Book 5 Chapter 19 Struggling between life and death
Qing Hu Island’s army camped around the bottomless cave. Thousands of tents were scattered around, and tens of Silver Dragon Soldiers roamed the surroundings. Most of the Silver Dragon Soldiers were resting.
“Master, look! The Snow Hawks of Snow Hawk Hall!”
The twelve innate experts of Qing Hu Island were having a meal outside. They had just cremated Elder Lian and gathered the dead’s remains.
Everyone set down their chopsticks and cups, tilting their heads towards the sky. Five monstrous hawks were soaring in circles high above their heads. With the powerful eyesight characteristic to innate experts, all twelve experts of Qing Hu Island could see the silhouettes of people sitting on the hawks’ back. The Snow Hawks were large enough to allow for people sitting on them.
“They are indeed the Snow Hawk Hall’s Snow Hawks.” Gu Yong frowned.
Zhao Danchen’s eyes gleamed coldly, then he snickered, ”The people of Snow Hawk Hall are nothing more than a band of stray dogs! They came here straight after hearing the slightest news about Emperor Yu’s Treasure. The Yan Province is the northernmost place. To think they would come here so early…Humph!” Zhao Danchen was extremely irritated. The death of Elder Lian and the appearance of the Golden Dragon Turtle were already getting onto Qing Hu Island’s nerves.
Now the entire world knew about Qing Hu Island and Emperor Yu’s Treasure. The arrival of the Snow Haawk Hall only made the situation worse for Qing Hu Island.
The five Snow Hawks were still spiraling in the sky.
“Elders, prepare yourselves. The people of Snow Hawk Hall should arrive shortly afterward.” Gu Yong narrowed his eyes, which shone with an icy glare like a murderous snake eyeing its next meal.
“Friends of Snow Hawk Hall!” A voice shouted from the depth of Great Yan Mountain, “If you don’t mind, let’s move together!”
A sharp cry rang out in the sky. Five Snow Hawks dived into the forest like shooting arrows. A moment later, the five Snow Hawks were once again soaring in the sky. However, this time… there was no one on their backs. Clearly, the five masters of Snow Hawk Hall were already inside the mountains.
The expressions of the twelve innate experts from Qing Hu Island, including Gu Yong, all darkened. They originally thought that the Snow Hawk Hall would be their only “guest”, but apparently, there would be more powerful and troublesome guests accompanying them.
“Based on that person’s accent, he should be from Qing Prefecture.” A muscular man wearing a black robe frowned, “Xiao Yao Palace of Qing Prefecture probably arrived.” The people throughout this enormous continent spoke the same language, but different regions still had their own regional dialect and accent. One could usually distinguish another’s origin based on these speaking differences.
“Xiao Yao Palace!” Gu Yong didn’t exclaim aloud, but the crease between his eyebrows deepened.
Looking at this continent’s Nine Prefectures, the wealthiest prefectures were none other than the Yang Prefecture and the Yu Prefecture.
The largest would be the Rong, Liang, and Yang Prefectures.
The rich prefectures had larger population concentration with smaller actual physical areas.
The larger prefectures, on the other hand, were less populated.
If one was looking for the most populated prefectures, then one had to look at the Yu and Qing Prefectures. Xiao Yao Palace benefitted from the concentrated population of Qing Prefecture, which had eighteen provinces, all of which did not obey the same authority. Nevertheless, having controlled fifteen out of the eighteen provinces, Xiao Yao Palace had a large number of powerful individuals.
The twelve experts of Qing Hu Island stood in the forefront of the Silver Dragon Army. As of this moment, there were quite a number of silhouettes in the distance. Some wore purple or long robes, and other had bows and quivers with fur hats and chain armor.
There were sixteen people in total, walking towards Qing Hu Island’s army with their shoulder touching.
Despite the huge army behind them, Gu Yong and others already lost to those sixteen men in spirit. The sixteen had powerful auras, similar to crushing waves.
“Even Shooting Sun God Mountain is here.” The twelve innate experts of Qing Hu Island were having a real headache.
Yang Prefecture was in the southeast, Qing Prefecture in the east, and Yan Prefecture sat in the south. Consequently, Shooting Sun God Mountain and Xiao Yao Palace had an easy time rushing to this location.
“Master Gu! Your Qing Hu Island is truly fortunate to have the treasure map of Emperor Yu’s Treasure. And now you are digging for this treasure in the Great Yan Mountain… However, I suppose that the treasure is not so easily found. My Xiao Yao Palace and the Shooting Sun God Mountain, along with the Snow Hawk Hall, are more than happy to help you out. I believe if we all work together, we can all find a lot of treasure.” The head of Xiao Yao Palace’s representative, a refined man in the purple robe, beamed. Based on his words, he seemed to believe that Qing Hu Island must have the treasure map.
If one sect sent five to six people, then three sects together would have sixteen people.
This was the power of large sects.
On the other hand, a small sect like the Gui Yuan Sect could never afford to send five to six innate experts out on a mission like this. After all, the entire sect only had four innate experts in total.
“Emperor Yu’s Treasure?” Gu Yong grinned, “Oh, Elder Shi, where did you hear this rumor! The rumors about Emperor Yu’s Treasure have circulated for a few thousand years, but, look! Has anyone found the treasure? No. This is nothing more than an empty rumor, probably the works of the vengeful remnants of Tie Yi Hall. My Qing Hu Island did squash their pitiful sect a few days ago.”
Just as Gu Yong spat out the last syllable of his sentence ——
“Master Gu!” A deep voice called from the mouth of a bald and lean man from Shooting Sun God Mountain. His gaze glistened like a sharp blade. “In a matter of a single night, all of us, Shooting Sun God Mountain, Xiao Yao Palace, and Snow Hawk Hall, are all here. If we all work together and find the treasure together, wouldn’t that be good for all of us? Once the Ying Family, Mani Temple, and Emperor Yu’s Hall are all here, then….”
“Master Gu, one should not be so greedy! You can die from eating too much!”
The authoritarian accent of Yang Prefecture made the words of this venerable man from Shooting Sun God Mountain sound more domineering.
Gu Yong’s face darkened. Zhao Danchen, who stood next to Gu Yong, looked at everyone around in turn and sneered, “This is Qing Hu Island’s business only! There is no need for everyone to meddle with it. If any of you believe that there is treasure within the Great Yan Mountain, then feel free to look for it yourself. We from Qing Hu Island give our word that we will not bother you with your treasure hunt! I hope everyone shall be kind enough to do the same. Do not mess with our business!”
Zhao Danchen was the tenth on the Heavenly Ranking. He had no fear of offending the present representatives.
“Master Gu!” A robed elder with a hooked nose and fur hat narrowed his eyes, “If you are not digging for Emperor Yu’s Treasure, then you wouldn’t mind letting us look around your Qing Hu Island’s camp, am I right?”
“My sincere apologies, but my Qing Hu Island doesn’t have a lot of time to spare for you lot.” Gu Yong’s face was as dark as a stormy night. He turned and walked away with an angry swipe of his long sleeves.
The other twelve innate experts of Qing Hu Island left with Gu Yong without the slightest hesitation. They had no regard for the people from Shooting Sun God Mountain, Xiao Yao Palace, and Snow Hawk Hall.
Every Silver Dragon Soldiers who stood in the front wore heavy armor with spears in their hands, waiting and preparing for any attack.
The sixteen innate experts of Shooting God Mountain, Xiao Yao Palace, and Snow Hawk Hall looked at each other.
“Looks like the rumors about Emperor Yu’s Treasures are true.”
“If we try to slaughter our way to the treasure, Gu Yong will sacrifice his entire Silver Dragon Army to stop us. I say let’s retreat for now.” The silver-haired elder wearing the silver robe spoke. Innate experts were not invincible despite the adage, “An innate experts can crush three elite armies easily”.
Regardless of the old saying, the type of army mattered.
All of the Silver Dragon Soldiers wore heavy armor. Even people like Teng Yongfan, who wielded four thousand pounds’ worth of monstrous strength, could not pierce their armor with a strong spear. This armor was truly a troublesome obstacle standing in the sixteen innate experts’ way.
Innate experts had no problem killing soldiers with heavy armor, but to do so would require a lot of Innate True Origin.
If the army clashed with and surrounded the sixteen, the innate experts would be forced to waste a huge amount of Innate True Origin. Of course, if they wished to escape, it could be done easily. On the other hand, if they wanted to slaughter their way out, they face the immense danger of exhausting their Innate True Origin.
Because the sixteen experts from the three sects and the twelve innate experts from Qing Hu Island stood a hundred meters apart, the conversation was rather loud. Teng Qingshan could hear them clearly all way in the depth of the Bottomless Pit, even though the voices were a bit muffled by the time it reached all the way down.
“Qing Hu Island is a tough bone to bite, isn’t it? They would rather have a bloody fight than to bow their heads for once. On the other hand, that bastard Gu Yong was probably counting on the fact that the others were not sure and would not move easily against Qing Hu Island.” Teng Qingshan sneered coldly at the bottom of the pit. “Gu Yong, you wish to find the treasure without anyone bothering you…humph. Good luck with your daydream! See how long the other sects would stay put once I start the party!”
The others didn’t know the way to the underground lake, but Teng Qingshan knew.
There were more Bottomless Pits than the one that Qing Hu Island’s camp sat on.
“Hu.” Teng Qingshan turned and immediately jumped into the water again. This time, he swam straight towards the Bottomless Pit he entered previously.
In a cave amongst the countless caves in the Bottomless Pit, next to a waterway.
Teng Yongfan laid against the wall of the cave, waiting quietly. He had already waited for an hour since the last time he had seen a demonic beast pass by.
“I cannot afford to waste any more time.” Teng Yongfan’s vision darkened for a second again, a clear result from losing too much blood and not eating for too long. An hour… “That beast should be somewhere far away right now.” Teng Yongfan ground his teeth and dragged himself out of the cave furtively.
There was a very quiet splatter as Teng Yongfan lowered himself into the water up to his neck. In fact, the water was deep enough to completely swallow Teng Yongfan, who couldn’t even move his lower body anymore. He stayed afloat and moved by gripping the cave’s stony wall.
He moved as quietly as possible to avoid attracting any beast’s attention.
“Sixty more meters until I reach the bottom of the Bottomless Pit.” Teng Yongfan continued to pull himself forward slowly.
Teng Yongfan was alarmed by the smell of blood and rotting flesh. He stopped abruptly. In this gloomy darkness, he couldn’t see very far.
“If the beast had noticed me, then it would have already attacked.” Teng Yongfan’s head was getting more and more dizzy by the minute. He knew his body wouldn’t last for much longer if he didn’t escape soon.
“I must go back! I have to go back home! Ah Lan…” Teng Yongfan hardened his determination and moved forward despite the danger. The icy touch of the water did not cool down the pain of his wounds. His eyes were glued to the way ahead. Unfortunately, the rotten smell was only getting stronger.
Then his eyes widened in shock——
He saw the beast that reeked of the filthy odor, a Darksteel Centipede was resting three meters away from the mouth of the cave with its eyes closed.
“I must go back! I must!” Teng Yongfan swallowed his own fear and moved even more slowly and carefully to minimize the noise he made, hoping the beast would never wake up.
One Chi, two Chi, three Chi!
Teng Yongfan was already at the mouth of the cave, still moving ever so slowly and cautiously. His gaze left the sleeping beast.
The distance between him and the beast was increasing painfully. One Zhang, two Zhang, three Zhang.
The beast faded away into the darkness of the cave.
“Lan, wait for me.” Teng Yongfan was a bit excited, but he knew that it was not the time to let down his guard. Just because he couldn’t see the Darksteel Centipede didn’t mean that the creature couldn’t see him. They were only a few Zhang apart. However, if he limited the noises he made, then the distance between them would help him hide from the predator.
His eyes already picked up the dim light from the bottom of the bottomless pit.
“Corpses!” Teng Yongfan saw the Silver Dragon Soldiers’ dead bodies, lying beside him. The height of the water already decreased to the height of his waist, making the corpse in the water clear enough to see.
Then the excitement on Teng Yongfan’s face froze.
Fifteen meters in front of Teng Yongfan, a pair of white eyes stared at him with curiosity. The owner of this pair of eyes was another Darksteel Centipede. It had waited for Teng Yongfan as it watched from the moment the man entered the water and down the straight waterway. It didn’t attack because it was amused by the man’s caution.
A Darksteel Centipede was a demonic beast that possessed a considerable amount of intelligence.
It wished to see hope turning into despair on the cautious man’s face.
“How…” Cold sweat of frustration dripped down from Teng Yongfan’s forehead.
“Roar…” The centipede roared softly in front of him.
Thirty meters behind Teng Yongfan, the sleeping centipede opened its eyes and looked towards the source of the sound.
“Roar…” The one behind answered the other’s call and slipped into the water.
“The one behind…“ Teng Yongfan couldn’t be more frustrated with anything anymore. He didn’t expect that the reward of struggling for this long would be this situation. In a moment, the other Darksteel Centipede arrived. It swam into Teng Yongfan’s sight, which was greatly recovered by the weak light from the bottom of the cave.
One the in front and one in the back, each Darksteel Centipede was about fifteen meters away from Teng Yongfan.
They stared at him intently.
“Roar… Roar…” They growled and roared softly to each other, seemingly consversing.
Teng Yongfan’s face was pale. He paid close attention to both sides while keeping his hands in the water.
Both creatures jumped out of the water and charged at Teng Yongfan.
“DIE!” Teng Yongfan roared as his expression twisted with fury. In each of his hands, there was a corpse covered with heavy armor. He threw the corpses with monstrous strength.
The two centipedes knocked the projectiles away with ease.
Teng Yongfan’s battle cry resonated weekly in the water.
Swimming underwater, Teng Qingshan heard the yell. His expression changed dramatically. Scarlet light erupted off his body as his speed multiplied by couple folds. These changes happened in less than a second before he shot towards the cave like a red arrow.
“Hua!” A figure shot out of the water along the waterway’s edge like a bolt of lightning.
Teng Qiangshan’s body expanded again like an explosion. Veins could be easily seen on his forehead, swarming like worms. His height reached sixteen Zhangs in the blind of an eye. He stormed the waterway like a humanoid monster, shaking the very structure of this ancient place.
“Lan! I will go before you!” Teng Yongfan roared like a demon himself, swinging his fists into the charging Darksteel Centipedes. The corridor was filled with the filthy smell of rotting corpses, and the pair of fangs crushing straight into Teng Yongfan’s face just made everything worse.
A yell beckoned loudly behind him, shaking his heart.
“Qingshan!” Teng Yongfan turned around. A huge silhouette stormed towards him with enough force to shake the whole corridor.
Two silvery light shot past him and through the skulls of the two Darksteel Centipedes. Right as the daggers pierced the beasts, the demonic figure arrived.
The two beasts’ entire bodies exploded behind them.
A trembling voice sounded with a trace of tears.