Besides Zhang Tie and his cousin Zhang Su, there was a total of 20-30 people who entered the Dragon Cave together. The team lasted about 100 m. People who were familiar with each other would stay together while those who didn't know each other would keep their distance and be cautious of those around them. Those people who were experienced with the underground world clearly knew that besides those terrifying magical beasts and monsters that could kill people, many would be killed by others due to various reasons each year. What was more gloomy and dangerous than this underground world was a person's heart.
As Zhang Su entered the Dragon Cave in the uniform of the Breaking Heaven Department of Hidden Dragon Palace, soon after he and Zhang Tie entered the underground cave, three other teams of people had already joined them.
Hidden Dragon Palace was the law enforcer and peacekeeper of Hidden Dragon Island. During the past several hundred years, it had accumulated a very good reputation on the Island. Therefore, Zhang Su's uniform made him a reliable symbol for those on Hidden Dragon Island.
The cave was full of strange, jagged rocks. Stalactites could be seen everywhere. Some stalactites suspended from the top of the cave while others were erected from the ground. Besides footsteps, people could also hear the crisp sound of the water dripping from the top of the cave.
It was the paradise of swallows within several hundred meters from the entrance. There were numerous swallows flying in the cave. When those swallows flew into the sky and covered the sunlight, the whole cave would become bit dimmer.
When Zhang Tie noticed that there were many stands and ladders built of bamboo and ropes were located at critical positions on the walls, he became quite curious.
"Cousin, what are those? How could anyone build these things here?"
"Hoho, there are millions of golden swallows in various caves on the Island. Their nests are extremely expensive tonics, which are worth more than their weight in gold. When they need money, those in the Breaking Heaven Department would come here to dig out the nests of the golden swallows. When I entered the Breaking Heaven Department, I also needed money and came here to dig out the swallows' nests. One day, I dropped from a height of 30 m and almost died!" Zhang Su sighed, "Previously, I used to eat golden swallow nests at home. I always felt that everything was so easy. However, not until I almost lost my life for one swallow's nest did I know that nothing in this world was easy. When you enjoy it, someone is bleeding and perhaps even losing their life for you. Everything has a price. Why could you drink lotus congee with swallows' nests in the morning while others have to dig swallows' nests for you from dozens of meters high in a cave at the risk of their own lives? For what? Anyone who wanted to leave the Hidden Dragon Palace has to figure it out!"
When Zhang Su talked with Zhang Tie, he didn't lower his voice. Therefore, what Zhang Su said was not only heard by Zhang Tie, but also heard by those people who followed them in.
"I've long heard about the good reputation of the Zhang clan of Huaiyuan Palace. Hereditary clans are truly great!" After hearing Zhang Su's words, a 40-odd-year old man who was walking along with Zhang Tie and Zhang Su sincerely praised.
"Thanks, Hidden Dragon Island is the place where the Zhang clan's apprentices have to cultivate. If we don't endure hardships, how could it be called cultivation?" Zhang Su politely answered.
"Fucheng, Tianlin, have you heard that? Even the apprentices of Zhang clan, the hereditary clan of Huaiyuan Palace would prioritize enduring hardships and dangers during cultivation. Our Lu clan's apprentices have no qualification to be pleased with ourselves in the small Jun'an City as our clan is much weaker than the Zhang clan. You should not complain about hardships when you cultivate. After you form your battle qi and leave here, you have to tell what you have learned here with your juniors. Tell them how the Zhang clan of Huaiyuan Palace trains their clan apprentices to make them feel shameful!" That middle-aged man warned two 20-odd-year old young men next to him in a solemn expression.
"Yes, sir, uncle Qi!" The two 20-odd young men answered seriously.
Hearing those words, the other people who walked together with Zhang Su and Zhang Tie also hurriedly nodded as what they heard just now was truly a good example to educate the young apprentices in their own clans. It was fortunate for the Zhang clan of Huaiyuan Palace to gain such a great honor.
Everybody nodded, except for a juvenile who looked younger than Zhang Su yet older than Zhang Tie who made a cold harrumph. He seemed to disagree. Hearing the young man's cold harrumph, another middle-aged man who was walking together with him cast a stern gaze at him to make him quiet.
At this moment, Zhang Tie's cousin Zhang Su looked like he was unaffected by the honor or disgrace. He seemed not care about the others' praise or that faint cold harrumph. However, Zhang Tie noticed a wisp of an ignorant smile flashing by his cousin's mouth corner. Zhang Su didn't even look back; instead, he directly ignored it.
"Besides being kind to him and talking with him, this cousin is really proud!" Zhang Tie gradually understood his cousin's personality.
Zhang Su kept silent. In contrast, Zhang Tie was different, he started to chat with the others. When they noticed that Zhang Tie was from Zhang clan of Huaiyuan Palace and a member of Hidden Dragon Palace, they didn't dare to freely talk with him before. However, when they chatted with Zhang Tie, they found that this juvenile was very humorous and honest. He neither placed himself above others nor made others embarrassed. They didn't feel the usual sense of arrogance the elites from hereditary clans at all. After a short while, Zhang Tie became familiar with some of the young men.
Zhang Su just listened to their talk on one side as he started to sigh over Zhang Tie's talent. He hadn't imagined that Zhang Tie could be so sociable. But after recalling the letter from home on Zhang Tie's previous life, Zhang Su finally figured it out. As Zhang Tie was living in the secular world since he was young, he usually worked in the grocery store after school, so he must have come in contact with people from all walks of life. Of course, Zhang Tie was good at interacting with others.
When they reached all the way to the underground, the scene in the cave also kept changing. Zhang Tie could see more and more lichens on the ground. At the same time, Zhang Tie could already smell the bloody flavor that drifted from ahead.
When Zhang Tie had estimated that they had already traveled several miles underground, all of a sudden, an unexpected scene appeared before his eyes. A huge underground karst cave which was dozens of kilometers wide and several hundred meters high. The topography inside the karst cave was strange——stones crisscrossed, while some huge lichens that Zhang Tie had never seen before grew amongst the stones. On the ground and among the surrounding massifs, there were various, weird caves of different sizes, making this place a strange maze.
The jarring howls of monsters and growls of people could be heard often. There was also the appearance of all sorts of battle qi in the darkness in this huge underground space.
Zhang Tie knew that they finally arrived at their destination. By then, they should also separate with each other.
"Brother, if you come to Jun'an City in Jiangtang Prefecture, remember to visit us at the Lu clan. We will definitely invite you to eat all the yummy food across the Jun'an City!" Lu Fucheng patted Zhang Tie's shoulders as he said.
"It's a shame that I can't bet on you in the Hidden Dragon Palace. Otherwise, I would withdraw my entire 100 gold coins savings in the bank to encourage you!" Lu Tianlin laughed out generously, "It usually takes commoners about 1-2 months to gather common battle qi. Firstly, Soul Fire enters one's body; secondly, one is washed by Soul Fire, seven strengths would combine into one to form battle qi. For some advanced battle qi, it requires anywhere from a few months to half a year for a person to form. As you have 2 years, don't worry, the gods always help those who help themselves. As long as you work hard, you will definitely make it!"
"Haha, thanks for your encouragement, brother Lu. When I arrive at Jun'an City, I will definitely come to Lujiabao for you!"
"Fine, that's a deal!"
After separating with Zhang Tie and Zhang Su, Lu's group firstly entered the huge underground space.
"Brother, come on, if you are free, come to Iron Saber Gate to discuss fighting skills with us!"
Another group separated with Zhang Tie and Zhang Su.
Finally, the team that separated with Zhang Tie and Zhang Su was the one that contained the youth who had made a cold harrumph. Among them, an elder even cast two more glances at Zhang Tie before he left, seemingly wanting to keep Zhang Tie in mind.
"Let's go." Zhang Su headed for the other direction with Zhang Tie following behind.
The major attacking parts of level 6 Hell-black spiders were the two pairs of sharp teeth in front of their mouth and the pair of forelimbs. However, their attack range was limited. What you had to watch out for was the webs spat out from their mouths. Once the webs stuck to your body, it would restrict your movement!" After entering the karst cave, Zhang Su told Zhang Tie how to deal with those Hell-black spiders.
"What's the effective range of its web?"
"5-10 m. When it is going to spit out a web, its two pairs of teeth will completely open. Additionally, its abdomen will produce a sound of a "drumbeat". You can dodge its attack or keep your distance. Its two sides, abdomen and back were all weak points that can be attacked. Its weakest point is on its head. You can directly kill it by destroying its head!"
Less than 10 minutes after they entered the underground space, Zhang Tie saw the first Hell-black spider. It was a huge terrifying spider that was taller than 2 m and bigger than an ox. When Zhang Su and Zhang Tie passed by a weird dark-red umbrellshaped lichen zone, this spider suddenly jumped out of the foot of the plants and bit at Zhang Tie.
Zhang Su didn't move. As it was his first time to see such a huge spider, Zhang Tie was so scared that he almost jumped up. When he realized that this ugly animal treated him as a target, Zhang Tie became furious.
The longer pair of teeth of the Hell-black spider was almost as long as Zhang Tie's arm. They were as wide as a javelin. Before the longer pair of teeth bit onto Zhang Tie, Zhang Tie had already firmly held them. With a sound of "kacha", he had broken them and torn them out of the Hell-black spider's mouth. Along with its jarring, painful howl, Zhang Tie inserted the two teeth onto the huge spider's head.
The terrifying spider's jarring sound immediately stopped.
After being so scared that he even screamed by such a level 6 insect in front of his cousin, Zhang Tie really felt that he had lost face.
"F*ck, who let you jump out and scare me, who let you jump out and scare me..." While swearing at it, Zhang Tie didn't stay still. After turning its head into a bloody mess out of fury, Zhang Tie directly kicked it and sent the several hundred kilogram body flying into the air. The corpse of the spider then rolled over 10 m away with its legs pointing to the sky.
After doing that, Zhang Tie even spat towards its corpse, "Pah...damn, who let you jump out to scare me; thankfully, I don't have heart problems. If not, I'd have been scared to death by you instead of being bitten to death..."
After killing the spider, Zhang Tie felt bashful as he smiled towards Zhang Su and scratched his head in an honest way, "Erm...As this is my first time to see such a huge spider, I was really scared by it, heh...heh...don't laugh at me, cousin..."
The corner of Zhang Su's eyes slightly twitched as he was inwardly startled. "A level 6 hell black spider was beaten by Zhang Tie in the same manner he beat and killed chickens and dogs. What insane strength!"
Zhang Su knew that Zhang Tie was abnormal, but he had never imagined that Zhang Tie was that abnormal. When the Hell-black spider jumped out of the plants to bite Zhang Tie, what Zhang Tie had performed in terms of speed, strength, and reflexes to catch that Hell-black spider was definitely akin to having experienced the same scene thousands of times. What mattered most was that at the critical moment, Zhang Tie could still act that easily. Only after experiencing numerous life and death situations could one gain such fast responsive instinct. Even for Zhang Su, he still could not deal with that Hell-black spider that easily and fluently as if drinking water.
Zhang Tie's strength was too terrifying. To tell the truth, Zhang Su hadn't seen anyone who had just reached level 6 explode with such strength.
After glancing at the corpse of the spider, Zhang Su took a deep breath, "Let's go. It's said that even the imperial households of Norman Empire had to spend half a month to one month to have Soul Fire enter their body when they were cultivating their Iron-Blood Battle Qi. After absorbing enough Soul Fire and combining seven strengths into one, one could finally form the unrivaled Iron-Blood Battle Qi!"
"Cousin, what's Soul Fire?" This was the weakness of poor cultural deposits. The common sense for many people was strange to Zhang Tie.
"You don't know what Soul Fire is?" Zhang Su was dumbfounded.
Good god, nobody had talked about Soul Fire with him——Zhang Tie made a bitter smile. Zhang Tie had heard this term twice today. As he felt it shameful to ask outsiders, he couldn't but ask Zhang Su.
"The so-called Soul Fire refers to the fire of the souls of the underground monsters killed by you. They are stimulated by your killing intent. Soul Fire is a mysterious strength that resonates with your killing intent and invisible qi field. This strength can purify your seven common strengths and aid in converting them to battle qi. Usually, only those whose level and conditions have reached the critical point form battle qi are able to produce Soul Fire inside magical beasts after killing them..."
"How does Soul Fire enter one's body?" Zhang Tie kept asking like a curious child.
"Soul Fire resonates with your killing intent and qi field. Therefore, it can automatically enter your body after being formed. This is called Soul Fire entering one's body. Iron-Blood Battle Qi is very amazing and the last step is the most difficult to form Iron-Blood Battle Qi. Besides the imperial households of Norman Empire, almost nobody can form it. Even the imperial households of Norman Empire are hardly able to break through the last step. Additionally, not every dead magical beast can form Soul Fire. Iron-Blood Battle Qi requires too much Soul Fire, at least five times that of common battle qi..."
Zhang Su walked as he explained. Only after walking a few steps forward, he had noticed that Zhang Tie suddenly stopped.
"Cousin..."Zhang Tie's voice faintly quivered, "Loo...look, what's that?"
Zhang Su turned back and was also dumbfounded by what he saw...
Not far away, in the place where the corpse of the Hell-black spider lay, a firefly-like golden light started to gradually appear above its dead body. In a short period, the golden light had gathered and formed into a ball of golden light as large as a fist. Soon after, the ball of gold light started to burn like a wildfire. Of course, it wasn't truly burning but had the appearance of doing so.
The burning ball of golden light then swiftly flew towards Zhang Tie. Zhang Su tried to grab it with hand, yet it directly penetrated his palm like a zero-weight ball of air and a shadow and fell onto Zhang Tie's lower abdomen and disappeared...
No matter how surprised he was, how unimaginable what happened was, Zhang Su still had to admit that——the ball of golden light was true Soul Fire. Because only true Soul Fire could have such strange properties. As long as it was not far from the person who caused it to form, within several hundred meters, that ball of Soul Fire could always penetrate through all the obstacles and fly into the qi ocean of that person's dantian elixir field——This is Soul Fire entering one's body.
Golden Soul Fire can only be formed by the resonating of a few top grade battle qis with magical beasts in the entire Waii Sub-continent. Iron-Blood Battle Qi was one of them.
Even though the imperial households of Norman Empire could not form Soul Fire after they killed the first Hell-black spider. How could his cousin...
At this moment, Zhang Su was watching Zhang Tie like he had found gold.
"——Mamma Mia, wife, come out to see God!"  A joke that originated from the age before the Catastrophe flashed across Zhang Su's mind. Thankfully, he was not married. If he truly had a wife, Zhang Su would definitely shout out loudly.
After taking a deep breath, Zhang Su still felt his heart racing. He constrained his pounding heart and asked Zhang Tie in a calm voice,"How do you feel now?"
"I felt...felt a bit strange in my lower abdomen. But it soon disappeared!" Zhang Tie scratched his head as he said. Zhang Tie also saw how the Soul Fire penetrating through Zhang Su's palm and felt it pretty marvelous.
"That's because you've haven't absorbed enough Soul Fire!" After taking another breath, Zhang Su stared at Zhang Tie in with an unprecedented look, "Do you know that you've broken a record today?"
"Is it that difficult?" Zhang Tie dubiously stared at Zhang Su with a blank expression, "I don't feel like I've done anything special! I just hastily killed a Hell-black spider..."
Hastily killed? Zhang Su was so shocked much that he almost spat out blood. He decided to not discuss this with Zhang Tie anymore. If he kept discussing this, his self-esteem would collapse.
"Argh, I just saw golden Soul Fire flying from here, was I imagining it? Where's it now?"
"I saw it too, is someone gathering battle qi here?"
"Let's take a look over there! Battle qis that can stimulate golden Soul Fire are all top grade battle qi. It's rare to have the chance to see it. I've been in the Dragon Cave many times, but I've never seen golden Soul Fire! If we take a look we might learn something..."
Hearing the voices not far from them, Zhang Su glanced at Zhang Tie, "If you don't want to be surrounded by country bumpkins hurry up and leave here!"
Saying this, Zhang Su paced up towards far, closely followed by Zhang Tie.
"Cousin, why are we rushing?"
"Golden Soul Fire is too obvious here. Since you can't hide it, it's better to display it in a more opening place. As you are from Hidden Dragon Palace, what you do represents the Zhang clan's apprentices of Huaiyuan Palace. The news that a level 6 apprentice of Zhang clan of Huaiyuan Palace can easily gather golden Soul Fire will definitely shock other clans and make our clan more majestic..." Zhang Su explained.
Zhang Tie nodded.
In the next several minutes, they didn't meet any Hell-black spiders.
Zhang Su directly brought Zhang Tie into a huge canyon in the karst cave. In the canyon, there were already 200-300 people. What was more amazing was that Hell-black spiders constantly climbed out of the crevices and the abyss of the canyon...
Guo Miaolu and some girls from Zhixing Department were also here...