All night, Junior Leopard was in a coma in the wildness. If this was not Junior Leopard but someone else, they certainly would have been eaten by wild beasts. Because he absorbed the small kindling of that Mysterious Fire and blended part of the energy with his Internal Qi, Junior Leopard scared those wild beasts away.
"Am I gaining profits from a misfortune, or does misfortune never come singly to me?"
Junior Leopard slowly opened his eyes. He gazed somewhere primly and quietly, not moving even slightly while the blocky sunlight shone through the grotesque branches above his head.
In fact, whenever he wanted to move, he would be submerged in a great lancinating pain.
Due to that flame, his constitution was greatly undermined yesterday. After checking his internal condition, Junior Leopard found that it was not a big deal. He found that the tingling became more and more obvious with the recovery of his tendons and meridians.
The weather was fine now. In such a sepulchral forest, the water that rained yesterday remained on the ground. Junior Leopard was lying in the water. It was just as well then that he was in a coma. But now, with great pain lancinating through his tendons and meridians along with the piercing chill invading from outside his body, Junior Leopard could say nothing but keep on suffering.
Junior Leopard was a bit numb now, and muscles in his face kept twisting anomalously.
Only by experiencing the hardest hardships can one rise above the ordinary. How hard are the hardships I have experienced? If I can't rise above the ordinary, then the God must be blind.
Junior Leopard laughed with an odd voice in his throat.
All of a sudden, he howled and jumped up from the ground like a carp kipping-up to stand upright.
"Shhh— " Junior Leopard made a long sibilant. He seemed to have overexerted himself just then, before he rigidly walked a few steps.
My tendons and meridians were not badly injured and the Internal Qi has nearly recovered. There is a weird object in my Dantian. But it doesn't seem harmful to me.
The muscles in Junior Leopard's face sometimes twisted and sometimes they were stiff. He suddenly operated his Internal Qi as if he was reminded of something. The Internal Qi of Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire started operating instantly.
"Ahhh—! Ahhh—!" The Internal Qi circulated for nearly ten minutes with Junior Leopard shrieking along the whole time. After operating all of his Internal Qi for one round, the muscles in his face returned to their normal state bit by bit.
Strange to say however, with this operation, the Internal Qi that had blended with the energy of the black flame was not as fiery as it was yesterday. On the contrary, it began to nourish Junior Leopard's tendons and vessels inch by inch and largely reduced his pain.
"Luck finally turns after hardship! I'm lucky now. "
Though Junior Leopard had not yet got rid of the suffering completely, he still could seek joy amid hardship.
Junior Leopard was blessed with optimism. He never complained too much. From where he stood, the only reason that he suffered so much yesterday was that it happened to fall on an evil day. As the initiator had already been cut into two parts by him and he seemed to gain some profits, in the end, there was no anger left in his heart. Even during the harvest time, all his thoughts were of self-mockery.
Now that his suffering had been greatly alleviated, he was naturally in a good mood.
He turned back to look around, and saw the corpse of that peculiar earthworm which was cut into two parts by him. Junior Leopard walked towards it and thought, "This monster can bear the attack of my Kunai. If it were not for my coal dagger, I may not have been able to kill it. Its scale is definitely hard, I might as well strip it off."
Junior Leopard then did what he said. The monster had already been cut into two parts and it was easy for him to strip the scale off from the fractured section. He gently stroked it and couldn't help smiling with satisfaction.
"En, it really is not bad, it looks quite tough!"
Junior Leopard then looked at the skin and flesh which was left after stripping the scale, feeling a huge sense of hunger. In line with the principle of no wasting, he made a fire on the spot to roast the earthworm.
Fierce as the earthworm was, its meat tasted delicate and refreshing, with a hint of rare perfume. Having eaten all the meat, Junior Leopard felt a stream of warm flow fused into the black flame inside his Dantian which caused it to become much more active.
This earthworm was so small that Junior Leopard ate all meat within few minutes but he was still very hungry. After eating the last piece of meat, he looked around with eager eyes hoping there would be something else to eat. It was a pity that all of the wild beasts around were scared away by the spirit of the Mysterious Fire on the last evening. How could there be any living creatures, there was just trees and moss!
Junior Leopard thought, "Well, I'd better have a rest and get away from this damn place." He gave up the idea to seek food before glimpsing at the bones of that earthworm that remained after his meal.
Its skull should have been connected with the chine but had fallen off. Junior Leopard's heart was still fluttering with fear as he recalled the scene when the earthworm opened its mouth and displayed its rows of sharp teeth and so he skipped the head. Consequently, its skull was laid on the ground by itself.
"I'd like to see how many rows of teeth you have!" Junior Leopard took the skull in hand and gently pulled open its mouth.
Good heavens! Junior Leopard was really scared after opening its mouth. Obviously roasting it had done no harm to the teeth of this earthworm. Those rows of teeth still gleamed with chilling light and numbed Junior Leopard's head with fear.
Both the teeth and the skull were unscathed. The roast seemed to only have an effect on its skin and flesh. Junior Leopard tried to pinch the skull but the latter was absolutely still. It seemed to even contain a connotative retroaction.
"Maybe it will be useful one day, I'll keep it." Junior Leopard decided to take it instead of throwing it away.
"All right, it's time to work!" Junior Leopard operated his Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Technique, drying his clothes with the heat produced by the technique, he patted the dirt clinging to his clothes off and looked around. To take shelter from the rain, he had rushed towards places where the trees were few without taking the time to check which directions he had taken. He totally had no idea about where he was now.
Out of helplessness, he picked a random direction and walked forwards. Before he walked further ahead he had detected something wrong.
The further he walked, the fewer trees there were and the muddier the land under his feet became. Finally, he walked to an empty area and couldn't help but curse.
Swamp! How could he walk into a swamp?
Previously he entered the forest from the swamp which was at the end of the river. Little did he think that he would come back again after taking a roundabout way. And obviously he had come to the other side of the swamp after rushing in the rain.
Now the sun had risen and the vapor pervading the swamp became more and more stout. Even though he was on the edge of the swamp, he could still smell the blast of a strange stench.
This was a junction that connected the forest and the swamp. The land was swampy here and once people set foot on it, they would be caught in the clay. The trees around were few and far between, looking around, he could only see plants and white fog. A wide range of mist floated under the sunlight and gave off a blast of fishy smell. With a poor physical state, he felt a bit queer after inhaling so much poison gas. He staggered and nearly fell to the ground.
"I can't wait any more! I have to get away from here as soon as possible!" Junior Leopard was about to lift his feet when he helplessly found that half of his feet had already been caught into the swamp.
"Damn it!" Junior Leopard couldn't help cursing. He forcibly operated Yanfu Inner Strength and struggled out from the swamp. Then he took in a deep breath and fled to the nearest tree, where he hunkered down on a thick and strong branch. His figure twisted like that of an astute ape, neatly and fleetly.
"Emm— I'd better stay here to have a rest." Junior Leopard hunkered on the branch and got ready to regulate breathing. In such a place where he was submerged with poison gas, he dared not cultivate. He only regulated breathing so that he could recover his stamina.
After a few minutes, he had renewed his strength a little and decided to walk in the opposite direction with a new route.
"Shh" before he stood up, an odd whistle came to his ears. He was greatly frightened by what he had heard when he looked down below the branch. A White-scale Python which had reached a length of over 10 feet was entrenched somewhere down the tree. It stared at Junior Leopard with its malicious yellow eyes, flicking its sanguine tongue every now and then.
How could this python feel so familiar?
Junior Leopard was speechless due to his astonishment after remembering when he had met this White-scale Python. It definitely was the one he met while chasing that wild boar the day before yesterday.
What a small world it is!
Junior Leopard didn't dare to move. After all, he was born in a village and his family members were hunters, he knew he should not act rashly in these circumstances. As soon as he moved, the python would launch a deadly attack. He would be less scared if he was not in such a poor condition, but his body right now was not suitable for fighting.
Therefore Junior Leopard stayed still with his eyes staring back at the python's yellow firece eyes firmly.
They fell into a stalemate for nearly one hour before the python seemed to realize that the man in front of it shouldn't be trifled with and cast away the maliciousness from its firece eyes before unfurling its entrenched body. It was about to leave.
Junior Leopard still staring firmly at the python secretly sighed with relief. All of a sudden, a burst of strong wind blew above him, and a black shadow skimmed overhead.
Junior Leopard was surprised. He saw a black eagle swoop down towards the White-scale Python, its iron claw grabbed the python's opened body tightly.
The White-scale Python twisted with a rush and tried to curl up again, but it was too late. At the moment it unfurled its body, the black eagle seized the python's moment of weakness with its iron claw. Thick as the white scales were, it couldn't bear such a scratch. There were six blood stains in the abdomen and some viscera came out.
"Shhh," the White-scale Python was aware that it couldn't survive any longer and in a last-ditch effort, constrained the black eagle's claws before the latter withdrew its claws back. The python then opened its mouth to spray two pieces of greenblack venom from its poison fangs. The venom adhered to the black eagle's body successfully.
Not knowing what species this python was, its venom was truly grisly. Once the black eagle was hit, a puff of white smog was emitted from its body. A large area of feathers and skin and fleshs was corroded, even the bones were faintly visible.
Feeling the pain, the black eagle tightened its grip on the White-scale Python. When nearly half of its body was constricted by the python, the eagle finally tore the python off in two. That two parts writhed and spasmed for a little while before it stopped moving completely. On the other hand, the wound of the black eagle caused by the venom became more and more severe, even though it had gotten rid of the White-scale Python. It scampered on the ground heading toward the corpse of the python. It was trying to peck something from the corpse with its hook-like beak, but it fell down on the ground as it just reached the corpse.
What a loss-loss game!
"Ah-ha! I have benefited from this battle! How lucky!" Junior Leopard jumped down from the tree and walked towards the corpse, within a few steps he was beside the abdomen of the snake where the dead black eagle wanted to peck.
"Excellent, it's snake gall." Junior Leopard stretched his hand into the abdomen and brought a tepid snake gall. This snake gall was the size of a pigeon egg and appeared dark purple, smelling a light stench. Without thinking further, Junior Leopard threw this snake gall into his mouth.
Snake galls can brighten eyes.
Since Junior Leopard found that his eyes had a development tendency like the skill-copy eyes, he became more and more careful about them. He didn't know anything about how to train the eyes, he had just wanted to brighten the eyes with the snake gall. When he was at home, he often ran into the mountain for snakes. Though he didn't achieve remarkable results, there was at least no harm. He was familiar with killing snakes and drawing out snake galls. Even if this White-scale Python was different from those snakes he hunted in the mountain, it was impossible for snake gall to have any distinction. He thus swallowed it in a clear way.
After swallowing the snake gall, Junior Leopard cast his eyes on the corpses of the snake and the eagle.
How delicious the snake soup! How appetizing the eagle meat!
Whether the snake or the eagle, they were both big enough for him to eat several times.
That earthworm didn't satisfy him at all.
"Oh, what's this?!"
As Junior Leopard was trying to twine their corpses together, he saw that something glinted inside the snake's head.
This was pretty strange. Its body had already been cut into two parts from the middle abdomen, and the head was not injured. It was definitely dead.
"Inside the eyes?!"
Junior Leopard stared for a while and he was sure that the light came from the python's eyes. He paid more attention and saw slight red lights reflected by noon from the eyes.
"Interesting!" Junior Leopard was surprised. That light should not be reflected from the eyes. He turned the head over without hesitation and sliced it in two using the Kunai.
After dividing the head into two parts, there were red lights being emitted.
Inner Elixir? What a pity. If it didn't die here the snake would've become a Spirit Beast.
Junior Leopard took in a deep breath. He knew he had good luck today.
If this python had Inner Elixir, what about that eagle?
Junior Leopard wouldn't feel shameful of spilling the eagle's corpse with his Kunai. Similarly, he found a cyan Inner Elixir within the head.
Neither of these two Inner Elixirs was big, they were just the size of soybeans. But Junior Leopard was clear that if he sold the two Inner Elixirs, he would get hundreds of thousands worth of silver.
"Sure Misty Mountain is as full of treasure as it is renowned for. While it's a pity that few can enter into the deepest parts." Junior Leopard sighed with emotion in his heart, putting the two Inner Elixirs away. He stood up and was about to bring the two corpses away when a stream of hot flow started rushing towards his eyes from his Dantian.
Instantly, Junior Leopard lost his sight. His eyes seemed to be burning with fire. He covered his eyes and hunched over.
"Hohool, hohool!" Regardless of the fishy air, he took a deep breath and tried to calm down.
"Snake gall! It must be the snake gall. Is that snake gall harmful?"
There was no need to think too much. Junior Leopard was sure that this was a result of the snake gall that he ate just now and felt a bit of regret. Creatures here in the Misty Mountain must be different from the snakes near his house. Though snakes around his house were also poisonous, they were just common snakes and couldn't compare to these Misty Mountain snakes. How could he be so obtrusive to think of swallowing a snake gall without hesitation? What a misjudgment!
Junior Leopard dared not to be careless. He operated Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire and was about to eliminate the 'toxin'.
But after operating Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire, Junior Leopard sensed something surprising. The Internal Qi of Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire had no inhibition on blocking that 'toxin' rushing towards his eyes. Instead, it added fuel to the fire. Just within several breaths, all that hot flow poured into his eyes with a significant sense of tearing. He moved his hand away from his eyes because he felt as though his hand was burnt at the same time.
"Am... Am I blind?"
After moving his hands away, he managed to see everything again. This time, all seemed to be normal expect for a slightly blood shadow at the top of his vision.
Junior Leopard found that he wasn't blind and so he was greatly relieved.
With a meticulous descriptive quality, everything within a one-kilometer radius was within his sight. But they were covered by a blood shadow.
Junior Leopard soon realized that his eccentric eyes were opened once again. Thus he could see with a 360-degree perspective. But this time the range of visibility enlarged to one kilometer. That was to say, he could observe a larger range now.
This must be the efficacy of that snake gall!
Junior Leopard speculated in his heart. But what was the matter with his hands just now?
He looked down at his hands, "How could they?"
His hands were charred now. At a glance, he realized that they were burnt. Bones could even be seen in his hands. Just now he was so astonished that he ignored the pain in his hands. But now, as he looked at his hands, the enormous pain invaded him.
"Shh!" Junior Leopard sucked in a cold breath. He resisted the pain and tried to recall what happened inside his body just now.
That hot flow, which he thought was a 'toxin' at first, should be the efficacy of the snake gall. After the efficacy rushed into his eyes, he felt as though his eyes were torn by a mighty power and enormous pain accompanied. At the same time, something in his eyes seemed to be broken by this efficacy. And then, his hands were burnt.
Narrowing his eyes, Junior Leopard seemed to figure out the vital point. He started to observe the Internal Qi inside his body.
"Sure enough!" little Internal Qi remained in his body, he tried harder to recall the state that he had fallen into just now. "My eyes could refine Internal Qi and release it. I should have discovered this point earlier. It happened last night. It was just too painful to realize it. The working flow the heat flux operated just now is the same as my Internal Qi's working flow. I practice the Blaze Technique of the Heavenly Nine Dragon, so the Internal Qi has a strong property of fire. In this way, my eyes will release flame after refining Internal Qi. I'm grateful for my young age and low-grade Internal Qi or else I would've been crippled."
Looking at his burnt hands, Junior Leopard had a one-minute spasm within his mouth, "I guess it is the efficacy of both that python and of the snake galls that I ate before which focus on my eyes. Thanks to those, I have achieved this breakthrough. That is to say... "
Junior Leopard started to pay all attention to his eyes. Soon afterward, he detected a sense of rotating with his eyes. The Internal Qi of Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire that remained also followed this rotation. This Internal Qi converged to one stream and rushed towards his eyes. Junior Leopard sensed another heat in his eyes and the Internal Qi that had converged disappeared all at once as if it never existed. Almost at the same time an arbuscle he stared at when he was operating his Internal Qi was kindled with bright flames. The arbuscle soon became overwhelmed. More than this, it kept burning and didn't disappear until the muddy land was burnt with a fist-sized pothole.
"Oh my god, my eyes seem to truly be skill-copy eyes." Junior Leopard had one more spasm before contemplating, "These eyes have many peculiar functions, for example, enlarge eyesight and enhance my control force to Internal Qi and strength. They can even release the Internal Qi after refining it. My technique is Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Technique, so I can burn the arbuscle. If my technique is of cold property, maybe the arbuscle would be frozen. God, how amazing this world is! It even has super powers. No, no no no, this can't be a superpower. It can only be an enhanced version of dynamic visual acuity without Internal Qi." Junior Leopard pondered in the heart. He calmed down thinking about his eyes, after all, they had given him too much surprise. Despite those amazing martial arts, the fact that Xue Wuya could turn into a bloody light with his technique and that he flew in the sky had gone beyond his expectations. Thus one added function was not surprising anymore.
Junior Leopard turned his eyes back to their normal state and then sat down on the ground feeling exhausted.
"Excellent as these eyes are, they do have a huge burden on my body. Releasing flame from eyes can be a unique movement, but I need to be focused and prepare by collecting Internal Qi for a little while. Start slowly, or else I can't plot against Xue Wuya. Alas..."
When thinking of something, he suddenly looked pale. "Can this movement of eyes releasing fire be the same as skill-copy eyes? Though it is powerful, it has enormous damage. If I'm blind after some time, then the loss outweighs the gains!"
So Junior Leopard became bored. He didn't want to handle with the corpses of the eagle and the python anymore. The stout bloody stench around had already attracted some wild beasts. After regaining both the Internal Qi and strength, with his burnt hands, he tried to find a way back.
Luckily, he found the Wandering Flower on his way back and therefore had finished the five-day task Xue Wuya announced on the second day.