Chapter 16: The Mysterious Valley
Looking at all the flowers in front of him, Xu Min felt his head slightly ache as he realized that he had no idea what these flowers would do to him if were he to eat them.
He knew that some herbs, like the ones the Zhong Family were harvesting, were for healing injuries. The Zhong family also cultivated medicinal herbs that increased the Qi of a warrior. They even allowed the cultivator to become better at absorbing the essence of the heavens and the earth.
Unfortunately, Xu Min knew that most medicinal herbs needed to be refined and mixed with other herbs to produce pills. These medicinal pills were far more potent when it came to both healing and improving cultivation. Although these medicinal plants worked great when combined, they worked terribly when they were eaten alone. Some of them were even poisonous.
This was common knowledge amongst the many servants of the Zhong Family. Xu Min, like most servants, had never even seen a medicinal pill before.
However, what he had seen were the medicinal herbs that were grown by the Zhong Family. These herbs allowed for one to be healed. He remembered one herb perfectly well as Xu Wu had gifted him one on her final night.
Looking at the herbs in front of him, he instantly recognized which one was meant for healing injuries. He sighed deeply as he regretted picking up random flowers instead of just taking one type, the one type he knew well.
His regret did not last long. As he stayed within the treetops, the night was descending. Even though it was the middle of the night once again, no sound was heard. No humans were setting up bonfires and the woods were completely desolate.
As Xu Min’s curiosity could not be held back, he decided to go sneaking around the mysterious valley at night. He was excited to find what the valley held for him. If there weren’t any beasts or humans were around, he could perhaps even manage to grab a few more herbs.
Xu Min made it to the valley without any problems as he did not encounter any beasts or humans. As he closed in on the valley, his eyes threatened to pop out of his skull from the majestic scenery that laid before him.
Strangely enough, all the medicinal herbs were gently swaying without a breeze. A humming sound was rising from the hordes of shining leaves and petals. In addition, a silvery light rose from the core of the flowers only to gradually fly towards the back of the field filled with flowers.
The fog that enveloped the entire field during the day had now been replaced by the impenetrable endlessness of the silvery light.
Hearing the flowers humming, Xu Min instantly discarded the idea of picking up more flowers. Since he was truly astonished, he stayed to watch the beautiful display of the flowers.
Xu Min felt as though the density of essences of heaven and earth around him was increasing. Once again, the golden specks of light had appeared. They entered his body through various veins and pores and exited through exhalation.
Seeing that he was once more refining Qi without having to enter a trance-like meditation, Xu Min could easily tell that there was something special about this valley. Just because it did not seem to pose any threat towards the young man, he refused to allow his guard to be lowered. One could never know for certain.
Deciding to find out what was going on in this odd valley, Xu Min remained vigilant all night. He waited for the sun to rise so he could enter the valley again and see what was inside.
Looking around, he did not waste his time. Since it was possible for him to cultivate while still being awake, Xu Min spent his time doing as much as possible while observing his surroundings.
Eventually, he came to the conclusion that the unknown entity that sucked in high amounts of silvery light from the flowers was at the end of the valley. He decided against walking on the ground. Instead, he chose to travel through the treetops until he reached the area where the silvery mist moved to.
As soon as the first rays of sunshine broke through the sky, Xu Min was astonished to see how the plants stopped swaying and humming. Instead, they stood up as the moving silvery mist fell down and shrouded all the plants in the fog-like mist that had previously confused the young man. It seemed that the mist and the fog were one in the same. They were actually the essences from the heavens and the earth!
Discovering this, Xu Min was even more curious to see what creature was behind these flowers. He also wonder what ability it had to command so many flowers to give up the essence they had meticulously gathered throughout the day.
Getting ready to explore, Xu Min moved to the outskirts of the valley through one treetop after another. The valley was much larger than what he had expected; however, he did not have to travel far before he saw what was sucking in the essence. He felt astonished just by looking at it.
In front of him was a large tree, a tree that was even more ancient than the ones Xu Min had used previously to hide behind. However, this tree was so large that its aura was not in any way inferior to the aura he had felt from his teacher Wang Li.
Looking at the tree, Xu Min was dumbstruck at first. After thinking the situation through, he slowly understood what was going on.
Every living creature in the world, even the plants, absorbed essence from the heavens and the earth. The more essence one absorbed, the higher cultivation one had.
This was common knowledge for anyone; however, it was very rare that plants managed to cultivate to the point where they had a consciousness. And even if they did, they would not be able to transform into humans just by having a consciousness.
It was much akin to how demon beasts became much more intelligent the higher rank they achieved. What Xu Min could not understand was why this tree was so obsessed with cultivating. To release the same kind of aura as his teacher Wang Li, it was obvious that this tree had reached the Nine-Star Warrior rank, the final destination for cultivators.
Although Xu Min did not understand why the tree was cultivating to such extents, he could not help but feel slight pity towards it. Even so, he had no intention of advancing. He had previously plucked some of the herbs that were in charge of giving the essence of the heavens and the earth to the tree. It was likely that this massive tree was not friendly towards him.
Having come to this conclusion, Xu Min frowned again as he started wondering why there were neither beasts nor humans near this place. Although the tree had a high cultivation base, it was impossible for it to move from the soil which it had been planted many eons ago.
Turning around, Xu Min was about to leave when he noticed that he was no longer alone. Behind him. there was a massive green snake and its eyes were shining as the purest gold. Its tongue slithered with a sly smile apparent on its face.
“Where do you think you are going?” it asked with a slithering voice. Xu Min’s heart trembled as he heard the human words coming out of the mouth of the snake. Only Advanced Stage beasts were capable of speech. Only at the very peak of the Advanced Stage beasts could they speak as fluently as this snake. Xu Min felt the danger and uncertainty of his current situation.
Although he truly wished to flee as quickly as possible, he knew that there was no way for him to outrun the snake. The only option he had was to allow the snake to twist its tail around his body and slowly make its way towards the giant tree.
Being next to the giant tree, Xu Min felt fear. He felt more fear than when he was next to the large snake. The snake had no reason to have enmity towards the young man as they had never met before. There was a chance that he would not stoop so low as to kill a weak One-Star Warrior. On the other hand, the tree had a good reason to dislike him, half a bag full of reasons to be precise.
Gritting his teeth, Xu Min cursed his own curiosity. Deep down, he was still fascinated by the large tree and its ability to accept the essence of the heavens and the earth from other flowers. Not to mention, he admired the iron will that was behind such a large tree that had allowed it to prevail this many years. In a way, Xu Min felt great respect but also great pity towards the tree.
Saying nothing, the young boy saw that the tree and the snake seemed to be communicating somehow. And while they were communicating, Xu Min was placed right in front of the large tree trunk. He looked up and saw that it was well over one hundred meters tall, the tallest tree he had ever seen. The trunk was a good twenty meters in diameter and the leaves were almost as long as Xu Min’s arms.
Although the young man knew he was in great danger, he was unable to hold back his urges. His hand caressed the large tree in front of him and his eyes filled with wonder. Being this close to the tree, it was easy to tell that he had not overestimated it earlier. The tree was without a doubt as strong as Wang Li when it came to raw power. Unfortunately, it was completely incapable of using all that strength which was just coiling up inside. Seeing this, sadness welled up within Xu Min. For the first time ever, he thanked the gods that he had been born a human. A human had a much easier path when it came to cultivation.
“Don’t touch her!” The snake hissed at Xu Min. However, he did not show any signs of attacking and neither did the tree. Suddenly, the snake disappeared with swift movements and into the tree’s top. He made its way up with a speed far above that the young boy had ever seen before. His eyes glistened. Although he would regret never getting revenge, he still would feel no remorse if he were to die. He was able to meet a speaking demon beast and a tree that had cultivated at unprecedented heights.
Looking up in the tree top, Xu Min saw that the snake was coming downwards at a speed as fast as before. The snake moved at a speed so swift that even he was unable to truly follow it. Looking at the snake, Xu Min closed his eyes. He expected that he was about to be eaten. Before he managed to do anything, he felt something landing on his shoulder. He first opened one eye and saw that nothing had happened yet. Then, he proceeded to open the other eye.
The world around him seemed the same as he had not been eaten by the large snake. In the corner of his eye, he noticed something moving. Something that caused a shiver to run down his spine.
On Xu Min’s shoulder, there was a one-meter-long snake curled up. Its eyes stared at Xu Min with curiosity and its tongue was constantly slithering in and out of its mouth.
“Uhm, excuse me?” Xu Min asked with a meek voice as his eyes were glued onto the snake. “I think you might have dropped something,” he continued.