Meng Hao’s eyes flickered as he slapped his bag of holding to produce the black feather, an item he could use to change his aura or appearance, and which he viewed as a crucial part of his inventory.
However, he was also aware that these black beetles had unique characteristics. The last time he was here, it was only by using the feather and working with the meat jelly that he was able to grab a handful of medicinal plants from the area.
Meng Hao knew that the aura-changing abilities of the feather would only work on the black beetles for a short period of time before becoming ineffective.
“Unless there’s some way to continuously distract them, then the effect of the feather can be maximized,” he thought, eyes glittering. He had long since noticed that the land mass which held the medicinal plant garden did not remain in a fixed location within the void. Rather, it floated around, almost as if it were not subject to natural law. In truth, there seemed to be some sort of pattern to its movement.
After a long moment of thought, Meng Hao’s eyes flickered and he flew into the air. After calculating the trajectory of the medicinal plant garden land mass, he flew out ahead of it. Whenever he came across a stretch of ruins floating within the void, he tossed out a sealed black spirit-immortal stone onto it.
“Based on the speed this medicinal plant garden land mass is moving,” he murmured, eyes shining brightly, “it should pass by these sets of ruins in the coming days.”
He continued on a bit further, planting about ten spirit-immortal stones in various locations. Then he quickly shot back in the direction of the medicinal plant garden land mass and hid near the location where he had planted the first spirit-immortal stone. There, he waited patiently.
Time passed. Soon, after enough time passed for an incense stick to burn, the medicinal plant garden land mass appeared, floating through the void toward the stretch of ruins Meng Hao was hiding in.
Meng Hao quickly reviewed his plan, then without any further hesitation, performed an incantation gesture with his right hand and pointed at the sealed spirit-immortal stone. The wave of a finger caused the seal on the spirit-immortal stone to be removed, revealing its aura.
In the moment the aura spread out, the medicinal plant garden land mass trembled, and countless black beetles flew up madly into the air. They transformed into a black windstorm of beetles, tens of thousands in number. Eventually, they took on the shape of a huge hand which shot toward Meng Hao.
Rumbling filled the air, along with hissing sounds as the black beetles closed in on Meng Hao. It was at that point that Meng Hao whipped out the feather and activated it.
Instantly, he changed his appearance to no longer look like a cultivator. Instead, he looked like a black beetle, with an aura very similar to theirs.
In that moment, the windstorm-like mass of tens of thousands of black beetles shot into the ruins he had been hiding in. Meng Hao quickly mixed in with the beetles, heart pounding, trying to look just as fierce and vicious as them. He even roared just like they did, trying to imitate them as closely as possible as they began to fight over the spirit-immortal stone.
Moments later, the entire stretch of ruins collapsed under the explosive power of the tens of thousands of black beetles, and was then voraciously consumed.
The cracking sounds that rang out as the beetles chomped up the chunks of stones caused Meng Hao’s heart to thump. From his perspective, not even Fatty’s teeth could measure up to their mandibles.
As for the spirit-immortal stone, one of the fastest black beetles managed to consume it, whereupon Meng Hao observed as it let out agonized shrieks. Black light rose up from it, circling around as… a vague Ghost Eye became visible.
The other black beetles around it looked over with cold insanity in their eyes, as if they wished to charge over, tear it to pieces, and eat it up. However, before they could even move, the black beetle with the Ghost Eye looked up and roared. The mere threat of the roar instantly caused the other black beetles to stand down.
Meng Hao looked on with surprise. Then, lost in thought, he went along with the army of black beetles as it flew around a few times and then headed back toward the medicinal plant garden land mass.
He remained cautious as he flew along with the beetles. He would occasionally click his mandibles, occasionally roar, all to make him appear to be exactly like the other black beetles. After returning to the medicinal plant garden land mass, he was careful not to attract the suspicion of any of the other black beetles.
When everything quieted down, he remained calmly on the ground, prone, eyes shifting about. Eventually, he slowly began to sidle his way over to an area behind where most of the black beetles were, where a Sun Blossom was growing. A flash of light could be seen as the Sun Blossom suddenly vanished.
Meng Hao was nervous, but also excited. Afterward, he began to move carefully off in another direction. When he encountered other black beetle, he would click his mandibles and roar, as if reminding the other black beetle that he… was just like them.
Unfortunately, the sound of his roar did not resemble theirs very closely. However, he was an eager study, and constantly imitated them in an effort to sound exactly like they did..
Anyone who knew Meng Hao and could watch this scene play out would definitely be extremely shocked and feel it was unthinkable. However, Meng Hao was getting very excited.
“Rich!” he thought. “I’m gonna be rich!” He crawled along past one black beetle after another, first collecting some Immortality Illumination Vines, and then catching sight of a patch of Divine Spirit Grass. Eyes shining brightly, he crawled over.
It was in this manner that Meng Hao quickly harvested seven or eight different medicinal plants. The glow in his eyes grew brighter and brighter. At one point, he turned around and noticed a tiny violet tree a few dozen meters away.
“Violet Lightning Tree!” he thought, licking his mandibles. He had just begun to crawl over when, all of a sudden, one of the nearby black beetles looked up coldly at him, as if it were hesitating about something.
Meng Hao froze nervously. He knew that one cry from the black beetle could instantly incite all of the other surrounding black beetles into a frenzy.
In order to prevent them crying out an alarm in such a way, Meng Hao had been pretending to be even more fierce and savage than them. He had taken to roaring at them threateningly, as if he were on the verge of attacking them.
Currently the black beetle in front of him was shaking as if in rage, and its expression became extremely fierce as it looked at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao glared back, taking a few threatening steps forward and roaring.
A long moment later, the black beetle backed down, making room for Meng Hao to pass. Heart pounding, he slowly walked past the beetle, then hurried over to the tiny violet tree. A glow instantly surrounded the tree, and then it vanished.
The disappearance of the tree apparently tipped the scales in some way, so that the black beetles finally noticed that something was going on. The whole land mass trembled as one black beetle after another flew into the air. Looking very agitated, they circled at a low altitude, relentlessly scouring the area.
Meng Hao also flew up into the air, pretending that he was looking for something.
More and more beetles began to fly up into the air, causing Meng Hao’s scalp to grow numb. He knew that if the bugs continued to search, they would eventually find him. His heart began to pound when, all of a sudden, up ahead in the void, he caught sight of one of the locations where he had planted a spirit-immortal stone. Immediately, he unsealed the stone and its aura.
As soon as the aura spread out, rumbling filled the air. The black beetles surrounding Meng Hao went crazy. Eyes crimson, they turned to the world outside the land mass, and charged forward, Meng Hao in tow.
Once again, a set of ruins was destroyed and consumed. Another of the black beetles consumed the spirit-immortal stone, and a Ghost Eye appeared on its back. Then, all the beetles returned to the land mass. Meng Hao once again began to scurry about, collecting medicinal plants.
Any time the black beetles detected him, Meng Hao would unseal one of the spirit-immortal stones. It was in this manner that several days passed. Meng Hao had gotten quite familiar with the routine, and had already harvested more than seventy types of medicinal plants.
Also, after having practiced his roar on numerous occasions, it was now almost exactly the same as the black beetles’.
“I’ve struck the jackpot this time!” he thought excitedly as he crawled toward a Turtle Spirit Flower. Suddenly, all of the black beetles around him suddenly began to stir in agitation, and even roar. They also began to lift their heads and look off into the sky, their eyes cold.
Meng Hao stared in shock, and without even thinking about it, joined the beetles in their roaring. As soon as he saw what they were looking at, his eyes went wide with shock. Far off in the distance, the previously placid void was now disturbed by ripples.
The ripples spread out like waves on the surface of a pond, and in the middle of them all could be seen a figure, shooting effortlessly through the void, as if… merely walking!
It was a woman wearing a long, pink gown. Her features were beautiful, and although she didn’t appear to be very old, there was a slight ancient air to her. She held a lantern in her hand, which shed light all around her as she walked forward.
She seemed to be a very cautious sort, and as soon as she arrived she looked around to make sure nothing was too suspicious in the area before relaxing a bit.
Almost as soon as the woman appeared, the black beetles, along with Meng Hao, roared and flew toward her aggressively.
However, as soon as the black beetles got close, she lifted her lantern high above her head and then opened its side to reveal the candle holder within. Resting on top of the candle holder was a tiny white branch, currently burning and letting off flickering firelight. The woman didn’t pause for a moment; she quickly sliced open the tip of her finger and splashed a drop of blood onto the flame.
When the blood hit the flame, it turned into a cloud of smoke which spread out toward the incoming black beetles. In the blink of an eye, the smoke had surrounded all of them, including Meng Hao.
Instantly, the beetles around Meng Hao stopped in place, seemingly in a stupor. Meng Hao gaped in shock until he realized that the smoke apparently had no affect on him whatsoever.
Although it had spread out very quickly, the light quickly began to die down. After a moment of calculation, Meng Hao was sure that it would only last for the time it takes an incense stick to burn.
The next thing he saw was the pink-robed young woman looking very pleased with herself as she sped down toward the land mass below. She landed on the ground, sending smoke billowing out wherever she went and causing the beetles that flew up to fall into a coma. She proceeded along carefully and began to harvest medicinal plants.
“Stealing my business?” thought Meng Hao and was instantly enraged. One of the things he hated most in life was when people stole business from him. Earlier, he had been scared out of his mind to harvest medicinal plants in this area. He had used more than ten spirit-immortal stones, and even spent several days pretending to be a bug, and in the end his effort had allowed him to pick about seventy medicinal plants. However, this young woman only used a lantern and was able to harvest ten plants in one shot! That was something Meng Hao just couldn’t accept.
“I hate cheaters! This wench is a cheater!” Enraged, Meng Hao gritted his teeth as he watched the young woman quickly harvest medicinal plants. Finally, he shot forward; the smoke that had been used to put the black beetles into a trance had absolutely no effect on him.
The instant he flew into motion, the young woman turned toward him and gaped in shock.
As she looked over, Meng Hao performed the best possible black beetle roar that he could imitate, a roar that was… remarkably true to life.