As the Deep Earth City Master’s carriage rushed outside Taobao City, Cliff began to earnestly brief Wang Lu about Taobao City.
"The core of Taobao City is the Treasure House of the Golden King. Within city walls, all of the city’s facilities are built around treasure house’s treasure exploration and manufacturing. The city itself is built so huge and magnificently because the entrance to the treasure house is not just one, but nearly infinite. Moreover, they are scattered over hundreds of miles of the surrounding area, and without a trace. At first, people would even find the entrance to the treasure house in a boulder or an ancient tree. Then, gradually, people began to mark and organize these entrances. And then, in order to unify the management, they had this city."
Wang Lu asked, "The entrances are scattered? Would they lead to the same place?"
"No, they are not. The inner structure of the King’s Treasure House is very mysterious, which divide into many large and small independent space. Each entrance corresponds to a space, but the correspondence relation is not fixed. Even in the same entrance, if entered at different times, might lead to different spaces. However, according to today’s knowledge of the treasure room, the traces exist, and the treasure house’s space is not unlimited, the number should be in the millions. Lastly, the corresponding relation between the entrance and the treasure house’s space is not completely random. In general, the millions of treasure house’s space can be divided into nine layers. The hidden treasures on each level and the test difficulty is roughly equal, and would progress the higher the level. The entrance in Taobao City thus can only lead to a fixed level of the treasure house’s space."
Wang Lu nodded, expressing his understanding. "The same entrance, even if leads to different space, but the level is fixed."
Cliff said, "In the first and second level of the nine level of the King’s Treasure house, there’s only ordinary silver and gold jewelry, but progressively, in the third and fourth level, precious treasures would appear, which is enough for the average adventurers. From the fifth level and up, however, the treasures would be even more extraordinary that high order profession would be moved. My master, Sir Haddock, got the Deep Earth Seal exactly on the sixth level, which he used to establish his own City State."
Wang Lu gently sighed. Deep Earth Seal? Used by Haddock to establish a City State? In accordance with the strength of that knight, it was probably a middle-rank spiritual treasure. When they exchanged moves in Deep Earth City, Wang Lu didn’t see him use it. Obviously, this was a life and death kind of treasure, so he would not let people easily see it. However, if spiritual treasures were in the sixth level, then what would be in the seventh, eighth, and ninth floor?
Golden King was indeed worthy to be the most ancient King in the Western Continent. Not only he ruled his country for as long as thousands of years, but he also left behind innumerable epics and legends. Until his life was exhausted and kingdom fell apart, his influence still was passed on forever.
Although both were Kings, and in the past, Aya was also illustriously known as the Knight King, moreover, her strength has also reached the legendary level, but compared to Golden King, even the prideful Aya acknowledged her inferiority.
However, no matter how magical the legend of Golden King was, no matter how illustrious his Treasure House was… after all, they all happened several thousand years in the past. The group of immortal tombs was supposed to be built around sixteen thousand years ago, as a matter of fact, the time difference was off, but… Wang Lu had a strong hunch that the key of that group of immortal tombs was here.
In his days, the power and prestige of Golden King shocked the world, with great ambition and grandiose plan. Was it possib
le that he never set his sight across the Endless Sea, never increased his experience by going to Nine Regions… was it possible?
For the time being, the links between the two were still unknown. However, as long as he went deep into the Treasure House, Wang Lu believed that he certainly could find the answer.
And according to his strategy ability… he ought to start from the sixth level.
Cliff knitted his brows and said, "I’m afraid you can’t. Right now level three and up entrances are largely under the control of Holy Light Religion. To enter the King’s Treasure House, you must register your name to them first. But if you want to enter the fifth level or above, you must have the approval of the local Holy Light Bishop here. In our history, it is basically impossible to pass the approval process, you can’t even pass the registering process. Above the seventh level is not even open to the outsiders."
Cliff said, "No ruler can perfectly control every corner of his territory. Although Taobao City is the Holy Place of Holy Light Religion, because the city is so huge, there will always be corners that are beyond their reach. Although level three and up entrances are within their control, the first and second level entrances are too scattered to manage. These entrances are now mostly under the control of the Brotherhood."
Cliff explained, "The ruler of the underground world."
"Oh? There is actually an underground world in a Holy Place of Holy Light Religion?"
Cliff faintly smiled. "No matter how bright the sunlight, it can not penetrate the ground. Somewhere someplace, there would always be light and shadow."
Wang Lu said, "You are a Nightwalker, so you should have a connection with this Brotherhood."
Cliff said, "Yes. That’s why master sent me here. I can contact the Brotherhood to help you qualify for admission. But, my connection ends here, the Brotherhood is not going to offend the Holy Light Religion for you. Simply speaking, do not trust them."
Wang Lu nodded while inwardly saying I actually don’t trust you.
"The Brotherhood only controls the first and second level entrances to the Treasure House, but the space in the Treasure House is not entirely isolated. If you achieve an amazing result in a trial on a certain space on a level, you can enter the next level. Theoretically, if you can continue to pass test after test, you can continuously advance from the first level to the ninth level in one go… Certainly, it’s difficult to do this from the low level. As far as I know, crossing through levels like this can only take you to, at most, sixth level, and the treasure that you want is at least at the seventh layer. However, since master said that you are a professional adventurer, you should not care about this difficulty, right?"
Wang Lu lightly nodded. "Of course I don’t care. Crossing through level after level until all is clear… a professional adventure very much like this kind of winning in a row kind of game."
"Good. Since you are that confident, I’ll take you to the Brotherhood."
After entering Taobao City, the carriage passed through the city in low key. They even hid the symbol of Deep Earth City. The city was filled with patrolling Holy Light Knights and Holy Light Priests, and the symbol of Deep Earth City would only cause them trouble.
Under the guidance of Cliff, they came to a shabby tavern. Taobao City attracted treasure hunters and adventurers from all over the continent, thus, taverns, bathhouses, and other services thrived in this city. However, this tavern was dilapidated and deserted, which seemed out of place.
Wang Lu and his teammates went into the tavern with Cliff. Inside, in addition to the scruffy bartender behind the bar, there were only two or three bored brawnies on the scene. When they saw Wang Lu and the others came in, they didn’t even lift their eyelids.
Cliff quietly made hand gestures in front of his chest and said in a whisper, "Let the shadow shelter us."
That bartender suddenly turned serious. "Night traveler from the East? What are you doing here?"
"We want to enter the King’s Treasure House, second level."
The bartender looked at his companion and saw the Eastern faces of Wang Lu and the others. Inwardly, he understood, but he didn’t say many words. He just nodded. "Sure. Do you know the rules?"
Cliff said, "Of course. There’s no free lunch in this world after all."
Obviously, to enter the King’s Treasure House through entrances controlled by the Brotherhood, they needed to negotiate the entrance fee first.
The bartender asked again, "Buyout or split?"
Cliff turned back and waited for Wang Lu’s decision.
"Wait. Buyout or split? What does that mean?"
Cliff explained, "Split means the Brotherhood must receive a proportional commission to any harvest in a range of twenty to fifty percent. While another one is Buyout, which there are two kinds. One is a one-time payment of entrance fee. After paying it, you will not have anything to do with the Brotherhood anymore. The other one is time billing. You will be charged according to the time you used in the Treasure House; it has no relation to any treasure that you obtain. Generally speaking, if you are confident with your own strength, you may want to consider Buyout. But if you want safety, Split is more secure."
"... Very well, the service charge is quite user-friendly. But what if people die there?"
The bartender gloomily smiled. "We don’t accept dead people’s money."
In other words, if the adventurer were to die inside the treasure house, the Brotherhood would have no harvest at all. But since they also didn’t spend any capital, they lose nothing.
"In your case, if it’s split, we will charge you forty percent."
Cliff exclaimed, "That’s so high!"
"A group of Eastern cultivators want to treasure hunt in Taobao City can only go through us, Brotherhood. We have no reason to be unreasonable. If not for the sake of the Nightwalker, we would charge you fifty percent instead."
The bartender continued, "If it’s buyout, we will charge you with magic coin, two hundred an hour, or one thousand for the whole night."
Wang Lu was surprised. "Wait a minute. This charging logic is very weird!"
"Sorry, it’s the one-time payment… not the whole night… Forgive me, I’ve been on duty on the bathhouse for the last few months." The bartender patted his bald head. "In short, that’s the price. Which one do you want to choose?"
"Of course it’s for the whole night… ah, wrong, it’s the one-time payment!"
"Heh, one-time payment? It seems like you want to pass those tests in a row? Well, good luck Easterners."
The smile of the bartender seemed to harbor evil intention. This was actually the most effective way to choose the price of the Brotherhood. Two hundred an hour and one thousand for a one-time payment. Which meant that one has to stay inside the Treasure House for five hours to be cost-effective. However, the tests on the first and second level were not that complex. In general, one only needed one or two hours to pass it. If one chose the one-time payment, one ought to have the confidence to obtain extremely excellent evaluation on the first and second level, so that the Treasure House would open to even higher levels and so on.
However, according to the Brotherhood’s years of experience, the possibility to obtain an even higher level pass… heh, tonight, they really won big time!
Before long, lead by Brotherhood people, the team saw the entrance to the Treasure House in the underground wine cellar below the tavern, which was a giant wooden barrel. Once the lid was opened, what they saw was a void—a deep vortex that slowly rotated.
Behind this vortex was a narrow and deep corridor, walled on both sides by neat stonewalls. A torch was illuminated at the front, but after that, it was only darkness.
Seeing this scene, Cliff said, "‘Meeting an enemy on a narrow path’ test? Your luck is indeed good."
"Meeting an enemy on a narrow path?"
Cliff explained, "At the end of this corridor, there would be a gold defender. The strength is approximately equivalent to a newly entered high order profession. As long as you can defeat the defender, you will pass the test and smoothly continue to the next level. This belongs to the relatively straightforward treasure house space. It is very suitable for a treasure seeker with formidable fighting power like you."
"Is it really that simple?"
"The first two levels of test are merely small fry level, so of course, it’s simple. The genuinely complex space will start at the fourth level."
The group was walking down the corridor while Cliff gave his explanation. As soon as Cliff’s voice fell, they saw a glittering figure appear in front of them. It was a tall and sturdy, hill-like giant dressed in heavy golden armor and armed with two huge battle axes. The imposing manner was astonishing.
It was indeed as Cliff said, a high order profession, one that could break any powerful army. However, in Wang Lu and other people’s eyes, it was but an oversized wooden stake.
After all, this was just the second level, so there should be no difficulty at all.
However, just as Wang Lu and his team were ready to make their move, from the end of the corridor suddenly came an arrogant laughter.
"Hahaha, are these the bastards who overestimate themselves in charging through my treasure house?"
Sh*t! What the hell is that?
Cliff somewhat nervously said, "This is the illusion of the Golden King. It is everywhere in the treasure house, but not often encountered. However, every encounter means that something unexpected will happen. Sometimes, the adventurer could fall into a disaster, sometimes, there would be additional requirements in treasure hunting, and sometimes, it’s a straightforward reward; disaster and happiness is difficult to predict. But in short, we must comply with his will, because this is his treasure house!"
Wang Lu said, "Simply speaking, this is the publisher’s random event?"
Upon saying this, the golden guardian at the end of the corridor uttered a roar. Red mist suddenly appeared all over his body. His strength has actually soared a notch!
"Oh, the monster is going berserk? Does this mean falling into a disaster? What an unfriendly publisher."
The next moment, Golden King’s laughter reverberated inside the corridor. "Bastards, do your best to please me!"
Wang Lu frowned and touched his chin. "Want me to please you?" He then lifted his head, took a step forward, and launched his original magical ability—the broken sword world, which has already been adapted to the condition of the Western Continent, was expanded to accommodate the entire passage.
Upon looking at the scarlet world around him, the golden guardian who guarded this passage was somewhat puzzled. He was just the second lowest level guard in Golden King’s Treasure House, so even if his power was stimulated by the will of the Golden King, he still has insufficient wisdom to understand this change. If it were a guard from the higher level of treasure house, he would never allow himself be pulled into this restrictive realm.
This golden guardian, however, instinctively felt that the young man in front of him possessed an enormous threat, thus needed to be taken out with all his power. He held his two giant battle axes crisscrossed in front of his chest because he felt the young man before him was good at defense but bad at offense.
The next moment, he felt a sharp pain in his back. The heavy armor was pierced through by a sharp object, and a piece of white sword has come out through his chest.
"Watch your back."
At the last moment right before he fell into an endless darkness, he heard the innocent voice of a pure maiden.
Cliff who watched the entire scene from the side was surprised and at a loss for words. "T-That’s it?"
In his view, this golden defender was not weak, especially after he was stimulated by the will of the Golden King, making him more powerful. Although this was still the second level, his strength was comparable to the guardian on the third or fourth level. He expected they would struggle for a bit, or even the adventure might end here, but he never expected...
Thinking of the figure of Liu Li who mysteriously appeared and disappeared, as a Nightwalker, he was a bit terrified.
However, dispatching the golden defender did not mean that it was the end. Since the Golden King’s illusion has appeared, they must heed the instructions of Golden King on what to do next.
However, after waiting for a long time, even after the golden guardian has already turned into a handful of fine sand, his shining armor and flesh all decayed, Golden King’s voice didn’t resound, and the end of the channel was still closed. Whether they have to leave or go to the next level remained a mystery.
"What’s going on here?" Wang Lu asked impatiently.
Cliff wryly smiled and shook his head. The Golden King’s illusion was really rare. He and Sir Haddock had once tried their luck in Taobao City for hundreds of times, yet only met that illusion one time. That was on the sixth level where his master Sir Haddock obtained the Golden King’s appreciation and thus rewarded with a Deep Earth Seal; only then Deep Earth City could be established… However, the whole process was inexplicable to him. His understanding of Golden King’s illusion also only came from the exchanges with the other adventurers.
He really could not help them in explaining this situation.
After thinking about it, Cliff speculated. "Just now, Golden King wants us to please him… perhaps he is not satisfied with our performance?"
Wang Lu angrily said, "He’s not satisfied with that one shot kill? Does he want us to strip that guardian naked and humiliate his body?"
Cliff was surprised. "How could you say such blasphemous words here!?"
Wang Lu peevishly said, "So does it mean he looks down on ‘one shot kill’ move? What’s wrong with being quick?"
"He isn’t satisfied with this, he isn’t satisfied with that, why is he so much hard to please? Wouldn’t looking to be pleased means looking for a good time?" With that, Wang Lu fiercely yelled, "Little girl, make this uncle happy!"
Just as Cliff’s eyes were about to pop out after being scared to death by Wang Lu, Golden King’s voice surged up once more.
"Hahahaha! What an interesting little bastard. Come on then, go to the deeper part of the treasure house, let me see what you will get! If you can make me satisfied, I will spare you for being impudent!"
With that, the sand that was originally the golden guardian gradually condensed into a giant gold brick—the reward for passing the test, as well as a shiny gold key. At the same time, a door appeared at the other end of the corridor.
The door to the third level of treasure house.