Li Qiye smiled and shook his head towards Ye Xiaoxiao: “There’s not much value in capturing one for research right now. They are a gregarious race, so I must study them as a whole.”
She pried: “Why are you so interested in these withered? It’s not like you can create a new race. And even if you could, it takes a long time for them to multiply. For instance, these withered took many generations, you simply can’t wait until that day.”
Li Qiye only smiled without answering. She was too young to understand his purpose. Plus, there was no need for her to face this problem. They walked around for several more days while Li Qiye carried on his research of the withered instead of worrying about alchemy or treasures.
Today, they stopped at a withered’s restaurant to rest. There were a few cultivators from all over the world in groups of three or five chatting it up.
Li Qiye sat by a window and had fun watching the waiters, bartenders, and manager being quite busy.
In fact, there was nothing worth watching here. Such a common restaurant could be found anywhere in Heaven Spirit; nothing stood out in particular about this restaurant.
In spite of this, he relished this observation session as if there was something going on in the background.
A cultivator suddenly ran in and told the members at a table: “Let’s go, First Brother and the others found a corpse lair.”
These cultivators quickly paid and left. The other people here suddenly grew excited as well.
“A corpse lair?” One of the excited cultivators blurted: “There must be valuable alchemy ingredients there. We’ll go too.” He also paid and left with his crew.
In just a short moment, the cultivators here left one after another. The majority of the visitors came for materials, so when someone finds a lair, it meant that there must be incredible spirit ingredients there.
Xiaoxiao naturally felt excited and quickly asked Li Qiye: “Should we go take a look too?” She had never seen a treecorpse or a lair before, so her inquisitive nature went into full play.
“Fine, let’s go then.” Li Qiye smiled and paid the bill.
The lair was found in a valley not far from the citadel. It was quite deep with old vines and pillaring trees resulting in a verdant scene. No one had a panoramic view of the valley due to the abundance of vegetation blocking their sight.
Many cultivators were already here when the duo arrived. They stood right at the entrance while gazing inside.
Many groups of treecorpses were entering as well, coming from some unknown direction. They looked like different groups going to a party since it was clear that they didn’t come from the same place.
Treecorpses weren’t that different from the first generation withered. The majority had human forms with some wooden parts. Of course, there was a clear distinction. A treecorpse’s wooden parts were natural unlike the withered that have undergone a change from flesh to wood.
For example, a withered’s wooden arm looked very stiff, as if it had been embedded and not something that was a part of its body.
This wasn’t the case for treecorpses. Their wooden arms looked just like growing branches — full of life and very natural.
Xiaoxiao thought of a particular question and asked Li Qiye while watching the groups of corpses enter the valley: “What are the differences between treecorpses and second generation withered?”
“Nothing in terms of appearance.” Li Qiye answered: “Treecorpses might be dead, but from another perspective, they aren’t really corpses. Their bodies still have a hint of life in them. Of course, it is easy to distinguish a second generation withered and a treecorpse. Look at their eyes, the ones without life belong to the treecorpses.”
With his reminder, she carefully looked and found that the eyes of the treecorpses were different. They were hollow as if nothing was there; a pair of eyes engulfed by death energy. Logically speaking, only corpses would have this type of energy.
She murmured while watching: “They don’t have a soul!”
She had never seen a second generation withered before. After all, the probability of meeting one was exceeding low in the Divine Tree Ridge. Moreover, rumor has it that these second generation withered were heavily protected, so outsiders couldn’t see them.
“Yes, they don’t have a soul.” Li Qiye nodded: “People say that the eyes are windows to the mind. One just needs to look at the eyes to see if a soul is present. For example, why is it that animated skeletons have red eyes? That’s their soul flame. Treecorpses might have a body that isn’t too different from the other races. The issue is that they do not have souls. Without souls, there is no need to talk about bloodlines and reproduction, they are only moving corpses.”
She had to ask: “Why are they born with a body but no soul?”
Li Qiye smiled: “They owe both success and failure to the first generation withered. These first generation withered are born from corpses due to the seeds taking root in the brain that eventually turns into a soul. Despite possessing this type of soul, they still can’t be considered a complete form of life, they’re merely a near-dead existence. Because of this, the odds of producing offspring with souls are negligible.”
She contemplated and had a better understanding of how the withered handle birth and transformations. It made it clear just how difficult it was to start a new race.
“The same phrase applies, life creation is the business of the heavens. It is impossible to create life just by creating a body. Like many cultivators, a body can be rebuilt, but if the true fate is destroyed, that will be certain death. One would have nothing without their true fate since it is impossible to rebuild because they’re not the heavens! There is no way to reshape the true fate because this is something that belongs to the realm of life creation.” Li Qiye had a rare, solemn expression.
Ye Xiaoxiao quietly listened while nodding her head. It was a bit too early for her to think about this topic. Normally, only characters of the Immortal Emperor level would muse this question.
“Strange.” Li Qiye murmured while looking at the corpse groups entering the valley.
Her wits returned from contemplation and she curiously asked: “What’s the matter?”
He stared at the valley and replied: “This place probably isn’t a lair.”
“Why? Don’t treecorpses like to gather? There are many running here at the moment, so this should be their lair, right?”
Li Qiye gently shook his head: “No, treecorpses are different from the withered. They are the favorite children of the Divine Tree Ridge and can take root anywhere here even without souls. They are infinitely connected to the ridge, so they can stay in their lair forever without coming out, unless someone attacks them. Once a lair is formed, the members could stay there until death. This is one of the reasons why lairs are so difficult to find. Under normal circumstances, treecorpses won’t leave their lairs unless the lairs are destroyed or are under heavy attack. But now, this many are coming to this valley — this is indeed a bit strange.” He began to speculate after seeing this.