Book 6, Chapter 96: Specter’s Garden

Specter’s Garden was actually just a long stretch of plains.

However, these plains were special in that they were covered in fragrant flowers, making it one of the most beautiful places on the continent. This was also where the “garden” part of its name came from.

However, the characters before “Garden” were not nearly as inviting.

The place was known as Specter’s Garden because over 80 percent of the flowers here were poisonous.

In fact, almost every single species of poisonous flowers that existed on the continent could also be found here.

All kinds of rare poisonous flowers grew and blossomed in ubiquitous patches here, forming multicolored connected rows. The overall spectacle was quite dazzling.

The only other place that could compare in terms of toxicity was the Thousand Poisons Mountain.

Apparently, however, Specter’s Garden had not always been like this.

The Neanderthals had once lived here.

The Neanderthals were a race that had already gone extinct. When they still roamed the land, they preferred to live in gardens and forests, and they called themselves children of nature. The Neanderthals used to live peaceful lives in Specter’s Plains, until one day, a young Neanderthal brought an unidentified flower back home.

That flower had been planted in a corner of the plains.

From that day onwards, the plains slowly yet inexorably transformed.

The Neanderthals were subjected to untold torment and grew weaker and weaker with every passing year. By the time that they discovered the patch of poisonous flowers, it was too late.

This patch of flowers emitted a toxic miasma that prevented anyone from approaching it. Eventually, the cloud completely swallowed up the Neanderthals’ habitat. This was partly where the name “Specter’s Garden” came from, because the place was filled with far too many sorrowful spirits of deceased Neanderthals.

Some people claimed that the original flower the youth had planted was actually the mother of all poisonous flowers, an item that had been used to foster the Origin Race’s poison-type members.

Others claimed that the flower was actually a trap of the Astrals, and that they had masterminded this calamity to claim the Neanderthals’ territory. Of course, the Astrals vehemently denied these accusations.

There were all kinds of different speculations about the mysterious flower that had created the Specter’s Garden. But there was one thing that was for certain: after the Astrals claimed the territory for themselves, they carefully cultivated the poison instead of neutralizing it.

Because they weren’t afraid of poison.

Their ethereal body came with many advantages, one of which was immunity against most poisons.

Of course, this didn’t necessarily mean that the Astrals were completely immune to all poisons. There were some strange poisons that were exceptionally potent against consciousness-based lifeforms, and they often did a significant amount of damage to Astrals if they weren’t prepared. Though the Astrals did have their own ways of coping, it doesn’t need to be mentioned here.

In any case, as one of the Gloom Kingdom’s four forbidden territories, Specter’s Garden’s main source of danger was its poisonous, multicolored miasma.

Even so, this poisonous environment wouldn’t be able to do much against the Boundless Sect.

Su Chen hadn’t spent all that time in Harpy territory for nothing.

After Kelesda had surrendered to Eternal Night, the recipe for Fate’s Hands’ antidote had naturally fallen into Eternal Night’s lap.

And since Su Chen was attacking the Astrals on behalf of Eternal Night’s desire to obtain the Immortal’s Soul, there was no way that Eternal Night would be so selfish as to keep the recipe to himself.

Even though the recipe was incomplete, it was still quite effective against most poisons.

And this wasn’t even mentioning Su Chen’s work. He hadn’t been just idling around — he had already discovered a way to neutralize an additional portion of the poisons that Fate’s Hands’ antidote couldn’t handle. If Specter’s Garden contained 10,000 different types of poisons, then the Boundless Sect could already handle 9,900 of them.

And even though the remaining hundred poisons couldn’t be completely neutralized, the amount of poison ingested still played a large role in its lethality — after all, it would be crazy to assume that poisons were equally effective regardless of dosage. In addition, human cultivators had developed physical bodies that had a certain level of innate resistance to poison. As such, it was impossible for any poison to wipe out a large group of people with merely a drop.

And poisons that could not be neutralized or deconstructed were only so because they were extremely rare and hard to find in the first place.

As such, the hundred remaining poisons that were the most difficult to neutralize were also the rarest ones. Even if the Boundless Sect did stumble across them, the damage they would inflict would be limited.

Even though Specter’s Garden was considered completely off-limits to most people, it posed very little threat to the Boundless Sect.

Despite all their precautions, Su Chen had still decided to send Ye Fenghan in as a spy to probe the Astrals and see if they had prepared any other welcoming gifts for them.

He wouldn’t underestimate his opponents this time. No trump card would surprise him, given how long their civilization had stood for.

Ye Fenghan couldn’t help but sigh in amazement as he gazed out at the sea of flowers in front of him. Specter’s Garden truly lived up to its reputation.

Colorful flowers blossomed everywhere, each species a different color or form.

Even though these flowers were incredibly poisonous, they were also extremely beautiful. This kind of idyllic yet deadly scenery could only be found here.

If one temporarily ignored how dangerous this place was , it would have truly been a luxury to live in this place.

Unfortunately, the Astrals had no way of appreciating its beauty.

After discarding their physical bodies, the world before them had long turned completely grey and bland.

“What a pity. The most beautiful things always belong to the people who are least appreciative of them,” Ye Fenghan sighed lamentably.

Yanto, who was standing beside him, said, “If you’re referring to the beauty of these surroundings, then you’re correct. But even if the Astrals could appreciate beauty, they would have long grown tired of this scenery after tens of thousands of years. Aren’t you humans the same? Actually, you humans often go one step further…… If this place belonged to humans, then you all probably would have destroyed it already.”

Even though he was being controlled, his own soul was still intact — just like the other puppets.

Ye Fenghan was momentarily taken aback. It was true that he hadn’t considered this.

But these poisonous flowers would probably have to be uprooted in order for humans to actually live here.

As such, Ye Fenghan was struck speechless as he considered Yanto’s arguments. “Fine, you’re right. We’re all the same. But even so, right now, I think that it is beautiful and worth treating with respect.”

As Ye Fenghan spoke, he stepped forth and walked into the sea of flowers.

The multicolored, variegated flowers seemingly swayed in response to his movement, releasing their pollen and creating a cloud of fatal powder.

Unfortunately, Ye Fenghan was completely immune to this powder mixture. In fact, all this did was attract their natural enemies.

A swarm of bugs hard to see with the naked eye drifted towards Ye Fenghan, opened their mouths up wide, and began to happily swallow all of the poison fog.

They were the microscopic creatures that used to live on Su Chen’s poison-devouring scroll.

In order to mitigate the risk Ye Fenghan had to bear to explore Specter’s Garden, Su Chen had paid a hefty price by handing the poison-devouring scroll over to him. In addition, Ye Fenghan had also been given three Lifesource Candles and a transmission box.

With the poison-devouring scroll, Ye Fenghan had no need to fear Specter’s Garden’s environment in the slightest.

Soon after entering, Ye Fenghan began to rapidly fly towards his destination. Wherever he flew, the flowers would instinctively part before him, creating a path in front of him.

Not a single flower dared to stand in his way as he advanced.

However, this scene was much too eye-catching, so Ye Fenghan put the poison-devouring scroll away once the Astral community was in sight.

Now that they had arrived, it was time for Yanto to put on a show.

The process of entering the actual cemetery was unprecedentedly easy. The Astrals didn’t even bother interrogating Yanto, let alone ask why he had returned so late.

Ye Fenghan was quite amazed by this.

Yanto explained, “When the Astrals discarded their physical bodies, they also threw away most physical sensations. This is why they are cold, solitary, and affectionless. It’s completely normal for an Astral to just disappear for a year, unannounced. If we want to, we can even lie down on our beds and go to sleep forever.”

Ye Fenghan somewhat understood. “So disappearing for a few days is nothing to you all? Is it really that common, even before a battle?”

“Yes,” Yanto replied, “We need no reason to disappear. Sometimes, we can even spend an entire week just daydreaming. If you stay here for a few days, you will see Astrals come and go at random. There is no need to change our behavior even when we are at war. The only restriction is that we cannot stray too far from here, and that we should do our daydreaming and sleeping here as well. We cannot organize ourselves and move as one unit like you humans can — it is far too difficult. It’s already an incredible feat for us to gather like so.”

“……” Ye Fenghan was rendered speechless.

“It’s no wonder you guys aren’t able to withstand a frontal assault,” Ye Fenghan commented.

Yanto chuckled. “The Astrals have never been able to withstand a frontal assault. We just drag our opponents onto our playing field, and then use our abundance of experience to defeat them there.”

“Fine, you win. So what should we do next?” Ye Fenghan glanced warily at his surroundings.

Even though the Astral army had supposedly gathered here, there was no sense of organization or ongoing training — just as Yanto had said. Most of the Astrals were just sleeping in their rooms. The only difference between them being gathered and not was that this cemetery had more coffins than normal.

That was it.

“We can just walk around and do as we please,” Yanto replied casually. “Aren’t you going to dig around and try to figure out what schemes the Astrals have laid for the Boundless Sect? Just go and ask. No one will be suspicious of you — the only two possibilities are that they either know or they don’t.”

Ye Fenghan was speechless at how cavalier Yanto was. “They don’t try to keep things a secret?”

Yanto shook his head slightly. “No. The Astrals have never once had a spy throughout their storied history.”

This fact was viewed with pride by the Astrals, if they knew what pride meant.

The Astrals had always been the ones doing the controlling, never the ones being controlled.

Yanto was the first.

In the future, he would go down in Astral history for this feat and for this feat alone.

But Yanto didn’t care about that in the slightest.

As a puppet who was controlled by someone else, he was still able to think for himself. However, all of his thoughts were towards contributing to the human race’s rise to power.

This was determined by the consciousness seed in his sea of knowledge.

As such, Yanto said, “We can ask whatever we need to. The Astrals won’t be on guard.”

An Astral just so happened to walk by at that moment.

Ye Fenghan’s heart jolted, and he immediately strode towards that Astral. “The Boundless Sect is right before us. How are we planning on engaging them? It can’t be just with this sea of poisonous flowers, right?”

The Astral was obviously taken aback.

He didn’t reply. Instead, he gazed deeply at Yanto. Ye Fenghan felt his heart sink.

Wasn’t he supposed to ask whatever he wanted to? What was with this expression?

Then, Yanto nodded and simply replied, “This is a new servant of mine. He hasn’t been corrupted by the sinister Qi yet, so his curiosity has not yet diminished.”

Understanding dawned on the Astral’s face. “I don’t know. That is something that only high-tier Astrals are privileged to know.”

After replying, he turned around and left.

Ye Fenghan was stunned. “A secret that only the high-tier Astrals know? So they do have some concept of keeping things a secret, huh?”

Yanto replied, “Perhaps they’re just too lazy to inform their subordinates.”

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