Han Yunxi’s group waited for Gu Beiyue’s arrival while looking into news about the Celestial Mountain and Heretical Sword sects. They didn’t treat most of the enemies as a threat; they were more concerned with verifying whether Bai Yanqing was still on the mountain.
“I’ve only see the Heretical Sword Sect leader once and it was from a distance while he was hiding his face. So I couldn’t see his features clearly,” Chu Xifeng said as he thought back. “He should have been over fifty.”
“Has he been on the mountain this entire time?” Han Yunxi asked.
Chu Xifeng couldn’t be certain. “I never saw him again after they attacked the peak.”
Long Feiye looked at Gu Qishao coldly and said, “Tonight you keep watch, I’ll scope out the path ahead first.”
Chu Xifeng’s knowledge was limited, but making wild guesses now couldn’t compare to climbing the mountain to see for himself.
“You stand guard and I’ll go,” Gu Qishao said. Although he said in the past he’d act as one of Long Feiye’s guards, he’d never listened to the man’s orders once!
“Have you been to Celestial Mountain before?” Long Feiye retorted.
Gu Qishao was immediately left speechless, but said reluctantly, “Then hurry up and go, I’ll stand guard!”
Despite Gu Qishao’s smarts, he wasn’t as clever as Han Yunxi who wanted to go as well. However, she stayed quiet until late night when Long Feiye left. Then she tried to sneak after him, but was blocked by Gu Qishao at the entrance.
“Poison lass, it’s dangerous.”
Han Yunxi turned back to give him a pair of pitiful puppy eyes.
Gu Qishao’s heart melted before he said, “Poison lass, you better hurry after him. It’ll be more dangerous if you can’t catch up.”
Just like that, Han Yunxi soon caught up with Long Feiye. He couldn’t very well chase her away now. Besides, the current Han Yunxi was no burden, but an asset!
Celestial Mountain Range had five separate peaks from south to north that resembled a flight of stairs. Each peak was next to its neighbor, with successive peaks standing higher and higher until the fifth peak in the north made up Celestial Mountain Sword Sect. Thanks to geography, there was only one path up the mountain that traversed between their gaps. In other words, to reach the peak of Celestial Mountain, they would have to cross five peaks.
Han Yunxi’s group had their hiding cave in the shaded side of the first peak. Now the two of them had circled to the front. To figure out what was going on up there, they would have to scale the mountains. Like the first time around, Long Feiye kept his grip tightly around Han Yunxi’s waist, protecting her in his embrace. He was so used to the sensation that he easily climbed the first peak without alerting a soul. However, he could sense ambushes in wait all around them.
Han Yunxi was currently puzzling over how Heretical Sword Sect had taken over Celestial Mountain Sword Sect when they had so many disciples. When it came to numbers, their forces paled before the Celestial Mountain disciples. Even if the masters of the Lockheart Courtyard and Sword and Scripture depositories revolted, these were matters of the mountain peak! Subdivisions of Celestial Mountain Sword Sect were scattered between the first four peaks and filled with disciples who pledged no allegiance to any of the three factions. How did Heretical Sword Sect control them? And how did they stem the tide of information of leaking out?
While Han Yunxi was pondering over the problem, the detox system gave her an answer. As soon as Long Feiye brought her near the Meteor Sword Depository on the first peak, the detox system blared out an alarm to alert Han Yunxi of the poisoned people within.
“A poison attack…” Han Yunxi muttered to herself.
“What’s going on?” Long Feiye asked.
Han Yunxi grinned. “If you hadn’t brought me with you tonight, we would’ve needed to make a second trip!”
“Heheh, since when has Heretical Sword Sect turn into the likes of Hundred Poisons Sect?” Long Feiye immediately understood what she meant.
If it wasn’t for poison, how else could Bai Yanqing ensure complete dominance of Celestial Mountain in such a short time while maintaining an information embargo?
“Let’s go in for a look. It’s too far for me to determine the type of poison,” Han Yunxi muttered.
Meteor Sword Depository was the biggest depository on the first peak and had gotten its share of high-level disciples in recent years. Long Feiye chose this as their first landing point because its leader, Madame Yan, had extremely good relations with Granny You of Abstinence Courtyard. They were like sisters, and most of Meteor Sword Depository’s top disciples were eventually selected by Granny You as Abstinence Courtyard disciples. Very few went on to the Sword or Scripture Depositories, much less Lockheart Courtyard.
Others might lie, but Madame Yan was like Granny You, a stickler for the truth. She would never betray the sword sect.
Before they reached the building, the detox system had already given Han Yunxi her answer.
“Long Feiye, it’s Traceless Poison,” Han Yunxi said. “You can slip the poison into the water, then wait a day before it takes effect. It renders its victims unconscious and will kill them within seven months without a cure.”
Poisoning the water was the most economical choice. Even if one didn’t drink water within a day, one still ate meals, making it inescapable. No wonder everyone had fallen victim to it at once!
“Bai Yanqing wants to destroy Celestial Mountain Sword Sect?” Long Feiye exclaimed in alarm.
From last year’s tenth month until now, six months had already passed. In other words, if they had come a month later, every faction here and at the peak would have been annihilated!
No wonder the two Depositories and one Courtyard at the peak had agreed to cooperate with Heretical Sword Sect. When Cang Qiuzi was still leader of Lockheart Courtyard, the Sword and Scripture Depositories had already harbored thoughts of allying together to establish themselves in the sect. Bai Yanqing’s plans fitted their intentions exactly.
Back then, Cang Qiuzi had teamed up with Duanmu Yao before Long Feiye left him with heavy injuries and cast him into the dungeons. His crime was never determined because that would mean the sword sect master needed to consider Han Yunxi’s case as a Poison Sect descendant, too. For the sake of protecting Han Yunxi, he’d borne pressure from Medical City and delayed judgment. He also spread news that the dealings to Cang Qiuzi and Duanmu Yao could wait until Long Feiye inherited the post as sword sect leader. Of course, after Long Feiye left the mountain, things dragged on indefinitely. However, the sword sect master didn’t promote anyone in Lockheart Courtyard to assume the mantle of faction leader in Cang Qiuzi’s place. He had the few disciples under the man duke it out amongst themselves. Now it seemed that the Courtyard had resolved its internal issues.
Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had both assumed that Bai Yanqing would hide himself in the Poison Sect or Northern Li, not set his sights on Celestial Mountain. But why did he want power from the martial arts factions? Was he forcing the three Honored Elders to subdue the Ganjiang treasure sword for Heretical Sword Sect’s sake, or some other motive? Both of them grew more uncertain as they entered Meteor Sword Depository. There they saw three to four Heretical Sword Sect disciples standing guard while at least 30 some disciples laid unconscious in the main hall.
Such weak precautions made it easy for Han Yunxi and Long Feiye to slip inside. To avoid rousing suspicion, they didn’t kill any of the guards and simply landed in the rafters of the main hall, observing the sleeping figures below.
“Bai Yanqing was that certain we wouldn’t come to Celestial Mountain?” Han Yunxi asked doubtfully.
“He controlled all of the secret letters, so it’d be more than easy to guard against our movements,” Long Feiye intoned.
If Chu XIfeng hadn’t caught the last letter, then Bai Yanqing would have been expecting them half a month ago. That was more than enough time for him to set traps!
“Chu Xifeng did first-rate work!” Han Yunxi smiled. She found a good vantage point and began to activate the detox system for a closer examination. Although she already knew the results of the poison from outdoors, it was good to be cautious and check thoroughly.
“Stay here and don’t move, I’ll go find Madame Yan,” Long Feiye murmured.
This time, Han Yunxi listened to him. She had just finished confirming that everyone in the hall was only victim to one poison when Long Feiye returned.
“Madame Yan’s in the back courtyard with her own exclusive guard,” he muttered.
“Take a look first,” Han Yunxi’s eyes turned shrewd with a plan.
Long Feiye brought Han Yunxi to Madame Yan’s location, but they couldn’t draw too close. From a distance, they saw the woman unconscious on a bamboo bed while three guards stood both inside and outside her room. One of them was even a member of Lockheart Courtyard.
“Can you check what she’s been poisoned with?” Long Feiye asked.
Han Yunxi immediately answered, “Ceaseless Poison. Like Traceless Poison, it causes a stupor, but it’s much more powerful. Someone must have targeted her for the toxin.”
“Do you have the antidote?” Long Feiye asked, before shaking his head. “It’s not time yet.”
Han Yunxi smiled. “Then when it is time?”
“Summon the poison guards here. Together with Gu Beiyue, we’ll rescue everyone and then head straight for the peak,” Long Feiye said.
Han Yunxi only looked at him with an idiotic smile. She was thinking the same thing! Since Bai Yanqing’s guards were so flimsy here, they had no need to waste any more time. Whether or not he was at the peak, they’d just fight their way up!
If Bai Yanqing was there, they have a good fight, but it was even better if he wasn’t! With their minds in agreement, there was no need for discussion. Han Yunxi grinned and patted her medical pouch. “Don’t worry, there’s antidotes at any time!”
Long Feiye could set a hundred cares at rest with her words. After figuring the situation at Meteor Sword Depository, Long Feiye brought her to Celestial Sea and the other sword depositories. They spent an entire night visiting 30 separate factions between the first and second peaks and discovered that all were in the same state. Both the disciples and faction leaders had been dosed with poison and were unconscious, with the leaders having the stronger, different strain.
If it was any other poison master, they would have gone crazy after finding out six different poisons in one night and thinking up antidotes to each other. But this was child’s play for Han Yunxi, who didn’t even need to remember anything when the detox system did all the work.
The third and fourth peaks were more difficult to navigate, so they were extra cautious to avoid arousing suspicion. It took four nights to finish scouting out the depositories there. As Han Yunxi estimated, their situations were more or less similar to that of the first two mountains.
Five nights later, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye finished scouring half of Celestial Mountain and prepared all the antidotes. Now all they needed to do was wait for Gu Beiyue and the poison guards’ arrival. Chu Xifeng was too seriously injured to practice his martial arts, so he focused on recovering for now. Han Yunxi seized the chance to calm down and cultivate her poison storage space.
They thought it’d take 10 days minimum for Gu Beiyue to arrive, but who knew…
3. This also brings me to another point: does no one in Celestial Mountain teach anything about poison resistance? Remember how LFY in the early days was hailed as a strong martial artist except for his weakness to toxins? If Celestial Mountain is supposed to be the top of the martial arts world, then they must 1) not count any poison-users in the community in that ranking or 2) be too strong to be poisoned at all for poison-users to be considered a threat. We’ve established many times in PGC that #2 is not the case, so what gives? This is a gaping weakness waiting to be exploited by no-good underhanded types…
6. Some of PGC’s poison names are very literal, like this one here, that I sometimes wonder if HYX’s saying the type or a specific name. But the structure of the sentence here lacks articles like “a” or “the” before the poison’s name, so I’m capitalizing it yet again.
7. Perhaps Traceless Poison was the only option, but seven months is an awfully generous time for any villain to kill off their victims while hoping the protagonists don’t drop by. Did Ban Yanqing have something else planned for the bodies? Maybe some sort of date-determined occult ritual or poison recipe? Bwahahaha...
8. They either have 1) blankets, 2) excellent heating systems, or 3) strong martial arts immunity from the cold because heck, these people have been sleeping on the floor for the entire winter on a mountain regularly drowning in snow and still aren't dead or sick?!