The dark gray rotting earth was dotted with continuously bubbling muddy puddles, grotesque and twisted trees, and an unknown short blood-red grass beneath his legs. The air was filled with a strange, pungent odor. This was what Han Li observed once he grew clearheaded.
Han Li could not help but be curious towards the bizarre environment. Han Li first diligently looked in all directions to see whether or not there were people around him. After all, the greatest source of danger were the sect disciples that entered the forbidden area along with him.
It seemed that he was quite lucky. Within about a hundred meters, there was no one aside from himself. He softly let out a sigh.
However, he did not yet relax his guard but rather held onto a talisman with one hand and the “Gold Beetle Swarm Blades” with the other so that he would be absolutely safe.
At that moment, Han Li was able to slightly calm himself. He carefully observed his surroundings for anything strange.
Han Li was not frightened from having suddenly appeared in an unfamiliar area. Before the trip to the forbidden area, those stewards had given everyone detailed information concerning the forbidden area.
The information mentioned that once someone entered the forbidden area, they would be affected by some shifting formation spell and be instantly transported to some corner in the forbidden area. As for what location, that would depend on the individual’s luck.
If one was able to be transferred to the area closest to the center, they would be able to gather many spiritual herbs. These figures would be the greatly fortunate ones. One could also be delivered directly beneath the stares of several demonic beasts. If that were the case, there wouldn’t even be a bloody battle. They would be fundamentally incapable of escaping with their body intact. As for those with even worse bad luck, they might be delivered to some dangerous area and would immediately die. Naturally, these sort of circumstances were minimal.
The circumstances that occurred the most were those like Han Li, transported to some corner of the forbidden area and only able to blindly move forward.
The reason why those circumstances occurred, according to the deduction of those senior experts, was because of the manner by which they broke the barrier and entered. Since they used an improper method to enter, it was only natural they would activate a few restrictions and encounter a few mishaps.
While Han Li cautiously paced the vicinity in a circle, he compared the nearby environment with the information he had memorized. He eventually remembered some very useful information accumulated by the disciples who left the forbidden area; it was vastly useful to those who entered for the first time.
“The Black Dragon Pond is located in the forbidden area’s northeast corner. The pond is about a hundred meters deep at its center, with a radius of over ten Li. There are many Rotting Bone Flowers, Serpent Slug Trees, and other similar plants that can be used to create poison, but their value is not much.”
“At the center of the Black Dragon Pond, every tens of years or so, a few clumps of “Cold Smoke Grass” appear near the pond water. This is a wondrous herb that can be used in an extensive number of applications. If possible, gather as many as possible since the sect is sure to exchange great rewards for them. However, one must pay attention to the pool’s depths as it may conceal a group of lower grade one demonic beasts, the Cold Ice Toads. However, they have a meek nature. So long as one does not take the initiative to provoke them, they will not pose much danger.”
After Han Li went over the information several more times, he had several thoughts in mind.
According to common conventions, the closer one was to the center of the forbidden area, the rarer spiritual items one would find along with stronger demonic beasts guarding them. The Black Dragon Pond was located near the outer edges but not in the outermost layer. If he hurried, he would be able to reach the innermost region within a day.
With this thought, Han Li didn’t dare to use flying tools. Instead, he jumped up a large, lush tree and surveyed in every direction. After he clearly identified the direction, he jumped down.
The pool was south of Han Li and happened to lead towards the forbidden area’s central area. It seemed he would be able to take a look in passing.
Han Li used a concealment technique on his body. Afterwards, he carefully walked forward on the path with quick and light footsteps. It was unknown if it was because Han Li was excessively nervous, but after walking several Li on the path, he had yet to encounter anything unexpected. It seemed he was the only person in the Black Dragon Pond area.
When he heard the sound of flowing water, Han Li was able to slightly relax his tense mind.
After chopping down winding branches that obstructed his path, he was able to see a deep dark-green pond. Nobody had yet to approach it. The forest’s chilling air already caused Han Li to shiver.
‘This is the Black Dragon Pond?’ Han Li curiously sized it up.
The size of the pool could not be considered large, and its surrounding area was filled with Serpent Slug Trees. However, the surface of the water actually emitted traces of cold Qi that could be seen with the naked eye. Even the land next to the pond produced a layer of sparkling ice. The intensity of the pond water’s icy coldness could clearly be seen.
Han Li did not pay attention to these few things. What he cared about were the tens of bundles of the short white fluffy grass growing close to the water’s edge. The grass stalks had five leaves and were a pure white all over. They also emitted a faint white Qi that enveloped them like smoke. They truly seemed to have a somewhat spiritual appearance.
“That’s right, this must be the Cold Smoke Grass. It doesn’t differ in the slightest from the information’s description!” Han Li muttered to himself, inwardly rejoicing.
Although this herb had no relation to his Foundation Establishment Pills, him being able to easily acquire this from the start was truly a good omen.
Han Li habitually swept his gaze left and right before walking over. However, his expression suddenly changed. He lowered his body, lightly taking a few steps. After he concealed himself behind a few branches, he expressionlessly looked toward the left side of the dense woods.
Not long after, the silhouette of a person flashed by. A blue-clothed man walked out while looking around. From the look of his clothes, he seems to be someone from the Heavenly Imperial Fortress. This person was extremely careful. With each step, he turned his head three times and incessantly looked in all directions. It seemed he was firmly holding something in his fist; he should have already made preparations for an attack. He walked toward the direction of the “Cold Smoke Grass”.
Han Li sighed. It seemed he would have to retreat without results.
Since the opponent was this cautious, Han Li wouldn’t be able to succeed in a sneak attack against him. He did not intend to have a large battle with this person, as braving great dangers for such nonessential items was far from worth it!
“Come out! I’ve already seen you, stop concealing yourself!” About ten steps away from the Cold Smoke Grass, the blue-clothed man suddenly halted and turned around, loudly shouting those words.
Han Li was frightened. He thought that he had not been careful and and left a trace. But immediately after, he could not help but coldly smile because although this blue-clothed man had shouted out loudly, his eyes were looking from place to place. He was basically not looking toward Han Li’s hiding spot but was rather spouting out falsehoods.
Han Li happily smiled. He saw that after the blue-clothed man loudly shouted for a while longer, he went to pick the Cold Smoke Grass with relief. The blue-clothed man thought he was clever, but this actually caused Han Li to hesitate in deciding whether or not he should take advantage of the other party’s moment of carelessness to approach him from behind.
Han Li’s plan was not acted out, however. The blue-clothed man quickly picked three to four clumps of white grass with extremely quick movements. It seemed this person understood that long delays invited trouble.
Han Li inwardly shook his head and decided to retreat. His primary objectives were the three main ingredients for the Foundation Establishment Pills. Before he fulfilled his goal, it would be best to preserve as much of his strength as possible.
With this thought, Han Li quietly drew away. When he withdrew more than thirty meters away, he felt at ease to hurriedly rush away and avoid meeting with that person after he finished plucking the medicine.
But Han Li had yet to leave when a scream came from the direction of the pond. It seemed to be the death cry of that blue-clothed man.
Han Li had a cold shiver. After a moment of hesitation, he grit his teeth and turned around. He had to fully understand what had happened so he could avoid falling to the same fate.
When Han Li covertly returned to the vicinity of the pool, two ferocious-looking men appeared at the side of the pond. It seemed these brightly-clothed men were from Spirit Beast Mountain.
At this moment, they were happily digging through the storage pouch of the Heavenly Imperial Fortress disciple. At their side were over ten large blue toads. The body of the blue-clothed man had over ten large holes in it. He couldn’t possibly be more dead.
“Senior Martial Brother Yu, this plan was too clever. When we discovered this idiot, we didn’t attack him from the front but instead hurried and hid near Black Dragon Pond. After scattering some beast controlling powder on the water, the nest of Cold Ice Toads obediently listened to us. Hehe. I didn’t expect a bit of noise would draw his attention and allow the demonic beasts to abruptly attack the fellow from behind. A great amount of icicles spouted out, immediately killing this idiot. He probably hadn’t even thought he would have been killed by a group of low-level demonic beasts before he died. This fellow truly had quite a bit of wealth on him! Senior Martial Brother, instead of grabbing the medicine, wouldn’t it be better to hide here and wait for others to take the Cold Smoke Grass as bait?” After saying this with greed, the younger man firmly kicked the corpse of the Heavenly Imperial Fortress disciple.
(TL: Fun fact, the “Black Dragon”?? in Black Dragon Pond is the same Black Dragon ?? (wulóng) in Oolong Tea.)