Xue Wei heaved a heavy sigh of relief. He knew that his cultivation method was the strange kind that granted him the ability to transform his arms into dragon claws, but he was sure that Wang Xiaoyun would be able to understand it.
Wang Xiaoyun did understand, but her main relief came from the fact that what she saw was a human shape and not her significant other in a beastly form.
Whenever she looked at a Primordial Beast, even one who took on a human shape, she would see the original shape hovering in the air behind them.
It had not failed her since she had gained this ability, and thus she had the feeling that Xue Wei actually did not have a beastly original shape.
Wang Xiaoyun was fuming with anger, but she did everything in her power to hold it down. She understood that Xue Wei was trying his best for Hei Gou's sake, but she felt indignant. Could he not understand her hatred towards beasts as well?
Xue Wei understood her perfectly well, but he also knew that blaming every beast in existence for her loss was not the correct way of thinking.
However, Xue Wei was no saint. He would kill those that could cause problems for him, but he would never kill someone just because of their race.
In his mind, no one could be blamed for being born the way they were. This philosophy had rooted itself deeply in Xue Wei's mind.
One could kill for their own benefit, or to protect themselves and their dear ones.
But the last shred of morality in Xue Wei, the part that continued to hold down the bloodlust, told him not to just kill someone randomly because of their race.
If they did, what made them better than the thing Xue Wei feared that he would become one day?
The killing intent festering inside him was growing stronger by the day. Every time he saw carnage or killed someone, it would grow and threaten to swallow him up whole.
It was clear to him that giving in to this killing intent meant that he would become nothing but a murderous puppet that seeks to eliminate everything in sight without care for consequence or foe and enemy. He would become an entity worse than even the Primordial Beasts and humans that were relentlessly at odds since the beginning of history.
Xue Wei was in many ways ruthless. He has no hesitation when it comes to killing, but a part of him feared what he could become at the end of that road.
He could feel that there was something inside of him, something urging to break free, something volatile and out of control.
Xue Wei was in deep thought. What could he do to prevent Wang Xiaoyun from going down that same road?.
"You can release me now," Wang Xiaoyun said after a bit of time. "I won't run amok. They have already left."
Xue Wei instantly released her, and his scaled arms reverted into their human form, the azure scales slowly retracting into his arms as if they were hiding beneath the skin and ready to erupt at any given time.
Wang Xiaoyun's brows were furrowed, but she said nothing. Still, although she believed him, she had a bit of discomfort in her eyes – it seemed a lot like doubt.
"Well then, let’s continue to look for that Seven Star Nightflower," Xue Wei said while rubbing his nose with slight embarrassment. He had seen Wang Xiaoyun's uneasy gaze, but he could not do anything about it.
Hei Gou nodded his head. He was a lot quieter these days, not engaging in random conversation with Xue Wei. Rather, he withdrew slightly and observed Xue Wei and Wang Xiaoyun. He was clearly happy to see the two together again, but he was also feeling slightly lonely.
Seeing this, Xue Wei could quickly guess what Hei Gou was feeling, so he went to his side and started chatting him up. The group became lively again, and Hei Gou's narcissistic personality surfaced once more.
"I, Great Lord Hei Gou, knew that my brothers would not be able to deal with us!" he said with a grin. Xue Wei just shook his head in amusement. It was clear that they had been given other orders than to follow Hei Gou at the last minute, orders that made them retreat.
What had deterred the three brothers was not the strength of the three experts, but the message they had gotten before the fight actually broke out.
Still, Hei Gou was as full of himself as always; he sported his trademark smile, and his hair fluttered in the wind, which made him seem as if he was a god descending to the mundane world. He was indeed very handsome, but Wang Xiaoyun could not help but feel upset every time she looked at him.
He was a Primordial Beast. She blamed him for her family's death. It was because of him and his race that she had experienced such excruciating pain both emotionally and physically.
She had been disfigured; she had become a monster; and she could feel an uncontrollable madness creeping up on her from the shadows.
It scared her, but ironically this madness also made her feel stronger, which happened to coincide with her desire to acquire greater power for revenge. Even if Hei Gou was off-limits, she refused to believe that he would end up befriending every Primordial Beast and their mother out there.
Wang Xiaoyun was surprisingly silent. Her head hung down so that they could not see the expressions of viciousness, hatred, regret, and worry that alternated on her face.
Xue Wei was chatting with Hei Gou. Although he noticed that she was quiet, he took it as her giving him and Hei Gou some space.
They walked for a full day. In this time, Xue Wei had tried to diffuse any moments of awkward silence by engaging Wang Xiaoyun and Hei Gou in conversation at the same time, but it was much harder than he had expected, to his disappointment.
When night fell over Goat Mountain, shrouding the forest below it in darkness, the trio started looking for a nice location to set up camp for the night.
"Let us camp here for the day," Xue Wei smiled at his two companions, feeling a dreadful headache. They did not respond, sullenly looking away in each their direction. How was he to make these two lumps of ice interact with one another? It seemed harder than scaling the highest mountain in the world.
"Ahem, Xiaoyun, why don't you make the fire?" Xue Wei was quick to delegate tasks, if only to break the ice. "Gou, you go and catch some game for us. If I were to go with you, we’re going to starve forever," he said with a slightly amused voice.
Unfortunately, those words triggered Wang Xiaoyun’s anxiety, making her eyes flash fiercely for a second before she managed to suppress it. "I will make the fire," she said obediently. Xue Wei nodded before setting out to inspect the entire area.
He wanted to scout their surroundings a little, but he quickly decided against it after distancing himself from their camp for a few yards. Beasts never approached him willingly, so only humans could prove troublesome, but encounters with civilization were unlikely to happen out here in Goat Mountain, a place dominated by the Primordial Beasts.
So he went back and looked for the other two. He found Wang Xiaoyun in the middle of gathering wood, and approached her.
"Let me help you." Xue Wei smiled and started picking up random twigs and branches from the forest ground.
Neither spoke, but there was a small smile on Wang Xiaoyun's face, and her one eye was tranquil. It was clear that Xue Wei’s presence brought her peace.
"Oh look, what a pretty flower," Wang Xiaoyun said suddenly. Xue Wei lifted an eyebrow and walked over to see. His jaw dropped when he saw it, however...
"How lucky can we be?" he muttered to himself. Wang Xiaoyun heard it.
In front of them was a small flower that seemed to have thousands of tiny stars on the petals. The stem of the flower was milky white, almost translucent, and the single leaf was black as the night sky with no stars shining upon them.
"Don’t tell me...this is what we’re looking for?" Wang Xiaoyun asked with perplexion. Xue Wei nodded his head. "This is the Seven Star Nightflower," he said with certainty. He had heard the description Wan Qiang had given him, and it was spot on.
"Does that mean that our objective here in this weird place is completed?" Wang Xiaoyun asked curiously. It seemed that it had been a little too easy.
"Well, we have achieved what Wan Qiang wanted from us," he nodded his head, "but I am not ready to leave this formation just yet."
"This formation was set up by a supreme expert that only allows younger experts to enter. I have a faint suspicion that something amazing is hidden here. If there was nothing left of the senior’s inheritance or his treasures, then shouldn't the formation have vanished by now? There would be nothing to keep it active, but it is still active. So I think that there has to be something left behind."
"You are after the supreme expert's inheritance?" Wang Xiaoyun was shocked, but after considering Xue Wei's reasons for his assumption, she had to agree that it made sense.
"Still, after all these years, I wonder if it is possible for no one to have found the inheritance after all these years. I could imagine that this place is swamped with Fierce and Primordial Beasts."
"Keep in mind that beasts have innate abilities. They can use the treasure, true, but skills developed for humans are useless to them," he said, reminding her of the dichotomy between their races. Wang Xiaoyun's face lit up with a slight hint of excitement as she recalled this fact.
"Well, let’s set out tomorrow then," she said, almost impatiently. "What about this Seven Star Nightflower? Do we pick it now or after we find the inheritance?"
The question was rather vital. It was a question of whether or not the flower would be able to last the extra travel time, but Xue Wei was not worried.
He flipped his hand, and a small milky-white translucent jade box appeared in his hand. This was one of the most beautiful jades in the world, a snow jade, which had the remarkable ability to keep herbs and other things alive for many years.
Xue Wei gently dug out the herb from the root and up. Although he knew that it was a herbalist’s etiquette to leave behind the root so that the plant can regrow, he had been specifically instructed to bring the roots too. So he had no other option than to dig them out.
After dusting the soil off the plant, he carefully placed it into the snow jade box, and closed it. He could vaguely see the plant through the milky white jade, and it stayed as crisp and fresh as it had been when he dug it out.
Shortly after, Hei Gou returned with a few dead mortal beasts hanging over his shoulder while he held their legs. There was a deer and a few rabbits; apparently he had decided to hunt for quite a large quantity of food this time.
While Xue Wei had been digging up the plant, Wang Xiaoyun had started the fire, and Hei Gou set out to clean the deer and roast it. They had a little seasoning in their bags, as they were now used to living in the wilderness, but seasoning alone was insufficient to constitute a large, extravagant feast as one would crave once in a while.
Still, the food was many times more satisfying than the rations they had been eating up until now. Xue Wei, Hei Gou, and Wang Xiaoyun dug into the meat with a gluttonous appetite.
After finishing, Xue Wei smoked the rabbits so that they could enjoy them the following morning before setting out.
"So our new aim is to find the treasure left behind by the supreme expert who created this place?" Hei Gou heard about them having found the Seven Star Flower. He was somewhat surprised, but he was relieved as well. As for the inheritance? He wanted to see just what exactly a supreme expert would leave behind, if anything had survived the long passage of time that is.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
New art of a poster that will be sent to some of my patrons later this month. Felt like I should share the art with you guys too! The poster will be A2 sized, so it will look awesome! You can still make it in time to get your own copy of the poster, alongside the normal merchandise that will be sent out this month :)
Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking