Chapter 97 – Unexpected Surprise
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Nine Evolutions of the True Spirit Chapter 97 – Unexpected Surprise

After the rest left, Lu Ping walked towards the forest at the back of the mountain. He spread his divine sense out and carefully inspected the surroundings. After he made sure he was safe and alone, Lu Ping clapped his hands.

The rotten leaves and branches on the ground suddenly tumbled, and a big fat mouse looked around with its small eyes, its head adorned with leaves. When it saw Lu Ping, it leaped up from the ground and shook its body clean of dirt before climbing up to Lu Ping’s shoulders.

Back when the cultivators were attacking the protective array formation, Lu Ping had the whimsical thought to let Dabao try to enter the cave-dwelling from the underground. Hence, he moved to the side and placed Dabao on the ground when no one was paying attention to him.

Dabao’s cultivation base had improved a lot, as did its hole-digging ability. In the blink of an eye, Dabao already disappeared into the ground.

Lu Ping was only trying his luck when he did that, but he never thought Dabao would really find an opening in the protective array formation underground. Perhaps, the opening was a flaw in the array, which unearthed the cave-dwelling.

So just like that, Dabao had entered the cave-dwelling before the protective array formation was broken.

Lu Ping followed Dabao to the place it hid the items it looted. Firstly, Dabao dug out three bottles of medicinal pellets. Lu Ping picked up the bottles and found that they were cultivation medicinal pellets for the Late Blood Condensation Realm—the Hundred Spirit Pellets. This was one of the best type of medicinal pellets for its realm, similar to Blood Vigor Pellets for the Blood Refining Realm.

Dabao was also excited when it saw Lu Ping was happy. Then, it dug out another two jade bottles from the ground. Lu Ping’s eyes lit up when he noticed they were made from Crystal Jade Stones. One must know, Crystal Jade Stones were a type of mid-grade spirit materials, so did this mean…

Lu Ping opened the jade bottle and saw ten medicinal pellets shining with a bright golden light. However, no fragrance was emitting from the bottle. These were the medicinal pellets of the only Core Forging recipe recorded in [Sheng Tao’s Book of Alchemy], the Golden Marrow Pellets!

Lu Ping opened the second jade bottle, and found that it contained ten gray medicinal pellets without the slightest shine on their surface and lacked the look of a Core Forging medicinal pellet. However, Lu Ping knew that these were better than Golden Marrow Pellets. It was just that Lu Ping’s knowledge was shallow and he couldn’t identify them.

By the looks of it, Dabao had brought him the most valuable items in the cave-dwelling other than the cauldron. When Lu Ping was about to praise Dabao, he saw it digging into the ground again. Lu Ping was overjoyed and thought, Is there still more treasure?

Burrowing out of the ground, Dabao appeared with a round pearl on the tip of its nose.

Lu Ping took the pearl in his hand and played with it. He saw that there seemed to be warm smoke rolling within. Lu Ping carefully recalled where he’d heard about any pearls like this and suddenly, his face froze.

Could this be the Spirit Gathering Pearl?!

The Spirit Gathering Pearls was a peculiar heaven-and-earth item from the spirit veins. They originated from spiritual energy and nurtured by spirit veins as a way to grow and strengthen themselves.

The Spirit Gathering Veins were only found in spirit veins of small sizes and above. It normally took more than thousands of years for the pearls to condense and come into shape. Once successfully condensed, a Spirit Gathering Pearl could be used to cultivate a new spirit vein of a level lower.

Lu Ping looked at the concentration of smoke in the Spirit Gathering Pearl in his hands. This pearl was born in a small spirit vein, which suggested that a small spirit vein once existed in the cave-dwelling.

Usually, ten spirit veins of the same level could be gathered together to form a spirit vein that was a level higher. Meaning, ten mini spirit veins would form one small spirit vein. Similarly, ten small spirit veins can form into one mid spirit vein.

If he placed this Spirit Gathering Pearl in his cave-dwelling, he would have another mini spirit vein a few years later.

Lu Ping saw Dabao hopping up and down around him and knew that it was taking credit, so he patted its head and threw it a Blood Purification Pellet from his interspatial pouch. After that, Dabao happily continued scouting for Lu Ping in front of him.

Three days passed in the blink of an eye, Lu Ping had checked out most of the places pointed out to him by Enlightened Master Jiang Xuan-Lin, and made considerable gains. But several of these places had obviously been explored, and Lu Ping was unable to reap the benefits.

Obviously, many cultivators had been given guidance by their sect's seniors and obtained knowledge of the many hidden places in Fei Ling Island.

For the next three days, Lu Ping harvested a total of 150 500-year spirit herbs, in addition to four 1000-years spirit herbs, which made him very satisfied. He also harvested six unripened 1000-year spirit herbs and planned to transplant them into the spirit herb garden in his cave-dwelling.

Lu Ping’s own garden had only three immature 1000-year Golden Marrow Grasses, so he had to plan for his future.

Along the way, Lu Ping found traces of other cultivators. Apparently, not all of them went to Ling Yao Mountain. But these cultivators were restrained and never had any direct conflicts; they would usually avoid each other and stay on their own course without affecting others.

Presently, Lu Ping was walking down from the Pavilion of Charms on Fei Yun mountain where he made some gains from a hidden location. Right now, he was heading for a spirit mine that produced a type of spirit material known as Heavenly Gold Sand.

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Through a prior conversation with Chen Lian, Lu Ping learned that Heavenly Gold Sand was an important spirit material used to forge earth-element high-grade mystic instruments. It could also be used for standard high-grade mystic instruments.

Hence, Lu Ping was planning to excavate some and bring it back to Chen Lian as a gift to him. Lu Ping knew that a smiths’ hobby of collecting spirit materials was just like an alchemists’ proclivity for spirit herbs. They wouldn’t say no to either.

The Heavenly Gold Sand spirit mine wasn’t located on any of the five mountains, but instead a rocky hill at the western side of the island. Ever since entering Fei Ling Island, the cultivators had all set their eyes on the five mountains where the spirit vein branches were found, and ignored the rest of the island. Unless they were cultivators like Lu Ping who knew the hidden places that had considerable resources.

Along the way, Lu Ping saw many spirit paddies growing on the fields which were filled with spiritual energy. But the spirit paddies were obviously insignificant to Lu Ping now, so he naturally wouldn’t spend his time harvesting them.

When he reached the spirit mine, Lu Ping noticed warning seals left on the entrance, indicating that someone had arrived before him. If it wasn’t for his extraordinarily strong arcane energy, he wouldn’t have noticed the seals either.

Lu Ping initially wanted to leave, but was reluctant when he thought about the legwork done to get here. Moreover, it had been seven days since they entered Fei Ling Island; he didn’t know if he would still have time to come back for the Heavenly Gold Sand.

Hence, he raised his voice and said, “May I ask who is inside the mine? Lu Zi-Ping from Zhen Ling Sect is here to mine some Heavenly Gold Sand. I’m informing you of my presence in order to avoid any misunderstandings.”

A few moments after he said that, a cultivator about the same age as Lu Ping came out. When he saw Lu Ping was alone, he thought for a moment and said, “I am Ai Shutao from the North Ocean’s Ai Clan. This mine is very large, I alone cannot occupy it all. You can mine in your own spot.”

Lu Ping entered the mine and found that Ai Shutao was right, the spirit mine was indeed very large. Many caves had been excavated before. This was actually a Heavenly Gold Sands medium spirit mine!

Lu Ping chose a cave, and he let Dabao out. Sadly, Dabao was only sensitive to the presence of spiritual energy, it was difficult for it to identify the richness of ores in a cave mine.

Lu Ping had no choice but to work on his own. He cast an illumination spell in the dark cave and randomly chose a location. Using a huge axe mystic instrument he looted from some unknown cultivators that he killed, he started smashing at the cave walls. Then, he collected any pieces that contained gold minerals in them. After an entire day, he only managed to collect a thousand pieces of mineral ores, not having any idea how much Heavenly Gold Sands that would be.

Fortunately, Lu Ping wasn’t planning to mine a lot and so he was ready to leave when suddenly, a loud arrogant laugh came from the mine entrance, “Brat, how daring of you to mine on your own here? But you’re lucky to find a spirit mine like this. If you’re smart, you’ll know that you should put down all the Heavenly Gold Sand you’ve mined and leave it to us. That way, we might just let you live.”

Lu Ping paused in his steps and he heard Ai Shutao replying, “These two brothers, if you want the Heavenly Gold Sand, they’re all in the spirit mine, you can mine them as you like. But if you want what I have, then I’ll make sure we all go down together.”

Another man replied, “Hooh, you think too highly of yourself! Dying together with you? We’d really like to see that! You’re the only one from the Ai Clan, right? I also heard that you’re the Ai Clan’s best talent. So if you die here, wouldn’t all of the Ai Clan’s hopes in Fei Ling Island be gone?”

Ai Shutao snorted angrily and said, “Of the North Ocean’s thirty sects and ten independent clans, the ten stronger sects alone took up 75% of the placements. Your Liu Jin Sword Sect only had two placements. Just how sure are you two that you can take me on? If I get out of Fei Ling Island, it’d be hard to say who will die.”

The arrogant voice shot back, “Your Ai Clan only has one Avatar Realm Great Ancestor, but our Liu Jin Sword Sect has two! Do you think we’re afraid of the Ai Clan? Cut the crap, give us your life!”

By the time Lu Ping walked out of the cave, the battle between the two sides was already at its climax. Ai Shutao was in a disadvantageous position fighting against two cultivators at the same time, but he wasn’t afraid at all. He was casting a set of nine daggers, which carefully parried the two Liu Jin Sword cultivators’ flying swords. He defended himself well.

Lu Ping’s sudden appearance shocked the two Liu Jin cultivators as they never thought there was another cultivator in the mine, let alone a cultivator from the strong Zhen Ling Sect. The arrogant cultivator was about to say something but Lu Ping didn’t give him the chance. The Yan Ling Swords were already shooting out like two sword waves.

Ai Shutao’s spirits lifted when he saw that Lu Ping was helping him out, and he quickly cast his flying daggers to attack the other cultivator. In an instant, he had the upper hand in the battle. The situation changed as Lu Ping’s intervention caught the two Liu Jin Sword cultivators by surprise.

The arrogant cultivator had given his best against Lu Ping’s endless wave of attacks, but Lu Ping still broke through his defenses. He felt a numbness on his chest and a three-inch flying needle had pierced through his heartspace.

After killing the arrogant cultivator, Lu Ping looted and checked his interspatial pouch. There were only a hundred 500-year spirit herbs and 2,000 spirit stones, his wealth obviously couldn’t compete with the cultivators from the big sects.

Meanwhile, the other Liu Jin cultivator was flustered when he saw Lu Ping casually killing his senior martial brother. As he panicked, his moves became disordered and his stance was scattered. Ai Shutao, who was also not weak, seized the opportunity and pierced three flying daggers into the cultivator’s body.

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