Main Walkthrough

Location: Sweetspring Village
Prerequisite: Complete Sweet and Bitter Springs
Petitioner: None
Reward: None

Picking up immediately after you've completed Sweet and Bitter Springs, Badlands Stronghold puts you in Sweetspring Village just before a battle with a bandit gang. Your next step is to speak to Frosty Condor and leave the vilage together, but first there are a few things you can do:
  • Speak to Yin Wujin to receive the Condor Lightness Skill manual and Martial Arts Perceptions. Might as well. 
  • Speak to Wan Biao for an Affinity boost. This will be important for his character a bit later, as your Affinity level with Biao changes his ultimate fate in the story.

Chat with Frosty Condor to put her in the party. She's not a permanent member - yet, anyway - but you should spend all her Meridian Points, give her all of the Cultivation Methods you have, and maybe outfit her with the fist manuals you've collected over the course of the game. She's quite powerful, and since only she and Yi get to fight in this next section you'll want Frosty Condor to be as strong as you can get her.

Leave Sweetwater Village and head south. Beyond Tianshui you'll find Bitterwater Village. Stop in here and you'll find only two villagers still alive. Beside Mrs. Ba is a chest containing an Intact Coin and Poached Spicy Pork Slices. Speak to the Village Head, in the northeast, to find out why. If Leng Wuqing is in the party he'll throw in his own two cents. You need to do this to trigger more story sections a bit later, so don't forget to visit Bitterwater Village before traveling any further. Check beside the Village Head for a chest containing Ginseng and Erchen Soup before you leave.

Further south from Bitterwater Village is the Badlands Stronghold, your destination.

Badlands Stronghold - Enemies
  • Long-Saberman
  • Long-Saberman Leader
  • Saberman
  • Spearman
  • Spearman Leader
  • Tianlong Gang Marksman
Badlands Stronghold - Drops
  • Black Leather Liuhe Boots
  • Caltrop
  • Coiling Dragon Staff
  • Copper Armor
  • Dragon Pendant
  • Eastpearl
  • Ghost Claws
  • Green Jade Thumb Ring
  • Purplelight Garment
  • Qui Loong Boxing Gloves
  • Red Copper Saber
  • Satin
  • Serpent Spear
  • Silver Petal-Like Dart
  • Silver Serpent Sword
  • The Book of Songs
  • Wooden Xun
Emptier than it probably should be, the Badlands Stronghold is nevertheless well-fortified, and the enemies within will put up a bit of a fight. You'll watch a number of cut scenes as you run through the fortress, though it is otherwise fairly straightforward. There are things to collect along the way, as well:
  • You can harvest Honghua, Gold Ore, and Coal as you explore the Badlands Stronghold.
  • Just beyond the front gate and on your right is a chest. It contains Hide, Top-Quality Hide, and Mineral Drugs Powder.
  • Partway through you'll find slaves making weapons. South of them is a fishing spot. North of them is a narrow pathway that looks a bit like a cave, and at the end is a chest. The chest contains Plum Flower Cake Soup, a Two-Time Refined Spirit Pill, the Nether Claws Advanced Blueprint, and a Tallow Jade Ruyi.
  • As you're nearing the end of the stronghold - you'll be headed east, past a storehouse full of valuable metals - you'll pass a chest. It contains Gancao, a Xin Metal Pill, and a Yi Wood Pill.

Once you reach the end of the Badlands Stronghold you'll meet at least one of the architects of this place, learn a horrifying truth about what they're doing here, and get into a battle. You're fighting a large group of Villagers and Badland Raiders, and this time your whole team gets to join in. Despite the enemy numbers they are quite weak, and should fall rather easily to Yi and his friends.

You'll receive a heap of valuable forging metals for winning this fight, and Yi and Frosty Condor will retreat to the entrance. 

Leave the stronghold - Leng Wuqing will speak up along the way, if he's in the party - then head back north. If you checked in on Bitterwater Village before you can come again for a cut scene. Check to the east to trigger a side quest, Revisit Bitterwater Village. You need to do all this to have an opportunity to recruit one of the game's hardest-to-meet characters, so don't miss out on your chance. As far as I know you at least need Kong Liang in your party for this quest to appear, as he helped you meet a key NPC.

Whether you did Revisit Bitterwater Village or not, your next step is to return to Sweetspring Village. After a quick conversation you'll unlock another side quest, Badlands Ore Veins. You can speak with Ouyang Hai, to the north, to quickly resolve this side quest. Speak to Frosty Condor again once she leaves the party and, after a quick conversation, she'll rejoin. This leads you to the final side quest of this sequence, Approaching Battle. (Leng Wuqing will speak up again if he's in the party, as well.)