The person in question was still busying about the Demonic Ancestor’s Poisonous Herb Garden with Xiao Li and the other seniors and juniors of the sect.
By now, they had long checked the periphery of the realm and then made their way further inward in a direct line, continuously checking for clues to determine more information about this hidden side.
So far, their luck wasn’t bad. They hadn’t encountered anyone whether that was a person or some beast. In fact, it almost seemed as if this whole side of the realm held nothing but those herbs growing to their feet. But, of course, they knew that this couldn’t be the case.
They had found a large variety of herbs, even more so than anyone had ever seen on the other side, and that despite not straying from the path after making their way inward. Many of those herbs were already mature and the lower level ones had even caused some young herbs to sprout close by.
Looking at all of this, the disciples finally confirmed their conclusion that this hidden side hadn’t been opened only recently.
Just then, Ao Wen got up from where she had been kneeling to take a closer look at yet another fully matured herb. “If I’m not wrong, this should be lightning root. Despite the looks, this herb needs more than five hundred years to mature.” They had already figured from the herbs at the periphery of the realm that this might be the length of the period this side had been there for but part of that had still been guesses based on the number of herbs instead of a certain herb’s length. Now, they were able to confirm that point for sure.
The other disciples nodded, not surprised either. It was good that they were slowly making progress though. Soon, they might have an even more accurate grasp of the situation.
At that time, the other half of the group returned from the other side of the path. Everyone had split up before to survey both sides and look for clues. Contrary to the side that Ao Wen was leading, their expressions were grim. “Senior martial sister Ao, there is a cluster of silver-streak bells on the other side. They’re all mature as well.”
Ao Wen gave a hum. Those flowers needed even longer to mature than the lightning root they had just spotted on this side. In fact, the minimum length of time to reach maturity should be six hundred years but it was more likely to be somewhere between seven or eight hundred. “I see.” She fell silent for a moment and then looked the path up and down. “We’re not even in the middle of the realm yet where the spiritual energy should be the most concentrated. I think by now, it’s safe to assume this place has been here for about a millennium. At that time …” She furrowed her brows, trying to think back.
As a cultivator, there was a point where it became difficult to remember the exact time things had happened. Instead, they started to think in stretches of time and only roughly put dates on the matters happening around them.
A thousand years ago, that had been about the time her little junior left with Xin Lan to the immortal realms. And that had happened … after the matter with the demon-hunting sects.
Ao Wen narrowed her eyes. Actually, she shouldn’t be too surprised. Xiao Li had brought it up just before they came to this side: How he had been with the demonic side because of what the demon-hunting sects were doing and how he left later when the threat was over. Surely, he wasn’t the only one. It would explain the appearance of what her junior martial brother had thought to be a spiritual or demonic beast.
Thinking of that, she turned back to the others. “At that time, we had just solved the troubles with the demon-hunting sects. It could be that people from the demonic faction who were threatened by the previous hunt on people with non-human blood defected from their original sects because they didn’t feel safe there anymore.
“Even though the demonic sects might have been less targeted than our righteous faction, it doesn’t mean the demon-hunting sects didn’t have their eyes on them. Maybe this was their way of finding a place where they were sure they wouldn’t be found.”
Xiao Li used the opportunity to step out when she had finished. “I think what senior martial sister Ao says is logical. I remember that, at that time, we indeed weren’t as badly affected. The demon-hunting sects don’t differentiate between the righteous and demonic faction but they do have a closer relationship with the former so the information they can get about their disciples is also more.
“But at the same time, some demonic sects were disproportionately affected by the hunt. For example, the Hei Dian Sect that I was part of has Shen An De as their Grandmaster who is known to have demonic blood himself. Those kinds of sects were observed much more closely. It wouldn’t be strange for anyone to feel targeted and want to escape.”
Ao Wen nodded. “Yes, also, this kind of thing would have been done when the persecution of the demon-hunting sects was at its highest. I think that time should coincide with what you told me about before.”
Xiao Li put on a thoughtful expression. “It makes sense. I always thought there was some kind of ‘mission’ involved that they wanted to do but maybe this was just the mission of keeping people like them — or rather us — safe. Grandmaster Shen didn’t need to worry at his level but there were others and maybe he and the Sect Master weren’t doing enough to help them. They might have felt neglected and decided that they would have better chances coming here. I could understand. That time … it really wasn’t easy.”