Chapter 322: Death Swamp
The look on Su Junqing's face changed when he heard Yun Jiuge's words, but he still handed his Earth Spiritual Pearl over to her.
Yun Jiuge injected her Spiritual Power into the Earth Spiritual Pearl first before casting the Earth Spiritual Power in all four directions. Then, she crushed a thumb-sized red pill into powder and blew it outwards from her palm into the air.
The red powder scattered throughout the area before it eventually congregated around a spot to the west and remained motionless afterwards.
"I didn't know the Illusion Breaking Pill could be used this way. I've definitely learned something new today," Bing Xinlian said in awe.
His aunt was a Rank Four Alchemist who had worked for the Yin Corpse Sect. He thought he already knew all there was to know about pills after spending such a long time with her, but alas, he was wrong. There was still a lot of knowledge to be gained.
"Everyone — I want you to attack that spot with me." Yun Jiuge was the first to brandish her black Bone Spur. She then sent it flying towards the spot where the red powder had gathered at.
Su Junqing brandished his Demonic Flower Bone Spur after her. He then turned it into a ray of black light before making it follow behind Yun Jiuge's Bone Spur.
A series of explosions went off as everyone used their Bone Spurs to attack the spot where the red powder had congregated at. Amidst the rumble, a dark green flower suddenly emerged at the once deserted spot. The flower's stamen was the shape of a mouth, and it spat out black fog incessantly.
Su Junqing clenched his fist. The three ink flowers that had been engraved onto the Demonic Flower Bone Spur leaped out and ripped the creepy green flower into shreds.
With the illusion surrounding them now instantly destroyed, the real Death Swamp emerged before their eyes.
Thick billows of reddish-gray smoke clouded their vision straightaway as the entire area became infested with mosquitoes. The disciples looked to their side and found the Armored Crocodiles lying in wait with their mouths wide open at the swamp next to their feet.
"Ahh!" A disciple panicked after seeing the fearsome Armored Crocodiles near him and lost his footing. He then fell into the swamp where the Armored Crocodiles immediately pounced all over him.
Yun Jiuge was extremely quick to respond. She waved her hands at once and created a rope that was made of Yin Qi to pull the disciple back up.
Unfortunately, the disciple's lower body had already been devoured by the Armored Crocodiles by then. All that was left was a bloody mess of flesh.
Several disciples turned pale with fright after seeing the bloody scenes before them. They went into a state of chaos.
"All of you have the Black Crystal Reeds. The Armored Crocodiles will not get close to you as long as you carry them steadily on your bodies. You'll be fine as long as you don't panic." Su Junqing tried his best to reassure the disciples, but everyone turned a deaf ear to his words.
"I want everyone to form groups of ten and look out for one another! Be mindful of your steps as well! If you find that you're not able to make your way past a certain spot, then create an ice path by using the Icy Yin Qi Strike. We've already survived the perilous grassland! Why should we be afraid of this swamp?" Yun Jiuge told everyone in a clear voice.
"Everyone! Don't be afraid! Senior Yun Jiu will definitely lead us through this predicament!" Little Fatty and Bing Xinlian reassured the other disciples with a loud voice.
The disciples immediately calmed down after hearing these words. It was only then that they realized the Black Crystal Reeds that they carried on their bodies were producing a black mist that started to slowly envelope them.
Not only was the black mist able to keep the reddish-gray miasma away from their eyes, it also gave off a scent that kept the mosquitoes at bay. The Armored Crocodiles also appeared to be quite wary of the black mist too.
"Alright. Let's continue to move forward. All of you can use the Icy Yin Qi Strike to create an ice path underneath your feet like we did in the grassland. Junior Bing and Junior Jin Lin — I need the two of you to shield me from all possible attacks." Yun Jiuge seemed to have forgotten that the Earth Spiritual Pearl in her hands had actually been borrowed from Su Junqing. She injected her Spiritual Power into the pearl and set off at once after ascertaining the path to take.
Bing Xinlian and Little Fatty inadvertently pushed Su Junqing to the side as they stood next to Yun Jiuge eagerly.
Su Junqing's face darkened. He wanted his Earth Spiritual Pearl back, but realized that all the disciples saw Yun Jiu as their leader now. They wouldn't listen to him even if he got the pearl back. Thus, he decided to just keep quiet.
Yun Jiuge helped to open up a path in front for the rest of the disciples while Bing Xinlian used his Icy Frost Bone Spur to create an ice path like he did at the grassland. The disciples at the back cast the Icy Yin Qi Strike underneath their feet, and the entire group of them moved forward slowly.
There were times where some of the disciples would get dragged into the water by the Armored Crocodiles, but on the whole their journey was still quite smooth-sailing.
"There's a stretch of land in front that we can rest at. Everyone — speed up a little!" Yun Jiuge noticed that the land before her was shrouded in a brownish-yellow mist. It was clearly a place where they could rest at.
The disciples became energized after hearing her words. They immediately quickened their pace and reached their destination successfully a while later.
The resting area was about an acre wide, with soil that was brown and sturdy. The entire stretch of area was separated from the rest of the swamp — it must have been a resting area created by the disciples who had visited the Death Swamp in the past.
"Junior Yun Jiu…" Su Junqing was about to ask for his Earth Spiritual Pearl back.
Suddenly, he heard cries and shouts coming from within the miasma to the east of where they stood. Sounds of bones being broken by the jaws of the Armored Crocodiles also filled the air.
There were numerous rays of light emitted by Bone Spurs in the distance.
At this moment they saw the reddish-gray miasma being blown about wildly. It was evident that a fierce battle was happening a short distance away from them.
"The disciples from the other Outer Peaks are being assaulted by the Armored Crocodiles right now." Yun Jiuge looked in the direction where the sounds came from, but she had no idea which Outer Peak these disciples were from.
Little Fatty's heart sank. He wanted to tell everyone to stay where they were and avoid them.
After all, the disciples from the other Outer Peaks were their rivals. How could they possibly want to save their rivals? "Those disciples should be thankful that we're not even trying to make the situation worse for them!" Little Fatty thought to himself.
"Who's that in front of us?" At this moment, a shrill voice rang out from the front. It was the voice of Bai Lan.
"Senior Bai Lan, what has happened to all of you?" Su Junqing was delighted. "Finally! Someone who can help!" he thought.
"We've run into a horde of Armored Crocodiles! Junior Su, come help us!" Bai Lan's voice was anxious. It sounded like she wouldn't be able to hold out much longer.
"Junior Yun Jiu! Why don't you and I go save them?" Su Junqing suggested.
"The disciples here need me more." Yun Jiuge refused him flatly without any hesitation.
She'd always listened to his orders in the past because she didn't want to give him an excuse to get rid of her. However, she no longer needed to put on a show since all the disciples now viewed her as their leader.
Su Junqing's face darkened after hearing her words but he didn't try to persuade her any further. Instead, he averted his gaze towards the Liu Sisters and the disciples who had entered the fifth level of the Qi Refining stage, asking, "Who's going to follow me?"
The disciples all lowered their heads in unison and pretended to be exhausted.
The Liu Sisters said in a pitiful voice, "Senior Su, the two of us can't even protect ourselves. How could we possibly go and save them?"
"Sure, sure. Well done, all of you." Su Junqing nodded his head spitefully, then turned around and left.
Ye Yunzhi's red dress gradually vanished in the miasma as she trailed behind Su Junqing.
"Senior Yun Jiu, it looks like Senior Su is mad." Little Fatty was a little worried that Su Junqing would retaliate with harmful actions after reuniting with Bai Lan and the rest.
"It doesn't matter. We'll see how we should deal with those issues when they arise!" Yun Jiuge was not afraid of them.
A little while later, Su Junqing led Bai Lan and a bunch of other disciples back to the resting area.
The Number Three Peak had 1,000 disciples on their team when they first entered the Secret Realm, but now there were only around 300 of them left. None of the Rank Two disciples survived.
Aside from Bai Lan, all the other disciples looked extremely worn out, and they had numerous injuries all over their bodies. It was easy to tell that they'd fought in countless fierce battles up until now.
"Junior Su, you've done a remarkable job!" Bai Lan was astonished when she saw that around 700 disciples from the Number Two Peak had survived.
Everything that they'd encountered in the Secret Realm was different from what they were told by the sect. They kept running into trouble after trouble.
She was only able to protect this many higher-ranked disciples thus far by using her Rank Three Corpse Qi Ghost Lantern.
Also, she initially thought that she'd lost very few disciples from the Number Three Peak, but she didn't expect that Su Junqing had lost even fewer disciples than them.
However, what she found odd was the fact that numerous higher-ranked disciples like Broom Eyebrows Chen had died, but almost two-thirds of the Rank Two disciples had survived! "Something is definitely amiss here!" Bai Lan thought to herself.