Of every single province in the Tianhun Empire, the Southward River Province was the most beautiful of them all and perhaps even in the entire world. With all the beautiful mountains and verdant forests, every single person who visited the province felt like they had stumbled onto a paradise.
Some tourists would even forget to leave.
Those who lived in the Southward River Province—whether they be a soul cultivator or commoner—had but only one wish:
To visit every single beautiful place there was to see in the province before they died.
There was, of course, just one single place within this holy land of nature where people didn't dare step into. Like the other places of the province, this one place was beautiful beyond knowledge, but those with said knowledge would know to give this place a wide berth.
This place was a valley known as 'Black Cloud Valley'.
One of the three danger zones of the continent.
Two long ranges of mountain bordered Black Cloud Valley from both sides with a length that was nearly inconceivably long and practically equal in name to the 'Skyward Mountains' next to the Soulbeast Forest. Though as long as the mountain ranges were and how beautiful it was, there was also a valley in the middle of the two rarely visited by humans.
Aside from the freakish terrain of the valley and its mountains, Black Cloud Valley had a special characteristic to it that earned it two-thirds of its nickname.
The entirety of the valley had a single continuous black cloud hanging above it!
The black clouds weren't storm clouds that rained thunder or water. It was just a black mist that disallowed any ray of sunlight from getting past it, meaning the entire valley below was always dark.
On normal mountains, the clouds within any other valley would have clouds or mist either white or rainbow-like in color to paint the entire place a beautiful color like in a fairyland.
But Black Cloud Valley was different.
The black clouds gave an intimidating color and feel to the place that made the place like a valley of gloom. Whether it be entering the valley or observing it from afar, the valley had a stagnant air that made it resemble a ghost city.
But surely the black clouds and its strange environment wasn't the only reason why Black Cloud Valley was known as one of the three danger zones, was it?
Of course not.
This place was a 'death zone' just like the other two areas.
A hundred meters deep into Black Cloud Valley was an area where absolutely nothing lived. No plants, no animals, no humans.
It was an area of nothingness!
It wasn't limited to just 'one hundred meters' either. It was only that this was the extent of what commoners knew of the place since anyone that even stepped into the area never returned alive!
'A place of no return' was what most commoners knew Black Cloud Valley by.
The fear soul cultivators had for Black Cloud Valley wasn't any less than the fear commoners had for it. They knew more about Black Cloud Valley than commoners did and were more than happy to spread that information to the rest of their world.
Not only was soulsense useless here, the amount of beasts that lived here was innumerable!
The clouds within the valley made visibility so poor that people wouldn't even be able to use their eyes to navigate the place. When their eyes weren't of any use, soul cultivators used their soulsense as means of sight.
But it was absolutely useless in Black Cloud Valley! Like an electric signal in a magnetic field, Black Cloud Valley rendered soulsense useless and incapable of doing anything due to some sort of mystical power.
It was that reason alone that made Black Cloud Valley a place to be feared for soul cultivators. Hindrances to both types of their senses was something that was extremely dangerous.
And that wasn't even the final nail to the coffin, there was still the second reason behind this.
All the soulbeasts!
All of them were inexplicably strong and beyond dangerous!
These feral and dangerous beasts lived in Black Cloud Valley for their entire lives, so it was their home. The vile and dangerous conditions of the place wasn't an issue for these beasts. Any soul cultivator that made it into this place would simply die to these soulbeasts, and that was that….
Countless soul cultivators would venture into Black Cloud Valley over the years in an attempt to divine its secrets. But of all the soul cultivators that entered, only an extremely small minority would be 'fortunate' enough to make it back out. Those who did were injured beyond belief, and rarely said a thing about what they saw in there.
Soon, the fear that surrounded Black Cloud Valley spread to such a degree that nearly no soul cultivator would even step foot into the place.
So it came to Bai Yunfei as a complete surprise that the Underworld School was based in such a 'danger zone'!!
With the black mist formulating above the skies and the clouds looking like it'd rain, Bai Yunfei really found it hard to believe he was about to step into one of the three danger zones…..
For he was currently standing in Black Cloud Valley!
To be more accurate, it was Mu Chen who led his group here to nearly a hundred meters deep into the valley. Bai Yunfei could distinctly remember that just a moment ago, the sun was shining quite brightly, but now, it was as if night had already fallen on this place.
They couldn't even see the mountain ranges from where they were in the valley. Absolutely no grass sprouted from the grounds here, and the place was a desolate area where not even the buzzing sounds of insects or the cawing cries of birds could be heard. As the group walked in a single line through this place, most of them couldn't help but feel a chill in their hearts.
Six people walked the line of this valley. Elder Mu Chen, Xu Ran, and Han Yue of the Underworld School, and Bai Yunfei, Zheng Kai, and Long Lan. Also with them was Xiao Qi on Bai Yunfei's shoulder and the little girl they saved from Formagua City in Xu Ran's arms.
About five days ago, Huangfu Nan took Huangfu Rui back to the Crafting School with him along with Tang Xinyun and Kou Tingting. The two of them knew that Huangfu Nan looked worried about something in regards to Huangfu Rui, and so the two decided to call an end to their tour here. Bidding goodbye to Bai Yunfei and the others, the two of them left to go back with Huangfu Nan.
This abrupt ending to their tour plans was a little disheartening to both Bai Yunfei and Zheng Kai, but nothing could really be done about it.
After their goodbyes, the four of them followed Mu Chen and his students to the Underworld School.
Then they came here to Black Cloud Valley.
"Hey, Yunfei. Do you….do you think we'll be fine going in here?"
Zheng Kai asked Bai Yunfei from the side. "This is Black Cloud Valley! How creepy….are we really going to go into this place without any preparation? I remember right before we left, my brother told me to not even get close to Black Cloud Valley as soon as he heard where we were going…."
Bai Yunfei only smiled. "We'll be fine here. Since when did you become such a coward? As bad as the rumors might be about Black Cloud Valley, don't we have a guide? Do we really need to be worried then?"
"Hmph, aren't you feeling comfortable." Zheng Kai snorted. "If we're being honest, we don't even really know much about this elder Mu or the Underworld School. If we're going to be heading into one of the three danger zones on this continent without any preparations, of course I'm going to feel a little nervous. Just think about it. If those three don't really care about us, then we might just…."
"What a coward!" Han Yue snapped at Zheng Kai before Bai Yunfei could do so. "You're a late-stage Soul Exalt, but you're so cowardly! If you're scared, then just leave! You're not from the Crafting School, so our Underworld School won't be welcoming you anyways!"
With only the sounds of their footsteps being the only source of noise in the valley, the conversation between Zheng Kai and Bai Yunfei was very clearly audible despite how quiet Zheng Kai was trying to be.
"Hey, what kind of talk is that? Do you really think I wanted to come? If not for my brother here, I would've left this ghost land already." He retorted back.
It wasn't that he was really afraid of this place, it was just that he was feeling dejected now that Kou Tingting was gone. To add onto that, he was pretty bored and wanted to make some small talk. Which in turn led to there being something of a disagreement between him and Han Yue. Though in a way, these quibbles between the two of them served as a way for Zheng Kai to pass the time.
"Don't be so rude, junior. Brother Zheng is a guest of ours." Xu Ran chided his companion before she could say anything. "Brother Zheng, please rest assured. As dangerous as Black Cloud Valley might seem, it's not as dangerous as the rumors say it is. This early half of the road is safe, but the later half….would be best to follow us to avoid any trouble."
The only one exporting soulforce among the group was Xu Ran since he had to be responsible for keeping the young girl's health stabilized. Her current status was something that couldn't be easily healed even with an early-stage Soul King's strength like Mu Chen. The best they could do was stabilize her for now and wait for them to return to the Underworld School before they could do anything.
With all of the attentive care Xu Ran was giving the young girl, Bai Yunfei had a favorable impression of the three of them.
In his mind, anyone that behaved in such a manner was surely a nice person. So when the three said that they'd be traveling into the dangerous Black Cloud Valley, Bai Yunfei hadn't any fear.
Still, Zheng Kai couldn't help but marvel, "Brother Xu. Your Underworld School is….really inside Black Cloud Valley? Isn't that a little ridiculous? Can people even live there? Don't rumors say there's countless soulbeasts that live there? How'd you form a school in there? And why haven't we seen anything so far? My soulsense is a mess, are you sure we're not lost?"
His barrage of questions gave rise to yet another snort from Han Yue. Xu Ran on the other hand, smiled. "We're only going to be heading for the 'entrance' to Black Cloud Valley. It's not really considered a part of Black Cloud Valley so it's safe, all things considered. With us leading the path, there's no chance of getting lost."
"Oh? So brother Xu has a way of telling which way is what in this place?" Asked Zheng Kai.