It was a parasol tree! Song Shuhang's eyes lit up—the phoenix in legends would often rest on the branches of a parasol tree!
Was it possible that the spirit beast senior he was going to see was a phoenix? And even if it wasn't a phoenix, it should be a spirit beast of the same lineage, right?
Song Shuhang was looking forward to it; he was very curious as to how beautiful and dazzling this divine beast was. Because according to Chinese legends, the phoenix was the most beautiful and noble amongst divine beasts.
Although excited, Song Shuhang still carefully followed in Nine Lanterns footsteps, not daring to stray from the footprints she left behind.
Once they got a bit closer, Song Shuhang could finally see the full picture of the huge parasol tree.
The huge tree was more than fifty meters tall, and it towered above the entrance to the valley. It had thick branches and a sturdy trunk; it was full of vicissitudes.
Ah? Wait, there seems to be something pink attached to the tree.
This pink thing had a round shape and seemed very plump. It looked like a steamed bun and made one's mouth water with just one look.
However, it wasn't a phoenix, and it wasn't a bird, either.
Song Shuhang opened his eyes wide and tried his best to see what this thing was.
Soon after, he managed to see the real appearance of that round object—it was a pig that had curled up into a ball.
Since it was fat and plump, its four legs seemed very small and short. However, these small and short legs were firmly holding on to the trunk of the huge parasol tree, allowing it to stay attached to it and not falling down.
However, it looked very tired...
"There is a pig on the tree!" Song Shuhang exclaimed in surprise.
"Lower your voice," Nine Lanterns said softly.
Song Shuhang quickly closed his mouth. However, that plump pig attached to the tree trunk was just too eye-catching.
Therefore, Song Shuhang couldn't help but keep glancing at it.
Perhaps Song Shuhang was eyeing it too conspicuously, but the round pig seemed to have noticed his gaze.
In the next instant, it turned its head around and looked at Song Shuhang with its black and shiny eyes.
"What are you looking at?" the pig suddenly said. Its voice was deafening and resounded in Song Shuhang's ears like thunder, making his ears buzz. The voice of the pig was simply like the roar of a lion.
Song Shuhang had yet to reply when the corner of Nine Lanterns' mouth rose. "We're looking at you, so what?"
"Why don't you try to look at me again!" the curled up pig howled.
"Of course I'm going to try! What can you do about it?" Nine Lanterns tilted her head and glared at the round pig. She was stubbornly staring at it without even blinking.
The curled up pig didn't reply, and soon after, it became completely pink.
After a while, it said weakly, "Don't look at me like that, you're making this old pig feel embarrassed…"
"..." Song Shuhang.
Don't tell me that this pig curled up into a ball is the spirit beast senior we've come to meet…?
I can accept the fact that it might not be a phoenix, but it's actually a pig…? Aren't we going a bit too far?
At this time, the corner of Nine Lanterns' mouth rose once more. "Fat ball, enough with your nonsense. Aren't you tired of playing this same scene every time I come here?"
"I enjoy it very much," the completely pink (due to embarrassment) pig replied weakly.
"You better change the lines next time. Otherwise, I'll turn you into pig pork," Nine Lanterns continued. "I don't have time to waste with you. Is the senior in the valley?"
"Yes, are you looking for the senior?" the plump pink ball asked.
"Enough chit-chat. If I hurried here, it's clearly to see the senior. Or do you really think that I came here to fool around with you?" Nine Lanterns sneered.
Song Shuhang heaved a sigh of relief. It seemed that this round and plump pig wasn't the spirit beast senior they were looking for. Luckily, it was only the guardian of the valley…
"To be honest, I really thought you came here to play with me..." the plump ball muttered. Afterward, it stretched out its leg and gently knocked on the parasol tree three times.
In the next instant, the celestial mountain valley before Song Shuhang's eyes changed, turning into a boundless black sea—this sea seemed limitless. Moreover, it was deathly still!
No objects were floating on the surface of the sea, and it seemed as though it would suck up into its depths everything that came in contact with it.
As expected… if you were to barge into the celestial mountain valley without the approval of the plump gatekeeper, you would fall into the boundless black sea of death.
After the appearance of the black sea, the plump ball stretched out its other leg and knocked on the tree trunk another three times.
Then, a lonely boat appeared on the surface of the sea out of thin air.
"Let's go, be sure to follow me closely." Nine Lanterns took the lead and headed toward the lonely boat, saying, "Listen to my words carefully. Once we're sailing, you're not allowed to utter a word until we reach the other side of the sea! Regardless of who is talking to you, myself included, you're not allowed to say anything. Otherwise, no one would be able to save you."
Song Shuhang silently nodded and followed Nine Lanterns, getting into the lonely boat.
After getting into the boat, Nine Lanterns didn't say anything and silently handed Song Shuhang an oar.
Song Shuhang took the oar and started to row.
The lonely boat quickly dashed forward in the deathly still sea. Weirdly enough, although Song Shuhang could see the water splashing and churning while moving the oar, he couldn't hear any sound.
As they kept rowing forward, Song Shuhang felt his body gradually getting heavier.
Earlier, the speed of the boat would greatly increase even if he was gently rowing, but now, even if he was putting all his strength into his arms, the boat was only slightly moving forward.
Moreover… if he stopped rowing, the boat would start going backward!
Amidst this strange sea, even rowing a boat was quite the challenge!
Song Shuhang bitterly smiled. Only by using the qi and blood in his apertures was he able to let boat proceed forward smoothly.
Let's row and push this small boat against the waves~
At this time, Song Shuhang's pale face was reflected on the surface of the sea, upside down.
Song Shuhang had already started to use his qi and blood pills; there was no way he could hold on without them.
He was unsure how long he had rowed amidst this deathly still sea, but he couldn't see anything both behind or in front of them. The boundless sea seemed to have no end.
The qi and blood in his body was depleting time and time again. After completely using up his qi and blood, as well as the one provided by the ghost spirit, he would take a qi and blood pill to replenish it, repeating the process continuously.
The qi and blood pills in his possession were getting fewer and fewer, and yet, he still couldn't see the end of the sea.
But even if his face was a bit pale, Song Shuhang's heart was as steady as before.
He had to thank Lady Onion for his current state of mind. Recently, he experienced her memories, and there, he turned into a green onion and experienced hardships for many, many years.
As a result, his patience had increased greatly.
Therefore, even if he was doing something as boring as rowing a boat in the middle of nowhere, he could still keep his heart calm and his mind strong.
Even Nine Lanterns was surprised and looked at Song Shuhang in amazement.
And just in this fashion, the small boat kept proceeding forward in the deathly still sea.
After some time, Song Shuhang suddenly felt his body become lighter.
He felt like a traveler in the middle of the desert that had a weight of hundreds of kilograms lifted from his back. Song Shuhang felt his body so light that he could fly, and even the speed at which the oar in his hand was moving increased greatly.
Are we approaching the other shore? Song Shuhang thought to himself.
Just as he was in deep thoughts, the scenery before his eyes suddenly changed.
The black water of the deathly still sea changed into a stretch of white, and a dock suddenly appeared before his eyes.
Moreover, the pure spiritual energy of the world started to pour into his body continuously. It was his reward for having rowed for so long inside the black sea.
"You can speak now." Nine Lanterns' voice echoed.
Song Shuhang heaved a sigh of relief and opened his mouth, ready to reply.
But in the next instant, he quickly covered his mouth with his hands—he almost spoke! At this time, he was still in the middle of the sea and had yet to reach the shore!
That was close!
When Song Shuhang covered his mouth, the spiritual energy of the world started to pour into his body at an even faster pace, as though he had passed another test.
Song Shuhang had already opened four apertures before entering the Heavenly Island and was currently aiming to open his fifth aperture, the Mouth Aperture.
Song Shuhang had decided against eating Lady Onion's sprout, but according to Venerable White's words, there was a high chance that his Mouth Aperture would have already been full of qi and blood if he had decided to eat it.
At this time, the pure spiritual energy of the world was endlessly pouring inside his body. Moreover, when he stopped himself from talking earlier, the spiritual energy broke into his mouth like a ram, impacting his Mouth Aperture and creating a fearful explosion in his mouth.
Additionally, we have to keep in mind that Song Shuhang depleted his qi and blood time and time again, continuously taking qi and blood pills to replenish it. Therefore, it was as though he had trained for the whole time he had rowed.
At this time, his Mouth Aperture was already 90% full of qi and blood. After practicing a bit more, he would be able to fill it completely and try to open his Mouth Aperture!
Once the Mouth Aperture was open, he would have to face one last hurdle, jumping through the dragon gate.
It had really been an unexpected fortuitous encounter!
Song Shuhang rowed with all his might and finally, they reached the shore...
After the boat stopped, Nine Lanterns lightly jumped and reached the dock. Afterward, she stretched her hand and pulled Song Shuhang onto the shore.
"You can speak now," Nine Lanterns said with a smile.
Song Shuhang carefully looked if her mouth was indeed opening and closing. Then, after making sure that both his feet were on the ground, and that he was out of the range of the sea, he heaved a sigh of relief.
"That was dangerous," Song Shuhang replied.
"Yes, but you were rather quick-witted." Nine Lanterns smiled as she patted her greenish-white robe. "Let's go. We have to greet the spirit beast senior."
Song Shuhang asked cautiously, "Miss Nine Lanterns, how is the disposition of this spirit beast senior? What does it like and dislike? Also, what's its appearance?"
If you knew the ins and outs of the opposite party, you were assured to obtain victory!
"It's pointless to tell you about its disposition, it can change at any moment. As for what it likes and dislikes, that's also very varied." Nine Lanterns deeply sighed and said, "As for its appearance, it has thirty-six different forms."
"..." Song Shuhang.
What kind of supernatural being is Miss Nine Lanterns describing?!