Seemingly already with an answer to that question, Mo Yanbai spoke. "We'll have the first elder and elder Wu lead the group. Xu Ran and Han Yue will go, if something happens, then we'll plan accordingly."
Elder Wu saw nothing wrong with such an answer and nodded her head. "By your will then. Where is the first elder anyhow?"
"We've a few guests here today," Mu Chen chuckled, "the first elder should be accompanying them outside. I'm sure he'll be back soon."
"Guests? Who?" Elder Wu asked, "And outside….? To Black Cloud Forest?! The first elder is protecting them?"
Mu Chen chuckled again, "It's a long story, but these guests are quite special…"
He re-narrated the story of how Bai Yunfei and the others came to be here today for elder Wu to listen.
"Disciple of Zi Jin of the Crafting School and peak late-stage Soul Exalt? A class seven soulbeast as a soulbeast partner and another class seven soulbeast traveling with him?! And offering up a heaven-tier soul armament and killing a black-scaled serpent just for the sake of saving a commoner they don't know?!"
She repeated the key points to the story, but her voice was filled with doubts over the truth of them.
"An admirable act and code of conduct, but…." Mu Chen trailed off when he noticed an aura come flying over to the hall. "Eh? The first elder is already back?"
Sensing the familiar aura, everyone else turned to look in the same direction as Mu Chen.
The moment the aura came within the range of the elders, it 'leapt' a kilometer away and into the hall.
Everyone was surprised at the sudden leaping of this aura. The fact that the first elder was using teleportation to move from place to place signified that there was something urgent that needed to be done.
There was a flash of light as a person came flying into the hall. It was the first elder.
Mu Chen gaped at him. "First elder, what is goi….?"
"Headmaster, Bai Yunfei is missing!" The man interrupted Mu Chen.
His words put an end to everyone's words. "What did you say?!" Mo Yanbai's face paled drastically.
"Bai Yunfei's missing?! What does that mean?!" Mu Chen replied as well.
"Bai Yunfei disappeared without a trace, I don't know where he's gone!"
Attempting to calm himself down, Mo Yanbai wiped all emotion off his face. "Tell me what happened in detail!"
Without mincing words, the first elder retold what he saw happen to Bai Yunfei. He didn't spare details on the battle, and then his recap of how Bai Yunfei 'disappeared' after the battle was told without room for error either.
After he spoke, the entire hall was completely still with silence.
Elder Qi was the first to speak after a while. "How can a living being just disappear like that without warning?"
"I definitely didn't feel anything out of the ordinary at the time. Bai Yunfei disappeared right then and there, and I didn't know how he did or how to find him either. Even his soulbeast partner couldn't sense his aura."
"If his soulbeast couldn't sense him, then wouldn't that mean…." Mu Chen's face darkened.
The elder shook his head. "He shouldn't be dead. We might not have been able to sense him, but the soulbeast didn't feel the effects of having their partner die. That means Bai Yunfei is still alive."
Everyone sighed a breath of relief at that. They gave each other mystified looks, each of them completely unsure of what in the world was going on.
"Then….is Bai Yunfei perhaps playing a trick on us?" Elder Qi posited a half-step later, "Perhaps he has a goal here he can't tell anyone?"
"How could that be?" Mu Chen asked with furrowed eyebrows. "Do you really think someone of Bai Yunfei's strength would be able to escape the eyes of the first elder?"
Knowing that his own suggestion was a tad bit ridiculous, elder Qi shrugged and stayed quiet.
"The area where the black-scaled serpent lives," Elder Wu spoke up, "there shouldn't be any secrets there, should there? All of the nearby pockets aren't very close to the Black Cloud Forest, so Bai Yunfei shouldn't have found himself going into one, much less one we haven't discovered. It's even more strange that he disappeared without a trace and without being able to be traced, just how…."
The first elder shook his head in response. "It was only just a nest for the black-scaled serpent he fell into. Nothing strange about it. I scanned the surrounding ten kilometers for clues and found nothing either."
"Where are the people that came with Bai Yunfei?" Mo Yanbai suddenly asked. "Why are they not back with you?"
"They….aren't willing to leave." The first elder sighed. "Especially the soulbeast partner of Bai Yunfei. It's been sweeping around the entire area now without giving up. I didn't have much of a choice but to return to the school and report the problem. That Zheng child was relatively calm-headed though. He promised that they'd be back by midnight."
The entire hall grew silent again. No one knew how to best address this issue since everyone was thinking just how preposterous the entire situation was.
Still stormy in expression, Mo Yanbai thought about the potential ramifications of this. Bai Yunfei was gone without a trace while in his Underworld School. If they didn't find him soon, then this would spell trouble for them.
"First elder." He spoke at last. "Bring elder Mu and elder Qi with you to search the area…..actually, I'll do it myself…."
He rose up from his chair and was preparing to leave when the new auras of several more people could be felt. "They're back?!"
The first elder noticed their auras as well. "I'll go greet them!" He spoke with a happier voice.
He disappeared as soon as he spoke. In no time at all, Zheng Kai, Long Lan, and even Xiao Qi were back in the hall.
The first elder was back now too, a much happier look was had on his face. Before even waiting for Mo Yanbai to ask, he spoke, "Headmaster, Bai Yunfei has been found!"
Everyone was shocked, but happy to hear it. "Found? Where is he?" Mo Yanbai asked.
"That's…." The first elder hesitated to answer. He turned to Zheng Kai.
Zheng Kai bowed to everyone first before replying, "While we did find Bai Yunfei….his location is a little strange…."
"What do you mean by that? Where is he?"
From on top of Long Lan's shoulder, Xiao Qi was the one to chirp the answer. "I sensed Yunfei on the other side of the mountain range."
Everyone was mystified yet again. "Weren't you unable to sense him? How is he….on the other side? What do you mean by that?"
Xiao Qi shook his head. "I don't know what happened, but I really did lose connection with Yunfei for a while. But then after a while, I was suddenly able to sense him. He's really far away and I was only able to sense just a little bit, but from what I could see, he's on that mountain over there."
He pointed his left wing east.
Mu Chen followed Xiao Qi's pointing with wide-opened eyes. "Are you saying….he's on the other side of the Black Cloud Mountain Ranges?!"
Zheng Kai nodded. "That's what Xiao Qi senses. Yunfei was with us when we killed the black-scaled serpent, but now he's on the other side of the mountain ranges….it's hard to believe, but that's what Xiao Qi senses. We'll be on our way to go find him, but seniors, how might've this happened?"
No one was able to respond to him. This was a question they still had no answer for.
"Making it out over to the other side of the mountain range from within Black Cloud Valley…..how can that be?" Mu Chen muttered, "Are you certain your senses are right?"
"Of course." Xiao Qi nodded. "I can sense him even now. Yunfei is on the other side! I don't know why, but we're going to find him right now!"
Xiao Qi was planning to leave the valley to go straight to where Bai Yunfei was. He actually wanted to just fly up and over the mountain range, but the mountain ranges was so high that it was beyond even the Ninth Heaven, which in turn was a point of height where only Chaos existed. Even Soul Kings had no method of surviving in such a place, so the only way Xiao Qi could leave Black Cloud Valley was through the way he came. The only problem was, Xiao Qi didn't know how to follow that route. And since Zheng Kai said that they needed to transport the black-scaled serpent's gall back to the Underworld School, Xiao Qi came with them back to the school to see what could be done.
"You said the black-scaled serpent's nest led Bai Yunfei to the other side of the mountain range?" Elder Qi suddenly asked.
"Yes." Zheng Kai nodded.
An odd expression crossed elder Qi's face. Turning to Mu Chen, he started to speak, "If I'm not remembering things wrong, then that place must be…."
Everyone else came to the same conclusion elder Qi was coming towards. Gasping as a collective whole, elder Wu cried out, "Crushed Stone River!!"