Chapter 1160: Devil Lake Island
Devil Lake Island was a nondescript island situated on the outskirts of the inner seas. The only ones who were aware of its location were the itinerant cultivators who resided on the other nearby islands.
The reason why this island remained in the memories of these cultivators and was given such a peculiar name was because there was a material that could be found on the island, a material known as green copper that was produced in several lakes on the island. The material wasn't very rare nor valuable, but it was essential for refining several types of unique treasures. As such, some low-grade cultivators would occasionally travel to this island to secure this material.
Perhaps it was due to the fact that these lakes contained large quantities of green copper, but in any case, all of the lakes were as green as jade, far greener than the water in a normal lake. Furthermore, if a mortal were to fall into the river, they would be able to float without doing anything.
As such, the coined term of devil lake gradually became popular in the region around the island.
However, this island only had scarce forestry and no spirit veins, so it received very few visitors.
However, on this day, there were around 50 to 60 low-grade cultivators gathered beside one of the lakes. All of the cultivators were busy setting up several complex makeshift formation spells. Most of these cultivators were at the Qi Condensation Stage, and there were only around six or seven Foundation Establishment cultivators among them.
In the air above the center of the lake, there were three Core Formation cultivators gathered, and they were discussing something quietly among themselves.
A wrinkly grey-robed elderly man turned to the other two with a dejected frown, and said, "Junior Martial Brother Lei, we're not going to fail again this time, are we? For the sake of breaking this restriction, I've almost had to expend all of my savings. Throughout this process, I've spent over 200,000 spirit stones! If we fail again, I won't have any more spirit stones to offer."
A handsome blue-robed man harrumphed in reply, "Hmph, you're exaggerating things far too much, Senior Martial Brother Wu. You're the wealthiest among all three of us. The Gold Inscription Pavilion you own is extremely renowned in this surrounding region, so how could you possibly be unable to spare these spirit stones?"
"You may be unaware of this, Junior Martial Brother Lei; even though business appears to be booming for my Gold Inscription Pavilion, it's actually only barely holding on in the face of competition from larger shops like the Fire Cloud Pavilion." The grey-robed man heaved a long sigh with a forlorn expression on his face.
"There's no need to tell us a sob story, Senior Martial Brother Wu! Your Gold Inscription building has been running for a long time, and if there were no profits to be gained from it, why haven't you closed it down already?" The final cultivator of the three was a gorgeous red-robed woman. She had a supple backside coupled with a voluptuous chest, and her large watery eyes seemed to be capable of captivating one's soul.
"The Gold Inscription Pavilion was quite profitable in its earlier years, but that was only when Master was still around. Ever since Master Man disappeared over 100 years ago, the other larger shops have been exerting a lot of pressure on me, seeing as I no longer have a Nascent Soul cultivator as my backer. The first few years were alright as they were still wary of a potential return from Master Man. However, 20 years ago, ever since news had spread of Master Man succumbing to his injuries following his battle with the Archsaint of the Six Paths, business has been deteriorating day after day. If it weren't for the fact that I'm a late-Core Formation cultivator myself, my shop would've most likely been forcibly taken from me already. I'm much more envious of your carefree and leisurely lifestyles." A wry smile appeared on the elderly man's face.
"I have no interest in hearing about these of these things. All I know is that I haven't contributed any fewer spirit stones to this cause than you have, Senior Martial Brother. Furthermore, you're no the only one who has been struggling in the aftermath of Master Man's disappearance. With Master's fiery personality, he offended countless cultivators during his lifetime. Now that he's disappeared, I've been targeted by his enemies as someone to exact their revenge against. I was hunted for several decades before I finally managed to shake them off. In contrast, you've gathered your own forces and can rely on your ties with the Blood Light Sect to keep you safe; you're the only who's truly living a carefree and leisurely life, Senior Martial Brother Wu." A bitter look appeared on the blue-robed man's face as the pungent odor of blood wafted from his body.
"What are you saying, Junior Martial Brother? If it weren't for the fact that I have many disciples under me, I would’ve emulated you two and gone into hiding long ago. Why would I continue to toil like this? Setting aside the massive costs I'm incurring every single year, I have to offer a large number of spirit stones each year to the Blood Light Sect just so I can continue to benefit from their protection. My life is nowhere near as easy as you make it out to be. In comparison, I've heard some things about what you've been up to in the past few years, Junior Martial Brother. Your title as the Bloodhand Devil is vastly renowned among us Core Formation cultivators. The cultivation art you're using allows you to progress rapidly through slaughter, and now, you've already progressed to from the early-Core Formation Stage to the mid-Core Formation Stage." The elderly man seemed to be intent on showing everyone else how miserable he was.
The blue-robed man raised his eyebrows with displeasure and he wanted to continue the argument, but the beautiful woman chuckled and interjected, "Senior Martial Brother Wu, Junior Martial Brother Lei, there's no need for you two to continue quarreling. Ever since Master Man disappeared, all of us have been struggling. However, if we can obtain the treasures hidden within this secret cave abode, I trust that Master's collection as a mid-Nascent Soul cultivator will be enough for us to split among ourselves. When that time comes, we can either go into hiding or seek protection from other powers, and at the very least, self-preservation shouldn't be an issue."
Upon hearing her words, the elderly mand and blue-robed young man looked at one another and they really did stop arguing, thereby hinting at the fact that they were both somewhat wary of this woman.
The three of them looked on in silence as the low-grade cultivators down below continued to set up formation spells. After a short while, the blue-robed man suddenly said, "Senior Martial Sister Cai, you're sure that Master's secret cave abode is actually under this restriction, right? I can tell that Master definitely cast this restriction, but at the same time, Master also has many temporary cave abodes set up on many small islands. This couldn't be one of those, could it? If so, then all of our efforts would be completely in vain."
"Are you doubting me, Junior Martial Brother Lei?" The beautiful woman was rather displeased to hear this.
The blue-robed man licked his lips, and replied expressionlessly, "You were the one who told us that you knew the location of Master's hidden treasures and led us to this island several months ago, but you never told us how you attained this information. Master does have a certain inclination of bias toward you, but I know Master's personality and there's no way that he'd reveal this information to you. Now that this restriction is about to open, why don't you clarify the situation to put me and Senior Martial Brother Wu at ease?"
"Junior Martial Brother Lei is right. We received no news from you for years on end, yet you suddenly came to us out of the blue and led us to this island. You can't blame us for being suspicious," the grey-robed man chimed in calmly.
"So what's it going to be? If I don't disclose this information to you two, are you going to join forces to gang up on me, a frail early-Core Formation Stage woman?" The woman's expression darkened as she raised a hand to tuck a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. As she did so, a purple bracelet that was flashing with mysterious runes was revealed on her wrist.
Both of her martial brothers' expressions changed drastically upon seeing this bracelet.
"I didn't think Master had even bestowed his Purple Ice Bracelet upon you, Senior Martial Sister! Just with that ancient treasure alone, you'll be more than powerful enough to take on Senior Martial Brother and me." A hint of rage and jealousy appeared in the eyes of the blue-robed man, and it was unclear whether this rage was directed toward this woman or Master Man.
The grey-robed man quickly composed himself as a smile reappeared on his face. "Surely you jest, Junior Martial Sister; there's no way we would harbor such ill intentions. It's just in order to break through the restriction under the lake, Junior Martial Brother Lei and I really have given everything. As such, I hope you can forgive us for erring on the side of caution. After all, you didn't contribute so much as a single spirit stone to this endeavor, Junior Martial Sister."
The woman hesitated momentarily before her expression finally eased, and she said, "I led you two to this secret cave abode, and I'm only taking a third of the treasures inside, so why do I need to contribute additional spirit stones? However, seeing as both Senior Martial Brother Wu and Junior Martial Brother Lei are harboring some suspicions, I can disclose the information want to hear."
"We'd be glad to hear it." The elderly man was elated. The young man stood off to the side in silence with a dark expression on his face.
"On the surface, I'm Master Man's female disciple, but I'm actually one of his concubines. I trust that two of you are already aware of this. One night, I learned the location of this secret cave abode as he talking in his sleep. At the time, he knew that his lifespan was about to run out soon, and he was planning on coming to this cave abode and passing away surrounded by all of his treasures," the woman elaborated.
The elderly man and the young man looked at one another with incredulity in their eyes.
"Why does it have to be a complex story? In any case, it's up to your two whether you believe me or not. Besides, do you think Master Man would set up such a complex restriction formation if he were only trying to guard one of his temporary cave abodes? Even after combining our powers, we were still unable to break through it after several months. Is there any plausible explanation for this other than the fact that is the secret cave abode where he keeps all his treasures?" the woman retorted.
A contemplative look flashed through the grey-robed man's eyes before he cupped his fist in a salute, and cleared his throat as he said, "You pose a convincing argument, Junior Martial Sister. It appears that Junior Martial Brother Lei and I were overly paranoid. Thankfully, there's only one final layer of restriction left. After we break through this one, our efforts during the past few months will come into fruition. Let me check on how they're going with setting up the formations."
He then transformed into a streak of yellow light and flew toward the riverbank.
The blue-robed man raised an eyebrow as he took a glance at the woman. "I'll also go check on how they're progressing down there."
Crimson light appeared over his body, transforming into a crimson barrier. His body then sank straight into the lake down below the disappeared.
The woman pursed her lips upon witnessing the departure of her two martial brothers. At the same time, a barely detectable cold light flashed through her eyes.
A short while later, the elderly man delivered some instructions to the low-grade cultivators beside the river before flying into the air to rejoin the woman. Almost at the exact same moment, the water in the lake tumbled and surged down below, following which the blue-robed man also rose into the air.
The three of them were back together in the blink of an eye.
"Junior Martial Brother Lei, Junior Martial Sister Cai, the formation spells are almost... What's that?" The elderly man turned to the two of them with a smile and was just about to say something when his expression abruptly changed as he turned toward the distance.
Both the woman and the blue-robed man were alarmed by this sudden development, and they hurriedly turned toward that direction. There in the distance, an azure streak of light was hurtling toward them, seemingly heading directly for this lake.