Chapter 569: Unexpected Discovery
Although they would offer high rewards, they wouldn’t be proceeding in a haphazard manner.
Elder Wu Hen spoke, “The crux lies with the Sacred Sword Palace and the Tristar Sect. The Great Cathedral has just received the Longevity Pill and won’t help us against the Regal Pill Palace. The Dark North Sect wears the same set of pants as the Regal Pill Palace, and will certainly inform the Regal Pill Palace as soon as they hear this news.”
Elder Wu Qi nodded. “That makes sense. The second batch of people is about to enter soon, and there are many Sacred Sword Palace disciples and elders within them. I remember that Wang Han has a strong hatred of Jiang Chen. If we offer a high reward, I’m sure he’ll be willing to help.”
Wei Qing also drew close at this point to interject, “Wang Han is a narrow-minded person. Harvesting spirit herbs is of secondary importance for the Sacred Sword Palace this time, and making trouble for the Regal Pill Palace is their primary goal. I’m sure that even if we don’t give him any reward, Wang Han would be willing to give us clues once he learns that we’re hunting Jiang Chen down.”
Wei Qing quite understood Wang Han’s perspective on this, as the two of them were actually very similar in this regard. Wang Han was both prejudiced against Jiang Chen and hated Jiang Chen because the latter had refuted him in public, whereas Wei Qing nursed a grudge because Jiang Chen was affecting his attempt to get the girl.
“Oh?” A Tristar Sect elder revealed a teasing smile as he skimmed a message glyph. “Just what kind of grudge does Jiang Chen have with the Walkabout Sect? Merely supplying tips is enough to gain a hundred thousand upper rank origin spirit stones?”
The previous first disciple of the Tristar Sect, Zhu Feiyang, also received a message glyph at almost the exact same time. “A hundred thousand upper rank origin spirit stones? And I’ll be able to obtain it if I immediately tell the Walkabout Sect when I discover traces of Jiang Chen?” A smile crept onto Zhu Feiyang’s handsome face. “It’d be a pity to turn away wealth that comes knocking at my door. It looks like the Walkabout Sect has hardened their heart to seize the Regal Pill Palace’s Longevity Pill recipe!”
The second batch of twenty entered the mountain after the first ten days were up, and so word of this bounty from the Walkabout Sect spread more and more. Those from the Walkabout Sect also appeared in increasing numbers within the mountain.
Jiang Chen had avoided people as much as possible over the past few days since he didn’t want to run into anyone. Although he’d easily thrown off the Walkabout Sect’s pursuit, he was well aware that his pursuers wouldn’t give up so easily. It might even be that all those who were newly entering Mt. Rippling Mirage now had a primary mission of locating Jiang Chen, and harvesting spirit herbs had become of secondary importance.
Jiang Chen knew the value of a sky rank spirit herb better than anyone else there. Even breaking away from the Regal Pill Palace would be worth it for a sky rank herb. It was a good thing that he’d curbed the Walkabout Sect’s actions with wordplay when they’d negotiated back then, so as much as they wanted the spirit herb, they would never be able to reveal this secret. Otherwise, judgement from the heavenly oath would descend upon the Walkabout Sect.
That day, Jiang Chen happened to be passing by a cliff when he heard fierce sounds of fighting originating from the other side of the mountain. He briefly extended his senses for a moment and determined that the combatants didn’t seem to be those of the Regal Pill Palace. Since it wasn’t one of his own in jeopardy, he couldn’t be bothered to stick his nose in. He was about to leave when he heard one of them bellow, “Du Lihuang, don’t you be too ridiculous! I discovered this true saint spirit herb first!”
Jiang Chen seemed to recall hearing this voice before.
He listened carefully and discovered that it was actually the little daoist Ku Zhu from the Dark North Sect. This little fellow seemed taciturn and withdrawn, but he actually hid an ox-like temper and stubbornness. As for Du Lihuang, Jiang Chen recognized him as a Sacred Sword Palace disciple that he hadn’t had much interaction with. His cultivation level was second only to Wang Han and another genius at the first level sage realm in the Sacred Sword Palace.
“Cut the bullshit. It doesn’t have your name on it, so it’s not yours. There’s no difference between you discovering it first and me discovering it second! What, can I take this mountain back home with me if I’m the one who discovers it first?” Du Lihuang’s tone was domineering and completely unreasonable.
Ku Zhu grew agitated in his frustration. “Shameless, despicable!”
Du Lihuang laughed heartily. “Don’t try that on me, little daoist Ku Zhu. I’ll give you ten breaths of time. Don't blame me for taking action if you don’t get the hell out after that. This Aletheia Icegrass is mine!” 
“Aletheia Icegrass!” Jiang Chen’s thoughts raced when he heard the name of the spirit herb. Although this spirit herb was just an ordinary true saint rank herb, it was one of the necessary items needed to cure the Miasma that was troubling Ling Bi’er’s father. Jiang Chen wouldn’t have been interested in it otherwise. He’d planned on leaving, but now halted his footsteps. He couldn’t pass up this Icegrass like this.
He’d entered Mt. Rippling Mirage for so long, but it was the first time he’d bumped into one of the four vital ingredients for the Miasma. Even just one was already rare enough. As Jiang Chen pondered, Du Lihuang engaged Ku Zhu in battle.
Du Lihuang was at ninth level origin realm, whereas Ku Zhu was at seventh level. The two were a full two levels of cultivation apart. Adding the fact that the Sacred Sword palace focused on sword dao, which made their battle strength a tier stronger than the other sects, Ku Zhu quickly found himself fighting an uphill battle. However, he was rather fierce and quite stubborn. He refused to concede even a single step even when he started coming worse off in the exchanges. He put up a stubborn resistance in front of the Aletheia Icegrass, as if he was defending his own territory, and refused to give even an inch of ground.
On the other hand, Du Lihuang was cocky and overbearing. “Ku Zhu, I don’t want to kill you, but that doesn’t mean I won’t kill. Don’t blame me for being heartless if you still insist on staying in the way.”
Ku Zhu was a pile of stubborn old bones. The more someone threatened him, the more it provoked his inner pride. “Du Lihuang, don’t think about seizing the Aletheia Icegrass unless you kill me today!”
Du Lihuang frowned. “You refuse a toast only to drink to a forfeit!” Truthfully, he really didn’t want to kill anyone in Mt. Rippling Mirage, unless he found a Regal Pill Palace disciple. Untold troubles would follow if it was revealed that he’d killed someone. Although he was confident he could do this cleanly and smoothly, it’d be disastrous if Ku Zhu managed to get a message out somehow. The Sacred Sword Palace might even end up warring with the Dark North Sect! This was a consequence that he alone couldn’t bear. However, Ku Zhu’s attitude was like a stone in a latrine, hard, foul, and completely infuriating Du Lihuang.
Ordinarily speaking, when sect disciples met, the stronger disciple would dictate the terms. If one side found that they were the weaker one after exchanging moves, they would have the self awareness to back out. Yet, Ku Zhu didn’t have that sort of mentality at all. Du Lihuang did indeed have the urge to kill someone as irritating as this.
However, it wasn’t that easy for him to kill Ku Zhu either. Although Ku Zhu’s cultivation was a bit weaker, his defense was quite ferocious, and he was finding ways to hold on with a few of his Dark North Sect secret techniques. Even Du Lihuang wasn’t finding it easy to break through Ku Zhu’s defenses time and time again if he didn’t call upon his own secret arts in return.
As they ferociously fought with each other, Jiang Chen quietly snuck in through the ground and used the Lotus to steal that blade of Icegrass. He did so covertly and extremely surreptitiously.
Du Lihuang and Ku Zhu’s battle raged on as both fully focused on each other. They didn’t even realize that the spirit herb they were fighting over had already been taken. Jiang Chen had used their fight as cover and had planned on dusting himself off and leaving. However, when he thought about it, the Dark North Sect was on good terms with the Regal Pill Palace. Moreover, Ku Zhu would certainly end up dead if the two kept fighting like this.
He laughed heartily and sent over a message from afar. “Gentlemen, thanks for the Aletheia Icegrass. Have fun sparring with each other!”
His words were actually to help Ku Zhu out of the situation. He rather admired Ku Zhu’s personality and so didn’t want him to die to Du Lihuang’s sword for no reason.
Indeed, the message immediately caused the two fighters to freeze. When they looked in the direction of the Icegrass, both their expressions froze. Du Lihuang’s face immediately grew ugly and cold. “Who dares steal from me?!”
However, only silence answered him. There was no response at all.
Jiang Chen couldn’t be bothered to engage in a pointless fight with Du Lihuang. He’d gotten the Icegrass, it was time to leave. He naturally wasn’t afraid of Du Lihuang, but there was no way he’d uncover his own trail for this. Du Lihuang wasn't scary, but the elders of the Walkabout Sect were definitely scary.
Ku Zhu remained motionless for a long moment before nodding in deep thought. He looked at Du Lihuang expressionlessly before he turned to leave.
Although Du Lihuang was incensed and privately cursing at Ku Zhu for ruining his affairs, there was no point in killing the other now that the Icegrass had been taken. “Kid, this is the last time. Remember this well, I will certainly kill you the next time you wreck my plans!”
These threats were nothing more than a breeze to Ku Zhu. Not even a hint of reaction flickered on his his face.
Du Lihuang leapt up and sped off, in hot pursuit of the one who’d called out. The voice had been obviously doctored, so he couldn’t tell who it was, but he was certain that it had come from this direction. He ought to have a decent chance to catch up if he gave chase now. Although he wasn’t confident that he had the true saint herb in the bag, it was a blatant provocation that someone had just waltzed in to take his prize. Du Lihuang was a high spirited and arrogant person, how would he be able to take this lying down?
Jiang Chen sped through the ground at the highest speed possible after obtaining the Icegrass. Du Lihuang ended up chasing for quite a while, but never picked up a trail he could follow.
Fifty kilometers into his chase, he ended up on a wide path, with absolutely no idea where to go. He looked around blankly, but to no avail.
Rage grew in his heart as his thoughts spun furiously, and he slashed viciously at one of the large trees off on the side.
His sword aura swept out as the large tree collapsed, all of its branches and leaves torn to shreds.
“Are you looking to die?!” A figure suddenly burst out from beneath the tree, cursing loudly. The figure hurtled towards Du Lihuang like a bolt of light, and lashed out in a punch.
Du Lihuang had no idea that someone was hidden at the roots of the tree either, and the rage in his heart erupted when he saw that this person was charging at him without another word. He slashed at the figure with his sword without another thought.
His sword aura was still roiling towards the figure when the punch arrived, numbing Du Lihuang’s body with the reverb. The boxing aura covering the fist transformed into a stunning attack and slammed into Du Lihuang’s shoulder through his sword aura.
He somersaulted into the air as his body was thrown back several meters, spitting out a mouthful of blood along the way.
- The characters of the first part of this spirit herb seems to be part of the name of a particular flower in Chinese—a flower growing on the banks of the three rivers of the underworld, said to be able to summon the memories of the dead whilst they were still alive. The connotations made me think of the river Lethe in Greek mythology, whose effects are the opposite of this flower, washing away the memories of the souls when they were alive. “Aletheia” is the state of being evident, factuality and reality. It’s the opposite of the word “Lethe”, and the meaning seems particularly appropriate given the uses for this spirit herb. Hence, I borrowed a bit from Greek culture here!