Chapter 275: Entering the Poison Hall
Translator: StarveCleric Editor: GaiaNove
The gale in the Red Lotus Range felt like knives stabbing into oneâ€™s skin. The monotonous light red scenery made oneâ€™s eyes hurt, and one couldnâ€™t help but feel fatigued.
From time to time, a worm around the size of a fingernail would appear in the path ahead. Wet and fetid, the sight of it left one nauseated.
"This is the Humid Worm, an animal unique to the habitat of the Red Lotus Range. It feeds on medicinal herbs, and it is the greatest nemesis of medicinal herb plantations. However, the bizarre thing is that its corpse is a great nutrient for medicinal herbs. Medicinal herbs grown using the corpse of the Humid Worm as fertilizer possess incredible spiritual energy and a lustrous appearance. Many plants that canâ€™t be cultivated here grow easily to great heights with Humid Worm fertilizer. It is the main reason why the Red Lotus City is able to become the greatest medicinal herbs trading hub in the thirteen surrounding kingdoms!"
In the depths of the lotus-shaped mountain range, two figures could be seen treading forward. Noticing the worms crawling about the surface, one of them explained.
"No wonder. Iâ€™ve been thinking why the Red Lotus City, despite being in such a remote location with an environment unsuitable for the growth of herbs, would become the trading hub of medicinal herbs."
The second person nodded in agreement. Proceeding forward, he glanced upward and saw a layer of mist shielding the rays of the sun, then asked, "Is this the poison mist you spoke of?"
The duo was Zhang Xuan and Great Herb King, who had left the Red Lotus City for the Poison Hall.
As the Poison Hall was in a state of chaos and filled with dangers, Zhang Xuan didnâ€™t bring Mo Yu along. Instead, he had her return to the Tianwu Royal City.
The Great Herb King was also conflicted for a period of time before deciding to bring Zhang Xuan to the Poison Hall.
The other party was his benefactor, and since he had agreed to his request, it wasnâ€™t appropriate for him to go back on his words.
It had been five days since the start of their journey.
"Thatâ€™s right! A huge volcano lies under the Red Lotus Range, causing the surface to be torrid. Thatâ€™s the reason why there is no greenery in the region, and all of the rocks are red in color. Within the hot gas, a several hundred meters thick poison mist lingers around the area dozens of meter above the surface. While it is possible for one to fly over the region on an aerial savage beast, it would be impossible for them to land in the Red Lotus Range. Even for a Zongshi realm savage beast, if it were to come into contact with the poison mist, it wouldnâ€™t be able to last for a moment before it dies from excessive bleeding from its seven apertures!"
The Great Herb King explained.
"Thus, one can only enter the area via walking! This is also the reason why the Poison Hall is able to remain unscathed in the Red Lotus Range, safe from extermination by those supposed warriors of justice."
The Poison Hall crafted poison for sale, and given the sinister nature of its business, it was unavoidable that it would offend many different people. While it was partly due to the support of the powerful headquarter that it was able to remain standing after several millenniums, the main factors were its secretive location and the veil of the poison mist.
In the first place, it was almost impossible for anyone to find the Poison Hall amidst the vast mountain range. Besides, even if one were to find it, it was inaccessible via aerial savage beasts and no one could pose a threat.
"Impressive." Zhang Xuan nodded.
It was no wonder why no one was able to find the Poison Hall, and many even doubted its existence. With the cloak of the poison mist, even if one knew of its existence, no more than a handful would be able to find it.
On top of that, the poison mist stuck close to the earth at certain spots. If not for the Great Herb King knowing the way, the duo would have long walked into them and become lethally poisoned.
It could even be said that it is impossible to find the Poison Hall without someoneâ€™s lead.
Zhang Xuan had heard that most of those who tried to look for the Poison Hall by themselves end up dead, and from the looks of it, it seemed that it wasnâ€™t just a rumor.
It was fortunate that Mo Yu had brought him to the Great Herb King and that he didnâ€™t come running over here all by himself.
Otherwise, even though his Heavenâ€™s Path zhenqi allowed him to expel some of the poisonous air which he inhaled, too much of it would pose a huge problem.
"How far are we from the Poison Hall?"
Looking into the distance, the mountain range extended toward the horizon, and not a single infrastructure or silhouette could be seen. Unable to hold himself back, Zhang Xuan asked.
We have traveled for five days but have yet to arrive at our destination. Isnâ€™t the Poison Hall way too far?
"Weâ€™re reaching soon, itâ€™s right in front!" The Great Herb King pointed forward.
"In front?" Zhang Xuan felt perplexed.
Other than a few stones here and there, there was nothing in sight. How could the Poison Hall be hiding here?
Chuckling, the Great Herb King led the way. After circling around a gigantic boulder and a slope, a valley appeared before their eyes.
Lowering his head to glancing at the bottom of the valley, a look of astonishment appeared on Zhang Xuanâ€™s face.
A huge city sat within the valley.
The infrastructure was built according to the gradient of the ground, and most of them had ancient designs, similar to those found in Red Lotus City. With a single glance, one could tell that the building had been standing for countless years.
"Is this the Poison Hall?"
The city of the Poison Hall was in no way inferior to that of the Beast Hall. The sight of the bright green buildings in the crimson valley looked like a scene right out of a beautiful painting.
"Itâ€™s said that when the Poison Hall was built, the founder specially invited a formation master to set up a concealing formation with the mountain range as its core. If one doesnâ€™t follow the specific path in, he wonâ€™t be able to see the city even if he is standing right before it."
The Great Herb King explained.
Zhang Xuan nodded.
That was indeed the case.
All he could see before was merely the endless towering mountains, but after circling around a few boulders and a slope, this gigantic city appeared before him immediately. With such a majestic city hidden in plain view, even if someone told him that there wasnâ€™t a concealing formation present, he would never believe it.
"Physician Bai, the Poison Hall is right before us, but do you intend to go in just like that?"
The Great Herb King inquired once again.
Recalling the other partyâ€™s intentions, he felt nervous.
Honestly speaking, it was true that no one had met the envoy from the Poison Hall headquarter, butâ€¦ certain doom would await them if they were exposed.
"Un, my current identity is a physician, so it is possible that someone might recognize meâ€¦ I have to make some changes!"
Zhang Xuan was still in Bai Chanâ€™s guise at the moment. There were several poison masters in the Poison Hall who often traveled out of the mountain range, so it was possible that someone might recognize him. Thus, he decided that it was better to play safe.
Gege! Utilizing his disguise art, the muscles and bones in his entire body creaked. In a few short moments, his looks and height had changed completely. Looking at him once more, he had already become a middle-aged man in his forties.
After which, he changed into a set of grayish-green clothes which he had prepared beforehand. At this moment, Zhang Xuan had morphed into an entirely different person, and there was not a single similarity between him and the previous Bai Chan or his original appearance. Putting aside the Great Herb King, even if Zhao Ya and the others were here, it would be impossible for them to guess that the person standing before them was their teacher.
Assuming an identity someone knew was difficult, but impersonating a person who has never appeared was simple.
"Is thisâ€¦ the art of disguise?"
The Great Herb King trembled.
He didnâ€™t expect Zhang Xuan to possess such an ability.
At this moment, he finally understood why Physician Bai dared to impersonate the envoy. It was because he had the skills to carry it out.
Just thatâ€¦ Others may not be able to recognize you once you take off your disguise, but what about me?
I am the Great Herb King of the Red Lotus City! I might be able to run, but Iâ€™ll have to abandon the empire that I have built up.
Once they realize that I brought a fake envoy here, even if I were able to escape now, I will definitely be captured again. I will then be chopped into countless pieces and made into meat sauce.
Initially, he thought that the both of them would be sharing the danger, but it turned out that his partner-in-crime didnâ€™t even intend to reveal his true appearance. Even if the Poison Hall tried to pursue the matter, it would be impossible for them to find Physician Baiâ€¦
This meant that he would have to bear the brunt of Physician Baiâ€™s actions.
Upon understanding this, the face of the Great Herb King twisted in agony.
"Donâ€™t worry, when we enter the Poison Hall later, you can mention that I am the one who looked for you, claiming that Iâ€™m the envoy from the headquarter, and unable to ascertain the fact, you decided to bring me over. This way, you will be able to steer clear of any blame. As for the Contract Gu planted in you, you can say that Iâ€™m the one who treated you in compensation for you to bring me here."
Seeing through the other partyâ€™s thoughts, Zhang Xuan said.
The face of the Great Herb King reddened.
He didnâ€™t expect for the other party to have already thought of an excuse for him. He has truly misjudged the other party!
The excuse that the other party gave him was indeed flawless.
He wasnâ€™t someone from the Poison Hall, so it was natural that he wouldnâ€™t be able to identify the envoy. In fact, if the personnel in the Poison Hall were blind enough so as to not notice the fake envoy as well, it would be difficult for them to fault him.
Besides, even though the Contract Gu between the Great Herb King and the Hall Master was a confidential matter, the top echelon of the Poison Hall was aware of this matter. Now that the Hall Master was dead, being alive and kicking, he would incur their suspicions if he did not give a convincing reason.
These few words easily solved the impending problem that he would face, avoiding anyoneâ€™s doubts and, thus, any harm. It was truly a perfect excuse.
"If I were to do that, they will definitely direct their doubts to youâ€¦" The Great Herb King hesitated for a moment before asking, "How much does Physician Bai know about poison masters?"
If the Great Herb King were to speak according to Physician Baiâ€™s recommendation, he would be free from trouble. However, this would plunge the other party into greater danger.
The personnel of the Poison Hall would definitely try all means to ascertain his identity. It was one thing if Zhang Xuan had an in-depth understanding of poison masters, but if there were any lapse in his disguise, it would be extremely easy to give himself away.
"Iâ€™ve only heard of this occupation half a month ago!" Zhang Xuan said.
"Youâ€™ve only heard of itâ€¦ half a month ago?"
The Great Herb Kingâ€™s eyes rolled to the back, and he nearly spurted a mouthful of blood.
Brother, are you playing with me?
You donâ€™t even know what a poison master is half a month ago, yet you dare to pass off as an envoy of the Poison Hall headquarterâ€¦
"You donâ€™t have the poison master emblem or token of identification from the headquarter since youâ€™re passing off as the envoy. To win the other partyâ€™s trust, you will have to display your poison techniques. But if you know nothing at allâ€¦"
Seeing the other party nod his head so casually, the Great Herb King felt a stifling sensation in his chest.
If you have an identification token or a high-tier poison master emblem, other people might buy your story.
And without these, if you were to display extraordinary skills, you might be able to convince them as wellâ€¦
But youâ€™ve only heard of poison masters half a month ago. Despite knowing nothing at all, you dare to pass off as an envoy. Are you really that courageous, or do you not understand the risks involved?
This isnâ€™t playing house. If the other party were to see through your disguise, youâ€™ll really get killed!
"Itâ€™s not a problem, Iâ€™ll just adapt to the situation then!"
Knowing what the other party was worried about, Zhang Xuan waved casually.
"Alright, since weâ€™re already here, thereâ€™s no point thinking too much. Letâ€™s go!"
Even though Zhang Xuan didnâ€™t know much about poison masters, he possessed the Library of Heavenâ€™s Path. Since he was even able to pass off as a master teacher, it shouldnâ€™t be a challenge for him to impersonate a formidable poison master.
Seeing the unconcerned look on the other partyâ€™s face, the Great Herb King felt something within him crumble. The confidence, which had just sprouted within him, vanished without a trace.
He truly had no idea how this fellow could remain so confident.
Even so, they were already here and did not have any other options. All they could do now was to take one step at a time.
Walking down the passageway toward the valley, they soon arrived at the city.
"Who dares to intrude the Poison Hall?"
Before walking through the gates into the city, a bellow roared. A few black-robed middle-aged men rushed out, and every single one of them stared at Zhang Xuan and the Great Herb King with cold eyes, as though eagles staring down their preys.
"Poison Master Zhou, Poison Master Liu, and the others, itâ€™s me!"
Taking a step forward, the Great Herb King said hastily.
"Oh? The Great Herb King? What are you doing here instead of staying in the Red Lotus City?" The middle-aged man known as Poison Master Zhou narrowed his eyes.
"In this situation right now, others would be trying their best to stay away, yet you came here on your own accord. Are you tired of living?" Poison Master Liu harrumphed.
With the Poison Hall in chaos and every man for himself, to come here was no different from courting death.
The two men who spoke were acquainted with the Great Herb King. They had accepted quite some precious treasures from him, so naturally, they spoke with his welfare at heart.
"I am here to look for the three Vice Hall Mastersâ€¦"
Knowing that the other party bore goodwill, the Great Herb King was just about to explain the situation to them when a poison master walked up to Zhang Xuan.
"Whoâ€™s this? Donâ€™t you know that it is capital punishment for one to casually bring anyone in without permission?"
Killing intent flashed in the poison masterâ€™s eyes as he gazed at Zhang Xuan. "Outsider, itâ€™s your honor to die under the poison that Iâ€™ve just created! Blame it on your own misfortune if you must."
"Wait, he isâ€¦"
Seeing that the other party was about to make a move, the Great Herb King immediately panicked. He was about to say that he was the envoy from the headquarter when the â€˜Physician Baiâ€™ before him raised his leg and sent a kick at the poison master.
Before the poison master, who was going to kill Zhang Xuan, could react, he was already sent flying, and he crashed heavily into the city wall. His neck bent at an unnatural angle from the impact, and he breathed his last.
Not expecting this trespasser to make a move on them, Poison Master Zhou, Poison Master Liu, and the others burst into anger immediately. Their killing intent flurried as they surrounded the duo.
Without an emblem or knowledge to prove that he was a poison master, the Great Herb King was thinking that it would be best for Physician Bai to keep a low profile and slowly earn their trust.
Yet, he killed a poison master the moment he arrivedâ€¦
Brother, are you in such a rush to head to the underworld?
Taking in the situation, the Great Herb Kingâ€™s body trembled in agitation. He could no longer hold back the tears welling up in his eyes.
The heck, why do others have god-like teammatesâ€¦
While all I have is thisâ€¦ suicide bomber!
Seven apertures: Refers to the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and mouth.