The group charged into the mist without sparing even a moment to look behind. Once they were in, they were all relieved to see that the layout of the maze remained untouched.
They didn't need to waste much time looking for the way back since they left markers every so often. By following those, the group was able to hurry along. Their progress was further hastened since they could ignore the dead ends. It took the group an hour before they reached the same place as before where the fog was at its thickest. Only the surrounding five meters could be seen, and fifty meters if one were to use soulsense. Even with the combined powers of the six, it still took Bai Yunfei and the others a great deal of effort in order to scan the surrounding hundred meters.
The explosions that had been so prevalent in the area before Bai Yunfei and his group entered the mountain was still going strong as people all over the area fought one another.
Bai Yunfei's group came across a large battle in fact on their way through the maze. With how wide the passageways were in the maze, Bai Yunfei's group was able to go on by without any issues. That didn't stop the people fighting from freezing up when the large party drew close. They all sighed when it looked like Bai Yunfei's group meant no trouble, and instead of fighting after the group left, the two parties took the opportunity to retreat.
The other people along the way wisely gave Bai Yunfei's group a wide berth whenever their presence was felt. Even those who had other intentions thought otherwise when they realized how large Bai Yunfei's group was.
Despite being back on track towards the finish line, Bai Yunfei's group didn't look all too happy as they sped along. In fact, they looked worried.
The mist around them was distinctly different than before. It was no longer calm and still like the water in a tranquil lake. The mist now was like a banner flapping in the wind with how the mist swirled in on itself in irregular patterns. It wasn't a prelude of something drastically gone out of trouble, but it still gave off an unwelcoming feeling.
That wasn't the only change either. The spatial barriers here were also feeling the brunt of the coming changes. Bai Yunfei's group had been traveling a little farther ahead when one of the weaker spatial barriers to their side practically disintegrated, revealing what used to be a dead end and two Late-stage Soul Exalts fighting one another. The bursts of elemental energy from these two Late-stage Soul Exalts had been strong enough to shatter the spatial barrier when the two collided!
The sight of the spatial barriers shattering apart gave Bai Yunfei's group a fright, but Jing Mingfeng had a sudden delusion upon seeing that.
If the spatial barriers could be broken, could they not simply break apart all the spatial barriers in front of them in order to reach the top?
His hypothesis warranted testing, and the group was more than willing to give it a try. Putting it to the test, the group were soon disheartened to see their attempts fail.
Perhaps there was a special method in shattering the spatial barriers, or perhaps the two fighting Late-stage Soul Exalts had managed to strike the spatial barrier at just the right spot. Whatever the case, the group hadn't the slightest of clues on how to replicate it.
"Focus on the connection everyone. The paths are getting even more narrow and complicated from here on out. The fluctuations being given off from the barriers are weaker as well, we can't afford to lose concentration here!"
Scribbling another marker to denote a dead end, Zheng Kai gave a warning to the group to focus. From here on out, they at the farthest they had ever been, and the layout of the maze were now more difficult to deal with than before.
Another ten minutes and two hundred cautious meters later, the group was rewarded with the sounds of explosions rocking against the mountain. Bursts of elemental energy exploded into the world simultaneously, alerting Bai Yunfei's group that someone was here.
"There's people even here?!" Jing Mingfeng whispered angrily, "How amazing are these people to make it here before us?!"
There was a scream just a moment after Jing Mingfeng's angered whispering. Like a dying ember flickering out from a candle, the soulforce of the person who screamed was extinguished.
By the time Bai Yunfei's group made it to the fighting grounds, the area was in tatters and the corpses not even in one piece. A little far away, a person could be seen fleeing towards the right and was soon transported away thanks to the barriers.
"They probably weren't following us. I'd bet one of the spatial barriers coincidentally brought them here." Bai Yunfei guessed.
"Even here can be reached via barriers?" Yue Feng narrowed his eyes, "I would've guessed that the barriers would've transported people to the halfway point at the very farthest. If barriers could send people anywhere in the maze, wouldn't one be able to reach the top of the peak if they had good enough luck? Even someone who didn't know about the maze would be able to reach the top if they just keep walking, couldn't they?"
"It's theoretically possible." Zheng Kai nodded, "But the chances are slim and probably not even worth talking about."
"Likely so." Yue Feng agreed, "Let's keep on going then. The sooner we make it out, the better. It feels terrible here, like something's trying to suffocate me."
"You feel that too?!" Jing Mingfeng announced, "And here I thought I was the only one thinking that!"
The two looked at one another for a brief second before simultaneously looking to Zheng Kai for an explanation.
"You can feel that too?" Zheng Kai gave a grim smile, "It's not just your imagination. This sensation is the feeling of being 'rejected' from this space.
'Rejected?!" Jing Mingfeng cried out, "You're telling us that…"
"Things are getting worse than I initially thought," Zheng Kai nodded, "The space around this mountain is starting to destabilize even more now. I can't even say how long it'll last. Maybe in less than a day, the space of this pocket will start to collapse starting from this mountain first. If the pocket is agitated even more, then what will happen is poss—"
As if emphasizing the worst-case scenario Zheng Kai was about to delve into, an ear-splitting detonation went off somewhere relatively nearby!
A violent gust of wind blew through the air, displacing the mist and sending it flying everywhere while also a wave of elemental energy blustered through the spatial barriers!
Everyone froze at the sudden detonation. Zheng Kai's eyes were wide open when he realized what it was, "Damn!! Someone self-destructed?!"
The outflux of elemental energy just now wasn't something that'd normally result from an attack. Something of that major of a scale was the result of someone destroying their origin essence!
The shock of the first explosion hadn't even worn off when yet another explosion of equal proportions went off!
Zheng Kai's eyes widened even larger at the sudden sound. "F*ck! What's wrong with these people! A second one?! What's the point of that?!"
Somewhere on the mountain, two people had opted to self-destruct! The waves of elemental energy from the explosion ripped through the mountain and shook the earth as it passed along. Even the mist floating in the air was heavily displaced like a whirlpool in its wake.
But the people down at the base of the mountain were treated to an even worse of a sight.
At the middle of the mountain, where the explosions had gone off, a gigantic whirlpool of mist was starting to form. Several hundred meters in diameter, this whirlpool was moving in a way that even the bottom of the mountain was starting to have mist gather.
Streaks of red and violet light were shooting out from the center of the whirlpool, twisting, crashing, and absorbing one another in an attempt for supremacy over the other force of elemental energy and shocking everyone who saw it…
As the bolts of lightning and whips of fire struggled against one another, some parts of the two elements split away from the main groups and seemingly drilled into the air and left behind black holes from where they disappeared. With each strand of elemental energy that followed suit, the black holes seemingly expanded in size as if the pocket was being split open!
Though these holes were frozen in the air, even more elemental energy was being absorbed into these holes at an accelerated rate and directly expanding them!