[Edited by: StarFly]
Compared to the Underground World at the Underground Cave region, the volcanic cave in this place was more dangerous and frightening.
All the tunnels were created by the violent geologic activity of the volcano, they were actually cracks and channels made for lava to flow freely. Thus, it was a place filled with uncertainty.
Perhaps, when you were walking in the middle of a red-hot tunnel, a sudden burst of hot air from a crack in the wall could bake you into a pile of charred bones. You might also take a wrong step and fall into a bottomless valley, eventually diving into a lava pool that could melt you entirely in seconds.
Though the volcano had gradually entered its resting period, at some random areas, violent geologic activity still existed. And if the sudden sinking of strata happened right next you, it was most probable that you would be crushed into meat paste by the cave that suddenly closed up or by the shifting of the stratum.
Therefore, when walking around in a place like this, one would really have to pay extra attention to the stability of the surrounding rock strata.
Absolute safety never existed here, each and every single apprentice had to be extreme cautious, so that they could avoid getting themselves dragged into sudden changes of the terrain.
However, danger not only came from the shifting of terrain in this volcano, most of it were actually coming from the unique creatures that inhabited this region - Fire Spirits, Lava Hounds, Fire Lizards, Flame Imps, Guardian of Flames… one could easily find more than dozens of Fire element creatures that were named here, yet, there were still countless unnamed creatures hiding in every corner of the place.
These Fire element creatures who lived by fire and feasted on fire had called this volcano their home, constructing a unique food chain in this world of lava. Of course, the ones who stood on top of the food chain would certainly be the dreadful Molten Giants. They were like a group of flaming giants who possessed a high intelligence, and owned some frightful element abilities that were not weaker than human Adepts.
It was a pity that they were overly dependent on the environment to live their lives, as once they left the world of volcanoes, their overall strength would be slowly, but constantly reduced. Therefore, all Molten Giants lived in the deepest areas of this underground volcano, and could hardly be seen in the outside world. With the abilities of ordinary Apprentice Adepts, it was insufficient for them to visit such a deep area within the world of volcano, thus, it was nearly impossible for them to bump into each other.
And yet, the ones who took the place at the bottom of this food chain would most probably be those disgusting Flame Imps. They look similar to Goblins, but their skins were red. Also, they didn't have any flesh or blood, but were a product mixed from balls of source flames and some broken consciousnesses.
They would shuttle back and forth between lava tunnels while chattering like magpies, searching everywhere for the area dense with Fire Elementiums. They would also attack any outsiders who intruded into the areas where they were residing, and their attack methods were rather primitive - by shooting fire arrows. Once they realized they couldn't defeat their opponent, they would simply dive into a random lava pool or hot flame and flee to another place within split seconds.
If a treasure hunter let a Flame Imp escape in front of him, then within a very short period of time, his surroundings would be flooded by a swarm of Flame Imps.
But, these Flame Imps were extremely poor. When you exhausted all mental efforts and eliminated them, what you would most probably get was a pile of volcanic ash, and there wouldn't be any other war trophies you could find. On this point alone, the value of Flame Imps was far lower than that of Fire Spirits. Though Fire Spirit were also stood at the bottom of the food chain in this volcano world, once they were eliminated, you could at least obtain some broken element cores, far better than Flame Imp who gave nothing.
Flame Imps possessed the abilities of Fire Arrow and Fire Teleportation, if they were placed in the outside world, they would be a nasty type of element creature. However, in this volcanic world where everything had a very strong fire resistance, their bizarre abilities were useless when using against other fire element creatures.
And this, was the root cause as to why they were reduced to the bottom of the food chain!
Greem chose not to travel with others. Alone, he squeezed into one of the lava tunnels and ran with quick steps through the passage that led downwards. There weren't any straight paths in this place, and no tunnels with regular shapes could be seen either. Every path would wind and twist following the changes in the terrain, and there were many forks along the way.
This world of volcano was like an enormous beehive, the paths within were rough and rugged, and between each tunnel were caves of different sizes. When walking in this place, if one didn't have any method to identify his way, it was really easy to get trapped in this gigantic maze, and eventually be killed by the heat after depleting all food and water.
Nevertheless, this was not a problem for Greem at all. Not only that, the deeper he traveled into the world of volcano, the more active and restless the blood and flesh of his entire body became. They were rejoicing and cheering for how dense the Fire Elementium in this place were. Even without putting up an element protection, the misty red glow lingering about his body would never bring any harm to him, instead, they actually brought him some benefits.
But, for the sake of appearances, he had to put up his Inferno Force Field, so that his clothes wouldn't be burned off by the high temperature. After all, he was a human, and he didn't have the habit of running naked like those Fire element creatures!
He had no map, yet he didn't need one. Greem never showed any hesitation when he arrived at all forks on his way, he just kept striding forward and heading deep underground. In fact, the beacon that guided his way was the density of the Fire Elementiums in the air! He hadn't come here for treasure hunting, but to go to a 'spa'. Thus, wherever Fire Elementium were denser, he would head that way.
The twists and turns in passages might fool him, but the Fire Elementium hovering in the air would never lie to him. Hence, without missing any turns, he arrived in front of a small lava pool.
This place was not considered the depths of the volcano world; it was just a sunken region that existed naturally. Thus, after most of the molten lava subsided back into the underground, a small portion of it was trapped in this hole, forming a small lava pool.
Right now, a group of Flame Imps and a Lava Hound were seen gathering in this place, swimming and floating in the lava pool, and pouring the boiling hot lava onto their body happily.
Within this group of monsters, it was obvious that the Lava Hound had a higher status, as alone it had occupied nearly half the space. While the rest of the Flame Imps could only squeeze together on the other side of the pool, none of them daring to step closer to the Lava Hound.
When they saw that a human had suddenly come through the tunnel and stood in front of them, the Lava Hound, who had a very strong sense of territory, became the first to jump out from the lava pool, blocking Greem. It slightly crouched down its body, opened up its huge mouth where scorching hot flame could be seen dancing inside, and let out a deep growl in a threatening manner.
So, this was the Lava Hound?
Greem stopped, blue light could be seen flickering in his dark eyes, as he kept scanning on the internal structure of this peculiar creature in front.
It was a Fire element creature whose size similar to that of a tiger's back on Earth in his previous life. Most parts of its body were molded from boiling hot half-molten lava, and scorching hot flames enshrouded the surface of its body. When this Lava Hound opened its ferocious mouth and howled at Greem, the searing lava that dripped from its sharp fangs could even pierce small holes on the ground.
This was a sign that the lava found on its body was stronger than that found in the natural world, and the Fire Elementium soaking in them was more violent and more corrosive.
A moment later, the biological information about this creature as scanned by the Chip was projected into Greem's mind.
Lava Hound. A unique half-element creature of the Underground Volcano World.
Overall strength level: Intermediate Apprentice.
Body Attribute: Strength - 9, Agility - 13, Physique - 10, Spirit - 8.
Abilities: High-speed Charge, Flaming Jump, Flame Throw, Ferocious Bite.
Part of this information was constructed after analyzing the body structure of the Lava Hound, while the other was supplemented by the information found in books. When both informations merged, all its secrets were completely revealed in front of Greem.
Though the Chip labeled this Lava Hound as having the overall strength of an Intermediate Apprentice, in this unique environment, an ordinary Intermediate Apprentice would find it tough to defeat it.
Right when Greem had found out all the secrets of this Lava Hound, his silence had completely provoked the creature.
The powerful hind leg of Lava Hound forcefully kicked on the ground, catapulting its large body into the air and leaping towards Greem and forcefully slammed into the Fire Shield that Greem had just summoned.
A deep, muffled boom echoed out.
The Lava Hound's body brushed the Fire Shield and dodged to Greem's sides, with just a twist of its heavy and agile body, it had once again repositioned itself, and leapt towards the opponent once again. Yet right at this very moment, four vividly deep claw marks hadn't completely faded away from the Fire Shield.
The Lava Hound forcefully slammed onto the Fire Shield once again!
This time, the Fire Shield could no longer withstand the attack from the flaming claws and the powerful impact coming from the heavy body of Lava Hound. With a loud rumble, it exploded into fragments of fire that shot in all directions.
Following the waving movement of the Fire Lord's Scepter in Greem's hand, a new Inferno Shield popped up from his body, knocking back the Lava Hound who had taken the opportunity to launch another attack.
Greem frowned. It looked like the Fire Shield of Beginner Apprentice level could hardly help in the current battle of such magnitude. Even an ordinary Lava Hound could break it with just two rounds of attack. Presumably, if he was facing with stronger Fire element creature, this Fire Shield wouldn't be stronger than a soap bubble.
Yet, the Inferno Shield had proved itself to be the upgraded version of Fire Shield, as its defensive strength was at least five to six times stronger. Greem remained standing where he was, letting the Lava Hound continuously launch attack after attack. The Inferno Shield took nearly ten rounds of attacks before its energy was depleted to a stage of near collapse.
Through his experiences from the battle, Greem modified some necessary parameters of his strategy. After that, he had no mood to keep 'playing' with this Lava Hound anymore. An element core was tossed out, and a gigantic Rock Snake, nearly occupied half of the space in this cave, immediately poked its head out from the ground.
Looking at this new intruder who appeared out of nowhere, the Lava Hound still leaped forward without caring about its own safety, wanting to defend its own territory to the last drop of its blood. But too bad, when facing against the Rock Snake, who had the advantage of a bigger body, the offensive ability which the Lava Hound was proud of was just a joke. Before it could bite off a few chunks of rock from the Rock Snake's body, its body had fallen by the brutal bite of the Rock Snake, resulting in total disintegration of its body.
After the Lava Hound's body fell apart, from the lava rocks that scattered around, Greem picked up a Fire Stone that was still burning violently. This, was the only valuable thing he could find from the body of this Lava Hound!
Greem stayed at where he was and examining the Fire Stone, while the Rock Snake continued its way and slithered towards the remaining Flame Imps.
A shower of Fire Arrows fell onto the grayish green head of the Rock Snake, only managing to leave behind holes the size of a chicken egg. For the Rock Snake whose entire body made from hard rock, a damage like this could even be compared to a gentle tickle. It slithered in front of them, using its huge mouth to chomp, its long tail to slam, and its body to crush. Very soon, most of the Flame Imps were eliminated.
Seeing that the situation was unfavorable, the rest of the Flame Imps quickly dove into the scorching flame dancing above the boiling lava pool, disappeared without a trace. Soon, the entire cave had finally become quiet!