They watched as the stone fell in then disappeared.
Even the hyper You Le was shocked by the strangeness of that. After a moment of silence, the four turned to look at Gu Yu in unison.
Gu Yu was still standing on the other side watching the underground cave, showing no intention to offer an explanation.
None of them dared to pose a question. As the awkward moment stretched on, the man that had gone down the mountain to send the report ran back up, panting. "Deputy, our people have set out for here a long while ago; they'll be here in a moment. Here is a satellite phone for you, just for the time being."
"Thank you. Take a rest."
Old Huang took over the phone and began to talk to people down the mountain. Providing disaster relief was the government's responsibility and all that was needed from him was to dispatch an armed force here to cordon Fish Mountain off, making sure no unauthorized personnel would sneak in.
When he finished making the arrangements, Gu Yu also moved into action. By now, the abnormality was over, the spiritual essence was dense, and the animals were coming back. He looked around and caught an onlooking sparrow with his hand.
He then tied the bird's wings and tossed it down.
The poor little bird struggled all it could, but to no avail. It fell right down for ten meters… twenty… thirty… then, just like that stone, it disappeared without a trace.
Gu Yu's face remained expressionless. He then found a big rock and kicked at it; the rock tumbled off the edge. He experimented on like so on both lifeless objects and living creatures. After repeating it for seven or eight times, he finally discovered something.
First of all, the barrier was about thirty meters down. As long as the object reached that height, the protection mechanism of the formation would be triggered. Secondly, the objects did not simply vanish into thin air; there was a very, very brief transformation process.
Take that last test subject—a piebald snake—as an example. Gu Yu could barely make out the process: the meter-long snake first went blurry, then turned into a shadow before it dissipated into thin air.
In the anime world, that would be ultimate arcane skill of Gemini: Another Dimension! Pew, pew, pew 1 … All right, what they had here was most certainly not "another dimension". The function of this golden toad formation was to turn anything into nothingness!
More importantly, it had only just revived and was far from reaching its peak. Had it been able to work as it did in Luo Shengxian's time, with it mightiness, it could probably really "swallow" the sky.
It was also because of that this dabler cultivator here could have a glimmer of hope to obtain the treasure.
With that in mind, Gu Yu slowly walked to the edge where the ground broke off. Bai Yunsheng asked immediately, "You're going down? Are you sure about this?"
He gave Bai Yunsheng a wave and made a gesture to jump, yet right when the latter was about to gasp, he stopped abruptly.
Gosh, that feeling! It was like your boyfriend was almost "there" when oops, the joystick slipped! That was some hollowness hard to fill...
The young priest eyed Gu Yu with annoyance. 'Dude, are you going to jump or not?'
"In case I don't come back up, don't try it yourselves. Wait for another ten years, maybe," Gu Yu offered his sincere advice.
"Thanks for the heads-up!"
"Haha, then, see ya…"
After having fun teasing the young priest, Gu Yu opened his arms and jumped in promptly—thanks to the daily activity back in the "bungee training base" of Phoenix Mountain, the family of four were now very keen on jumping down from high places, especially Long Qiu.
Hence, when he was falling down in the cave with wind brushing his ears and green light filling his eyes, he did not even flinch, but was even calm enough to count the distance. About thirty meters down, he activated his Shadow-switching Technique and turned into intangible mist.
'So what if this formation can turn objects into void? Let's see how you're going to swallow the mist I've turned into!'
The mist slowed down and began to drift gently downwards. 25 m… 28… 30… boom!
Gu Yu felt his brain jolt and his mind went black. When there was light again, he saw a gargantuan golden toad with three legs filling the space between heaven and earth.
As its gigantic mouth opened and inhaled, the sun and the moon dimmed, the world darkened, and all mountains and rivers were drawn into its mouth. He felt like a mote in the universe and a drop of water in the ocean, being swept helplessly towards that mouth.
Dazed, Gu Yu had forgotten where or who he was. All he could feel was a despair he had never knew existed. When he was about to be swallowed by that giant mouth, he shuddered all of a sudden. This couldn't be right!
With his powerful cultivated mind, he was finally able to regain a little consciousness of his own. Gu Yu turned abruptly and fled. He was running for a billion miles until he had forgotten his life before this and all the life there could be.
All of a sudden, his mind seemed to be stretched out infinitely and the golden toad was pulling away… something inside his head ticked again and he realized he was drifting back up. How could he think he saw a golden toad? The underground cave and the three pools were exactly the same as before.
Before long, the mist reached the ground level and changed back to his human form. Gu Yu looked a little paler and his heart was thumping against his chest. He felt he had narrowly escaped death.
Adjusting his breath, he was now holding the utmost esteem for the ancient cultivators who had left this formation behind. It was nothing Taoist skills of this age could compare to.
He had always thought himself humble and prudent enough as a self-proclaimed No.1 cultivator of the modern world, but it was only now that he realized he had underestimated the Taoist community and its glorious past that had disappeared with time.
"I have no idea. He was fine jumping in, but came back all of a sudden."
The others watched him and were about to ask, when Gu Yu sat down on the ground and began to adjust his breathing and focus his mind.
Closing his eyes, Gu Yu thought back to what he felt down there: three-legged golden toad… gigantic… devour… the dimmed sun and moon… feeling like a mote… so that was the mystery about "sky-swallowing!" That was why that formation was spectacular!
He didn't understand the mechanism behind the skill—whether it was an illusion or something else. All he knew was that once one got swallowed by the toad, they would vanish for good. If he wanted to get to the bottom, he needed to find a way to withstand the power of that golden toad.
After figuring that out, he finished adjusting his breathing, went to the edge of the cave, and jumped right in.
Same as last time, the image of the sky-swallowing golden toad appeared again when he was about thirty meters down. Although Gu Yu came prepared this time, once the image unfolded, he felt he was trapped in primordial chaos and there was nothing he could do.
He still didn't withstand it for much longer and drifted back up in confusion.
Gu Yu's eyes lit up. Despite his harmless appearance, he could be more stubborn than anyone. He went on like so: jumping down repeatedly to try and coming back up repeatedly to recover himself. In a word, he had forgotten completely about anything else.
Before they knew it, it was bright daylight and the sun was high.
The others had been on the mountain since yesterday afternoon and waited late into the night. After the disaster earlier that dawn, they were dragged into more waiting until this hour. Bai Yunsheng did not seem affected, but the deputy and the other three were all exhausted. They sat there motionless as they watched Gu Yu coming back and forth from the cave.
It was Gu Yu's ninth time drifting back. He was consuming much more spiritual essence than he recovered and looked worn out. However, a strange excitement was flickering in his eyes. After all those trials, he finally grasped something and was about to reach a breakthrough.
When he was going to sit down and adjust his breathing, there came a banging noise at the gate, and with a clunking sound, the wooden door was knocked open, followed by shuffling footsteps and a million talking voices.
Gu Yu frowned, but Bai Yunsheng got up to his feet first and said, "I'll take care of it."
With that, he went to the front gate. About a dozen men had come in, led by the director of the BIMAUP Guizhou sub-bureau himself, who was shouting, "Old Huang, Old Huang! What on earth is going on?"
"Back off!" Bai Yunsheng stopped his advance.
The director looked him up and down and chuckled. "Priest Bai, is it? Haha, we're all on the same team, so there's no need for that. Plus, this falls into our jurisdiction. I think it's only reasonable for us to go in and have a look. What do you say?"
"This is beyond you, and me too, for that matter. Please don't disturb him and wait here in peace."
With that, he draw his long sword out of it sheath. Whoosh! With a cold flash of the blade, a line three meters long and over a centimeter thick was drawn out on the ground between them. The group of people shuddered in unison and went as quiet as scared chickens.
Gu Yu chuckled. He liked Chao Kongtu's personality, and now he liked Bai Yunsheng as well… well, speaking of that Taoist monastery, despite its different position from his, there were quite a few men there worth befriending.
Gu Yu put that thought aside, took out two spiritual stones, and adjusted himself to his optimal state.
About two hours later, he walked to the edge of the cave for the tenth time. Taking a deep breath, he jumped right in. The wind brushed against his ears as before and the green light filled his eyes. A cloud of mist then slowly took its form, glowing softly.
'Heaven and earth are an inn for all things of creation; time is a traveller through all ages.
'I am a mote in the universe and a grain in the vast ocean. I am pursuing the Great Dao and immortality to break the shackles of life so that I can see beyond this heaven and earth. Even if a golden toad can swallow the sky and reshape the earth, turning everything into nothing, why would that affect my belief in the Great Dao? Why should I be afraid?
'I want immortality. I want you and me together.'
The mist fell down to the thirty-meter threshold and the image appeared immediately. That three-legged golden toad opened its giant mouth and the rivers flowed backwards, mountains collapsed, and the sun and the moon were falling back into the sea, then everything was sucked into that mouth...
Gu Yu's head was hazy again, but a little window of clarity remained open there. It was like he had turned into the Tortoise of the North, staying as steady as a rock, and watched the surrounding ocean calmly no matter how high the tide rose.
He lost count of time and felt the universe had gone empty and void of all things when the golden toad finally closed its mouth. It seemed to have tilted its head and given him a look before leaping out into the void.
Gu Yu's eyes shot open, realizing that he had passed the thirty-meter threshold and was falling further down. Those three pools were right at the bottom of the cave!
It was only now that he was able to observe them closely. The pools were about 15 m in diameter and sat closely to one another. The water inside was neither clear nor muddy; they reminded him of three ancient and unadorned mirrors without the slightest stir in their surface.
He instinctively chose the pool in the middle. Instead of turning back into his human form, he fell down slowly towards it in his misty form.
About two to three meters above the pool, he was blocked by something invisible, which felt like layers upon layers of solid, transparent films, stopping him from getting any lower. Gu Yu estimated his spiritual essence and realized it was just about enough to take him back up. After a little hesitation, he made up his mind.
The mist surged, breaking through one layer of obstacle after another and soon reached the bottom. He had expected more resistance, but as soon as the mist made contact with the pool, it was like a firecracker's fuse had just burnt to the end and... bam!
The pool suddenly became alive with what seemed like a hundred whirlpools. Immediately after that, seven streaks of divine light whooshed out of the water: blood-red, rosy pink, inky black, smokey blue… exactly seven distinctive colors.
There was only one word that could express Gu Yu's feeling right now: F**k! F**k! F**k!
'Why aren't you people of Youxian Sect like everyone else?! Aren't I supposed to snoop around, find some crappy secret chamber, and take every treasure I can find?
'Why did you just explode like that?'
He had no time to think it through. Activating his mist, he tried to wrap it around the divine light.
However, they were moving extremely fast. Six shot out of the cave right away, turning briefly into clouds of six colors before they dissipated into every direction.
Gu Yu only managed to get one streak, which cost him much energy. He dared not stay down there any longer and hurried back up.
When he finally reached the ground with much difficulty, the light gradually died away, revealing the real content. It was a crimson and unsophisticated-looking sword emanating hot air.TL/N: probably referring to Gemini Saga from the anime Saint Seiya.