Traveling by Crane Horse allowed one to save effort and relax during the ride.
But that didn’t mean Wu Yu’s speed chasing on foot was any slower than the Crane Horse’s.
The capital was easy to guard against enemies and hard to attack. Apart from the eastern region of the country, everything else was a sea of mountain forests. Wu Yu traversed through the woods, unwavering in his pursuit of the Crane Horse flying above him.
With tree branches and leaves as his cover, the Hao Tian Shangxian riding atop the Crane Horse naturally wouldn’t be able to discover him.
“Crane Horses were born to fly. But if I keep running with just my two legs, my body will only tire out and I’ll end up being left in the dust.”
This was the inconvenience of losing his Heaven Cloud Roc.
Of course, if Wu Yu had been riding the Heaven Cloud Roc to begin with, his enemy would have long noticed him.
“The Crane Horse will probably be able to shake me off after midnight.”
“If that crook Hao Tian discovers me with my current level of exhaustion, it’ll be a piece of cake for him to kill me.”
Thus, all Wu Yu could do was trail after.
Night fell, and he was still chasing into the night. Daylight would break soon.
After two shicen, just when Wu Yu almost couldn’t hold on for any longer, the Crane Horse finally showed signs of slowing down and began to descend.
(T/N: 1 shichen = 2 hours)
“I almost lost them. This is near the Chi Yang Mountains.”
Wu Yu had led troops into war since he was young; he knew the whole Eastern Wu like the back of his hand.
“The Chi Yang Mountains are known for their abundance of red copper ore. However, the natural resources have almost been depleted over the hundred years of mining. This is basically a deserted area.”
“Jiang Junlin and Yuan Chen traveled all the way from the Zhongyuan Daoist Sect to come here – there must be something here that must be kept under wraps.”
Wu Yu silently crept towards Hao Tian Shangxian’s landing spot, not daring to make even the slightest noise. If Jiang Junlin and Yuan Chen were alerted of his presence, he would be staring death in the face.
The stillness of the late night made the atmosphere especially tense. Insects cried from all directions and there were even the howls of feral wolves sounding from afar.
“I hold The Celestial Kingdom Supervisor Seal in my hands and I’m the one who’s in charge of Eastern Wu. According to the rules laid down by our two sects, anything that comes out from this land rightfully belongs to me. Those two don’t have any right to touch my things! Who would’ve known that I would the one being left out like it’s none of my business…..”
It was blatantly obvious that the opposing side didn’t think anything of him being the new Celestial Kingdom Supervisor.
He crept closer…..
In the pitch-black of the night, Wu Yu familiarly swung through the forest like a monkey and hid his movements.
At the crown of a huge tree over ten zhang tall, Wu Yu camouflaged himself within the dense tree leaves, revealing only a pair of eyes. 
(T/N: 10 zhang ≈ 33 m ≈ 109 ft ≈ 10 stories tall)
He could distinctly see three Crane Horses resting together on top of a precipitous cliff, noticeably exhausted.
And not too far away from them was Hao Tian, Yuan Chen, and Jiang Junlin!
Hao Tian had just arrived.
Because Wu Yu was covered by the trees and adding on his own personal strength, he could watch the group and still faintly hear their dialogue. Yet it would be hard for them to notice Wu Yu.
Hao Tian and Yuan Chen were chatting with each other while Jiang Junlin was seated cross-legged atop a huge boulder, facing the hidden Wu Yu sideways.
Wu Yu followed Jiang Junlin’s line of sight to see only a completely bare cliff, save for a three chi tall plant growing out of a crevice.
(T/N: 3 chi ≈ 1 m ≈ 3.3 ft)
The plant was pitch-dark and as thick as an arm, with two red palm-sized leaves.
At the very top, there was what looked like a sea urchin – the plant’s fruit, a black fist-sized sphere with densely packed protrusions on its surface. Given the far distance and the thick rind of the fruit, Wu Yu had a hard time figuring out what in the world it could be….
“Jiang Junlin’s motive for coming to Wu Du – is this plant?”
No matter how he looked at it, the plant looked very normal.
Thus, Wu Yu was slightly puzzled.
“He has such a respectable position at the Zhongyuan Daoist Sect. Ordinary treasures can’t even enter his eyes, let alone make him personally come all the way over here.”
Wu Yu knew at this point that there must be something out of the ordinary about this plant.
He took a careful look at it again.
He then noticed the veined pattern on the side of the fruit.
It looked like tadpoles were crammed together and wiggling on the surface. The pattern felt like it was somehow linked to the world’s spiritual influence and the Dao of all living things.
It was precisely this veined pattern that set this fruit apart from ordinary ones and created a mysterious aura to it.
“These…wouldn’t be spiritual lines right…..”
Wu Yu learned from the notes within the Records of the Eastern Continent that within this endless universe, nurtured from the various qi’s of the land and birthed from the spiritual qi of the heavens and earth – year in and year out, countless spiritual flora and treasures would be produced.
Of these, spiritual flora are collectively referred to as xianling.
Spiritual treasures exist in the forms of precious stones, jade, elemental seeds, and other wondrous items rarely seen in the world.
Xianling can be directly used or as ingredients in pills. There are many other unimaginable ways to apply them.
Spiritual treasures can be used to forge magic weapons, concoct pills, or used as material for various cultivation methods.
Xianling and spiritual treasures are borne of the natural world whereas cultivation pills, talismans, and magic weapons are all manufactured.
Talismans have all kinds of peculiar uses and were unique to each user so there is no set ranking for them.
But cultivation pills and magic weapons have strict grades to them. From what Wu Yu knew, ordinary tools like the Demon Suppressing Staff and Qi Condensing pills are of the lowest grade.
Rumor has it that cultivators who surpassed the Jindan stage can forge even stronger magic weapons and pills!
As for xianling and spiritual treasures, they are products of nature but nature is mystical indeed – the difference in quality and innate meaning is discernible to the naked eye.
This noticeable disparity manifests in the form of a pattern and that is – spiritual lines.
These so-called spiritual lines were precisely the special pattern Wu Yu just took note of on the black fruit.
The mysteries of the universe could be discerned from spiritual lines.There was unimaginable profoundness and meaning held within the pattern. Wu Yu could only feel that it was extremely mystical.
In reality, only xianling with spiritual lines could be considered legitimate xianling.
Take for example Su Yanli’s Xianling Garden – there were countless xianling planted inside, many of which had magical effects but there was not even one with spiritual lines.
“Supposedly, xianling and spiritual treasures with spiritual lines have over ten times the effectiveness of ordinary xianling. Even ginseng aged over a thousand years cannot compare to one stem of a xianling with spiritual lines; those two aren’t even on the same level.”
This xianling with spiritual lines that Jiang Junlin was personally keeping watch over was evidently worth at least ten Qi Condensing pills, or perhaps even on the magnitude of several tens of pills.
In accordance with the agreement between the two sects, this xianling was supposed to belong to Wu Yu.
“One spiritual line already contains such inner meaning. Who knows what those treasures with two, three spiritual lines are like….”
Of course, that was simply unimaginable.
Wu Yu was still calm at this point. His line of sight shifted from the black fruit as at that moment, Yuan Chen brought Hao Tian in front of Jiang Junlin and respectfully said: “Jiang shixiong, you should have heard from my father’s explanation that Sun Wudao is acting out of line. He is so infuriating! But the most important thing is that he’s about to succeed at condensing qi…..”
(T/N: shixiong = senior disciple brother from the same master)
Hao Tian Shangxian cupped his hands in obeisance as he said: “This Rebirth Fruit still has ten plus days before it’s completely ripe. If we take action quickly and exterminate Sun Wudao, almost no time will be wasted. If we wait a few days before killing him, he will finish condensing qi and we’ll have to expend many more times the effort…..”
Originally, he wanted to wait for Jiang Junlin to return to the capital before murdering Wu Yu.
But what had transpired during the daytime in the palace made him unable to hold his anger in any longer.
After all, Wu Yu would be harder to deal with after condensing qi.
Just after Hao Tian finished speaking, Jiang Junlin waved his hands in a dismissive manner and said: “Hao Tian, you’ve only degraded since you left the Zhongyuan Daoist sect. A mere Condensed Qi disciple has scared you to this point? No need to rush – wait six days. After the Shengsheng Fruit has ripened, I’ll return with you to kill him.”
“You’re certain of the time?” Yuan Chen said excitedly.
“I’m sure. I’ve seen plenty of Celestial Roots ripen before and with this one’s current conditions, there are six days left for sure.” Jiang Junlin said affirmatively.
Wu Yu was startled. He started to understand just how precious the xianling in front of him was; it had surpassed his expectations!
From what he knew, you needed to plant a Celestial Root when you reached the Fifth Stage of Condensed Qi. This Celestial Root is exceedingly important to the career of a cultivator, a kind of foundation. Thus, the worth of a Celestial Root wasn’t as simple as that of a xianling with spiritual lines!
Even if you convert it to Qi Condensing pills, you would be talking in the hundreds!
Not even Su Yanli would necessarily have this kind of wealth!
While Wu Yu’s state of mind was going through shock, the corner of Jiang Junlin’s mouth hooked up and he gave a sly smile: “My dad just had to be like this. He clearly has an unparalleled Celestial Root in his hands that he can just give me directly – yet he insists that I personally go out and find a Celestial Root myself because I’m lacking challenges in my life. Only then will he bestow his unparalleled Celestial Root to me.”
“The sect leader just wants you to grow stronger.” Yuan Chen lightly smiled.
“Well, that’s true. Truthfully speaking, Celestial Roots are really hard to find. Hao Tian, you were able to give me information on this Rebirth Fruit and solve this headache of mine. Don’t worry, I definitely won’t treat you and Yuan Chen unfairly. Especially you, Yuan Chen – you can rest assured that your mother, brother, and all their descendents will stay in control of Eastern Wu for generations and generations to come.” Jiang Junlin said.
Hao Tian started currying favor: “I’ve been stuck at the third stage of Condensed Qi for ages. I’m already 170 years old and my body has started to wither; this mortal body is getting exhausted. At this rate, I won’t make it to the fifth stage of Condensed Qi. This Rebirth Fruit is just a tiny effort on the part of this humble one, like the work needed to lift a finger, not worth mentioning at all…..”
Here, he was paving the road for his future descendants.
“So Hao Tian, you should know just how important this Rebirth Fruit is to me. I can’t leave for even a moment during these six days.” Jiang Junlin stared at Hao Tian, his gaze flickering as he spoke.
In the distance, Wu Yu gave a sigh of relief. Otherwise he would have to race against time to rush back to the capital and take Wu You away.
Since the situation was like this, Hao Tian Shangxian could only nod his head and said: “This is good too. That Sun Wudao has no way to finish condensing qi in six days’ time anyways. I will wait here with you for the Rebirth Fruit to finish maturing then.”
It seemed that Hao Tian Shangxian wanted to deepen his relationship with Jiang Junlin and wasn’t going to go back to Wu Du.
Looking from Hao Tian’s point of view, Wu Yu wouldn’t mess around and cause trouble if no one provoked him.
Anyways, six days’ time was fleeting.
Hearing up to here, Wu Yu got the gist of the situation.
“If I still stay in Wu Du, then six days later they will pick the Rebirth Fruit and then it will be my turn to die.”
“Since Jiang Junlin gave his word to Hao Tian, it looks like he won’t return to the Zhongyuan Daoist sect before killing me off.”
“It doesn’t matter what time I finish condensing qi – what’s most important now is to hurry up and get back to Wu Du, take elder sister away, and move from the light to the shadows. I’ll think about the rest later!”
Good thing he followed Hao Tian today. Otherwise, he would still be slowly condensing qi back in Wu Du. And without a doubt, before he could even succeed, Jiang Junlin would have killed him in passing on his way back to the capital.
 The exact length of chi and zhang varied throughout China’s ancient history and I decided to go with the modern, standardized PRC definition of chi being exactly 1/3 of a meter.