When roasted, it had a unique seafood flavor. It was soft and succulent, smooth and creamy.
"Wow, that's delicious!" Jiang Shaoliu shoved sloppy mouthfuls down his throat with oily fingers.
Next to him was the snail shell, dripping with the beast's almost-transparent blood. Surprisingly, it had a refreshingly fragrant aroma.
"It's not enough, I need more."
Rubbing his stomach, Jiang Shaoliu stood up.
His stomach felt empty, the snail meat he just ate already completely digested.
"It's the most delicious food I've had in a while, but it's far from my stomach's capacity," he muttered to himself.
Now he could understand why a stabilized stomach ring was called a 'golden abyss'.
He felt like he couldn't fill it up, no matter how much food he threw into it.
"Illusion, it's all an illusion."
He only needed to eat ten dragons and ten elephants to create that golden abyss, just like the ape ancestors.
"I can't find ten dragons and ten elephants, and I couldn't defeat them even if I found them. They probably wouldn't taste this good, anyway."
In place of every one dragon, he would probably need to eat ten beasts, or a hundred, or even a thousand.
"I don't think even all the millions of monsters in the six danger zones around Yungang could fill me up…"
After thinking for a while, he picked up a palm-sized piece of snail shell and put it into one of his combat suit's pouches. "This stuff can take two of my best punches and only breaks on the third hit. It's even harder than alloy metal."
It was time to leave now.
He focused on the Great Sage's Formula and let his true qi gather in his ears and eyes.
"No monster will escape me."
Liang Duan Mountain.
The incredible phenomena continued into their third day. The clouds around the peak of the mountain rolled with glowing light, and a thin layer of frost covered an area of more than twenty miles around Valentine Valley.
The air was fragrant and pure, refreshing the soul.
Monsters roared and wailed like a wild chorus.
The military had sent out three UAVs, but they all went down as soon as they reached the area. The brief footage showed nothing but bright light and frost.
A hundred elite warriors were resting, standing or sitting in the dense forest, watching the distant Liang Duan Mountain with different expressions.
Three masters climbed to the top of a hundred-meter-tall tree to look around. The wind buffeted them, billowing their hair and clothes.
"Captain, there're too many monsters out there. I think the whole Valentine Valley is covered with those things," one soldier with a skinny physique said anxiously. "There're even more on the mountain. That fruit will ripen and rot away by the time we reach it if we have to go through all of them one by one."
The soldier next to him had arms as thick as most people's legs, his massive biceps threatening to tear his uniform to shreds. "It won't rot; one of those monsters will eat it," he said in a deep bass voice.
"They won't," Lin Yuetao smiled and cracked his knuckles.
He shook his shoulders gently and a blast of compressed air shot down the length of his arms.
The two others looked at him with surprise.
"Did you get your fourth ring, Captain?" the skinny soldier said enviously. "I don't even have any sign of acquiring my third…"
The beefy soldier laughed, "You're just punishing yourself by making a comparison with him. His breathing technique is insane. He ate ten whole cows when he condensed his stomach ring, five times more than you or I."
Lin Yuetao shook his head slowly. "The fourth ring is different from the previous three: once it's condensed, it can separate the true qi from the body. It will take me seven days to do it, though."
"But, just now…" the beefy soldier said. "I could feel the air blast when you shook your shoulder! Wasn't that from your fourth ring?"
Lin Yuetao shook his shoulder again.
A blast of air shot out of his palm, but there was nothing unusual around his shoulder.
"My hands' Taiyinfei channels opened up," Lin Yuetao smiled. "I have three and a half rings now. I will get the fourth ring when it's fully stabilized."
The strongest master of the military in Yungang City, a master with three and a half silver life rings.
Fifty miles away, on Liang Duan Mountain and in the Valentine Valley, thousands of beasts suddenly began madly roaring and screeching.
"What's happening?" The thin soldier squinted into the distance, silver light glittering in his eyes.
A thick, misty pillar penetrated the heavens and lit up the sky above Liang Duan Mountain, the sunlight reflecting off of it illuminating the entire valley beneath.
This strong-armed soldier's nostrils flared and his eyes lit up. "Sir, I can smell something."
Staring into the distance, Lin Yuetao thought for a while, then he raised his arm and pressed a button on his smart watch.
In the dense forest, near the streams, on the trees, in the valleys…
All the military personnel in Sector 2, as well as the bounty hunters looking for contribution points, heard their smart watches beep at the same time.
It was an emergency channel requiring high-level clearance. One voice sounded on everyone's smart watches.
"This is Lion Warrior. I command all masters above two bronze rings to fall in on my position. I will wait for you at the top of Liang Duan Mountain."
There was only one reason Lion Warrior would issue such an order: the fruit was going to ripen there.
Hundreds of masters started as one towards the flashing red dot on their smart watches.
The red point began to move at amazing speed.
The coordinates refreshed every second and the real-time movement rate was at least thirty meters per second, and still speeding up.
"Is it ripening now?" Jiang Shaoliu stood straight next to a wide, deep river and looked toward Liang Duan Mountain.
Near him were bones piled up like a small hill and ribs laid out in rows, even the thinnest one thicker than an adult human tibia.
The heads, uncooked, were scattered around, and seemed to belong to some kind of crocodilian creatures.
"Ugh, even twenty-meter-long, three-ringed crocodiles can't fill my stomach..." Jiang Shaoliu wiped his mouth and shot off.
The destination was Liang Duan Mountain.
Standing on the crest of a tall hill less than sixty miles from Liang Duan Mountain, Bai Long hung his longsword on his waist, his white combat suit billowing in the powerful wind that blew his grey hair back. His eyes gleamed with silver light.
Next to him stood a master over 2 meters tall, with wild black hair. "Shall we go now, Mr. Long?"
"Tai," Bai Long said in a low voice as the silver light faded from his eyes, "contact Hu and Bao and send them our coordinates. Instruct them to stop looking for Jiang Shaoliu and link up with us."
Tai nodded and began pressing buttons on his smart watch.
Bai Long looked down at the fifty-odd masters in full combat gear some ways down the hillside, their faces earnest and eager for a fight.
"Bear Team…" he raised his arm and commanded, "Follow me!"
Gui Gui watched Liang Duan Mountain from the collapsed seven-floor white pagoda. "Brother," he turned to Chi Xiao, "the fruit is ripening. Are we going to keep waiting here?"
Chi Xiao ignored him.
Meng Po looked at Gui Gui and then at Chi Xiao. She put away her cosmetics and said gently: "We're the first ones here, and the four scouts we sent to Valentine Valley have all died. Personally, I think we can wait and relax for a while. Even Lion Warrior wouldn't find it easy to get through there."
Tie Ying lowered his head and murmured, "One of our scouts was a two-ringed silver master. He wasn't too bad even compared to us and he never even got a chance to call for help. It's pretty dangerous to go in now."
Chi Xiao kept silent for a while, his mouth curled up into a lopsided smile.
"How can I lag behind when Lion Warrior is there?" He suddenly ran off and leaped into the air, his cloak billowing behind him, landing fifty meters away.
Gui Gui giggled and waved to the other two, "Onwards, my bloody killer colleagues!" before running after Chi Xiao.
A formation of a hundreds of master marched after them at a spry pace.
Yin Manshu was bathing in the center of a deep pool under a waterfall, her athletic body submerged up to the shoulders. She cupped her pale hands and gently poured water over her fine face, glittering water droplets sliding down along her neck and collarbones.
An impenetrable freezing mist hung over the pool, making the whole scene appear mysterious and magical.
Thirty-odd masters stood ramrod-straight with their backs to the pool. Nobody dared to peer into the mist.
"Miss Yi." The middle-aged lady in the purple combat suit came to the bank of the pool and bent down toward Yin Manshu. "The fruit has ripened," she said respectfully. "Teams Two and Three have already arrived at the pre-set location and are awaiting your orders."
Yin Manshu nodded. "Got it."
Several minutes later, she walked out of the pool and put on her combat suit. The mist began to dissipate.
Twirling her wet hair around her finger, she stood in front of the leader of Team One and said in a sweet and soft voice: "Do you think I'm beautiful?"
The leader tensed up and replied expressionlessly, "Madam, I'm face-blind and I cannot tell whether it's beautiful or not, but I do know I have to fulfill your orders even at the cost of my life."
Yin Manshu smacked her lips and smiled just like a naïve and cute girl-next-door: "What about you?"
The thirty members of Team One chanted with one voice, "At the cost of my life!"
"I want the fruit on Liang Duan Mountain." Yin Manshu turned around and walked toward the mountain. The temperature dropped immediately. "Nothing may stop us. Kill them all."
Yin Manshu covered a dozen meters with every stride, silver light glittering under her feet in the whistling wind, closely followed by her entourage of frost-covered warriors.
Lin Yuetao changed direction as he approached Valentine Valley, his legs gleaming brightly with silver light.
He stormed wildly through the throngs of giant beasts, covering at least forty meters with every leap.
Earsplitting roars and bellows rang in his ears and the horde of monsters became increasingly densely packed the further he went, Lin Yuetao had no choice but to slow down.
He paused for a moment, then rushed out and threw a punch.
An eight-headed monster howled with eight mouths and flew off uncontrollably, crashing through everything in its path like a bowling ball.
"Let's get down to business."
Lin Yuetao sucked in a deep breath. His chest rose alarmingly high as veins throbbed on his forehead, while his throat turned a gleaming silver.
The huge sound wave exploded outward and lasted almost a full minute, overwhelming everything in its path like a tsunami.
Lion Warrior was roaring like a lion.