Before the small-sized man could continue his theory about how the mess in the forest might have been left by other disciples instead of Gu Suihan and the other four, a hoarse and grating voice suddenly cut him off.
“It’s them. I sense the Spirit of the Sword in the east. Zhou Haoran is a cultivator of the sword, isn’t he?” The eyes of the owner of the voice lit up. He took a few steps forward, took a deep breath, then exhaled deeply. “There’s some Ghost Qi in the south. That must be Feng Ran.”
“There are deep footprints over here and a stench that still lingers. That must be Li Rong’s.” The small-sized man narrowed his eyes at the two rows of footprints in the mud that measured inches deep as he stood atop a tree branch and shuddered.
“So, we’ve got a confirmation on where three out of five of them went and we’ve got two more. One of them should have gone north.” His expression was a little conflicted because he simply couldn’t find any traces of a fifth person. If he didn’t know there were five people beforehand, he would have never believed it.
“The last one went in there,” said the one with a raspy voice flatly as he glanced at the small-sized man.
“Let’s finish off this roast pig first then.” The small-sized man came forward, used a dagger to cut off one of the pig’s front legs, and started chomping on it. He even took a few bottles of wine out from his magic storage bag and gave them to his companions.
A much larger-sized man broke the seal of his wine bottle, took a few swigs, then sat down in front of the fire. He pulled off one of the back legs and took a big bite. His expression as he ate clearly showed how yummy the roast pig was.
The smell of the roast meat made everyone feel really hungry. The rest of them exchanged glances before dividing the pig up with a smile.
It was past midnight and they were all famished. The gloomy weather made them feel rather moody as well, so the prospect of delicious food lifted their spirits.
“Hmm, is this pig actually a magical beast? Why does it contain so much spiritual energy?” mumbled the burly man to himself as he continued munching on the pork with a puzzled face.
“Spiritual energy?” The two who remained a distance from the group in front thought about these words for a moment. One of them suddenly seemed to remember something and his face paled as he exclaimed, “That meat’s poisoned!”
Immediately after he said that he appeared almost in an instant beside the fire and hit the wrists of the two who had already started eating the meat. The sheer force made them stumble and drop the meat in their hands. He ignored their shocked expressions and bellowed fiercely, “There’s poison on the skin, so spit everything out now!”
“Pfft!” Both of them immediately punched themselves in the abdomen, causing their stomachs to churn violently. They started gagging and began vomiting all the meat they had just eaten.
After that, the small-sized man grabbed a bottle of wine and rinsed his mouth thoroughly before panting and said, “That was close! What poison was it?”
“It was that Spiritual Multiplier Pill,” said the man who warned them as he ran a finger gently across the pig’s roasted skin. His gaze hardened as he said, “Gu Suihan crushed that Spiritual Multiplier Pill he received from Elder Wang and smeared it all over the pig.”
Their faces instantly fell when they heard those words. The two who had eaten the meat instantly sat down to circulate their internal Qi in order to purge the poison.
“That little bastard deserves to die,” spat the small-sized man as he stared fearfully at the roast pig.
“Let’s split up,” said the burly man with a sullen expression. “Monkey, you can go after that Feng Ran. He’s a cultivator in the Way of Dead Spirits, so be careful.”
The small-sized man nodded and took a few steps back silently, then turned to swing from branch to branch like a monkey. His speed was exceedingly fast.
“Tian Yu, you can go after Zhou Haoran.” The burly man looked up at the sky, then said frostily, “I’ll settle Li Rong. Chuan Xin, Gu Suihan went deep into the forest, so I’ll leave him to you. You two, go after Wang Xianxian.”
“Let’s go!” The burly man had a murderous look as he scanned the rest of his companions before cracking a smile, “I’m pretty sure the fellow who smeared poison on the pig was Gu Suihan. Chuan Xin, you know what to do.”
Chuan Xin nodded politely and the spear in his hand made a slight buzzing noise as it vibrated. He was the one who had figured out that the pig had poison on it.
This group of men weren’t worried about failing in their mission. They were all at the Foundation Establishment stage and were now officially cultivators who were recognized by fellow cultivators. They were a lot more formidable than Gu Suihan’s group, who were still trying to activate their Qi.
They weren’t just stronger, but they were practically from a different world altogether.
Gu Suihan’s expression was calm as he pursed his lips and continued traversing deeper into the forest in silence. His movements were like an agile cheetah, elegant while still maintaining his speed.
To be completely honest, Gu Suihan really didn’t want to fight if he didn’t have to. He was at a very awkward stage in his cultivation right now, since he was still in the midst of activating his Qi. Unlike many other cultivators, he didn’t have the luxury of time to amass enough resources to convert all his meridian channels into Spiritual Meridians in one shot.
Thanks to that duel with Li Xianlong, he had no choice but to take the risk of forcibly converting some of his meridian channels in order to increase his chances of winning. He had done this so that he would be able to use certain techniques that should have been above his level.
His original plan was to win the duel, then coop himself up inside his residence to take his time to focus on cultivation until he had moved past this awkward stage.
He didn’t expect this fake mission.
Not all of his meridian channels had been converted to Spiritual Meridians yet, so he had both some internal energy and some magic energy inside his body. If he had to use everything he had to fight, it might cause some confusion within him.
“The Way Seekers Alliance. Ha!” muttered Gu Suihan under his breath as the look in his eyes grew more and more frosty. This obvious attack on him was making him harbor even more hatred towards that faction.
It had been such a long time since he was last schemed against like this. The murderous spirit that had fallen asleep for many years was beginning to fill his heart again. The intense violent tendencies he had from his previous life returned to him.
Gu Suihan suddenly came to a halt and he looked around him with a stern expression on his face. He had sensed a murderous intent. It was very faint and faded almost immediately, but he had still picked it up.
The noise from the wind had died down and the thick trees of the forest looked like sinister monsters whenever a bolt of lightning lit up the sky. Their branches swayed menacingly without making any noise.
It was so silent, that you could hear a pin drop.
Gu Suihan couldn’t move. He knew that the moment he moved, that would become the other party’s chance to strike. The other party would definitely attack hard and Gu Suihan wasn’t sure if he would be able to dodge it or defend himself against it.
Meanwhile, Chuan Xin stood on top of a tree several meters away with a relaxed look on his face and his long spear in hand. His tall stature was well hidden by the dense branches of the tree and his eagle-like eyes glinted dimly in the dark.
“Hoho, you’re an internal disciple alright,” Gu Suihan suddenly started speaking and broke the tense atmosphere surrounding him.
Chuan Xin narrowed his eyes and the gleam in his eyes was hidden. He replied in a low voice, “How do you know that?”
The silence following Chuan Xin’s words made Gu Suihan feel even more under pressure. He swallowed and said, “It’s been one whole hour since I left that place and I’ve covered at least 15 kilometers, yet you were able to catch up with me in less than 15 minutes. I suppose you’ve got to be at least at Foundation Establishment. Are you at the Beginner Stage? Intermediate stage? Or the Advanced Stage?”
As he spoke, Gu Suihan took the chance to quietly turn around and stared straight toward where Chuan Xin was hiding with his sharp eyes.
“Hoho! Who cares which stage I’m at? Either way, you’re going to die a painful death,” said Chuan Xin in a sinister voice as his gaze intensified.
Gu Suihan raised an eyebrow and said in a mocking voice, “Spiritual Multiplier Pills are really good stuff. A pity I wasn’t able to have any, unlike the rest of you. What a pity.”
“So it was really you! Prepare to die!” Chuan Xin gave the blunt end of his spear a kick, sending it swooshing loudly towards Gu Suihan’s head like an angry dragon.
Woong! That was the sound of a bowstring quivering.
Chuan Xin saw something black shoot towards him at high speed. He had a disdainful expression as he swung his spear out gently. Sparks started flying from the tip of his spear as it broke the oncoming arrow into several pieces easily.
“That’s all you’ve got?” he said with a smirk as he looked towards Gu Suihan, who was about 15 meters away from him. Nobody could see the grim look in Chuan Xin’s eyes in the darkness.
“Well, it’s enough.” Gu Suihan smiled faintly as he kept his bow away, pulled out a sword, and disappeared promptly after that.
Chuan Xin frowned as alarm bells went off in his head. He sent his Spiritual Sense out like a huge wave of water, covering more than 30 meters in an instant, and was able to sense even the slightest movement within this radius.
Whoosh! His spear suddenly spun and flew towards an empty space on his left, sending leaves and small stones flying.
Danggg! A thunderous blast filled the air as two weapons met.
“Not bad.” A bit of blood dribbled out from Gu Suihan’s mouth and his face was a little pale.
Chuan Xin had a modest look on his face as if he was a child who had just been complimented by his older siblings. But of course, that was only what his expression looked like. In reality, his spear was still repeatedly darting out from under his arm like the tongue of a venomous snake.
Gu Suihan raised his sword up horizontally to meet the spear again and again, setting off brilliant sparks in the middle of the dark night.
“You’re not bad too.” Chuan Xin was still smiling as he stretched his left arm out.
“Blade of the Wind!”
Bam! There was a dull thud as Gu Suihan suddenly fell flat on his face, crashing heavily to the ground as some of his hair was cut by the passing force sent out by the spear.
The force brushed past him and broke all the trees behind him into several pieces.
Chuan Xin grinned and brought his spear down repeatedly towards Gu Suihan as Gu Suihan remained on the ground.
The bright red tassel near the tip of the spear swished in the air as Chuan Xin brandished it. The color was eye-catching and dazzling, like a peony blooming in the middle of April.
Gu Suihan kept his body straight as he nimbly avoided every attack the spear made towards him and thrust his sword toward Chuan Xin’s abdomen.
But Chuan Xin wasn’t bothered by this attack at all and murmured, “Vajra.”
A golden beam of light shot out from his body and protected Chuan Xin. Gu Suihan’s sword made ear-piercing noises as it hit this protective barrier.
Chuan Xin’s spear shot out countless shadows that shot through the air, surrounding Gu Suihan. The tip of the spear gave off Qi from time to time and aimed for Gu Suihan’s vital areas.
Ding! Ding! Dang! Ding!
A flurry of clangs filled the air and was accompanied by flying pieces of cloth now and then.
A moment later, Gu Suihan used the force from the collision between his sword and Chuan Xin’s spear to help him fly several meters backward so that he could escape the onslaught of attacks.
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