The Hidden Territory is an enchanted Cosmo where threats and opportunities coexist.
One may come face-to-face with their greatest fears but also capture their greatest victories. In this magical universe, there lives countless beasts of the ninth-realm as well as a handful of creatures of the eighth-realm whose names send shivers down the spine of every cultivator.
This is a terrifying universe for any being that dares to venture into it.
After leaving the peak where he battled the great Xuan Ming Snake, Ling Xian, accompanied by his new pet, headed straight towards the location the defeated snake had revealed to him. The first day was rather uneventful. Most beasts scattered in fear at the sight of the great snake.
However, Ling Xian knew that in the days that followed, his will and skills would be tested like never before.
On the path between them and their destination, three horrendous beasts of the ninth-realm awaited them. All three both loathed the snake and were immune to its venom.
Backed by the snake, Ling Xian nearly defeated the Golden Tiger before the beast escaped, heavily wounded. However, the tiger returned, seeking revenge, with two more beasts of the ninth-realm.
Leaving the snake to battle the injured tiger, Ling Xian faced the two new threats himself.
With his sword in one hand, and summoning the Flames of Purity with the other, Ling Xian defeated the beasts after a bloodbath from which he emerged wounded.
A sixth-realm cultivator slaughtering two beasts of the ninth-realm, a stunning triumph!
Unfortunately for Ling Xian, he was unaware of what was coming for him.
The beasts of the Hidden Territory enjoyed a close camaraderie, especially when confronted with outside intruders. The news of the beasts' death began to spread like wildfire, sending shockwaves throughout the area. It stirred up a passionate thirst for revenge amongst the beastly occupants of the Territory. A terrifying beastly army had been raised to hunt down and slay Ling Xian and his companion.
More importantly, a powerful beast of the eighth-realm was amongst them!
To make matters worse, Ling Xian was not wounded lightly. His only chance for survival was to hide for the time being. Fortunately for him, the Hidden Territory was a massive area of intricate ecosystems and complex geographical ranges. He easily disappeared inside an empty cave.
If he was discovered, there was nothing else to do but to battle the beasts to the death. Using all of his magical weapons, creatures of the ninth-realm were not of an immediate concern. However, the one beast of the eighth-realm remained a real threat to Ling Xian's life.
Despite his injuries and the imminent threat on his life, Ling Xian hoped to find opportunities from this seemingly hopeless situation.
Where there were threats, there were opportunities.
First, Ling Xian had slaughtered many beasts in the past few days. He had also inhaled their souls and powers as nurtured by the magical Qi of the Hidden Territory. Breaking through to the eighth-realm of alchemy was only a matter of time.
Second, the constant battle had awakened the untapped potential inside Ling Xian. His sense grew keener, and his skills sharper. He had become a veteran.
Throughout his cultivation journey, Ling Xian has engaged in several battles. However, never once did he achieve victory through combat. Through the experiences of the past few days, he has become a warrior.
The moon shone brightly over the corpse-infested waters of the magical Cosmo.
Ling Xian stood underneath his bloodied cloak, surrounded by a deathly aura.
Around him, the rivers have turned into the color of blood and corpses were scattered everywhere. It was hell on earth.
A vicious battle had apparently taken place here.
Ling Xian breathed heavily, body bent, clutching a bloodied chest covered in open wounds.
Moments ago, he was confronted by a dozen revenge-seeking beasts.
Following a brutal battle, he managed to slaughter all of them. However, he did not escape unscathed. He had consumed nearly all of his powers, broken at least five ribs, and suffered what felt like significant nerve damage.
"Adding fuel to fire." Ling Xian shooked his head. "Look at me, any beast could finish me off." Looking up at the Xuan Ming Snake, wrapped around a wooden branch of an ancient oak tree, he felt a hint of uneasiness. "Little snake, this is your chance, finish me off." He chuckled.
The snake looked down, shocked and confused.
It didn't wish to submit to a human. It chose submission because the alternative was death. Now, there was nothing left for the human. Its inner demons began to hijack its thoughts.
However, seeing the soft smile on Ling Xian's face, and the dismembered corpses scattered all around them, it remembered how the human had fought all those beasts at once. The snake knew how strong and special this human is.
The snake thought back to the earth-shattering battles of the past few days.
He used only 15 minutes to slaughter a dozen beasts of the ninth-realm!
The snake could never forget the bright silvery flames, the determined glares that shot out of his eyes, and the sword that constantly replaced old blood stains with fresh ones.
Nor could it erase the image of a warrior holding his sword, a hero, and a story for the ages.
A divine figure, the pride of nations, and a myth feared by gods and devils alike.
For the Xuan Ming Snake, these memories brought him unrelinquishable fear, but it has also ignited within it uncontrollable adoration. The snake could not decide.
However, it had a choice to make.
Kill him, regain freedom, return home, and continue to rule its land and subjects. However, even by doing so, it would never become more powerful than it already was.
Follow him, lose freedom, and do his biddings until death. This human had displayed powers beyond what anyone would have imagined possible. One day he will become great, and perhaps rule the known world. It could be a part of that.
Seeing the indecisive snake, Ling Xian lowered his voice. "Still thinking about whether you should follow me or kill me? Don't trouble yourself. Just swing that tail and kill me. However…"
"...even if you try, I am not sure you can actually kill me." Ling Xian continued with a warm and inviting smile.
However, his smile was darkened by his sad state. His dark hair danced in the wind, and he was drenched in blood from head to toe.
The snake couldn't help but recount the images of Ling Xian mercilessly slaughtering one beast after another, layering their pitiful bodies on top of the shattered corpses of their dead comrades. Still sweating ice buckets, the snake slithered down the tree towards Ling Xian. "Master, you are speaking nonsense. I would never hurt you when you're in this state."
"Oh? Is that so? Then why were you hesitating just now?" Ling Xian continued to smile, but the snake could swear it saw a killer's intentions behind that smile.
"That… this…" the snake muttered. "Oh yes! I was lost in the depth of my thoughts. I was recalling your warrior-like skills and bravery and… a dozen beasts! Perhaps not all of them have reached the ninth-realm, but you slaughtered so many of them! And you, master, slaughtered them all without breaking a sweat! My admiration for you is like… the waves of the ocean that never stops crashing down on top of…"
The snake paused, suddenly noticing the deadly glare it was getting from Ling Xian. The creature swallowed its words and began to fidget uncomfortably. I couldn't help but wonder how Ling Xian would punish it this time.
The Xuan Ming Snake understood perfectly that Ling Xian saw right through its thought process and erected a wall of distrust. However, since it had made its choice, there was no going back now.
No matter what the human wanted, the snake would oblige.
"To tell you the truth, that is rather regretful. If you had chosen a different path, I would be having some delicious snake stew by now." Ling Xian feigned a sigh.
Deep down, he was relieved. Three days of bloody battles, and although he was victorious, the victories came neither easily nor swiftly. In the process of slaying all those powerful beasts, Ling Xian had been forced to use every last drop of his spiritual energy. Not to mention a beast, in his current state, any human could easily finish him off.
However, he had no choice but to continue pretending as if he was only exhausted, and that he could still summon his powers if he so wished. He could not show even the faintest hint of weakness in front of the snake.
Hearing this, the snake became petrified. It whispered a little prayer, thanking the heavens for the smart choice it had just made. Had it chosen poorly, it would be a skinless meat stew by now.
The Xuan Ming Snake was indeed quite stupid. Even though in the creature's early days, it had gained some human wisdom, its current level of intelligence was equivalent to that of a ten-year-old child. Hence he believed, wholeheartedly, what Ling Xian had just said. To kill it, Ling Xian would only need to raise one finger.
"Get up! Stop lying there like a useless toolbox. Find me a cave. If more beasts smell blood and come this way, I'll kill you first," Ling Xian demanded impatiently.
"Yes, yes Master. I know a hiding place not far from here. You stay and wait right there." The snake then moved quickly towards Ling Xian and secured him on its back. Then it morphed into a flash of light and disappeared under a cloud of dust.
The snake was taking him to a place it had once called home.