Chapter 1021: Guest at the Pasture

After the death of this beetle, Qianye sensed countless little specks shrinking back into the rocky crevices. He gave it some thought before deciding to give up on catching them. These poisonous beetles were too dangerous—he wouldn’t know how to handle them while alive, and their value would shrink once dead.

Qianye turned toward the other two and said, “Beware of the insects inside the rock crevices, they’re extremely poisonous.”

Both Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan nodded. Something Qianye considered extremely poisonous had to be a rare venom.

Equipped with prior experience, Qianye became quite cautious whenever he passed by rocky crevices. As expected, he encountered numerous different insects, spiders, scorpions, and the like, all of them just as venomous as the first beetle. But now that he was guarded, the creatures had no chance to injure him.

Toward the end, Qianye would simply sweep the stone crevices with his sanguine flames. Even if the bugs weren’t killed by the blaze, they would go into hiding after sensing the dark golden blood energy.

This bare cliff was devoid of plants and beasts; no one knew how these insects survived here.

What lay above them after scaling the dangerous area was a snowy line. Some parts of the summit were covered in snow, but it was still rocky ground in most places.

Just like in the Empire, there was rarely any life after passing the snowy line. The wind in this place was exceptionally strong and contained wisps of origin power. Traveling against such a wind was akin to being attacked by an enemy who possessed origin power cultivation. Even Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan felt somewhat strained while moving through this mountain gale, let alone an ordinary expert.

Qianye memorized the places where the insects had appeared before climbing upward against the wind.

Moments later, the three finally reached the summit and put their foot on the Ashen Mountain Range.

They continued their journey without resting. The descent was so much easier, and the trio had run out of the snowy line before long. They slid down the cliffs, ran over the hillocks, and traversed two more mountains to finally arrive in a hidden valley.

This valley was surrounded by mountains on all sides, and the only way in and out was a somewhat gentle slope. The valley was fairly well-hidden as the surrounding cliffs were both steep and dangerous.

The poisonous area Qianye had just passed through was like a forbidden area to ordinary experts. Those venomous insects were just one of the many dangers along the way.

One would need to pass through several dangerous areas to enter the valley via its normal route. And because of the geography, the path didn’t stretch directly inside—one could easily lose their way along the winding path and enter dangerous regions. Who knew how many lives it took the Song clan to find the Heavenschild Pasture.

The valley was far from the operation areas of the Empire and Evernight. The Song clan had kept its location a top-secret throughout the years, preventing it from leaking out. Usually, a certain family member would ship out a batch of goods from the pasture every decade or so, and this harvest was enough to make the Song clan the richest in the Empire.

Standing before the valley, Li Kuanglan was just as calm and cold. Qianye didn’t have a good grasp of riches, either, so only Ji Tianqing was glowing from the eyes. “Let’s go, hurry! The Song clan has stashed up so many years of riches. There has to be a lot of good stuff inside, take everything once we go in. There’s no need to hold back on my account.”

Qianye laughed wryly, not knowing how to respond.

Song Zining had likely intended for Qianye to collect the gains from the Heavenschild Pasture and hand it to him after leaving the place. Naturally, he could also leave whatever treasure he fancied for his own use. That was the proper way.

Yet, it would seem even Song Zining hadn’t expected that Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan would follow Qianye to the pasture. Moreover, Ji Tianqing possessed her own spatial gear. The situation was like inviting a wolf into the house.

Under Ji Tianqing’s urging, Qianye could only brace himself to walk toward the valley, thinking along the way whether he should tell Song Zining the truth. The seventh young noble was experienced and knowledgeable, probably not someone who couldn’t accept setbacks. Despite that, the potential blow from the Heavenschild Pasture was simply too great and would be quite difficult to digest.

After passing over a gentle slope and circling around a cliff, the area in front of them opened up to reveal an endless verdant landscape.

The valley was unexpectedly large, but those from the outside world simply couldn’t see this immortal garden hidden amidst the mountains. There were lush forests around the foothills, bearing leaves that were either green, yellow, or large patches of red—it was like a painting. A small stream stretched out from the mountains and through the trees to flow into the pond in the depths of the valley.

There was a large meadow at the center of the valley, fenced up into different plots. Each plot was home to different plants or even trees of varying heights. Some of the trees were laden with fruits, while others were covered in a sea of flowers. The scenery was unique for each lot of land.

Except for the fences, there were few traces of human activity. However, there was a small wooden hut not far from the valley entrance with a field each in front of the house and behind. Clearly, there was someone living here.

Secretly surprised, Qianye exchanged glances with the girls. The last shipment from the Heavenschild Pasture was ten years ago, which meant that the person living here had been in the Great Maelstrom for over ten years. Having seen an example in Nangong Tianyu, Qianye and the others couldn’t quite guess whether this was a friend or a foe.

Just as they were hesitating, the door to the wooden hut opened and out walked an old man with white hair. With a hoe in one hand and a basket in the other, he began walking toward the plantation in front of his house. He put down his equipment after reaching the field and waved toward the group. “Young people, why not come over and say hello since you’re already here?”

A surprised Qianye glanced to his left and right, only to find that the two girls were also shocked. He immediately knew that this old man wasn’t simple.

The three had long since activated their concealment powers. Qianye had even circulated his Bloodline Concealment, and Ji Tianqing’s aura-transforming secret art wasn’t inferior at all. Only Li Kuanglan was the weaker among them, but she was much better than an ordinary expert in terms of hiding. The three of them hadn’t really hidden themselves, but concealing their auras was much more important at this distance. After careful thought, being found out under such circumstances went to show just how frightening this old man was.

There was no backing off at this point. Qianye exchanged glances with the two ladies and simply walked into the pasture.

The old man went about his own business, plucking weeds until Qianye’s group was outside the gates. He stood up at that point and said while pounding his back, “I’m old and inflexible. Come in on your own and take a seat at the table.”

There was an ancient tree in the courtyard with lush foliage and a few young fruits. A stone table sat beneath the tree, surrounded by four stools. One would find, on careful observation, that there was a chessboard carved into the table. Apparently, having tea over a game of chess was a refined activity here.

Qianye sat down confidently on the stone stool. Li Kuanglan hesitated briefly but also followed suit. Whether it was intentional or just a coincidence, there was some obstructing object in every direction from the stone table—be it a shrub or a row of medicine, be it near or far. As someone who excelled in high-speed charge attacks, the layout made her greatly uncomfortable. This kind of constrained environment was most suited for people like Ji Tianqing who could operate naturally in small areas.

Qianye wasn’t really at ease, either. The courtyard and the medicine orchard were both arranged beautifully, but the picturesque disorder almost seemed deliberate.

An expert like Qianye would instinctively size up unfamiliar surroundings and pay attention to paths of retreat. He scanned the surroundings and found that he wouldn’t be able to perform Spatial Flash without crashing into something.

The medicine garden had the least obstructions as there were only a few unknown plants growing in it. But everything in the Great Maelstrom could be a peerless treasure. If Qianye were to trample a couple of plants, he might be full of regret.

Despite all that, he still sat down calmly. If he couldn’t use Spatial Flash inside the courtyard, he just needed to get outside. And with a high-damage move like Excavator, he would have the advantage in a melee battle.

Ji Tianqing didn’t feel the same. She looked on the table, went around the stool, and sat down only after she had checked underneath it. Even then, she merely sat on the edge and was ready to escape anytime.

The old man couldn’t help but chuckle. “What a naughty little girl! Didn’t your grandpa teach you well?”

Ji Tianqing was startled. “Y-You recognize…”

The old man said with a smile, “The Pointer Monarch is famous throughout the Empire, how could I not recognize his descendant?”

“But I changed my appearance…”

“I wouldn’t be able to tell for sure if you hadn’t used that secret art.”

Ji Tianqing immediately regained her composure. “You… what is your relationship with grandpa?”

The old man laughed. “What? Are you afraid I’ll report to him? Fine, I won’t bully you kids. Let me tell you, I always called him by name because I don’t like him. It’s not like I can really defeat him in battle. That bastard is a rare genius, how many throughout history can be his match? I’m a cripple who can’t even reach the apex, I wouldn’t dare to compare myself to him.”

Ji Tianqing wasn’t happy to hear someone badmouth the Pointer Monarch. “Grandpa spent his life fighting for the Empire, making contributions both public and secret. What’s wrong with him?”

The old man broke into a laugh. “Those are old stories, you kids won’t understand.”

Ji Tianqing pouted. “Who’s a kid? Who cares if you don’t want to tell me!”

The old man sized her up from head to toe. “Oh, I see. Indeed, you’re not a child anymore.” He then turned to glance at Qianye until the latter felt weirdly uncomfortable. 

To Qianye, it had been quite a while since Ji Tianqing had grown out of childhood. In battle, the girl had always been decisive and ruthless at critical junctures. She would definitely be a difficult opponent once she became a divine champion.

It was true that she looked cute on the outside, but how could such a fierce character be a child?

The old man narrowed his eyes when he saw Qianye’s puzzlement, but he didn’t continue. He merely sized up the three while twirling his beard.

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-Legion-'s Thoughts

TL: Legion   ED: Moxie


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