The natural stone forest covered over tens of miles and was situated in between Icestone City, Crimson Flame City, and Water Moon City.
Countless rock formations of different shapes and sizes stood inside the stone forest, and its terrain was fairly complex, making it pretty easy to hide one’s trail. Spirit beasts took to this place like ducks to water, so it was harder than usual to hunt them down.
The spirit beasts that had stepped out of the Arctic Mountain Range were operating around the border of the three cities. The moment they suffer a loss when fighting against the martial practitioners and found the situation unfavorable, they would often choose this forest of stone as the place to escape to.
Over time, this natural stone forest became their most favored sanctuary.
Martial practitioners from Shattered Ice Manor, Nebula Pavilion, Crimson Fire Association, and Water Moon Sect were initially unfamiliar with the stone forest and thus suffered a great number of losses inside, losing quite a few people.
Gradually, they realized that the spirit beasts loved to escape into the stone forest and thus began to treat the matter with seriousness.
All four martial practitioner forces shifted their true attention to the stone forest and explored the terrain seriously. Area after area they invaded to make preparations for the gradual extermination of the spirit beasts that had gathered inside.
As the number of martial practitioners from all four powers increased, they slowly gained the initiative.
Humans were smarter, after all, and once they had researched the terrain completely, they would make arrangements beforehand and prepare all sorts of traps and ambushes.
With these advantages, the martial practitioners from the four forces had been able to make significant progress hunting spirit beasts as of late. Almost everyday spirit beasts would be flushed out and killed, and a lot of people who had tasted blood also rushed over when they heard of news from this region.
This was because everyone knew that there were many spirit beasts inside the stone forest and that occasionally there would be new spirit beasts that would enter the fray, so they all wanted to come here to hunt down spirit beasts to obtain spirit materials and beast cores and also accumulate contribution points.
Yan Ziqian, Feng Kai, Yan Qingsong, and others from Shattered Ice Manor; Tu Ze, Zhuo Qian, Kang Zhi and others from Nebula Pavilion; and even Xiong Ba from Crimson Flame Association and Na Nuo from Water Moon Sect were operating inside this natural stone forest. Everyone had the same idea of reaping great rewards inside this stone forest.
Crimson Flame Association’s Xiong Ba and Water Moon Sect’s Na Nuo were both leaders of the young generation with fame no less than Yan Ziqian and Tu Ze themselves. They were all great leaders of the future.
A Golden Crag Beast became covered in flames, fiery sparks flying off its stone-like body as it roared in pain.
There was a young man about two meters tall wearing a martial practitioner garment bearing his arms. He had bulging muscles covering his entire body and looked as stout as a human bear. With a grin, he let out a weird chuckle and was doing his best to hunt down this Golden Crag Beast with a few martial practitioners from Crimson Flame Association in golden color martial practitioner dress.
This unsightly, inhuman-looking fellow, with an extremely huge body, was the one who had let loose those shots of fire.
He held a golden spear in his hands and continuously swallowed and spat out flames while fighting the Golden Crag Beast head on, whereas the other Crimson Flame martial practitioners had spread out to coordinate with him and attacked the beast from both sides. It was slowly losing its strength.
The young man who was like a man-bear was, of course, Crimson Flame Association’s Xiong Ba, and at first glance, his battle against the Golden Crag Beast did not look like a battle between man and beast.
—It looked more like two wild beasts tearing, biting, and tangling with each other.
“Savage Xiong, why don’t you give me the Golden Crag Beast’s eye? I’ll exchange it with the horn of a Dragonhorn Rhinoceros.”
A beautiful young girl dressed in a bright yellow tight suit looked leisurely in his direction with six or seven equally young and beautiful women beside her.
The girl in the bright yellow tight suit looked to be about eighteen or nineteen years old. She was tall and lanky, her breasts full and firm with a pair of long legs and an attractive face.
A lifelike rainbow-colored spirit snake was drawn on her white left arm. She even bared her left arm intentionally so it would appear as if a rainbow-colored serpent was encircling it, causing people to feel fear from the bottom of their hearts with just a glance.
“Na Nuo, do you really think I’m stupid? How can the horn of a Dragonhorn Rhinoceros compare to the Golden Eye of a Golden Crag Beast? Besides, I have no use for the horn at all, so why would I trade for it?” The moment Xiong Ba opened his mouth again, it was like the rumblings of thunder, “Last time I traded with you, I almost got beaten to death by my father! I will never ever trade any spirit materials with you again!”
“Hehe, I was just playing with you last time! I definitely won’t deceive you this time.” Na Nuo giggled non-stop, and she was laughing so hard her snake-like waist couldn’t even straighten anymore. The girls from Water Moon Sect behind her were also covering their mouths and laughing non-stop, and the more they thought about that incident, the funnier it seemed.
“Like hell I’ll believe you!” Xiong Ba humphed with a livid expression and ignored Na Nuo. He began bloodily dissecting the Golden Crag Beast with his equally rugged-looking brothers.
“How boring.” Na Nuo glanced once at the bloody scene and frowned. “The fellows from Crimson Fire Association are a bunch of beasts wearing human skin after all. I suppose Shattered Ice Manor and Nebula Pavilion are still the more interesting ones. But, sigh, such a shame that that Tu Ze is a coward. Yan Ziqian has already provoked him several times, but he just endured it all the way. He really makes people worry for him.”
“Sister Na Nuo, Tu Ze is being tactful.” A girl behind her seemed to have good feelings for Tu Ze and his men; thus, she could not help but defend them. “The Ice Drake Sword Yan Ziqian is wielding was tailor made for him by Dark Asura Hall’s Master Lu, and when combined with the spirit art he’s cultivating, its power is simply astounding. Tu Ze can’t fight him, and Zhuo Qian also can’t defeat Feng Kai, so of course they’re going to avoid them for now. If they really went and risked their lives instead, then wouldn’t he be as stupid as Xiong Ba?”
“You stinkin’ brat, don’t tell me you’ve fallen for Tu Ze?” Na Nuo turned around and punched her once, teasing, “So Little Sparrow is lusting for a man. Do you want me to make a match between the two of you?”
“What nonsense are you talking about, I’ll pinch you to death!” The girl who was called a little bird fooled around with Na Nuo with a tiny blush on her face.
Na Nuo and the girls from Water Moon Sect began to fool around inside the stone forest. Giggling and running about, they were like a group of larks painting a beautiful scenery into existence.
“Ahem, Na Nuo.”
It was at this moment Yan Ziqian came over with his men from Shattered Ice Manor. Beside him were Feng Kai and Yan Qingsong.
They all wore bright silver clothes, and everyone one of them appeared to be smart and handsome. Their appearances were far, far better than those of Crimson Flame Association’s, so the moment they came over, the girls of Water Moon Sect quickly stopped their game of pursuit and began to feign gentleness and innocence like sheltered young ladies.
“What are you calling me for?” Na Nuo stopped fooling around and smiled prettily at Yan Ziqian, saying, “Aren’t you keeping an eye on Tu Ze everyday to be ready to interrupt their good fortune at any moment? Why did you come find us instead?”
Lately, Yan Ziqian and his gang had been keeping a tight watch on Tu Ze, and the moment they found that they were hunting spirit beasts, they would immediately join the fray and forcefully claim that they were the ones who found the spirit beasts first before robbing them of spirit materials by force.
At first, both sides had clashed with each other several times, and quite a number of people were injured from those clashes.
However, those who had been injured were mostly on Tu Ze’s side. Kang Zhi and Han Feng were bloody and Zhuo Qian’s arm was still somewhat unusable after it was stabbed once by Feng Kai’s sword.
But the one who suffered the most was still Tu Ze. He had three wounds on his chest, and it seemed like they hadn’t completely healed yet.
—They were all wounds given by Yan Ziqian.
After suffering a few losses, Tu Ze and his men had no choice but to swallow their anger and do their best to avoid conflict with Yan Ziqian and the others. Even if they were provoked, they had to grit their teeth and pretend they heard nothing.
There were a few martial practitioners from Dark Asura Hall who were taking charge in this stone forest, and it was because of them that Yan Ziqian didn’t dare to act too wantonly and do everything in their power to kill Tu Ze. That was why Tu Ze and the others were still around.
But Tu Ze’s condition in the stone forest was downright terrible due to the existence of Shattered Ice Manor’s Yan Ziqian…
“Tu Ze?” Yan Ziqian laughed coldly. “That cowardly fellow only knows how to run and hide, giving me no chance to end him once and for all. If it weren’t for the people from Dark Asura Hall, those bastards… Hmph!”
“Oh, so you were this powerful then?” Na Nuo’s smile was playful. “Why don’t you go play a bit with Savage Xiong then? I do still know him quite well; if you harass him, then he would definitely not run away. Look, Savage Xiong and his buddies are dissecting a Golden Crag Beast right at the front. Why don’t you go and rob them?”
The girls from Water Moon Sect behind her began to giggle as well, and a few energetic ones even led with a shout, “C’mon, go fight them! If you’re really so powerful, then go fight Savage Xiong! I wonder who among you is more fearsome? I, I love aggressive men, and I love watching fights the most.”
A girl made a look of absolute infatuation and loudly urged them on as if she couldn’t wait to see the world burn.
The moment Xiong Ba was brought up, Yan Ziqian, Feng Kai, and Yan Qingsong’s faces shook and appeared a bit awkward.
It wasn’t as if they were afraid of Xiong Ba and his gang if they had really gotten into a fight. It was just that Crimson Flame Association’s Xiong Ba was famous for his fearlessness towards death, and if they really did fight, Xiong Ba would go absolutely crazy and wouldn’t stop until one of them was dead — he was someone who would dare to go against even Dark Asura Hall’s orders.
Yan Ziqian wouldn’t dare to provoke such a mad dog without a good reason, so he laughed awkwardly, “Shattered Ice Manor has no conflict with Crimson Flame Association and there is no grudge between us, so obviously we have no reason to fight each other.”
Seeing that he hadn’t fallen into her trap, Na Nuo disinterestedly said in a perfunctory tone, “Then what is it you came to me for?”
“We found three Rank Two spirit beasts, but we’re not sure we can take them on all by ourselves, so we’re inviting you girls into the group to work together. I wonder if you’re interested?” Yan Ziqian told her the reason they came over.
“Three Rank Two spirit beasts?” Na Nuo’s eyes brightened as she nodded. “Yes I am. But how are we going to split the loot? How many beasts do you want?”
“We’ll split by whoever put in the most effort. What do you think?” Yan Ziqian asked.
“Sure.” Na Nuo might have appeared casual, but her words were very sharp. “I doubt you have the guts to snatch my prey from my hands!”
“Hehe, and why would we snatch anything from a beautiful lady? We’re gifting you stuff on our own will, okay?” Yan Qingsong laughed loudly. “Follow me, I’ll bring you over right now. I personally love to share the good stuff with beautiful girls.”
After that, the girls from Water Moon Sect giggled and, under Na Nuo’s lead, followed Shattered Ice Manor’s men into the stone forest.
On the other side.
Tu Ze leaned against a stone pillar with his chest wrapped in bandages. With a heavy expression, he said, “We were the ones who found those three Rank Two spirit beasts first, but we can’t handle them the way we are. It’s fine that Yan Qingsong sees it, we’ll just let them busy themselves with the task. We’ll admit our loss this time and regain our pride in the future.”
“Sigh, if our spirit artifacts had been successfully created, what would we have to fear of Yan Ziqian and Feng Kai?” Zhuo Qian’s eyes were dark.
“There’s no point talking about this now. A loss is a loss. We can only endure this for the moment and talk about it later.” Tu Ze let out a sigh. “Let’s get through this period of time first, and when I get back, I will gather the spirit materials and request Great Master Lu’s help once more!” His eyes were red as he yelled, “I refuse to accept that my luck will continue to stay bad! When I finally get my spirit artifact, I will immediately seek out Yan Ziqian and obtain our revenge!”
The moment he said that, Zhuo Qian the others to grit their teeth, looking like they were about to eat someone alive. It looked like that had been thoroughly oppressed by Yan Ziqian, Feng Kai, and the others.
They did not notice that, while they were swearing solemn oaths, there was a Ghost Bird flying atop their heads.
The Ghost Bird flew out of the natural stone forest and arrived at its entrance. It dropped onto Liang Zhong’s shoulder, and after listening to it for a while, Liang Zhong said, “These pair of eyes have helped me find Tu Ze.”
Qin Lie’s expression shook atop the Profound Nether Beast, and he unconsciously touched the oilcloth wrapping the longblade and Dragon Bone Whip. He was filled with anticipation.