Fortunately, Gu Chaliang had adamantly rejected Feng Xiange's suggestion to split up for this expedition. The four of them moved as one, landing on the highest point of the peak, while the explosion tore up the area below. At the moment it was triggered, the four of them had already launched themselves into the air, narrowly escaping the direct impact of the explosion. If it was not for that, these four would have perished in the blink of an eye and walked the roads to the underworld as one, no matter how deep their cultivation base nor how good their abilities were.
Although they were quick to respond by avoiding a direct hit from the explosion and enduring the worst of this horrendous blow, they eventually sustained terrible injuries from the waves of powerful aftershocks that came after that. The Big Four Experts - who had not even fought hand to hand with their enemies yet - had their strengths thoroughly depleted, and their conditions completely worn.
An explosion of such magnitude - one that could tear an entire mountain down in seconds - was enough to annihilate even the strongest individuals in the world!
It was apparent that powerhouses like Ling Xiaozui and Dugu Chou were no exception!
After a while, the vibrations of the impact from the core of the explosion came to a halt, yet the rumblings persisted in continuous waves. The peaks still quivered from the aftershocks that ripped through them, collapsing in bits and pieces from time to time.
The snow that lay accumulated atop the peaks had always existed beyond the clouds in an unchanging manner, yet, with a shudder, they slid down, causing an unlikely avalanche!
It spilled and spread over the hills and dales, filling in the streams and flattening the entire landscape.
Besides a series of rumbles, no other sound could be heard in the space between the skies and the ground.
After a long, long time, the realm began to gradually calm after being plagued by chaos, yet the peaks within the perimeter still quivered incessantly from the radiation.
The vast field of blinding whiteness split open abruptly as a green-garbed silhouette leaped out of nowhere.
It was...Ling Xiaozui!
Dubbed as the unrivaled expert, Ling Xiaozui truly lived up to the name. He could still maintain his cool in the face of a horrendous situation such as this, seizing the opportunity to promptly get out of the mess - he was truly holding up to his title.
However, his current condition did not seem too promising, and his outlook seemed less positive.
Walking with a limp, his green robes were splattered with traces of blood. His chest was marred with a patch of dark red, which was actually his own blood that oozed from the pressure of his gestures and movements. His face was black and blue, his hair a mess; his eyes were filled with rage.
He did not dare to move any slower, jumping into action the moment he emerged as he quickly surveyed his surroundings. Only after ensuring that it was safe did he dare take a deep breath and start to activate his base. In half a beat, he spat out a spittle of bad blood as his face gradually reverted to a normal state. Panting harshly, he emitted a deep, long sigh.
His remaining strength, compared to his usual condition, was insignificantly minuscule.
In other words, this was the most precarious moment of Ling Xiaozui's entire life.
Ling Xiaozui strived to calm his state of mind and resumed his search for the traces of his three other companions. Did they even stand a chance of survival against an impact of such magnitude from this sudden explosion?
Right at that moment, the snow-covered ground rustled with movement. Dugu Chou popped his head up, followed swiftly by his body as he propelled himself up to the surface.
Dugu Chou's condition was none too different from Ling Xiaozui. He was also panting profusely, coughing up blood from the effort. He threw his head back in a sudden movement and let out a moan of agony, closing his eyes. When he opened them again, his gaze was directed towards Ling Xiaozui's direction.
"How are you feeling now? Where are the other two?"
"Couldn't seem to die with one hit. Both of them could be buried underneath, but we have to recuperate before even thinking to save or search for them." Ling Xiaozui shook his head, panting profusely as he replied.
Ling Xiaozui already noticed that Dugu Chou was in a state no better than his own. Their cultivation base had dropped tremendously - if they were to start their search immediately, they might just drop dead from exhaustion before locating their comrades.
Dugu Chou choked with wry laughter. "We really owe Gu Chaliang this one - that fellow's premonition of a bloody disaster had a really swift and immediate effect. He forced me to put on an icesilk top, with an additional protective layer of dragonskin vest on top of it. Even the few spiritual pills I took earlier was very effective… otherwise, sustaining severe injuries and a high depletion in strength would surely be unavoidable if we relied on the beast-hide gliders upon the explosion. Now that I think about it, if it wasn't for his insistent reminders, I'm afraid that this would be my body's final resting place."
Ling Xiaozui laughed bitterly. "My condition is not too far off from yours. I had my leg broken by a huge rock. That's about it ...sigh."
The two experts exchanged rueful looks and smiled wryly.
A leg snapped into two by a large rock - it was justifiable if a normal man had encountered a similar situation, yet, when it happened to Ling Xiaozui, it became a joke instead.
Ling Xiaozui's leg was one that would not even sustain a crack even if it was smashed by a hammer wielded by an expert. Yet, here it was, broken by a large rock…
"Our opponents could so accurately pinpoint the timing of our attack, so I'd imagine that we're not left with a lot of time right now. We have to get on our feet as quickly as possible and try to find the others… I'd say we have no more than a quarter of an hour before the men of the Four Seasons Tower show up to survey the aftermath…"
"Yes, very true."
After a short moment, when their energy had returned slightly, they commenced the rescue mission. Although the two of them were severely wounded and their energy depleted, their deific consciousness did not sustain too much damage; with a sharp focus that momentarily stretched and enveloped the terrain for across a hundred miles, two thin, barely-there breaths of life were detected.
"You go left, and I'll go right - let's get out of here after extracting them!"
After Ling Xiaozui's command, the two of them jumped into action without further ado. When Ling Xiaozui extracted Gu Chaliang from rockpile located a few hundred feet beneath the snow-covered grounds, Dugu Chou had also dug Feng Xiange out.
"Both of them still have an ounce of breath in them - they're still alive!"
Ling Xiaozui's lips tightened into a thin, straight line. "Gu Chaliang's internal organs are completely damaged - he is completely fried from inside out. There are seven or eight holes in his brain - he is heavily wounded and close to death."
Dugu Chou coughed. "Feng Xiange is no better. The traces of life left in him seemed barely there. Both of them are in the same boat - they are right before the gates of hell, just a step away from checking in."
"Let's move! Leaving this place in the fastest way possible is the correct thing to do right now!"
Ling Xiaozui was the first to take flight, followed closely by Dugu Chou behind him. They went at full speed. Although they seem to be traveling swiftly, they were at least ten times slower than the speed that they had traveled at when they arrived.
At this moment, a few silhouettes appeared, bellowing from a distance, and sped towards them at full-throttle.
"Kill Ling Xiaozui, but capture Dugu Chou - alive!"
"Let's go!" The two great experts could not help but feel extremely morose when greeted with such circumstances.
They had never felt so dejected in their entire lives. Two bursts of sullenness in just four days - just brilliant! The second time it happened, especially, it felt like their rights had been stripped abruptly - it was blatantly a loss of power!
By the looks of it, one could speculate that the strength of the incoming pursuers was no small matter. It was not usually a cause for concern, or at least, they would not find themselves in an unprecedented situation as awkward as this - looking to flee with someone coming after their asses.
In the midst of the escape, the two of them could not help but to liken their situation to two analogies; they were as restless as dogs who had lost their homes and felt as anxious as escaped fugitives. Drawing parallels to the humiliating examples, they sighed helplessly.
What the hell!