A sphere of fire was burning brightly in the otherwise pitch-dark hole to illuminate the surrounding four to five meters around it.
This place was the very bottom of the hole and was extremely far away from the surface of the earth. Bai Yunfei didn't even know just how long it had been since he first entered the hole, and to make matters even worse, all the twists and turns had caused Bai Yunfei to lose his sense of direction.
At first, Bai Yunfei thought it was a singular passageway he was chasing the tentacle down in. But the more he traveled, the more he came to realize this was actually a series of tunnel networks that branched off into multiple tunnels in complicated directions. If not for his soulsense latching onto the weak aura of the young girl, Bai Yunfei would've been lost in the tunnels.
The more he chased down the tentacle, the more grim Bai Yunfei felt about the situation.
His feet continued to take him deeper into the darkness after the unfocused aura. "What am I even chasing after, and where is it taking me….?" He muttered to himself.
Bai Yunfei was already more than well aware of how strange this area was. It was just ordinary soil around him, but at the same time there was a 'suffocating' feel to it.
He felt this type of feeling before—it was similar to when he was back in the illusion outside of the Capital!
There was an abundant amount of strange energy that was targeting his motions, senses, and even soul to hamper their max efficiency.
But the most important thing was the fact that the surrounding soil was capable of blocking soulsense from traveling through it!!
Bai Yunfei had realized then that he couldn't sense what was going on around him! His soulsense was hardly able to spread even a hundred meters around him! Fearful that he might lose track of the enemy, Bai Yunfei hurried after them without stopping.
Everything had been far too strange since they arrived in Formagua City. With all things considered, Bai Yunfei had at least a few things figured out.
The inhabitants of Formagua City were gone somewhere unknown, causing the city to become what it was right now. And the cause of their disappearance had to be because of this 'thing'. The countless auras in the city center was the doing of 'that', and even the little girl was used as bait for 'its' plan.
That didn't mean to say the little girl was a fake. Bai Yunfei was definitely convinced she was an actual commoner and was actually in danger. She was just used by 'that' as bait to attract people like Bai Yunfei!
Whatever 'that' was, it was trying to avoid a battle out on the surface where it'd surely lose against any person. By dragging them underneath, the chances of victory for 'it' would be higher.
Or perhaps there was yet another comrade with this underground thing. Because of the strange properties of the earth, the underground thing was able to continue on with its actions unhindered. But the cause of the changes in the earth was most likely due to the actions of a second being.
"Do you think you'd win against me even if we're underground?"
Bai Yunfei snarled. Having the Cataclysmic Seal come to his side, Bai Yunfei had the fireseed inside of it melt into his own body and increase his strength!
Dual Flame Arts: 'Coil' Form!
Bai Yunfei knew better than to stick around and be led back to its nest to fight. The best course of action was obviously to take out the thing right now, rescue the girl, and then leave as quickly as possible!
There was a sharp crack as Bai Yunfei's foot kicked off against the ground. Shooting around a corner with so much force that the earth quaked, Bai Yunfei sped towards the retreating black shadow with the speed of lightning!
He didn't attack in fear of accidentally striking the young girl somehow. Instead, he reached his right hand out to try and grab onto her and pull her away from the snake-like thing that was grabbing onto her.
Before he could even get within two meters of the young girl, three black shadows shot out from the left and right side of the girl at him!!
As it turned out, Bai Yunfei had turned the corner onto a fork in the road. With at least one tunnel on both sides of the one the shadow holding onto the girl was going through, Bai Yunfei was being attacked by the shadows in the other tunnels!
Startled, Bai Yunfei took the Cataclysmic Seal and pressed it forwards.
"Bang! Bang! Bang!!"
The three black shadows slapped onto the bubble of elemental energy around Bai Yunfei like whips of liquid. Though they weren't strong enough to destroy the barrier, they did manage to exert enough force onto the barrier to divert Bai Yunfei into the roof of the tunnel.
There was an explosion as Bai Yunfei slammed into the roof. A large crater formed where he struck against the earth, causing dirt and stone to fall. A moment later, a crimson streak of light shot back towards the black shadow!
"It's attacks aren't too strong, but it's clearly holding back too. I can't find out just how strong this thing is, or what it even is…."
Bai Yunfei dropped the barrier after he was hit and rebounded back at the path of the shadows. Several thoughts were racing through his mind as he tried to think about the possibilities of what he was facing. Unfortunately for him, the three black shadows that attacked him were already gone from sight.
The only thing he was positive about right now was the fact that he was up against a soulbeast with an earth affinity. It had multiple tentacles just like an octopus as well, but aside from that, he wasn't sure about anything else.
Even with this brief altercation, Bai Yunfei was moving fast enough to catch up to the shadows. In the blink of an eye, he was already back within two meters and just in time to be attacked by another two black shadows!
"Hmph!" Bai Yunfei was prepared this time. Coming to a stop for some reason, Bai Yunfei took a half step back with his right foot and clenched his right hand. Bringing it up to have the Flameblade Bracer shine, Bai Yunfei summoned a Winged Flame Blade tall enough to touch the roof of the cave.
The two black shadows were coming at him from two perpendicular angles now. With him at their center, the two shadows were forming an 'X' as they came at him.
In response, Bai Yunfei waved his right hand down to have the Flame Winged Blade shoot off down the center towards the 'X' attack!
There was a squelching sound as the Flame Winged Blade cut straight through the black shadows and left behind a trail of scorched earth before finally disappearing.
Two black objects fell to the ground. An acrid burning smell pervaded through the tunnels as the two black shadows zipped back away from Bai Yunfei, leaving behind the tips of whatever had come forward.
"These….these really are the tentacles of an octopus!!"
At last, Bai Yunfei was finally able to see whatever those 'black shadows' were. He was a little surprised. Though scorched a bit, Bai Yunfei could see that the shadows were well and truly the tentacles of an octopus! He had guessed earlier that this strange beast was 'like' an octopus with how it had plenty of tentacles, but in the end, it really was an octopus he was dealing with!
But now wasn't the time to be surprised about that. In the time Bai Yunfei stopped to deal with the tentacles, the little girl was already taken yet another hundred meters away. Picking up the pace, Bai Yunfei gave chase after the girl again.
"I'm here, Yunfei!"
A voice called out to him from behind. Straight afterwards, a streak of violet and green light shot through the tunnels towards Bai Yunfei. Without pausing, it flew past him to continue onwards!