Upon seeing the five Phoenix Feather Lilies growing underneath the overhang, Zhang’s eyes began to sparkle as a wave of excitement swept over him once again.
After knowing the mystical powers contained within these flowers, Zhang couldn't help but breathe heavily.
“If we manage to harvest enough of these things and turn them into pills, we can make a fortune selling them…” Zhang muttered as gleamed gold coins appeared in his eyes.
“Before you get too excited, look over there.” Yuying said in a low tone as she pointed to the cliff face opposite of where the five Phoenix Feather Lilies were growing.
Following Young's finger, from the corner of his eye, Zhang could see a fairly large cave that was cutting into the face of the cliff, a cave that was more than likely a place that a Fire Fang Eels could call its home.
“If you were to get those five flowers, then whatever is living in there will probably spot you.” Yuying said with a soft giggle after seeing the look that Zhang would make whenever he spotted a treasure that he wanted to acquire.
“But if I do it really quietly and really slowly, it won't notice.” Zhang said in a slightly energetic tone.
“What do you guys notice there?” Ling asked as she pointed up into the sky.
“A seagull?” Ai answers promptly, as the rest of the group stood staring in deep thought.
“Young madam, is there anything special about that seagull that we are missing?” One of Zhang’s lesser saint subordinates asked in a polite and respectful tone.
“What's that seagull doing?” Ling asked as a faint smile crept onto her face.
“It's flying.” Ai said as she stated the obvious.
“It’s flying… it's flying!” Zhang mumbled before coming to a realization.
Remembering back to the day prior when they saw a Fire Fang Eel shooting out of its den and swallowing a seagull alive, Zhang and the majority of the group finally noticed that something peculiar was happening.
How was it possible that this certain seagull could make it so far into the Shoal of Serpent while flying?
Obviously, from what they had seen before, the Fire Fang Eels were not picky eaters and would basically eat whatever was moving, be it man or beast, everything set in front of them is considered prey.
“Maybe they are hibernating…” Someone suggested.
“Have you ever heard of anything hibernating when it's not even winter…” Lingqi said.
“Let's sit back and observe a bit.” Zhang suggested as he waved his hand and retrieved a few chairs from within his interspatial ring, causing them to appear and poke out of the water’s surface.
As the day passed on as the group sat and observed the skies, a total of ten seagulls, a falcon, three doves and an eagle had flown by before the group concluded the cave opposite of the five Phoenix Feather Lilies was empty.
From then they began to suspect that many it not all of the caves were currently empty.
“Maybe they migrated for mating season or something.” Lingqi said while shrugging her shoulders.
“Well regardless of what they are doing, it seems that it's safe for us to retrieve those lilies.” Zhang said as the excitement in his eyes reignited and with it, the powers of the Abyssal Cape were unleashed yet again.
In a flash, the five Phoenix Feather Flowers retrieved without issue and Zhang and the rest of his group resumed their journey once more. This time, however, the fear that had plagued them and the cautious approach that they had adopted were both slowly fading away.
Before long, after a bit of thought, Zhang leaped into the air and began to soar through the sky, something that not even high saints dared to do within the Shoal of Serpents.
If he had not witnessed a dozen or so birds and a few flying demonic beasts do so, Zhang wouldn't have dared to do so either.
“Now this is much better.” Zhang said while chuckling as he levitated in the air before snapping his fingers and igniting two balls of fire that swirled around his body, drying his wet clothes.
“Me too! Me too!” Ai yelled as she arrived beside Zhang after seeing what he had done.
“Fine, fine, calm down.” Zhang said with a laugh as he waved his hand and ignited a few balls of fire to dry Ai’s dress.
Before any of the other beauties or any of his subordinates could ask, Zhang waved his hand and conjured a few fireballs to dry their clothing also.
A moment later once everyone’s clothes were nice and dry, the group proceeded forward, picking and Phoenix Feather Lilies that they happened upon. Thanks to the lack of people who dared to step foot onto the left path, and the ever so more few people who dared to scale the cliffs in order to retrieve the Phoenix Feather Lilies, Zhang, and the beauties were able to find and collect roughly a hundred of them.
After these lilies are processed and turned into pills, even without the powers of the Underworld Heart, Zhang, and the beauties would probably not have to worry about treating their injuries for quite some time.
As the group continued to fly through the Shoal of Serpents, although the thought of exploring the caves that littered the cliff wall for treasure had found its way into Zhang’s head, he quickly dispelled it, figuring he shouldn't push his luck too far.
“Judging by how ravenous those things were, I doubt there's anything left from the poor folks that ended up clamped between their jaws. It’s good enough that we’ve been able to collect so many lilies.” Zhang thought as he persuaded himself not to venture into the lairs of the Fire Fang Eels.
Facing an internal struggle, Zhang allowed his mind to drift and before he knew it, he found himself but a few footsteps away from exiting the Shoal of Serpents. Much to his surprise and joy, he and the rest of the group were able to make it all the way to the exit of the Shoal of Serpents in roughly half a day, whereas it would have taken close to three days to travel on foot across on foot.
“Everyone, quickly! Dirty your clothes and fake a few injuries... “Zhang said as he quickly summoned an Abyssal Mirage Viper from his shadow and have it bit into his robes, leaving long shredded streaks behind.
“Quickly, in case the other group reaches the exit… Since we’re only going to give them a single Phoenix Feather Lily, we’ll have to come up with a proper excuse as to why we were only to retrieve a single lily.” Zhang said with a snicker as he mustered everyone to follow his lead.
“Actually, half of you will backtrack through the ravine and hide until the rest of our forces arrive. Make sure to keep your presence hidden. As for the rest of you, if anyone asks we had a run in with a few Fire Fang Eels and lost nearly half of our numbers.” Zhang said, prompting half of the lesser saints and full saints currently following him to splinter off, while the remaining half began shredding their robes and self-inflicting minor injuries on themselves.
“If one wants to trick another, one must at least a bit convincing.” Zhang thought with a chuckle as he believed after seeing the sorry state he and the rest of his group were in, no one would doubt their account.
Thus, while dressed in rags and ribbons, Zhang, the beauties and their subordinates sat waiting for the group lead by Lord Long Zhiming to exit from the other path.
Unlike Zhang’s quick and very profitable trip, Lord Long Zhiming and the others were nearly driven mad by the uneasiness that had wrapped around their hearts due to the deathly silence that had risen after the disappearance of most of the Fire Fang Eels.
“Everyone move quickly, something is amiss.” Lord Long Zhiming said as an eerie and dreadful silence enveloped the entire ravine.
Roughly half an hour after traveling on the path on the right at roughly about the same time as when Zhang had retrieved his first three Phoenix Feather Lilies, the group lead by Lord along Zhiming also stumbled upon a few Phoenix Feather Lilies.
Seeing two fiery lilies sticking out from the side of a cliff, and just like Zhang, they found that there was a cave opening on the cliff opposite of where these lilies were growing.
Finding themselves in the exact predicament as Zhang, there was also someone who pointed into the sky and directed everyone's attention to a seagull just like Ling had done.
With the same mindset as Zhang’s group, Lord Long Zhiming’s group also decided to observe the situation before acting and thus they waited.
Soon after a five or so seagulls and other flying creatures cross through the ravine and about ten minutes had passed, everyone also came to the same conclusion that Zhang had come to.
“It looks like those things aren't around at the moment.” Someone said as they eyed the Phoenix Feather Lilies with a greedy expression.
“Haha, if any of you wish to try your luck, go ahead. As for me, at this age, I prefer not to take any life-threatening risks. The members of the Golden Pearl Sect won't be risking their lives either.” Lord Yu Xui said with a chuckle as he saw how feverishly everyone else was eyeing the two Phoenix Feather Lilies.
Unlike Zhang’s group that consisted solely of his own subordinates and his wives, Lord Long Zhiming’s group was made up of many different factions that had their own self-interests in mind.
So, without a doubt, there would be conflict sparked over the two lilies, seeing this, Master Yu Xui was wise enough to withdraw himself and his subordinates from the fray before it even began.
“The Starry Sea Sect has no interests in flowers either.” Master Shan Jin stated with a chuckle.
“The Dragon God Palace has no need for such things.” Lord Long Zhiming said with a laugh. As stated before, although he had asked Zhang to retrieve one, Lord along Zhiming didn't particularly need to have a Phoenix Feather Lily.
Yes, obtaining one or two would Phoenix Feather Lilies would help propel his plans a few steps further, however to Lord along Zhiming, conserving the strength of his forces was a much higher priority.
After Master Shan Jin, Master Yu Xui and Lord Long Zhiming spoke, a few other forces that had wanted to avoid expending their battle potential stated their standing also, forces such as the Celestial Mermaid Bay.
“If none of you want it then don't mind me!” A full saint garbed in green robes said as he shot up from the ground and sped toward the nearest Phoenix Feather Lily.
“Not too fast!” Another saint level expert yelled as he shot into the air also. Before long, a group name up of roughly fifteen full saints and two dozen lesser saints could be seen racing each other toward the two Phoenix Feather Lilies.
Ignoring those who were contesting for the lilies, Lord Long Zhiming signaled for the forces of the Dragon God Palace and those who had stepped aside to move forward.
“If those fools want to gamble their lives, so be it… However, I will not stand and wait to see the outcome.” Lord Long Zhiming said before he channeled the essence within his body and disappeared with a flash, only to appear quite a distance away.
Throughout most of the trip through the Shoal of Serpents, everyone had refrained from utilizing their powers in order to avoid being detected by the Fire Fang Eels, however now that a bunch of people were flying about in the air, battling each other, there was no need to hold back any longer.
Perhaps one could say that Lord Long Zhiming’s instincts paid off because by a stroke of misfortune, a moment after a full saint had managed to overcome his competition and pluck one of the Phoenix Feather Lilies, a massive figure appeared and clamped it’s down upon him.
This particular Fire Fang Eel had happened to be hiding deep within its lair after luckily avoiding being slaughtered along with most of its brethren, however, due to the large attractive influx of essence within the air and a subtle hint of hunger, it pushed aside the fear that had been slowly subsiding within it and sought to obtain a quick meal.
“Everyone flee!!!” Lord Long Zhiming and a frenzy of other people began to scream as the sight of a Fire Fang Eel put their nerves on end, generally, because where there is a single Fire Fang Eel there is bound to be more.
That is of course if most of the eels had not been wiped out the night prior.
Quickly abandoning the thought of retrieving a Phoenix Feather Lily, everyone scattered at they tried to maintain their livelihood.
“Damned beast! Stay back!” A full saint roared with bloodshot eyes as he lashed out at the Fire Fang Eel after realizing the possibility of escape was slim to none.
Brandishing a large heavy sword, the full saint began to channel a massive amount of essence as he attempted to unleash an attack powerful enough to slay the Fire Fang Eel in one fell swoop. However, before anyone was able to witness any kind of awe-inspiring technique, rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth bit into the full saint, instantly bisecting his torso from the lower half of his body while causing a gory mesh to rain down from the sky.
In one way or another, if one could call it luck, after having its fill, after consuming two full saints and about five lesser saints, the Fire Fang Eel receded back into its lair.
After their run in with the lone Fire Fang Eel and successfully escaping with their lives, Lord Long Zhiming’s group proceeded forward with utmost caution, ignoring any and every sort of temptation that they happened to spot along the way toward the exit. Be it Phoenix Feather Lilies or rare and powerful looking treasures stick to the side of the cliff, nothing was worth risking their lives for.
Ironically if they had bothered to retrieve any more treasures, they would realize that there weren't any more Fire Fang seeks around to cause them any trouble.
Thus, with extreme caution and a snail-like pace, Lord Long Zhiming’s group did not manage to reach the other side of the Shoal of Serpents until an entire day had passed, causing Zhang and his group to sit in wait while dressed in rags.