This guy was too savage! He just reached out and asked for ten million Gold Crystals without batting an eye! That was equivalent to ten thousand Orbs of Will!
The nine Manor Heads that came to talk to Miao Yi were utterly dumbfounded. If they handed all their Gold Crystals to him now, who would dare to ask for them back later on?
But alas, they had no choice but to comply. They didn't dare disobey this little lord that had full control of their life and death. If they offended him now, god knows if he would abuse his authority to get back at them later on? They heard that this bastard had killed all one thousand members of a certain Manor the moment he came to Traversing Water Palace. He didn't leave a single survivor!
As a result, all nine Manor Heads obediently handed over the storage rings that Tao Qingli had just given to them.
Ninety million Gold Crystals in the bag! Miao Yi quickly tucked all the storage rings away. He never thought of returning them at all. The old granny was simply too petty. He would be going to such a dangerous place, and she didn't even bestow upon him a transcendent artifact or two to protect himself. What was the point in giving them this money? Would they be able to avoid danger with just this little bit of cash? What a joke!
Miao Yi suspected that the old granny didn't have any expectations of their success in the first place. Otherwise, she wouldn't have sent a bunch of small fry like them to undertake such an important mission.
'Someone else will take care of all the fighting? Do you take me for a fool?! This clearly implied that the Realm Beyond Heaven actually had another trick up their sleeves. They surely sent out other troops in secret as well. Saying that our little group was being relied on was a lie. We're probably nothing more than mere scouts.'
'I'd better use these funds to prepare a few extra talisman seals to protect myself. These Manor Heads probably aren't so desperate for funds that they can't even put food on the table anyway.'
"Everyone, return to your respective territories and finish your preparations as soon as possible!" Miao Yi instructed them briefly, then charged out on his mount, leaving the rest of the group in the dust.
He didn't even wish to make small talk, and was going to leave right after taking their money? The hearts of the nine Manor Heads turned cold. Why did they have to leave their lives in the hands of such a man?!
The nine of them turned back to look at Traversing Water Palace at the peak of the mountain. But alas, nothing would change even if they tried to lodge a complaint...
When he got back to Raincloud Manor, Miao Yi immediately leaped off his mount and took Qian'Er and Xue'Er to meet Yao Ruoxian. As he hastily charged into the courtyard, he saw that Charcoal was still sleeping soundly under the eaves. He proceeded to give a couple of rough kicks to Charcoal's rump as he said, "Damned fatso, get up! Stop sleeping!"
However, Charcoal continued sleeping like a log. It was as though he was dead. No matter how hard Miao Yi kicked, there was no response from him at all. The sight had the two young ladies absolutely at a loss for words.
Within the house, Yao Ruoxian was next to a table and in the middle of painting. No one knew exactly what he was painting. Normal people wouldn't be able to understand his art anyway. When he heard the commotion outside, he raised his head and peered out the door. Noticing Miao Yi kicking Charcoal so roughly, his eyes instantly turned sharp as he asked coldly, "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Old coot! I'm in big trouble now. There's a chance I might die!" Miao Yi hastily barged inside Yao Ruoxian's house without his permission.
A mace artifact instantly appeared in Yao Ruoxian's grasp. He pointed it over and asked, "Who let you come in? What's it to me if you die? Beat it!"
'Damn it! This is my territory, okay? So what if your cultivation is higher? Just you wait. Once you've finished refining Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei's transcendent artifacts, I'll ask them to take care of you!' Miao Yi grumbled in his mind. However, he soon realized the flaw in his plan. There was no telling if he could even make it back alive from Flowing Clouds Dune Sea. If he ended up dying there, how would he get the chance to have them take care of this old geezer for him?
Miao Yi didn't leave. He sighed and said, "I'm really in a bit of trouble here. The higher-ups are sending me off to Flowing Clouds Dune Sea for some dumbass secret mission…"
Earlier on, Tao Qingli had specifically instructed that those who divulged the contents of the mission wouldn't be shown any mercy. However, Miao Yi didn't have the slightest hesitation whatsoever and just spilled the beans the second he got here. What's more, he revealed every single little piece of information, sparing none of the details from Tao Qingli's story. He didn't hide anything from Yao Ruoxian at all.
Miao Yi didn't have that many concerns, because he knew that the people around him right now probably wouldn't leak the information out. More importantly, he had no choice but to reveal everything he knew. After all, he was utterly clueless about the kind of place Flowing Clouds Dune Sea was. He had to get Yao Ruoxian to teach him a thing or two. He'd heard from Huo Lingxiao that the old geezer had spent a bit of time in Flowing Clouds Dune Sea, so he probably had some experience in dealing with the dangers of that place. If he didn't tell him everything he knew, then how would Yao Ruoxian be able to offer him any tips? It was no exaggeration to say that a single stone left unturned could very well cost him his life.
'Do it for the Celestial Sage? As if she even gives a damn about me. Even though I've looked up to the other party for a long time, clearly she doesn't have the tiniest sentiment towards me. Is it really necessary for me to go so far for such a woman? There are hundreds of millions of people out there willing to serve her. I'm no one special!'
When they heard that he was going to go to Flowing Clouds Dune Sea, Qian'Er and Xue'Er's mouths were agape from shock.
"The Netherdragon Ship? It has resurfaced?" The mace artifact in Yao Ruoxian's hand fell and pierced through the table as he solemnly asked. He didn't show any signs of attacking Miao Yi anymore.
Miao Yi asked, "Have you seen it before?"
Yao Ruoxian shook his head, "I've heard tales, but I've never seen the actual thing myself. However, I can assure you that the haunted vessel known as the Netherdragon Ship does indeed exist in Flowing Clouds Dune Sea. One of the main reasons why so many people gather at that godforsaken place is precisely because of this particular ghost ship."
Miao Yi walked up to the table, then pulled out a chair and sat down. He glanced at the scribbly artwork on top of the table, then raised his head and asked, "I hear that the Netherdragon Ship is filled with treasures from the Higher Realm. Is it true?"
The considerate Qian'Er and Xue'Er moved another chair behind Yao Ruoxian. The old man completely forgot about beating up Miao Yi and very naturally sat down. He then slowly shook his head and said, "There was a time when I tried to search for the Netherdragon Ship as well, eager to gaze upon its splendor. However, I couldn't even find the slightest trace of it. Instead, I was only graced with the various rumors concerning its otherworldly existence, the validity of which are all heavily doubtful. In short, there are plenty of exaggerated descriptions regarding the Netherdragon Ship, making it hard to tell which is real and which is fake. A lot of people said that they had seen the vessel, but the way they described its appearance were all different. Although it was later proven that a majority of those people were just making empty boasts to stir up the public, there is indeed a high chance that the ghost ship came from the Higher Realm. As for whether it contains any treasure, no one knows. Some people say it's empty, while others claim that it's filled with transcendent artifacts from the Higher Realm. Who can tell which is the truth?"
Miao Yi asked curiously, "Then how do you know that it could have come from the Higher Realm?"
Yao Ruoxian answered, "That ghost ship only started appearing after the Boundless Secular World did. This much is for sure. According to the rumors, when it first appeared, the Six Sages were among those who saw it. And it's precisely because they were fortunate enough to obtain the cultivation arts within the ghost ship that they ended up becoming the Six Sages we know of today. It's said that Celestial Sage Mu Fanjun and Devil Sage Yun Aotian were originally lovers, but because of a certain treasure on the ghost ship, they ended up becoming enemies. However, some rumors also say that the Six Sages obtained their cultivation arts from the Boundless Secular World instead. Perhaps no one else can verify these claims but the Six Sages themselves. Regardless, that ghost ship definitely appeared after the Boundless Secular World came to be."
"Ghost ship? Isn't it a dragon ship?"
"It's just a figure of speech. Even though there are many versions to the story, there are only two speculations which are slightly more believable than the rest. The first one says that the ghost ship is a transcendent artifact that came from the Higher Realm, which is why it can appear and disappear like a ghost. I'm leaning more towards this explanation. If it isn't a transcendent artifact, how can such a large ship just disappear without a trace under the eyes of so many people? What other explanation can there be other than it's a ghost ship? The other explanation is that there's actually a group of people bound together by an iron chain that's constantly dragging the treasure-loaded dragon ship around day and night. I myself find this highly skeptical, but there are plenty of people who swear this is true."
"Why are there so many people claiming it's true?" Miao Yi asked.
Qian'Er and Xue'Er also perked up their ears and listened on, their eyes gleaming with curiosity. Such strange occurrences naturally had a way of arousing a person's interest.
"It was around fifty thousand years ago when the ghost ship last appeared, which also sparked a majority of the cultivation realm's firm belief in the Netherdragon Ship's existence. Following its appearance, people started giving various speculations and embellishments to the story behind the ghost ship's origins. No one knows if those people have actually seen it for themselves or are just making stuff up. Although, it seems that there were indeed many witnesses at the time. Moreover, the Six Sages had even broken out into a full-scale battle to claim the ship's treasures as their own. Naturally, this was a significant event that took the entire cultivation realm by storm. There were also countless others who wished to obtain the treasures on board the ship as well. However, there were a group of chained humans protecting the Netherdragon Ship, and almost all those who lusted after the treasure on board were killed, leaving only a tiny handful of survivors. It seemed that even the Six Sages themselves had difficulty boarding the ghost ship with their cultivation at the time. All they could do was watch as the ghost ship disappeared. If that's true, then it doesn't fit the story that the Six Sages obtained their cultivation arts from the Netherdragon Ship. If they couldn't even board the ship fifty thousand years ago, how could they have possibly gotten on board and obtained their cultivation arts at a time when their powers had yet to fully develop? Not to mention, this story was a little too far-fetched. Would a group of people with such insanely high cultivations really pull around the dragon ship obediently like a bunch of mere slaves? This is why I find it more believable that the ghost ship is actually a transcendent artifact."
Miao Yi was a little dazed. Even after giving it some thought, he couldn't figure out which one was true and which one wasn't. He asked, "So in short, the only thing we can be sure about is that the Six Sages' cultivation arts came from either the Boundless Secular World or the Netherdragon Ship. Is that correct?"
"That much should be true. It's because prior to that, no one in the cultivation realm had even thought about gathering followers and harnessing their power of will to speed up one's own cultivation. Thus, the cultivation realm at the time lay firmly in the hands of those old farts. Meanwhile, the method for harnessing the followers' power of will to cultivate had come from the Six Sages themselves, which is why their cultivations had soared at such a breakneck pace. By the time those old farts wanted to follow the same practice and fight for the rights to the willpower of the mortals across the realm, it was already too late. They couldn't stop the Six Sages anymore. Moreover, it wasn't as if they could just come up with a similar cultivation method. That was a closely-guarded secret by the Six Sages. As such, there's a high chance that it had something to do with either the Boundless Secular World or the Netherdragon Ship."
Pa! Miao Yi slapped on the desk, "So in the end, it's all just a bunch of folktales. There's no substantial information at all! I don't care whether it's a ghost ship or dragon ship, but Flowing Clouds Dune Sea is such a dangerous place! Senior Yao, since you've been there before, then please share some of your experience on how to survive!"
Yao Ruoxian huffed in contempt. He originally wanted to ignore Miao Yi and leave the kid to his fate. However, when he saw the pleading gazes of Qian'Er and Xue'Er, as though they were soon-to-be widows, his lips couldn't help twitching. He glared at Miao Yi and said resentfully, "Who says Flowing Clouds Dune Sea is dangerous? You've never even been there before. How would you know it's a perilous place?"
"You're joking, right?" Miao Yi stood up and bowed with his hands cupped, "I admit that I've upset you on numerous occasions in the past. I ask your forgiveness for all my past transgressions. However, you can't just joke about these kinds of things! It could cost a man his life! How can a place that everyone thinks is dangerous be anything but?"
Yao Ruoxian scoffed, "That so-called danger depends on who you're talking to. Naturally, it's a dangerous place for any of the cultivators within the administration of the Six Nations. After all, Flowing Clouds Dune Sea is a place of exile for the Six Nations. As a result, there are plenty of folks there who bear a grudge against the cultivators under the administration of the Six Nations. You are someone that's working for the administration, and so are the people close to you, so obviously, all you're ever going to hear is how dangerous Flowing Clouds Dune Sea is. Remember, once you're there, never put on your Manor Head airs. Otherwise, I can guarantee that you'll die a horrible death. Also, the folks in that place are a pitifully poor bunch, so don't ever flaunt your wealth around. Those guys will do anything to get cultivation resources. After all, there are no laws governing that place. Besides that, just be more cautious and you'll be fine."
Miao Yi was appalled. "How is that still not dangerous?"
Yao Ruoxian replied point-blank, "If you really encounter any trouble you can't solve, just head to 'Tempest Tavern'!"