[Edited by: StarFly]
Once peace and quiet returned to this place once again, those disturbing Fire element creatures had long left the scene.
Dragging its heavy and long body, the Rock Snake was slithering around the outer perimeter and on high vigilance. Meanwhile, Greem took off all his clothes and while fully naked, walked into the lava pool step by step.
The boiling molten lava quickly flooded to his ankles, then to his calves and then his thighs. Whenever a bubble stirred up by his movement broke, steaming hot airflow with the temperature of at least few hundred degrees would burst out from it. And yet, it seemed like Greem couldn't feel anything, as he continued to march deeper into the pool, allowing the sticky and scorching hot lava to devour his body, and eventually, his head.
Following the injecting of the frightful high temperatures into his body at a steady pace, Greem felt as if every single cell in his body was cheering and rejoicing. However, though the Fire element energy inside of his body was soaring at an incredible speed, he couldn't felt the same pleasure he had last time, where both his body and Spirit were improving at the same time.
As if… as if this lava pool was lacking a fundamental element that allowed his Inferno Body to progress.
Greem stood up from the lava pool, wonderingly, he ran his eyes around the area. Finally, he couldn't hold on anymore and asked out his question, "Chip, give this situation a thorough analysis. Tell me what is the reason that is preventing Inferno Body from continuing its progress?"
In next second, countless messages of analysis rolled off his vision, and disappeared at the end, leaving behind only the final conclusion. The most possible reason why this lava pool couldn't accelerate the progress of the Inferno Body was that it wasn't connected to the volcano core located at the deepest level. This lava pool was just a small region of leftover lava after all the lava had subsided to the underground, and it had lost direct connection to the core of the lava.
Seemed like it was meaningless for him to keep visiting the outer perimeter. Only by traveled deeper underground and finding the lava lake that directly connected to the core, would this trip be well worthwhile.
Nevertheless, it didn't mean by having a bath in this lava pool brought no benefit to him. Greem sent out his spirit and penetrated through the sticky and scorching lava, and very soon, he discovered some strange objects underneath the pool.
Greem walked into the direction of South East within the pool, using Inferno Force Field he pushed away the surrounding lava, exposing the red-hot pool wall. He passed the Fire Lord's Scepter to his left hand, while gathering some violent Fire element energies on his right hand. Then, he forcefully pierced his right hand into the spongy pool wall.
When he pulled his right hand out from the wall, a chicken-egg-sized rock was seen tightly gripped in his palm. Following the injecting of raging Fire element energy, the outer layer of the rock started to melt like hot wax, eventually, revealing a dazzling red glow together with a sizzling heat wave.
An underground Fire Diamond!
It had only been the size of a human thumb. Judging from its color, it was merely an intermediate quality Fire Diamond. However, just an ordinary Fire Diamond like this could be sold at a hefty price of 120 magic crystals in any arcane shop. Also, for all Apprentice Adepts who visited deep into the volcano, they just needed to submit five similar Fire Diamonds, and they would be considered as fulfilling the portion of resources required by the mission. As for any other things they harvested, they could be treated as personal rewards for the apprentice.
Since this place brought him no significant help, Greem had no intention of staying any longer. He hurriedly put on his clothes, took the Rock Snake and rushed to the next destination with a high density of Fire Elementiums.
One hour later, there was still not a single soul in this underground cave, but, bizarrely, a light sound of footsteps suddenly echoed out.
A moment later, a vague figure with the shape of a human was revealed within the boiling heat wave right beside the edge of the lava pool.
This was a young male with a long brown hair hanging loosely on his shoulders. He had a somber and stern face. Mystical and profound magical runes were seen fully drawn on his exposed neck, giving him a touch of wickedness.
He was one of the visiting Pseudo-Adepts who Greem paid special attention to previously.
He seemed startled right when he arrived at the cave. As a Pseudo-Adept, he always acted alone, as he felt disdain to be in the same group as those rookies. Relying on his strange ability of invisibility, most of the Fire element creatures in this place couldn't find any trace of him, allowing him to avoid most of the unnecessary battles, eventually arriving at this cave smoothly.
However, from the burning fragments of lava rocks left over by the Lava Hound, and the volcanic ashes of the Flame Imps, together with the traces found on the ground left behind by some large crawling creature from the surface, he came to a conclusion that this place was visited by someone else before.
Quietly, Tamora stood at the edge of the lava pool with his back straight, using his spirit to give the surroundings a quick scan. He found nothing. It looked like even if there were creatures here, they had become the war trophies of the person who had come before him.
How could it be possible that someone was faster than him? Could it have been the other Pseudo-Adept?
Having his mind filled with questions, Tamora had no choice but made a last-minute change to his route. He didn't want to follow behind another expert and feast on the crumbs from the table. He had three months of time, and it was more than enough for him to dig out sufficient magical crystals to support his two years of consumption.
During the second half of his journey, Greem had stopped behaved timidly like he had previously, and became bold and enthusiastic.
Sitting high up on the body of Rock Snake, he let it crush through one after another lava tunnel like a bulldozer. When a tunnel was large enough, they would charge through it. When a tunnel was too small, once the Rock Snake squeezed through, it would become big enough.
Anyhow, with the self-repairing speed of Rock Snake, the mild scratching and damage on its body could cause no real damage to it.
Throughout their journey, when they encountered some smaller sized Fire element creatures, the Rock Snake would simply crush them. If it were some middle-sized creatures, it would first forcefully slammed and break the creature's body, then continued by crushing over it. As for the desperate counterattacks put out by these Fire element creatures, they could barely bring additional tiny wounds onto the Rock Snake's body, let alone stop it from pushing through.
Greem didn't even bother to come down and pick the Fire Stones or broken cores that fell out from the bodies of these Fire element creatures. He just let the Rock Snake swallow them straightaway, and only when he needed to organize them in future, would he sort through and filter them slowly.
Also, for every place with a high density of Fire Elementiums, basically there would be a big or small sized lava pool. The only thing Greem needed to do was using his spirit and penetrate through the sticky and scorching lava, and find out those Fire Diamonds buried deep inside of rock stratum or covered inside some of the hard rocks.
Of course, occasionally, he would discover some other magical gemstones or unique metal ores.
Then, in the course of marching forward at great speeds, Greem saw another common Fire element creature.
Fire Spirit was considered the natural spirit that numbered the greatest in this world of volcano. Usually, they took the form of a humanoid flame that stood over one meter tall and could walk around freely. They didn't have any eyes, ears, mouth, nose, or internal organs. Their bodies were totally made up of steaming hot fire, and they couldn't be too far away from a lava pool.
For these fellows who had no corporeal body and were just a collection of Elementium, the Rock Snake could easily crush them just with its heavy and rock solid body, saving the time of putting out an intense fight. And, from penniless vagrant like these, Greem would never find anything useful.
Fire Lizards were a type of Fire element demon beasts. They did have flesh and blood, and similar to those ordinary large-scale lizards, they liked to hide in the dark and sneak up on their enemies. However, these underground Fire Lizard had rough skins and thick muscles, and they also possessed the ability to spit out flames from their mouth. Not only that, they also had excellent fire resistance. They had a habit of lurking at the edge of a lava pool, waiting for Fire element creatures to fall into their snare.
The Fire Stones with a high density of Fire Elementium and the conscious cores found inside the bodies of Fire element creatures were their favorite food.
Before came to this underground world, Greem already had an initial understanding about this world of volcano. In order to save the maximum amount of time, he had decided not to leave this place until the end time of the mission. With that, the issue Greem needed to solve urgently was regarding food and water.
As for water, besides having a water sack in his storage waist belt, Greem could always collect it by gathering Water Elementiums. Although his element affinity was Fire and he was in a volcanic environment, which could be extremely tough to summon his Water Elementals, he could still solve his water issue easily.
So, the next issue he needed to solve was food!
The food Greem brought with him could only last him for one week. No matter how much more food he brought, it would be really difficult to keep it for a long time in such an extreme environment. Also, as Greem couldn't consume fire as his food like how those Fire element creatures could, searching for a new food source in this underground world had become an inevitable task.
Yet, in this world of volcano, only Fire Lizards who were made up of flesh and blood could be used as a food source. Nevertheless, the meat of Fire Lizards was tough and tensile, and its blood had a stinky odor and was hot. If not for the fact that the Fire element energy contained within would bring a tremendous benefit to his body, Greem would never torture his stomach with this nasty food.
Basically, these middle and small sized Fire element creatures couldn't pose any threat to Greem. But, those Magmakins and Guardian of Flames who had a stronger overall strength were difficult to handle.
Both Magmakins and Lava Hounds were actually two different creatures with the same foundation, it just that one of them took the shape of a human, while the other looked like a hound. When facing a Lava Hound, a Rock Snake could tear it apart with just a powerful slam and a ferocious bite. But when facing a Magmakin, the same tactic was completely useless!
Magmakin was a humanoid monster who possessed an intermediate intelligence. The outer layer of its body was underground lava stone of all sizes, ordinary offensive magic spells could hardly penetrate this layer of extremely tough rock armor. Also, they were extremely cunning creatures, and would never act like the Lava Hounds who couldn't even judge the overall strength between itself and its enemy.
The Magmakin liked to tenaciously defend the lava pool it took it as its home, and would never allow any outsider took a step into its territory. Also, its offensive methods were rather similar to that of a Fire element Adept. For example, it would use an endless shower of spells - Firestone Throwing, Ignite, Flamestrike or some other similar spells - when it fought. Frequently, it would use these Fire element spells that blotted out the sky and turned the lava cave into a sea of fire.
When Greem bumped into a fellow like this who hid in a far distance and kept launching long-range offensive magic spells, he had no choice but to command the Rock Snake to charge into the lava pool and engage the enemy in a melee fight. Though both Rock Snakes and Magmakins were Advanced Apprentice level creatures, as the Rock Snake had the advantage of a bigger body, it had a stronger strength compared to the opponent.
A fierce melee battle would always break out within the lava pool. Eventually, the final victor would always be the Rock Snake, who had a bigger body, a greater strength, and a better Physique.
Nevertheless, whenever an intense battle was over, the burly body of Rock Snake would always be slimmed down. After all, it was just an Earth element golem, thus, when fighting against the same grade opponent, in the opponent's territory, just soaking its body in the lava pool would bring a huge damage to itself.
Therefore, every time after it killed a Magmakin, the rounded and thick body of Rock Snake would always slim down by at least three times.
The Rock Snake could defeat these Magmakins after a fierce fight, but when facing the Guardian of Flames, the outcome would be near impossible to predict.