Lin Yun furrowed his brow as he assessed the situation. It was unsurprising this mission had gone unaccepted. The valley was massive. Searching flower by flower would take half a month or more and he did not have that kind of time. He could accept failing the mission, but he could not risk missing the mid-year test.
The mid-year tournament was an annual event used to decide the rankings of the outer disciple. The amount of funds an outer disciple received from the sect coincided with their rank, and those ranked in the top 10 had a chance at becoming an inner disciple.
“First things first, I should become acclimated with this place,” Lin Yun said as he entered the field. As he waded through the flowers, he let his mind drift. An entire day passed by without notice or progress. It wasn’t until he had seen the sun setting that he realized any time had passed at all.
The next day was the same as the first. Lin Yun diligently scoured the field flower by flower hoping to stumble across the Blood Lilies. It was incredibly dry work. A normal man would have given up quickly, but Lin Yun was diligent. He found the task was repetitive enough that he could daydream without sacrificing efficiency, and so he let his mind entertain itself. In total seven days passed like this.
On the eighth day, just as he was beginning to accept it would be another monotonous day of work, he caught a very distinct smell drifting in the wind.
It was faint, but distinct. This new metallic smell cut like a knife through the sickly sweetness of the Hundred Flower Valley.
This is it!
Lin Yun kept his guard up as he tracked the scent. The Hundred Flower Valley had a constant breeze blowing through it, so it was easy for the scent to become mixed up or lost. In his search, he encountered several setbacks. There were many times where he could no longer catch the scent and had to either wait for the breeze to carry it his way or spend time backtracking until he caught it again. He had come this far and wasn’t about to give up so easily.
Suddenly, Lin Yun felt a chill down his spine as the smell of blood drowned out every other scent. This pungent odor was coming from one of the large rocks scattered throughout the field. He had used a few as vantage points on days prior, but couldn’t remember if this had been one of them. Either way, he was excited to have a new lead.
“Looks like I found it. I figured they would be rare. Being the main ingredient for Blood Refining Pellets means they must be in high demand and overharvested. I wish I had known Blood Lilies needed shade to grow, though. That really narrows things down,” Lin Yun said to himself as he crouched above the flower. He was so absorbed in his bounty that he failed to notice the shade covering the flower began to change shape.
Just as he was about to pluck the flower, his senses went on high alert. He looked up just in time to see a massive python reel back in preparation to strike Lin Yun’s face turned pale. Without thinking, he rolled to the side, barely avoiding the python’s attack.
Lin Yun dodged the strike but got caught by the python’s whiplike tail and was sent flying. Every bone in his body cried out from the immense force. He was only able to catch a glimpse of the python when he landed on the ground before it vanished into the flowers. The python’s head was as large as he was and it had a long, sanguine stripe that burned like fire down the middle of his otherwise grey back. This is a Flaming Blood Python, a demonic beast in the fifth stage of the Martial Path.
Lin Yun realized why he couldn’t remember if he’d seen the rock before! The snake had camouflaged itself in hopes the scent of blood would attract prey. It was a deadly trap he almost fell for.
The Flaming Blood Python hissed as it unleashed its killing aura, soaking Lin Yun in a pressure equal to Zhou Yun’s. He struggled to handle the burden, unsure how he would fight the beast under such immense pressure.
Suddenly, the image of the ferocious tiger from the scroll appeared in his mind. As he focused on it, the killing aura from the python began to weaken and he regained some of his mobility. Pulling his sword from his waist, Lin Yun’s anxiety grew. He would have to kill this Flaming Blood Python if he wanted to harvest the Blood Lily. There was no way he would retreat!
Convergent Streams, Flowing Wind!
Sword in his hand, Lin Yun seized the momentary lull and executed the Flowing Wind Sword. His strike connected with the python cleanly. It was like striking iron. His wooden sword wasn’t sharp enough to penetrate the Flaming Blood Python’s scales..
He might be able to deal with ordinary beasts or martial practitioners, but it wasn’t sufficient when facing the hide of a Flaming Blood Python. It didn’t matter how skilled he was if his sword was too dull.
Lin Yun abandoned his sword and switched to the Ferocious Tiger Fist.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The Flaming Blood Python had flown into a rage after being struck. It sent out a flurry of attacks, giving Lin Yun no time to react. Using the Pure Yang Art, Lin Yun’s internal energy started to circulate within his body. He calmly executed the Ferocious Tiger Fist in conjunction with the Pure Yang Art as he tried to create space between them.
Thus, a man and a python began their chase among the flowers.
Lin Yun could feel significant amounts of his internal energy draining with each punch, but was still unable to put a dent in the Flaming Blood Python. Not all was vain, though, as he discovered the Flaming Blood Python's weakness, its stripe. Even still, its scales were too thick. The force of his blow was almost entirely mitigated by its skin.
Two hours later, Lin Yun was covered in sweat and his internal energy was depleted. The Ferocious Tiger Fist had a thirst for internal energy that not even the Pure Yang Art could quench. If the battle were to go on any longer, he would die from exhaustion.
Despite the reluctance in his heart, Lin Yun was forced to run away. He wasn’t so stupid that he would work himself to death trying to beat up a snake. He was surprised to find that accepting his loss made focussing on running easier.
In the end, he almost died from exhaustion anyway as the snake stuck with him for a solid 15 miles. The Flaming Blood Python only gave up after Lin Yun had reached the treeline.
After making sure that the Flaming Blood Python wasn’t chasing him, Lin Yun collapsed under a tree. He was covered head to toe in scrapes and bruises. A spiritual stone mission was truly difficult, and it was no wonder this mission was leftover.
The battle before was too perilous, and he nearly lost his life because of it. Lin Yun could only stare at the sun through the leaves as he wallowed in his defeat. He had searched the Hundred Flower Valley for seven days like a fool.
He had given his best, but there was nothing he could do about it. With a demonic beast guarding the Blood Lily, there was no way he could complete the mission.
Lin Yun covered his eyes with his right arm to obstruct the blazing sunlight. It was not long before his exhaustion swept him away.
An hour and a half later Lin Yun was almost completely recovered. As he looked to the sky he saw three faces drifting with the clouds.
He first saw Zhou Yun wearing a grim expression with murderous intent flickering in his eyes, “You want to challenge me in just two months?”
Lin Yun then saw Wang Ning’s face supporting a smug grin, “Sword slave, know your place and stop dreaming!”
Lastly, he saw Su Ziyao’s indifferent face. She was as aloof as always, and her words were colder than her appearance, “You’re on your own.”
“You’re on your own… You’re on your own…” Lin Yun muttered as rage bellowed from his heart. Who are you to tell me that I’m on my own!
The previous owner of this body was in love with her despite knowing he didn’t stand a chance. It was a one-sided crush on her that he had hid deep in his heart. His infatuation was so strong it persisted beyond the grave! He had had a crush on her all his life, but she only ever had cold words and dismissive looks to give him in return.
When those three faces faded from the sky, Lin Yun clenched his fist tight in an attempt to quench his rage. When that wasn’t enough, he stood and headed straight for the Blood Lily.
Half an incense’s time later, he returned to where he left his sword. He almost lost his balance when he tried to pick it up. Somehow it had become much, much heavier!
Lin Yun was only able to pull the sword out after circulating his internal energy. When he held the sword with both hands, he could tell that the marks on the body of the sword had changed. When he looked at the blade closely enough, he could almost make out a woman waving in his direction.
Two words were clearly written on the sword.