He had now transformed into a green shadow that no naked eyes could detect, dashing quickly between green plants and woods. With every blink, he was able to travel two to three miles. As the current cultivation base of Wu Qi was at the Gold Core realm, such a distance was his actual limit. Although there were various escape arts in Scroll of Stealing which could allow him to travel at lightning speed and stay undetectable, yet the energy consumption was huge. With the cultivation base of Gold Core, Wu Qi dared not travel too far with every blink, or else, he would be risking himself to the exposure of his trace as a result of lacking energy.
At the same time, he had circulated innate Water energy into both eyes. A faint blue gleam was wheeling within both of his eyes. While traveling further down the road, Wu Qi would raise his head from time to time and look into the sky, and he could always see tiny wisps of black gas stretching towards the South. It was the aura left behind in the air by the gigantic black skeleton. By using the secret technique of spiritual eyes he learned from the Scroll of Stealing, Wu Qi was able to see traces which ordinary cultivators could not see or detect.
Occasionally, he would gather some innate Wood energies in his nose, carefully transforming the energies of Wood element into tiny wandering electrons, which stimulated the cells in his nose and made them exceptionally sensitive. With that, he was able to smell a scent of decay that lingered in the air, freezing and filled with a pungent smell of blood. It was the scent left behind by the gigantic black skeleton. He had no idea where this skeleton was summoned from, but its smell stood out from the refreshing and fragrance scent of this world.
After several hundred times of blinking and flashing, Wu Qi had chased and reached over two thousands miles. It was there he saw Yan Dan, Jing Ke and a few other men who returned without accomplishing anything. Although they could ride really fast with their flying swords, yet the flying speed of the dark skeleton was extremely fast. In just a brief moment, it had disappeared without a trace which Yan Dan could find. Sulkily, Yan Dan, Jing Ke and their brothers gave the surroundings a thorough search. Yet, as they did not possess the techniques of spiritual eyes and nose like Wu Qi, which was used specifically in tracking the traces of enemies, they had no other choice but to return Ji City while roaring furiously.
Wu Qi gave out a brief smile before he quickly followed the traces left in the air and continued the pursuit.
The sudden strike of Great Yan Dynasty on Wei Merchant and several vassal kingdoms must have caught Wei Xiaoxiao off guard. Thus, Wu Qi had some predictions for her next move, and he hoped that the predictions were correct, as that could allow him to save a great deal of time and energies.
The speed of escape art of innate Wood was roughly fifty percent faster than the speed of the dark skeleton. Thus, a while later, Wu Qi had finally caught up with Wei Xiaoxiao and her company, who were now fleeing at high speed. Then, he saw the clump of dark gas suddenly descend. Some people from various vassal kingdoms were leaving the dark clouds and running hurriedly in all directions. Beside them were the cultivators of the merchant, who served as their protectors. After that, Wei Xiaoxiao and her personal guards controlled the dark cloud and ascended back into the sky, turned to West and began flying at high speed again.
A pleased smile emerged on Wu Qi's face. The escape of those people from various vassal kingdoms had nothing to do with him. It was the duty of Great Yan Dynasty to eradicate those traitors. What he was concerned was only Wei Xiaoxiao's next move. Since she was now flying towards West, then it meant his prediction was correct. Wei Xiaoxiao's destination was Lu Chengfeng's fief, as the two provinces of Duke Yan Le's fief were located five thousand miles Southwest of Ji City.
Wei Xiaoxiao had fled for several thousand miles to the South, then she turned to West. Obviously, her destination was Lu Chengfeng's fief. There could be no mistake.
Wei Xiaoxiao and her company went several thousand miles West, riding on the dark cloud as they swept past several hundred densely populated cities, and eventually came to a dark mountain ridge, where no trees, flowers or grasses grew. The undulations of the ridges stretched for two to three thousand miles, filled with steep hills like countless sharp blades pointing right into the skies. From over one thousand miles away, Wu Qi saw a large curtain of white mist soaring up from the ground. It was a strange sign caused by the surging of underground energies of the Gold element.
"According to my predictions, this is your final destination!" Wu Qi opened his mouth and gave out a soundless laugh. He increased his speed, not hesitating to consume more of his innate energies and pursued closely after Wei Xiaoxiao. As he had now come to a mountain ridge, the escape art of innate Wood could no longer be used, Wu Qi quickly changed and started using the escape art of innate Earth. Although it was slower, it could actually hide his traces better. With that, he followed Wei Xiaoxiao and came to a large valley.
It was a valley that spread for tens of miles from edge to edge, and stretched over two hundred miles, as if a giant had wielded his blade and hacked on the ground viciously, thus creating the valley. There was only a single entrance with a moderate slope that led into the valley. Inside it was stationed a private army of two thousand soldiers. Judging from their armors and the token on their chest, they were the private guards hired by Wei Merchant.
Wu Qi could not refrain himself and sneered. Wei Merchant had acted really fast as Lu Buwei had come to an agreement with Lu Chengfeng not too long ago, yet they had already deployed their army here. Then, he heard the shrill scream of Wei Xiaoxiao coming out from the dark cloud, "Men from Wei Merchant, listen to my order! Quickly retreat now according to the Heavenly Escape Plan Number Three. Leave the land of Great Yan and proceed to our bases in various vassal kingdoms. There you will wait for further orders!"
A token was tossed out from the dark cloud. A fully armored captain sprung up and caught the token. He gave it a thorough examination, then knelt on one knee and cried out, "Obey your command!" He handed the token to his assistant standing beside and cried out with a stern voice, "Call upon all our brothers, retreat at once! Throw away all burdens and change into outfits of ordinary civilians. Bring your luggage prepared beforehand, regroup according to what we've planned and leave this place at once!"
While giving out the order, the captain had begun to quickly remove all his armors. After that, the fully naked captain put on burlap clothes worn by ordinary poor people of Great Yan Dynasty, shouldered a bamboo basket, brought together a dozen of soldiers who too had changed their outfits, and left. Using the quickest speed possible, all the other captains and soldiers had changed their outfits as well. Some went ahead and set fire on their camps and storage cottages before leaving hastily in their respective groups. A fierce fire broke out near the entrance of the valley.
In just the time it took to finish a pot of tea, not a single soul was left in this army camp. Wu Qi was amazed by the great efficiency of these men.
Ignoring the retreating private army of Wei Merchant, Wu Qi continued his underground pursuit carefully and came to the depth of the valley.
At the far end of the valley, under the root of a great cliff wall that reached over three thousand feet high, laid a row of twelve great mine entrances. Huge machines with complicated gears, steel wires, and all sorts of mechanisms were seen densely placed near those entrances. There were a few red-hot copper cauldrons erected near the mine entrances. From them, extreme heat soared high up into the sky, as vast steam energies were rolling and rocking out from these cauldrons, supplying power to these giant machines.
Wu Qi stared in bewilderment at the scene. All the machines were branded with a tiny character of 'Mo'. Obviously, they were the products of Mo Sect. Suddenly, he heard a deafening clanging noise, then saw a gigantic metal platform was being raised slowly up from one of the mine entrances, stacked with shimmering iron ores. With a look, he gave an estimation that they weighed approximately fifty thousand kilograms. Then, he saw several couple dozens of miners, each only clad with a rugged cloth on their crotch. Laughing and smiling, they stood by the extracted ores. Apparently, they were having a lively discussion about their latest harvest.
The dark cloud descended. Together with a few hundred cultivators of the Merchant, Wei Xiaoxiao strode out from it. Wearing a twisted and ferocious expression, she pointed her finger at those miners and snapped, "Kill, kill all the miners. Dismantle all the machines. The rest of you, follow me!"
Followed right after her order, a sword beam dashed out and chopped off the heads of seven miners. Bringing with her more than half of the cultivators and the giant dark skeleton, Wei Xiaoxiao rode on a dazzling light and plunged into the third mine entrance from the left. Meanwhile, the remaining cultivators were giving out hideous laughs, riding on sword beams and dashing into all the other mines. Soon, shocking and miserable cries could be subtly heard coming from those mines.
Wu Qi listened for a brief moment to those miserable howls coming from the mines, then helplessly shook his head, spun and pursued after Wei Xiaoxiao and her company. He did have the intention of saving those miners, yet there was nothing much he could do. He was outnumbered, and a few of the enemies were Human Immortals of Gold Core realm. As they had split up and entered different mines, how could he save so many men at the same time?
Exercising the escape art of innate Earth element, he quickly followed the trail of Wei Xiaoxiao. In the tunnels that twisted and turned like a spider web, he traveled at high speed for nearly thirty miles and eventually came to a huge and secret mine pit, roughly ten thousand feet underground.
Apparently, it was a naturally formed underground cavern, with both width and height of over one thousand feet, and all the surrounding cavern walls were extremely hard, pitch-black iron ores. The air was abundantly filled with energies of the Gold element. By just standing in the cavern, one could feel as if countless sharp blades were slicing on his skin. Among those cultivators standing beside Wei Xiaoxiao, some of them had the cultivation base of Physique Strengthening tier and below. Thus their bodies were not strong enough, and were already covered in blood as a result of being injured by the Gold element energies.
Amidst the dense Gold element energies was mixed a bizarre wave that made Wu Qi's body quiver. It was as if the wave could penetrate straight through his body and shook every single cell and molecule. It was a peculiar wave that even made Wu Qi's soul twitch, as if it was coming from a far distance, yet it felt like it was coming from just inches away. The wave kept vibrating the Gold element energies in the air, making them slowly merge, condense, and transform into a strange existence.
Hiding underground, Wu Qi was trying to sense what kind of strange wave was it. Suddenly, he heard Wei Xiaoxiao scream, "Everybody, use the strongest power of yours now! Break the iron wall and dig out all of the Spatial Breaching Spirit Gold!"
Then, she stomped her feet and cried out angrily, "I've lost too many men this time, and the network of vassal kingdoms I've spent several dozens of years to cultivate will definitely be wiped out by Great Yan Dynasty! The losses are too great! Hurry up and harvest more Spatial Breaching Spirit Gold and send them over to Patriarch… or else, or else, or else… If my rights in the clan are deprived, none of you are going to stay alive either!"
She threw her head back and gave a sharp scream, "Damn it, damn it! Luckily, we did not send the news of Wei Longfeng's death back to the clan. For today's incident, we will have this dead man bear all the responsibility! May heaven preserve us, he has to bear all the mistakes. It is all his fault as he arranged someone to ambush Wu Qi, that is the reason we were captured, which attracted that damn Yan Dan and Jing Ke!"
Amidst the hysteric curses of Wei Xiaoxiao, several dozens of cultivators unleashed their sword beams and various magical treasures, casting out all sorts of magic spells and talismans, exerting their full force and began hacking the surrounding iron walls. The iron walls here were extremely sturdy. Although they were formed from iron ores, their quality was at least ten times stronger than ten thousand years old Dark Gold. After spending an immense amount of energy, only then the cultivators were able to bore seven to eight tiny holes on the wall.
*Clang!* A light-silvery, half-transparent crystal the size of a baby head suddenly chipped off from the iron wall, falling onto the ground.
In an instant, Wu Qi realized what the strange wave mixed within the Gold element energies was. It was some kind of spatial wave.
It was because of this strange spatial wave that the Gold element energies in this piece of underground had mutated. As a result, this iron mine was able to form Spatial Breaching Spirit Gold, a rare and precious mineral.