Chapter 55: Dragonfish
The Falling Eagle Mountain was not as vast or deep as the Scarlet Mountain Range, but it had its own unique dangers.
The mountain range was lined with extremely steep cliffs, one mountain after another. They stood upright like a thicket of blades, which was why this mountain range was also known as the Blade Thicket Range.
The mountain was forested in clumps. Large rock faces were often exposed to the air, looking like bald spots on a person’s head.
A long river snaked through the entire mountain range, giving the surrounding area a lot of vitality. It watered the nearby soil, allowing vegetation to flourish.
This river was called Wenchang River.
The Wenchang River was a tributary of the Golden Water River. Every year, many fish would swim upstream to lay their offspring.
They became one of the most abundant food sources within the Falling Eagle Mountain, making the area around the river highly populated with Vicious Beasts.
After cutting through most of the mountain range, the Wenchang River reached a valley surrounded by tall mountains. This was where the Thousand Ashes Gorge was located.
Within the Thousand Ashes Peak Gorge, the Wenchang River flowed into a lake - the Ancient Maila Lake.
The Ancient Maila Lake was Long Sang Country’s largest freshwater lake, and it was the final destination of many freshwater fish. They could lay eggs, hatch, and grow up here before they traveled back up the river. Throughout this process, thousands or even tens of thousands of small fry would become food for Vicious Beasts every year.
The Ancient Maila Lake was the most diverse area of the Falling Eagle Mountain. The most savage Vicious Beasts and the largest beast hordes were all here, attracting many Origin Qi Scholars......
After trekking through the mountain range for two days, Team Bright finally arrived at their long-anticipated destination.
“Look, the Thousand Ashes Gorge is just ahead of us!” Du Qing excitedly waved her arms as she yelled.
“We’ve finally arrived. Let’s move a bit faster so that we can enter the gorge by nightfall,” Zheng Xia yelled.
“Let’s go!” Everyone let out excited yells and charged towards the Thousand Ashes Gorge.
After entering the Thousand Ashes Gorge, they were surrounded by lush mountains and green grass. The sky was exceptionally blue; wisps of clouds were scattered in the sky. The golden setting sun reflected off of the clear lake.
“It really is pretty here.” Du Qing stood on a large rock and stared into the sky.
From her vantage point, she could see a flock of Flowerback Deer wandering on the large plain. Occasionally, they would lower their heads to graze as they let out low cries.
Even further, a few large-horned water buffalo were slowly walking along the lake, cautiously drinking the water. They would occasionally glance behind them.
A herd of black-spotted rabbits would poke their heads out from their holes from time to time, their large ears straight up in the air while glancing around in all directions.
The grassy plain was filled with life as far as the eye could see.
“You’re right, it is very pretty here.” Zheng Xia, Yan Fuxing, and the others all clustered around her.
“Look, what is that?” Du Qing suddenly pointed off into the distance.
She was pointing at a flower gently swaying back and forth as it floated on the lake. From time to time, it would emit motes of swaying light.
Sun Jizu’s eyes were very sharp. He immediately said in excitement, “It’s a Blueheart Lotus, and a ripe one at that!”
The Blueheart Lotus was an extremely rare material that was worth quite a bit.
“Look over there! Is that a Jade-Faced Hibiscus?” Zheng Xia also began to yell.
A pink flower was floating on the surface of the lake. It was precisely the Jade-Faced Hibiscus that Zheng Xia had mentioned, and it was also an extremely rare ingredient.
Inspired by these discoveries, everyone else also found quite a few rare spiritual herbs on the lake.
Those who were proficient in alchemy were able to name more than ten of those spiritual herbs, including a Three Jealousies, a rare-tier ingredient.
Rare-tier ingredients were already extremely hard to find, not to mention legendary-tier medicines like the Corpse Spirit Flower.
The Three Jealousies was a low-grade, rare-tier medicinal ingredient. It could be used to stimulate bloodlines, so it was often used to concoct Bloodline Awakening Medicines or Bloodline Stimulation Medicines, which were both crucial and highly sought-after.
Upon seeing so many herbs everywhere, they yelled excitedly and began to charge forwards, thinking to themselves that the Thousand Ashes Gorge was truly a prosperous place.
Cloud Leopard furrowed his eyebrows, but Su Chen spoke up before he could say anything. “Wait just a minute!”
Everyone turned to look at Su Chen.
Su Chen calmly continued, “I believe that the Thousand Ashes Gorge is filled with valuable spirit herbs, but don’t you feel that it is strange for them to grow in such large numbers in such an obvious location? Put another way, do you believe that all the students who came through the Thousand Ashes Gorge before us were blind and didn’t see them?”
Everyone froze in their tracks.
It really was strange for these herbs to grow in such a public area.
There could only be two reasons for these herbs to still flourish here - either everyone who had come here really was blind, or there was an underlying problem.
Since the students of the Hidden Dragon Institute were clearly not blind, then only the second reason was possible.
Zheng Xia walked back to Su Chen. “What do you think is going on?”
Su Chen replied, “This place seems very peaceful. All of the organisms here right now seem harmless, and yet we can’t see a single Vicious Beast. But don’t you think that, with so many animals here, this place would be a great feeding grounds?”
Upon hearing this term, Zheng Xia began to understand what Su Chen was getting at.
Flowerback Deer matured very rapidly. Female deer could give birth within three months with at most two foals at a time. The foals grew very quickly as well; they matured fully within a year.
The large-horned water buffalo took longer to mature, but a single mature buffalo was equivalent to a significant number of mature deer.
The black-spotted rabbits reproduced even more rapidly. Although they were quite small, they possessed an astonishing reproductive ability. They could give birth to two litters every year, with eight to twelve baby rabbits in each litter. These baby rabbits would fully mature in three months.
Just like the fat fish in the river, these Flowerback Deer, large-horned water buffalo, and black-spotted rabbits were all low on the food chain. Their only purpose for existing was to feed large hordes of Vicious Beasts.
Thus, although the scene seemed very peaceful, there was definitely a frightening threat lurking in the background.
Upon realizing this point, Team Bright didn’t act impetuously. They carefully circled around the lake as they had previously planned and headed for the forest.
They had just reached the entrance to the forest when they heard a commotion behind them.
Everyone turned around to find a student from the Institute sprinting towards the lake as he yelled, “I’m rich!”
Evidently, he was planning on harvesting the herbs in the middle of the lake.
Even though they knew that the herbs were not easy to obtain, many of them still felt pained when they saw that student charge forwards. Some of them even regretted listening to Su Chen and letting such a great opportunity slip by them.
An instant later, however, that regret disappeared completely.
Just when that student had rushed to the side of the lake and was bending over to pick up a nearby Jewel Orchid, a massive wave suddenly surged into the air.
After the massive wave appeared, a massive whirlpool began to churn in the lake.
That whirlpool exerted a powerful attractive force, violently pulling that student in.
Upon closer inspection, Team Bright discovered that it was not a whirlpool, but a giant maw filled with razor-sharp teeth.
Just its mouth was as large as a house. It rose from the surface of the lake, sweeping an incredible amount of water with it as it instantly swallowed the student whole. The Jewel Orchid was completely untouched.
It then slipped back into the water, and the lake became still again as if nothing had ever happened. A student of the Hidden Dragon Institute had ceased to exist in the blink of an eye.
Everyone present was aghast.
“Peak...... that’s a peak-level Vicious Beast,” Sun Jizu said, trembling.
This massive fish, which was as large as a tower, was only a peak-level Vicious Beast, which made it equivalent in strength to a high-layer Blood Boiling Realm cultivator. However, the strength of Vicious Beasts did not completely correlate to human strength. A peak-level Vicious Beast like this one could wipe the floor with cultivators like Li, Smoke, and Copper Deer. Only those from Bloodline Nobility Clans possessed the power to battle it.
One could also say that the various categories and tiers of beasts had been determined based on the strength of Bloodline Nobility Clans in the first place.
“No wonder there are so many spiritual herbs,” Wang Doushan muttered. “That beast is using them as bait to attract us.”
Cloud Leopard suddenly said, “This is the Dragonfish. Allegedly, it possesses a trace of a Demon Dragon Bloodline, meaning it can also be classified as a Demonic Beast. Dragonfish don’t eat regular lifeforms, only lifeforms with Origin Energy in them. Thus, only those Flowerback Deer or large-horned water buffalo can gather here, not just because there is an abundance of resources here, but also because they have the Dragonfish’s protection. The Dragonfish uses the common animals to attract Vicious Beasts and those spiritual herbs to entice Origin Qi Scholars. It uses these things as bait.”
The Dragonfish was quite strong even amongst all the peak-level Vicious Beasts. Since those who were at the Blood Boiling Realm or above were not permitted to enter the Falling Eagle Mountain, it was even more of an unrivalled being.
Of course, that didn’t meant that no one could deal with it.
After all, it was just a single Vicious Beast. If the students were willing to ally with one another, they might actually be able to defeat it.
However, forming an alliance was not very easy. The more people there were, the harder it would be.
In addition, the Hidden Dragon Institute didn’t support this manner of doing things.
The Dragonfish had been placed here by the Institute in order to test their students.
Those who didn’t have skill but did have perception would easily be able to perceive the lurking threat and avoid it. Those without both skill and perception would become food for the Dragonfish.
Those with some skill would rely on that skill to harvest those herbs.
If you could kill the Dragonfish based on your own strength, the Hidden Dragon Institute would recognize that.
The Hidden Dragon Institute had clearly mandated that teams could be formed of at most seven students.
If they surpassed this number, the team might not even be built before the instructors would send them packing.
“What a pity. There’s so many spiritual herbs there,” Wang Doushan sighed as he gazed at all of the herbs floating in the lake.
Su Chen stared intently at the surface of the lake, racking his brain for any methods that he had to obtain a few herbs.
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