Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Forty kilometers to the east of the Divine Trade Bazaar, there was a U-shaped valley that was covered in gray fog, so much so that it was impossible to tell how it looked originally.
The valley was fairly small all things considered; a few kilometers in radius at most. Groups of cultivators could be seen standing on the hills. It was clear they were drawn here by the news of the Rift of Fortune.
This valley did not fall under any sect’s territory, so it was considered a neutral ground. In fact, there were plenty of neutral grounds in the Spirit Creek Battlefield—the world was vast, and the sects weren’t so numerous that their territories bordered each other seamlessly after all.
The valley was located at the center of four sects. Two of them belonged to Grand Sky Coalition, and the other two to Thousand Demon Ridge. Ranging between the Fifth to Sixth-Tier, they were all pretty powerful sects in their own right.
Two of the four factions had already made it to the valley. One was the House of Wintry Blossoms, and the other Hidden Light Sanctuary.
The independent cultivators were gathered in groups of threes, fours and fives, both the two sects had brought at least a hundred cultivators with them. It showed just how much they valued the Rift of Fortune.
The reason they were able to arrive faster than the other two sects was because the valley was closer to their Outposts, and they had received word in a timely fashion.
The other two sects were not so lucky. It would take them a while to get here even if they caught wind of the news early.
Currently, both the House of Wintry Blossoms and the Hidden Light Sanctuary were attempting to recruit the aid of the independent cultivators. Unfortunately, neither of them were having much success.
The independent cultivators of the Inner Circle were more independent than their Outer Circle counterparts. They were also less likely to be fooled by a sect’s empty promises. There was a reason they made it this far after all.
Moreover, safety in numbers wasn’t always a good thing when exploring a rift like this. For starters, joining a sect meant that they were obligated to participate in large-scale battles against the opposing faction, something that was guaranteed to happen more than once in a small space like the Rift of Fortune. They would also be putting their fate in their acting superior’s hands. If the superior was incompetent or plotting to use them as sacrificial pawns, well… Long story short, it wasn’t necessarily less safe to stay with their fellow independent cultivators.
Plus, those who wanted to join a sect would’ve done so a long time ago. They would not have waited until now to join one. That was why the independent cultivators at the valley were more willing to team up with their peers.
By the time Lu Ye showed up on his flying Spirit Artifact, several hundred cultivators had already gathered at the valley. Things looked pretty messy from what he could see.
The first thing he noticed was that two one hundred man-groups were standing on opposing sides of the valley. They were clearly hostile toward one another.
One group had far more female cultivators than male cultivators, and they were all fairly beautiful in their own right. They also wore provocative clothes that showed off their legs, their waists and more. Flying behind them was a huge banner with petals on it. In fact, the fabric itself smelled faintly of flowers.
Lu Ye immediately identified it as the banner of the House of Wintry Blossoms.
Technically speaking, he had never seen their banner before. However, he had seen their symbol on his 10-point map. The symbol of every sect was displayed behind their name. For example, the Crimson Blood Sect’s symbol was a golden flame with a red background.
Lu Ye did not recognize the other group, but a quick check of his map told him that they belonged to the Hidden Light Sanctuary. This meant that two of the four nearby factions had already arrived at the valley.
The two factions who hadn’t shown up yet were the Lofty Plume Court of Grand Sky Coalition and Sunlit Mountain of Thousand Demon Ridge respectively. They were probably still on the road since their Outposts were farther away from the valley.
Lu Ye landed on the side belonging to Hidden Light Sanctuary. Then, he looked into the valley curiously.
The reason he paid nine hundred Spirit Stones for the best info on the Rift of Fortune and rushed over as quickly as he could was because the word “Rift” had tickled his mind.
It so happened that he had a Mystic Fruit that transported his mind to a Rift of Illusions so he could battle against all kinds of enemies and strengthen his skills. What if this Rift of Fortune was somehow connected to it?
He could be completely wrong as a matter of course, but there was certainly no harm in checking it out.
So far, he was inclined to believe that his suspicions were right. It was because the rolling gray fog in the valley looked exactly the same as the one in the Rift of Illusions.
[Are they really connected to one another?]
That said, it was a bit presumptuous to make that deduction now. He would have to enter the space to be sure.
While he was thinking, a young cultivator walked up to him and saluted him respectfully. “Greetings, fellow cultivator. I am Ji Yan of the Hidden Light Sanctuary. Would you be interested in exploring the Rift of Fortune with us?”
Lu Ye glanced at his party and thought for a moment. Then, he shook his head and said, “Thank you for the offer, but no thanks.”
While he was safer traveling with the Hidden Light Sanctuary’s party, he would lose a certain extent of freedom. He did not believe that the trade-off was worth it.
Ji Yan did not waste his breath. He simply nodded at Lu Ye before moving on to the next person.
After Ji Yan was gone, a short cultivator with short mustaches standing next to him said in a friendly tone, “You are wise to turn them down, buddy. I won’t deny that Hidden Light Sanctuary’s reputation is pretty good, but I doubt you’ll be able to gain much from the rift if you were to join them. We independent cultivators simply aren’t born compatible with sect cultivators, don’t you agree?”
The guy must have had unpleasant experiences with sect cultivators. It was clear he wasn’t fond of them.
He then changed his tune and continued, “Would you like to travel with us? Whatever the rift might be, acting as a group can’t be worse than acting alone. Plus, you look like a combat cultivator. It so happens that I’m a spell cultivator, and this big fellow next to me is a body tempering cultivator. If you join us, then all we need is a ghost cultivator to complete the team. What do you say?”
He patted the shoulder of the guy next to him. The only reason he managed to do so was because his companion was sitting on the ground.
Lu Ye glanced at the guy’s companion. He hadn’t noticed at first, but the man was impressively broad and tall. It was clear he was a body-tempering cultivator judging from his overwhelming vitality alone, and he gave off the impression of a mountain even though he was just sitting on the ground.
His shock grew when he looked closer, however. It was because the body-tempering cultivator’s Spiritual Power was perfectly pure. It had been a while since he began his adventure of the Spirit Creek Battlefield, and he had encountered cultivators of all shapes and sizes during this time. However, none of their aura was perfectly pure because of the Spirit Pills they consumed.
Without exaggeration, this was the first time ever he encountered someone whose aura was almost as pure as his, not to mention that he was a body-tempering cultivator.
The body-tempering cultivator was currently eating what looked like a bloody piece of meat. Seemingly sensing his gaze, the man met Lu Ye’s gaze and shot him a naive smile.
“What is your answer, buddy?” The short cultivator asked again.
Lu Ye replied indifferently, “Thank you for the offer, but no thanks.”
The short cultivator huffed. “I was planning to provide you some guidance, but since you do not appreciate it, then whatever.”
Technically speaking, it wasn’t a boast. Both him and his companion were Ninth-Order cultivators after all.
The guy then walked toward another lone independent cultivator. Clearly, he wasn’t going to stop until he had recruited a team of sorts.
Suddenly, the body-tempering cultivator handed over the meat in his hand. “Have a bite!”
Lu Ye was going to reject the offer when Amber leaped off his shoulder and landed on the body-tempering cultivator’s legs. It then consumed the meat ravenous.
The naive-looking body-tempering cultivator smiled at the sight of this. He raised his ridiculously massive hand and stroked Amber’s smooth fur.
[Interesting]’ Lu Ye thought to himself while watching this. The number of people who could approach Amber since he brought it back to the Crimson Blood Sect could be counted on one hand. Not even Yi Yi’s closest friend, Ruan Lingyu was an exception. One time, Ruan Lingyu wanted to ride Amber but was rejected no matter what she tried. The tiger simply refused to get up from its sunbathing spot until Yi Yi had given it a direct order. It carried Lingyu around the Summit of Fortitude once, but never again after that.
As for feeding… Amber had never eaten anything that didn’t come from Lu Ye or Yi Yi. Not even his senior sister, Shui Yuan was able to convince it otherwise, much less a complete stranger.
Naturally, he was quite surprised with Amber’s current behavior. It wasn’t like he could ask Yi Yi what was going on either since the girl was currently hiding inside Amber’s body.
Amber was capable of seeing through the heart. The fact that it was being so affectionate with the body-tempering cultivator seemed to indicate that he possessed certain qualities that were attractive to Amber. Could it be that simple-minded people were naturally pure in heart?
Time passed quickly. More and more cultivators heard the news of the Rift of Fortune and showed up, though none had shown up in a large group.
Meanwhile, the fog in the valley grew thicker and thicker.
On the other side of the valley, a tall and slim female cultivator wearing a short shirt that revealed her waist was listening attentively to a male cultivator’s report. She was the prolegate of the House of Wintry Blossoms, Chi Qing.
The Rift of Fortune was a place of untold opportunities and riches. Naturally, the leader of the exploration party had to be a Legate or prolegate at the very least.
“Sunlit Mountain is almost here. They should make it before the Rift opens,” the guy reported while moving closer to Chu Qing. Her flowery scent was causing sparks to explode inside his head.
Chu Qing nodded. “Good. What about Lofty Plume Court?”
“I haven’t heard anything about them yet.”
“Well, don’t just stand here and do nothing. Go investigate them now.”
“Right away!” The guy responded before retreating to the back.
The House of Wintry Blossoms was a very special faction in the sense that women enjoyed better status and treatment in this sect. In fact, the sect used to have no male cultivators at all. The founder of the sect was a Divine Ocean Realm cultivator. It was said that she was tricked and betrayed by her lover in the past because she came to believe that all men in the world were disgusting, repulsive, and death-deserving creatures. That was why she wanted to found a sect with female cultivators only.
Unfortunately, dreams did not usually mesh well with reality. The restriction severely restricted their growth, not to mention that they were a body-tempering cultivation faction. Most women would prefer to be slim, beautiful and perfect, not massive hunks of meat whose very responsibility was to get hurt and ugly in battle.
That was why the sect changed their policies as soon as their founder had passed away. They began accepting male disciples into their ranks, although seventy to eighty percent of their members were still female. Moreover, most of their male cultivators were body-tempering cultivators. Long story short, it was their job to brave all the dangers and endure all the hurt.
Despite this, the House of Wintry Blossoms remained incredibly popular within Thousand Demon Ridge. After all, who doesn’t like a sweet, gentle beauty, and the House of Wintry Blossoms was overflowing with them.