Liang Chen stalked the outskirts of the forest, hiding in the trees and dropping down on unsuspecting Demonic beasts that he felt were weak enough for him to kill. Despite staying in the outskirts, he quickly learned that there was quite a diversity in the strength of the Demonic beasts.
The weakest he had seen was at the bottom of Rank 1, but he had also seen some which had an obscure cultivation but radiated such a strong pressure that it caused him to feel fear from the bottom of his being. After reaching the late stage of the Mortal Tower stage, he was able to tell the strength of others all the way up to the late stage of the Xiantian Tower stage. For him to only see their cultivation as obscure, they had most likely transcended the Ascended Tower realm.
His hunting speed had actually gotten slower after his increase in cultivation, not only because of the diverse strength of the Demonic beasts but also because he needed very specific Demonic beasts. Only Demonic beasts with the lightning or poison element were useful to him, any others would only cause his instincts to scream at him, his veins refusing to absorb the Qi within their blood.
Even after stalking the outskirts for a little over two weeks, he had only managed to kill three Demonic beasts, one that had the poison element, and two that had the lightning element. None of the battles had been easy, one of the lightning Demonic beasts, a fox with hard and spiky fur, had reached the very peak of Rank 1, almost entering Rank 2. But despite its hard fur, it had weak internal defenses. Once Liang Chen managed to penetrate its fur, it quickly fell to his poison.
Liang Chen had managed to kill three Demonic beasts, pushing his strength into the early stage of the Houtian Tower stage, but he had lost far more battles than he had won. There were even a few battles where he had almost lost his life, only able to flee thanks to his speed being a bit faster than the speed of the Demonic beasts he fought.
There were frequent storms sweeping over the hidden realm, thunder and rain hammering the earth. But Liang Chen could only look at the lightning filled sky with resignation. His body was too weak to handle the crimson lightning that flashed in the sky, only able to handle the smallest of arcs, arcs of such a small size that he was unable to properly attract them. Thanks to that, he could only spend every moment not spent fighting on strengthening his body with his own lightning.
But not everything was going against Liang Chen, a few things went well for him. With the increase of his cultivation and the strength of his lightning element, he slowly became able to once again sense the electricity of the surrounding living beings. He did not know why, but a sense of peace and security returned to Liang Chen once he became able to sense the surrounding electricity again.
His instincts had also grown sharper, but whether it was due to all the battles he had fought, or the Demonic beast blood, he was uncertain. But thankfully, he had not had any relapses where his body chose to listen to his violent instincts rather than his own orders.
After two and half weeks of hunting, Liang Chen stopped his ceaseless searching for Demonic beasts, his brows furrowing as he sat on a branch. Night had already descended, a moonless sky covered in bright white dots spreading out above Liang Chen. The reason his brows were furrowed was because of a middle-aged woman he could see sitting a small distance away from him.
She had made up a small campfire, roasting some Demonic beast meat as she wrote in a small leatherbound book. She had smooth features, waist-length brown hair and was clad in a tight leather armor that accentuated her curves. Her strength was only a little bit higher than Liang Chen's, at the late stage of the Houtian Tower stage.
The reason his brows were furrowed was because she had not put up any defenses, she wasn't even keeping an eye on the surroundings, focused completely on her writing. There was a faint and repugnant smell surround her campfire, but Liang Chen could not see where it came from. How could she sit around so casually with her low strength? Liang Chen observed her for a bit, trying to figure out how she could act so casual. But little did he expect that she would turn towards him, smirking as she spoke in a teasing voice.
"Are you hoping for a little show? Sorry, but I have a bit more class than that."
Liang Chen's entire body tensed up, lightning and poison quickly starting to flow through his body. Liang Chen was quite confident in the hiding technique he had come up with after stalking around in the outskirts, how had she discovered him? Liang Chen's thoughts were racing, trying to figure out the best course of action. Completely ignoring him, the woman spoke out again, chuckling slightly.
"No need for the quiet treatment, thanks to this, I know that you are out there. I am Luo Shui'er, why not join me here for some food? I promise I won't gobble you up."
While she spoke, the woman raised her left hand, a bronze plate appearing in her palm. Liang Chen recognized the plate, as he had one of his own, it was the mark of someone from the Eternal Dragon Pavilion. He thought about it for a bit longer but eventually decided to leave hiding, dropping down from the branch he was sitting on and approaching Luo Shui'er. With the fire illuminating him, Luo Shui'er let out a small exclamation.
"Oh, why didn't you say you were so young and cute earlier? Now I am not certain whether or not I can keep my promise to not gobble you up."
Liang Chen felt a slight shiver go up his back when he saw the way Luo Shui'er was looking him up and down, licking her lips slightly. His body tensed up slightly as he continued to approach, a slight smile appearing on his face. He had not talked with anyone since he talked to the youth from the Moon Dragon Sect, so finally talking to someone else would make for a nice change of pace. Seeing his slightly tensed body, Luo Shui'er raised her hand and chuckled slightly, continuing to tease Liang Chen.
"It's just a joke, a joke. Or is it, I wonder? What's your name, little cutie?"
Liang Chen had to admit that this was the first time he had been teased like this by someone, but he did not allow it to disturb his calm mind. He sat down at the fire, across from Luo Shui'er, giving a slight nod of his head and introducing himself.
" And here I thought I was hiding properly. Good evening, I am Liang Chen. How could you tell where I was hiding?"
She said that it was because of the Eternal Dragon Pavilion, but Liang Chen had never been told about such a function, so he was a bit skeptic. Luo Shui'er simply raised the bronze plated engraved with her information, nodding at it.
"As I said, it's because of this thing."
Liang Chen glanced at the plate, apparently looking at it with a skeptic gaze, as Luo Shui'er tilted her head upon seeing him look at it.
"When you signed up, did they not explain to you how to use them?"
Since she could sense his presence with the plate, it was clear that Liang Chen was also a member of the Eternal Dragon Pavilion, so how could he not know about one of the main functions? Seeing the somewhat wry smile that appeared on Liang Chen's face, Luo Shui'er quickly understood that she was correct, pushing out her chest and raising her head in an assuring gesture.
"Aww, I guess you were so cute that they didn't want you to actually sign up. Let this Big Sister explain it to you. After signing up and personalizing the plates with blood, the Eternal Dragon Pavilion will activate the plates using their own little secret technique. Thanks to this secret technique, anyone who holds such a plate will be able to sense the location of others holding a plate. This will allow associates to recognize each other and work together should they meet each other. Or it allows people from the pavilion to know about the location of targets that might be ripe for robbing."
Liang Chen felt like cursing at the receptionist that helped him as he signed up. Why had he not explained such a major function, and for that matter, why had he not activated Liang Chen's plate? But how could Liang Chen know that the reason his plate had not been activated was because the receptionist did not want Liang Chen to be discovered and robbed by other members of the pavilion? Luo Shui'er quickly let out a slight laugh after finishing her sentence, once again licking her lips as she looked at Liang Chen.
"But there is no need to worry about anything like that with me. There is also no way I can rob something as cute as you."
The corners of Liang Chen's lips could not help but twitch as he looked at Luo Shui'er. Was she simply teasing him, or was she truly someone who had a preference for boys as young as him? Liang Chen quickly switched the subject, talking about the reason he had stopped to observe her.
"How can you rest here so casually, without any defenses? What if a Demonic beast is entranced by the fire and sneaks up on you?"
While speaking, he swept the surroundings with his eyes. Despite the fire burning in front of them, Liang Chen was unable to sense any Demonic beasts. Could it be because of the strange smell? Luo Shu'er pulled out a small vial filled with a white and fine powder, raising it high. As she pulled it out and started to explain, Liang Chen noticed that the repugnant smell was getting stronger.
"Dried Demonic beast feces. I spread the dried feces of strong Demonic beasts in an area around the camp, and any Demonic beasts in the area will quickly leave the territory of the stronger Demonic beast. It's unnoticeable by humans, but Demonic beasts are very sensitive to it, can't go anywhere without it. Since you are inside this hidden realm, I guess you took on the mission to gather information about it. Did you not buy the guide they offered?"
Luo Shui'er tilted her head as she looked at Liang Chen. Not only the plate activation but even this elementary piece of information, had the people at the pavilion not told him anything. Liang Chen looked at the vial for a bit longer, a slightly foreboding feeling gathering at the pit of his stomach when he heard that humans weren't supposed to be able to notice it. He took a deep breath, giving a casual shrug of his shoulders.
"They didn't tell me that there was a guide. But then again, I was broke at the time, so I wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway."
Liang Chen had not had a single piece of currency, nor anything he could sell, on him at the time he signed up with the Eternal Dragon Pavilion, forced to sleep on the streets and eat rats for breakfast. The eyes of Luo Shui'er lit up after hearing Liang Chen's casual reply, swiping the ring on her finger and pulling out a thick book.
"Aww, poor little thing. Want to buy my copy, it's only 15 low-quality Spirit Stones? Of course, if you don't have money, I am certain we can come to an agreement."
Luo Shui'er once again licked her lips, looking at Liang Chen with eyes that seemed like they wanted to eat him. Now there was no doubt in his mind that Luo Shui'er was the type of woman who liked to eat up young men. He gave a slight smile, swiping his interspatial ring and taking out 15 Spirit Stones, crystals made out of pure Qi.
"I fear for my precious chastity, so I'll pay for it with15 Spirit Stones. Please hand over the guide."
Liang Chen was not above making a few jokes from time to time, it was simply that he had become far more focused on his training, increasing his strength so that he could eventually kill Qing Lan Yong. With Liang Chen's quick reply, Luo Shui'er puffed out her cheeks a little, pouting as she threw the book at Liang Chen.
"You need to learn to be cuter and more accommodating, the women will certainly appreciate it. Then again, if you had a brash attitude, it might create a cute contrast."
Liang Chen caught the book and tossed the Spirit Stones at Luo Shui'er. The book was rather heavy, so it seemed like it contained quite a large amount of information. He opened the book and started to skim through the information, Luo Shui'er handing him some meat from the fire.
"Here, take some food. Inside this hidden realm, you need to constantly keep your nerves and strength above a certain level."
Liang Chen glanced at the speared meat. Not only blood, but even the meat of Demonic beasts that didn't have the poison or lightning element was also bad for him. The few times he had tried to eat the meat of a Demonic beast without those elements, hid body had immediately forced it out again, ending up with him curled up on the ground, heaving as he vomited. All he could do was push the meat away with a slightly awkward smile.
"No thanks, I have my own food."
Liang Chen swiped his interspatial ring, taking out some of the meat he had gained from the snake he had killed two weeks ago. He grabbed a small twig, pierced the meat, and then placed it over the fire to give it a quick roast. Roasting it made it easier to eat, but he found that the taste of the raw meat was better. Luo Shui'er pulled back the offered meat, her expression turning from a pouting one to a teasing one.
"You don't seem to trust me too much. Still afraid I am going to gobble you up?"
Luo Shui'er moved slightly, getting a little closer to Liang Chen. Liang Chen shrugged his shoulder and acted like nothing, but he was constantly keeping an eye on the electricity within Luo Shui'er's body, closely watching her every move, ready to respond in less than a second.
"It's not that, it's just that most Demonic beast meat doesn't sit well with me, so I have gotten accustomed to only eating the meat of certain Demonic beasts."
Luo Shui'er stopped getting closer when she was within arm's reach of Liang Chen, glancing at the meat he was roasting in the fire. She could smell a faint sweet fragrance from the meat, the sweet fragrance of poison, allowing her to easily guess what sort of Demonic beast he had gotten the meat from. But since he had said so, there was not much she could say, shrugging her shoulders.
"If you are picky like that, you will never end up growing taller. Then again, that would be just fine with me. Are you preparing to return to the pavilion? I can yell at them for not activating your plate if you want."
Liang Chen did not wear anything on his upper body, only clad in somewhat tattered pants. Looking at his state, as well as the fact that he was at the outskirts of the hidden realm, she figured that it was likely that he was on his way to leave and report. But contrary to what she expected, Liang Chen shook his head.
"Nah, I was planning on heading deeper into the hidden realm. I was told to check out a few things deeper within the hidden realm, so I am preparing to head over there."
With the guide in hand, Liang Chen was now much better equipped to traveling in the hidden realm. Just from the little bit he had skimmed through already, he could see that it contained information about the various types of herbs, Demonic beasts, danger zones, even some safe places where people gathered. Luo Shui'er could not help but raise an eyebrow after hearing Liang Chen's response, but she quickly switched over to a teasing tone again.
"You'll head even deeper, with your strength? Well, with your hiding technique, I guess it might just work, as long as you make sure to not fight anything. Once you leave, you can come to look for me at the branch located in the Falle Cloud city, I'll help you remove all the stress that you have accumulated."
Just like Liang Chen thought, Luo Shui'er was someone who liked to eat up young boys. Especially young boys like Liang Chen, who quite clearly had never experienced intimate relations with others. Liang Chen's mouth twitched a bit, but he made sure to maintain a composed state of mind.
"...I'll make sure to keep it in mind."
The two continued to chat with each other, eating meat, even drinking some fruity wine that Luo Shui'er pulled out, the night quickly fading away without either of them sleeping. Once dawn rolled around, the naturally split up, Luo Shui'er heading towards the entrance of the hidden realm, while Liang Chen headed deeper into the hidden realm