Chapter 560: Mt. Rippling Mirage
The first batch of twenty to enter Mt. Rippling Mirage had already congregated outside the mountain. The heavyweights of the six great sects were in charge of controlling the formation around the mountain. As they activated the formation, a rainbow-like bridge shimmered into existence in front of everyone.
“This is the transportation gate of Mt. Rippling Mirage. All of you have in your hands a jade token that was specifically refined to correspond to this formation. Remember, when the twenty days are up, the formation will automatically transport you out. The token will help you locate the nearest transportation matrix, in case you run into any danger. If you crush it in the vicinity of a matrix, you will be automatically transported out. There are multiple matrixes within the mountain, and any of them will be able to teleport you out.”
The jade tokens in everyone’s hands were actually to save their lives. Spirit herbs weren’t the only things that grew on the mountain, all sorts of danger lay hidden on its slopes.. If anyone met with danger they couldn’t handle, it’d be best to leave voluntarily. Of course, although there were many transportation matrixes within the mountain, they weren’t everywhere. Someone with particularly ill luck may not run into a single one even if they searched for hours. Each year, there were always a few folk who died on the mountain. In unlucky years, roughly 25% of the ones who departed for the mountain would never come back. That meant that out of sixty, at most a dozen would die..
With this first group of twenty, the Regal Pill Palace took up two spots from the elder team, and four from their genius team. It was Mu Gaoqi’s first time participating in such a grand affair, and he was obviously still a bit nervous. When he set foot on the rainbow bridge, the normally chatty Mu Gaoqi was uncharacteristically quiet.
“Don’t be nervous, Gaoqi!” Jiang Chen encouraged.
Mu Gaoqi managed to smile, “You be careful Brother Chen! The matrix will fling us into different corners of the mountain. I’ve heard that the mountain is as vast as the seas, with no end to them. I wonder if we’ll be able to meet once inside!”
If they could, Mu Gaoqi would love nothing more than to form a team.
Jiang Chen smiled. “It’d be best if we could bump into each other. Gaoqi, don’t try to stick it out if you run into danger. Find a transportation matrix to make your escape.”
Mu Gaoqi’s cultivation level was undoubtedly one of the lowest amongst the candidates. Out of the ten geniuses present, his cultivation was absolutely at the bottom. Things would be alright if he met folks that he could reason with, but if he ran into someone like Wei Qing, then, he’d be in for it.
However, the Regal Pill Palace upper echelon took the protection of Jiang Chen and Mu Gaoqi seriously. They handed each one an air escape rune before they set out. This rune could instantly transport its holder fifty kilometers from their present location. Although that wasn’t very far, it would certainly take the bearer away from any area of immediate danger. They’d then have greater hope of finding a transportation matrix and crushing the jade token to escape.
“Remember, when the matrix activates, don’t circulate your energy to fight against it. Otherwise, you might be devoured by the formation.” A solemn reminder rang in everyone’s ears.
An enormous rumble then sounded as a rainbow colored beam filled the area, enfolding the twenty bodies and turning into a rainbow streak of light that disappeared into the void.
Within the beam, Jiang Chen only felt that his senses were completely torpid, like his body had returned to its most basic state. He couldn’t see, hear, or smell anything. It felt like everything had returned to an unformed chaos.
Each of his limbs felt like it was being suppressed by incredible pressure, akin to countless mountain ranges crushing him. Trying to move his limbs was almost a futile effort. This feeling continued for a short while, and then a rumble spread to his ears.
The multicolored lights in front of him faded away as his senses regained their usual level of receptivity.
“Mm, am I in Mt. Rippling Mirage now?” Jiang Chen looked around and found himself on a hillside halfway up the mountain. The ground was carpeted in green, and a purple bamboo tree patch dotted the hillside off to the side. A faint mist wreathed around the purple bamboo forest, giving it the ethereal feeling of a fairy realm. Jiang Chen’s senses penetrated into the somewhat loose dirt beneath his feet as he breathed in the incomparably fresh air. His first impression was that of spirit power, a density and concentration of energy that exceeded even that of the Regal Pill Palace’s Rosy Valley.
Jiang Chen called upon his God’s Eye and swept his gaze in all directions. His scan didn’t reveal any signs of danger for the time being. His gaze moved back to the curious patch of purple bamboo.
“This purple bamboo has grown straight and tall, fed by abundant spirit energy. What’s even rarer to see is that it seems to be full of an ethereal air. Miss Huang’er will surely like it if it’s transplanted into the Sovereign Area.”
Although there was ample spirit power within the purple bamboo, its use in the martial dao world tended more towards aesthetic purposes. There were those who used it to create the xiao, flutes, and other instruments. It could also be used to craft weapons, but its battle strength wasn’t particularly noteworthy. It could be said that it was neither a battle oriented item, nor a spirit herb.
With a little bit of effort and time, Jiang Chen had uprooted the patch of bamboo and stored it away. If anyone had been around to see Jiang Chen’s actions, they would’ve surely feared for his brain or laughed at him. He was spending his precious time on such an utterly useless item.
He didn’t tarry after digging up the bamboo trees. Time was indeed precious, and he didn’t want to return empty handed after 20 days. With Jiang Chen’s pill dao potential, he was virtually a fish in familiar waters when harvesting spirit herbs from Mt. Rippling Mirage. As the day grew long, not a single saint rank spirit herb remained unharvested in Jiang Chen’s wake. As for those below saint rank, he couldn’t be bothered with them. Truthfully, even saint rank herbs didn’t hold much allure for him. After all, they only matched up to the origin realm for human cultivators. Only the true saint rank spirit herbs were on the level of the sage realm.
Although Jiang Chen was at the peak of fifth level origin realm, everything he used were naturally treasures of a higher realm. His standards didn’t put anything below rare saint rank spirit herbs in his sight. However, this didn’t meant that these items wouldn’t be of any use. After all, his people needed resources too. The ones offered by the Regal Pill Palace wouldn’t last long.
In three days, an area of fifty kilometers around Jiang Chen had been stripped of all saint rank spirit herbs. He hadn’t gotten his hands dirty himself, instead summoning the Goldbiter Rats. He’d simply selected a few thousand of the more shrewd and strong-looking ones. It would’ve been a shame not to make use of the free labor. Since they’d already benefited multiple times from Jiang Chen, the Goldbiter Rats had long since viewed him as their master. They wouldn’t slack off just because of this kind of task. Moreover, Jiang Chen had also stipulated that a third of all saint rank herbs obtained would belong to them, and any herb below the saint rank was theirs to enjoy. With such a deal in place, the amount of spirit herbs Jiang Chen received over three days was more than the amount that five hundred people could’ve harvested.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he’d nearly razed the mountain down to its bones.
As for Long Xiaoxuan, he couldn’t even be bothered to crack open an eyelid when it came to this level of spirit herbs. To him, he was simply accompanying Jiang Chen because he wanted to see and understand this world. What did he care about saint rank spirit herbs?!
However, even though he was the descendant of a dragon, he’d lived by the wood spirit spring since birth. This had instilled a nebulous fear of the outside world in him, which made it easier for Jiang Chen to get the dragon to behave. Otherwise, if Long Xiaoxuan went on a rampage and ran riot through the mountain, it’d scare people witless!
In the bigger scheme of things, scaring people would only be a small matter. If he was discovered by the heavyweights, then they wouldn’t be able to find peace no matter where they went in the Myriad Domain. Although there was no one in this region who could handle a dragon’s wrath, there were numerous experts in the other regions who would find it laughably easy to take Long Xiaoxuan down. Any random emperor realm cultivator would be enough to pose a threat. After all, in dragon years, Long Xiaoxuan had only just been born; he had yet to fully grow into his formidable battle strength. To make matters worse, he had almost no battle experience to speak of.
At the end of those three days, Jiang Chen left the area. Despite having collected quite a few saint rank spirit herbs, his appetite had yet to be whetted. He’d looked forward to entering the mountain for so long that he wasn’t satisfied with just this level of herbs now that he was finally here.
A few hours later, a figure landed in the same area Jiang Chen had just spent three days in. It was that mysterious Ding Tong of the Tristar Sect!
“Mm, according to my unique mark, Jiang Chen seems to have lingered here for a very long time.” Ding Tong took a spin around the area. Much to his surprise, the spirit herbs in the area seemed to have been thoroughly ravaged. There wasn’t even one decent herb that’d been left behind in one piece.
“How could this have happened?” Although Ding Tong wasn’t overly interested in spirit herbs at the moment, he was still a bit perplexed at the sight of this strange scene. Judging from the tatters left behind, it looked like a thousand harvesting teams had churned through the area, leaving just a measly few pickings behind.
“This isn’t right, how could large numbers of people come through Mt. Rippling Mirage? The first batch numbers no more than twenty people. This place shouldn’t look like this even if we all harvested for ten days and nights straight!” Ding Tong found this barren landscape incredibly difficult to comprehend, but he quickly refocused. His goal here was to track Jiang Chen, not investigate this strange spirit herb phenomenon. When they’d all entered the mountain, he’d used a unique method to unknowingly leave a mark on Jiang Chen’s body. It was how he’d tracked Jiang Chen to this specific location through the vast mountain.
Ding Tong was different from Wang Han and Wei Qin. The latter two had visibly displayed their hatred of Jiang Chen, but Ding Tong had carefully concealed his killing intent ever since he’d called Jiang Chen out for a discussion. One could say that his primary goal in Mt. Rippling Mirage was the death of Jiang Chen, not the harvest of spirit herbs. After investigating the area for a while, Ding Tong once again activated his unique tracking method and left for another area of the mountain.
As Jiang Chen travelled between areas, a feeling of frustration and disgust suddenly surged in his heart. A foreboding feeling had needled his consciousness ever since he’d entered the mountain, fading in and out of existence. He’d thought at first that it was simply the danger inherent to Mt. Rippling Mirage that’d caused the frisson of alarm to spike again and again.
But after spending a few days in the mountain’s interior, he had yet to meet anything that would pose a life or death danger to him.
However, this annoying feeling kept niggling in his heart, increasing with every step he took. It seemed that something, somewhere, had just taken a turn for the worse.