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Jiang Chen’s sword formation appeared to be a scattered attack, but every sword struck the same point with incredible frequency and concentration. This potency was one of the defining characteristics of the formation. The sword lights formed a surprisingly concentrated cloud of radiant assault. 

The Golden Python sensed the threat as soon as Jiang Chen approached within a few thousand meters. It remained in disguise to attempt a lethal sneak attack.

But Jiang Chen was much wiser than the average impulsive cultivator as he happened to know the Goldensable Fleeceflower’s tendencies far better than most. He was more than prepared for the dangers surrounding the herb. Rather than blindly approach it, he chose the most advantageous path after lengthy consideration.

The python could only rely on its instinctive cunning and natural penchant for concealment. In terms of intelligence, it had a rather basic mind that didn’t compare to a human cultivator’s. Despite this, its disguise ensured that it wouldn’t be threatened too much on home territory.

Alas, its natural counter had shown up today in the form of Jiang Chen. The Heavenly Chalice Sword Formation’s attacks hit the python’s weak point, where they hurt the most. 

The powerful lights delivered a flurry of cuts, covering the python in blood. More concerningly than the ghastly surface wounds, the strike had damaged the python’s vitality and cleaved apart its qi ocean.

There was nothing scarier. Wailing in pain, the python twisted and writhed on its symbiotic vines. It began to constrict the plants it lived with.

Jiang Chen found the harmful gesture rather wasteful. The Golden Python was abusing rare specimens!

However, its recklessness did allow him to react. His blow just now had been a critical one, making future efforts much easier. It’d reduced the python to its death throes.

Jiang Chen held no compassion for the spirit creature. His mind was set. “I’ll keep attacking until I kill the python. The Fleeceflower is very valuable, and I can use the python’s gall as supporting ingredients in pill refinement, and its blood as medicinal catalyst.”

All spirit organisms that lived alongside the Goldensable Fleeceflower were born of its essence. It would be criminal for him not to take them all.

The python was quite upset at being hurt several times, hissing incessantly in frustration. Unfortunately, it had lost ninety percent of its strength after being hit. While its dexterity ordinarily meant that even Jiang Chen would have a difficult time dealing with it, the preemptive strike had dealt with that possibility quite handily.

“The Golden Python is at the end of its rope. But those vines… they’re still rather concerning.”

Though the python was near death, Jiang Chen’s heart was crystal clear. The creature had no way to recover, and there was another trial ahead of him for the Fleeceflower itself.

How was he going to get past the vines?

Jiang Chen didn’t have the raw power to destroy the vines altogether. They were far too resilient and durable for that. It was time for a smarter approach again.

His Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice could deal with it. It’d been a while since Jiang Chen had last used it, but the Bewitching Lotus had grown admirably in the meantime. It was incredibly flexible and tenacious.

“This is just a numbers game, isn’t it?” Jiang Chen had much finer control over the Lotus than his old self had.

Several hundred vines shot out from the Bewitching Lotus, their tendrils reaching for the Goldensable Fleeceflower. The act instantly provoked a reaction from the other plant. The Golden Vines had been knotted together before now, but the attack from the Bewitching Lotus quickly made them raise themselves in defense.

A large scale battle between the two plants began.

The Golden Vines had a multitude of curls. Like a thousand-handed Buddha, it spun forth its appendages in an endless surge.

However, Jiang Chen could send out that many and more from his Bewitching Lotus. There was a manic momentum behind his plant’s limbs.

No matter how many vines the Golden Vine added, the Bewitching Lotus always sprung up to match. It wasn’t long until the latter’s appendices outnumbered the former.

“It’s time!” Jiang Chen’s heart soared. He sent out two dozen more vines from the Lotus, displaying his extremely fine control as he manipulated them as responsively as his own arms.

The Goldensable Fleeceflower was now stranded at the center of the former vine cluster. It was solitary and defenseless. But just as the Lotus’s three dozen vines were about to bear upon it, there was a whooshing sound!

A trail of light sliced across the air.

Out of nowhere, a terrifying sword light severed the fire and ice vines. A ghostly form rushed towards the Fleeceflower, clearly intent on taking advantage of an easy situation.

Jiang Chen had noticed something was awry the instant the vines were severed. The rapidity of this newcomer’s stride told him that it was a bit late to fight for possession. Instead, he threw a Confounding Puppet into the air that tailed the interloper very closely.


As blunt as ever, the Confounding Puppet slammed a fist into the direction of that newcomer’s back. If he wanted to pick the Fleeceflower, he would eat the impact rather squarely. But if he didn’t, he would lose his fleeting opportunity.

Survival instincts informed the stranger as to the wisest course of action. He abandoned any delusions of acquiring the Fleeceflower, disappearing to perch slightly further away.

“How dare you ruin my enterprise, kid?” The stranger’s voice was sharp and aloof. There was an odd sense of superiority behind it.

Jiang Chen didn’t care for pointless talk. Now that his Confounding Puppet had priority and also grasp of the Fleeceflower, he sent out another Puppet to charge the would-be bandit. A precaution like this was entirely necessary to ward off a potential counterattack and accident.

Acting in harmony, the two Confounding Puppets were able to get the Fleeceflower into Jiang Chen’s own grubby hands very quickly. Though his eyes glowed at the acquisition, he knew it wasn’t time to gloat yet.

There was a tough enemy nearby still!

A hand seal released the Bewitching Lotus from locked combat with Golden Vines. Despite their pliancy, the Lotus had quite a ways to go before it could actually defeat the Vines. Thankfully, that hadn’t been the goal in the first place. Its sole objective had been to delay the Golden Vines. 

It was time for Jiang Chen to abscond. A wave of his hand dismissed the two Confounding Puppets like a magic trick.

The adversary opposite him wore a black, mysterious cloak. There was a special seal upon it that radiated a strangely murderous intent.

Jiang Chen wasn’t about to start something else since he’d gotten his hands on the prize. “Farewell,” he cupped his fist.

“You want to leave?” The man who’d attempted to steal his prize demanded frigidly.

Jiang Chen’s step slowed. “What, you wanted to treat me to dinner?” he sneered. He wasn’t dumb; the other man’s desire for the Fleeceflower was palpably obvious. At the same time, there was no way he would give up something he’d gone to such lengths to acquire without a fight.

“Leave the item,” the stranger intoned darkly, “and you can scram.”

Jiang Chen grinned in spite of his fury. He knew that robberies frequently took place during trials, but he wasn’t going to agree to such a thing.

“What, you want this?” He waved the Fleeceflower in hand about. “Come and get it then.”

He didn’t want to waste any more words with the fellow. They were standing where the Fleeceflower had been, and its associated vines hadn’t been annihilated yet.

If the vines suddenly mutated, things could go south for both of them very quickly. Whether they were going to fight or not, it was best to leave the scene of the original scuffle.

His Kunpeng Meteoric Escape active, he was several thousand miles away in the blink of an eye.

“Let’s see where you’re going to run to.” The stranger wasn’t an easy one to shake off. He seemed completely self-satisfied in his pursuit. Furthermore, his speed was unusually fast – capable of tailing the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape rather closely.

Jiang Chen was rarely rivaled by anyone in that department since learning the technique. But he’d met just such an enemy today! The pursuit began to burn white-hot.

He had plenty of ways to get rid of his pursuer. Confounding Puppets, the Nine Labyrinth Formation, or empyrean talismans… But he refrained from using them. Having an enemy of his caliber on his tail wasn’t entirely a bad thing.

In the human domain, no one had been on a level sufficient to challenge him. And now that there was a sizeable collection of geniuses in the Blackwraith Mountains, they were useful as a whetstone.

Jiang Chen decided to refrain from using any treasures. Instead, he would use his true strength and assortment of talents to duke it out with his opponent.

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