Xu Tianran's furious face instantly froze when he heard those words. A strange light flickered beneath his eyes - this seemed to be the only piece of good news amidst his colossal losses today. The emperor's death meant that he, who was the crown prince, had a chance to ascend to the throne. He had enough influence and power to support him in his bid for the throne, and the strongest resistance that he faced came from Xu Guozhong's lineage. But how could Xu Guozhong survive that tremendous explosion?
Suddenly, everything doesn't seem all that bad…
Xu Tianran gritted his teeth as he looked up at the troupe of evil soul masters who had already gathered in the sky. He suddenly cried out painfully, "Father, father! How can you leave just like that?" Two lines of tears streamed down his cheeks, but nobody knew whether they came from grief, or from regret.
There were mountains all around, and not a single ray of sunlight shone through.
This was the center of the Sun Moon Empire's Western Mountains, and this gigantic valley was more than five kilometers around. This valley was exceptionally spherical.
The valley sank down into a hemisphere, and the bottom was filled with clear lake water. The lake water gleamed, and it was so clear and crystalline that the lakebed could be seen.
Several shadows broke the tranquility of this place right at this moment. They were soaring through the sky, and they quickly arrived above the lake's surface.
One would realize upon closer inspection that there were four people. Two of them had black veils covering their faces, while they each carried someone in their hands - one was a young man, and the other was a young girl.
The young man and the young girl were crying out in alarm and surprise. However, they couldn't' move at all, and they couldn't struggle even if they wanted to.
The two people in black swiftly brought them to the center of the lake and hovered in midair.
They stared at the water beneath them, and they raised their captives above their heads.
"You… what are you trying to do?" The young man shouted dismally with a trembling voice.
One of their captors answered him. His voice sounded a little husky as he said, "We want to organize a grand sacrificial rite, and we need a living human as our sacrifice. We happen to have captured the two of you, who also happen to be married to each other. Speak now - who wishes to be sacrificed? We will let the other person go."
"No, please! I beg you, let us go!" Judging by her age, the young girl didn't seem like she had been married for long. Her voice was quivering at this moment, but she stared at her husband with a pleading and begging look in her eyes.
Her husband stared back at her with sluggish eyes. Suddenly, he roared at the top of his voice, "I don't want to die! I don't want to die! Use her! Use her as your sacrifice!"
The wife stared at her husband, who she had had made vows with, and her eyes were filled with disbelief.
"How… how can you do that? Didn't you say that you would protect me with your life? You… you're such a liar!"
Her husband howled hysterically, "We only live once, and this life is gone when we die. What about you? Do you think you're any better? What was that look in your eyes before this? Don't you want me to sacrifice myself for you? I'm so nice and good to you, so why won't you sacrifice yourself for me so that I can live?"
"Nonsense! I… I want to live, but I only want to live with you. Go to hell - you're the one who should die. Kill him, kill him!" The wife's emotions had become a little hysterical and distraught.
Two chilly lights flashed and slashed the couple's throats at the same time. Fresh blood erupted from their gaping wounds like a fountain and poured onto the lake's surface beneath them.
The couple's eyes were filled with incredulity and disbelief, and they seemed like they wanted to ask something, but they were just no longer able to do so.
One of their captors muttered disdainfully, "This is the fickleness of human nature, and everyone goes their separate ways when disaster arrives. How many times have we done this? This has never failed before. This place is quite peculiar, though - it can only be primed by the lives and blood of a man and woman who are in love but betray each other in the end."
The other man in black lowered his voice and said, "Cut the crap. Quickly, drain them of their blood so that we can go back and make a successful report on our task. This place will be activated two hours after it has been primed, and even saints can't escape from this when that time arrives. Any humans inside will be…"
The first man in black seemed to recall something, and said nothing more.
The couple's blood was swiftly drained, and their lives came to an end.
"Kerplunk, kerplunk." Two corpses plunged into the lake, and the two men in black turned and soared into the sky. They departed rapidly, as if they were running from something, and vanished in the blink of an eye.
In the few minutes after they disappeared, the lake's surface began to ripple and surge. The couple had just dropped into the lake, but their blood undulated and gradually began to lighten as strange colors started to appear.
Those were golden and silver hues. Golden light flickered while the silver light rippled, and they permeated the lake's surroundings at an alarming rate…
"Let's go." Elder Xuan instructed the company.
Shrek Academy's company immediately set out once more after their short rest and continued westward. They had no other choice at this point.
The colossal explosion in the middle of Radiant City would undoubtedly end this season's grand competition without proper closure. The Douluo Continent's three main countries' tense relationships with the Sun Moon Empire would undoubtedly be aggravated because of this explosion as well.
The Sun Moon Empire's citizens probably hadn't really supported war before this, but it wasn't hard to imagine what their opinions would be like after this incident.
Elder Xuan's expression seemed a little better after he listened to He Caitou's explanation. If the Sun Moon Empire's death count wasn't as bad as it seemed, then their operation could only be described as impeccable.
The company could only progress through the Western Mountains because they were afraid that flying through the air would draw attacks from the Sun Moon Empire's long-range soul tools. Everyone in the company was relatively powerful, and they scaled hill after hill as they pushed forward. They arrived within the Western Mountains' inner regions in no time.
However, a strange atmosphere appeared right at this moment.
"This place looks very familiar - I think we were here two hours ago." Huo Yuhao was back inside his human-shaped soul tool. He had plugged one Class 6 Milk Bottle in each of the machine's reserve slots - with these two Milk Bottles supporting him, he could spare a lot more energy to recover his spiritual power and his soul power throughout the journey.
The Western Mountain could present unforeseen problems and obstacles, so Huo Yuhao had his Spiritual Detection activated this entire time. He alternated between different directions as he surveyed and scouted far into the distance, searching for problems that might appear.
He hadn't discovered anything throughout their journey so far, but the feeling that something was wrong became stronger and stronger.
Huo Yuhao didn't know why he was feeling that, but he was confident that something bad was about to befall them. The ominous feeling in his mind seemed to mature at this moment.
"Stop, everyone." Elder Xuan drifted over to Huo Yuhao's side. He had always had faith in Huo Yuhao's spiritual power. "Are you saying that we've circled back? Can it be that there is a maze inside the Western Mountains? Such a problem shouldn't occur with our ability to discern direction and our navigational abilities."
Elder Xuan looked up at the stars in the night sky as he spoke. Observing the stars at night had always been a good way of telling direction.
Huo Yuhao lowered his voice and said, "I am positive, Elder Xuan, that we've been to this place before. The reason is because I did a single-direction sweep in this place before, and there are still some remnant spiritual imprints of that on the plants around us. That can't be wrong."
Elder Xuan's expression instantly grew solemn. He was a Rank 98 Transcendent Douluo, a powerful being who was almost an Ultimate Douluo, yet not even he had detected anything wrong. They were going around in circles, and this proved that the situation was quite serious.
"What do you think we should do?" Elder Xuan lowered his voice as he asked Huo Yuhao.
Huo Yuhao answered, "The sky is too dark at this moment. I've attempted to reach far into the distance with Spiritual Detection, but the further I go, the less clear our surroundings become. I can only feel out the rough landscape, but I'm unable to use my spiritual power to do any in-depth observations. Should we rest and wait for daybreak? Dawn is coming soon."
Elder Xuan nodded and said, "Alright, let's wait for daybreak then. Rest where you are everyone, and stay together. Don't get separated from each other - Lexuan, you're responsible for arranging the shifts for night watch. Those who are resting, meditate as soon as possible."
Zhang Lexuan immediately went ahead to arrange the night shifts. She was the inner courtyard's eldest senior sister, and she was also part of the Sea God's Pavilion, so she had always been efficient at arranging such things. It didn't take long before a small-scale campsite was established on a location that was relatively higher than their surroundings. Several Titled Douluo, including the Martial God Douluo Xian Lin'er, rested near the edge of the campsite so that they could protect everyone.
There were five Titled Douluo who were part of Elder Xuan's company, and there were four Transcendent Douluo, including Elder Xuan. However, they had quite a few people to protect. The Tang Sect comprised the largest group - Bei Bei, He Caitou, Xu Sanshi, Jiang Nannan, Xiao Xiao, Huo Yuhao, Wang Dong'er, Ji Juechen, Jing Ziyan, Nan Qiuqiu, and Na Na. There was also one other person that Huo Yuhao had roped in for the operation last night, and that was Gao Dalou, who possessed a ranked carving knife of his own. Huo Yuhao had used some rare metals to completely bring this self-established soul engineer over to his side.
Besides the Tang Sect's company, the Titled Douluo also had to protect the team from Shrek Academy who had come to participate in the tournament - Wang Qiu'er, Dai Huabin, Zhu Lu, Zhou Enchen, Cao Jinxuan, Lan Susu, Lan Luoluo, Wu Feng, Ning Tian, and Xie Huanyue. In addition to their eldest senior sister, Zhang Lexuan, these Titled Douluo had quite a few people to protect.
The six Titled Douluo's most important task was to escort these people - there were more than twenty of them - safely back to Shrek Academy.
Dai Huabin and the others from Shrek Academy's team were full of doubt and suspicion as they watched the mysterious and secretive looks on the others from the Tang Sect. They were deeply shaken by the frightening explosion before this, and they also noticed that Elder Xuan had inquired of the Tang Sect's company in private - did that mean the Tang Sect had something to do with that explosion?
The Tang Sect's company naturally huddled together. They had hustled throughout the night, and Huo Yuhao was naturally the most exhausted one. He almost instantly entered meditation, and his fatigued expression didn't look so good under the firelight.