“Yan’er, what exactly have you been hiding from me?” Li Mo’s gaze turned sharper as he glanced at Li Mo, as though he would be able to glean the truth from her face. He wasn’t someone who particularly enjoyed prying into someone else’s affairs, but what had happened to Yun Ruoyan was so serious that he had to be prepared.
That demonic ring had clearly vanished, so why was it that remnants of its demonic aura were still on Yun Ruoyan’s body? Why had it protected Yun Ruoyan at a crucial juncture? Combined with Yun Ruoyan’s unnatural behavior at the demonic dragon grotto… could it be that Yun Ruoyan was somehow related to the demonic dragon clan?
Was she the last descendant of the demonic dragons?
After a long moment’s silence, Yun Ruoyan finally began, “Li Mo, when we were in the capital, you asked if I had any secrets.”
Li Mo looked at Yun Ruoyan, willing her to continue.
After a momentary pause, Yun Ruoyan said, “I didn’t answer your question then, but I do have secrets—more than one. Just as you’ve said, however, these are secrets that I can’t reveal to anyone, not even my closest confidantes, at least not now.”
Li Mo’s ink-black eyes looked at Yun Ruoyan. She looked back calmly, without any hint of evasiveness.
“Yan’er, I thought that after having been with you for so long, you would be able to trust me fully…”
“Of course I can trust you.” Yun Ruoyan caught Li Mo’s hand. “But Li Mo, before I fully unravel this mystery, please let me keep my secrets, alright?”
“I never want to see you hurt, Yan’er.”
Zhuo Yifeng had returned in the midst of their conversation, naturally elated to see Yun Ruoyan awake once more. However, seeing how close Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo were standing to each other, he stood vigilantly at a distance without interrupting them.
“Zhuo Yifeng, what did you discover?” Yun Ruoyan had seen Zhuo Yifeng. In an attempt to finish this conversation with Li Mo, she began to greet him before Li Mo could say anything.
Zhuo Yifeng was also somewhat confused and concerned about what had happened to Yun Ruoyan, but he didn’t intend on asking about the specifics of the matter.
“When did you wake up?”
“I just did.” Again, Yun Ruoyan asked, “So, what did you find?”
Zhuo Yifeng’s face turned severe. “This time, not only did the beast stampede grow noticeably larger in size, there were even such mid-rank beasts mixed in with the low-rank ones.”
The closer they went to their destination, the nearer the date of the heavenly spirit fruit’s ripening, the more the high-rank beasts sent the other beasts fleeing.
The second day, Mo’er returned and reported to Li Mo that it had seen three high-rank beasts, one of which it wasn’t sure it would be able to defeat on its own. Because Mo’er hadn’t gotten all the way to the heavenly spirit tree, Li Mo believed that there were very likely more than three high-rank beasts in the vicinity.
Yun Ruoyan wanted to keep hurrying forward, but the awakening of the demonic dragon spirit had so weakened her that they had to stay for another day and night before she felt quite ready to walk.
After her day-long cultivation, Yun Ruoyan had finally recovered most of her spiritual energy. Li Mo had wanted to let her rest for another day, but Yun Ruoyan was urgently seeking the heavenly spirit fruit in order to break through to eighth rank. When she had suggested leaving immediately, Li Mo didn’t stop her. However, because of the inherent danger involved in seizing the fruit, he had commanded Zhuo Yifeng and Guan Ruliu to remain only by the vicinity.
Then, Li Mo flew Yun Ruoyan through the forest in the direction of the heavenly spirit tree. By evening, they had finally reached a deep valley, one that seemed to stretch on endlessly into the depths.
“Past that stretch of forest is the heavenly spirit tree,” Li Mo announced, pointing at the opposite side of the valley. Although the valley was deep, it wasn’t very wide across; even as a seventh-rank blademaster, Yun Ruoyan would be able to leap over it, if only barely.
Just then, a beast’s roar rang out. It came from a great distance away, and yet Yun Ruoyan felt it as clearly as if the beast had been right next to her. The earth began to tremble, and both Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo witnessed a large pack of beasts desperately running out of the forest.
“How impressive!” Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help murmuring.
“Don’t worry, I’m here.” Li Mo wrapped Yun Ruoyan up in his robes before continuing onward. Mo’er hid in Li Mo’s broad hood, following him and Yun Ruoyan toward the heavenly spirit tree. Although it was already dark, they didn’t intend on resting. Based on Li Mo’s calculations, the heavenly spirit fruit would mature in no more than three days, and they had to rush to the heavenly spirit tree within that timeframe.
Just as Mo’er had described, Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo saw quite a few high-rank magical beasts along the way. Li Mo had told her that the high-rank beasts of the gigantic forest were incomparable to those from the Chenyuan continent: not only were they far more massive in size, their attack power was often double or treble that of their Chenyuan counterparts. Even more frighteningly, some high-rank magical beasts also knew how to use ranged spiritual techniques.
At midnight, Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan finally arrived at the grove in which the heavenly spirit tree was located. As soon as they approached the grove, Yun Ruoyan could feel three particularly dangerous auras. As Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan ascended up a nearby tree, she could suddenly feel one of those three auras heading in her direction.
Yun Ruoyan looked toward Li Mo, who made a shushing gesture at her. Both of them retracted their auras and hid…
Thump. Thump. Thump.
They could feel the ground trembling as a massive creature approached them, one with long, blue-green fur all over its body.
“What sort of creature is that?” Yun Ruoyan asked, as quietly as she could.
“A slumberbeast,” Li Mo replied. 
A slumberbeast, a creature that particularly enjoyed to sleep, especially in damp, moist ground. The creature’s blue-green fur grew over its long periods of hibernation. Its unique skill was a long-ranged spiritual howl, exactly the howl that Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo had heard from a distance.
“To have awoken even a slumberbeast… it seems like there are more beasts hankering for this fruit than I expected,” Li Mo replied, equally quietly.
“Shh, it’s coming.” Yun Ruoyan saw the slumberbeast shaking its gigantic body as it lumbered to their tree, then began to relieve an itch by rubbing its body against the bark of the tree. The tree shook so much that Yun Ruoyan felt as though someone were using a jackhammer right by her side, but neither of them dared to move. If they startled the slumberbeast, it might howl at them. While Li Mo would be able to bear with it, Yun Ruoyan would fare far worse.
Luckily, the slumberbeast didn’t discover the two interlopers. After it scratched its itch, it lay down right by the giant tree and began to sleep, snoring loudly after only a few moments.
“Yan’er, stay here and rest. I’ll head further inward to have a look.”
“No, there’s no need.” Yun Ruoyan hurriedly grabbed onto Li Mo. “I’ll go with you.”
Li Mo brought Yun Ruoyan deeper into the grove. After about ten minutes, Li Mo once again ascended a tree with Yun Ruoyan in tow. “Yan’er, look—that’s the heavenly spirit tree!” Li Mo pointed at a curious tree not far below them.
As Yun Ruoyan looked downwards, she finally saw the tree she had heard so much about. It was a tree that constantly changed colors, far more unique than what she had expected. One moment, it would be a bright jade green; another, it would turn a flaming scarlet. As she continued looking at it, it then turned a pure white, as though it were carved out of ice itself.
Just as she thought there were no further variations which would surprise her, it turned a mud-yellow, as though it were made of clay.
On the Chenyuan continent, it would certainly be considered a gigantic tree. In comparison to the trees around it, though, it was far shorter. At this very moment, there were three high-rank beasts surrounding and patrolling the short, phantasmagorical tree. The high-rank beasts stared so fervently at the tree that it seemed as though even a mosquito wouldn’t be able to escape their grasp.
“Li Mo, why does this tree’s appearance keep changing?”
Li Mo didn’t answer Yun Ruoyan’s question; instead, he focused intently on the patrolling beasts.
When she realized that Li Mo wasn’t about to reply to her question, Yun Ruoyan curiously followed his gaze to the three beasts. Even after observing for quite some time, however, she couldn’t detect anything unusual.
“Let’s go.” After another moment’s observation, Li Mo tugged on Yun Ruoyan’s hand. Then, he brought her to a tree slightly farther away.
As soon as they landed, Yun Ruoyan asked her question again. According to Li Mo, the heavenly spirit tree could bear at most two heavenly spirit fruits, each being fire-, wind-, ice-, and earth-attuned. As a result, any cultivator would be able to get a boost upon consuming the fruit, which was partly why it had attracted so many beasts.
“These three high-rank beasts each seem like a very strong entity. Li Mo, how likely are you to be able to snatch a fruit away from under their noses?”
“While inspecting those three magical beasts, I noticed a rather interesting situation,” Li Mo replied.
“Of those three beasts, two are allied against the third.”
“That’s normal, isn’t it? If they all want the fruits, then it makes sense that they’ll be competing against each other. I didn’t notice that two of them were allied, however.”
“If I’m not wrong, that slumberbeast just now is likely allied with the third beast,” Li Mo continued. “There are only two spirit tree fruits, so the four high-rank beasts would have teamed up in pairs. Once the fruits reach maturity, they’re sure to have a big fight over the fruits. At that time, we’ll have the opportunity to swoop in and steal them from under their noses—and if we try to pit them against each other, we’ll have a larger chance of success!”
“How?” Yun Ruoyan’s eyes brightened as she turned to Li Mo.
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