Chapter 18: Blackcorpse Mountains
The next day….
It was noon, and the sun blazed overhead. The buzz of cicadas and other animals somehow made the heat even more oppressive.
The mighty Yan River flowed out from these mountains, which were pitch black and profound to the extreme. All of the sinister-looking mountain peaks were covered with enormous, black trees, making it impossible to see the sun from down below. The roars of the beasts which occasionally echoed out were enough to strike terror into the hearts of any humans who heard them.
Despite the heat, a sinister wind swept through the mountains, wailing in a way that would cause goosebumps to prickle the necks of anyone it touched.
At the actual source of the Yan River, it was possible to see aquatic monsters lurking within the surging water, their scales glittering and claws flashing. A fiendish aura filled the area, making it obvious that danger lurked everywhere, the type that could bring death even to those who cultivated profound energy arts.
At the moment, Yang Qi stood at the entrance of the Blackcorpse Mountains, marveling at the danger he sensed.
"Ahh. So these are the Blackcorpse Mountains!"
His first impression was that they were incredible, and clearly the work of ghosts or gods.
The mountains were more than a thousand kilometers away from Yanhaven, and the road between them was fraught with inhospitable territory and other dangers that normally meant the journey would take half a month. But with Yang Qi's incredible cultivation base and energy arts, he could make the journey in about a day.
Sitting down cross-legged, he rested for a bit before pulling a bag out of the fold of his garment that was filled with energy convergence pills. They were sparkling and translucent, with an emerald-green surface and medicinal energy swirling inside.
Energy convergence pills had been invented ages ago by a holy expert. Originally, they were simply intended to strengthen the body, improve the meridians and solidify longevity. Eating one such pill would make a person so full they wouldn't need to eat for an entire day.
In terms of the ingredients, they varied, and contained everything from the quintessence of the sun and moon to the spirit energy of heaven and earth. Eventually, they became a form of currency, replacing the previous system of gold and silver.
They could be used to purchase all sorts of things, from weapons to armor, from silk to servants.
They also had another common function. When going into remote areas to practice cultivation, such as Yang Qi was doing in the Blackcorpse Mountains, they made it unnecessary to bring bulky food rations.
After consuming a few energy convergence pills, Yang Qi circulated his energy. Cracking sounds erupted from his muscles, tendons, bones, and joints as the energy swirled into the area around him, flattening nearby plants and vegetation.
"I have ten days until I have to go to that banquet. I wonder if Yan Gufeng really plans to make a move on me; regardless, I have to promote the glory of the clan. And I have to be ready to fight Yun Hailan and Song Haishan one day, to cleanse myself of the humiliation they caused me…. Ten days. I have ten days to break into the seventh phase of energy arts."
Without any further hesitation, he activated his defensive energy arts and leaped into the trees, quickly becoming a blur that headed deep into the mountains.
His hope was to get to the Energy Manifestation level as quickly as possible, which would increase his battle prowess by another tenfold. He would also be able to use energy to form corporeal objects, thus giving him access to energy arts such as the Fiend-Devil Wings and the Infernal Deity Aegis. At that point, even people in the eighth phase would have trouble dealing with him.
Once he had his Fiend-Devil Wings, he would be able to glide through the air as though he were flying, which would make it much more difficult for enemies to fight him. That much was evident from what he had seen of Yan Feixia and her Wings of the White Crane, which had enabled her to easily dodge out of the way of the crossbow bolts the enemy had loosed.
And his Fiend-Devil Wings would definitely make him far more agile than the Wings of the White Crane would. Because of how vastly extraordinary the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth was, not even Yang Qi was exactly sure of how powerful he would be.
And if he added the Infernal Deity Aegis into the mix to defend himself, it would make him almost impossible to beat.
That was not even mentioning the fact that when he reached the Energy Manifestation level he would also be capable of telekinesis and other feats. At that point, every inch of his body would be like a weapon, which would make his fighting style much more diverse and varied.
The deep forest was densely packed with towering trees, most of them dozens of meters tall. As for the forest floor, it was covered by a mat of fallen leaves. And as Yang Qi got deeper and deeper in, he could sense the auras of powerful devillings lurking about.
Even if he was able to move along on the treetops, he wouldn't be safe.
After traveling for a bit, he stopped on a tree branch to catch his breath. As he did, he suddenly sensed a pungent aroma from behind him, and could feel something like a breeze on the back of his neck.
Turning, he saw an enormous viper, thicker than his own waist, its mouth wide as it glared at him. From the liquid dripping from its enormous fangs, it was obvious that this snake was poisonous.
"Well, hello," Yang Qi said, leaping out of the way of the striking snake to land on another nearby tree.
From the way the vicious viper's ghastly pale scales glittered, it was clear they were impervious to all sorts of weapons. Furthermore, there was a trace of intelligence in the viper's eyes as it looked over at Yang Qi, opened its mouth, and spat out a burst of energy.
The head-sized bullet of toxic energy shot toward Yang Qi as fast as an arrow, causing the air to hum around it.
Shockingly, the viper was using a bizarre energy art that contained hypertoxic poison. This huge snake was an intelligent demonling, whose energy arts put it at roughly the fifth phase.
Because devillings usually grew to enormous sizes, they would develop all sorts of unique energy arts. In terms of variety, their energy arts surpassed humans, and would usually contain memories from ancient ancestors.
According to the legends, generations and generations in the past, the entire continent had been ruled by demons and devils, who kept humans as slaves. Those demons and devils had been so shockingly powerful that they could level mountains and fill in seas, and were supposedly the original inventors of energy arts.
Eventually, saints and holy ones arose among humans, who then drove away the demons and devils, and paved the way for the modern era.
However, many of the wild beasts in the mountains could still trace their bloodlines back to primeval times, and even had ancient memories of that era. Naturally, they could cultivate all sorts of energy arts.
Apparently, this huge viper was a demonling who had some of those ancient memories.
"You beast!" Yang Qi shouted, throwing his hand out in front of him, sending an energy wave out that completely destroyed the toxic energy.
The giant snake's shock was clearly visible in its eyes, as it realized that this opponent actually surpassed its own abilities. It instantly coiled up and tried to make a break for the forest floor. Shockingly, it was quite intelligent, probably at the level of an eight- or nine-year-old child.
And yet, even as it attempted to flee, a spear made of true energy stabbed directly through it, killing it and pinning it to the tree in the blink of an eye.
Normally speaking, this snake's massive life force would ensure that, even if it were pinned to a tree, it wouldn't die. But the Infernal Deity Spear was too strong, and instantly killed it. The spear didn't rely on poisons like the snake. Instead, it contained the boundless will of hell, a force that would destroy the souls of any living beings it struck, including the enormous viper.
After a moment, the true energy that made up the Infernal Deity Spear faded away, and the enormous viper dropped down onto the leafy ground. Yang Qi hopped down next to it; drawing on his true energy, he summoned a sharp blade and then began to skin it.
Moments later, he had the entire viper's pelt.
Next, he dug into its innards until he found its gallbladder, which contained a faintly-glimmering blue crystalline shape that resembled a gem. It was none other than a demon core.
When demonlings reached the fifth phase of energy arts, they would naturally form a demon core, which would contain the quintessence of their cultivation base and energy arts.
On the black market, demon cores could be exchanged for energy convergence pills, depending on the level of the core itself.
That was another reason why people would often enter the mountains to hunt beasts; selling demon cores could be very profitable. It was the same with the Yang Clan's autumn hunt, which was a competition of sorts for the younger ones; whoever got the most demon cores would be rewarded by the clan.
The autumn hunt would usually bring in demon cores worth more than a million energy convergence pills, and also served the function of providing important training for the young ones, as well as an assessment of their strength.
As far as Yang Qi was concerned, getting some demon cores wouldn't be very difficult at all. The clan was bankrupt now, and therefore, hunting demonlings would be a great way to help reverse that situation. Normally speaking, it would take a whole group of young clan members working very hard to take out a huge viper like this. But when Yang Qi went all out with his Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth, he was able to kill it in one hit.
It almost seemed like it was a technique specifically designed to be the bane of demonlings.
It also made Yang Qi capable of hunting demonlings even more quickly than experts in the Master of Energy level.
After killing the viper and harvesting its demon core, he once again activated his defensive energy arts, and then blurred into motion into the trees.
Thanks to his heightened sense of hearing, he was able to hear all sorts of noises around him in the forest.
Suddenly, his nose twitched. "Hm, seems that there's a group of silverback devilwolves not too far off. Smells like blood too."
Hopping down out of a tree, he sped toward a glade up ahead, until he caught sight of about a dozen wolves with sleek, silver fur, tearing some corpses into pieces.
Unexpectedly, the corpses were human, and many of them had armor on. There were also weapons scattered in the area.
Apparently, these were adventurers similar to Yang Qi, but who had fallen victim to the silverback devilwolves.
These beasts were even more dangerous than the huge viper Yang Qi had just fought. They traveled in packs, had a rigid ranking system, and could move like the wind. Upon reaching maturity, all such wolves would develop energy arts of a terrifying nature, making them impervious to most weapons.
Anyone who encountered a pack of silverback devilwolves was in for a tragedy; it was worse than offending an entire aristocratic clan.
Furthermore, these wolves had nearly human-level intelligence.
Supposedly, some of them actually descended from a famous Demon Sage of ancient times, and still contained some of his memories in their blood.
Almost as soon as Yang Qi arrived on the scene, all of the devilwolves stopped feasting on the corpses, and turned to look at him.