Having put on the appearance of an ordinary human, Ye Qingyu walked toward the camp where the Black Armor Race was gathered.
"I've heard you may be engaged to pick divine and demon herbs, no?" He deliberately tweaked his voice to sound rather old and like the friction of rusted iron.
Upon hearing this, several Black Armor people who were standing outside the camp were shocked. Taking up arms, they hurriedly looked at the human, who appeared out of nowhere, with eyes that carried a hint of caution.
For them, the arrival of foreign race experts could mean that business was coming, but at the same time, there was a certain danger involved. Their mentality was that, aside from many familiar forces which they had long-term dealings with, every other foreign race was dangerous, especially human experts who were on their own yet powerful.
This formerly-bloodthirsty race had witnessed many cases of death during the transaction of medicinal herbs in bygone days.
They did not immediately respond to Ye Qingyu and seemed to be prying into his origin using their eyes.
"Don't be mistaken, I mean no harm." Ye Qingyu knew that they were doubtful of him and thus he tried to act as genial as he could, "I'd heard the elder of Bloodthorn Hall say that the Black Armor Race are the finest herb hunters in the 16th zone and that he'd enlisted your help to pick herbs before. As I happen to have a need recently, he directed me here to find you guys."
Looking calm, he threw a token that emitted a blood-colored halo at them.
This was a token that had dropped from the arms of a fleeing elder when Ye Qingyu was killing the Bloodthorn Hall elder Xing Xiejun.
A person who seemed to be the leader among them took the token and carefully examined it for a while. Subsequently, with a faint sense of relief, he pointed at an earthen square stool beside them and said, "I didn't realize you were introduced by the Bloodthorn Hall elder. Please take a seat."
The cluster of black hair on this leader's head appeared like black strips of broken cloth neatly tied behind him.
"Your Honor, what herbs are you looking for?" The leader's expression remained cautious.
Behind him, dozens of Black Armor Race experts continued to grasp their weapons, looking as if they might strike out at any time.
Under the leader's command, several men brought a couple of small baskets weaved from beast tendons and hide.
Ye Qingyu took a cursory look at the many kinds of herbs placed inside. Although these were also highly valuable and exclusive to the Black Demon Pool, they were all ranked 20th and below, and were not what he needed to boot.
"Black Demon Herb," he said in a deep voice. "I'm looking for the Black Demon Herb."
It was often a good business technique to get straight to the point.
"The Black Demon Herb?!"
A few of the Black Armor Race people looked shocked and wary, and their body armor began to straighten.
"We don't have Black Demon Herbs!" The leader appeared angry, as if he already had the intent of ordering the guest to leave.
Ye Qingyu was somewhat puzzled by their reactions.
In the meantime, he acutely perceived that each of their bodies was carrying at least a few new wounds. There were also traces of a fight about the entire place, which was in a mess.
"Were you attacked?" He did not continue asking about the Black Demon Herb, for he had vaguely felt that their sudden change of attitude, as well as their injuries, were related to it.
"We've suffered several surprise attacks in recent days, all thanks to profiteering assholes like you. They've not only robbed us of the little Black Demon Herbs we had remaining, but also seriously injured many of our people!" Battle intent erupted from the grim-faced leader's body, and on his scale armor flickered a dark glow.
Ye Qingyu appeared deep in thought.
Not only were the places where Black Demon Herbs grew swept clean, but even the Black Armor Race was ransacked.
"It seems that you've misunderstood me. I simply wanted to find out where the Black Demon Herbs went, and the reason why I'm finding them is to save lives. You all should know that, after being refined, the Black Demon Herb greatly boosts a human's recovery from injuries," he explained in earnest.
The leader stared at him for a while with eyes that still contained some suspicion.
He clearly did not believe Ye Qingyu's explanation entirely.
After a moment's silence, he gradually curbed his anger and said in a frosty tone, "Your Honor will be disappointed. In the first place, these few months aren't the season when they are in abundance, and three days ago, someone offered ten times the market price to purchase all Black Demon Herbs, and that's why large numbers of herb hunters arrived in the 16th zone and swept clean those places where the herbs grow. It's practically impossible for you to find a single Black Demon Herb in this zone at this time."
Ye Qingyu shuddered.
Did this really happen?
Someone is going all out for the Black Demon Herbs?
No wonder they said there were profiteering assholes.
The high price must have enticed many experts to sweep the 16th zone clean and caused the Black Armor Race to be repeatedly ransacked.
What's more, three days ago...
How could it be so coincidental?
He vaguely sensed that things were not as simple as they seemed on the surface.
A smell of conspiracy pervaded the air.
Somewhat disappointed, Ye Qingyu remained silent for a few breaths.
However, he was not ready to give up just like that deep down.
As hunting down the wanted criminals was already impractical, the only way to pass the test was to obtain the Black Demon Herb.
Otherwise, the test would be a fail.
Ye Qingyu looked once again at the people of the Black Armor Race.
Perhaps they knew some secret places or some unique methods of finding the Black Demon Herb, having been the aboriginal inhabitants of the 16th zone for so many years.
Hoping to get lucky, he enquired once again, "Your people have lived here for generations and naturally understand the terrain and vegetation growth in these parts much better than other races. I wonder if you have any other way of finding the Black Demon Herb?"
The leader looked at Ye Qingyu and then turned to whisper a few lines in the ears of two subordinates.
When he turned his head back, he gently nodded and replied, "Foreigner, the truth is there's indeed a method you may try, but it's very dangerous."
"What is it?" A delight shone in Ye Qingyu's eyes.
"The Black Armor Race has never done things for free." A crafty expression glowed in the leader's eyes as he spoke coldly.
After a brief daze, Ye Qingyu understood what the leader meant.
He handed over a thumb-sized high-grade origin crystal.
With flashing eyes, the leader received the origin crystal and weighed it in his hand. After careful examination, he nodded contently and said, "The ancestral legends of our race mention an abyss in the north called the Fallen God Abyss. As its name implies, it is so dangerous that even a visiting deity would fall into a returnless place. Yet at the same time, it is a place where Yin qi is abounding, and is therefore very suitable for Black Demon Herbs and similarly precious herbs to grow. More than eight hundred years ago, a Great Saint-level expert of our race visited that place and collected quite a few extremely rare divine and demon herbs. However, he died a sudden death within ten days of returning."
"So, does this place only exist in the legends?" Ye Qingyu frowned slightly.
"No, there are records of that place in our ancestral topographic maps. It's just that our rules have banned our people from going close ever since that Great Saint expert's death." The leader fished out a piece of gray beast hide and handed it to Ye Qingyu.
Several hill landforms were drawn on it.
The precise location of the Fallen God Abyss was marked in cinnabar red in a deep gap between two peaks.
"If you absolutely must find the Black Demon Herb, that's the only place you can try your luck in, but don't blame me for not warning you. I've heard that a few years ago, a pinnacle Immortal Step realm expert accidentally strayed into the Fallen God Abyss while passing through the 16th zone, and after several days of waiting, his companions still hadn't seen him reappear. Many people guessed that he must've fallen into the abyss... There are way too many of such cases." The leader looked at Ye Qingyu with a rather odd expression.
It seemed to indicate that he was looking at a fool who was seeking his own doom.
However, Ye Qingyu took no notice of the leader's expression as he was busy studying the topographic map.
It took a while before he raised his head thoughtfully and nodded to express his thanks to the leader.
He had to seize this one and only opportunity no matter how dangerous and frightening the leader made the Fallen God Abyss out to be. Otherwise, the Heaven Wasteland Domain's road toward rating would come to an end right here.
He had made up his mind.
Before he left, he took out a piece of fingernail-sized high-grade origin crystal and exchanged it for one of the Black Armor Race's unique palm-sized beast bone machete.
With that, he departed from the Black Armor Race's camp and flew toward the direction of the Fallen God Abyss.
An hour later.
In the sky above the Fallen God Abyss.
Every now and then, dense Black Demon qi would spout toward the sky from within the abyss, looking very much the picture of magma bubbling in a volcano.
The heart-palpitating booming noises sounded like the roars of tens of thousands of beasts hidden deep underground.
Because visibility was very poor, Ye Qingyu dived in gingerly and slowly.
But even so, the extremely strange evil and cruel qi blew against his face like the waves of a boundless ocean.
"I'd never thought there would be such a strange place in the 16th zone..."
The lower he dived, the more he felt the terror of the power contained within the Black Demon qi.
While his yuan qi could be said to be only mildly suppressed when he entered the 16th zone, it was instead inhibited by thirty to forty percent at this time.
Looks like the Black Armor Race was right...
Although he had not reached the entrance of the Fallen God Abyss, he could clearly feel that the abyss below contained an even more powerful Yin qi than the six or seven places earlier.
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