Chapter 44 – The Immortal Willow Tree
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“Tell me everything you know about this Immortal Willow Tree,” Yun Ling demanded as he looked at the wolf running beside him. He was standing on top of his flying sword as he held the Lion King Cub in his arms. He had a serious expression on his face as he thought of the immortal responsible for the deaths of the countless lesser beasts in the place.

It had been hours since they left the cave and started heading towards the entrance of the Thousand Mountain Valley in haste. No one among them wanted to stay any longer than they had to in this godforsaken place because the longer they stayed, the more they were at risk from the immortal.

“I don’t know much about it to be honest,” the wolf said, a bit ashamed.

“That’s fine. Just tell me everything you know about it.”

“Hmm, then I’ll start with its ability first. That Immortal Willow Tree can suck the life force of its victims in seconds. It only takes just a single touch from one of its branches for a few seconds to suck an individual dry. The Immortal Willow Tree only touched my foot for not even a second before I escaped yet I’ve already been reduced to this state,” the wolf said ruefully, as he looked at his thin body. His once-majestic white furs were nowhere to be found. All that remains was just a few furs about to fall off from his body.

The Immortal Willow Tree was also the reason why the wolf needed the longevity fruit. He had lost much of his vitality, leaving him on the verge of death. It was only because of his will to save his son that he was able to persevere for so long.

“I see.”

Yun Ling nodded in understanding.

He finally knew why the corpses of the lesser beasts he encountered looked the way they were. They were like dried husks of their former selves. It was as if they had mummified. Yun Ling touched one of the corpses of the lesser beasts before out of curiosity yet the moment his hand touched the corpse, it suddenly turned into a pile of ashes, making him surprised.

“There’s one thing I don’t understand. Why is that immortal here? Why did it start killing the lesser beasts? An existence like that shouldn’t care much about lower beings like us. Also, what happened to the spiritual energy in here? Was that immortal also responsible for that?” Yun Ling asked. He felt a little weird for referring to himself as a lower being but from an immortal’s point of view, he was indeed a lower being no matter how exceptional he was among his peers.

“I don’t know,” the wolf shook his head, not knowing the answer to Yun Ling’s question. However, he had a speculation. “But I think that…”

“What?”

The wolf hesitated. Should he tell Yun Ling? He didn’t want to give him an incorrect answer for he was merely speculating after all.

In the end, he decided to tell him his thoughts regarding the strange happenings here.

“The reason why the Immortal Willow Tree is here, why it is killing all the lesser beasts it sees, and the reason for the disappearance of the spiritual energy… I think it’s because Heaven and Earth are giving birth to a divine treasure! A terrifying treasure that can even tempt an immortal to this place!”

Yun Ling’s eyes widened in shock.

“A divine treasure? Could it be—? No, no it shouldn’t be. That shouldn’t be the case. It’s impossible,” Yun Ling muttered to himself. Something came up to his mind when he heard the wolf’s conjecture, making his heart restless.

Ever since he came into the Thousand Mountain Valley, every new thing he learned gave him tremendous shock after shock. First was the lack of the lesser beasts in the outer part of the place; the second was the missing spiritual energy; the third was the corpses of the lesser beasts including the Goliath Mountain King; after that, he met the wolf, and learned the existence of the Immortal Willow Tree from him; then he said that it was probably a divine treasure being birthed by Heaven and Earth responsible for all of this? It would be strange if Yun Ling would still be calm after all of this.

“Since a few hundred years ago, I’ve noticed that the spiritual energy in the Thousand Mountain Valley was gradually declining. It was only by a slight portion though, unnoticeable to anyone other than me. It’s just like losing a few drops of the ocean every second, totally unnoticeable. I even thought I was just imagining it but it turns out I didn’t” the wolf said.

“Other than you? What do you mean by that?” Yun Ling asked.

“My kind have an innate ability allowing us to sense the spiritual energy in our surroundings much better than any other beast. We are sensitive to it,” the wolf explained.

“Continue.”

“Then decades ago, the other lesser beasts finally took notice of the diminishing spiritual energy. That initially small drop could be likened to losing a few buckets of the ocean every second. Even humans who regularly came here noticed it. Even so, it was nothing to be concerned about. The spiritual energy was vast and plentiful, no one thought it would run out. Moreover, the spiritual energy replenishes itself every second.”

“Years had passed, the rate of the spiritual energy being lost had only increased. However, it was still nothing to be concerned about. The total amount of spiritual energy lost in the past hundred years to that day wasn’t even ten percent of the total amount of spiritual energy in the Thousand Mountain Valley. No, you could even say that it didn’t lose anything since it was able to replenish itself quickly.”

“Fast forward to a few months ago, the amount that the spiritual energy was able to replenish could no longer keep up with the amount of the spiritual energy being lost. Everyone finally grew concerned but there was nothing they could do about it.”

“Then a few days ago, the spiritual energy was finally sucked dry, affecting our cultivation. We could no longer cultivate because it had disappeared. Those spiritual energies were probably used by Heaven and Earth to give birth to the divine treasure. Throughout the past million years, the divine treasures capable of such phenomenon are—”

Rustle

Yun Ling and the wolf went alert upon hearing the sound of someone brushing on some leaves in the area.

“Shit! Another sect disciple again?!” the two heard someone exclaim from their right as they stopped in their tracks.

Yun Ling and the wolf immediately turned towards the source of disturbance, only to see a tip of a sword heading straight towards Yun Ling's face. It was merely a few inches away from hitting his forehead!

Clang!

The sword was quickly parried away by Yun Ling’s sword.

“Eh?”

The person wielding the sword was surprised that his sword was deflected away by his target. No normal person would have been able to react that fast. Instead of dodging, his target parried his sword with ease. That shows just how fast his target was.

Then, he got a clear look at his target’s face and was surprised.

“You are—!”

Before he could even finish his words, he was interrupted by Yun Ling who only said one word as he looked at him coldly.

“Courting death.”

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