It took another hour for the first group to return. It was the one that Mao Xun had been heading. He went over to Yu Jin, sitting down in front of him and clearing his throat. “We’ve returned. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any traces of the demonic practitioners. Xiao Fang did notice that there was a wide variety of spiritual herbs in this mountain though. Quite a few of them seem to have been picked regularly as well. Considering how remote this place is, it is very likely that the ones who did that were the demonic practitioners. It would explain why they had as many ingredients as we found in their underground dwelling.”
Yu Jin opened his eyes and nodded. “That does make sense. I’ll report that back. Were there any special herbs?” He glanced at Nian Hong Fang when he said so and the disciple came over, sitting down next to his lover.
“Nothing too rare. The conditions of the Long mountain range are good but not that well. Otherwise, the Yun Zou Sect would regularly send somebody to come here. Most of the herbs that grow here are of a low level. Maybe some of them can reach the intermediate range but that is all. For anything higher, you’d have to go to other places.”
Yu Jin nodded and then took out the jade slip, adding this information as well. At the very least, this did explain why the demonic practitioners had chosen this spot despite the proximity to the Yun Zou Sect.
He put the jade slip away, nodding at the two of them to signal that this was all from his side. The two exchanged a glance and then got up, retreating to one side of the clearing and sitting down together, holding a hushed conversation.
As for Shao Hai who had tagged along … Following a couple of lovebirds around had only reminded him of his own heartbreak. He really wondered just where Jing Yi had gone. He wanted to see him again. But that stupid disciple of the Grandmaster had just taken him away. He hadn’t even had the time to say goodbye! That guy was too infuriating.
There was nothing he could do about it though so he also found a spot to sit down, pulled up his knees to his chest and then rested his arms on top, looking every bit like he just wanted to return to the sect.
One after the other, the other groups returned as well, their leaders coming forward to report to Yu Jin what they had found. Not quite unexpectedly, they didn’t have much to say though. They hadn’t found any traces of the demonic practitioners either from recently or from an earlier time. Overall, it couldn’t be said that this mission had really brought them much new information.
Yu Jin noted every detail down in the jade slip before he put it away and then got up. “We’ve already done what we could. They’ve left and there is no way to catch up to them now. Thus I suggest we return to the Yun Zou Sect.”
The others nodded but Yu Jin didn’t make any move to actually leave. Instead, he glanced at all of them, his gaze lingering on the outer sect disciples for a moment longer.
Other than Qiguan Cheng Da who was slightly more familiar with Yu Jin’s way of behaving and Xiao Dong who didn’t care at all, the other three couldn’t help but tense. They had no idea what was going on. Had they done something wrong to displease the Sect Master’s disciple?
Yu Jin finally retracted his gaze. “The contents of the mission stated that you will be allowed to keep three things to yourself. Since what you were able to take with you from the hideout before was mostly dependent on outside circumstances, I think we should talk about how to do this in the most unbiased way.
“My suggestion is that you can take a look at the things you have taken before and make a preliminary choice of three items. Afterward, the items that you haven’t chosen will be displayed to everyone else. At that time, every one of you can trade any of your three items for something else. If you feel the need to, you can even exchange all three of them.
“I am aware that you might not be familiar with all the things that we found especially in regards to the herbs and pills. I would like to ask junior martial brother Nian to explain their uses and limits to the others if need be.” He looked at Nian Hong Fang, who nodded in return.
“Of course, senior martial brother Yu.”
Yu Jin nodded as well. “Should two of you insist on taking the same item, we will judge the value of the other items you have chosen. The item in question will then be given to the one who has overall the less valuable items. Are all of you alright with this?”
The disciples all nodded. This sounded fair and even if they didn’t think so, would they really dare to tell the Sect Master’s disciple as such?
Yu Jin was satisfied with their response. He sat down again, took out everything he had taken on the mission and put it down on the ground. “Seeing as I am the Sect Master’s disciple and in charge of this mission, I feel that I should leave everyone else the right to choose first.” With that, he motioned for the others to start choosing.
In fact, he didn’t care too much what he got or if he got anything at all. These items weren’t worth much in his eyes. They were just some pills and herbs but to somebody who didn’t refine pills themselves, the latter would only be valuable for trading. And considering the grade of these herbs, the things they could be traded for wouldn’t be too valuable either. After all, just as Nian Hong Fang had mentioned to him before, these were at most intermediate grade herbs.
He certainly wouldn’t go crazy about something like this. He could find something better by just going to another region and picking some himself. It was different for the outer sect disciples though. Especially the younger ones that hadn’t been on many missions before might be able to pick something out that benefited them greatly. He felt that it would be much better to give them this opportunity.