Long Chen walked in the direction Guo Ran had pointed out for a full week. More and more mountains and valleys had appeared as he advanced. On the way, Long Chen noticed that the number of people around him was increasing.
However, the majority of them were not monastery disciples. That showed Long Chen that the Righteous path was not dominated by the Xuantian Monasteries.
Some of those Righteous disciples had powerful cultivation bases that weren't at all inferior to monastery disciples. In fact, some of them were even more powerful.
On the way, he saw quite a few fights between Righteous and Corrupt disciples. Other than simply due to the antagonistic nature between the two sides, most of the time they were fighting over treasures.
Long Chen couldn't be bothered to deal with them. As long as they didn't provoke him, Long Chen simply ignored it all.
But even though Long Chen didn't go looking for trouble, trouble still found him. Several times a day, he would run into monastery disciples who wanted to kill him in the name of cleaning up the Righteous path.
As a result, Long Chen was not merciful. All those who dared attack him had been killed by him.
Other than the Righteous disciples, oftentimes the Corrupt disciples wouldn't hold back from attacking him when they saw that he was all lone traveller. Their ending was also tragic. If one came, then one died. If two came, then two died.
But even after a whole week, Long Chen had yet to see any trace of Zhao Mingshan's group, causing him to feel a bit uncertain.
No one recognized everyone, and so even if he asked around, it wasn't likely for anyone to be able to point him in the right direction. Since he hadn't caught up in this week, it seemed the only possibility was that he had lost their trail.
Long Chen was infuriated about that, but he was also helpless. The Jiuli secret realm was too large. Just a slight change in direction was miles and miles apart after seven days of travel.
Since he was helpless about that, Long Chen simply continued forward, seeing if he could find any opportunities.
Not only was the Jiuli secret realm incredibly vast, it was said to contain countless opportunities. But only those with luck and strength could obtain them.
As he continued forward, more mountains and valleys appeared around him. Furthermore, now a faint mist was starting to appear.
Long Chen took out his map and saw that this place had been marked down as the Misty Mountain Valleys.
There was also a grass marking on the map, indicating this place had many natural treasures.
"Medicinal herbs aren't bad. Let me take a look."
Long Chen saw that the map showed that there were many criss-crossing mountains here that almost formed a labyrinth. A thick mist surrounded this region of around three thousand miles.
Successive generations of disciples had entered this place, but they were only able to search along the fringes of this region. There were very few people who dared venture deeper. It was said that those who entered deeper were all never able to walk out alive. As for the exact reason, it wasn't completely clear.
"Stop running! Leave your treasures behind or you'll die without a burial site!" Long Chen had just been quietly walking while examining the map when a shout suddenly broke his concentration.
You want me to die without a burial site? Hmph, well I want to see just who is so arrogant.
Raising his head, Long Chen saw two figures rushing in his direction. The person at the front was covered in blood, his aura completely chaotic. He was currently running for his life, and he seemed to be an ordinary core disciple. According to his robes, he wasn't a monastery disciple.
As for the person behind him, his aura surged like the sea, and he was clearly a powerful Favored. He was chasing him with a dark expression, a sword in his hand.
Only now did Long Chen realize that they weren't talking to him. He stood there and watched. This scene was obviously killing someone to steal their treasures. He had seen that far too often recently.
The bewildering thing to Long Chen was that the massacring of sect members from the same sect was all done by Righteous disciples. Despite how savage Corrupt disciples were, he had yet to see them attack their own people.
"Your Xuantian Monastery is a huge sect! Why do you have to make things hard for us disciples from smaller schools?!" raged the fleeing disciple.
He had already despaired. He had just obtained a treasure and had been stealthily leaving the mountain valley when his actions were noticed by other people.
As soon as he left the valley, this person had immediately attacked him. While he was only a core disciple, in his small sect, he was considered extremely powerful.
But in the face of a Favored, he was not even close to being a match. In just a few exchanges, he had almost lost his life, and could only flee.
Originally, he had hoped that some people would be chivalrous and save him, but all the Righteous disciples he encountered only watched as if watching a play. They only glanced at them before continuing searching for opportunities.
He was seriously injured and his spiritual qi was almost exhausted now. He didn't have the slightest hope of getting out of this. However, he was unwilling, truly unwilling.
He had gone through untold hardships in order to enter the secret realm. But now, as soon as he found a treasure, it was about to be stolen away by someone. He really would die with his eyes wide open.
"Haha, don't blame me! I told you to hand over the treasure at the beginning, but you dared resist. You clearly don't know how to appreciate kindness! Now I'm mad, and even if you hand over the treasure, it won't be able to quell my rage. You can die now!"
The Favored suddenly shot forward, his sword slashing out at that person.
That person was already filled with despair. He couldn't run away from this Favored, and he also couldn't defeat this Favored. In the face of his death, he gave up running and glared at the Favored. Even in death, he would remember this person's face. If the folklore was true, then he would become vengeful spirit and take this person's life in that way.
Blood splashed all over that person's face and body, and the reek of blood filled his nose.
He thought he had died. But then he suddenly realized this blood wasn't his, but the Favored's.
A saber had pierced straight through his back. The Favored looked down to see the saber sticking out from where his heart was. His expression was simply blank.
"If you want to fight over treasures, then fine. Getting greedy for treasures is normal. But then you also wanted to kill people; ugh, if you want to kill people, then fine. You can say that you were consumed by your anger. But then you also wanted to act so pretentious; well, if you want to be pretentious, then with how large the heavens are, you have plenty of space to show off. But why did you have to be so pretentious in front of me? Did you know, the thing I hate the most is when people act even more pretentious than me." An extremely displeased voice rang out from behind the Favored's body.
The Favored did his best to turn around to see who had killed him, but the powerful strength behind the saber had long since crushed his inner organs and even his bones. He wasn't even able to make such a simple movement.
He slipped off from the saber, dead. The man who had just managed to escape from the claws of death now saw a young, handsome man who randomly flung the blood off his saber.
"Many thanks senior apprentice-brother for saving my life!" Just like that, he knelt down on the ground in thanks.
"If you thank me this quickly, I really would feel too embarrassed to take your treasures." Long Chen waved his hands and stopped him, not letting his knees touch the ground. He didn't like that manner of thanks.
"If brother Long wants my treasures, I will offer them to you with both hands," the man said without any hesitation.
"Oh, you know who I am? Let's not talk about that first. This fellow's Dao-mark is appearing, so you can try to absorb it." Long Chen pointed to the Dao-mark that was beginning to condense from the Favored's body.
Dao-marks usually stayed in the body of Favored. They were said to be able to increase a person's karmic luck. However, Long Chen didn't believe in such things.
If that person really had been supported by karmic luck, why was he killed so easily? Furthermore, wasn't it said that Favored had to be virtuous and moral people in order to receive the favor and protection of the heavens?
In any case, in Long Chen's eyes, these Favored were all lacking any sense of morality. Otherwise, why would they do something like this, chasing down the weak to kill them and take their treasures?
Originally, Long Chen hadn't been planning on interfering in this matter. But seeing that person's unwillingness and fury when he had been about to die, Long Chen had been reminded of his own experiences back in the imperial capital. Back then, he had also been furious and helpless. And so he hadn't been able to stop himself from interfering.
"Can I really?" That person was startled. This was a huge opportunity, and Long Chen was actually directly giving it to him.
"If you waste more time talking, this thing's going to run," said Long Chen lightly.
This Dao-mark was just a fart in Long Chen's eyes. In fact, just looking at it made Long Chen angry. After experiencing that last lightning tribulation, Long Chen had realized he had an innate dislike towards these Dao-marks.
That was because he could sense that all of heaven and earth disapproved of him and wanted to annihilate him. So he disliked anything that was related to the will of the heavens.
"This favor is too large to express." That person took a deep breath, and Spiritual Strength surged out of his forehead. It was like a large net, pulling that Dao-mark towards him.
Absorbing a Dao-mark was extremely easy. But as for whether it could succeed, that would depend on whether you could obtain the Dao-mark's approval.
"Oh? He really succeeded?" Long Chen was slightly surprised.
After absorbing the Dao-mark, it hadn't dissipated. That meant the Dao-mark had truly allied itself with him. That was out of his expectations.
"Brother Long, please accept Xu Yang's thanks." This man began to kneel down again.
Xu Yang was a disciple from a small sect, and their sect only had two core disciples. Their sect had never once produced a Favored.
Now that he had succeeded in merging with this Dao-mark, he would become the pride of his entire sect. The excitement he felt right now could not be described with words.
"Hey, stop! I really hate this kind of thing." Long Chen waved his hand a forceful energy immediately made it so that person couldn't kneel. "How did you know who I was?"
"I've seen a photographic jade of you." But after saying that, he immediately continued, "But I knew that the person who set up that photographic jade was definitely scheming to intentionally frame you. There was no beginning or ending. There was definitely a plot that they were hiding."
It seemed Long Chen had underestimated the bastard who was pulling the strings. Now it wasn't just the monastery disciples who were aware of this photographic jade. Even the other Righteous disciples knew of it.
Ah, you really are trying to force me. Good, very good. I'll definitely find whoever it is that is targeting me.
"Brother Long, don't be angry. Anyone can tell that it's faked." Xu Yang hastily consoled him when he saw his expression turn dark.
"I'm too lazy to bother with those idiots. You came from deeper inside the Misty Mountain Valleys? What happened inside?" ased Long Chen.
"Brother Long, this is just a token of my appreciation. No matter what, you have to accept it."
Xu Hang didn't directly reply. Instead, he took out something and handed it to him.