Chapter 21 - The Mysterious Well In The Lake!
Li Tianming realised the direction Jiang Feiling pointed for him didn’t simply lead him to the manna. As the concentration of spiritual energy in the air increased, not only did the number of beasts and nasty critters increased, but also the number of spirit herbs. Since the atmospheric temperature in the Red Twill Mountain Range was quite high all year round, the plants here were able to absorb a lot of spiritual energy from direct sunlight. As a result, most spirit herbs formed here were of the fire type.
In other words, this was paradise for the Aeternal Infernal Phoenix!
It had been ten days since Li Tianming started walking in this direction. While he hadn’t found the manna, he did acquire quite a handful of spirit herbs with orange heavenly patterns. Other than three fire lingzhis, he also found orange-patterned spirit herbs such as the flaming great fruit and magmaflow leaves. As their journey towards the manna continued, the two also digested a considerable number of spirit herbs. The rewards that this place offered was proportionate to the amount of risks lurking in its shadows.
“Sixth level Beast Vein!”
In terms of cultivation level, he had now surpassed Li Xuejiao, and was reaching Li Zifeng’s level.
“This cultivation pace is indeed unfathomable. Thinking back, I took a few years to reach sixth level when I started from scratch,” Li Tianming exclaimed. Of course, these changes were only possible due to his bond with the Aeternal Infernal Phoenix, which highlighted how fundamentally different the Aeternal Infernal Phoenix was from the Four-Winged Goldroc.
“The second egg is still just rolling around in my lifebound space. This little fella is quite lazy, refusing to just hatch.” Given how strong Ying Huo was, Li Tianming couldn’t wait for his second Primordial Chaos Beast.
On the other hand, they managed to find quite a bit of clear spirit grass in the past few days. It wasn’t really a rare spirit herb, and was more common in the deeper parts of Red Twill Mountain Range. In fact, he had already collected more than thirty strands, each of them carefully kept and packed.
“This trip is taking quite a while. Since I have enough clear spirit grass already, all I need now is the manna and then I can go back home.”
“Since Ling’er pointed me in this direction, it must eventually lead me to where the treasure is!”
Two days after reaching sixth level Beast Vein, Li Tianming found a lake located high up the mountain, boasting the highest concentration of spiritual energy in the mountain. Just by looking at the lake, he could see steam coming out of it. A searing heat engulfed his finger as he dipped it inside; a person without cultivation would have been scalded from simply stepping into the water.
Since this lake lied exactly in the direction Jiang Feiling was pointing at, and was also the most special place they encountered so far, Li Tianming decided to dive into it.
“Watch out, I can feel something foul is resting in the lake. Even if the manna is inside here, there’s probably some kind of trial that we have to clear first,” Li Tianming warned the little chick.
“Coward. Be like me! Heroic, valiant and resolute!” Ying Huo wasn’t going to miss its chance to diss Li Tianming. But just moments later, after the pair dived into the boiling lake, the little chick hid itself frantically in Li Tianming’s clothes, its little head poking out nervously.
The water was quite muddy, making it difficult to see the bottom of the lake, but Li Tianming was pleasantly surprised to find that his third eye on the dark arm could see clearly even under such circumstances. Its vision was hardly affected by the clarity of the water, giving Li Tianming a good view of his surroundings.
If he was to remove the bandage off his arm right now, one would observe that Li Tianming’s left arm was in fact quite stylish, its eye shining through the darkness of the muddy lake water. This gave Li Tianming’s normally cultured look a sense of demonic charm. With the Crimson Blood Dagger in his right hand, Li Tianming seemed like a soul reaper roaming the dark lake.
He soon reached the bottom of the lake, where the temperature was even higher. Even the rocks were red-hot, suggesting that there were magma veins flowing below the lakebed, explaining the high concentration of fire type spiritual energy in the region.
“The vision is incredible!” Li Tianming reckoned that even if someone managed to dive to his position, they probably couldn’t see a thing. The little chick was in fact unable to see anything around them, and Li Tianming himself was entirely relying on the black arm to know where they were going.
After searching roughly a third of the lake…
“What’s this?” Li Tianming swept away a few pebbles on the lakebed, revealing a well in the depth of the lake! The well seemed to be made out of some kind of bronze, the marks on its surfaces hinting at the rich history it may have.
The opening of the well was sealed off by a mossy green slate. It seemed to be firmly locked in place, and they found no ways to pry it open. Furthermore, the well was extremely well hidden, and it was hard to imagine anyone finding it without using something like Li Tianming’s third eye.
“Ooooooh, an ancient sealed well, wonder what kind of treasure lies inside.” The little chick imagined after Li Tianming described it to him.
“Look at that, that looks like a keyhole.” Li Tianming pointed at the slate.
“I can’t see for shit dammit,” the little chick mumbled.
“Could the manna be inside?”
“Then we will have to find the key, it’s probably somewhere inside this lake too.”
In his mind, Li Tianming took down the position of this well. It was a large lake, and there were about two thirds of it that he had yet to explore.
After another fifteen minutes of searching, Li Tianming found a faint glimmer coming from the lake’s centre! He swam towards it and found a strangely shaped rock lying on the lakebed. The rock was glowing faintly, and Li Tianming could feel that there was something sacred about the rock.
“This must be the key!” Li Tianming was thrilled.
However, the little chick had other opinions.“No, that IS the manna!”
“What do you mean? The shape of this rock fits perfectly with the keyhole we saw on the well just now.”
“This is the manna itself. I can already smell its fragrance, what makes you think that I can’t tell if this is manna?” The little chick was far more excited than he was.
“Are you sure?” Li Tianming inspected the rock again, before realising that it indeed fit the descriptions of manna that he read in textbooks before. He expected it to be much more well hidden, perhaps inside that well, and not just casually lying in the centre of the lake.
“This must be it, just grab it already.” The little chick pressed him on.
“Even if it is the manna, I’m pretty damn sure it’s a key to that well too. Perhaps we can find other stuff inside there,” Li Tianming pondered.
“Simple, just take the manna then we can try it out,” the little chick suggested.
As Li Tianming reached for the manna, he had an ominous feeling. For something so precious, the manna was suspiciously easy to obtain.
“Wait!” Li Tianming stopped in his tracks and observed his surroundings.
“I can sense a wildbeast around!” Apparently the little chick had the same feeling.
As they made one round around the manna, they found two rows of blades emerging from the mud behind their prize. There were more than a dozen blades in each row, each of them more than a meter tall and had algae shrouded over them. Even at a distance, they could tell that the blades are sharp and deadly.
These blades were not wildbeasts themselves, but part of a much bigger wildbeast. There must be a giant creature resting beneath the mud, its length probably nothing short of ten meters. Luckily for Li Tianming, the beast was probably resting, and hadn’t noticed the intruders who were already in close proximity.
“Razor-Backed Colossal Crocodile, a three-star wildbeast.” Li Tianming frowned. The rows of blades were telltale signs of its species.
Indeed, the challenge to get the manna had just began. A three-star wildbeast was comparable to a Spiritsource beastmaster, and they also wielded threatening ‘innate abilities’. Li Tianming was just sixth level Beast Vein, so there was no way he could defeat the crocodile in a direct confrontation. In fact, it was way scarier than Liu Qianyang, and even the Spiritsource stage Li Tianming three years ago would be no match for it.
“If we can’t win with brawn, then we have to win with our brains.” Li Tianming came to a quick conclusion.
The little chick wasn’t exactly impressed. “And how do we do that, genius?”
“I will bait it into leaving the lake, and you make use of this opportunity to steal the manna. Simple as that.” Li Tianming explained his plans. They outnumbered the Razor-Backed Colossal Crocodile, and since wildbeasts were unintelligent creatures, they could easily distract it with a bit of taunting.
“You, bait? What makes you think the wildbeast couldn’t catch you?” The little chick questioned.
“What other choice do I have? It’s not like you have the balls to go be the bait, you nugget,” Li Tianming said, mockery tinting his words.
“What did you say?!” The little chick fluffed itself up angrily. “Say it again, I dare you!”
“You’d be far better as a bait, but too bad you’re just a chicken.”
“I'll be the bait, and when I come back you better be on your knees thanking me for it!” The little chick hissed.
Truth be told, the little chick was a much better choice than Li Tianming. The Razor-Backed Colossal Crocodile was strong, but its massive size meant that its movements would be very much hindered in the forest. On top of that, the little chick was capable of flying as well, which meant that it would be very difficult for the crocodile to even reach the little chick. If Ying Huo simply dashed through the bushes and disappeared from its sight, there was probably nothing the crocodile could do.
“So what do we do after that? Are we going to try opening the well with that manna?” The little chick asked.
“We need to meet up first. If you can lure the Razor-Backed Colossal Crocodile far enough, then we'll have enough time to try that out.”
“You can always go down there alone. Ohhh, is it because you don’t dare to go inside alone without me?” The little chick sneered.
“Only because I’m worried you’d get eaten by the crocodile.” Li Tianming rolled his eyes. In his opinion, they should refrain from splitting up — there were still enemies from the Lightning Manor around.
It didn’t take them long to get out of the lake and prepare for their plan. Li Tianming had already found a hiding spot somewhere nearby, and it was showtime for the little chick.
“Be careful.” Li Tianming was confident in its abilities, but reminded it again just in case.
“Watch and learn, I will teach you how to kite like a real master.” The little chick was all pumped up and ready. As soon as Li Tianming gave the signal, it dashed into the lake like a bullet, and reached the crocodile in no time.
The Razor-Backed Colossal Crocodile was deep asleep when the little chick landed on its head. Without hesitation, Ying Huo used its wings to lift up the crocodile’s eyelid, and gave its eye a good, hard peck.
“Your mama moaned so loudly last night, but you’re still fast asleep?” The little chick squawked. That was more than enough to wake up and enrage the Razor-Backed Colossal Crocodile, who let out an earth-shaking roar from the pain in its eyes.
“Come and chase me, you idiot!” Seeing that its plan was effective, the little chick flapped its wings and flew out of the lake. Moments later, the giant black crocodile leaped out of the lake as well. It swept up a massive amount of lakewater, forming water tornados that went straight for the little chick!
The water tornado missed the little chick and hit the forest in front of it, causing an explosion of water and wood splinters. That was its innate ability, and could probably kill the little chick instantly if it was a direct hit.
“Fool, you’ll never catch me!” The little chick’s movements were swift as it weaved through the water tornadoes.
The Razor-Backed Colossal Crocodile couldn’t understand what the little chick was saying, but it did get the idea that it was being insulted. With another roar, the crocodile charged after the little chick, going deeper and deeper into the forest.
This was the perfect chance for Li Tianming! With the amount of noise the crocodile was making, Li Tianming could infer where its position was. There was enough time for him to extract the manna before the wildbeast returned.
Without a second thought, Li Tianming dived into the lake.
“Manna, here I come!”