Shao Xuan stayed another ten days in Gongjia Valley. He only left when the power of inheritance within him was almost completely restored.
Before he left, he bowed toward the valley. Although he did not know the people who left the words, and perhaps these people had long died, since he had made copies of their writings, he should pay them some respect.
He plucked a leaf and left a note for Gongjia Heng. Then, he planned to leave the valley. There was no use staying here. He could feel a strong sense of non-belonging here. There was no echo when he hit the bell, all its echoes would be muffled by the valley. It did not like outsiders.
Shao Xuan initially planned to return by the same path but he realised he couldn’t open the door that Gongjia Heng had pushed open. Should he blast it open by force? He wasn’t sure if it would trigger some reaction.
However, while the entrance could not be opened, he noticed another opening in another part of the valley.
The door of this opening seemed to have merged into the mountain. There were so many creepers and plants covering it, if it hadn’t opened on its own, Shao Xuan wouldn’t have found it.
There was a dark tunnel inside, similar to the one they used when they came. It didn’t seem like it was a dead end. Although there was a lingering smell of rot, it was not strong. There were other smells here too.
After some thought, he took a step inside to leave this place.
He took out the crystal for some light. As he walked, he studied the carvings on the walls around. In the past, people had used this tunnel too. There were markings made on purpose to prevent them from getting lost at the forks in front. However, Shao Xuan realised there were no forks. He just felt that this tunnel was curved. Not sure where this tunnel led to.
There were small holes at the top of the tunnel. Not sure where they led to and no light streamed in. He just felt air flowing through these holes.
He continued walking. When he reached the light at the end of the tunnel, he realised he was no longer in Gongjia Valley.
Behind him was a huge mountain range. In front of him was a green forest.
He did not see Xia valley, a place that reeked of death. It was as if he had stepped into another world.
This was not the forest he was familiar with, Gongjia Heng had not brought him to a place like this before. This forest was very foreign to him.
When he stepped out of the tunnel, he heard a sound. The hole had sealed off automatically. The door merged with its surroundings with no crevices. If he hadn’t seen the door, he wouldn’t have known there was a tunnel here.
Shao Xuan looked at the sun in the sky to pinpoint his direction and location. He wasn’t too far away. However, it was still a long way to his initial path.
He walked into the forest. There was no need to worry about food.
There were sounds of birds and insects but he did not see a single flying insect or bird. There were no insects crawling in the bushes either.
He continued walking ahead. The insect and bird sounds grew louder.
The trees trunks here were not thick. The leaves swayed in the wind and he could hear the calls of birds and insects.
Shao Xuan watched carefully, looking for flying birds. His gaze fell on the trees.
The sounds weren’t from birds, it was the trees!
AS for the insect sounds, they came from the grass!
Especially when the breeze blew, he could hear both the sounds of birds and insects, rising and falling.
This is a peculiar forest indeed.
Just like the previous patch of forest, there were illusions here too. There were factors that would cause someone to get lost. However, he successfully passed through the other one, he would get out of this one too.
After walking for two hours, he realised he still hadn’t left the forest, nor was he back to the same spot. However, he had a feeling he hadn’t even travelled far from his starting point.
Shao Xuan plucked a blade of grass and tested it. The grass was flexible, similar to the grass he could make knots on. He decided to use this for a reading.
The first reading was a failure.
The second reading was also a failure.
The grass would break not long after he began.
The problem wasn’t with the grass. Shao Xuan felt like he could not focus at all. If he could not focus, the surge of energy would not be in proper sequence, hence the probability of failure would be high.
During the reading, the insect and bird noises seemed to grow louder and more annoying. He could barely calm his mind down. If he wanted to conduct a reading, he would have to get away from all the noise.
Shao Xuan set up a trap around him. He would be alerted of any beast or person that approached this way. After setting up everything, he shut off his hearing to separate himself from the world. He closed his eyes and did another reading.
This time, it was so much easier.
When he looked at the final knot, with his hearing still sealed off, he walked in a direction. He did not look around, merely walking straight ahead.
When he walked out of this peculiar forest, he felt a weight lift from his shoulders. Lifting the hearing block, he heard noises made by birds and beasts. They weren’t the repetitive, pure noises from the previous forest. Here, there were all kinds of animals, plus the rustling of the tree leaves. There must be a waterfall nearby too because he could hear flowing water.
Everything was back to normal.
This was a normal forest. Although there could be threats in a forest like fierce beasts, peculiar plants, he felt more relaxed.
A forest should be like that!
He washed his face at the waterfall, hunted an unfortunate wild boar for a meal. After some rest, he decided to continue walking.
There were not many fearsome beasts here, in fact, there were few animals. He had taken a while to find that boar. The birds here were not active too. He saw one or two occasionally but they weren’t the flocks of birds he was used to. This was a relatively quiet forest.
Perhaps because this place was still near the Xia valley, that’s why there were few animals here.
No matter what, it was not a good place to stay for long. He planned to leave as soon as possible.
A bird with bright green feathers flew past him. There was a leaf-shaped pattern around its eyes, making it look like an eye patch. Based on its behaviour, it looked like a fat duck.
The bright green bird stopped on a tree about thirty meters away from Shao Xuan. It turned its neck to look at him.
“Goo-- goo---- Quack!”
The bird made a very weird noise. When it saw that Shao Xuan did not move, it flew down from the tree and landed on the water. Retracting its wings, it paddled in the water, occasionally dipping its head into the water. It paddled hard to a quieter area, swimming around. It sometimes even pecked a small fish out of the water, swallowing with its head facing up.
Shao Xuan had to admit a fat duck was tempting in a place with so few animals.
However, Shao Xuan did not attack immediately.
When the duck flew landed on the tree, Shao Xuan’s sharp eyes noticed the sharp, hook-like claws. They gripped the branch tightly. However, he also saw webbing between its toes that opened the moment it landed in the water.
A swimming bird with claws as sharp as a fierce beast.
It was not as unassuming as it looked.
However, it was still a fat duck swimming back and forth in front of Shao Xuan as if to say: come, eat me!
Shao Xuan picked up a pebble and threw it at the duck.
The duck seemed to be ready. When Shao Xuan moved, it immediately opened its wings and sprinted across the water’s surface by quickly paddling its webbed claws. Water splashed behind it, leaving a trail. Then, it spread its wings to fly and the webbing contracted. All that was left behind were claws as sharp as an eagle’s.
When it left the water, it did not fly upwards immediately. It merely fluttered among the trees, flying occasionally. It looked like it was too fat to fly.
Shao Xuan quickly chased after it. However, just as he was about to catch it, the duck sped up like it had a booster attached to it, quacking as it fluttered its wings.
The tree trunks around them were very thick, it would take more than twenty people to hug this tree around its circumference. There were very few birds and animals. This fluttering, bright green duck was too obvious.
Shao Xuan chased after the duck. With his abilities, he could have caught it very quickly but he was not in a hurry. He maintained a distance behind the duck, watching the as it quacked and quacked.
When it stopped, he stopped too.
The duck stood on a branch about seventeen meters in the air, pecking at its feathers. It looked at Shao Xuan, as if it was very curious.
“Quack!” the duck cried again, spreading its wings and shaking its flesh.
Shao Xuan did not look at it, ignoring its reckless cries and shaking. His gaze swept across the forest, one hand tightly gripping his sword.
The fat duck stopped crying and he entier forest seemed to become very quiet. There was just the rustling of leaves. He heard the cries of other animals but they were very far.
At this moment, a dark silhouette suddenly rushed out from among the trees. A blade flashed in the light as it slashed in front of him cruelly. The slash was so strong it created a sharp blade of air heading towards Shao Xuan!
At the same time, on the other side, another dark silhouette appeared. This one had no weapons but their arms wielded solid power. The wind roared with the appearance of such a powerful force.
Both people approached threateningly.
Shao Xuan could instinctively sense danger and he was already prepared before they appeared. He did not face their attack head-on, sprinting straight ahead instead.
The sword that was slashed at him left a cut in the ground. Soil and grass flew.
The other person did not express disappointment, despite the sword not hitting its intended target. Working with the other person, both of them chased after Shao Xuan together. There was an aura of mischief and danger.