Chapter 164: The Fourth Trial (2)
Lu Qingyun smiled warmly to the three maidens, “Follow me. We are still a team.”
Then he took a look at Qian Jingjing, “Maiden Qian, are you alright?”
Qian Jingjing smiled awkwardly, “I…I’m alright. Why do you ask?”
Lu Qingyun had noticed that her movements seemed to have slowed down considerably especially after the third trial had ended. He had suddenly remembered that she had been injured by the Stone Elemental Golem during the second trial.
He muttered, “If there is any danger, you can take a step back first since you are unwell. You may need some time to recover from your injuries from the second trial and should not keep displaying your sword art.”
Qian Jingjing nodded lightly. It was true that she was not at her peak. The injuries that she had sustained were quite severe during the second trial but she had forced herself to pretend that nothing had happened. It was because she was a core protégé of the Spirit Sword Manor and she was taught never to show any weakness to anyone.
But Lu Qingyun had taken note of her condition.
She was secretly touched by his gesture. Meeting Lu Qingyun in this trial was the best thing that had happened to her. This was the first time that she had taken part in the Divine Fragrance Tournament. Her senior brother had also taken part in the Divine Fragrance Tournament and he was a peaked fourth realm expert. But unfortunately he was quickly eliminated during the first trial and so were her other two team mates.
She was actually wandering aimlessly in the mountains until she had chanced upon Lu Qingyun and Leng Qiuyue. She did not really know who they were but had recognized them because Leng Qiuyue had kissed Lu Qingyun before the trial had started. So she mustered the courage to approach them by coming to their aid.
She was now looking dazedly at Lu Qingyun and her heart was throbbing fast. What was this weird feeling that she had now?
Was Leng Qiuyue and Lu Qingyun an item? But it did not look like they were.
“Maiden Qian?” Lu Qingyun asked. “Are you really alright?”
Qian Jingjing nodded with a smile, “I’m alright. I was just thinking about something. Let us hurry!”
Lu Qingyun nodded and they were walking rapidly into the desert.
As they moved hastily through the sand dunes, Lu Qingyun asked them. “Do you know anything about this Golden Twig?”
All three maidens replied at almost the same time and they were all shaking their heads, “No…what does it look like…never heard of it before…”
Lu Qingyun: …
“Erm…” Lu Qingyun inhaled softly before he explained. “This Golden Twig only grows in the hot sandy desert. Since this is only a trial, there is probably no other spirit plants except for the Golden Twig so it will be harder to miss. This Golden Twig has golden leaves and its stem has long poisonous spikes. So be careful not to touch its spikes.”
As he was a high level alchemist with a good knowledge of herbalism, he knew what the Golden Twig looked like. In fact, he had even handled it before.
He added, “Because this Golden Twig is quite small, it can be easily hidden in the sands. Therefore as we move, we must use our divine sense to scan our surroundings. Luckily, this Golden Twig emanates a traceable faint aura and will be easy for us to track. However there is a problem.”
Leng Qiuyue smiled, “Senior brother, what is it?”
Lu Qingyun drew in a new breath before he said. “The desert is too vast and it is mentally draining to use our divine sense all the time. Before we can find the Golden Twig, we may either die of the heat exertion here or drained of our mental strength. Therefore I will suggest that we will take turn to use our divine sense in a rotation of five minutes. What do all of you say about this?”
All the three maidens nodded. This sounded like a good idea.
Ling Xiu smiled, “Brother Qingyun, why don’t you decide for us who shall use our divine sense first?”
Qian Jingjing nodded with a smile, “Yes, you are our leader now.”
Lu Qingyun hesitated briefly before he said slowly, “I shall take the lead first then. Afterward, it shall be Qiuyue, Sister Ling Xiu and Maiden Qian. While one of us is using the divine sense, the rest of us shall use our eyes to check for any suspicious spots.”
Leng Qiuyue smiled, “That is a good idea.”
Ling Xiu said shyly, “Let do it then.”
With this plan, Lu Qingyun led them through the hot desert and he focused his divine sense into the vicinity as he performed a careful sweep.
20 minutes later, there was still no sight of any Golden Twig and it was time again for Lu Qingyun to use his divine sense.
He had suddenly noticed that Leng Qiuyue and Ling Xiu were all dragging their feet while Qian Jingjing was slowly down considerably.
Although this was just their astral bodies and they would not feel thirsty or get dehydration but it would affect their mental performances. And when the mental performances were affected, their astral bodies would also be affected.
At this moment the blazing sun was snapping all their ‘mental’ strength as the minutes flew by, just as in a real desert.
He quickly made backtrack and grabbed Qian Jingjing by her arm, “Let me help you. The sands here are too loose.”
He had said that to comfort Qian Jingjing as he knew that she was faltering due to her injuries and did not want to make her feel that she was hindering them.
Qian Jingjing smiled at him weakly, “Thank you Brother Qingyun. I can walk myself.”
All of a sudden Lu Qingyun had paused in his tracks as he scanned his surroundings, “I have picked up something.”
He had suddenly headed toward a sand dune and was digging through the sands. After a while, he used his sword to pick up a golden plant that had long spikes all over his body.
“This is the Golden Twig?!” The maidens were all excited as they quickly crowded around him.
Lu Qingyun grinned, “That is right.”
Ling Xiu gasped with delight, “We have found the first one. This is good. So that is how it looks like.”
Lu Qingyun nodded and turned to Leng Qiuyue, “Qiuyue, take the first one.”
“This won’t do at all.” Leng Qiuyue protested immediately. “I’ve promised senior brother to let you have the first one.”
Lu Qingyun smiled, “It is alright. Don’t worry.”
But Leng Qiuyue shook her head and had walked away.
Lu Qingyun was startled as he looked at Ling Xiu, “Sister Ling Xiu, why don’t you take it first.”
Ling Xiu smiled as she said gently, “No, thanks.” She too, had walked away to join Leng Qiuyue.
Lu Qingyun was startled as he looked at Qian Jingjing, “Maiden Qian…”
But before he could even state his intention, Qian Jingjing had walked away to join Ling Xiu and Leng Qiuyue.
Lu Qingyun smiled weakly to himself as he kept the Golden Twig into his spatial belt before he walked to join the maidens.
The three maidens were all smiling at Lu Qingyun; it seemed that they had unanimously decided that Lu Qingyun should keep the first Golden Twig and they were not going to take it.
As he joined them, he muttered. “We are quite lucky to find the first one.”
Leng Qiuyue smiled, “That is because senior brother is so lucky.”
Lu Qingyun laughed weakly, “Haha. Is that so? Guess I am just lucky to sense one.”
All of a sudden Lu Qingyun said, “Please give me a minute. I’ve just thought of something.”
Leng Qiuyue, Ling Xiu and Qian Jingjing were looking curiously at one another. It was as though they were all asking. “What is it that Lu Qingyun is thinking?”
Lu Qingyun was actually talking to Yan’Er in his inner cultivation sea now, “Yan’Er, I’ve just got this Golden Twig. Are you able to use your divine sense to find more of this Golden Twig?”
Yan’Er looked curiously at the Golden Twig before she chuckled, “Master, they are everywhere. You sure you need Yan’Er help?”
Lu Qingyun was immediately delight, “Really Yan’Er?”
Yan’Er nodded, “Yes, I can sense them for sure.”
Lu Qingyun clapped his hands, “It is because Yan’Er you are a spirit entity. Your senses are actually much better sharper than me. Moreover you are a fourth realm cultivator too.”
“That is not all!” Yan’Er said proudly. “I will never get tired too!”
When Lu Qingyun heard her, he began to frown lightly. “That is because you are using my spiritual energies. When I am tired, you will be tired.”
Yan’Er chuckled, “Why Master is so weak.”
Lu Qingyun: …
“I talk to you later. Yan’Er, please guide me to find these Golden Twigs.”
Lu Qingyun said to the three maidens, “Follow me. I shall use my divine sense from now onward.”
Leng Qiuyue asked panicky, “Senior brother, won’t it be too tiring for you?”
Ling Xiu and Qian Jingjing were also looking at him with deep concern as they nodded lightly. Leng Qiuyue had spoken what was in their minds.
Lu Qingyun was a little perplexed as he said, “Actually I am not tired at all. In fact, the blazing sun doesn’t seem to be affecting me that much.”
He was actually telling the truth.
The three maidens looked at him curiously. It did seem to them that Lu Qingyun was still looking as fresh as ever and he was actually still in a tip-top condition.
This was something that they did not understand.
Actually Lu Qingyun did not understand as well but since the trial had started, he was actually used very little of his stamina. Even the profound strength that he had expended had quickly recovered.
He was unaware that ever since his Annihilating God Seed had awakened, his inner cultivation sea had greatly expanded. It had expanded so rapidly that his inner cultivation sea was three times greater than most cultivators of his same realm.
Moreover he had also attained to the energy level and his invisible profound aura was constantly shielding him from the blazing sun and the fury heat of the desert.
Although Leng Qiuyue, Ling Xiu and Qian Jingjing were all fourth realm experts but their profound auras were not as strong as Lu Qingyun. Although their profound auras could shelter them from the blistering heat, their stamina was still being drained away bit by bit.
But for Lu Qingyun, because his profound strength was so exceeding, he was constantly replenishing his stamina than losing it. In short, the rate of his profound strength regeneration exceeded the rate of loss that was caused by the environment.
Even if he was to use his divine sense to search for the Golden Twig, his stamina would never run out. This was something that he did not know yet and his worries were actually unfounded.
Yan’Er had suddenly said, “Master, a thousand paces ahead is another Golden Twig. Do you want to pick it?”
Lu Qingyun was delighted as he replied, “Of course!”
Leng Qiuyue, Ling Xiu and Qian Jingjing were looking at him curiously. “Who are you talking to?”
Lu Qingyun had suddenly realized that he had actually talked too delightfully to Yan’Er and he quickly said. “Nothing. Just follow me. I think that I may have found another Golden Twig.”
All three of the maidens were startled that there was another Golden Twig nearby. They quickly scanned with their divine sense but to no avail.
Lu Qingyun smiled, “It is actually not near. We still need to travel a little more distance. There is a huge sand dune that is blocking us.”
The three maidens all felt like crying when they saw the huge sand dune that was in front of them. If their boots were not struck in the loose sand, with their lightless skill, it was actually quite easy for them to get over to the other side of the sand dune. Unfortunately, there were loose sands everywhere and they had to exert three times more stamina if they were to use their lightless skill in the hot blazing sun.
Therefore in order to conserve their profound strength, they were forced to walk up this gigantic sand dune.
However they did not complain as they had full faith in Lu Qingyun. If he says that there is Golden Twig ahead then it must be true.
A full 30 minutes had passed and they had crossed the gigantic sand dune plus two smaller sand dunes.
Lu Qingyun had actually run in front of them and to their astonishment, he had dug up a Golden Twig.
With a delighted look, he shouted. “Qiuyue, this one is for you. Please do not decline this time!”
When he had said that, he was suddenly startled by a gigantic golden worm that had appeared from the sandy dunes.
This gigantic golden worm was the sixth rank desolate monster the Golden Desert Silkworm!
Immediately the three maidens had turned ashen as they quickly unsheathed their swords!
Lu Qingyun was now in the attack perimeter of this Golden Desert Silkworm. Due to the difficult sandy terrain, it was not possible for him to flee.
He too, had turned ashen because right in front of him was a formidable sixth rank desolate monster!
A sixth rank desolate monster was totally in another different league than a fifth desolate monster, similar to the differences between a fourth realm immortal celestial and a fifth realm golden celestial!
Above the platform, Qin Keqin was staring coldly at Shen Yufeng, “Why are there so many desolate monsters in this trial?”
From the imagery scene below, many of the cultivators were being slaughtered by the Golden Desert Silkworms that ranged from the fourth rank to the sixth rank.
Shen Yufeng shrugged her shoulders as she chuckled, “If this is just a simple find and gather trial then it will be too uninteresting. Don’t you think so?”
Qin Keqin was speechless as her eyes were looking panicky at the scene below. Her Yun’Er was now being cornered by a sixth rank Golden Desert Silkworm!
She was not the only celestial that was tense.
Thousands of other cultivators were shaking their heads and bemoaning miserably that their candidates were being swallowed by the sand dunes, died of the heat exertion, killed by the other cultivators, robbed of their Golden Twigs or wiped out by the Golden Desert Silkworms.
A golden celestial nearby was muttering, “Even if I take part in this trial personally, I will never be able to pass…”
“Look! The cultivators from the Clear Sky Pavilion…finally one of them has fallen!”
“I have thought that they are invincible….finally…”
Qiuxiang Hanyu was the one that had fallen because she was unable to keep up with her group. The blazing sun and baking hot desert had drained all of her stamina and she had expended all of her profound strength. She was still too young and her inner cultivation sea was not as vast as the other members of her team.