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Ultragene Warlord

Chapter 7: Harvesting Herbs
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Chapter 7: Harvesting Herbs

"Wang Xiaohua, what's wrong with you? Haven't you learned your lesson after what happened yesterday? And you've brought your teammates with you this time, I see."

"Zhang Lie, you've been getting quite cocky lately, haven't you? How dare you attack one of our teammates?"

"To think that even a weakling like you would dare to bully our Xiaohua!"

"If we weren't here to protect her, wouldn't you keep attacking her again and again?"

Wang Xiaohua's teammates began taunting him, but Zhang Lie was indifferent to the verbal assault. "Perhaps you should all stop her from harassing others instead, no?"

"Eh, you dare talk back to us? Xiaohua was giving you face by waiting for you so patiently outside the settlement gates, but you disregarded that and even beat her up! Don't you think you should compensate her for her troubles?"

Wang Xiaohua was Qin Xiaotian's girlfriend, and Qiu Changming, the leader of her team, would naturally defer to her demands to get into Qin Xiaotian's good books.

"I heard you've killed a large number of white grubs recently, haven't you? You must have quite a few of their cores stored up, then. Hand all those points over, and I'll show you mercy and let you leave."

Zhang Lie scoffed. "Are you hunters or bandits?"

"So what if we want to rob you? We're showing interest in you, you understand? You should be kneeling on the ground and thanking us for our attention!"

Qiu Changming's arrogance quickly attracted a crowd of onlookers.

"Haha, the king of the dumps is dead for sure this time. Remember how he dared to fight back against Wang Xiaohua yesterday? All hunters work in teams, except for useless trash like him that no one wants—and after he attacked Wang Xiaohua, of course she would retaliate with her entire team."

"All her teammates have their mutated gene capacity maxed out, don't they? They're ranked in the hundreds on the gene leaderboard, so surely Zhang Lie's dead meat now."

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Zhang Lie narrowed his eyes. "Scram."

"Oho? You're really asking for a beating, aren't you?!"

Qiu Changming rubbed his thumb and index finger together, as though Zhang Lie was an ant that he could crush effortlessly. However, just as he spoke, Zhang Lie made his move. Given the power disparity between him and Qiu Changming, no one had expected him to do so.

Pa! Pa! Pa! [Three-Wave Crescendo]!

Three palm strikes landed on Qiu Changming's chest, as fast as lightning, he force so great that it flung his body into the air.

"Captain!" Wang Xiaohua's other teammates snarled as they surrounded Zhang Lie.

However, Zhang Lie was already getting ready to leave. He bent his knees slightly, and genetic energy coalesced into waves beneath his feet—[Rippling Walk].

With the additional speed from his mutated-grade galewolf soulshard, in the blink of an eye, his silhouette became nothing more than a tiny dot in the distance. No one would be able to catch him given his current speed.

Wang Xiaohua clutched her hair and screamed. "Zhang Lie! Are you going to run off like a coward? Turn around and face me like a man!"

Zhang Lie wasn't an idiot; why would he waste his time with these fools? In the end, he vanished from sight.

But was Zhang Lie afraid of them? Of course not. Given the gene fragments he currently had, along with his combat experience, it would have been a piece of cake for him to take them all down. However, he had no intention of revealing his true strength just yet.

His earlier attack had more or less demonstrated some level of competency, but it wasn't anything too shocking. The next stages of his plan required secrecy, so he didn't want to attract attention. It made sense for him to hide his strength.

Clad in translucent white armor, Zhang Lie rushed toward his first herb-collecting locale.

Herbs were the basic ingredient for spiritual pills and potions. In the wide expanse of the dimensional world grew not only all sorts of strange lifeforms, but also a multitude of plants with unique capabilities. These plants were native to the dimensional world, and their flowers, fruits, and stems all possessed near-miraculous properties.

It had been just about a century since the dimensional world was discovered, and although mankind's understanding of this mysterious region was improving day by day, dimensional herblore was still in its infancy.

It would be at least a decade before the rise of the first pillmasters. The development of strength- and vitality-enhancing potions would take another decade, not to mention the invaluable limit-breaking potions.

Past the first realm of the dimensional world was the second realm, the third realm... in order to improve their chances of survival in ever more dangerous environments, hunters would have to be very familiar with concocting pills and potions.

As a reincarnator, Zhang Lie's most valuable assets were potion recipes. In order to produce these potions, he would need to collect all manner of herbs and other ingredients. The first location to which Zhang Lie was headed was the Bloodcrystal Valley.

The valley was home to an enormous colony of blood ants, a type of mutated-grade lifeform. Blood-ant soulshards would enrage their users, enhancing all their physical capabilities for a short period of time.

Zhang Lie needed to obtain a superior-grade blood-ant soulshard, because it was one of the rare few means by which he could damage disaster-grade lifeforms. His eventual goal in the first realm of the dimensional world was to hunt down a disaster-grade lifeform that had somehow made its way down to the first realm in the future, having been weakened greatly in the process.

Of course, given his current skill level, Zhang Lie had no intention of challenging any superior-grade lifeforms, let alone disaster-grade lifeforms. With only ten superior gene fragments, challenging a superior-grade lifeform at this stage was akin to commiting suicide.

The superior-grade white grub that he had risked his life to kill was an abnormally weak existence for superior-grade lifeforms, and Zhang Lie would certainly be unable to defeat stronger ones at the moment.

Superior-grade blood ants tended to hide deep within the valley, and Zhang Lie would avoid them if at all possible.

His primary goal for entering the valley was to collect herbs. Of course, if everything were to go smoothly, he'd also collect a number of gene fragments, and ideally also the soulshard of a mutated blood ant.

The Bloodcrystal Valley was composed of a number of hill-like structures formed by gigantic red crystals, hence its name. Caves of all sizes were distributed around each hill. By the roof of each cave were a number of red, root-like protrusions, the precise herbs that Zhang Lie was here to collect.

Known as blood whiskers, they looked more like red icicles than plants. In truth, they were a highly potent herb, as well as one of the main ingredients for Zhang Lie's Potion #1.

To date, there were two reasons this herb's properties had yet to be discovered, which were the two problems that Zhang Lie would have to resolve.

First, those cave entrances led into the blood ants' anthills, and he would be attacked as soon as he got close to them. Second, blood ants were highly territorial and pack-based lifeforms, and an individual blood ant could quickly summon the entire colony to its aid.

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Individually, these blood ants were about the size of small dogs, but they had a surprising ability to jump. Their pincers were stronger than steel.

In a prolonged battle, they could even enrage themselves with a specialized genetic technique: [Bloodbath]. It would temporarily inhibit their sense of pain and cause them to swarm any nearby attackers, not stopping until one or the other party was dead. It was this characteristic behavior that gave them the name of 'blood ant'.

For dealing with such pesky lifeforms, hunters would try to lure one or two isolated ants out from near the boundary of the hill; none would dare to enter. Most hunters would simply avoid the region entirely.

If Zhang Lie were to attack by force, he would receive nothing more than a quick death, but of course he had a plan. Rather than entering the valley directly, he climbed up a tall hill neighboring the valley.

From the top of the hill, Zhang Lie suddenly spread his arms wide, morphed his suit of armor into a glider, activated his galewolf soulshard, then jumped down. Wind swirled around him, boosting the speed of his descent.

With Zhang Lie's innate sense of proprioception, as well as the skeins of amorphous matter he could shoot out from his hand to control and orient his descent , Zhang Lie glided toward a large crystal hill, as agile as a bird.

And as he descended, he reached out into the caves and tore out quite a few blood whiskers. Of course, as he did so, he was subject to a number of scattered attacks, all of which were blocked by his armor.

Without activating [Bloodbath], it would be very difficult for blood ants to penetrate his armor. But after their failed attacks, they immediately began to chitter away, sending the whole valley abuzz. A veritable sea of ants began pouring out of each cave in a red flood.

Luckily, Zhang Lie had anticipated such a situation, and he began dashing out of the valley the moment he touched down. Blood ants were highly territorial, and the horde of ants chasing after him immediately retreated outside the valley itself.

Of course, the few blood ants that had managed to land on Zhang Lie during his descent failed to make it back, having died at his hand. Unfortunately, none of his kills generated a soulshard.

As he stored the blood whiskers he had grabbed, Zhang Lie again climbed up the neighboring hill. That he had managed to collect almost thirty stalks of the herb demonstrated the viability of his technique.

However, the cohesion of the blood ants rather surprised him: he had only expected ants to emerge from a single anthill, not the entire valley.

Given these unexpected circumstances, Zhang Lie didn't dare to repeat his maneuver immediately. Instead, he closely scrutinized the behavior of the blood ants.

After expelling the intruder, they had quickly returned to their individual anthills. And by the time half an hour or so had passed, the entire valley was as peaceful as it had initially been.

Zhang Lie stood up, stretched, and prepared for his second descent. His first time through, his harvesting technique left much to be desired. This time around, given his past experience, he would surely be able to collect more blood whiskers.

1. A very imaginative name...

2. Hello, Peter Parker.