Chapter 36 – stay away from trouble

“I don’t know about that. I haven’t practiced it, and I haven’t seen anyone in the sect practice it either. But judging from Elder Lu’s reluctance to show it, it should have some value.” Zhao Tong shook his head, speaking vaguely.

“Alright, then I’ll exchange it.” Yuan Ming pondered for a moment and said.

“Okay, I’ll clear your account here. As usual, you can read it for an hour. How much you can remember… well, never mind, you won’t forget.” Zhao Tong said halfway through his sentence, but then remembered Yuan Ming’s ability to memorize things.

Yuan Ming took the book and found a corner to sit cross-legged, carefully flipping through it.

Zhao Tong just held his own book and lay on the recliner, flipping through it absentmindedly.

“Physical energy, spiritual magic, use the body as a vessel, use the magic as a control…” At the moment Yuan Ming saw the content inside, he couldn’t help but be slightly stunned.

It was because the recorded cultivation method of the “Shadowless Step” used the Central Plains script instead of the Southern Region script. No wonder Zhao Tong spoke so vaguely. He was probably not unwilling to practice it, but rather couldn’t understand it himself.

In addition to the text, the book also included eighteen portraits of masked women, some walking, some standing, with elegant postures and countless footprints accompanying each portrait. The footprints seemed chaotic at first glance, but upon closer inspection, they were astonishingly intricate, with no less than a thousand footprints.

In less than half an hour, Yuan Ming had already memorized all the content of the book. However, when he closed the book, he felt a bit angry.

“Zhao Tong, why did you deceive me?” Yuan Ming frowned.

“When did I deceive you?” Zhao Tong sat up straight, also confused.

“The ‘Shadowless Step’ you gave me is incomplete. The content is not complete.” Yuan Ming furrowed his brows.

“Incomplete?” Zhao Tong’s expression became slightly embarrassed upon hearing this.

Obviously, he was unaware of this.

“If it’s incomplete, then it’s incomplete. This ‘Shadowless Step’ was given by the elder. I can’t understand it either. Don’t blame me.” However, he quickly shrugged, showing a look of indifference.

Although Yuan Ming was dissatisfied, he had no choice.

Compared to other named disciples who acted superior, Zhao Tong was already considered good to him. He couldn’t ask for too much, considering that he hadn’t put in much effort himself.

Furthermore, although this ‘Shadowless Step’ was only the first volume, based on the content described in the overall outline, it was indeed not some common cultivation method. At least, it was much higher in level than the ‘Wood Thorn Technique’.

In addition, after cultivating this body technique, not only would he have more confidence in facing enemies, but it would also be much more convenient for future stealth tracking, especially when encountering highly vigilant ferocious beasts.

Yuan Ming originally planned to bid farewell and leave. He had already clenched his fist, but suddenly remembered Ha Gong’s encounter with the long-haired monster, and then said:

“By the way, I have something to ask you.”

Zhao Tong, seeing that Yuan Ming didn’t care about the incompleteness of the ‘Shadowless Step’, smiled and said, “What is it? Tell me.”

Yuan Ming immediately recounted Ha Gong’s experience and the description of the long-haired monster.

After hearing this, Zhao Tong put down the book in his hand and pondered for a moment.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ll ask my fellow disciples when I have the chance.” After a moment, he shook his head and said.

Yuan Ming could only nod in agreement and bid farewell.

He didn’t stay in the Toad Valley for long and walked straight towards the exit of the valley. Just as he reached the valley entrance, a short and sturdy man with a scar on his face walked towards him.

“Brother Yuan, I’ve been looking for you in the Toad Valley several times. I finally found you today. Do you have any healing ointment?” When he saw Yuan Ming, the scar-faced man showed a pleasant surprise and warmly greeted him.

“Oh, it’s Brother Tule. I’m really sorry, I don’t have any spare stock at the moment.” Yuan Ming said helplessly.

“Don’t give me that. You promised me two jars of ointment last time. If you don’t give them to me, you won’t be able to leave the Toad Valley today.” Tule spread his hands, blocking the way, looking like a ruffian.

“What’s this… Alright, these were originally meant for my own use, but since you’re in a hurry, I’ll give them to you first.” Yuan Ming took out two bamboo jars from his bag and handed them over.

“Hehe, that’s more like it. This is your reward, don’t say I took your things for nothing.” Tule chuckled and threw a small cloth bag at him.

Yuan Ming opened the cloth bag and took a look, silently putting it away.

The two chatted for a while before parting ways.

Yuan Ming left the valley and arrived at a dense forest. He climbed up a large tree and opened the cloth bag.

Inside was a piece of animal skin covered in tiny words, recording the recent events in the nearby mountain forest.

Tule was a member of a beast-slave team called the “Earth Bear Society,” consisting of only a dozen people, a small group.

Unlike the Green Wolf Gang, the Earth Bear Society had a much gentler style of doing things. Its members collected blood food based on their own strength and had never committed acts of plunder.

Yuan Ming had met Tule over two months ago and had saved his life. Tule was a loyal and righteous person, eager to repay the favor, but unfortunately, his strength was lacking.

Seeing that Tule was smooth and good at socializing, Yuan Ming asked him to help gather information about the fur-clad slaves in the mountain forest so that he could stay informed about various situations.

The two met face to face every now and then, trading while hiding their true intentions.

Reading the contents of the animal skin, Yuan Ming’s expression became serious. According to the information collected by Tule, the Green Wolf Gang had already found the bodies of Ba Yin and the others, and based on the cause and effect, deduced that he was the culprit.

The animal skin also mentioned that the leader of the Green Wolf Gang, Wu Bao, was offering a reward for a semi-magic treasure, seeking Yuan Ming’s whereabouts.

“If that’s the case, I can’t stay in the Toad Valley for the time being. There are too many people and too many prying eyes. It’s too easy to attract the attention of those with ill intentions.” Yuan Ming suddenly thought of something and turned to leave.

He moved at the fastest speed, circling around the forest, making sure no one was following him before returning to his wooden house.

Inside the wooden house, Ha Gong was resting.

Suddenly, he opened his eyes, sat up forcefully, and clenched the Green Wolf animal skin, ready to activate his fur-clad technique at any time.

“It’s me.” Yuan Ming’s voice sounded outside the door.

Seeing this, Ha Gong finally breathed a sigh of relief and sat back down.

“During the time I was away, did anyone come here?” Yuan Ming pushed open the door and asked.

“This place is quite remote, no one has come. I took the time to recover. But what’s with your serious expression? What happened?” Ha Gong asked after giving Yuan Ming a glance.

“The Green Wolf Gang already knows that I killed Ba Yin. They are offering a reward to find me. I’m afraid I can’t stay here anymore. I need to move to a more remote place to lay low.” Yuan Ming said slowly.

“Ba Yin was really killed by you! You’re quite bold. He was at the third level of Qi Refinement, not much weaker than Wu Bao. What means did you use?” Ha Gong was surprised.

“Just some tricks, nothing worth mentioning. Ha Gong, what are your plans now? The Green Wolf Gang is currently putting all their efforts into finding me. They shouldn’t care much about you. Are you planning to leave with me or act alone?” Yuan Ming changed the subject and asked.

“Don’t underestimate me, Yuan Gong. I, a member of the Wusun Tribe, value loyalty and righteousness the most. If someone gives me a bowl of rice, I will repay them tenfold. You risked exposing your whereabouts and saved me before. If I leave now, how can I pray to Lord Queshen with my head held high?” Ha Gong snorted, his face showing a hint of anger.

“I misspoke, please forgive me, Ha Gong.” Yuan Ming apologized.

He had been in the Hundred Thousand Mountains for quite some time and had some understanding of the customs and beliefs of the Southern Region’s indigenous people, whom the Central Plains referred to as “wild people.” Most of them lived in tribes and had their own customs and beliefs. They were particularly sensitive to others’ offenses.

“Yuan Gong is from the Central Plains and knows nothing about our Wusun Tribe. There’s no need for such words in the future.” Ha Gong’s expression softened when he saw Yuan Ming sincerely apologize.

“I will remember that. Since Ha Gong has made up his mind, let’s go quickly. The longer we stay here, the more dangerous it becomes.” Yuan Ming said.

“Alright, but I have difficulty moving right now. I can only rely on you to carry me.” Ha Gong spread his hands and said.

Yuan Ming didn’t say anything and carried Ha Gong on his back, leaving the wooden house and heading towards the direction of the gorge.

If they were looking for a safe place, it would naturally be on the other side of the gorge.

That place was remote and had few ferocious beasts, making it unlikely for fur-clad slaves to go there. It was suitable for recuperation and avoiding the pursuit of the Green Wolf Gang.

Most importantly, with the mist-filled gorge, even if the entire Green Wolf Gang came looking for him, he could hide in the mist at the bottom of the gorge, and no matter how many people there were, it would be useless.

With Yuan Ming’s current strength, even with Ha Gong on his back, he quickly arrived at the gorge.

He didn’t look for another place and brought Ha Gong directly to the cave where he had previously lived.

After spending such a long time together, Yuan Ming had already figured out Ha Gong’s character. He was honest and trustworthy, worth befriending. This dwelling was not an important place, and it wasn’t a big problem to expose it to him.

“I didn’t expect you, Yuan Gong, to have such a place to live.” Ha Gong praised when he saw the well-equipped cave.

“I left it here when I first came. The people from the Green Wolf Gang won’t be able to find this place for a while, and there’s plenty of food and water in the cave. You can rest here with peace of mind.” Yuan Ming said.

Ha Gong nodded and sat cross-legged, cultivating to heal his injuries.

Yuan Ming didn’t stay here to cultivate. He got up and walked outside, soon arriving at a secluded grove.

He brought Ha Gong here not only to avoid the Green Wolf Gang’s search and let Ha Gong rest in peace but also for his own purposes.

His situation was not good at the moment, and he had to improve his strength as much as possible in order to retreat unscathed in the face of unexpected situations. Cultivating and improving his cultivation level was not an overnight task. The recently obtained Shadowless Step was undoubtedly the most effective choice for immediate results.

And this technique was mysterious and required time and space to practice. The secluded and quiet grove was perfect for it.

Yuan Ming stood still in place, closed his eyes, and carefully recalled the words and images recorded in the Shadowless Step. Then, he took a deep breath, gathered his Qi in his dantian, and took the first step, exhaling his Qi again on the second step…

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