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Su Ming lifted his head and cast Sun Shan a glance. There was a resolute look on this person's face, making him seem as if he had decided to risk everything for the sake of surviving. Yet even though this Sun Shan was smart and calculative, with the amount of experience Su Ming had gained through his multiple life and death encounters, he still was able to find some clues.

He did not immediately speak, but chose to let his gaze fall on the ground in the cave abode.

'There's a Spirit Vein here, and it's the perfect place for me to swiftly recover my cultivation base, but when I absorb this Spirit Vein, I'll definitely cause a huge ruckus, and I can't immediately absorb it… It'll affect my plans to lure out Hidden Dragon Sect.'

Su Ming fell into a contemplative silence. Most of his analysis was made on pure speculation, and as he thought about the feasibility as well as the gains and losses in his plan, a glint appeared in his eyes.

'I'll first lure out those people from Hidden Dragon Sect. It'll be good if I succeed, but if I don't, then I'll stop thinking about anything else and focus on absorbing this Spirit Vein to recover my cultivation base and reach the Berserker Soul Realm!'

Su Ming made his decision. He waved his arm at Sun Shan, and the gray smoke before him immediately withdrew to return to his right little finger.

"Continue," Su Ming said languidly.

Once Sun Shan his previous words, his heart pounded nervously, but he still kept the determined look on his face and did not dare to show any cracks in his facade. He knew full well just how terrifying this person was, and everything about Su Ming in terms of comprehensive abilities and his cultivation base had surpassed Sun Shan. Even if Sun Shan tried to deceive him, it would be difficult due to Su Ming's intelligence. That was what he believed.

"I possess the potential to search for dragons and can detect the presence of treasures. The seniors in my sect might have hidden the treasures away, but if I offer up my life, there are eight-tenths of a chance that I would be able to find them.

"I can also crack the seal there slightly. I cannot promise that I will be able to open the seal, but I can weaken it by a large margin so that you would be able to obtain it.

"Doing this is the same as betraying my sect. I will be using my life and this act as a chip in exchange for an oath from you. If I succeed, please let me leave." Not a single hint of deceit could be detected on Sun Shan's face. His despair and desperate expression, coupled with his words and tone of voice all screamed of a desire to continue living.

If it was anyone else, perhaps they would truly be affected by his words, but when it came to Su Ming, he only maintained his cool. After casting a few scrutinizing glances at Sun Shan, he nodded his head.

Sun Shan became even more nervous after he said those words. He kept his eyes fixed on Su Ming, and when he saw the nod, his heart relaxed slightly, but there was not much change to his expression. The determined look on his face only grew stronger.

'I only have one chance. If I succeed, this person will definitely die! If I fail… No, I shouldn't fail. This person might be extraordinarily intelligent, but I'm confident that I didn't slip. He might be suspicious, but no matter who it is, they won't refuse my offer. The most they would do is to agree to it and see how things unfold while remaining skeptical.'

"Senior, please swear an oath, or else even if I die, I will still never submit to you!" Sun Shan looked at Su Ming and spoke with gritted teeth.

Su Ming laughed coldly in his heart, but he remained as composed as ever.

"If you can do as you say, then once I succeed, I will naturally return you your freedom."

"Senior, please swear an…" Sun Shan began speaking again, but his words were cut off by Su Ming before he could finish.

"I'll give you the span of three breaths. Either you look for those treasures, or you die!"

A slight hint of impatience appeared on Su Ming's face. With a wave of his arm, he released the restrain on Sun Shan's body, which returned him his ability to move, and his cultivation base was no longer sealed.

The three breaths went by very quickly. Sweat beaded on Sun Shan's face, and when he saw Su Ming lifting his right hand, he clenched his teeth, and the determined look on his face became even more prominent.

"Senior, please do keep to your promise!"

As he spoke, Sun Shan sat down cross-legged on the ground. Once he formed a seal with his hands, he tapped his ears, and as his body trembled, two trails of blood flowed down from his eyes. Black blood also poured out from his ears at the same time.

Su Ming stood by the side, and a freezing glare shone in his eyes. He wanted to see just what this person was thinking. After a moment, he saw Sun Shan trembling even more viciously, and with a wave of his right hand, four black needles immediately appeared on his palm. Without a hint of hesitation, he stabbed one needle into the center of his brows, another into the top of his skull, the third into his heart, and the last needle went straight to his throat.

At the instant these four black needles went into his skin, a strange light shone in Sun Shan's eyes. A deep wave of fatigue also appeared within them. He lifted his head, and his gaze seemed to be able to see through the cave and look at the world outside.

'These four needles can stimulate his soul, and the potential within his life force will also burst forth under this stimulation… By the looks of it, the price for the stimulation of this potential is the burning of his life force.

'With this method, his body will become empty. It does somewhat fit into what he said about offering up his life.' Su Ming gave Sun Shan a onceover, and these thoughts passed through his head.

"The treasure trove is… seventy eight lis away from Thousand River Valley, and within ten thousand feet of the third barren hill!" Once Sun Shan said these words, with much difficulty on his part, he coughed up a mouthful of blood. When that blood appeared, the four black needles immediately started shivering, and as Sun Shan started breathing rapidly, he immediately brought out two more black needles. He pushed onto into his Dantian region and the other three inches above his navel.

"Senior, please take me there. I will open the seal for you!"

Once the two needles entered Sun Shan's body, his face gained a slightly healthier shade, but there was a sickly red flush on his cheeks. Su Ming could see it clearly. Once the needles pierced Sun Shan's skin, his life force began burning a little quicker, and this was the reason why he could still remain conscious.

Su Ming didn't say a word. With a wave of his arm, he swept up Sun Shan and took a step forward. At the same moment his foot landed on the ground, he cast his Nascent Divinity outward, causing his body to instantly disappear with Sun Shan in hand.

Once he warped out of the cave, he warped once more without even stopping. After doing so several times, Su Ming arrived outside a mountain range filled with barren hills without attracting too much attention due to his extreme speed.

This place was seventy eight lis away from Thousand River Valley!

There were seven barren hills in this place. Once Su Ming appeared, he swept his gaze across the mountain range, and his eyes landed on the third barren hill. That hill was empty, and there was not a single hint of green that could be spotted on it. It was very normal, so normal that it would not catch anyone's attention.

"Please place me at the top of the mountain, senior. I will do my best to break the seal for you. Once you successfully retrieve the treasure, please let me go free on behalf of me burning my life and betraying my sect," Sun Shan said, with much difficulty, his breathing labored.

Su Ming cast Sun Shan a glance and nodded. If this person truly did not have any other ulterior motives, then he would return him his freedom as according to his promise.

With one move, he brought Sun Shan to the third barren hill, and once he placed him on a giant rock at the top of the mountain, Su Ming took a few steps backwards and swept his gaze through the area. This place was empty. There was not a sign of anything being hidden here.

'Does he really mean what he said?'

Su Ming was uncertain. He had been observing Sun Shan up to this moment, and right from the moment he began casting his Art to this point, he had not slipped up a single time. All of his actions seemed to be truly of him solely searching for the treasures, and the burning of his life force as well as the burst of his potential were not fake.

It was especially so for his body, which was close to empty at this point. He was like water in an originally full bottle. Due to a fire, he was turning into steam and becoming less as time went by.

Sun Shan formed a seal with his hands once again before he pressed his palms flat on the ground. The entire mountain let out a loud hum, and a large amount of stones broke off. A stream of light could be faintly seen at the center of the mountain.

That stream of light was semi-transparent, and Su Ming could see that there was a door leading to a cave abode right under it!

Sun Shan's face turned pale. As he trembled, his hands flew off from the ground, as if he was bounced off by some sort of energy from within. His body swayed, and he coughed up blood once again before he waved his arms. Eight black needles immediately appeared.

Those needles sank into his body, and once he pushed them all deep within him, his body now contained fourteen black needles. Su Ming could see a large amount of Sun Shan's life force burning in him, and that life force was spreading out of his body.

"Senior, I can only keep it open for the span of a few breaths. I will tell you the time soon. You can choose not to go in and take out the items inside with just your divine sense." Sun Shan's voice was hoarse. His eyes were bloodshot, and sweat poured down his entire body.

Su Ming could not find any sort of problems with his words. If there was really something dangerous in the cave abode, he could simply omit the offer of asking Su Ming to enter the cave abode with his divine sense.

Su Ming frowned and looked towards Sun Shan again. A thought suddenly bloomed in his heart. Most of the young man's body had become empty at this point. The life force he was burning was spreading outwards, and it was gradually disappearing into the air. There was originally nothing strange about it, but his current condition was somewhat familiar to Su Ming.

'Possession! No, he's opening up his body for someone to descend on him!'

Su Ming narrowed his eyes. Sun Shan's body was entirely empty, and while he was a perfect vessel to be Possessed at that moment, his body was an even better vessel for a Nascent Divinity to descend on him!

To cast the Art for a Nascent Divinity to descend on a body, a person needed to practice a similar cultivation method as what Sun Shan was doing at that moment. When his body became empty like a bottle without any water, other people who practiced a similar cultivation method would be able to arrive swiftly no matter how far they were to fill up that bottle with water again.

When Su Ming remembered seeing him stabbing those fourteen needles into his body, he deliberately observed Sun Shan once more, and he found that there were seven among the fourteen that might have seemed to be stimulating his potential, but in truth, when compared to the seven others, they were clearly used to confuse Su Ming's eyes!

The remaining seven needles were arranged to form a Rune on Sun Shan's body with his veins under his skin serving as the connection between the needles. However, that Rune was still incomplete. Once Su Ming cast Sun Shan a scrutinizing look, he could tell that the Rune seemed to be missing one needle.

At that moment, Sun Shan lifted his right hand, and a black needle appeared on his palm. Without any hesitation, he pushed it straight above his left ear, and green veins instantly popped up on his face.

"Senior, you can enter now!"

At the same moment he shouted those words, the stream of light from the center of the mountain froze for a moment before rapidly fading away to reveal a gap!

The door to the cave abode also opened up a crack with loud rumbling sounds, and a trail of extreme Yang aura seeped out!

If it was anyone else, even if they were dubious towards Sun Shan's words, they would definitely be attracted to the cave abode opening at that moment, and would naturally relax their guard towards the young man. What Sun Shan wanted was this chance that lasted only for an instant. At that moment, he started chanting in his heart.

'The water in the sky contains the beauty that blesses an Emperor, and that beauty… is right at the center[1]! Master, please appear in me!'

Translator's Notes:

1. The water in the sky contains the beauty that blesses an Emperor, and that beauty… is right at the center: Remember the whole entire metaphor of the water in a bottle thing? Now we expand it to a grander scale. Water in the sky is the moisture in the clouds, obviously, and when it rains, the land is blessed, which is good for the ruler in Imperial China, because it means that the gods like him. Right at the center means that the moisture is the most abundant at the center of the clouds.

So here, by that chant, Sun Shan probably means to say that his body is now void of that beauty/blessing, and he needs something to fill him up with that beauty/blessing.

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