Mu Yao and his party walked for another seven days when they saw a magnificent mountain range that stood before them like a solid wall. The ends of the range could not be seen, and the tops of the mountains were covered by clouds. No one knew how tall the mountains were.
Mist gathered around the valley while white patches of snow covered the slopes.
A long and dangerous journey ahead!
This was what everyone thought.
In the past, they had climbed many mountains but this mountain range was different.
“This is my first time seeing a mountain range like that!” Mu Yao exclaimed.
This was no ordinary location but the star butterfly larvae were no ordinary worms either. It made sense that they would live in a place like that. It felt like the Yi family actually got the larvae’s location right.
“This is the place?” Mu Yao turned to Yi Qi.
“Mm.” Yi Qi was still thinking about the person following them. Refusing to accept Yi Cong’s explanation, he had been thinking about the question day and night for seven days. Even though they were already at their destination, he seemed disinterested and merely grunted nonchalantly.
Mu Yao looked at Yi Cong and was delighted to see Yi Cong nodding. “Where are the larvae?”
“It’s not time yet,” said Yi Cong.
“Does that mean the star butterfly larvae would come out on their own?” asked Mu Yao curiously.
“That should happen, all we need to do is wait.” Yi Cong instructed his slaves to clear the area and sat on a rock they wiped for him. He took out his tray and started to mull over questions of his own.
Seeing the two Yi people behave like this, Mu Yao did not force them to look for the larvae. The Yi family were all like this, especially the ones in the main family branch.
“Let’s explore the area,” said Mu Yao to the rest.
Mu Yao was still wondering about the larvae’s location and size when he saw Gongjia Yue close his eyes and take out a deep breath. He looked blissed-out, heaving a sigh. “Do you smell it?”
Mu Yao sniffed the air. “The smell of bird faeces?” That was nothing new, the stench had been lingering for days.
Gongjia Yue opened his eyes slightly, as if looking at an idiot. “The star butterfly larvae are definitely here!”
“Why don’t I smell anything?” Mu Yao sniffed again but did not smell anything other than bird faeces. Turning to the rest, they all looked equally puzzled.
“You wouldn’t understand!” scoffed Gongjia Yue arrogantly. “I can sense an extremely good forging material nearby, and it must be the larvae!”
The Gongjia family had an instinct towards forging materials and could find good materials hidden from others. This was why they ended up with strange forging materials compared to others. Their ancestors found certain animals whose blood was suitable for forging through this exact method.
As he spoke, he felt a gust of wind above. Looking up, he saw a large shadow shooting right at them and quickly dodged.
A hard slam made everyone peer cautiously towards the source of the sound.
There was a large eagle there, several times taller than them while lying flat on the ground like a small hill. The surrounding trees were flattened by its impact and it looked severely injured.
Mu Yao regarded it from beak to feathers to talons, finally concluding, “An old eagle.”
The eagle was obviously ageing. Other than its sharp, observant gaze, its most powerful weapons- beak and talons- were no longer at their peak like rusty weapons.
Knowing that this eagle was old and injured, and it did not look like it could fly again, everyone gradually relaxed when they realised it was not a huge threat. A thought crossed their minds. “This is a great opportunity!”
A dying eagle was still a fearsome beast, which was a good source of nutrients. They had never hunted such a large eagle before.
Meeting everyone’s eyes, Mu Yao knew what they thought but out of caution, he asked the Yi family members first.
“Will killing the eagle affect our capturing of the larvae?” asked Mu Yao.
Yi Qi looked at the eagle impatiently, “Just kill it if you want!”
However, Yi Cong flicked the jades in his trays. “I think, it’s best you don’t do that.”
“Why? What did your reading say?” asked Mu Yao.
Yi Cong shook his head. “I could not conduct any readings.”
Afraid that the rest would attribute this inability to the previous incident, Yi Qi miserably elaborated, “This place is strange, we can’t do readings here. I think you can sense it too.”
“You’re right.” Mu Yao also felt a strong oppression and knew they were not making excuses. The force came from above, like a giant hand pressing down.
Since they could not conduct readings and Mu Yao did not want to let go of this opportunity for food, he unsheathed his sword to kill the eagle. This place was where the larvae were, and eagles did not live in harmony with worms, right? Maybe killing an eagle would be good for the larvae.
The eagle seemed to feel Mu Yao’s murderous intent, flapping its wings as it looked up. Its gaze was sharp enough for everyone to avoid staring straight into them. An eagle of this size surely had its fair share of ups and downs, one look was enough for Mu Yao to know it was different from the other birds.
However, the more intimidating it was, the more Mu Yao lusted for its blood.
“You old bird!”
There was an arc of metallic light, bringing along a cold murderous intent as it slashed mercilessly.
The giant eagle blocked his sword with a talon but one of its toes was slashed off. Pieces of its claw chipped off and fell on the ground.
Just as Mu Yao expected, this eagle’s talons were merely rusty, old metal wares! They were weak! Perhaps he would not have been able to cut off a toe if this eagle were at its peak, maybe only scratching the hard scales on its talons. But it’s old! You’re an old, dying eagle!
Everyone started to crowd around. Knowing it must not stay any longer, the giant eagle lifted its claw again to block Mu Yao’s next strike while flapping its wings hard.
Crack crack crack crack000
The sound of broken branches sounded like the pitter-patter of a storm.
The giant wings brought with it a vortex, pushing Mu Yao and the rest slightly back.
With a long cry, the eagle flapped its wings and left the ground. Its actions were slow and awkward either due to its injury or age, staggering so much that Mu Yao thought several times that it would crash. But the eagle continued flying up, then stopping on the mountain. It grabbed on to the steep cliff but due to the injured foot and talons that were no longer sharp, it slid downwards.
Mu Yao wondered if he should climb up the mountain to kill it. The eagle did not look like it would live long anyway. Suddenly, Gongjia Yue roared, “The star butterfly larvae are coming out!”
Mu Yao had to abandon the eagle now, this was his main objective anyway. He would come back for this crippled old eagle after extracting larvae blood.
“Where is it?!” Mu Yao looked around.
I can sense them, they’re coming out!” Gongjia Yue’s breathing was heavy and rugged, his face red from the blood rush, hot air forcing through his nostrils. He held a sword while staring intently at the ground at the foot of the mountain.
He was more sensitive than the Yi people in this aspect. Those people needed to conduct readings while he did not. This was just his natural instinct!
Gongjia Yue had just spoken when they heard a large rustling from underground. Everyone held their breaths, terrified of disturbing what was underground. As the commotion grew louder, in the spot where Gongjia Yue was staring at, the soil in a patch of grass loosened, then a mound formed and the topmost soil layer was pushed out. A round, white head popped out, then out wriggled a three to four-metre long worm as thick as a man’s thigh.
“Not just one!” Gongjia Yue had gone mad.
After the first worm emerged, a few more white worms wriggled out of the soil near the foot of the mountain.
“This is it!”