Located not too far from the base of the Emperor's Heaven Sect was the Forest of Scorching Flames was where the colony of Fire Birds dwelled. This was also the primary reason why Jiang Xiaofan chose this task. He didn't want to go anywhere near a flying sword ever again. With his cultivation level at the eighth heaven of Micro Realm, the trip would only take about six hours on foot.
Fire Birds were predatory birds that were extremely antagonistic towards other species and would attack them. As soon as Jiang Xiaofan stepped foot into the Forest of Scorching Flames and before he could assess his surroundings, a couple of large Fire Birds charged at him. With their beady eyes, they opened their beaks and spewed bursts of flames down below at him.
*Pff pff pff*
With his arm raised and sword swinging down, the three birds were instantly decapitated, and their bodies plunged to the ground.
After retrieving their gallbladders, Jiang Xiaofan trekked deeper into the forest. Along the way, he was attacked by many Fire Birds of various sizes. However, with his cultivation level at eighth heaven of Micro Realm, counterattacking these spiritual birds with strength at the third heaven of Micro Realm was all too easy. This was no challenge at all.
Jiang Xiaofan was relieved of the effort to search for these birds since they took it upon themselves to attack him first. In no time, more than sixty Fire Bird gallbladders were stored in his spatial ring.
Alas, good things never lasted long. Although the Fire Birds were aggressive creatures, they wouldn't just attack anyone or anything at first glance. After seeing so many comrades repeatedly getting slaughtered, the Fire Birds no longer rushed to their deaths.
This subsequently frustrated Jiang Xiaofan. Shit! These stupid birds sure can fly! As for me though…. Fine then! I'll use the flying sword technique! However, if I do use it, I won't be able to defend and I will literally become a target for them!
Just like that, Jiang Xiaofan's workload greatly increased. On the second day when the sun began to rise, he managed to accumulate ninety-nine Fire Bird gallbladders. He just needed one more to finish the task.
He walked around a large boulder and was ready to hunt for the last gallbladder. Around this time, his eyes suddenly lit up. Right next to the boulder lay a colorful, feathery fellow who was on the brink of death.
What the hell?! I've heard of rabbits ramming into trees before, but a little Fire Bird would really suicide by ramming into a boulder?
Jiang Xiaofan sighed in surprise. Regardless, here was his final Fire Bird gallbladder. Even though this bird was tinier than average and had distinctive feathers, it, nevertheless, had the gallbladder that he needed.
Sensing that someone was nearby, the little fellow woke up, turned its head, and gradually opened its eyes. Its mud-caked body shivered as the bird noticed the long sword in Jiang Xiaofan's clutch. The bird edged towards the boulder, gazed at Jiang Xiaofan with fright in its dewy, big eyes, and released pitiful chirps.
Jiang Xiaofan tightened his grasp on the sword. The gallbladder of the Fire Bird before him, but he hesitated. What a cute, pathetic little creature. He didn't have the heart to kill it.
The little fellow cried and shivered as its eyes welled up with tears.
After a long moment of internal struggle, Jiang Xiaofan exhaled a sigh and threw out his flying sword.
He was a classic softie. Jiang Xiaofan looked at the pathetic-looking little bird and stared into its pair of frightened, distressed, innocent eyes. Immediately, his heart melted.
He carefully walked over to it, causing the bird to shake more intensely. It scooted its tiny body towards the side and further away from him. The little bird wanted to fly but was unable to. One of its wings seemed to be injured.
"Don't worry. I'm not here to hurt you."
Jiang Xiaofan softly spoke and gently picked up the little fellow.
*Chirp chirp* *Chirp chirp*
The bird was still frightened and continued to quiver in his hands.
"No need to be afraid. I really have no intentions of hurting you. In fact, I'll heal you."
Jiang Xiaofan maintained his smile at the bird and softened his tone as much as possible. Faint, golden light, which contained spiritual energy, was channeled onto the little fellow and enveloped its body. Bingxin had once said that minor injuries could be healed with the simple nourishment of spiritual energy.
Warmth and comfort soothed its body, and the little bird's eyes abruptly brightened. It stared fixedly and curiously at Jiang Xiaofan and occasionally released chirps of joy as if it was fawning over Jiang Xiaofan.
Soon, the little bird's injury was completely healed. It lightly flapped its wings and discovered that it could fly once more. The bird happily chirped and hovered around Jiang Xiaofan in circles.
"Alright, little guy! Move along then. I need to finish my task."
Jiang Xiaofan chuckled as he gently patted the bird's feathery head. After the treatment, the little bird's multicolored feathers looked glossier and shone more brilliantly. He was in awe. How beautiful!
The bird's body quivered again. It looked somewhat lost, distressed, and pitiful as tears welled up in its eyes. The little fellow warily landed on Jiang Xiaofan's shoulder and lightly pecked at his ear.
Jiang Xiaofan extended a finger and softly tapped the bird's head. He then removed the bird from his shoulder, placed it on the ground, picked up his sword, and walked away. However, the little fellow flapped his wings, landed on his shoulders, and pecked his ear.
He furrowed his brows, stopped in his tracks, and stabbed his sword to the ground. He picked up the bird in his hands and warily asked, "Why won't you leave? What are you following me for?"
As if the bird could comprehend his words, it flew up again and nudged its feathery head against his cheek. It then raised its head and gazed at him with its big, pitiable eyes.
Stunned for a moment, Jiang Xiaofan queried, "You…. You want to follow me?"
The little fellow chirped and repeatedly nodded its head. Its eyes instantly lit up with hope.
Jiang Xiaofan opened his mouth, ready to reject it, but eventually agreed. He was unable to resist its large, innocent, pitiable, dewy eyes. Even though he was incapable of raising the bird, Ye Yuanxue, however, could. He imagined how delighted she would be once she received this adorable, beautiful little fellow.
The bird immediately chirped blissfully in response to Jiang Xiaofan's consent. It danced in the air as it revolved around Jiang Xiaofan before finally resting on his shoulder, pecking his ear, and nudging his cheek.
Hence, Jiang Xiaofan brought the adorable little fellow along with him in the hunt for the last Fire Bird gallbladder. This hunt lasted for quite so time. Needing a break to relieve himself, Jiang Xiaofan directed the bird to wait for him at the side. Unexpectedly, after he returned, he saw the little fellow cornered by a few Fire Birds. Their expressions were fierce as they cawed at the little bird cowering in terror.
In an instant, Jiang Xiaofan erupted into a fit of rage as he watched one of the Fire Birds getting ready to step on the little fellow with its talon. It was so cute, yet these Fire Birds dared to bully it. From what he had observed, this wasn't the first time either. It looked to be an extensive period of bullying. There was a large probability that its injuries were caused by those Fire Birds.
From afar, he threw his long sword outward. With his frightening strength, the sword pierced through the bodies of the Fire Birds before it deeply stabbed into the center of a giant boulder from not far away. Blood scattered everywhere.
*Chirp chirp* *Chirp chirp*
Like a scared child running into the arms of the parent, the little fellow's eyes grew misty. It quickly flew towards Jiang Xiaofan and buried itself in his embrace. Its beautiful feathers turned dirty for a second time. Jiang Xiaofan sniffed his nose as it listened to the little bird weep.
"Aw, it's all good now. Don't cry!"
He comforted the little fellow and cured its pain with his spiritual energy. Its feathers became more vivid and brilliant than before.
He finally understood what was going on. The little bird was different from the rest of the Fire Birds, so it was treated as an outcast. The Fire Birds were larger in size and more aggressive. With nothing else to do, the Fire Birds would occasionally bully the little bird. Poor guy, his life must have been miserable.
Jiang Xiaofan lightly patted the little fellow's head. I'll never let you suffer again.
He finally collected one hundred Fire Bird gallbladders thanks to that one throw of his sword. He took the little fellow out of the Forest of Scorching Flames, returning to the Emperor's Heaven Sect to report on the status of his task.
The little fellow was very cute and gorgeous in appearance. It was also very docile. Not to mention, the bird was so intelligent that it could understand Jiang Xiaofan's words, and as a result, he felt less lonely. In addition, the little fellow would frequently elicit sounds of laughter out of him.
Two hours later, Jiang Xiaofan finally walked out of the forest and was headed for the Emperor's Heaven Sect's base while he played with the little bird. It was around this time that his instinct picked up signs of danger. Without time to scan his environment, he instinctively stepped to the side.
Less than a second later, a cold light whizzed past his ear. Behind him was an ancient tree with a silver sword stabbed into its trunk. Emanating a freezing aura, nearly the entire blade was inserted inside.
Jiang Xiaofan's eyes narrowed. Whoever just attacked him was no weakling. That one strike was lethal. If his spiritual instinct wasn't stronger than an average person's, he would've undoubtedly died under that silver sword!
The little fellow frantically cried. Although it was startled, it nonetheless cautiously scanned the surroundings.
Jiang Xiaofan calmed the bird down and swept a glance around. A dozen or so figures walked out from beside the tree. They donned in silver armor and exuded noticeable auras of murderous intent. Standing behind them was a green-robed elder who looked blankly at Jiang Xiaofan.
"It's you guys!"
Jiang Xiaofan recognized them right away. The green-robed elder was the old man from before who followed Xia Fengming everywhere. As for the dozen or so figures, they were the guards who had come along with the elder and Xia Fengming to the Ice Palace. It was just that he had never expected them to appear here. The fact that they waited to trap him here was a clear indication that their objective was to hunt him down.
The expressionless look on the elder's face was comparable to the Hall of Spiritual Cultivation's leader. Standing still, the elderly man waved his long sleeve. The guards then charged at Jiang Xiaofan, each one of them carrying a silver spear.
Multiple powerful qi were released. Their eyes were ice-cold and merciless. A faint blue light radiated from the silver-colored spear as if they were covered in a thin layer of blue shield.
Fear ran through his body. The weakest of them was at the eight heaven of Micro Realm, and most of them were at the ninth heaven of Micro Realm. This was startling. Just who and what is Xia Fengming?! How come he can command so many powerful cultivators?!
Footnotes^ A proverb whose backstory is this: A lazy bum didn't want to hunt or farm so one day, he saw a rabbit who ran head first into a tree trunk and died. He then decided to wait every day for another rabbit to suicide.