Chapter 624: Sacred Wood on the Peak
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
When Han Sen tried to feel it again, the pulse had vanished. No matter how Han Sen held it in his hand, he could no longer feel what he previously had.
"Strange. I just felt it. Why has it gone?" Han Sen frowned.
He didn't dare place the gourd back in his chest pocket, so he continued to just hold it in his hand. If something strange were to happen, at least he'd have the time to react.
As Han Sen continued walking, his attention remained fixed on the gourd. He could not sense any additional movement, however, and so he started to feel as if he had been mistaken.
"Strange. It's really strange. What is this thing, I wonder?" Han Sen wanted to toss it away and be rid of anything malicious it might harbor inside. But then, his thoughts returned to the possibility of it being some sort of treasure, in which case throwing it away would be a profound loss.
Han Sen regretted that he did not bring the silver fox with him. Unlike Han Sen, who was stumped to figure out what the gourd was, the fox would probably know what to do with it.
Once he picked it up, a selfish person like Han Sen would not throw it away. He continued holding onto it, planning to give it to the silver fox later.
Luckily, nothing strange occurred with the gourd for quite some time. It remained as lifeless as it had been when it was first collected.
Every now and again, they encountered a few creatures on the path. Many populated the mountain, and they came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so it was impossible to avoid a skirmish or two along the way. Without a spirit shelter nearby, however, they did not have to worry about there being large quant.i.ties of monsters. They made sure to avoid the hot spots and dangerous zones as marked by Chen Ran and his people, and any monster that ventured near, they quickly ran through.
There was no chance for Han Sen and Queen to put in a strike or two, which robbed them of the opportunity to collect some loot along the way. But it did not concern them too much because Han Sen was only there for the Sky Falcons atop the mountain.
The mountain was far higher than they initially believed. They ascended its treacherous paths for another two whole days without even reaching the halfway point.
All of a sudden, the neighing of a horse sounded from somewhere ahead. The faces of Chen Ran and his people drained of their color.
"Quick. We must hide!" Chen Ran went ahead to look for a spot to hide and noticed a narrow crevice in the cliffside they followed.
Whatever was headed their way was obviously a creature of some notoriety for the people of the mountain, something wielding a most heinous power. Without hesitating, they followed Chen Ran and his people into the crevice.
Not long after, the sounds of a neighing horse came closer and closer. Soon after, something that looked like a horse or donkey riding a red cloud pa.s.sed by their hiding place. Han Sen snuck a peek at it with a strange look on his face. Before he came to the mountain, he read reports of a horse-like creature riding a red cloud up and down the mountain. This had to be what the reports were referencing.
But this creature looked more like a mule. Its hair was s.h.a.ggy, but shone red and looked good.
Its most striking aspect was the red cloud that surrounded it. The mule looked like a holy deity of some sort and it seemed to be riding down the mountainside carefree and happily. What it was excited about, Han Sen couldn't guess.
After hovering around for a minute, the mule soon disappeared.
"That creature is extremely powerful. Many travelers who have desired pa.s.sage to the peak have died, trampled beneath its murderous hooves. We have taken you along a trail that bypa.s.ses the areas it most commonly traverses, so it was a surprise for us to encounter it here." After waiting until the creature was out of earshot, Chen Ran explained the situation.
Queen and Han Sen looked at each other without saying anything. The reason why Chen Ran took a detour was to avoid b.u.mping into this super creature, since he did not want them to know of it.
"Let us depart. And let us pray we do not encounter it again on our return journey," Xu Dongjin said.
Everyone in the group had no a profound desire to run into that creature again, so their pace up the mountain hastened a considerable amount. Although this mountain was host to many strange phenomena and dangerous creatures, it was fortunate they had not found themselves in any particular danger.
After six days of hiking, they had almost reached the top.
Han Sen took a moment to look down and observe the length of what he had traversed, and he was surprised to see very little. The clouds blanketed the lands below like a sea of white foam. It was as if he had reached heaven or entered a world only fairies lived in.
Atop the peak rested a large ancient tree that sprouted branches outward in various directions, resembling a mushroom. The branches were so thick, entwined and long, that they sheltered the entire peak like an umbrella. It was a mighty tree.
Han Sen looked at it from afar. Although he had read about the tree's existence before, seeing it in person was a different story. Its magnificence was mesmerizing to behold.
Many creatures resided among the leaves. White birds flocked out from among the branches, in varying species and breeds.
The giant tree almost seemed like a world all to itself, constructed like a haven for birds. It was incredible.
"There are thousands of creatures living up there in that tree. There are over a thousand big bird species, too. The Sky Falcon you desire is amongst the largest in size, and our last count tallied their number at over a thousand. Sacred-blood varieties exist amongst them, as well," Xu Dongjin explained.
Han Sen furrowed his eyebrows. It was hard to believe so many creatures resided among and beneath the boughs of such a humongous tree. If they approached, they wouldn't only be doing battle with the Sky Falcons, it would seem. Every nest and chirping bird would be startled, most likely, and that would put them in a lot of trouble.
When Queen and Han Sen didn't say a word, Chen Ran smiled and said, "Although the sacred tree has many creatures, fear not. Strangely, each species has its own set of rules and spot inside the tree to live in. The Sky Falcon, however, lives at the very top of the tree. They will be tricky to hunt, I must confess."
Chen Ran and his people showed no interest in helping Han Sen and Queen complete the task that led them there, so they stood back and waited to see how they would perform.
When Queen said she had come here to hunt a Sky Falcon, Chen Ran did not actually believe she could do it.
There were many creatures on the tree, and it would be difficult to reach the top. Plus, at the speed the Sky Falcons flew, strength would not matter if they were unable to hit one.
Chen Ran believed Queen had come with a secret desire to search for a super creature, and that the desire to hunt a Sky Falcon was merely a dishonest excuse.
Queen looked at Han Sen, believing it might actually prove too difficult to hunt the Sky Falcons where they were. Even with sacred-blood wings, they would not be able to fly past the other birds that populated the tree.
Once they reached the top, many creatures would swarm upon them. Unlocked gene lock or not, against such numbers, it didn't seem likely this was a quest they could accomplish.
"Old Chen, can we climb the tree?" Queen asked, looking at Chen Ran.
Chen Ran smiled and responded, "The tree's trunk is host to numerous bug-type creatures. They are not only tough, but they are in great number, as well. Once the birds come for you, all at the same time, survival would seem unlikely."
"You guys stay here, I'll go get the Sky Falcon myself." Before Han Sen arrived, he had already conducted a lot of research, and he knew Chen Ran wasn't lying. But he didn't come here without a plan up his sleeve.