After leaving the first mountain, the dangers in the environment gradually increased.
Some poisonous insect demon beasts that were impossible to guard against would suddenly attack from time to time. Although it would not really injure the two of them, it was enough to cause them trouble.
Some areas were even covered by the troublesome illusion array fog again, causing the areas that cultivators could pass to be compressed.
On the few paths that were not shrouded by fog, there were even monsters guarding the pass.
After all, this was the outer mountain range of the Medicine Garden. Apart from the fog, there were also many demons deliberately placed here to guard the mountain.
In the sect alliance competition, it was easier to gather fodder on the spot. These demons were used as tools to test the participating cultivators.
Some overly powerful demons had already been killed or sealed by them.
However, there were some demon beasts equivalent to the Qi Refinement realm and a few weak Foundation Establishment demon beasts, and they were the most difficult monsters to guard.
Right now, what was placed in front of Jiang Li and Shenshan Qiuhua was a huge swamp.
The two sides of the swamp were covered in fog. At the entrance, someone erected a wooden sign that said, "The nearest and most dangerous path."
From the looks of it, other than traveling, they would have to pass through the checkpoints before continuing forward.
"This is the closest route to the second mountain. We're two days later than the others. If we want to catch up, we can only pass through here."
Jiang Li stood at the entrance of the swamp. He picked up a tree branch and threw it in. In less than two breaths of time, the tree branch slowly sank.
From the looks of it, it was absolutely impossible to walk through the swamp. If one wanted to get close, they had to fly at a low altitude. Doing this would not only consume spiritual qi, but it would also prevent cultivators from using the artifact for aerial combat, making them feel restricted.
However, as the wooden sign said, this should be the nearest route.
Jiang Li had spent quite a bit of time in the coffin the moment he entered the mountain, while Shenshan Qiuhua had already walked quite a bit of distance. However, while escaping, she directly walked in the opposite direction in the fog, directly flying back to the original location.
After dealing with the pursuers, it was impossible for them to set off immediately. They found a place and let Shenshan Qiuhua meditate for half a day before they set off together again.
Therefore, this dragged on for two days. If they did not catch up soon, their rankings might be at the bottom.
This second mountain was shaped like a camel.
In the middle, the terrain of the camel's back was relatively flat and easy to traverse. It was covered in mud. The nearest route was through here.
If one wanted to pass through this place, the most basic requirement was to be able to fly at a low altitude. Furthermore, one had to have a certain amount of combat ability while flying.
There were so many Qi Refinement realm cultivators participating in the competition, but just these two conditions would probably eliminate a large number of them.
If he headed towards the two sides of the fog, there should be other entrances. The difficulty of the hurdles he encountered would be lower, but he might have to take a long detour and waste more time.
Jiang Li saw many footprints at the entrance to the swamp.
It seemed that many people had come here before. Some chose to continue forward, while others circled around the edge of the fog in an attempt to find another entrance.
Jiang Li and Shenshan Qiuhua did not hesitate for long before they decided to pass through.
Jiang Li took a step forward, and his feet seemed to be stepping on solid ground. However, if one observed carefully, one would notice that there was still a few centimeters of distance between his feet and the swamp.
It was even simpler for Shenshan Qiuhua. Stepping on the flying sword was like stepping on a sliding board as it slid forward. She was even more comfortable than Jiang Li.
Not long after the two of them stepped into the area of the swamp, the surface of the surrounding mud suddenly started to move, and a large amount of smelly air bubbles surged out.
Three swamp monsters over two meters tall suddenly burrowed out of the ground and pounced towards Jiang Li and Shenshan Qiuhua.
That disgusting and dirty appearance was really the nemesis of body cultivators. At this moment, Jiang Li did not want to touch them at all.
A black mud bomb flew over with a splash of muddy water. The two elite disciples hurriedly split up to dodge to the side.
Among the three swamp monsters, there was actually one that could spit mud.
The power of this mud bomb was not great, but it was extremely disgusting.
Jiang Li, who was in a clean state, could barely endure being hit by this thing. However, if it hit Shenshan Qiuhua, it would at least make this young lady stink for three days. She would probably cry for a long time.
At this moment, the two of them became extremely wary of the monster. They could not allow themselves to get hit.
Shenshan Qiuhua stepped on the water sword and drew a huge arc on the flat swamp terrain, avoiding several smelly mud bullets in a row.
She adjusted her direction and slashed out blazing sword lights with the fire sword.
The first strike dried the mud on the surface, the second strike shattered the hardening mud shell, and the third strike finally killed a long-furred demon that was revealed from underneath the mud shell.
This long-furred demon was the true form of the swamp monster.
They looked like sloths or water monkeys.
The swamp monster's true form was hideous and ugly. The fur on its body was black and hard, more than three feet long. It was these long fur that carried a large amount of mud that formed the swamp monster's appearance.
Their bodies were covered in fur and thick mud, forming an extremely thick layer of mud armor. Their defense was quite strong. Even the sword light of the Shu Mountain sword cultivators took three tries to kill one.
To an ordinary Qi Refinement realm cultivator, it would probably be quite troublesome.
It was unknown how many cultivators had already died in the mud.
The remaining two mud monsters rushed over from the other two directions. Jiang Li could not just stand there and watch. It was not right to keep letting an injured person take action.
He did not plan to solve the problem with his fists. He gently threw out two seeds.
Demon Awakening! Wood Dragon Art!
As the green light expanded, the two seeds that were only slightly larger than sand instantly grew and swelled, transforming into two wooden dragons that were ten meters long in the air.
With a silent roar, they swam nimbly in the mud, quickly rushing forward and wrapping around the other two swamp monsters. They tightened their grip and strangled the monsters on the spot.
Jiang Li had dragon blood in his body. Although it was not much, he was still affected by it. When he cast the spell, a little bit of dragon qi was infused. Among the various demons he awakened, the dragon form was the strongest.
After dealing with the three swamp monsters, the two of them had no intention of going forward to harvest the loot.
It was said that the eyes of the swamp monster could be used as alchemy materials. Three pairs of eyes could probably be sold for a few spirit stones.
However, they were not people who lacked these spirit stones, and they could not stand this smelly loot.
Seeing the three corpses sink into the mud again, the two of them continued forward, but they were also a little more wary of what was below their feet.
In the coffin, the Nine Nether clone still had not completely digested the legacy of its predecessor.
However, at this moment, he still opened an eye on the tree statue and looked at the 31 captives below.
On their bodies, the clone smelled a familiar scent.
When they were out on a mission in the Southern Seal Kingdom, Lu Qianqian could smell that there was something wrong with their blood.
In front of the Spiritual Root Branch, this smell could not be more obvious.
If other spiritual root seeds landed in his hands, he would naturally be able to use them.
A vine wrapped around the neck of one of the captives, pulling him into the air.
The captive was tied around the neck and hung in mid-air. He was like a fish that had left the water and could not breathe. He struggled violently in vain.
Then, a scene that was familiar to Jiang Li occurred.
There was no need to throw in more waste pills. The Spiritual Root Branches of the Nine Nether Wood were competing with each other. There was a special method between them that was specialized in snatching the power of their own kind.
Stealing the spiritual root seed from the parasitic body was an instinctive action.
Soon, the cultivator's hair began to turn white from the end, and the skin on his body gradually lost its flexibility and luster. In the end, his throat rolled, and a thumb-sized seed was spat out. It was caught by another tentacle that had been waiting nearby.
Sure enough, this group of cultivators was once again unlucky to have been parasitized by the spiritual root seed.
They wanted to infiltrate the major sects.
It seemed that a certain Spiritual Root Branch was quite smart. It used every method possible to squeeze into the sects.
This level of intelligence was simply worlds apart from the Spiritual Root Branch that Jiang Li had captured.
One of them was still bitterly relying on a group of Scaled Demons' worship, while the other had already begun to infiltrate the cultivation world.
The tree trunk of the clone had one eye open and one eye closed. This meant that half of his mind was receiving the memories of the predecessor, and the other half was focused on the scene before him.
He casually threw the cultivator to the side and placed the spiritual root seed in front of him.
The cultivator who had his spiritual root seed stripped away was in a very weak state. However, he did not die immediately. Instead, he lay on the ground gasping for breath.
Although this state could not last for long, Jiang Li, who had already taken over the Spiritual Root Branch, knew that as long as he was given another spiritual root seed, he would be able to keep his life.
When the spiritual root seed entered the statue's mouth, many things immediately became clear to him.
The cultivation base in this seed was of the earth attribute, but the exact quantity was not very stable.
According to the normal Qi Refinement speed of a cultivator with a top-grade spiritual root aptitude, the cultivation in this seed was approximately ten months, less than a year.
After all, up until now, the highest spiritual root that a spiritual root seed could give was only a medium-grade spiritual root.
In other words, there was a nine-fold difference between a top-grade and medium-grade spiritual root. This rogue cultivator had cultivated for about eight years and was at the mid-stage Qi Refinement realm.
Within the age of twenty, such a speed was only average.
This cultivation could also be used for different purposes.
The simplest method was to completely turn it into nutrients to support the growth of the Nine Nether clone.
As for the spiritual root seeds that were emptied, they could be thrown back into other creatures' bodies and wait for them to grow before obtaining new fruits.
Alternatively, he could refine this earth attribute cultivation base and turn it into a Nine Nether Earth Fruit that he could consume directly.
It was only a one-star Earth Fruit formed by a Qi Refinement realm cultivator of the lowest grade.
However, if he consumed it, not only could he directly increase his cultivation, he could also increase his lifespan and gain an artificial spiritual root!
With a thought from Jiang Li, this cultivation base was immediately purified. With the spiritual root seed as the core, a branch grew out from the top of the spiritual root clone's head. Then, an earth-brown fruit grew out from the small and long body.
After eating it, one could gain the cultivation level of a top-grade spiritual root cultivator who had cultivated for five months.
The cultivation base was reduced by quite a bit, almost half. However, that was someone else's cultivation base after all. It was already quite heaven-defying to be able to inherit it by just consuming a spiritual fruit, even if it was only half.
Of course, in the case of Jiang Li, a top-grade spiritual root cultivation of five months was only 20 to 30 days of cultivation.
In addition, this Nine Nether Earth Fruit could be eaten regardless of the spiritual root attribute.
However, spiritual fruits of the same attribute could quickly convert the cultivation.
In other words, if one wanted to directly obtain the cultivation of this spiritual fruit, then one had to be an earth attribute spiritual root cultivator.
If they were not of the same attribute, for example, Jiang Li could still eat it.
However, if he wanted to use the cultivation base, he had to wait for the spiritual root seed to transform into an artificial spiritual root and grow it well.
This required some time. According to the grade of the spiritual root, it was approximately three to ten days.
The spiritual root seed would first grow a spiritual root with a corresponding attribute in the body. If the artificial spiritual root wanted to absorb cultivation, it would be slower and it would take some time to increase cultivation.
However, in terms of lifespan, there was no such restriction. Just this spiritual root seed could directly increase his lifespan by 30 years. The conversion loss was more than double as well.
As for the concern of whether the cultivation and lifespan snatched from another person's body would have the same effect as a demonic cultivation method, causing them to have an unstable foundation, the answer was no.
From the mythological legends, just look at the effect of the Immortal Peach, Ginseng Fruit, Yellow Core Tree.
These things could increase one's lifespan by 100 years just by smelling them. One bite could increase one's lifespan by 1,000 years. Eating the Yellow Core Tree's fruit was even enough to allow mortals to ascend to the immortal realm immediately.
Who had heard of any side effects after consuming them?
Top-grade natural treasures were top-grade. They were unreasonably powerful.
One had to know that the Nine Nether Wood was also a Spiritual Root of Heaven and Earth, and it was not inferior to other Connate Spiritual Roots. Although their sources of energy were different, the Nine Nether Earth Fruit was still a product of such an amazing treasure. Why would there be side effects after eating it?
Alright, if being parasitized by a spiritual root seed was considered a side effect, then it indeed had side effects.
However, other than being parasitized by the spiritual root seed, there was no problem with this fruit. The cultivation obtained was not inferior to what he personally cultivated.
Otherwise, the Immortal Peach and Ginseng Fruit would not have become divine items sought after by so many immortals.
Therefore, Jiang Li did not dare to eat the Nine Nether Earth Fruit he snatched from the Scaled Demon Lair back then.
Now, this Spiritual Root Branch was Jiang Li's clone. If he parasitized himself, it would not affect him at all. Only then could he eat it without worry.
After some thought, Jiang Li took out all the spiritual root seeds from the remaining captives.
31 grape-sized Nine Nether Earth Fruits hung on the top of the Spiritual Root Branch, making people want to pluck them and try one.
Jiang Li did not care about those rogue cultivators in the coffin and let them fend for themselves. However, there were eleven disciples among them. If they were allowed to live, they might be more valuable than corpses.
Eleven branches with various fruits hanging on them slowly extended and approached their original owner's mouth.
The eleven dying sect disciples opened their mouths in desire and immediately, the extremely precious spiritual fruits entered their mouths.
The cultivation and lifespan that were extracted from their bodies quickly replenished their bodies. Their pale white hair turned black again, and their muscles and skin that had lost their flexibility became smooth and rosy again.
These eleven fruits were originally intended to be returned to them, so the strength and life force naturally did not need to be purified too much. Therefore, after the conversion, they did not lose too much cultivation, only about 20%.
When they recovered their vitality and crawled up from the ground, they had already become Jiang Li's most loyal friends in terms of consciousness.
From now on, Jiang Li had friends in the four major sects of the Great Mountain Region, friends who would never betray him.