Chapter 48: Traces of the Ghost Sect

Having searched in the glacier area for ten days, yet failing locate the Frost Python, An Ying finally started to grow anxious.

Apparently, the thirteen of them searching for the Frost Python together wasn’t the smartest choice.

They had already killed almost of all the first grade spirit beasts in the glacier area. In the recent days, it had already become very difficult for them to encounter any low grade spirit beasts at all.

In order to improve their efficiency, An Ying made a bold decision: they would split up and search.

Like her, Pan Tao and Zheng Rui were from the Spiritual Treasure sect, and thus all had flare sticks in their hands.

If they released a signal, anyone within a five kilometer radius would be able to see it.

Therefore, after discussing the matter with Zheng Rui and Pan Tao, An Ying decided that each of them would led a team to conduct an inch-by-inch search for the Frost Python within a five kilometers radius.

Zheng Rui, the weakest of the three, picked four team members, while Pan Tao and An Ying chose three each.

Nie Tian, Jiang Miao, and a teenager named Guo Qi were in Pan Tao’s team.

With Pan Tao in the lead, they picked a direction and parted ways with An Ying’s and Zheng Rui’s teams.

As usual, Nie Tian still carried a mountain of spirit beast meat on his back, and ate like a mad person every day while following Pan Tao.

Whenever there was time to rest, he’d immediately start using the Qi Refining Incantation to expand his spiritual sea.

In a period of about ten days, he had made a huge leap in his cultivation, from the sixth level of Qi Refining into the seventh. This had enabled him to enjoy the sweet taste of success.

To advance from the seventh level to the eighth level, he would need to again double the size of his current spiritual sea.

He had set a goal for himself, to enter the eighth level of Qi Refining within two months, with the help of spirit beast meat help.

By now, he had completely lost interest in searching for the Frost Python; all he cared about was his daily cultivation.

Pan Tao led them in thorough searches of each and every glacier and ice cave they saw. Finally he glanced at a time measuring device, a disheartened expression on his face. “It’s been a day and a half,” he said. “We should be about 3.5 kilometers away from An Ying’s team now. I can’t believe we haven’t come across a single low grade spirit beast.”

“Brother Tao,” said Guo Qi, “perhaps there simply aren’t any spirit beasts left in this region.”

“I wonder how things are going with sister An Ying and brother Zheng Rui,” Jiang Miao said softly.

At this moment, the four of them sat at the foot of a small glacier. Failing to make any progress, they all seemed discouraged.

“I bet they haven’t come any closer to finding the hidden Frost Python than we have,” Pan Tao said. Sighing, he shook his head. “We’ve wasted way too much time in the glacier area. The Cloudsoaring sect and the Mystic Mist sect might have already killed the other two second grade spirit beasts already.”

“Brother Tao,” Guo Qi said, “Yuan Feng from the Grayvale sect entered the glacier area before us. We have already wandered around for more than ten days, but we haven’t run into any one of them. Isn’t it a bit strange?”

“What’s there to worry about?” Pan Tao shook his head. “The glacier area is actually a vast area. If Yuan Feng and his group have been searching for the Frost Python together just like we did, the odds of us running into them should be very small. Unless... they also split up and search in different regions. That’s the only way we might even have a chance of running into each other.”

Guo Qi pondered for a while, and then nodded. “Good point.”

“Nie Tian, do you have any good ideas?”  Pan Tao suddenly inquired.

Nie Tian, who had been eating meat silently beside Pan Tao, raised his head, mouth stained with grease. “If you can’t find it, how could I?” he answered in a lazy and unconcerned manner.

Ever since he realized that the spirit beast meat could greatly boost his cultivation, he had completely lost interest in searching for the Frost Python.

Pan Tao and the other two had all noticed Nie Tian’s lackadaisical attitude.

Among the three of them, Jiang Miao had been saved by Nie Tian, and Pan Tao knew Nie Tian had special talent, and thus they didn’t say anything.

Only Guo Qi had expressed his dissatisfaction towards Nie Tian multiple times, demanding that Pan Tao talk to Nie Tian, so that Nie Tian would not idle along like that, only caring about eating.

However, Pan Tao did nothing other than smile and ignore the requests.

Pan Tao pointed in a direction. “You two, search over there, and I’ll have a word with Nie Tian.”

Guo Qi’s eyes shone, thinking that Pan Tao must want to reprimand Nie Tian in private. He chuckled sinisterly, and pulled Jiang Miao away.

After they had left, Pan Tao came to Nie Tian’s side, forced out a smile and said, “Nie Tian, come on and help me.”

Nie Tian was stunned.

“Sure, I’m from the Spiritual Treasure sect, but my days in the sect aren’t as pleasant as you would think.” Pan Tao put on a sour face. “In the sect, people like me and Zheng Rui are actually not well received. No matter how hard we work, people will always say that we are who we are because of our parents or grandparents.

“Those old ones in the sect all admire people like An Ying, who made their way up from the subordinate clans, and were finally admitted into the sect.

“Truth be told, I’ve always been looked down upon and never been taken seriously.”

It took a moment for Nie Tian to respond, “Everyone has their own difficulties. You don’t want people to talk about you like that. But do you understand how hard it is for me to get admitted to places like the Cloudsoaring sect and the Spiritual Treasure sect?”

“Yeah, I know.” Pan Tao nodded his head. “But your hard work and efforts will be acknowledged. But me? No matter how hard I work, my achievements will be only deemed as the result of the help that I’ve received from my parents and grandparents, rather than of my own efforts.

“This Green Illusion dimension’s trial is very important to me. I must make some accomplishment, so that they will have a whole new level of respect for me!”

“Alright,” Nie Tian said with a shrug. “How do you want me to help you?”

Pan Tao suddenly seemed thrilled. “You were able to locate the Lurker Lizard even when it was under the ground, so can’t you do the same thing again?!

“From my point of view, the Frost Python must be hiding in a secret place that we are unable to see, just like the Lurker Lizard was.

“I don’t think that we can find it by solely relying on our eyes.  I hope that you can apply the method you’ve used to locate the Lurker Lizard to search for that Frost Python.”

Nie Tian smile bitterly, but after a moment of hesitation, he said, “The glacier area is such a vast area. If we can’t roughly locate it, it’s going to be very hard for me to find it. Alright, since it’s you, I’ll give it a shot.  But if it doesn’t work, you can’t blame me for it.”

“Of course! Of course!” Pan Tao said in a hurry.

Soon after, Nie Tian calmed himself, adjusted his breathing, and started to unleash his psychic awareness.

With him as the center, strands of his psychic awareness extended out in every direction.

Those strands of psychic awareness were like invisible tentacles, traveling further and further away from him, covering a radius of forty meters.

Moments later, he opened his eyes, tired, and shook his head towards Pan Tao, saying, “It’s not here.”

“Let’s change for another location then!” said Pan Tao.

“Let me... have a rest first.” Nie Tian put on a wry smile.

“Okay! I’ll wait for you!” Pan Tao completely listened to him.

In the following period of time, Nie Tian worked very hard with Pan Tao and the other two, probing the surrounding regions with his psychic awareness.

Every time he consumed his psychic awareness, he would feel incomparably exhausted, but after a deep sleep, he would be able to recover shortly.

Gradually, he discovered a pattern in that every time he drained his spiritual awareness, and recovered, his psychic awareness would be slightly enhanced.

At the very beginning, his sensing range could merely reach forty meters.

Later on, as his psychic awareness gradually strengthened, the range he could sense had already expanded to over fifty meters.

He was extremely reluctant to help Pan Tao locate the Frost Python at first, but after such discovery, he found the job worth doing.

He started to deem the bitter job of helping Pan Tao locate the Frost Python as a part of his cultivation: the cultivation of psychic power.

Guo Qi and Jiang Miao knew nothing about the agreement between Nie Tian and Pan Tao. Every time they arrived at a new location, Nie Tian would close his eyes and reopen them shortly after. Whenever Pan Tao saw Nie Tian shake his after reopening his eyes, they would immediately give up that region and move onto a new one.

Both Guo Qi and Jiang Miao felt rather confused, not knowing what those two had been doing. They asked Pan Tao about it, yet he told them nothing other than that they had been thinking too much.

Soon, it came to the point that even Nie Tian and Pao Tao had gradually lost their faith and became increasingly less confident in finding the Frost Python.

One day, Nie Tian was once again probing around with his psychic awareness...

An extremely weak fluctuation of life suddenly reflected into his soul. He suddenly opened his eyes.

Pan Tao, who had been losing his confidence, had absolutely no anticipation when he looked at Nie Tian once again, but unlike the hundreds of times before this, Nie Tian didn’t shake his head this time.

He asked, voice trembling, “What? Have you discovered something?!”

“It’s not the Frost Python. It’s something else.” Nie Tian rose to his feet and pointed in one direction. “It’s most likely... humans.”

Apparently, Pan Tao seemed somewhat disappointed, but he still led the four of them and rushed to the position based on Nie Tian’s guidance.

A strong smell of blood came from behind a grove of ice trees. When they passed through the ice trees, they caught sight of the bodies of two youngsters from the Grayvale sect, both of them lying in pools of blood.

One of them had a short sword stuck in his neck and appeared to have died long ago.

The other had countless interweaving cuts on his torso, which still oozed with fresh blood.

Furthermore, frothy blood spilled continuously out of his mouth. Clearly he had been bleeding excessively for some time, and was on the verge of dying.

Upon Pan Tao’s arrival, the young man’s glazed and lifeless eyes lit up for a second, before they completely lost their glow.

“He’s dead.” Pan Tao’s face was grimmer than ever.

He approached the man, and looked down to examine him more closely. At first glance, he noticed that both of them had their thumbs chopped off.

Face aghast, Pan Tao suddenly lost his composure. Under the huge shock, his voice even became strange. “The Ghost sect! This is the Ghost sect’s doing! Dammit, how did the Ghost sect’s people get into the Green Illusion dimension?”

Nie Tian said with a puzzled expression, “What’s wrong?”

Pan Tao didn’t answer him. Instead, he carefully glanced around, and said in a cautiously low voice, “Go back the way we came, now!”

“Oh, okay." Nie Tian was starting to get nervous. Quietly and carefully, they followed Pan Tao back to the road where they came from.

Pan Tao’s face had been grim the entire time, as he hurried his way without saying a word.

After walking anxiously for a long time, he believed they were safe, and thus lit up the flare stick.

The flare stick shot up a flare into the sky, which turned into a straight line of pitch-black smoke that retained its form for a very long time.

Half a day later, An Ying and Zheng Rui rushed towards him excitedly.

“Pan Tao! You’ve found the Frost Python?” An Ying couldn’t conceal her joy, and shouted out to him from afar.

When they got closer, Pan Tao shook his head, face ghastly. “We didn’t find the Frost Python, but we found traces of the Ghost sect!”

“Impossible!” Zheng Rui blurted. “That’s totally impossible!!”

An Ying’s face also turned pale. “Pan Tao! Are you kidding?! This is the Green Illusion dimension, a secret, private dimension that belongs to the Spiritual Treasure sect! Plus, we’re in a trial. How could people from the Ghost sect possibly enter?”

“I’m dead serious!” Pan Tao barked back.

Upon hearing his words, both Zheng Rui and An Ying’s faces filled with terror.

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