Zhang Ruochen’s body blurred like a mirage as he stepped with nimble footwork. Though he was forced to fall back, he managed to withstand Lu Han’s attack.
In a few brief seconds, the two of them exchanged more than 20 strikes.
Lu Han’s cultivation was inferior to that of Lang Xin, but she was still much stronger than a Warrior of the Initial Stage of the Earth Realm. She unleashed a mid-class Spiritual Stage sword technique, an attack so powerful that Zhang Ruochen was nearly stabbed several times.
Even with the power of his Space Domain, Zhang Ruochen was barely able to withstand her.
“The top 10 students of the four campuses truly are geniuses among geniuses. Their breakthroughs into the Earth Realm are quite impressive. Common warriors of the Earth Realm wouldn’t hold a candle to them.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Zhang Ruochen saw Yue Linchong rushing towards him.
“I can barely handle Lu Han with my current level of cultivation. If they join forces to fight me, I’ll lose for sure.”
“Sacred Guiding Sword!”
Zhang Ruochen swung and hurled a seven-meter slash of Sword Breath to Lu Han, forcing her back.
“Come and kill me on Haunted-mist Mountain if you can!”
Zhang Ruochen used Shadow of the Royal Wind Dragon to transform himself into nine shadows. In the blink of an eye, he’d already fled 500 meters away and disappeared into the miasma.
Lu Han, extremely annoyed, stamped the ground over and over.
She had broken through into the Earth Realm. She could slay a warrior from the Initial Stage of the Earth Realm with a single strike. Despite that, she couldn’t keep a single fledgling from fleeing; this irritated her beyond belief.
Lu Han brandished her sword, readying to go hunt down Zhang Ruochen.
“Sister Han! Don’t charge towards Haunted-mist Mountain so rashly. According to the map, unknown creatures lurk there, creatures so powerful that even Earth Realm warriors would die at their hands. By entering Haunted-mist Mountain region, Zhang Ruochen has sealed his fate.”
Yue Linchong, ever the cautious one, stepped in front of Lu Han. “Zhang Ruochen is a minor nuisance,” he went on to say. “What could he do to shake things up? We should focus first on gathering Three Leaf Holy Clover.”
Lu Han’s eyes were filled with doubt. “Zhang Ruochen may just be a fledgling,” she said, “but his fiancé Huang Yanchen is tough. If he tells her what happened here, we’ll be in big trouble.”
“Once we gather enough Three Leaf Holy Clover,” Yue Linchong replied, “won’t we make great strides in our cultivation? At that point, why would we need to fear Huang Yanchen? Besides, we can keep watching outside the miasma: once Zhang Ruochen emerges, we can take care of him at our leisure.”
“Fine! Let’s harvest the Three Leaf Holy Clover first,” Lu Han said.
Though Zhang Ruochen had gathered all the Three Leaf Holy Clover plants that grew in the boundary, there was more Three Leaf Holy Clover in the shadow of Haunted-mist Mountain. Even more Clover grew halfway up the mountain slopes.
Of course, the closer one got to Haunted-mist Mountain, the stronger the toxic miasma grew, as did the possibility of dangerous encounters.
Yue Linchong and Lu Han’s Anti-Poison Pearls could only sustain them up to the base of the mountain. If they went any further, they would definitively die from poisoning.
Still, even the base of the mountain had 10 times the number of Three Leaf Holy Clover that grew in the boundary.
At that time, Zhang Ruochen had fled to the base of Haunted-mist Mountain. His protective Space Domain had shrunk to five meters in diameter.
“I probably shouldn’t head up the mountain without practicing here first. Besides, I have eight Three Leaf Holy Clover plants to refine.”
Zhang Ruochen found a secluded location at the base of the mountain and entered the internal space of the Time and Space Spinel. The moment this happened, the Spinel fell into the crack of a boulder and vanished from sight.
Before refining the Three Leaf Holy Clover, Zhang Ruochen took out a piece of Spiritual Brawn and cut it into 10 pieces with his Snow Dragon Sword.
To his surprise, he discovered a fire-nature Spiritual Crystal inside one of the pieces of Spiritual Brawn. This beautiful, quality crystal was glittery, translucent and saturated with Spiritual Qi–– more so than any other Spiritual Crystal he’d seen before.
“This one chunk must be worth at least 50 common Spiritual Crystals!”
Spiritual Crystals were divided into four groups based on their level of quality: there were average Spiritual Crystals, medium level Spiritual Crystals, high grade Spiritual Crystals, and at the top, first class Spiritual Crystals.
Higher level Spiritual Crystals were 10 times more expensive than the Spiritual Crystals ranked immediately below them.
For instance, a first-class Spiritual Crystal could be exchanged for 1,000 average Spiritual Crystals.
The Spiritual Crystal in Zhang Ruochen’s hands could be divided into five medium level Spiritual Crystals, each of them worth 50 average Spiritual Crystals.
Average Spiritual Crystals were so plentiful that warriors used them as a currency for trade.
Medium level, high grade and first-class Spiritual Crystals were all very rare and hard to find on the market.
Generally speaking, only the most destitute warriors of the Low Realm practiced with average Spiritual Crystals. Nearly all the warriors in the High Realm purchased medium level Spiritual Crystals for their practice.
Zhang Ruochen set aside the huge medium stage Spiritual Crystal, took a one-pound chunk of Spiritual Brawn and quickly devoured it.
This Spiritual Brawn came from a third-level savage beast. A single pound was equal to 20 pounds of Spiritual Brawn from a second-level savage beast. It was filled with more power and provided greater benefits to warriors.
Afterwards, Zhang Ruochen swallowed another stem of Three Leaf Holy Clover and began to refine it.
The Three Leaf Holy Clover was much easier to absorb than the Half-Saint’s Essence. Once it reached Zhang Ruochen’s belly, the herb immediately melted into a white liquid that permeated his body, seeping into his blood and five internal organs.
In just half a day, Zhang Ruochen had completely absorbed the efficacy of the Three Leaf Holy Clover. By that time, the one-pound Spiritual Brawn had also merged with Zhang Ruochen’s power.
“No wonder they call this the Three Leaf Holy Clover. In just half a day, the Genuine Qi in my Qi Lake has tripled.”
Satisfied by this thought, Zhang Ruochen began to refine the seven remaining Three Leaf Holy Clover plants. At the same time, he swallowed the other nine pounds of Spiritual Brawn.
The Saint Power of the Three Leaf Holy Clover and the power of the Spiritual Brawn quickly spread through Zhang Ruochen’s body, floating around inside of him like 16 balls of light. Even though Zhang Ruochen had opened 36 of his meridians, he could only absorb so much power at once.
Wisps of white Genuine Qi emanated from his pores, completely saturating the internal space of the Time and Space Spinel.
Zhang Ruochen eagerly drank in the torrents of Saint Power and Spiritual Power: he felt like his body was floating on the cloud.
As all of this energy circulated through his 36 Meridians, the Genuine Qi in his Qi Lake would vastly increase.
Four days passed before Zhang Ruochen finished refining the seven Three Leaf Holy Clover plants and the nine pounds of Spiritual Brawn. Every cell in Zhang Ruochen’s body was brimming with Genuine Qi. His cultivation had reached a perfect threshold, the Final State of the Black Realm; just one step further, and he would break through into The Completion of the Black Realm.
Instead, Zhang Ruochen suppressed his Realm and kept himself from breaking through.
He had eaten eight Three Leaf Holy Clover plants and ten pounds of Spiritual Brawn: he couldn’t finish absorbing all that Saint and Spiritual Power in just four days.
By his reckoning, he should just absorb a fifth of the Saint Power and Spiritual Power, then secrete the remaining Power somewhere in his body where it wouldn’t be absorbed.
If he wished, he could break through into the Completion of the Black Realm right this instant. However, if he did that, he wouldn’t be able to reach the Ultimate Realm of the Black Realm.
If he could instead restrain his Realm, suppressing his breakthrough until he finished absorbing the remaining four-fifths of his Saint Power and Spiritual Power, his physical quality would definitively reach new heights, giving him a huge advantage in his struggle to reach the Ultimate Realm of the Black Realm.
“Based on my current cultivation, I should be one of the top 50 ranked names on the Profound Board.” Zhang Ruochen sensed that his current strength was not inferior to Huang Yanchen’s.
If the two of them fought now, it would be very hard to predict the outcome.
Of course, Huang Yanchen could have already broken through into the Earth Realm and reached the next level of cultivation. If that was the case, Zhang Ruochen could only defeat her by breaking through into The Completion of the Black Realm.
“Still, with my current power, I’ve no reason to fear those two Northern Campus students.”
Zhang Ruochen unleashed his Genuine Qi upon the Time and Space Spinel, causing it to leap out of the crack in the boulder and fall to the ground.
With a flash of white light from the Time and Space Spinel, Zhang Ruochen re-emerged at the base of Haunted-mist Mountain.
Cloaked in the field of his Time and Space Domain, Zhang Ruochen started searching for Yue Linchong and Lu Han.
“Did they just leave after taking all of the Three Leaf Holy Clover?” The four days Zhang Ruochen spent practicing in the Time and Space Spinel totaled up to just one day in the outside world.
Surely they wouldn’t leave so quickly…
At that moment, Zhang Ruochen saw the figures of Yue Linchong and Lu Han off in the distance. They stood by the mountain entrance, seemingly in the middle of a quarrel.
Ducking behind a blood-red rock, Zhang Ruochen channeled Genuine Qi through his ear veins to eavesdrop on their conversation.
Yue Linchong had a bulging bundle on his back, stuffed with dozens of Three Leaf Holy Clover plants. “Sister Han,” he said in a soothing tone, “we’ve already gathered 98 Three Leaf Clover plants from the bottom of the mountain. That’s more than enough for us to make great strides in our cultivation. We don’t need to risk our lives on Haunted-mist Mountain anymore.”
Lu Han gave him a withering look with her beautiful eyes. “You think 98 Three Leaf Clover plants are a lot?” she asked. “At best, they will elevate our martial practice to the Advanced Stage of the Earth Realm. We want to reach the Heaven Realm and become martial arts legends: how long will it take us to reach that goal with this measly pile of plants? I, Lu Han, refuse to be married off to a piece of cr*p! For the last time, are you coming or not? If you aren’t, I’ll go by myself!”
Yue Linchong, his teeth clenched, grasped Lu Han’s wrist and pulled her back. After a moment of struggle, he finally made up his mind. “Sister Han,” he said, “Haunted-mist Mountain is too dangerous! Stay here and I’ll go by myself! I’ll give you half the Three Leaf Holy Clover I gather.”
Having said that, Yue Linchong unflinchingly strode towards Haunted-mist Mountain.
Lu Han stared at Yue Linchong’s back, eyes fixed on the bundle he carried. A cold smile spread across her beautiful face. In a movement as fast as lightning, her sword pierced Yue Linchong’s back.
The blood-red sword emerged from Yue Linchong’s chest.
Drops of hot blood dripped from the sword’s point and splattered on the ground.
“W… Why?” Yue Linchong rasped, body trembling as despair and outrage blended together in his voice.
Lu Han, her expression cold, planted her foot on Yue Lin Chong’s back and kicked him off her sword. Yue Linchong fell to the ground.
She walked up to Yue Linchong, pulled the bundle off his back and opened it. Gazing at the dozens of Three Leaf Holy Clover plants stuffed inside the bundle, she let out a satisfied laugh.
Lu Han re-sealed the bundle and glanced over where Yue Linchong lay in a pool of his blood. She sneered. “You thought I didn’t know how dangerous Haunted-mist Mountain is?” she said. “Going there is a death sentence. If you’re going to die anyway, why shouldn’t you die on the edge of my sword? At least this way your Three Leaf Holy Clover won’t go to waste.”