As Long Chen advanced, the mountain valleys began to criss-cross, and it almost seemed like a maze.
Furthermore, the mist was growing denser, and his range of vision was less than three hundred meters. In this kind of environment, it was all too easy to get lost.
As he advanced, he saw fewer and fewer people. However, their cultivation bases were much stronger, and there were essentially no more core disciples present.
In fact, Long Chen even saw some experts on the Chosen-level. However, those experts weren't from the monasteries, and so they only glanced at Long Chen. Their eyes contained some astonishment when they looked at him, which was most likely due to how daring Long Chen was with his low cultivation base. Someone only at the early Tendon Transformation realm dared to enter this deeply here?
Obviously, these people didn't recognize Long Chen. They simply continued cautiously advancing and searching.
As for Long Chen, since those experts didn't bother him, he also didn't go provoke them.
Continuing forward, the mist became even denser, and more valleys and paths began to appear. Now it was extremely difficult to differentiate which direction he was travelling.
This was only a hundred miles into the Misty Mountain Valleys, but he no longer dared go any deeper. If he got lost inside, he might never be able to leave.
The disciples who had entered the Jiuli secret realm all had to reach a set location before the realm closed. That was the only way for them to be transported back to the outer world.
If they didn't make it in time, they would be stuck in the secret realm. Their only option would be to stay in the Jiuli secret realm for another hundred years, waiting for when it opened once more.
However, ever since the Jiuli secret realm had appeared, none of those who had stayed in the Jiuli secret realm for a hundred years had ever managed to survive. They had all disappeared within the secret realm forever. As for the reason, no one knew.
In any case, the past experiences of their seniors told all these disciples that if they couldn't make it to the gathering point when their time was up, they would definitely die.
Long Chen had been in the midst of hesitating about whether or not he should enter deeper when he noticed a cluster of strange grass on the cliff of the mountain in front of him.
Each strand was eight inches long, and had nine segments that looked like flowers. However, those flowers were not brightly-colored like real flowers, but a deep emerald green.
This Nineheart Grass was a main ingredient for the fifth tier Nineheart Meridian Opening Pill. It was extremely precious.
For cultivators that had reached the Meridian Opening realm, the Nineheart Meridian Opening Pill was a treasure they yearned for even in their dreams.
This one cluster had over ten strands of Nineheart Grass. If those old Meridian Opening Elders from the monasteries saw that, they would definitely go crazy.
"It's just like he said. There are countless precious medicinal herbs in these mountain valleys, but once you enter to gather them, you'll never be able to get out…"
On the way to the supermonastery, Ling Yun-zi had told everyone several taboos regarding the Jiuli secret realm. One of them was this place, the Misty Mountain Valleys.
The Misty Mountain Valleys were also called the Lostsoul Mountain Valleys, or even perhaps the Soulsevering Valleys. Ling Yun-zi had warned everyone that if they wanted to collect medicinal herbs here, they were only to stay on the fringes.
From the fringes, it was possible to see some distant mountains, and using those as markings, you would be able to walk out.
But if you entered too deep, then with the thick mist, you wouldn't be able to differentiate north, east, south, west. If you entered, then you would be able to gather many medicinal ingredients, but you'd never be able to leave.
Long Chen looked back in the direction he had came from. It was incredibly misty, and the mountains were already turning indistinct.
"Let's start with here then."
At the entrance of the valley, Long Chen found a covert place to dig a small hole, and buried a small medicinal pill. Replacing the dirt, Long Chen confirmed no one could tell he had done anything here and left.
This medicinal pill was called the Spirit Guide Pill. It wasn't to be consumed, but to be used as a marker.
Alchemy was a profession that went back to the distant past. It could be traced all the way to the very origin of cultivation. It was a broad and profound profession. There were medicinal pills whose tiers were beyond a person's imagination, and the many effects and possibilities were as countless as the stars in the sky.
This Spirit Guide Pill could be considered an auxiliary pill. Other than auxiliary, defensive, and offensive pills, it was said that as long as an alchemist was strong enough and they had enough materials, it was even possible to refine a medicinal pill that would take human form and fight with them. And so alchemy was an extremely divine art.
However, this medicinal pill was naturally far from reaching such a level. It didn't have much of an effect. The ingredients that had gone into it were simply special in that they allowed Long Chen to set his own spiritual imprint on them.
This was just a medicinal pill to avoid getting lost. Alchemists could use such pills to orient themselves.
While Long Chen was unoccupied, he would often refine these kinds of auxiliary medicinal pills. These were all things alchemists prepared for themselves. Now this pill finally had a purpose.
The Spirit Guide Pills he had refined all had his specific spiritual imprint that only he could sense, so he didn't need to fear other pill cultivators destroying them. That was why Long Chen dared enter.
He did one final inspection to be sure he hadn't made any mistakes before continuing deeper. Arriving at the Nineheart Grass, he used a special jade shovel to excavate it it and carefully placed it into his life ring.
Even though this life ring couldn't allow it to continue growing, it would keep it from decaying. Live medicinal ingredients were much more valuable than dead ones.
Just these stalks of Nineheart Grass could be exchanged for a huge amount of points. If Long Chen refined them into Nineheart Meridian Opening Pills, then they would fetch a shockingly high price.
"As expected, the legends are true. Once you enter this place, it's extremely difficult to leave."
Long Chen turned back and the only thing he could see was this white mist. He wasn't even able to see the valley entrance anymore.
This was the most bizarre aspect of the Misty Mountain Valleys. Looking deeper in, it was possible to see for hundreds of meters. However, looking outwards, you wouldn't even be able to see a few meters in front of you.
There were also smart people who had used their own smart methods. They had tied a string to the outside world so that they could enter and then leave by following the string.
But this place contained people from both the Righteous and Corrupt paths. If you were to tie a piece of string to the outside, then enemies would easily find it.
When you finally returned to your original location, you would find a group of people waiting to kill you and take your treasures. So that was not a good method.
After collecting the Nineheart Grass, Long Chen returned to where he had buried his Spirit Guide Pill. Looking into the indistinct mountain in the distance, he confirmed his orientation didn't have any problems. Only then did he go about erasing any of his footprints.
After all, the Misty Mountain Valley was famed for being terrifying. Long Chen didn't dare be careless. Ever since he had been buried in that ancient tomb, he had become much more cautious.
Previously, if that Spirit Guide Pill had failed him, he could still have followed his footprints out. But now that he had confirmed his method worked, Long Chen erased those footprints so that others wouldn't know he had gone in. He definitely didn't want there to be a large group of ambushers waiting for him when he returned.
As he continued deeper, he found a shocking amount of precious ingredients. In less than a few hundred meters, he saw three clusters of Nineheart grass as well as four other types of precious herbs that were all extremely rare in the outside world.
That naturally delighted Long Chen. Alchemists all loved obtaining rare medicinal ingredients, and Long Chen was no exception. That was especially true since he had his Pill God memories.
Although those memories were incomplete, he had perfect knowledge of medicinal ingredients. He even had knowledge of medicinal ingredients that didn't even exist in the outer world.
Long Chen couldn't help feeling incredibly grateful to that fellow who had 'gifted' him his own life ring in the monastery's trial. That fellow really had helped him out.
Following along the valley, he entered several miles deeper when he reached a fork in the road that led to other valleys.
He once more buried a Spirit Guide Pill here and continued deeper. Three days later, Long Chen's life ring was packed with hundreds of precious medicinal herbs.
These were all exceptionally high tier medicinal ingredients. If he refined them into high tier medicinal pills, their value would be terrifying.
Just as Long Chen was gathering medicinal ingredients, a muffled noise came from inside his body. The surrounding wind surged around him, and a majestic energy soared from his body.
"I've broken through to the first Heavenstage!" Long Chen couldn't help being delighted. It had already been several days since he had advanced to Tendon Transformation, and he hadn't deliberately cultivated. Instead, he had used Three Connecting Flower Tendon Pills to nourish his tendons.
What was a pleasant surprise for him was that his body's ability to absorb medicinal energy was absolutely shocking. Even after consuming over ten Three Connecting Flower Tendon Pills, he was still absorbing one hundred percent of their energy. Although it was a special that that could be continuously consumed, the fact that he was still absorbing its full medicinal energy was shocking.
Furthermore, not only were his tendons growing stronger, but his cultivation base also slowly rose with it.
Medicinal pills were only a supplementary assistance to cultivation. Although they could quickly increase your cultivation base, if you didn't work hard yourself, your foundation would become unsteady. Your aura would grow chaotic, and if they continued for too long, your cultivation base would essentially become crippled in the future.
So while cultivators were dependant on medicinal pills, they couldn't be completely dependant. Even if you used medicinal pills to increase your strength, you would have to spend some extra time stabilizing your foundation. If you wanted to stabilize quicker, then the best way was to go out fighting, and the higher level the fight, the faster your foundation would settle. A life and death battle was the most efficient way to stabilize your power.
However, Long Chen realized he didn't need to worry about that. There was not the slightest sign his foundation was growing unsteady. Could it be that the Nine Star Hegemon Body Art could consume unlimited medicinal pills? Long Chen had thought of that theory more than once.
After advancing to the first Heavenstage, Long Chen felt as if his body was brimming with energy, and couldn't help smiling. He took out another batch of Three Connecting Flower Tendon Pills and threw them into his mouth.
Since his body could continuously absorb medicinal energy, Long Chen decided to eat medicinal pills like food. This was also a kind of test towards the Nine Star Hegemon Body Art. He needed to uncover its secrets one by one.
Continuing forward, Long Chen ran into several more valleys, and harvested quite a few precious medicinal herbs.
But suddenly, Long Chen saw a skeleton lying on the ground before him, and his pupils shrunk ever so slightly.