Even though Feng Yan had participated in outfield missions numerous times before, this was his first time travelling this far out. And after encountering those hair-raising sights one after another, he could feel his scalp grow numb. For Feng Yan to feel like that, one needn't mention Du Lingfei who had even less experience than him.
Fortunately, the fearsome creatures that they came across on the way did not launch any attacks against them; at most, these creatures would throw them a glance, as if there was some kind of aura shielding them from the enmity of these creatures.
Bai Xiaochun guessed that it was because they were disciples of the Spirit River Sect and after all…..in this boundless area, every inch of land was under the Spirit River Sect's influence.
Just like that, the trio continued their journey with some dread. Every month, on a fixed date, they would send a report on their current location back to the Sect. Two months later, they had finally arrived at the borders of the Spirit River Sect's influence - the Fallen Star Mountain Range.
Along the way, it wasn't that Feng Yan didn't want to covertly take action, but rather, he wasn't in the mood to do anything because of the constant shocks and hair-raising situations throughout the journey. Not only did he have to deal with his own fears, but Bai Xiaochun had also became more cautious and sticked closer to Du Lingfei. Hence, with so many factors involved, Feng Yan could not find any opportunity to take action and thus, the only thing he could do was to endure.
Currently, they had arrived at the Fallen Star Mountain Range. Feng Yan gazed at Bai Xiaochun as a dark chill unnoticed by the others flashed in his eyes.
"This is some serious determination to have me killed…...just how big is this grudge." Bai Xiaochun lamented in his heart as he narrowed his eyes. His meticulous personality had long since noticed Feng Yan's intentions.
The Fallen Star Mountain Range stretched across a large area from the north to the south. One could not even see its end with the naked eye; as if it was a dragon waiting in ambush, dividing the ground into two.
If one could see far enough, they might even notice the sky on the other side of the mountain was a little different - as if there was a tinge of blood-red.
According to legend, in distant times, a star fell from above the skies and crashed into the ground. This caused the ground to crumble, and some parts of the ground were raised while some sunk; thus, forming this mountain range.
Within the mountain range, dense forests thoroughly spread, filling the area with various monsters and a diversity of rare herbs and plants. Because of that, even if this area was filled with danger, many cultivators still took the risk to explore it.
"We have reached the Fallen Star Mountain Range." Du Lingfei slowly opened her mouth and spoke. The experiences she had along the journey had laden her with fatigue. And now that they had finally reached their destination, she heaved a sigh of relief from the bottom of her heart.
"According to the last time Junior Brother Hou contacted the sect, the coordinates came from this area." Feng Yan slapped his storage pouch and a compass-like device appeared in his hand.
The device had a needle attached to it which was currently spinning rapidly.
"According to the rules of the sect, disciples who travel on outfield missions have to send their coordinates back to the sect every month. This Spirit River Compass will help us find the location where Junior Brother Hou last sent his coordinates from." Just as he was holding the compass and explaining its uses, the compass needle suddenly stopped and pointed in a certain direction.
"Found it!" In a flash, Feng Yan leapt following the direction. Du Lingfei's expression changed and quickly followed.
Bai Xiaochun gazed at the enormous Fallen Star Mountain Range before his eyes; in this place, the grasses and plants formed into forests, and these forests were like an ocean - boundless and limitless. From time to time, the chirping of a birds could be heard, and sometimes, a distant roar of a monster would echo from deep within the forest.
With a serious expression, Bai Xiaochun activated the protective light barrier of the jade tablet. After ensuring that even the slightest movement of the wind or grass would alert him, Bai Xiaochun then carefully started his journey forward, making sure to keep his distance from Feng Yan at the same time.
Both Feng Yan and Du Lingfei did not slow down the whole way, they sped through the Fallen Star Mountain Range and slowly travelled deep into a mountain valley. In this mountain valley, there was a large number of trees, and if one looked closely, they would discover that some of these trees seemed to be very old. These trees had trunks and branches that criss-crossed each other like a weave of pythons, with every branch joint forming a weird knot. If it was nighttime, such a sight would have sent chills ran down everyone's spines.
Two hours later, the trio had already travelled deep into the the mountain valley when they suddenly came to a stop. Feng Yan looked down at the compass in his hand; the needle was clearly pointing towards a humongous tree by the side.
"Junior Brother Bai, go check it out." Feng Yan looked towards Bai Xiaochun and pointed towards the big tree.
Bai Xiaochun hesitated for a moment as he closely inspected that tree. After making sure that there was no danger, his right hand pressed onto the jade tablet hanging on his waist. Immediately, the protective light barrier that was already covering Bai Xiaochun thickened by another layer. Bai Xiaochun even took out some talismans and plastered them onto his body. Only when all of this was done did he finally approach the large tree, step by step.
"If you are so scared of death, why did you even become a cultivator at the first place!" Du Lingfei snorted coldly. She already held Bai Xiaochun in contempt; throughout the journey, even though there were some dreadful situations, Bai Xiaochun's reactions were simply just too exaggerated, as if he could die any moment. Now that they had reached their destination, Du Lingfei could feel her contempt for Bai Xiaochun increase even further, seeing that he still had such a cowardly mentality.
Bai Xiaochun did not have time to care about Du Lingfei, right now, having cautiously approached the huge tree, he took out a flying sword and peeled the tree bark. There was a patch of tree bark that had recently grown out, and the moment it was peeled off, a jade slip hidden behind it was revealed.
After carefully taking out this jade slip, Bai Xiaochun swept it with his divine sense and his expression changed slightly. He then threw the jade slip to Feng Yan.
The jade slip only contained a sentence the explained neither heads or tails.
"I found some other clues, I'll go to the Fallen Chen Clan to confirm them…...:"
After Feng Yan read it, his brows knitted into a frown then threw the jade slip to Du Lingfei. After Du Lingfei had read the message, she too frowned and fell deep in thought.
"Fallen Chen Clan……" a few moments later, Du Lingfei softly murmured under her breath as she turned her head and gazed deep into the Fallen Star Mountain Range.
The Fallen Star Mountain Range covered a large area and was filled with bountiful resources. Such an area was not only under the control of the Spirit River Sect, it was lying right at the border between the Spirit River Sect and the Blood River Sect. The Spirit River Sect naturally had to arrange some people to protect such an area, and the clan responsible for this protection was…...the Fallen Chen Clan.
The Fallen Chen Clan had a considerable amount of people and had already been garrisoned at the Fallen Star Mountain Range for a thousand years. Every generation had a Foundation Establishment patriarch to watch over the clan; be it for protection or deterrence purposes, it was more than enough.
In their mission's details, it was even stated that if there was any danger, they could contact the Fallen Chen Clan for help.
But according to Hou Yunfei's message on the jade slip, it actually pointed them towards the Fallen Chen Clan, and it seems that…..Hou Yunfei went to the Fallen Chen Clan to investigate some of the clues and went missing from there on.
"What do you guys think, should we go take a look at the Fallen Chen Clan?" Feng Yan seemingly gave a superficial glance over Bai Xiaochun before looking at Du Lingfei.
"Senior Brother Feng, Senior Sister Du, having found this jade slip, our mission can be considered to be completed…...I think we should put safety first, there is no need to do unnecessary actions." Bai Xiaochun quickly opened his mouth and he nervously surveyed his surroundings; he felt some intangible pressure from this place.
Du Lingfei hesitated for a moment, if they went back like that, she speculated that they would just get the basic amount of contribution points. However, if they investigated more leads, the amount of contribution points would also be larger.
Feng Yan frowned slightly as he watched Du Lingfei hesitate; if they were to go back now, he was worried that he would be unable to find any opportunities to kill Bai Xiaochun. Thinking up to this point, Feng Yan calmly opened his mouth.
"My opinion is that we should go take a look at the Fallen Chen Clan. Since we are here already, we can't simply leave just like that. Not only can we ask clearly what exactly happened to Junior Brother Hou, but we might also be able to enlist the Fallen Chen Clan's help in the search. If this is the case, our contribution points would be much higher.
"Moreover…...we do not have to enter the deep areas of the Fallen Star Mountain Range for this journey. As long as we stick close to the borders, there would not be much danger. As for the Fallen Chen Clan, hmph, any cultivator clan within the influence of the Spirit River Sect has a seal placed on their bloodlines; regardless of how many generations have passed, they could never betray us, even more so, show us any disrespect." Feng Yan spoke slowly and gazed at Du Lingfei after finishing.
Du Lingfei nodded her head as she felt that the words Feng Yan spoke had made sense.
"Okay, let's go take a look at the Fallen Chen Clan, perhaps they might know the reason why Senior Brother Hou went missing after leaving the Fallen Chen Clan."
Seeing that Du Lingfei had agreed, Feng Yan smiled. He then looked towards Bai Xiaochun as a cold glint flashed deep within his gaze.
"Since the mission is already completed, why are we asking for more trouble?" Bai Xiaochun furrowed his brows.
"If you're scared of dying then don't follow us anymore." Du Lingfei did not bother with Bai Xiaochun anymore as she turned her body and proceeded onwards.
"Junior Brother Bai, I am also responsible for the team during this mission, the three of us should advance and retreat together, no matter the circumstances. If you do not go, it will only make things hard for me when we get back to the sect." Feng Yan looked at Bai Xiaochun with a vague smile and then proceeded in Du Lingfei's direction. He deduced that Bai Xiaochun would definitely follow them, otherwise, with Du Lingfei as a witness, he could simply give Bai Xiaochun a 'negligence of duty' offence and Bai Xiaochun would be unable to avoid the investigation of the Law Enforcement Agency.
With a gloomy expression, Bai Xiaochun could feel his blood boiling. Looking at the disappearing silhouette of Feng Yan, blood vessels started to slowly appear in Bai Xiaochun's eyes. Even though he was scared of death, he was slowly reaching the conclusion that the safest and best method was making the first move in order to disrupt Feng Yan's plans.
"Feng Yan, you shouldn't have forced me!" Bai Xiaochun stood there immersed in his thoughts for a couple breaths. Finally, he lowered his head and dashed forward, following behind Feng Yan and Du Lingfei as the three of them slowly disappeared into the depths of the forest.
Four hours later, under the constant pace of the trio, dusk arrived and as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, the forest grew darker as well.
"We're here!" Feng Yan suddenly opened his mouth as the trio came to a halt. When they lifted their heads to look forward, they saw that the trees grew sparser on the path ahead, and the number of bluestones on the ground increased, paving a path in the open area.
In this area, there were a few courtyards that huddled together to form a mansion that looked big enough to house a couple hundred people. However, now that it was dusk, the time when the family clan was supposed to be the most rowdy and active, the mansion was instead bathed in darkness and silence, as if it had perfectly blended into the night, giving a desolate impression.
The only light came from the two lanterns that hung on the two sides of the main door, releasing a dim light. There was no wind blowing, yet these two lamps slowly swayed in the air, illuminating the two lion statues erected in front of the main door, each wearing a dark and unsettling expression.
Upon seeing this scene, the expressions of both Feng Yan and Du Lingfei immediately changed.
As for Bai Xiaochun, the instant he saw this mansion, a strong sense of danger surged within the bottom of his heart, as if every fiber in his body was screaming at him.
"Something's not right……" Feng Yan's heart skipped a beat, his words hadn't even finished.
All of a sudden, with a long, harrowing creak, the main door of the mansion slowly opened. A gust of chilly wind blew out from within, and faintly, a silhouette seemed to appear behind the door, without sound nor breath.
2nd of 10 guaranteed chapters for the week. Expect one more tonight.
Translated by: Xin
Edited by: Arch, Crimsonguard