Chapter 73 - The first test (iii).
While Fujo and his friends caught up, Zilan slowly walked towards Kifo.
“Hehe, climb this tree for me.” Ordered Zilan while smirking.
He had just remembered something.
“Don’t worry about all of that. Climb and use your perception to look for a clearing with lots of purple, gold and green leaves. They don’t need to be closely packed together, as long as they’re within five meters of each other it’ll be fine.” He slightly pushed Kifo directing him to one of the taller trees around.
“Fine, fine…I’m going.”
With a single leap, Kifo covered a gigantic distance, almost reaching the halfway point before grabbing hold with his powerful claws.
A few seconds of leaping and swinging later, he had easily reached the top and was using his eyes to seriously survey the land.
With the randomness of Kifo’s actions, Fujo couldn’t help but take notice,
“What is Brother Kifo doing?”
Zilan pondered for a minute before asking his own question,
“Whether or not I answer that will depend on how Brother Fujo wishes to proceed moving forward?”
“What do you mean?” wondered Fujo.
Zilan inwardly sighed before pointing at Nyoka and the two lizard people beside her,
“With them included, we are now a group of six people. All of us intend to pass this test, so it’s only natural that I need to know exactly how the items we find will be distributed.”
Fujo was slightly alarmed by Zilan’s question however, he was after all still Fujo.
“Although we are a group, just like you’ve said this is still a test. If you find something, it’s yours to keep, if assistance is needed to attain it then it will be provided but only on the condition that you assist others when they too find an item.” A straight-forward answer.
Zilan was slightly shocked by the naïve-ness of the answer but he also in a way preferred this type of person compared to the calculative sorts. Perhaps Fujo could be trusted to keep his word but who knew about the three behind him.
“Should I go along and see how this plays out or should I move on alone?” Thought Zilan, but then suddenly he realised that there was one thing he had forgotten about.
“This test allows conflict. If I was to roam around with only Kifo wouldn’t we be targeted by those old powerful people because of the things I’ve obtained? They might even attack just based on the fact that they detest Half Breeds…..”
Although killing was prohibited, pretty much everything else was allowed. This was how the world of Beasts operated. Conflict could be found everywhere!
This time the conflict served the purpose of whittling down the number of the many participants.
“Travelling with these young Masters might actually cause those old Monsters to stay away in fear of offending the factions supporting them.” Thought Zilan.
Seeing Zilan take his time thinking it over, Mnono and Ker slightly frowned. What was there to think over? Wasn’t this akin to a blessing for him?
Nyoka remained silent but inwardly, she too was slightly irritated.
“Then we’ll do as Brother Fujo suggests.” smiled Zilan, after weighing the pros and cons.
"Good! Good!” laughed Fujo. “So then what is Brother Kifo looking for?”
“If I heard correctly, your three friends managed to find Earth green fruit, yes?”
Fujo turned towards Nyoka, Mnono and Ker. They simultaneously nodded before Nyoka reached into her voidless sack and pulled out a light green circular fruit that resembled a berry.
“How is this connected? Could there be more Earth green fruit in the area? We made sure to thoroughly search before coming to find Eldest Brother. That can’t be possible.” said Ker.
While shaking his head Zilan calmly responded, “You’re probably right, however what Kifo is looking for is not Earth green fruit.”
“What is it then?” This time it was Nyoka who posed the question. Her voice was extremely pleasant to hear.
“Where there is the Earth green plant, the Nine Heaven Dew tree will not be far. One relies on the other to create an environment that will stimulate its growth. The fruits you have are most likely picked from a young plant so there is also a good chance that the Nine Heaven Dew tree will also be quite young, that way picking its fruit shouldn’t be too hard.” Explained Zilan.
In truth, he knew for a fact that the Nine Heaven Dew tree was still in its developing stages otherwise all the Earth green plants would have long been devoured by it. The carnivorous and fiendish nature of the tree was well known to Zilan as the Book of Path described that a fully grown tree would be able to devour even the Earths essence.
Thousands of years of doing this would then lead to the birth of a sentient tree that was extremely dangerous. As the tree would begin to focus on devouring the powerful life essence of other sentient beings in order to further grow.
Luckily, the current tree was still in its developing stages so it still needed to rely on low-level plants like the Earth Green plant to grow.
“To call such a forest a garden. Only a true Monster would do such a thing.” sighed Zilan.
“Ah! That thing is actually here?” Fujo was the first react as he remembered his Uncle once telling him of the Nine Heaven Dew tree.
Nyoka was also quite taken aback by what Zilan said.
“How do you know all this?” she asked.
There was no point in hiding it so while smiling Zilan replied, “I read a lot.”
“How can we be sure that he’s telling the truth? If we waste too much time here, we’re sure to fall behind the top guys.” Mnono wasn’t happy seeing Nyoka’s reaction and of course, he also couldn’t simply believe Zilan’s words.
“You can go on ahead then. I’ll catch up to you guys when I’m done. Who knows? I might be wrong about the whole thing.” Laughed Zilan.
Hearing this Fujo quickly moved to dismiss his words.
“There’s no need for that Brother Zilan. I’m sure your judgment isn’t wrong, we’ll go take a look.”
His confidence did not come entirely from belief in Zilan but rather was due to the great trust he had in his Uncles [Purple Heart Sutra].
It was at this time that Kifo dropped down from the tall tree. There were visible beads of sweat on his forehead and his breathing was slightly fastened.
He grabbed Zilan’s shoulder as he angrily complained,
“Do you know how many leaves there are in a damn F-O-R-E-S-T?! It might be really easy for you to point out different colours of leaves but mere mortals like me still desire to remain sane. I’m telling you now, I’m never doing anything like this again otherwise next time you’ll go tell me to look for a needle in a bloody haystack.”
Kifo did not know how hard his task actually was until he started searching. After minutes of staring at the sea of green, he even began to question if Zilan might have been wrong however, he quickly dismissed this thought.
The knowledge in Zilan’s mind was too much for him to randomly spout nonsense. Thus for the sake of proving to himself that he could do it, he pushed himself to the absolute limit before finally a place similar to Zilan’s description appeared in his sights.
Unknowingly, he had also managed to break through to the minor success stage of his [Feline Perception]. This was partially due to the Universe energy pressuring him.
Zilan wanted to laugh but he managed to hold it in,
“So did you find the place?”
“Around two miles south east of here, there’s a place like that.” Replied Kifo.
Needless to say, Zilan was surprised by the range of Kifo’s Feline Perception.
“A divine ability is still a divine ability.”
“Let’s go then.” Declared Zilan.
“You’ve found the place?” inquired Fujo. He was unable to hear Kifo and Zilan’s conversation as they had lowered their voices.
“We’ll find out soon.” Zilan’s reply was uttered in a neither confident nor worried manner.
Within a bush about ten steps away from Zilan’s group was a tiny red squirrel. It was quite peculiar as it interestingly walked with two legs and had what looked like a miniature smoking pipe in its mouth.
This was not the strangest part about the squirrel though. In fact, the most stunning thing about the creature was that it appeared to be a machine of some sort.
Faint clanking sounds rang out as it lazily listened in on the groups’ conversation.
“Hmm, these guys are interesting especially that Half breed and that big cat. They managed to find the green areas treasure so easily despite only being here for a few minutes, too lucky. Sigh~ when was the last time someone visited my domain? I have so many games I want to play. Bastards hurry up and reach the inner red forest, the more the merrier.” A dark sinister grin bloomed on the mechanical squirrels’ tiny face.