Chapter 338: Exploring the underground world again
A large portion of mountain people who had lived around the five mines for many years already came down from the mountains under the arrangements of the five mountain chiefs, and once again returned to Brettel City.
The news of the four bandit groups’ defeat had inadvertently spread throughout the seven grand duchies. The smaller bandit groups wouldn’t dare rob Brettel City again. Even the seven grand duchies who were still locked in conflict were shocked by this news. Overnight, Brettel City had transformed from a city anyone could bully to a taboo existence, its new status paved by the corpses of ten thousand bandits.
When Brettel City was busy preparing for the mountain people, Han Shuo left Dorcas and the others a few instructions, then soundlessly disappeared.
All of the magic crystal ores had been used up. These weren’t easily acquired either. Although they were unlike the goblin missiles for the war chariots where they were extremely rare and monopolized by the various empires for use in magical formations. Han Shuo had already instructed Fabian to acquire some more crystal ores, but now the former also began to think of other ways to obtain crystal ores.
Han Shuo first thought was of the underground world. The last time he was in the Dark Forest, he’d heard that this world possessed magic crystal mines. Now that Brettel City had temporarily calmed down, Han Shuo once again set out for the Dark Forest by himself.
Arriving at the Dark Forest, Han Shuo didn’t tarry and went straight to the entrance of the underground world.
He didn’t immediately rush in, but released a yin demon to sweep a five mile radius. After the yin demon covered the area, Han Shuo didn’t find any traces of the Redbud Knights, which meant they had either stopped probing the underground world or had gone in.
He didn’t spend too much time hesitating. Han Shuo hadn’t informed the forest trolls this time either and ventured into the underground world alone. After a long winding underground tunnel, he gradually reached the depths of the world. Since his power had greatly expanded since the last time he was here, Han Shuo only needed one hour of uninterrupted flight before officially entering the underground world.
There weren’t many changes compared to last time. According to the division of the underground world’s layers, the lizardmen were one layer above Han Shuo, while the Dark Dragon City seemed to be a layer below.
The underground world had a clear hierarchy. The weakest races lived in the upper layers, and the lower a race lived, the more powerful it was. According to legend, some races at the very bottom of the underground world resided were so powerful that they were even headaches for the gods. However, those races were said to be cursed. They were bound by an unknown force, forever unable to leave the underground world that was bereft of light all year round.
“If I knew sooner I’d have summoned Gilbert here. He’s from the underground world and must be familiar with the lizardmen. I could save much effort with him here.” Han Shuo couldn’t help but lament after entering the underground world. He’d forgotten that he had no clue where the lizardmen lived.
The underground world was just as vast as the world aboveground. The roads were endless, numerous and complicated. If one didn’t know the way around here and became lost, they’d be hard pressed to find the way back. Fortunately, Han Shuo’s memory was astonishing after his brain had been developed by his magic cultivation. He slowly walked along the road where he encountered the lizardmen previously.
Last time in the underground world, Han Shuo had gotten into a conflict with the dark elves. It was due to Gilbert’s presence that he’d become familiar with the lizardmen. Just as humans saw the lizardmen to be all alike, in the eyes of the lizardmen all humans looked the same. Han Shuo didn’t know if the lizardmen could still recognize him.
Relying on his memory, Han Shuo walked back to where he’d met the lizardmen. He encountered many strange races along the way. There were goblins with grey blue skin, dark batmen who liked gloomy humid places and even dark elves, but he didn’t see any lizardmen.
The yin demon released by Han Shuo was also floating around to find traces of the lizardmen to no avail even after a long time.
When Han Shuo entered a dark, humid area, an ear-piercing screech suddenly assaulted his ears. He looked up to discover a mass of black shadows flying towards him, which turned out to be a group of men who could transform into bats. Astonishingly enough, they were trying to attack him.
“Human, leave everything you have here and we will consider giving you an easier death!” A batman in the front of the group spoke awkwardly in the common tongue, heading straight for Han Shuo’s head.
The batmen’s bodies were smaller than that of an average human. However, they had umbrella-like pair of wings and sharp claws that humans didn’t have. These batmen liked to live in flocks and were just as infamous as the forest trolls aboveground. They wouldn’t hold back once they encountered easily bullied individuals and would bare their fangs to tear their prey apart, looting their targets.
Han Shuo wasn’t terrified and instead rejoiced when he saw the batmen fly out from the spacious, gloomy and damp cave. He sneered evilly, bloody lights shooting out from his ten fingers that were dancing in the air as if playing an invisible piano. Each light was as sharp as a blade, crisscrossing to form an unavoidable streak of light. As they sunk into the incoming mass of flapping batmen, agonized, piercing shrieks echoed through the air as they fell.
Han Shuo actually didn’t touch the talking batman. The latter’s small, beady eyes gleamed with fear’s light as he watched his companions massacred by Han Shuo without even the slightest hint of resistance. He turned around quickly, trying to get away from this fiend of disaster.
“And where do you think you’re running to!?” Han Shuo lightly shouted, releasing his mental strength. His recently practiced demon spell “Soul Tremor” immediately surged into the batman.
The batman’s body plummeted like a plane fresh out of fuel. He vainly tried to flap his way out of his uncontrolled fall, but smashed into the ground with a thundering impact, leaving him dizzy and disoriented.
When the batman managed to come to, he was greeted with the face of a human smiling diabolically. The batman’s individual power was almost negligable, so he swept his small, beady eyes around to see none of his brethren. His wings trembling in his fear, the batman shrieked in common continental language, “Powerful human mage, please forgive the offense of this lowly petty bat, I beg you to forgive me!”
“You speak human language very well, otherwise you’d be dead already.” Han Shuo kicked the batman into the air when it’d just gotten up. Han Shuo laughed heartily and didn’t wait for the latter to land before kicking the batman around like a rubber ball.
“Good, I now forgive your offenses!” Han Shuo stopped his torturing when he saw that the batman was on the verge of falling apart, smiling merrily, “Now, you’ll answer each question I ask. I don’t mind dismantling your fragile skeleton if your answers aren’t good enough.”
The best way to deal with these batmen was to be brutal and domineering. This kind of race bullied the weak and feared the strong. They would bite the weak without a care, but would be meek and honest in front someone stronger. The way Han Shuo handled this batman made him toss away any idea of fleeing or lying. It responded in a shrill voice, “Powerful human mage, my answers will definitely satisfy you. Us batmen are aware of all happenings in this underground world!”
“Very good!” nodded Han Shuo. He smilingly asked, “Did a large group of humans recently enter the underground world? If so, where did they go? Where are the lizardmen? I heard the lizardmen recently discovered a magic crystal mine, do you know its location?”
Just as the scared stiff batman heard Han Shuo’s question, he immediately answered, “So you are also a treasure hunter. The lizardmen have indeed discovered a magic crystal mine. There were many humans entering the underground world recently, but the biggest group seems to be a knight brigade, and their goal is definitely the lizardmen’s mine. Are you with that group?”
“Cut the nonsense, just answer my questions!” Han Shuo secretly rejoiced. The Redbud Knights had already entered the underground world indeed. This might be related to the threats from the golden dragon, otherwise Celt wouldn’t have been in such a hurry.
“Yes, yes, Lord Mage please ask!” The batman started in fright and spoke up hastily.
“Any other humans besides that group of knights? Also, where are the lizardmen and the magic crystal mine? Has anything major happened recently?” Han Shuo continued his line of questioning.
“There were also several human groups in addition to those knights, but their members didn’t number many and their occupations were too random, so us batmen don’t know the specifics.”
“Only the lizardmen know the magic crystal mine’s location. I only know where the lizardmen live, honest!” The batman quickly answered.
Staring sharply at the batman for a while, Han Shuo realized that this batman only seemed to know so much. He casually asked some more questions. The information the batman knew was limited indeed, so Han Shuo ordered after a short interrogation, “Good, take me to the lizardmen’s place, and I will spare your life.”
The batman didn’t dare to mess around after being threatened by Han Shuo. It led him through the complex, winding roads straight to the area where the lizardmen lived. One had to admit, the roads underground were winding with countless twists and turns, and even Han Shuo with his astounding memory was confused along the way. Had it not been for the batman, a native to this underground world, leading the way, Han Shuo simply couldn’t have found the lizardmen.
After more than an hour, through who knew how many deep caves, twists and turns, the batman finally stopped at a valley. He pointed to a densely caved area ahead and said to Han Shuo, “That’s where the lizardmen live, they like caves even more than us. The large and small caves you’re seeing are their houses.”
“The underground world lizardmen really live in such a place?” When he saw the batman’s beady eyes flicker, Han Shuo was suspicious again and asked for confirmation.
“Powerful Lord Mage, most of the lizardmen gather in this place. The total number of lizardmen far exceeds your imagination, they are scattered in thousands of such areas all over the underground world. You won’t make me take you to every single one, would you?” Seeing Han Shuo squint at him, the batman hastily yelped as it couldn’t stop chills from running down its body.
Han Shuo had actually harbored this idea. However, the yin demon suddenly discovered a human sneaking around. This human’s outfit was a bit familiar, so Han Shuo turned to the panicked batman, waving his hand as if swatting away a fly and said, “Scram, your role here is done.”
The batman felt that it had been pardoned when it heard Han Shuo say this. However, its movements were awkward, tiny eyes staring fixedly at Han Shuo while it cautiously flapped his wings backwards.
Seeing this odd action, Han Shuo asked with surprise, “I already told you to leave, why are you still here?”
“I’m afraid you’d kill me to keep me silent. The whole underground world knows you humans are the worst at keeping promises!” Contrary to Han Shuo’s expectations, this pathetic batman looked at him pathetically, answering fearfully.
Han Shuo was stunned, then snapped, “You are worthless to me, I won’t waste my mental power if killing you don’t bring me the slightest bit of benefit.”
The batman finally heaved a sigh of relief when it heard this. Not daring to stay next to Han Shuo anymore, it flapped its wings and turned its body, quickly fleeing far away.
The sneaky human was hiding behind the boulders. Han Shuo was certain they were from the Dark Mantle when he saw their outfits and hoods. Dark Mantle members usually wore this concealing, loose outfit whenever they were conducting missions.
Han Shuo jumped out like an arrow towards the colleague hiding behind grey boulder after the batman had left. They were blending in perfectly, one with the rock. Han Shuo didn’t make a sound to alert this person as he approached. When his big hand patted the colleague, the latter was startled like birds scared by the twang of a bowstring and jumping from their dormant position. They quickly started chant out two fireballs.
This colleague was wearing a hood which concealed their face, but the magic chanting exposed their identity as female. The only thing visible were her eyes, which were full of horror. As the fireballs blasted out, she suddenly exclaimed, “Bryan?!”
Han Shuo waved his hand. Two inconspicuous purple flashes shot out in the blink of an eye and the two fireballs were scattered into sparks. Han Shuo assessed this concealed fire mage with some astonishment then asked with surprise, “You know me?”
Pulling off the hood to reveal a familiar youthful face, it was the fire journeyman mage Chrissie whom he’d met last time in the Dark Mantle headquarters. The short haired Chrissie gave a surprised cheer, then waving her hands around as she quickly explained, “I’m Chrissie, we met last time at Dark Mantle headquarters, have you forgotten me?”
With Han Shuo’s memory, even a glance was enough to never forget someone’s face. Chrissie was no exception. Hearing her words, he nodded his head with a smile and replied, “So it’s you. Ah, I didn’t expect to meet you again here in this underground world. What a coincidence.”
“Yes, yes, really a coincidence. I heard you are the city lord of Brettel. Woah, you are really formidable, already a count! Mm, right, shouldn’t you be at Brettel, why are you here? Can it be you are also in on this mission? If so that’s really great, I heard you even defeated Leah Cain…”
Chrissie wouldn’t stop once she opened her mouth. Question after question were asked quick succession in her sweet, crispy voice. As the fully excited Chrissie seemed to have no intention of stopping, Han Shuo had no choice but to give a slight cough, cutting off her endless interrogation.
“Eh, Chrissie, can you take me to the person in charge first? Oh, if you know where lady Emily is, it’s best to take me to see her directly.” Han Shuo finally got the chance to ask when he saw Chrissie’s blabbering take a pause.
Han Shuo had known that Cecilia was in charge of this mission last time in the Dark Forest. Emily was acting as her assistant, and he’d be able to obtain all the necessary information if he found her.
“No problem, I know where Madame Emily is, I will take you to see her right now!” Chrissie readily agreed after she took off her hood.
“Then many thanks to you, Chrissie.” Han Shuo said smilingly.
Chrissie didn’t continue to probe around for the lizardmen’s movement, but cheerfully acted as Han Shuo’s guide, turning left and right on the complicated roads while telling him about the current status of the underground world.
Han Shuo smiled lightly as he listened to Chrissie talk. Every now and then he asked some questions about a few things he was interested in, gradually grasping the current situation in the underground world.