The Hidden Territory; a wondrous and magical Cosmo.
Perhaps risen from the dust of heaven and earth, or maybe a space where souls of the dead linger, the Hidden Territory contains highly concentrated doses of Qi. It is a favorite amongst the adventurous.
It is where cultivators meet their fate.
Rare plants with unimaginable healing powers are encountered here. Nowhere else could one find more priceless ingredients for medicine.
The Hidden Territory is also home to mythical beasts. Unlike beasts of the outside world, the creatures living here have magical Qi flowing through their veins. An cultivator who succeeds in killing one of these beasts would inherit the Qi of his victim and slowly become invincible.
Perhaps the most precious of all its wonders, within the walls of the Hidden Territory, is powerful and exquisite artifacts that are exclusive to the Hidden Territory and are awaiting discovery. Only a lucky few have ever encountered such treasures.
There exist four types of Hidden Territories: Heaven, Earth, Mystery, and Gold. Gold is the least sophisticated form, which describes the one located in the City of Qing. Only cultivators under the age of 20, who have completed the foundational levels of cultivator training, are allowed to compete here. Anyone else would be denied entry.
Time allowed inside the different types of Hidden Territories differ as well. For an entry level field such as Gold, a month is the maximum length of time. The consequence of overstaying is death. As a result, time is closely observed by all who enter here.
All cultivators who possessed a Token had entered at once. Ling Xian has disguised himself inside the moving crowd without inviting suspicion.
Guided by the force of the shifting crowd, Ling Xian arrived at the glowing gate and, with an overpowering sense of excitement, launched himself through the gate.
A force propelled Ling Xian through the path to the other side, separating him from the rest.
When he opened his eyes again, Ling Xian found himself on top of a mountain peak. Before he could regain his footing, he felt an icy gust of wind pierce through his body.
Looking down, there was nothing but layers of cloud and fog floating above what appeared to be a bottomless valley.
Ling Xian felt his sweat turn to ice. [How did I end up so high up?How fortunate to have landed anywhere at all? How fortunate to not have fallen thousands of miles to my death.]
The storm continued to bellow, tossing him from side to side. One misstep and he would be dead.
"How do I get down from here?" Ling Xin cursed. Looking around, he noticed the landscape inside the Hidden Territory didn't mirror the surroundings of the outside in the slightest way.
The Qi here was much richer. Spiked mountains with steep sides extended thousands of miles into the sky. Giant trees, and ancient plants, compared to the outside world, appeared to predate life itself - nature at its finest.
The terrifying sound of a beast broke the silence.
One by one, other beasts responded. Deafening cries of unknown creatures filled the air.
Ling Xian trembled. His hair stood up at the back of his freezing neck. He understood. The creatures were defending their territories against this sudden influx of human intruders.
The competition had officially begun!
Not only must one evade the deadly creatures that roam these lands, but they must also escape the murderous intentions of his fellow cultivators.
A screeching roar pierced through the wind.
In the distance, a massive and hideous birdlike creature could be seen pouncing towards Ling Xian. There was no time for a closer look. The beast was coming in for a kill.
Ling Xian could feel fear traveling throughout his body. He could not believe his eyes.
The giant birdlike creature resembled the shape of a crane with bright red feathers and a cold and murderous gaze. Without a doubt, this was the most feared beast in these lands.
The Bare Winged Crane!
This was a beast of a certain maturity. Most likely one of the eighth-realm.
The giant bird arrived within arms reach in the blink of an eye. His arrival forced a fearsome gust of wind, with the powers of a hurricane, nearly knocking Ling Xian over the edge of the mountain peak and sending him towards his death.
"It's coming for me?"
Ling Xian frowned angrily. Deciding whether to take refuge inside the Painting of the Nine Immortals or calling on Liao Cang Qiong's powers to assist him in his defense. Unexpectedly, the crane did not launch an attack. Instead, it threw him a casual glance, flapped its magnificent wings, and flew away.
Ling Xian understood clearly what the casual glance insinuated.
Contempt, disdain, pity… as if it was looking down at an ant; an unworthy prey.
Ling Xian was furious. He had to fight the urge to call on his Sword of Extinction and destroy the arrogant creature.
Of course, that was just a thought. Ling Xian could have never won that battle.
"What sort of place is this? This is too dangerous!" Ling Xian shook his head, and muttered to himself, "this damned place, won't let in anyone with more than foundational training, but lets out such dangerous beasts. Do they expect us to leave here alive?"
But this was unfair of him to say. This encounter was sheer bad luck. Upon entering through the gate, Ling Xian had unfortunately been transported to the most dangerous location inside the Hidden Territory, thus encountering the Territory's most feared beast.
The Hidden Territory is a universe of average size. Its inhabitants are commonly creatures of the ninth-realm and a few creatures from the eighth-realm. They were all similar to the skills of the cultivators allowed inside. The creatures also rarely step out of their usual habitats. Ling Xian had experienced some rotten luck indeed.
Ling Xian was fortunate to have been deemed unworthy of prey by the Bare Winged Crane. Blood would have been spilled otherwise.
"Should figure out how to get down from here. It's too dangerous this high up." Ling Xian pondered a moment. Carefully, he circled the peak, searching for a safe way down.
Suddenly, he felt a black, shadowy figure move towards him at the speed of lightening.
"Oh no!" Ling Xian shouted. However, there was nothing to be done except watch as the black lightning pierced through his heart. Leaving behind a blood clot in the shape of a flower suspended next to his chest.
"This is…the Xuan Ming Snake!"
Ling Xian stumbled backward while clutching his chest. Coming face to face with the dark, monstrous snake, his expression froze.
The snake was roughly 30 feet in length, and its skin was a shade of deep charcoal with sparkling blue patterns. It curled up on top of a massive rock and examined this intruder with a deadly gaze.
The Xuan Ming Snake!
Legend has it this creature shares the same blood as the ancient Winged Serpent- a feared and powerful beast of mythical origins.
Commonly a predator of the ninth-realm, a Xuan Ming Snake could evolve to become a predator of the eighth-realm.
The Xuan Ming Snake is known to produce a lethal venom- an instant, irreversible and incurable poison. Death comes swiftly to those who are bitten.
All snakes fear birds. The Xuan Ming Snaked had intended to challenge Ling Xian earlier, but recoiled as it spotted the approaching crane. However now, this human prey was all his.
"You foolish human. You've been injected with my venom. I'm going to watch you die!"
The beast let out a strange and chilling laughter. It was close to entering the eighth-realm.
Shockingly, Ling Xian's face began to relax as the look of worry disappeared. "It's only venom, what's to fear?" He smiled, exhaling a sigh of relief.
The snake began to feel a panicky sensation creep up on it. "Why are you not afraid? How is this possible? You can't feel nothing!"
"And yet, I feel nothing," Ling Xian smirked. He was not afraid of a little drop of venom.
His body is protected with the world's most potent antidote. What did he have to fear?
Ling Xian threw up his sleeves and shaped a fireball in between his palms. Silvery strands of fire slithered toward his chest, extracting the poison and disintegrating it.
The snake's dilated pupils contracted in an instant. It could not understand what was inside Ling Xian's body that made him immune to its venom. Terror rained down on the creature.
It had met its nemesis!
In a moment of panic, the Xuan Ming Snake lifted his tail, swung it around, aimed at Ling Xian's head and smashed down on it.
Maintaining his composure and without moving an inch, Ling Xian snatched up its tail in his vapory grasp and flung it outwards with all his might.
"Haha, foolish human, you are trapped." The snake let out a devilish laugh. As it was flung into the air, the creature spun around in midair, seized Ling Xian by his waist and began strangling him with its tightening grip.
"What a magnificent snake, it would make a tasty stew." Ling Xian chuckled to himself. This close to the beast, Ling Xian was overwhelmed by a sense of disgust. He collected his thoughts, summoned his powers and generated a protective layer between him and the snake.
"Vile human, I don't believe you are immune to my venom." The snaked opened his gargantuan mouth and spat out a murky haze that plunged into Ling Xian's body.
He felt a similar palpitation of the heart and became restless.
"If you insist on death, then let me assist you." Ling Xian's pupils dilated, simultaneously unleashing the magical Flame of Purity.
Silver flames burst out of his pores, masking his body.
The temperature in the air surged around the pair. In an instant, it melted every last drop of the dark, poisonous cloud.
The Xuan Ming Snake let out a heart-wrenching scream and recoiled in pain. Retreating behind a large rock, the creature hopelessly eyed the silver flames that have now entrapped it.
"Damn him! What is this?"
The Xuan Ming Snake was now drowning in fear. It had never encountered an opponent of such skills and caliber. It has feared nearly nothing, and no one, until now.
The pride of its existence, its poisonous venom, was powerless against this human.
The snake has indeed met its nemesis. This thought made the beast tremble in terror. Was there a worse way to die?