Thus, Jin Feng waved a hand, and some of the guards immediately stepped forward before purple wooden badges appeared in their hands amid flashes of spiritual light.
The wooden badges glowed bright, and two purple pillars of light shot forth before vanishing into the center of the formation on the wall in a flash.
A buzzing sound immediately rang out from the silver formation, following which a giant silver gate appeared on that section of the city wall.
The gate was several hundred feet tall and gave off a very cold light, looking as if it had been constructed entirely from metal.
Jin Feng then began to chant something before sweeping a sleeve toward the gate, and a burst of azure light erupted forth. As a result, the gate was slowly opened.
"Thank you for your efforts, Fellow Daoist," Jin Yue said with a smile.
She then led Han Li and Lei Lan through the giant gate as three streaks of light, quickly vanishing into the world beyond the gate.
Jin Feng stood in front of the giant gate and looked on as they disappeared from view. He had a contemplative look on his face, as if there were a nagging concern in his heart.
"Perhaps I'm just being too paranoid. I did sense something slightly off about that guard, but there shouldn't be any issues. Jin Yue is the grand elder of the Tian Peng Race, so she wouldn't do anything detrimental to the Flying Spirit Race," Jin Feng murmured to himself before issuing an instruction to have the gate closed again. After that, he sat down at his original spot again before closing his eyes.
On the other side, Han Li's trio was situated beneath a massive sea of mist, flying toward the entrance to the earth abyss.
Back when Han Li had been a Deity Transformation cultivator, flying through these winds had been a slightly difficult task. However, now that he was at the mid-Body Integration Stage, they naturally posed no impediment to him at all.
Even when he encountered those black glacial winds at the end, they were all easily repelled as a layer of azure light flashed from his body.
As for Lei Lan, she was being protected by Jin Yue, so her safety was naturally ensured.
Not long after that, they were greeted by the sight of the earth abyss entrance, which resembled a gigantic funnel.
Han Li looked down at the giant funnel through narrowed eyes before descending toward it without any hesitation.
Jin Yue and Lei Lan exchanged a glance before also doing the same.
After entering the earth abyss, Han Li was immediately buffeted by fierce winds from all directions, and everything was quite similar to when he had last entered the place.
Around 10 minutes later, he suddenly stopped in his descent, and at this point, he had finally entered the first level of the earth abyss.
However, as he inspected his surroundings, his brows immediately furrowed slightly. He was situated in the air above a murky grey swamp. There was a faint layer of green mist over the swamp, and it was giving off a faint odor of decaying plant matter.
It was quite clear that this wasn't the same place he had entered through last time.
Han Li turned to Jin Yue, and asked, "Fellow Daoist Jin, do you know where this place is and whether it's close to the entrance to the second level?"
"According to the map, this place is around half a day of travel away from the entrance to the second level. I suggest you take some precautions, Fellow Daoist; the poison from the swamp down below poses no threat to us, but there are special flowers that grow exclusively here, and they are home to swarms of poisonous hornets that are quite troublesome," Jin Yue replied as she looked down at the swamp below.
Now that the entire earth abyss had been conquered by the Flying Spirit Race, the map had become far clearer and more detailed than before, so Jin Yue was able to identify this place right away.
"Hornets, eh?" Han Li merely smiled upon hearing this.
Thus, after a brief discussion to determine the direction they should be progressing toward, they continued on their journey.
Half a day later, Han Li's trio appeared in the air above a certain mountain range. After flying for close to two more hours, they arrived near a strange mountain at the center of the mountain range.
This mountain was rather strange as the entire mountain was split into two halfway up, making it resemble a massive “人” character. The entire mountain was of a bare and barren grey color, and according to the map, this was where the entrance to the second level was situated.
Thus far, their journey had been very smooth. They did encounter some hornets over the swamp, but Han Li took care of them with ease with his swords, and after that, they barely encountered any further obstacles, so they almost weren't delayed at all.
It seemed that most of the low-grade demons on the first level had been wiped out. That made sense considering how those low-grade demons didn't have much value, so there was naturally no need for the Flying Spirit Race to keep them around.
Just as they were about to fly under the mountain, Han Li's expression suddenly changed momentarily before immediately returning to normal.
In contrast, Jin Yue suddenly stopped right in front of the mountain, and yelled with a dark expression, "Who's there? Show yourself!"
The space near the entrance of the mountain suddenly twisted and warped, following which a winged humanoid figure appeared out of thin air before extending a respectful bow toward Jin Yue. "Ming Zhen pays his respects to Grand Elder Jin and Holy Master Lei!"
This was a late-Spatial Tempering Stage man from the Tian Peng Race, and he wore a suit of blue armor.
The same scenes unfolded nearby as five more humanoid figures emerged one after another. However, these people merely extended salutes toward Jin Yue, but didn't say anything.
Everyone in this group was at the Spatial Tempering Stage.
Jin Yue could sense astonishing baleful auras emanating from their bodies, and she said, "Greetings, Junior Ming Zhen. If you're here, then that must mean they're all members of the law-enforcement squad as well. Could it be that you're hiding here to ambush the person who robbed the mine warehouse?"
"So you've already heard about what's happened; indeed, we were ordered to guard this entrance, Grand Elder. Why have you and Holy Master Lei come here?" the male Tian Peng being asked in a slightly hesitant manner.
"I heard about what happened from General Jin. As for why I'm here with Holy Master Lei Lan, that's because we have some important matters to attend to here in the earth abyss; we won't be staying here for too long," Jin Yue explained without going into any detail.
"I see. In that case, I won't delay you any longer. If you encounter that thief on the lower levels, please detain him. The entire second level is being guarded by the law-enforcement squad, so he should still be hiding on one of the lower levels," the male Tian Peng being said in a respectful manner.
"Hehe, I'll be sure to step in if I encounter anyone suspicious. Make sure to guard this place well; I'll be leaving with Holy Master Lei Lan now." Jin Yue nodded before immediately continuing on toward the mountain, and soon, Han Li's trio had vanished under the mountain.
After Han Li's trio had departed, a grey-winged Flying Spirit being turned to Ming Zhen, and said, "Is that the grand elder of your race, Brother Ming Zhen? She really is unfathomably powerful as the rumors suggest! With the presence of this Grand Elder Jin, your Tian Peng Race won't have to worry about its survival for at least the next few tens of thousands of years. Come to think of it, who was that other man? He seems to have a similar cultivation base to ours, but I don't think I've ever seen him before."
"Grand Elder Jin is naturally an extremely important figure in our race, but the main reason behind why none of the other races have targeted our Tian Peng Race is due to the existence of our two holy masters. As for the man who was accompanying them, I haven't seen him before, either. However, that's not anything to be surprised about. Our Tian Peng Race has always been one of the weaker branches of the Flying Spirit Race, but our population still numbers in the hundreds of millions; are you just going to be suspicious toward every single unfamiliar face you see?" Ming Zhen replied with a slightly dark expression, clearly not impressed by the suspicions raised by the grey-winged being.
"Hehe, I was only asking out of curiosity, Brother Zhen; I naturally have full trust in the grand elder and holy master of your race," the grey-winged man replied in a slightly sheepish manner.
"Alright, this is not the place to be having a chat; don't forget that we're still on a mission. Hide yourselves right away," a woman with a pair of pristine white horns on her head and a pair of purple wings on her back suddenly said.
Thus, the conversation was abruptly abandoned, and everyone hurriedly nodded in response, seemingly quite wary of this woman.
All six of the Tian Peng beings present made their own hand seals, and they all vanished into thin air again.
Meanwhile, Han Li's trio was situated within a cloud of black mist, and they were flying in a downward direction.
"Looks like the warehouse robber really is quite powerful; even an entrance like this one is being guarded by six Great Spirit Generals. It seems that the thief is either a holy race being or possesses powers on that level," Jin Yue said as she flew, and there was a hint of mockery in her voice.
"Oh? It sounds like you're not overly concerned about this mine," Han Li remarked.
"Why should I care about it? The mine is supposedly there to benefit all of the branches in the Flying Spirit Race, but in reality, most of the ore mined from it are taken by the handful of the most powerful branches; our Tian Peng Race barely gets anything," Jin Yue chuckled coldly in response.
"I see. It looks like even though your Tian Peng Race managed to avoid being wiped out, your situation still isn't a very optimistic one," Han Li said in a contemplative manner.
"If not for this, I wouldn't have agreed to this deal in exchange for that cultivation art. With that cultivation art up our sleeve, the Tian Peng Race will definitely become a force to be reckoned with again in just a few tens of thousands of years. Speaking of which, you'd best make sure that there are no issues with that second half of the cultivation art, Fellow Daoist Han," Jin Yue said in a meaningful voice.
"Rest assured, Fellow Daoist Jin; once we reach the agreed location, I'll issue the second half of the cultivation art to you right away for examination. If there are any issues, I'll take full accountability," Han Li replied with a smile.
"Good." Jin Yue gave a clipped response before falling silent.
Moments later, the black mist began to thin out, and they finally arrived on the second level of the earth abyss.