, closing the gap quickly.
"Hey, Chef." Shen Ying waved. "What is this?!" Lonemoon studied the towering beast behind Shen Ying. Surely the roar they had heard earlier didn't come from this beast…? "Why are you dragging this thing around?"
"It's meat," she replied matter-of-factly. Turning to Yi Qing, she said, "You haven't eaten lunch, have you? Go ahead, Chef, pick the choicest part of this beast."
The corner of Lonemoon's mouth twitched. You're the only one who wants to eat meat! You're a foodie indeed—all you can think about is food.
"Master… this beast can't be eaten," Yi Qing painfully replied.
"Why not?" she asked. If she had known this earlier, she wouldn't have wasted so much effort in dragging this beast along.
Lonemoon rolled his eyes and replied, "This beast is clearly toxic. It has poison all over its body. If you want to die, you can help yourself!" He stepped forward to take a closer look at the beast before he continued, "But…" With a wave of his hand, Lonemoon summoned forth a blade of wind. He sliced through the beast's head and broke open its huge mouth. A green light flashed from inside the beast and an emerald-coloured pearl floated out of it.
Lonemoon immediately cast a Dharma spell. The pearl seemed to vibrate in the same spot for a while before it finally floated into Lonemoon's palm.
"This internal core is valuable. The internal core of a twelfth- stage beast acts as an antidote for hundreds of poisons." He wielded his fire-element sorcery. In seconds, flames engulfed the huge beast. "Oh yes, where did you find this beast?"
Based on his experience, twelfth-stage beasts were experts at manifestation. They would never reveal their true form without purpose.
"Right over there," Shen Ying pointed behind her. "Why do you ask?"
"Master," Yi Qing began to explain. "Usually, where there are high-level beasts, there will be treasures. Now that this beast is dead, its treasures will be unguarded. They're free for our taking."
"Oh…" She understood now. She had killed the beast but she had not looted its possessions.
"Think carefully. Was there anything else where you found this toxic beast?" Lonemoon asked as he stretched his hand forward to show Shen Ying the beast's internal core.
Shen Ying considered this quietly. Suddenly, she tore her clothes and bent over to pick up something from around her legs. "What are you taking your leg pendant off for?"
"Ji~" The radish was delighted to have been let loose from Shen Ying's leg. It waved its leaves at its audience as a greeting.
The two of them stared at the radish in amazement. Together, they exclaimed: "A Vegetation Spirit!"
"A Vegetation Spirit!"