Chapter 18 – Path for advancement

Yuan Ming sighed and casually placed the green incense burner down, accidentally touching one of the ears of the white ape skin around his waist.


The surface of the incense burner flashed with a green light, and a warm airflow quickly spread out and merged into the white ape skin.


The white ape skin trembled slightly, and a faint golden light appeared on the surface. Then, with a "whoosh," it unfolded and draped itself over Yuan Ming's body.


Yuan Ming had not yet understood what had happened when suddenly, the mana in his dantian surged outwards and continuously poured into the white ape skin, which began to merge with his body.


This feeling was like the first time Hu Huo Elder activated the fur-covering technique to cover his body with fur.


The white ape skin wriggled like a living thing, and small bumps bulged on the surface, as if countless mice were crawling inside.


Yuan Ming was shocked and tried to stabilize the mana in his dantian to stop it from pouring out, but it was futile.


Not only the mana in his body, but even the spiritual energy in the surrounding air seemed to be drawn by some invisible force and gathered towards the white ape skin.


A scene that stunned Yuan Ming appeared.


As the spiritual energy continuously poured into the white ape skin, the originally gray and withered fur became white, shiny, and smooth to the naked eye. Some bald areas grew white fluff again, which quickly thickened and lengthened.


At the same time, a white ape phantom appeared inside the white ape skin, covering his body.


"What is this?" Yuan Ming was surprised, scratching his head and ears uncontrollably, and the sound of monkey cries echoed in his ears.


Before he could react, a cold breath suddenly rose in his mind, causing a sharp pain in his forehead, as if a dagger had been thrust into it and pierced through his skull!


Yuan Ming couldn't help but open his mouth, but he couldn't make a sound. He felt dizzy and almost lost consciousness.


Even though his mind was always firm and he endured this inhuman torture, his consciousness was almost collapsing. He couldn't hear any sound with his ears, and he couldn't see any light with his eyes.


In a trance, Yuan Ming saw a tall and burly white ape standing proudly on a giant peak in the wind and rain, punching his chest with both fists and roaring angrily towards the sky.


Then, he lost consciousness.


Yuan Ming gradually regained consciousness, and his senses gradually recovered.


He shook his slightly swollen head and felt that the ape skin on his body had stopped wriggling and no longer absorbed his mana. However, his dantian was empty, and his mana had been completely absorbed.


The originally gray-white ape skin was now white and shiny, as if it had just been peeled off. There were even strands of golden light on the surface.


"What happened just now? Why does this white ape skin seem to come alive? Oh, that white ape, could it be…" Yuan Ming frowned, silently thinking.


Although there was no evidence, he instinctively felt that the white ape that appeared in his mind just now was the owner of the ape skin on his body.




Suddenly, a very strong heartbeat sounded in his ears, causing Yuan Ming's heart to tremble, waking him up from his scattered thoughts.




The next moment, he felt a piercing pain in his fingertips, and bloody white claws pierced through his skin and flesh, causing him to tremble and groan in pain.


After a full fifteen minutes, the claws stopped growing, and the piercing pain disappeared.


Yuan Ming breathed a sigh of relief, his whole body almost soaked in sweat, and his head was ringing, almost fainting.However, the commotion he had just caused was quite loud, and he didn't know if any wild beasts would hear it and come over. So he forced himself to sit cross-legged and use the Nine Yuan Technique to adjust his breathing.


After half an hour, Yuan Ming opened his eyes, his complexion slightly better, and his mana had also recovered a little.


He looked at his hands and saw that the sharp claws on his ten fingers were half a foot long, curved like dragon claws, seemingly made of steel, and looked indestructible.


"Although I don't know what exactly happened, it seems that due to the mysterious incense burner, the white ape skin has undergone some kind of evolution? This incense burner is truly a rare treasure!" Yuan Ming thought to himself.


He used his magic to put away the incense burner, and with a wave of his arm, he casually grabbed a handful of the cave wall.


The wall was easily scratched with five deep marks, and the solid earth wall was like tofu in front of the sharp claws, almost no resistance was felt.


"So sharp!" Yuan Ming exclaimed.


Originally, the white ape was relatively strong in terms of arm strength, but with its flexible body, it could freely shuttle through the mountains and forests. Compared to jackals, tigers, and leopards, it did not have much advantage in terms of attack. However, with these sharp claws, it was naturally different.


For example, the armadillo beast that faced the attack of the green fox without any fear, often stood undefeated with its extremely tough armor. With his current strength, he could rely on brute force to win, but it would be very difficult. If he had these sharp claws to assist him, he could easily break through the opponent's defense and achieve twice the result with half the effort.


"No matter how much my strength improves, as long as I don't get the real antidote for the Poisonous Heart Pill, I won't be able to leave this area and return to the Central Plains for a long time." Yuan Ming thought of the severe poison he was inflicted with by the Biluo Cave, and couldn't help feeling disheartened.


"Since the incense burner can't be lit temporarily, maybe I can try to get some information from there?" His thoughts turned, and he looked south.


In the past few months, he had used every opportunity to submit the blood of the beasts to communicate with Elder Hu Huo.


Although the other party came and went like the wind, unwilling to say much, one time, whether intentionally or unintentionally, he mentioned that there were many ape beast slaves under the jurisdiction of the Biluo Cave, which were distributed in various areas of the Ten Thousand Mountains and managed by different elders. He was responsible for as many as twenty or thirty.


Yuan Ming believed that these beast slaves were all "seniors" to him, and they must have a better understanding of Biluo Cave or this Ten Thousand Mountains than himself. Perhaps by finding and contacting them, he could obtain some information he needed.


After making up his mind, Yuan Ming did not immediately set off to find other beast slaves. With only two days left before the next blood submission, he could submit this month's blood first before leaving.


Two days later, Yuan Ming arrived at the Giant Stone Monument with the blood he had prepared early.


Elder Hu Huo was already waiting there, but Wu Lu did not appear.


"Elder Hu Huo, please count this month's blood of the beasts." Yuan Ming took out the blood storage bag and handed it over.


"The color and aura of these five blood samples are similar. Were they collected in one day?" Elder Hu Huo took the blood storage bag and glanced at it, his eyebrows twitched, and he looked up at Yuan Ming and asked.


"Elder's insight is truly amazing! I accidentally discovered a nest of green fox beasts and luckily collected five blood samples in one day." Yuan Ming didn't understand the meaning behind Elder Hu Huo's words, but he didn't lie or deceive.


"Killing five green foxes in one day is not bad. Did your cultivation break through to the first level of Qi Refining?" Elder Hu Huo looked at Yuan Ming and asked.


"A few days ago, I had some enlightenment and luckily broke through." Yuan Ming hesitated for a moment and said.


"Being able to break through to the first level of Qi Refining within half a year is not bad. You barely qualify." Elder Hu Huo nodded."What does Elder mean by this?" Yuan Ming asked with a surprised expression on his face.


"Most of you beast slaves have four spirit roots, which according to the cultivation world's evaluation, are considered 'pseudo-spirit roots.' Without special opportunities or extraordinary determination, it is difficult for you to achieve great things. Our Bi Luo Cave has always valued talent, and setting up the beast slaves is a kind of trial. For those who can break through the first level of Qi Refining within half a year, we offer a path for advancement. However, whether you succeed or not depends on your determination," Elder Hu Huo said with a pleasant expression, lifting his chin slightly.


"Please enlighten me, Elder," Yuan Ming guessed something and showed a trace of excitement on his face.


"As long as you can hand in a certain amount of fierce beast essence blood within three years, you can be rid of your beast slave status and be taken in as a registered disciple of Bi Luo Cave, learning the true immortal arts and secret techniques," Elder Hu Huo seemed quite satisfied with Yuan Ming's reaction and continued.


"Join Bi Luo Cave! Is this true?" Yuan Ming's spirits lifted, and he blurted out.


"When have I, Hu Huo, ever spoken false words in Bi Luo Cave?" Elder Hu Huo's expression darkened slightly.


"Elder, please forgive me. I was too excited and spoke out of turn. How much essence blood do I need to hand in within three years?" Yuan Ming quickly apologized and changed the subject.


"One thousand."


Yuan Ming's eyes widened in disbelief at what he heard.


"If you can't even collect a mere one thousand essence blood, I advise you to give up on the idea of cultivating. I find you quite pleasing to the eye, so I'll give you a reminder. If you want to complete the task, it's best to hunt higher-ranked fierce beasts. According to the rules, one portion of a first-level mid-ranked fierce beast's essence blood is equivalent to ten portions of a low-ranked fierce beast's essence blood, and one portion of a high-ranked fierce beast's essence blood is equivalent to one hundred portions of a low-ranked fierce beast's essence blood," Elder Hu Huo glanced at Yuan Ming and said.


"Thank you for the guidance, Elder. I understand," Yuan Ming replied respectfully, his heart shivering.


Last month, when Elder Hu Huo collected essence blood, he had mentioned this matter to Yuan Ming and Wu Lu. The so-called first-level low-rank refers to the strength classification of first-level fierce beasts, with two other levels above it: mid-rank and high-rank.


The Green Fox and Qiongqi he had encountered before were first-level low-ranked fierce beasts, whose strength was roughly equivalent to Qi Refining cultivators at levels one to four. The first-level mid-ranked fierce beasts lurking deeper in the hundred thousand mountains were equivalent to cultivators at Qi Refining levels five to eight, and their strength was naturally incomparable.


As for first-level high-ranked fierce beasts, they were even more terrifying, far surpassing mid-ranked fierce beasts. If one's strength was insufficient, encountering them would mean instant death.


Of course, due to the low intelligence of fierce beasts, cultivators could try to hunt higher-ranked beasts using various means, even if their actual cultivation was not up to par. However, this couldn't be generalized.


In short, with his current Qi Refining first-level cultivation, he had no confidence in escaping unscathed from a first-level mid-ranked fierce beast.


In other words, if he wanted to gather one thousand portions of fierce beast essence blood, he would have to either further increase his cultivation or continue to hunt down one thousand first-level low-ranked fierce beasts honestly.


Just as Yuan Ming was about to ask Elder Hu Huo for the antidote and take his leave, a rustling sound came from the nearby bushes, and faint footsteps approached.


Yuan Ming turned his head to look and saw Wu Lu limping towards him.

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