The mantis crawled around, its only working eye continued to flicker rapidly. As it searched around, a twig suddenly snapped and the mantis turned towards the source. It chased after, leaving Ming Yue and the others.
They waited silently to see if it would return but Xiao Yin flew down, landing in front of the bushes where her master was hidden.
One by one they emerged from their hiding place, cleaning off any leaves and twigs on them.
Ming Yue looked to her side as Hei Yue popped out, walking cautiously. She couldn't help but snicker when she saw the Mistral Fox.
\"Come here\", she said, gesturing the fox towards her.
Hei Yue wasn't sure why she snickered but came to her. With a few quick pats, she took off the many leaves that clung to the fox's dark gray fur. If she didn't do so, Hei Yue resembled more like a bush than an actual fox.
\"What was that mantis guarding anyways?\" Xukun asked excitedly.
Anqing was equally excited, waiting in anticipation.
\"I'll show it to you once we find somewhere safe to rest. But it was a Dao Root!\" Ming Yue spoke quietly but that did not hide her excited tone.
\"A dao root?! In the second zone!?\" Xukun exclaimed before Anqing's hand clamped tightly on his mouth.
\"Shhh, talk quietly. Someone might hear us\", she looked at Xukun with serious eyes before taking away her hand.
Xukun paused before talking in a more restrained voice.
\"Do you know how old it is? What rank it is?\" he asked.
\"Rank 4, five hundred years.\"
Ming Yue stated bluntly.
\"Rank 4...Fi-five hundred...years.\"
Xukun slowly repeated her words, unable to believe their luck. A treasure like that was more than enough to boost his ability in the Metal Dao. Perhaps he could also diverge and create his own personal path of the Metal Dao.
After all to convert a Minor Dao into a Major Dao or even a Grand Dao, an increase in power would be enough. But if one truly wanted to elevate their ability, they must forge their own unique understanding of their Dao, to create a True Dao. Qing Lei Jiang's Dao of Unyielding Lightning or Jing Hai's Dao of Stars are such examples. Such things could only be done with good comprehension and a clear vision of what they wanted their dao to be, something that they believe to be true and just.
Strength did not matter here. Even if it was a Minor Dao, making it a True Dao would be possible. It would then be called a True Minor Dao, then True Major and so forth.
However such a thing could not happen so easily. Cultivators could go years without creating a True Dao, even if they've reached the level of a Major Dao. It required timing, luck, and inspiration.
Even Ming Yue's Dao of Everchanging Winds was not considered a True Dao. She had the inspiration but she lacked timing and luck, having no resources to achieve a True Dao.
Xukun continued to be dumbfounded from what he had heard, it took several minutes for him to recover from his stupor.
\"We should go. We can take it out later but not here\", said Ming Yue.
Xukun nodded his head and followed.
The group slowly made their way through the second zone before resting in a small space surrounded by trees and shrubbery.
That night, Ming Yue passed the Metal Dao Root to Xukun, who held it in his hands and unwrapped it slightly. The root itself resembled that of steel, as it it were made of it. The aura was dense and sharp. He quickly wrapped it again and placed it within his ring. In his mind, he felt thankful that both Anqing and Ming Yue were helping him.
Anqing seemed equally excited and smiled at Xukun's good fortune. She seemed genuinely happy for him.
As for Ming Yue, she was occupied over the Lightning Dao Root and her mind wandered to the Martial Thunder Arts manual that Elder Xiang gave her. Perhaps, his choice of books were not misguided. She now had a reason to take a look at that manual.
All three of them felt that luck was on their side.
The following day was proof enough that it wasn't.
\"Two more kilometers and we would have reached the second pavilion. Once we're there, that's the border between the second and third zone\", Xukun told everyone as he looked at the map.
As they walked, the sounds of battle echoed through the garden.
They looked at each other before slowly making their way towards that noise. Several hundred meters away from their route, they spotted a group of two taking on a massive centipede. The surrounding trees had been smashed down, any living creature there was most likely dead. The ground had been flattened from the ensuing battle.
The insect must've been at least thirty meters long, with countless legs protruding from the sides of its body. Moving about in a strangely fluid manner this thing was as fearsome as it was disgusting. However, the most prominent feature of this creature was its head and skin.
The centipede suddenly gave a mighty roar as its head was that of a lion!
Its skin colored gray like stone, it was like a massive statue that had life breathed into it.
\"That's... a Stone Lion Centipede! What is it doing here?\" Anqing exclaimed.
\"A Stone Lion Centipede?\" Ming Yue was curious.
Was this creature special?
\"You don't understand, the Stone Lion Centipede is one of the great dangers of the Ninth Flower Garden. A rank 5 monster that dwells in the fourth zone and this is the second zone\", Xukun explained.
They looked at the scene before them.
\"Wait... isn't that Shanguan Lei and Ge Yun?\"
Anqing pointed out, looking straight at the center of the encircled couple. Both were covered in scratches and small injuries, looking exhausted and desperate. However, it was not hard to recognize them. Shanguan Lei had his hammer out, landing many thunderous strikes on the centipede's stone like body. His sleeveless gray uniform was ripped up and covered with dust and blood.
Ge Yun was no better, her long black hair was disheveled. Her pure white dress had been dirtied black and brown. She seemed much more mature for her age. Her appearance was simple and her countenance was elegant. Ge Yun carried a harp, an obsidian black instrument that produced lovely music from its strings. That music became formless waves that caused several blasts, cutting into the Centipede.
However this was a Rank 5 beast, a creature that requires a group of Earth Realm Cultivators to deal with.
Not to mention there were only two of them but that centipede has been alive for countless of years, feeding of the treasures of the garden. It was definitely mush stronger than a rank 5, it could possibly contend with a rank 6! If not, why would it be considered a great danger?
\"Do you think they stole a treasure from the centipede?\"
Anqing asked as she continued to assess the situation.
\"It's likely but we should alert the Elder about this, going against this thing is almost certain death.\"
Ming Yue spoke out as she took out her badge and activated it, sending a message to Elder Xiang. After doing so, she unsheathed her sword and started gathering up the Quintessence Force within her. A thin lance formed above her as she held her hand up. Several inches at its thickest and two meters long, she slowly condensed it pushing her control to the brink.
\"What are you doing?\" Xukun sputtered out in shock and fear.
\"We can't go against that thing! You'll get us killed!\"
\"If we don't help them, they're going to die before the Elder even come here\", Ming Yue replied with a determined tone.
Far from them, the pair's situation only grew worse and worse.
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