"Martial Uncle Han? You're referring to..." Mu Peiling faltered upon hearing this and was beginning to stutter a little.
"That's right, I mentioned him to you once before, Junior Martial Sister Mu. Fellow Daoist Violet Spirit once ventured into this valley with Martial Uncle Han, which is how they were able to map out this safe route," Song Yu replied with a gentle smile.
"I met Fellow Daoist Violet Spirit once several decades ago. She really was an exquisite beauty; even a woman like me was entranced by her beauty. I heard that many prominent male cultivators have pursued her and many intense battles have taken place as they've attempted to compete over her. She's even being referred to by some as the most beautiful female cultivator in the Heavenly South Region. However, this woman is rather mysterious and Master seemed to have made her acquaintance very early on, so she's kind of like a close confidant of his. You're going to have to be careful, Sister Mu!" Liu Yu giggled in a teasing manner.
A faint blush appeared on Mu Peiling's face as she scoffed, "What do I have to be careful about?"
Song Yu adopted a serious expression as she asked, "Stop teasing Junior Martial Sister Mu, Junior Martial Sister Liu, let's get back to business. Are we going to venture into the inner valley or not?"
Mu Peiling and Liu Yu's smiles faded and they looked at one another to find their own hesitant expression mirrored in each other's eyes.
"Senior Martial Sister Song, is the map that this Violet Spirit gave you really a map of the route that Master once took? If that's the case, then we could certainly try it. After all, the Illusionary Spirit Herb is very important for both of our upcoming breakthroughs, and I really don't want to go back emptyhanded," Liu Yu said with furrowed brows.
Mu Peiling was rather hesitant, but she succumbed to the temptation in the end, and sighed, "If we're only searching for the herb close to the entrance of the inner valley, then I can come along as well."
Song Yu nodded before extending words of caution. "Alright, now that that's settled, it looks like we'll be taking a risk. Let me make this clear in advance, though; we'll only be searching the area within several hundred kilometers of the entrance, and if we still can't find the Illusionary Spirit Herb there, then we'll immediately exit the inner valley. No one is allowed to venture in any further. The pill is important, but not as important as our lives."
"Of course. If we were to venture deeper into the inner valley, even with a map at our disposal, it would still be akin to suicide for mere Core Formation cultivators like us. I heard that there are some ancient beasts within the inner valley that even Nascent Soul cultivators wouldn't dare to face in battle," Liu Yu said with a smile.
"Those ancient beasts normally lurk within the depths of the inner valley, so we should be fine if we stay near the entrance. Let's not waste any more time with words; we've already spent a lot of time here so we should make haste," Mu Peiling said in a decisive manner.
The other two women didn't want to delay any longer, either, and the three of them shot forth as streaks of light toward a certain direction.
Five days later, at the border of the inner valley, amid a world of ice and snow, three women appeared in the bone-chilling wind. Not far behind them was a massive ice crystal, and they were situated on the very same path that Han Li and Violet Spirit had taken with the other Ghost Spirit Sect disciples all those years ago.
The three women had already conjured up dense light barriers around their bodies, so they didn't have to fear these biting winds.
After discussing quietly among themselves for a while, the three women rose only several tens of feet above the ground before flying slowly toward the distance, not daring to speed up in the slightest.
This realm of ice and snow wasn't very large in area, so it only took the three of them less than half a day to fly out of this region, upon which an extremely lush mountain appeared before their eyes.
The three of them were ecstatic upon seeing this, and they split up to search for the herb again.
A day and a night later, the three women gathered once again on the mountain's summit. After looking at once another, wry smiles appeared on all of their faces.
"There are many spiritual medicines here on the mountain that can't be found in the outer valley, but there are no Illusionary Spirit Herbs here," Liu Yu said in a gloomy voice.
"Same story on my end. I didn't find the Illusionary Spirit Herb, but I gathered all of the ingredients required for another pill that I'm trying to make. At the very least, I won't be leaving this place completely empty-handed." Mu Peiling didn't know whether she should laugh or cry.
"It looks like we won't be finding the Illusionary Spirit Herb on this trip. Let's return to the sect," Song Yu heaved a dejected sigh.
"Let's do another thorough search. Perhaps we might've missed some places." Liu Yu was unwilling to give up.
Song Yu shook her head as she said in an implacable voice, "Let it go. Don't try to force the issue. The inner valley is too dangerous and even if we only stick to an area near the entrance, accidents could still happen if we stay here for too long. We're leaving right away."
A hint of reluctance appeared on Liu Yu's face and just as she was about to say something, a loud rumbling thunderclap suddenly erupted in the distance.
The three women faltered upon hearing this and they all turned toward that direction in unison.
There, they discovered a shadowy mass of dark clouds that were rapidly flying toward them, moving at such an incredible speed that it was expanding in their field of vision at a rate that was discernible to the naked eye. The dark clouds were tumbling erratically and loud thunderclaps were erupting from within, creating a very intimidating sight to behold.
The three women were naturally able to identify that something was amiss with that mass of dark clouds, and Song Yu immediately exclaimed, "This is bad! There's something wrong with those clouds! It could be an ancient beast!"
Thus, the three of them leaped into the air and immediately flew toward the direction they had come in.
The rumbling creature within the dark clouds seemed to have caught sight of the three women, and it sped up even further as it hurtled toward them. At the same time, a burst of cold cackled rang out from within.
"It's not an ancient beast; it appears to be a Devil Dao cultivator!" Liu Yu's roots lay in the Devil Dao herself, so she immediately managed to identify what these dark clouds were upon hearing the cold cackling.
"Regardless of what it is, it definitely doesn't harbor any benevolence toward us. We can't engage it in a direct battle!" At the sight of the approaching dark clouds, Song Yu was starting to get quite flustered. She hurriedly patted the storage pouch hanging from her waist, and a white bead appeared in her hand.
She then began to chant something, and the bead swayed before transforming into a ball of white clouds and mist that enshrouded the three of them within.
The white cloud then shuddered before flying through the air like a shooting star, traveling at a speed that wasn't inferior to that of the dark clouds behind them.
"You dare to use these pitiful tricks against me?" An eerie voice sounded from within the dark clouds before they tumbled and materialized into a massive black hand.
The hand disappeared in a flash, transforming into a streak of black light over 100 feet in length. Its speed also increased drastically and just a few flashes later, it had already gained significantly on the three women.
"That's a Nascent Soul devil cultivator behind us! We have to think of a way to impede him," Song Yu's urgent voice sounded from within the white cloud.
"I'll release my spirit insects. Even if I have to sacrifice my centipedes, I'll make sure to stop him in his tracks for now," Liu Yu offered.
As soon as her voice fell, seven or eight snowy white centipedes that were around half a foot in length shot forth from within the white cloud before throwing themselves at the pursuing black light.
"Huh? Six-Winged Frost Centipedes! Haha, if it isn't Liu Yu, you little brat! Are you trying to use these little bugs to hold me off?" The man within the black light began to chortle with amusement.
Several thin pitch-black tendrils suddenly shot forth from within the black light, puncturing the bodies of the white centipedes in a flash. Meanwhile, the streak of black light itself simply skirted around the centipedes without any pause or hesitation.
The centipedes were completely stationary as they hovered in mid-air. Only after a short while were they completely engulfed in black flames and were incinerated into nothingness.
The Six-Winged Frost Centipedes were somehow completely unable to withstand these peculiar black flames.
The three women within the white cloud were horrified upon seeing this. In particular, Liu Yu was extremely stunned. She didn't know who this devil cultivator was and his voice sounded very unfamiliar to her, but he had somehow managed to glean her identity just from seeing her centipedes.
The black streak of light was simply far too fast and before the three women could think of any strategies to keep it at bay, it was already upon them.
It circled through the air before transforming into a massive black hand again, reaching out toward the white cloud without any inhibition.
The three women cried out in unison as three swords, a long halberd, and a scepter shot forth from within the white cloud at the same time.
Black light flashed over the surface of the massive hand and it grabbed ahold of all of those treasures. When it spread open its fingers again, all of the treasures had disappeared.
However, in that split second of delay, the white cloud suddenly exploded and three streaks of light hurtled toward different directions.
The three women were splitting up so that at the very least, not all of them would be doomed. However, an incredible sequence of events then unfolded!
A large swath of black light suddenly erupted from the massive hand, sweeping toward all three women at once, and dragging them back despite the fact that they were all flying in different directions. Thus, the massive black hand captured all three of them at once.
The three women were stunned and horrified, and protective spiritual light was flashing desperately over their bodies as they attempted to free themselves with all their might.
However, right at this moment, a cold harrumph sounded beside their ears.
Bursts of black Qi wafted out from the massive hand, spraying the three women directly in the face, upon which all three of them immediately fell unconscious.
Only then did the black hand release the three women and transform into a vast expanse of black Qi. The black Qi then converged toward the center to form a tall and broad humanoid figure.
The humanoid figure's entire body was pitch-black in color, yet its eyes were shimmering with a harrowing green light.
The black figure looked at the three women and cackled, "Who would've thought that it would be these three? This is good; if I can capture them, then that man will be even more wary of me. Hehe, all three of these women are closely related to you; you probably won't sacrifice yourself to save them, but I'm sure I'll be able to extort you a little."
After an indeterminate period of time, Song Yu, who was the most powerful among the three women, awakened first.
She looked around to find that she was lying on the cold hard ground with stone pillars that were shimmering with white light all around her. A jolt of shock ran through her heart and she immediately sat up. At the same time, she made a hand seal in an attempt to unleash her protective spiritual light.
However, a cry of surprise erupted, and Song Yu slumped to the ground once again.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
There's a popular Chinese Internet meme expression that goes "no zuo no die", which essentially means, you won't get into trouble unless you go out looking for trouble. Can I just say that these three have embodied this expression to perfection?
Also, anyone get flashbacks to the screaming goat meme from the "lying on the cold hard ground" part, or is that just me? LOL