Miao Yi immediately asked, "If Gu Sanzheng can deny that the red cloth came from him, then why should I admit it if he says it's mine?"
Zhao Fei sighed, "You were the one who personally handed it out to everyone. With so many people testifying against you, do you think anyone will believe you?"
Miao Yi replied indifferently, "It doesn't matter whether anyone believes me or not. I will simply say that Gu Sanzheng was the one who handed it to me, then had me pass it down to everyone else."
"..." Zhao Fei was at a loss for words. He asked, "Aren't you worried at all?"
"Is there anything that doesn't have its fair share of risk? Sometimes, you can't think too hard about certain things. Otherwise, nothing will ever get done." Miao Yi shook his head and added, "I only know that Gu Sanzheng's forces are the biggest threat to us right now. If we can't even overcome this hurdle before us, and instead cower away from them out of fear for the future, don't you think that's a bit laughable? We should prioritize surviving our current predicament over everything else. We'll worry about the future when it comes!"
A loud crashing sound came from the other end of the passageway. The four of them turned to look, then exchanged glances with one another. They knew that both sides had already begun fighting...
Deep within the underground passage, Gu Sanzheng's group quickly turned around when they heard the commotion and watched as the path behind them caved in, kicking up clouds of dust.
Boom! The path ahead suddenly collapsed as well, trapping the seven of them underground.
"This is bad! We're trapped!" Dong Quan exclaimed.
Tan Lao squeaked to the black fox leading the way for them. It swiftly returned back into the beast sack at Tan Lao's waist.
Boom! The wall beside them suddenly exploded. Two giant pincers cut through the walls in front and behind them, then launched an attack towards the seven of them in the middle.
In front, Dong Quan, Hu Zhiyuan, and Fei De-an brandished their weapons and blocked one giant pincer, and at the back, Yu Baixing and Jia Zifeng blocked the other.
Trapped in the middle, Gu Sanzheng and Tan Lao quickly swept a cold glance at their surroundings. They were worthy of being the number one disciples of the three major sects indeed. Even in such a perilous situation, they were able to maintain their composure. The two of them had already prepared themselves before coming in. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been so rash to enter.
Dong Quan and the others were astonished by the feeling in their hands when their blows connected. They had no idea what sort of monstrosity these pincers attacking them belonged to. Its shell was extraordinarily hard. Even with their Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts, they couldn't break it at all.
Furthermore, the monster had incredible strength. Even with five Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivators working together, they were unable to stop the two pincers from closing in. The three in front and the two behind were gradually pushed towards the center where Gu Sanzheng and Tan Lao were positioned.
Boom! The wall in the center exploded, finally revealing the true appearance of the monster. It turned out to be a giant crab. Amidst the rubble and dust, its sharp mandibles viciously bit at Gu Sanzheng and Tan Lao.
The sixteen miniature shields flying about Tan Lao shone with a blue radiance. Three of them quickly enlarged and fused together at a single point, creating a shield in the form of a three-diamond emblem. Tan Lao then gave it a push.
Bang! A loud sound reverberated throughout the passage. The three-diamond shield blocked the giant mouth biting down.
The ground beneath Tan Lao's feet started to crumble, and he sank into the ground up to his knees. The pressure exerted by the monster above him was simply too heavy.
Tan Lao quickly turned to Gu Sanzheng. However, that man with the sword-case on his back seemed to be oblivious to what was happening around him. He continued to sweep a cold glance at his surroundings, clearly vigilant against another possible ambush.
Tan Lao could do little but persevere as he continued to hold up the three-diamond shield on his hand. His remaining thirteen shields started glowing blue and expanded. They then began spinning rapidly, becoming thirteen rotating blades that swiftly slashed at the giant crab.
However, the carapace of the giant crab was simply too hard. Sparks flew, and sharp screeching noises resounded as the rotating blades only managed to leave little scratch marks on the giant crab's carapace. They were unable to penetrate through it.
Tan Lao was in shock. He didn't know what kind of crab spirit this was for it to have such a hard shell. Even his own transcendent artifact was only able to leave minor scratches on it.
Gu Sanzheng was taken aback as well. He originally thought that Tan Lao could handle it, which was why he felt safe leaving his back to him and focused on keeping guard against his surroundings instead. However, even Tan Lao was unable to keep the monster at bay, and Dong Quan and the others were slowly being pushed back as well, despite their best efforts.
Seeing as they were running out of options, Gu Sanzheng turned around, raised his arms and shouted, "Unsheathe!"
Shing shing shing shing...
A sharp ringing echoed forth as a series of silver lights as bright as lightning shot out in quick succession from the sword-case on Gu Sanzheng's back. They erupted from the case like a thunderclap.
"Wuwu…" Deafening cries rang out from above Tan Lao's three-diamond shield.
As soon as the Thunderclap Flying Swords shot out, they quickly crushed the tough shell of the giant crab pincers that Dong Quan and the others were trying so hard to stop, splattering blood and flesh about. The thunderclap swords penetrated through the pincers, slicing them into pieces. The giant-shelled body pushing down on Tan Lao was mutilated by dozens of Thunderclap Flying Swords as well.
Gu Sanzheng pointed his finger to the wall, and dozens of silver lights crashed into it. They swiftly ripped apart what remained of the giant crab's body. Blood and flesh splattered about, kicking up clouds of dust. The wall completely collapsed, revealing a neighboring passageway. On the other side, there were a group of Yao cultivators frantically backing away.
Dong Quan and the others were dumbstruck. Zhao Lingtu had told them long ago about the might of the Thunderclap Sword Furnace. It didn't seem so impressive back when Gu Sanzheng had used it to fight Miao Yi and the others before. But now, they finally came to see the true might of this Thunderclap Sword Furnace. It instantly killed the monster that everyone else had tried so hard just to inflict some damage on. As expected of the Sword Deviate Sect, the number one sect in the Fifth Earthly Branch, to possess such a powerful Second Grade Transcendent Artifact. They had powerful tricks up their sleeve indeed.
"Attack!" A vicious shout came from the opposing tunnel.
The retreating Yao cultivators immediately charged forward in a frenzied manner. Gu Sanzheng swept them a cold gaze, then with a flip of his hand, the Thunderclap Flying Swords hovering around the passageway immediately rained down like a hurricane, cleaving through the demons like a raging thunderstorm.
Just to be safe, Tan Lao directed eight of his flying shields to protect Gu Sanzheng, enabling him to focus on killing the enemies.
In moments, blood and flesh covered the area as screams of agony resounded throughout the passageway. The Thunderclap Flying Swords easily penetrated through the Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts worn by the Yao cultivators, which did little to protect their owners.
As the cries and wails continued, the surviving Yao cultivators frantically ran towards both ends of the underground tunnel, leaving dozens of corpses behind. None dared to face the might of the Thunderclap Flying Swords again.
Gu Sanzheng approached the corpse of a demon that had reverted to its original form. He formed a fist with his right hand and lightly knocked on his left chest. Once again, ringing noises resounded as the Thunderclap Flying Swords swiftly flew back into the sword furnace.
He continued to keep a vigilant eye on his surroundings. Tan Lao gestured towards Dong Quan and the others and said, "Hurry and clean it up!"
Dong Quan and the others quickly removed the Yao Cores from the Yao cultivators' corpses, as well as other valuables such as the golden bangles. They then handed them all over to Tan Lao.
Tan Lao immediately split them into two shares and tossed Gu Sanzheng's share over to him while he kept one share for himself.
The both of them had simply stored away the spoils of war, without the slightest intention of splitting with Dong Quan and the others. They turned around and proceeded down the other tunnel.
Dong Quan and the others exchanged glances. Even though they had complaints, they didn't dare to voice them out. They couldn't help feeling nostalgic for the days when Miao Yi was Alliance Master. Those days, they were the ones who took the biggest share. But alas, they didn't dare mention this to the grim reaper Gu Sanzheng, and could only keep their grievances to themselves.
After they proceeded a hundred meters down the passageway, Gu Sanzheng pointed to the side and said to Tan Lao, "We still need to get back to our original passageway so your black fox can continue to track Miao Yi."
Tan Lao nodded. "We've been walking for a while now. We should have already passed the area where the tunnel collapsed ." He turned around and immediately ordered Dong Quan and the others to destroy the wall between the two passages.
Dong Quan and the others didn't dare to hesitate at all. They worked together and quickly destroyed the stone wall that was a dozen meters thick. As expected, they found the tunnel they were previously in.
Gu Sanzheng and Tan Lao took the lead and walked over first. They turned around and saw a pile of rubble stacked together just ten meters behind them. When they were in the other tunnel earlier on, they had walked over a hundred meters. Based on these estimates, those Yao cultivators had caused a cave-in at least several hundred feet in size in order to seal them in.
Tan Lao summoned the red-nosed black fox once again. As expected, it soon picked up the scent of Miao Yi's group and darted off. The rest of them immediately followed after...
In one of the underground palaces, some of the Yao cultivators that managed to escape certain death were now reporting to Hei Langjun about what happened. They were still in shock.
Hei Langjun gasped in astonishment, "He even killed the Hercules Crab in a single stroke? That cultivator is actually so powerful?"
Beside the gates of the underground palace, Pi Junzi and the trio were hiding among the crowd of Yao cultivators.
They were mixing in with the Yao cultivators so blatantly. Pi Junzi's heart was full of trepidation, and his knees felt weak from the fear that someone would notice something amiss. However, he had no choice but to do exactly as Miao Yi said. On the other hand, Miao Yi was completely unfazed. It wasn't his first time doing such a thing in the Sea of Constellations anyway. What's more, he had experts beside him now and a mighty artifact in his possession. There was nothing to be afraid of. In contrast, Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei were feeling incredibly frustrated. Their hearts couldn't take playing such a risky game. This was simply too reckless. From time to time, they would secretly size up the Yao cultivators beside them.
Both Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei were on full alert, afraid of revealing themselves. Then, they watched as Miao Yi approached the other Yao cultivators beside them of his own accord, asking about the battle that happened earlier. The both of them were utterly speechless. They completely gave up on this guy and no longer felt a shred of doubt that he actually did dare to step foot in the Sea of Constellations to hunt for treasure with just his White Lotus cultivation all those years ago.
"Damn. This bastard really thinks of himself as one of them now!" Sikong Wuwei transmitted his voice over to Zhao Fei and grumbled.
Zhao Fei was at a loss for words and simply shook his head. They had already come this far. There was no backing out now. All they could do was continue dancing to Miao Yi's tune.
Inside the palace, after a discussion with his lieutenants, Hei Langjun abruptly stood up from his throne and bellowed, "We can always dig new passageways if our current ones are destroyed! My mind is set. We will trigger a major cave-in and bury them alive!"
His lieutenants acknowledged the order and left to assemble their forces and begin preparations.
Miao Yi gave Pi Junzi a light push. Pi Junzi gave him a sign of understanding, then the four of them quickly ran behind the other Yao cultivators. When they came to a fork in the path, they swiftly left the group and proceeded down the other way. They didn't want to clash head-on against Gu Sanzheng's forces.
This was the upside of running behind Pi Junzi in these underground tunnels. He was the one who dug all of them out. There probably wasn't anyone else in this entire island more familiar with these underground passages than he was.
Another upside was that Pi Junzi didn't have much status among the Yao cultivators. His main responsibility was to protect the underground tunnels. In his free time, he was required to patrol the mountain as well. When it was time for battle, no one would notice whether he was present or not. Thus, Miao Yi and the others could follow him and freely move around the labyrinthian underground passages.
This was a demon's nest after all. With all the Yao cultivators on the move, Gu Sanzheng's party quickly met with another obstacle. As they rushed onwards, the entire tunnel suddenly started caving in again. They immediately destroyed the adjacent wall, but soon discovered that the neighboring passageway was collapsing as well.