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NETS - Chapter 148 – New Mission

"The Spirit Stout Stones are not a problem, I will take you to a place later. But now that you've reached the Late Blood Condensation Realm, you can’t still be lacking the arcane energy to forge a top-grade mystic instrument, right? When will you upgrade my Landslide to a top-grade mystic instrument? Oh and I am now lacking a water-element defensive mystic instrument, I shall also leave this matter to you."

Lu Ping asked with a smile.

Chen Lian shook his head helplessly, "Of course I’ve taken the matter of upgrading Landslide to heart. It's also a test for myself. But, for the defensive mystic instrument, you better think of a different way. First of all, I don’t have many good water-element spirit materials in stock and secondly I really don’t have time as well.

"I’ve heard some news about our next mission. I’m afraid we are going to the monster race waters. So, even if I were to forge one for you, I am afraid that the time is not enough. After all, upgrading a mystic instrument and forging a mystic instrument are two different things."

Lu Ping thought about it and found it reasonable. When he heard Chen Lian talk about going to the monster race sea, he quickly asked, "What news exactly did you hear?"

Chen Lian didn't answer and asked instead, "Do you remember the Water Avoidance Shield you bid on at the auction six years ago?"

Of course Lu Ping remembered it. He was schemed by Li Zi-Ming to purchase the Water Avoidance Shield at a high price in the auction, but he also returned the favor by raising the price of the Spirit Stout Stones.

Chen Lian continued saying, "That time when Li Zi-Ming bid for the unit of Spirit Stout Stones, my father interfered and raised the bid price to a level far beyond its value, and we even got anxious at one point."

"The reason why Li Zi-Ming spent a few thousand more spirit stones, despite knowing that it was overpriced, was because he was preparing his clan for the beast tide."

"Beast tide?" Lu Ping was moved, "How did he know there would be a beast tide? Every beast tide is an absolute catastrophe!"

Chen Lian said, "Not only does the Li Clan know, but all the larger clans in Zhen Ling Sect also know its coming. Once the sea ban is lifted, a beast tide is bound to happen within the next 10 to 15 years. Each beast tide is a blow to all the North Ocean sects and clans with the exception of the top ten sects.

"Other than that, no other human forces dare to guarantee their own safety against the beast tide, let alone individual cultivators. Therefore, once the sea ban is lifted, all the small and medium-sized clans and forces will begin preparations early to weather the beast tide."

Lu Ping calmed down and asked, "How long does the beast tide usually last?"

"Three to five years," Chen Lian laughed mockingly. "In fact, after the lifting of the sea ban, the North Ocean human cultivators swarmed into the monster race sea. From the monster race’s perspective, wasn’t that a ‘human tide’ as well? So, the beast tide is just the monster race's response to our human tide. It's a heavy loss for everyone."

Lu Ping wondered, "Could it be that the recent organized resistance of the monster race, against the cultivators entering the monster waters, is due to the beast tide?"

Chen Lian smiled, "It is naturally related, but this is just a prelude. The monster race is huge. To form a tide of beasts and a unified counter-attack, it takes an exceedingly long period of preparation.

"The relationship between the forces within the monster race are even more complicated. Additionally, the monsters are strong followers of the law of the jungle, making it difficult for them to form an organised sea tide. Our mission this time should be a simple and easy one; to eliminate the monsters and weaken their counterattack, while earning income for the sect"

Lu Ping nodded, understanding that this was also a means for the sect to display its strength.

By suppressing the monster’s counterattack, it would serve as a message to the North Ocean cultivators that Xuan Qi Island’s buffer sea was still under control. As a result, more cultivators would be attracted to come, further suppressing the monster’s counterattack and forming a virtuous cycle.

Furthermore, when the beast tide arrived, the large number of cultivators would increase defenses and lessen the burden on Zhen Ling Sect, reducing its losses.

After they finished speaking, Lu Ping secretly brought Chen Lian to the hidden cave where he found the Spirit Stout Stone mine. Chen Lian said in surprise, "I didn't expect you to make such a discovery, no wonder you have a lot of Spirit Stout Stones. How about this, I will be responsible for mining the ores and using them to forge high-grade mystic instruments, and the proceeds will be split 50-50 between us."

Lu Ping shook his head, "I discovered it, but I won’t be able to help with either mining or forging. I also don't have time to manage the mine. Just give me 30-percent of the proceeds and keep the rest."

Chen Lian said anxiously, "Why is that? Are you planning to take back your high-grade smelting furnace? If that’s so, we can’t be brothers-in-arms anymore."

Lu Ping eventually agreed at Chen Lian’s insistence. Then, Lu Ping asked Chen Lian to directly pass the income from the Spirit Stout Stones to Hu Lili and Fang Tao, so they could use the income as funds to help him acquire more spirit herbs.

Two days later, Lu Ping had just concocted a cauldron of medicinal pellets, when he received a message from Master Immortal Liu, summoning him to the council chamber to discuss matters pertaining to the new mission.

After Zhen Ling Sect had purged the Fallen Cultivators disguised as sea pirates from the nearby seas, Huang Li Island became more prosperous and its status had risen countless times.

As the monster race sea was becoming increasingly unsettled, the number of Zhen Ling Sect Blood Condensation Realm cultivators stationed on the island had been increased to a total of 120.

Other than 30 Early Blood Condensation Realm cultivators, who were responsible for the daily affairs and management of the island, the remaining 90 Mid and Late Blood Condensation Realm cultivators were divided into six teams of 15.

Each team was led by one leader and two deputies, all of whom were Late Blood Condensation Realm cultivators; each team was responsible for patrolling the sea for two weeks, once every four months.

Lu Ping was in Patrol Team One which was also the strongest among the six teams. The leader of the team was one of the North Ocean 18 Warriors, Master Immortal Liu Zi-Yuan, who was in the Ninth Layer Blood Condensation Realm.

By the time Lu Ping arrived in the council chamber, the crowd had almost gathered.

In the main seat was naturally Master Immortal Liu Zi-Yuan, and to his sides were the two deputies whom Lu Ping also recognized.

The first deputy was Master Immortal Du Zi-Sheng, who was with Zhen Ling Side Hall’s Group 7, when Zhen Ling Sect captured Xuan Qi Island. His cultivation level had now reached the Eighth Layer Condensation Realm.

The second deputy was Master Immortal Fang Zi-Yan, the Master Immortal of Team 12 who had made a bet with Master Immortal Liu during the Zhen Ling Side Hall disciple competition.

Further down were Yao Yong, Du Feng, Shi Lingling, Leng Qian, and Chen Lian, who were all in the Seventh Layer Blood Condensation Realm.

Seeing that Du Feng had also broken through, Lu Ping was very envious in his heart. After all, Lu Ping's cultivation progress was the fastest to begin with.

Zhong Jian and Ma Yu were still at the peak of the Sixth Layer Blood Condensation Realm, but looking at them, the essence of their arcane energy tended to condense on top of their heads and form the Smoke of Essence. This was a sign that they were also about to advance and were just a step away from the Late Blood Condensation Realm.

Besides them, there were Hu Lili, Niu Dazhuang, and Zheng Jie who were in the Fifth Layer Blood Condensation Realm.

The person that really surprised Lu Ping was Zhang Zhicheng, who used to be in the same group as Lu Ping in Zhen Ling Side Hall.

Zhang Zhi-Cheng was now also in the Fifth Layer Blood Condensation Realm and was now called Zhang Zi-Cheng as all Zhen Ling Sect’s Blood Condensation Realm disciples would have to carry "Zi" in their names.

Together with Lu Ping, Patrol Team One had exactly 15 members.

Master Immortal Liu Zi-Yuan saw that all the members had arrived and said, "Since the lifting of the sea ban, our sect has organized a large hunting event in the monster race waters every year. This year will be no exception, but the scale will be much bigger."

Everyone was enticed by Master Immortal Liu's words, he continued, "Since the monster race’s organized ambush on Xuan Ling Sect, Xi Ling Island and the Ocean Overturning Gang cultivators over a year ago, the conflict between monsters and humans has become more and more intense.

"Therefore, the North Ocean Alliance is coordinating with all sects to organize a large hunting campaign against the monsters. This is so that we can completely suppress the monsters' counterattacks and delay or even weaken the beast tide, reducing its damage to our North Ocean Alliance."

Master Immortal Liu spoke with excitement, everyone’s spirit in the room was surging high. 

Master Immortal Fang laughed, "Don't be too excited just yet, the monster race sea is dangerous and unpredictable, all of you should be careful and pay extra attention to your own safety."

Master Immortal Du also added, "The cultivators who take part in this operation can purchase the supplies they need at half price from the sect. However, one-third of the harvest from this hunt needs to be handed to the sect, while the rest can be freely managed on your own. Of course, I still hope that all of you can consider the sect first when disposing of the harvests you don’t need."

Seeing that everyone understood, Master Immortal Liu said, "We leave in seven days. Let's make good use of this time to prepare. This is about your life, so you mustn’t be careless or take it lightly. You are now dismissed."

After the members were dismissed, they discussed what supplies they needed to prepare and where to buy them.

Lu Ping remembered that he had three more chances to select items from the Blood Condensation Treasure Vault, as a reward from the expedition to Fei Ling Island. But since he didn’t have an urgent need at that time, he had postponed these three chances until a later date.

The time to use these three chances had come, as right now Lu Ping urgently needed a defensive mystic instrument. Hence, he was thinking if it was possible to find a suitable one in the treasure vault.

But when he arrived at the Tian Ling Mountain’s Blood Condensation Treasure Vault again, Lu Ping was told that he only had two more chances to pick an item from the vault. He was shocked and quickly asked for the reason.

The Late Blood Condensation Realm cultivator guarding the Vault laughed, "That’s because we are afraid of disciples like you who will wait and come later with a higher cultivation base, taking advantage of the rules. When you were in the Early Blood Condensation Realm, all you could use was a high-grade mystic instrument. Those we have plenty of, so that’s fine.

"But if you wait until you reach the Late Blood Condensation Realm and then exercise your right to choose, your choice of mystic instruments will naturally be the top-grade mystic instruments. But we don’t have many of them. So if everyone were to do the same, there wouldn’t be any top-grade mystic instruments left in the Blood Condensation Treasure Vault.

"That’s why your right to pick items will reduce from three items in the Early Blood Condensation Realm, to two items in the Mid Blood Condensation Realm, and one item in the Late Blood Condensation Realm"

Lu Ping was helpless, but he had no choice as the rules were laid out fair and just. So, he only picked a water top-grade defensive mystic instrument, called Umbra, from the Vault.

This was a cloud-like mystic instrument that, when cast, would form a cloud overhead and block out light. Hence, the name ‘Umbra’.

The Blood Condensation Treasure Vault's top-grade mystic instruments were naturally not the best of their kind. According to Chen Lian, the top-grade mystic instruments here had little potential to be upgraded further for a variety of reasons.

As for those top-grade mystic instruments that had the potential to be upgraded into the ranks of mystic treasures, they were generally not kept in the Blood Condensation Treasure Vault.

But Lu Ping also didn’t mind that, since he had no intention of upgrading the mystic instrument into a mystic treasure in the future. Umbra was just a transition defensive mystic instrument to be used for the time being.

As for his second item, Lu Ping wanted to choose a secret art with stealth abilities.

Although the [Sea Crossing Concealment Art] and [Cloud Moving Rain Falling Art] in the [North Ocean Twelve Ultimates] had stealth abilities, both arts were mainly offensive and their stealth capabilities were auxiliary effects. Hence, they were restrictive and ineffective, for his stealth and concealment needs.

The need for such an art came from the several times that Lu Ping had been chased and on the run. These experiences had truly taught him a painful lesson on the benefits of a good stealth ability when it came to escaping, tracking, sneak attacking, and ambushing.

Unfortunately, even though the Blood Condensation Treasure Vault had a lot of secret arts in this area, none of them satisfied his needs. Every time he thought of the stealth arts, he couldn’t help but think of the mysterious disappearance of Enlightened Master Xuan-Yin and his disciple Yin Zi-Chu, at the Discipleship Ceremony. That was the kind of stealth art that he was really looking for, but regrettably, there wasn’t a single art in the vault that could match that.

However, eventually, Lu Ping was able to find a secret art that was related!

RD's Notes:

Weekly Chapters (1/5)
Editor: Immortal BloodRogue

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Currently translated up to Chapter 160.
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Written by SleepingAutumn. Translated by RD. Edited by Milkbiscuit, Immortal BloodRogue.