The next moment, Chu Yang and the rest almost let out a cry of surprise .
After that white-robed man appeared, he calmly made a hand gesture . Suddenly, the flat snow grounds and trees heavy with snow on their branches in the direction of the intersection started shaking intensely…
All of a sudden, the tall trees transformed into humans and revealed themselves .
“Any discovery?” asked the white-robed man who had appeared the earliest as he clasped his hands behind his back .
“Reporting to Elder, everything is as per normal!”
“Continue to keep watch!” With a swoosh, the white-robed man flew off .
With a flash, the other white-robed figures turned back into tall tree after tall tree lining the path, looking no different from actual trees .
After seeing this, Chu Yang finally understood .
These fellows had chopped off all the trees here, leaving behind only the upper halves of the trees . Then, they covered the trunk edge with a layer of snow-like sediment . Thereafter, they put on white robes from head to toe and stuck their heads into the tree trunks in order to support the tree bodies . And then, they stood there straight and still, just like a huge tree braving the wind and cold .
If people, especially those in the midst of fleeing, were to pass by in a panic, they would never notice that the tree trunk at the very bottom… was actually a person’s legs!
Wouldn’t it be very easy for them to capture whoever they wanted to then?
Truly ingenious .
Chu Yang was filled with admiration .
The four officers broke out in cold sweat . These Li Clan bastards were seriously too cunning . If it had just been the few of them, it was highly likely that they would have walked straight into the trap…
How did it occur to Chu Yang to suddenly stop here and observe the surroundings?
In the overcast skies, dark clouds of fog drifted back and forth in mid-air as snow fell gloomily…
Unnoticed by the others, a dark cloud was clinging onto Chu Yang .
The Sword Spirit was back .
“How is it?” asked Chu Yang in his subconsciousness .
“The security here is very strict,” answered the Sword Spirit . “The ones disguised as trees on the sides of the path, meaning the ones who had moved earlier, are first-grade Supreme Martial Artist experts; there are eight of them . Underground, twenty Martial Saint experts are lying in wait . These are the ones in the open and the ones who had appeared earlier . ”
“In the shadows, there is also a Supreme Martial Artist expert disguised as tree branches above every fake tree!”
“There’s an ambush similar to this every 15 kilometers . Once there’s any discovery, they need only to sound a signal and reinforcements will arrive from left and right . All manpower within several hundred kilometers will also gather immediately!”
The Sword Spirit continued, “This is the first gate to the way out . As for how many more of such traps there are after this gate, there is no way of knowing . However, what we can be certain of is that this is the very first gate and in comparison, also the one where security is the most lax . ”
Chu Yang’s expression turned grim .
He understood what the Sword Spirit was saying — This was merely the gate where security was the ‘most lax’ and yet security was already this strict . In that case, what about those where security was ‘not lax’?
What would those be like?
“All of them seemed to have consumed ‘Ecstasy Powder’,” said the Sword Spirit . “Therefore, they typically will not be detectable through reconnaissance by divine consciousness . Unless we’re talking about the divine consciousness of a ninth-grade Supreme Martial Artist…”
Chu Yang rolled his eyes . If they had a ninth-grade Supreme Martial Artist with them, would they need to hide in the shadows like what they were doing now? Wouldn’t they have been able to swagger their way out easily?
Chu Yang started to communicate this information to the rest via telepathy . “Right now, the situation…”
After hearing what Chu Yang said, everyone was flabbergasted . So the enemies weren’t just those few that they saw earlier? There were more hidden in the trees?
“How about this — All of you, do not move; Big Brother Wan and I will walk out first . Like this… and this…” Chu Yang reminded, “But all of you must remember this — No matter what happens, no one must move!”
“Be careful,” replied the others seriously .
“Of course . ”
Chu Yang and Wan Renjie exchanged a look . Then, the two of them got up quietly and changed their clothes before they strutted their way out .
Most of the robes that Chu Yang had in the Nine Tribulations Space were black; there were only two white robes in there . And now, they were being put to good use .
Chu Yang transformed into a sinister and ruthless-looking middle-aged man while Wan Renjie adopted the look of a fierce bandit . Compared to Wan Renjie’s innate aura, this was certainly a natural act to him .
Both of them carried large cloth baggage on their backs as they walked out with a swagger .
“Hey, Big Brother, what do you think is going on? Who’s so bored out of their minds that they would actually upturn the ground!” commented Chu Yang .
Wan Renjie’s fierce countenance twitched . “Who knows? Maybe they were loosening the soil in preparation for farming crops next year . ”
“Farming crops…” Chu Yang almost burst into laughter . “Big Brother is wise indeed . ”
Wan Renjie stuck his nose up in the air . “Of course . You must understand that farming peanuts or bean crops in this kind of black earthen soil would yield a pretty good harvest . ”
The two of them spouted idle nonsense as they walked over openly . The Li Clan members lying in ambush aboveground and underground were so furious that they almost burst into flames . Who would be so f*cking bored that they would dispatch Supreme Martial Artists to upturn the soil to farm crops?
Which landlord’s crops were this valuable?
Before they knew it, they had already reached the front of those trees .
“Halt!” A few holes suddenly appeared in the ground and a few white-robed men leaped out . “Who are you? Where are you heading?”
The two of them got a fright at once . Chuckling, Wan Renjie replied, “So there was an ambush here… Hurhur, good sirs, please let us through . ”
“Don’t curry favor with us! Who are you? Where are you going and for what?” One of the white-robed men snapped impatiently .
“Hurhur… It’s like this . Since we’re all men of the martial world, there’s nothing much that we can’t say . ” With a vulgar expression, Chu Yang came forward with his face full of smiles . “Us brothers… cough, we got some spoils from a business dealing and need to offload them fast… hurhur, good sirs, please do us a favor and not make things difficult for us . ”
As he spoke, he brought out a few Purple Crystals from his bosom and pressed them into the palms of the few white-robed men .
One of the white-robed men slapped away the Purple Crystals, causing them to fall and scatter on the ground . He shouted, “Not a chance! If you know what’s good for you, turn back now! If you take another step forward, then it’ll be death for you!”
Wan Renjie raised his voice as well . “What do you mean! Us brothers have walked this path at least 8,000, if not 10,000, times . Why are you not letting us through this time? Who dictated this rule? The highway is free for all to walk; I say, my brothers, you are certainly overexerting your authority by doing this . ”
“Don’t think that you can take this tone with me just because the two of you are first-grade Supreme Martial Artists!” The white-robed man stared at him coldly . “I’ll say this only once — Are you turning back or not!”
His hand was already on the hilt of his sword .
Wan Renjie flew into a rage . “Where are you from? To be this unreasonable!”
The white-robed man answered, “The Li saber and sword of the north-west!”
“The Li Clan?” Wan Renjie slumped down right away . With a grimace, he said, “I’m sorry . ”
The white-robed man did not respond . He merely stared imposingly at him .
“Cough, good sir, we are actually traveling merchants . Right now… there are clients waiting outside for us to get back to them… If we exceed the time limit, we’ll probably end up being hunted by mercenaries…” Chu Yang took a step forward and said pleadingly, “Good sirs, please have mercy on us and let us through… We’ll offer up attractive rewards for sure . ”
“Turn back and scram!” The white-robed man was unmoved .
Grimacing, Chu Yang took another step forward, intending to plead with him again . When sword light flashed immediately, Chu Yang let out a squawk and turned to leave .
With another flash of sword light, the cloth baggage on Chu Yang’s back was slashed open .
Thud thud thud…
More than ten objects enveloped in glowing purple aura fell onto the ground . All at once, the spiritual energy around them became rich and dense .
Chu Yang yelped in surprise and hastily retrieved them, holding them in his arms . Wan Renjie hurriedly picked them up as well, his actions quick and nimble . Then, the two of them adopted an extremely subservient attitude . “Our apologies… for bothering you . We’re going back now… going back now . ”
Flustered, they hurriedly turned to leave .
However, it was too late!
Someone’s eyes were already widened in shock as he exclaimed, “Purple Crystal Jade Essence! High-grade Purple Crystal Jade Essence!”
Following this exclamation, all of the Li Clan men’s eyes became big and round with astonishment .
Everyone here was an expert; most of them knew good stuff when they saw one . Who wouldn’t be able to recognize Purple Crystal Jade Essence? This… was a rarely seen treasure .
Disregarding everything else and just focusing on the Li Clan alone, even though they had been mining such a huge Purple Crystal mine for over ten thousand years, they hadn’t managed to extract even a single piece of Purple Crystal Jade Essence from it!
And now, this fellow was actually carrying an entire cloth baggage’s worth on his back? Err, no, more like two cloth baggages’ worth! Didn’t they see the fierce-looking one at the side carrying an even bigger cloth baggage on his back?
This was practically… a surprise windfall!
No wonder you could just give out Purple Crystals so goddamn casually! So you have so many pieces of Jade Essence on you!
Now that they’ve been exposed, you actually still think you can leave? Where do you think you’re going!
The higher-ups ordered us to stand guard here but didn’t say that we couldn’t strike a fortune . If we were to let go of such fresh and juicy prey that delivered themselves to our mouths… wouldn’t we be letting our ancestors down?
Although the cultivation levels of these two aren’t low, there are more than ten Supreme Martial Artists here… What’s there to be afraid of? Striking a fortune here won’t get in our way of lying in wait anyway .
And there’s even a legitimate reason for doing this — These two wanted to go past the gate! So we killed them…
“Stand right there!” Greed flashed in the eyes of the white-robed man as he barked sharply . How could Chu Yang and Wan Renjie possibly be willing to ‘stand right there’? The moment they heard him, they ran even faster instead .
At once, someone at the side grumbled . “Keep your goddamn voice down . Don’t let others hear you… There are only so many pieces of Jade Essence . If people from the other two sides come over to demand a share… Damn it, even my share’s going to be gone at this rate…”
Yes, this was exactly what Chu Yang wanted —’Keep it down; if the other two groups of people, within 15 kilometers left and right of where they were, were to overhear…’
With a few whooshes, the eight Supreme Martial Artists pretending to be tree branches at the top of the ‘man-made trees’ flew into the air and blocked Chu Yang and Wan Renjie’s retreat immediately .
Then, whoosh whoosh whoosh…
The trees were also temporarily thrown aside . With avaricious grins, the few Supreme Martial Artists disguised as tree trunks came forward and surrounded them too .
A total of 30 to 40 men formed a large circle around them . They surrounded the two ‘fat and juicy lambs’ who had delivered themselves right up to their doorstep in the middle of the circle .
Chu Yang took a headcount .
Yup, exactly 36 experts! All of them have come out of hiding .
Thinking about it, this was perfectly understandable . This was such a rare windfall; if they didn’t come out of hiding, what were they to do if the others didn’t give them a share? This… was Purple Crystal Jade Essence, you know .
Chu Yang hugged the cloth baggage tightly, his face full of fear and his expression pitiful . “Good sirs, good sirs… Please have mercy on us . Us brothers have never once skipped out on paying tribute to the Li Clan in the northwest… We risked our lives to get our hands on these and we still need to bring them to the mercenary hall… This concerns our lives…”
One of the white-robed men let out a bark of sinister laughter . He kept his voice low and replied, “Do you still have any life to speak of? After meeting us, do you actually think that you can get away in one piece? If you know what’s good for you, hand them over at once!”
Another man frowned as he urged him, “What are you saying so much for? Hurry up and kill them and get back to lying in ambush! Don’t hold up what’s important . ”
With much grief and indignation, Chu Yang spoke, “Are you robbers? We’ve always given much respect to the Li Clan, so don’t force us to make a move! It won’t be pleasant for us all!”
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