After clearing out the cave, Liao An and Bao Bi headed outside. It was at that moment that Bao Bi remembered the younger man that he had tied up.
“Ah! The third guy! Almost forgot about him!”
“You didn’t kill him?” Liao An asked with an irritated voice.
“No, I tied him up. He’s young, so I thought there would be a chance he could be reformed.”
“They come from a Shadow Clan… there is no hope that they will ever get along with normal cultivators. They use human souls to cultivate.”
“They’re also pedophiles. Don’t forget that.”
“Let’s go check and see. I tied him up in a rather ingenious manner. His escape is nearly impossible.”
That’s what I said, but when we finally returned to the area where I restrained him, all I could find were various shredded rope. Most alarming was a single sharp stick with red blood going up about six inches from the tip. That had been placed right under his ass, so the only way it could have ended up like that is if he took the plunge. I shivered at the thought.
“That guy really didn’t want to get caught.”
“Remember this, Bao Bi.” Liao An spoke in her typical instructor’s voice, not sounding like a girl who was almost raped at all. “All cultivators have tricks to escape. Never assume that they can’t pull out a trick or two in battle, let alone when you’re not looking. We all hide trick upon trick upon trick. It’s only in a life or death battle that those tricks are brought to the surface, and a person’s true power is revealed.
“That’s why it is best to be swift and decisive. Kill them before they even think they need to bring out their reserves. In that way, you will never have to reveal your own tricks. Also, understand this, cultivators have long memories. This shadow disciple will remember you, and he may come back for to enact vengeance upon you in the future.”
I nodded. “Especially after I took his butt cherry.”
“Ah! Nothing.” Bao Bi wasn’t going to explain to a young girl about such things.
She let out a sigh. “Just remember, loose ends will be your death. Cut off any loose ends before they become a problem, and you will make it farther in your cultivation.”
She blinked and looked up in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“You saw that everyone who makes themselves your enemy should be killed. Does that mean the Xaoi Sect should also be wiped out?”
“If they become enough of a problem, yes.”
Although Bao Bi took her words in stride, anyone else in this world how uttered a line about wiping out the Xaoi Sect so casually would be laughed out of existence. This was a sect with countless years behind it, not to mention the larger Xaoi clan that backed, the smaller sect. For a nine-year-old to claim so calmly that it should be destroyed if it became a problem was a ridiculous notion, yet Bao Bi who knew her well took her comment as straight forward.
He shook his head. “The distinction between allies and enemies is too weak. If you treat everyone who wrongs you with malice, then you’re only creating more hatred in the world. I’m a man who believes good people should be treated kindly. If you kill every minor enemy who still had good in him, then all you’ll have are friends and mortal enemies. But if your turn your enemies into friends, then when it truly counts, and you meet a true evil opponent, someone like this Shadow Clan, then you can truly fight them earnestly, and your allies will overwhelm your enemies.”
She bit her lip and shook her head. Of course, she couldn’t disagree more! In her mind, Bao Bi was just still too young. He would learn with time that there were no good cultivators in this world. Even Tigra herself had nefarious purposes here and was just using Bao Bi upon her master’s request. In silence, the pair returned back to the place where they had entered the valley.
“I will be back in a bit. Stay here.”
She disappeared for a bit. Bao Bi wanted to protest, especially after what had happened previously in the cave, but she gave him such a stern look that he didn’t dare argue with her. The woman was always right. That was one of the stern lessons Bao Bi had received earlier in his life. You couldn’t work with women in his field unless you learned that quickly. Porn directors who weren’t willing to listen to their women didn’t seem to last long.
He didn’t have to wait alone in the forest too long, not that he wasn’t prepared to stay the night if he had to. As a bit of an outdoorsman, setting up a camp was nothing that worried him. This far to the edge, the spiritual beasts he encountered wouldn’t be a threat either.
Only fifteen minutes later, she reappeared. She tossed him a bag, and he glanced in it to see a ton of beast cores. There was easily at least fifty. Of course, it would have been impossible for her to kill that many powerful monsters in such a short time. He made the assumption that she had found where the Shadow clan were storing their cores. That might have been a week’s haul for them. It was lucky that they were pedophiles that deserved death, and they were able to benefit from their mistake.
The pair ended up heading away from the valley to head back to their hidden immortal cave, where they would begin to refine and practice alchemy in the hopes of creating medicines to break through Bao Bi’s current cultivation bottleneck.
Two days later, two relatively strong cultivators, on in the mid-tier and other in the high-tier of the 2nd great realm appeared at the edge of the valley roughly in the same area as Bao Bi and Liao An had illegally entered.
“What are we doing here?” the mid-tier complained, looking over the barrier.
“According to our higher-ups, there was a disturbance here a few days ago. The profound energy in the area suddenly dropped by 10%.”
“Huh? How does that happen?”
“The only way that would happen is if a powerful cultivator went in and slaughtered a large number of spiritual beasts in a very short period of time.”
“Did the Xaoi sect send anyone like that into the Valley of the Beasts recently?”
The higher-tier shook his head. “No, but a few weak outer disciples have gone missing recently.”
“You mean… the shadow clan?”
“It’s possible. The bodies were never found, but if their pedants were taken, it could have been used for this purpose.” He shrugged. “Hey, does this formation look like it’s been perturbed recently?”
“Huh? I’m not very good with formations.”
“You’re only a few years younger than me. You should study more.”
“Didn’t you also fail the advancement exam and was sent on this mission to reflect?”
The higher-tier coughed, “Never mind that. Rather, it looks like someone forced their way through the barrier with a phoney pendant.”
“What? How? It’d take someone from at least the peak of the third realm to manage that!”
The other man nodded. “That’s exactly what is worrying me.”
The two youths glanced at each other nervously, but they knew if they came back without investigating, they’d be in deep trouble. The pair carefully entered the valley. The started out moving slowly and trying to keep their profound power from leaking as to not attract any beasts. However, as they progressed, they found that there were definitely fewer beasts in the valley. Those that were remaining seemed to be hiding, as if afraid of something killing them if they came out of their holes.
For a solid day, the pair moved around the valley until they finally found the cave with the spirit lion in front of it.
“Noone has touched this lion. It looks to be dead two days gone.”
This was something odd. Once the blood was spilt, another spirit beast would have taken an interest in fighting the injured lion and taking over the territory of the lion. Better yet, this one was dead, leaving any number of spirit beasts an easy way to expand their territory. Yet, none had made an attempt in two days.
The pair, with a bit of greed in their eyes, entered the cave in hopes of finding treasure. That’s when they found the leftover signs of battle, along with two dead shadow clan disciples.
“Did they die fighting the lion?” The mid-tier inquired.
The high-tier shook his head. “I’m not particularly sure. It looks like they were fighting another disciple.”
“Betrayal?” The mid-tier knew the Shadow Clans to be a deceptive lot, and it wouldn’t be surprising if one turned on the others to maximize his profit.
“No, but whoever fought here was at least a 2nd realm. This one used a profound skill even.”
“He had a profound technique!” The midtier squeaked.
He didn’t even have a profound technique himself yet, although the high-tier had one. Shadow clan techniques were mysterious, and traded morality for power, so they were typically stronger than a normal clan’s techniques. That was one more advantage of shadow clans. They could advance with fewer resources and execute stronger attacks, usually through the method of sacrifice and using souls.
However, these two didn’t know the technique he used had been stolen off a fortunate low-tier disciple from their own sect. Well, he wasn’t that fortunate, as he was killed shortly after by this man. As to wear the shadow disciple stashed the scroll after using it, that was anyone’s guess, as the dead man wouldn’t be revealing anything.
The two managed to find one or two things of value, but these were only the dregs that Liao An considered beneath her. This included the pendants that allowed the pair entry into the valley undetected. That at least explained how these guys made it into the valley, but since the person who killed them left the pendants behind, that only meant they didn’t need them at all.
The most profitable thing for the pair was actually the disciples themselves. They cut their heads off and stored them in a bag. It was gruesome work, but every sect paid for the death of shadow clan members. They continued their search and found the rope and the bloody spike as well. However, all they could work out was that a battle took place, and someone had escaped from some nefarious bonds.
Another half-day or searching, and they ran into a clearing which reeked of decay. The sounds of buzzing flies filled the air, and the two pinched their noses and approached carefully. When they saw what was there, the two ended up vomiting. A few minutes later, they decided their search was finished and headed straight out of the valley quickly in the most direct path, not even bothering to worry about concealing auras or hiding from beasts.
They had found why the beasts were all in hiding. Within that valley were fifty dead beasts, each with a core ripped out of them. Some of these beasts were quite difficult, and might even give a high-tier level three trouble. Yet, they all were killed instantly without signs of a prolonged battle. If it was just a pile of dead bodies, they probably still wouldn’t have been so perturbed. The thing that caught them was that the bodies were positioned strangely.
It took a few moments, but they realized that they had been set up to spell some words. It was those words that had caused them to flee the valley in terror. Written with the corpses of fifty animals were three simple words.
Silence Buys Life.
It was a message that had clearly been left for them. The meaning was also not something that could be confused. They were not to mention what had happened in this valley to their superiors. A powerful practitioner, someone likely in a realm they’d never reached, had for some reason broken into the valley leaving almost no trace, killed several shadow clan disciples, and then massacred 1/10th of the spirit beasts in the valley to obtain their cores.
Those cores had little value to someone that strong, so they couldn’t imagine why they had done it, but they also knew that they shouldn’t be asking questions. The pair ended up returning to their sect and declaring that shadow clan disciples had broken into the valley and started poaching. They told the clan they had personally killed two, but one managed to escape, aligning the story with the information they held.
The beasts would eventually come out of their hiding, and then they would eat the rest of the evidence. In a week’s time, and definitely, before anyone else was sent to the valley, the evidence of that message, the human and lion corpses, and the disturbance from the forgery would be gone. Of course, with the head of two shadow clan members on their person, no one doubted them, and they were even completely forgiven for their failures, as fighting three shadow clan members and coming out victorious was a notable accomplishment for an outer disciple.
Only the pair of them knew a hint of the truth of what happened in that valley, and they’d heed the warning perfectly. They’d never speak a word of it again. Furthermore, they got hard to work studying, as the pair never wanted to be sent to that place again.
Meanwhile, some distance away in the immortal cave that contained Tigra’s true body, The last of the ingredients went up in a poof of smoke. Liao An let out a sigh.
“We need more ingredients.” She complained.
“Sorry… are you sure you shouldn’t just mix the next batch?”
For the last two days, Bao Bi had dived into alchemy, which, despite his initial belief, was not just the same as cooking. By all accounts, a 1st realm shouldn’t even be able to perform alchemy, because it involved infusing the item with profound energy. However, since Liao An realized he could use profound energy, she was very interested in training his use and control. Thus, the alchemy lessons weren’t just a means of making a product, but also of training Bao Bi’s profound energy up.
It was already something he shouldn’t have, so Tigra was very excited to see what training it would do when he went to the next tier. She had decided to not push him into the second realm immediately. Instead, she wanted to train his profound energy as far as it would go in the 1st realm before having him jump to the second. It would assuredly make his reserves beyond ridiculous. This would also serve to help make him an even better incubator for the Midnight Queen, so she thought nothing of taking the risk.
Of course, she still wanted him to grow quickly, and that included increasing his physical technique, but there was also another reason she didn’t just make what he needed. Tigra realized that she was too good at making medicine. Even with the crap supplies and crap recipes from this world, her profound energy was too pure and her techniques too refined. It wasn’t good for her to intentionally dumb down her alchemy, lest she end up damaging her capacity to use alchemy. Currently, even the weakest medicines she made risked harming Bao Bi at his current realm. If it was the Midnight Queen, she was capable of just about anything, but Tigra wasn’t very good at alchemy.
Anyone who heard her make that assessment of herself would spit out blood, as she was better than any grandmaster from the highest god realms, but she wasn’t so good that she could make medicine at any level without restriction for any purpose. Only the Midnight Queen was truly this amazing.
Therefore, Tigra came up with a second option. She would train Bao Bi to make his own stuff. Naturally, he’d be clumsier and less refined, and thus his medicine wouldn’t be as good but would be good enough or him to take it.
So, Tigra started teaching him as much as she could in alchemy. A normal seven-year old’s brain would have exploded after all the knowledge she had laid on him in the last two days, but with his mind expansion pill given at birth, he had a very high ability to retain information and had learned quickly. Yet, learning used a lot of ingredients, and they ran out after many failed tries.
Tigra wasn’t too disappointed by the progress, as this kind of thing would take years for him to learn. It should also be mentioned that he had actually started succeeding in making medicine the previous day on his 15th try.
It was at the efficacy of 30%. That is to say that the pill contained 70% contaminants. Even in this world, that would be considered a trash pill, but not a pill worth throwing away. Most mortal cultivators, even Xaoi Sect, would buy this pill up. Although taking too many of these pills would cause a build-up of impurities that would hinder cultivation, pills were so rare that many would still gladly go for one like this, even though Tigra didn’t put it in her eyes.
Still, Bao Bi’s ability to make this pill in only a day of practicing could be considered amazing by any standard. It was at a level that would impress grandmasters, and that pill would have been worth at least a spiritual stone, yet Tigra just casually tossed it into the water, letting its spiritual energy dissolve and increase the immortal cave’s native energy.
Neither of them realized this, but in this world, 50% was considered a Bronze level pill and thus the signs of a skilled alchemist. 60% was silver, 70% was gold, 80% was platinum, and 90% was considered a grandmaster level. Only the greatest alchemist in this world hoped to be able to make some 90% pills. It was every alchemy master’s lifetime goal to reach 90%, never mind 91% or higher. That was a pipedream.
However, Tigra already had it in her mind that 70% was the bare minimum Bao Bi had to reach under her tutelage before she’d allow him to eat it. She planned to train him up to 90% as a minimum. After all, her pills were all 99% to 100%. Even her trashiest pill would be 97%.
Interestingly enough, he would have been fine eating any of the pills he had made. It turned out that the purification pill given to him at birth had changed his constitution in many strange ways that Tigra hadn’t realized. First of all, even upon taking junk pills, his body wouldn’t accumulate contaminants. He could basically take pills indefinitely and never have them lose their potency or be harmed. Unfortunately, she had it in her mind he couldn’t afford to accumulate toxins, and so Bao Bi had a long way to go before his cultivation could start advancing through the use of medicine.