Chapter 292: An Unthinkable Tribute
Pa pa pa pa pa…
A series of explosions burst across Ayrin's body as countless hail like clusters of dense white spit slammed into him.
Ayrin abruptly froze in place as the spit balls buffeted him and then flowed down his body.
As for the Nether Ice Flying Fish, they continued to splash in and out of the water around him.
"Like I said, only a madman would pass through here."
Seeing the scene unfold before him, Stingham subconsciously rubbed his chin as he asked with sympathy, "Are you alright? It must hurt a lot."
"Not really." Ayrin scratched his head as he joyfully smiled, "It's actually very comfortable."
"Aren't you acting a little too perverted?" Stingham exclaimed as he felt the urge to slam his face into the ground.
"Heh, come at me you little buggers!" Ayrin shouted as he provokingly waved his fist towards the Nether Ice Flying Fish dancing around him.
The flying fish were indeed quite weak. After using Dragon Scale Absorption, the spit balls felt like countless small hands giving Ayrin a massage as they hit his body.
Furthermore, the number of arcane particles he absorbed was greater than the amount he consumed by maintaining Dragon Scale Absorption.
The attacks of the Nether Ice Flying Fish were giving a massage and also helping him restore arcane particles!
Ayrin's provocation seemed to have aroused the anger of the Nether Ice Flying Fish around him as even more of them shot out from within the water and shot their spit at him.
"Keep it up! Don't stop!"
Ayrin let out shouts of excitement as he continued to step forward.
Stingham and Rinloran exchanged looks.
It seemed like the Nether Ice Flying Fish had forgotten about them as they directed all their attacks towards Ayrin.
Their barrage was so fierce that many of the Nether Ice Flying Fish quickly became exhausted. Numerous spit balls began to fall into the water short of Ayrin as fish began to float belly atop the milky shallow water.
But more Nether Ice Flying Fish continued to emerge.
It looked like a giant white cloud was following after Ayrin within the Nether Ice Sea.
Even some of the ones which floated belly up continued to relentlessly chase after Ayrin after recovering some strength.
But a few more barrages later, the Nether Ice Flying Fish finally all ran out of steam as they floated belly up and released tiny bubbles from their mouths.
Rinloran, Stingham, Lotton, and the Dark Queen Mermaid carefully waded through the midst of the overturned flying fish. A single careless step and they would step on several of the exhausted flying fish.
"There's quite a lot of them, isn't there?"
"Have these Nether Ice Flying Fish accepted their defeat?"
The group walked forward. All they could see in the water before them was a shocking number of exhausted Nether Ice Flying Fish. As for the few which were still swimming around and jumping out of the water, they were no longer angrily attacking Ayrin. Instead, they were orderly swimming besides Ayrin as if they had given up and accepted his presence.
"Do you know his bloodline? Is that why you were so confident in him being able to cross the Nether Ice Sea?" Rinloran asked Lotton as he observed the scene before him in astonishment. The number of Nether Ice Flying Fish before him was enough to wear out and kill even five gate arcane masters, yet Ayrin was still completely fine and had exhausted the fish instead!
"It is why I am still alive right now," Lotton responded as he lowered his head.
"Still alive?" Rinloran pondered deeply.
After a while, Rinloran felt as if he could partially understand Lotton's response. As a puppet of the bishops, he hadn't ever been able to live.
But upon realizing Ayrin's bloodline, Lotton had gained the courage and conviction to fight against the bishops and try to break free of their control. This thirst for freedom, for control over his own destiny, led to his transformation into a Vengeful Spirit.
"Ayrin, this fellow…" At this moment, a thought abruptly passed through Rinloran's mind. His breath caught in his chest as his pupils contracted.
But then, Stingham cried out, "What is that?"
Rinloran lifted his head and looked, only to freeze in shock.
They watched as a wave of transparent wave of water emerged before Ayrin in the distance.
It looked like countless Nether Ice Flying Fish swimming neatly together in a line.
Ayrin scratched his head in astonishment as he watched several slightly larger Nether Ice Flying Fish used their heads to push a chicken egg-sized yellow sphere before his feet.
Afterwards, all the Nether Ice Flying Fish slowly withdrew in a seemingly respectful manner, including the ones which were completely exhausted. Before long, the Nether Ice Flying Fish disappeared from their sight.
"What just happened?" Stingham exclaimed. He was completely perplexed.
In a similarly confused state, Ayrin slowly picked up the round yellow sphere at his feet.
Stingham and Rinloran quickly gathered beside Ayrin. As they did so, they abruptly felt a sinister, but very pure energy exuding from the sphere. "A draconic aura?" they simultaneously exclaimed as they exchanged looks of shock.
"This is a dragon crystal? Were they paying tribute to you just now, Ayrin?" Rinloran couldn't help but cry out. He had once read that certain beasts and monsters would, upon realizing their inferiority in strength, pay tribute to arcane masters, signifying that the territory had been conquered and its control transferred to the arcane master.
"It should be tribute. But this might not be a dragon crystal… it contains the energy of life," Lotton spoke, his cold, lifeless voice grating everyone else's ears.
"It's not a dragon crystal? It contains the energy of life?" Stingham and Rinloran's expressions simultaneously changed as they excitedly screamed, "Could it be that these are real dragon eggs?!"
It was no surprise that they were excited.
Within the entire Kingdom of Eiche, only the Nine Great Families possessed living dragon eggs!
Within the entire continent of Doraster, the greatest symbol of might and power for an arcane master was having a dragon as their partner! The renowned status of dragon rider!
Upon earning the trust of a dragon after it hatched and forming a spiritual contract, these arcane masters would inexplicably be able to learn Draconic and master some of their contracted dragon's arcane skills!
But within the Kingdoms of Eiche and Doa, dragon eggs were extremely rare. In the last decade or so, only three had been found in the wild.
Thus, any news of unhatched dragon eggs would drive countless arcane masters and houses crazy!
"This is a legendary dragon egg? Those Nether Ice Flying Fish actually brought us something like this?"
Ayrin's eyes widened as he sensed the heat flowing out from within the yellow sphere and felt a strange rhythm pulsing from it.
He subconsciously put his ear on the yellow sphere.
His expression turned strange as he heard the faint, heartbeat like sounds.
"Lotton, how could these fish be in possession of a dragon egg?" Ayrin turned and asked Lotton after verifying that the yellow sphere in his hands was indeed a dragon egg.
"I don't know." Lotton lightly shook his head, causing his neck to creak as he continued, "However, the Evil Dragon's Abyss contains more remnants and relics from the Era of the War with Dragons than anywhere else atop Doraster. Considering how large this Nether Ice Sea is, it is no surprise to me that there was a dragon egg hidden here."
"Still, his luck is a little too good, isn't it? He just strolled around for a bit and got a dragon egg?" Stingham dejected cried out.
"Strolled around?" Rinloran rolled his eyes at Stingham, "You idiot, if not for Ayrin, would you be able to walk through this place and arrive here in one piece?"
"What kind of dragon egg is this? Why is it so small?"
Ayrin looked at the chicken egg sized dragon egg with a puzzled expression as he asked, "Aren't dragon eggs supposed to be rather large?"
"That's right," Stingham cried out as he formed a watermelon sized circle with his arms and body, "Aren't dragon eggs of pure blood dragons normally at least this large?"
"I have also never heard of a dragon egg which was this small," Rinloran added as he shook his head.
"Lotton, do you know?" Ayrin asked as he brought the egg before Lotton.
"I don't know either," Lotton responded. "It must be the egg of some strange dragon."
"Since the egg is abnormal, it should be of a special bloodline. Perhaps it will be even more powerful than a normal dragon," Ayrin exclaimed as he exuberantly examined the dragon egg between his hands. "But… how do I hatch it?"
"Bring it back to the academy. There should be methods for identifying and hatching it there," Rinloran suggested as he took a deep breath and regained his composure.
According to convention, anything found or received by an arcane master while out training or completing missions belonged to that arcane master. It was hard to believe that someone as monstrous as Ayrin had somehow managed to also find a dragon egg. Just what heights would he rise to in the future?
After the Nether Ice Flying Fish gave the dragon egg to Ayrin, they never appeared again.
Thus, the group of four humans plus a mermaid followed Lotton's instructions and managed to cross through the strangely shallow underground lagoon in three quarters of the time they had predicted.
As they reached the end, a vast, seemingly abandoned city ruin appeared before them.
Countless several meter tall black pillars and walls of rock releasing horrible stenches jutted out of the ground, forming a great labyrinth.
"Is this the Land of the Undead?" Stingham asked as he observed the lifeless area, goosebumps erupting all over his body.
"It is not. This is the Land of Slaughter, also known as the Death God's Labyrinth. We will only arrive at the Land of the Undead after passing through here," Lotton responded. "There are no dangers lurking here, and it will not take us long to pass through."
"There are truly no dangers lurking around in here?"
"Lotton, are you joking with us?"
Stingham was on the verge of crying as he screamed in fear behind Lotton.
White bones littered on the ground amidst the pillars and walls of black rock.
Furthermore, these bones weren't limited to just the bones of beasts and monsters. There were also the bones of humans, of arcane masters!
"Why are there so many bones scattered around and throughout this area?"
Rinloran deeply furrowed his brows as a rancid stench assaulted his nose. It seemed like it had not been long since some of these creatures and arcane masters died.