Chapter 3: Gathering Medicine

In the mountains, where there is no sun or moon, time passes according to the changes in the sky, revealing its clues only gradually.

In the blink of an eye, it was already summer, and flowers bloomed everywhere in the mountains, with greenery saturating almost every corner. Yet, in the mountain range to the east of the Tianlie Valley, snow still lingered on the peaks, stubbornly refusing to melt, forming rugged cliffs of ice.

Yu Ci stood on the edge of the cliff, gazing into the distance, where all he could see was endless clouds, stretching as far as the eye could see. The wind howled fiercely, pushing clouds and mist, crashing against the rocks beneath his feet, as if trying to engulf him in the boundless sea of clouds.

Could this be the boundary of heaven and earth?

Knowing well that such thoughts were absurd, Yu Ci couldn’t help but think this way. From where he stood, the land extended for thousands of miles to the north and south, all looking the same, with no end in sight. He had traversed this area for months, and there was no deception in his assessment.

Though the endless cliffs had their undulations, in the vast expanse of thousands of miles, they were as smooth as a mirror, as if a divine sword had cleaved the earth in two.

“Tianlie Valley, Tianlie Valley… From where the spring emerges to the Tongchuan Valley, I wonder if there will come a day when the clouds disperse and I can see the full extent of this valley?”

It was a normal thought, but during this time, he had traversed the endless cliffs back and forth hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Yet, regardless of the weather, he had never seen the clouds disperse.

Yu Ci had been in the Tianlie Valley for five months now, and during this time, he had been busy every day, with hardly a moment of leisure. Like Yu Ci, there were tens of thousands of herbalists nearby, all here for the Sea Serpent Grass, or more accurately, for the substantial reward promised by the Bai Ri Mansion.

The Bai Ri Mansion was the dominant force in the nearby towering mountains, reigning supreme over a vast area within the tens of thousands of miles around the Tianlie Valley, far surpassing the Double Immortal Sect where Yu Ci had previously stayed.

Ten years ago, the Bai Ri Mansion issued a long-term task: without limit on the years or quantity, to purchase the unique Sea Serpent Grass from the Tianlie Valley and offer substantial rewards for it.

The rewards included gold and silver, properties, treasures, and elixirs, which sparked infinite dreams of wealth among people of all backgrounds. Over the past decade, countless herbalists, martial artists, and even ordinary people flocked to the vicinity of the Tianlie Valley, disregarding the perilous cliffs and bottomless abysses, climbing up and down the steep cliffs, risking their lives for their dreams.

Yu Ci was also one of them. Half a year ago, he wandered into the towering city of Juebi and was immediately attracted by the substantial reward promised by the Bai Ri Mansion: the Triple Sun Talisman Sword crafted by the artisans of the mansion. This sword combined the strengths of talisman crafting and weapon forging, and its value was not just in its power but also in the inspiration it could provide for Yu Ci’s stagnating progress in talisman crafting.

To obtain the Triple Sun Talisman Sword, he needed a thousand Sea Serpent Grass.

So, Yu Ci joined the ranks of herbalists. It took him a month to travel the over twenty thousand miles from Juebi City to here. Along the way, he spent five months searching for and gathering herbs. It was foreseeable that there would be even more days spent here.

“A thousand… Before the arrival of winter, it may not be possible to complete.”

Brushing aside these distracting thoughts, Yu Ci calmed his mind slightly and took a step closer to the edge of the cliff. Facing the rushing wind, he closed his eyes slightly, cut off his breathing, and spontaneously circulated his true qi, slowly adjusting the circulation of his blood and qi. When his body reached a higher level of readiness, he suddenly reached out, traced a pattern in the void, and then passed it in front of his nose. At this moment, he opened his blocked nostrils.

This was the Wind Capturing Technique, a miscellaneous skill Yu Ci had learned during his wanderings. Guided by the Wind Capturing Technique, the mixed scents infiltrated, and he categorized them in his mind, sieving them like sifting sand for gold, and soon he had results. Yu Ci opened his eyes and grinned, “Luck is on my side today.”

With a leap, he descended.

The Tianlie Valley, torn apart by celestial forces, stretched endlessly, its depth and breadth unfathomable. Yu Ci hadn’t found the beginning or end of the valley, naturally, he couldn’t fathom its depth either. He jumped off the cliff, disappearing into the clouds and mist in an instant, with strange branches and rocks growing between the cliffs flowing past him.

Using various

 techniques, Yu Ci carefully searched among the rugged cliffs for the Sea Serpent Grass.

In this valley, Sea Serpent Grass could be found in every nook and cranny. Its origins were peculiar: Sea Serpent Grass was a type of medicinal herb that thrived in the depths of the sea. However, due to the peculiar terrain of the Tianlie Valley, the conditions here were similar to those at the bottom of the sea, and Sea Serpent Grass grew here in abundance.

However, Sea Serpent Grass was not so easy to gather. It grew in the crevices of the cliffs, near the surging torrents, and among the thorny vines. Each plant required careful extraction, often involving dangerous climbing or using special tools.

As Yu Ci moved deeper into the valley, the terrain became increasingly perilous. The cliffs were steeper, the winds stronger, and the mist thicker. Yet, he moved with ease, his figure darting among the cliffs like a nimble monkey.

Suddenly, he stopped.

In front of him was a cliff that looked no different from the others, yet his keen senses told him that there was something special about this place.

Yu Ci approached cautiously, his eyes scanning the cliff face. Then, he saw it: nestled in a crevice, hidden among the rocks, was a cluster of Sea Serpent Grass, its leaves shimmering with a faint blue light.

A smile spread across Yu Ci’s face as he reached out to pluck the herbs. But before he could do so, a voice rang out from behind him.

“Halt!”

Startled, Yu Ci turned around to see a figure standing on a nearby cliff, staring at him with sharp eyes.

It was a middle-aged man dressed in a black robe, his face obscured by a black veil. In his hand, he held a long sword, its blade gleaming with a cold light.

Yu Ci’s heart skipped a beat. He had encountered many dangers in the Tianlie Valley, but this was the first time he had encountered a person.

“Who are you?” Yu Ci asked cautiously, his hand still hovering over the Sea Serpent Grass.

The man in black did not answer. Instead, he raised his sword and pointed it at Yu Ci.

“I am the guardian of this valley,” he said, his voice cold and stern. “No one is allowed to take the Sea Serpent Grass without my permission. Leave now, or face the consequences.”

Yu Ci hesitated. He had come all this way in search of the Sea Serpent Grass, and he was not about to give up now. But he could sense the danger emanating from the man in black, and he knew that he would not be able to defeat him in a fight.

After a moment of silence, Yu Ci sighed and withdrew his hand.

“Very well,” he said. “I will leave. But mark my words: I will return, and I will claim what is rightfully mine.”

With that, he turned and began to make his way back up the cliff, leaving the man in black behind.

As he climbed, he couldn’t help but wonder who the guardian of the valley was, and what secrets lay hidden within its depths.

But for now, he had other concerns. He had a task to complete, and he would not let anything stand in his way. With determination in his heart, he pressed on, his eyes fixed on the horizon as he disappeared into the mist.

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