Chapter 490: Underground!
As evening fell, the violet rain fell down onto the tents in the area that had been set up specifically for visiting Cultivators.
After spending a few Spirit Stones, Meng Hao and Sun Dahai had been able to acquire a tent, within which they now sat cross-legged.
“Exalted Sacred Ancient,” said Sun Dahai in a low voice, as he reported his findings to Meng Hao, “I made a lot of inquiries earlier today. The Eight Branch Alliance has been in this spot for four months now. During the last few days of each of those months, they have hosted an auction.
“They’ve already held four such auctions. When popular items appear, deaths sometimes occur. However, none of the deaths are connected to the Eight Branch Alliance.
“Such deaths are usually caused because of personal disputes and thefts. Generally speaking, it seems that the Eight Branch Alliance is really just interested in business, and has no malicious intentions.
“The final auction will be held ten days from now. When it concludes, the Eight Branch Alliance will move on. As such, many local Tribes will be attending the final auction, and many valuable treasures will be up for purchase.”
Meng Hao sat there cross-legged, his face concealed within this black cloak. After listening to Sun Dahai’s report, he said, “You think there’s nothing unusual about this place?”
Sun Dahai’s eyes flickered. “There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly unusual. However, we do need to be on guard. It’s possible the Eight Branch Alliance is spreading bait to attract some big fish, which they can then collect together in one fell swoop.
“The surrounding Tribes couldn’t possibly be that off-guard,” he continued. “If the Eight Branch Alliance wanted to swallow them up, it would be difficult to accomplish. Besides, to survive in this Apocalypse, Tribes have to experience war and battles. Such Tribes wouldn’t possibly fall for something so stupid. Even if they sent people here to trade, they wouldn’t send too many Spirit Stones or other resources with them. If I were a local Greatfather, I would send a large group so that there would be safety in numbers. As for Spirit Stones, they would be secondary.
“Furthermore, if the Eight Branch Alliance truly had the power to swallow up an entire Tribe, then what is the point of the city? Why not just sweep over the surrounding tribes and plunder them dry? That would certainly save a lot of effort.” Sun Dahai looked puzzled.
“That’s why I think that there’s a seventy percent likelihood that they are actually focused on doing business, and not on maliciously robbing people.” He looked over at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao was silent for a short time before giving a hoarse laugh.
“If you came to this conclusion, then likely other Tribes will too. It is because of that understanding that this city houses over ten thousand outsiders. Most are members of the other seven Tribes that exist in this region, as well as some Cultivators from even more distant regions.
“However, did it ever occur to you that the true goal of the Eight Branch Alliance, is neither business, nor robbing Spirit Stones and other resources?” Cold, glowing eyes looked out at Sun Dahai from within the black cloak.
Sun Dahai was taken aback, and sat there lost in thought.
At the same time, several dozen days of travel away where the Crow Divinity Tribe was resting, Meng Hao’s true self sat cross-legged. Suddenly, his eyes opened to reveal a brilliant glow, and he rose to his feet.
“Members of the Crow Divinity Tribe, after enough time passes for a single incense stick to burn, we will mount our flying treasure and move at top speed toward the Eight Branch Alliance!” Immediately, all the Tribe members emerged from their meditative trances. Without asking any questions whatsoever, they rose to their feet. In the short amount of time it takes for an incense stick to burn, the thousands of Tribe members stepped onto the gigantic viper. A piercing cry rose up as the flying viper treasure shot through the air. Spirit Stones were used unhesitatingly, causing the viper to speed as fast as possible toward the Eight Branch Alliance.
As the Crow Divinity Tribe made their way toward the Eight Branch Alliance, time passed by slowly for Meng Hao and Sun Dahai. Casting aside their previous prudence, they made their way throughout the Eight Branch Alliance city and began to make purchases.
Within the space of a few days, they had spent quite a bit of Spirit Stones to purchase various supplies that would be needed for the migration. The Eight Branch Alliance was constantly announcing the auction to take place in a few days. In fact, each day, various shops and stores would put on display some of the items which were to be auctioned.
Meng Hao saw three flying machines, one of which was a 25,000-meter treasure shaped like an actual ship, that could hold around ten thousand people.
It was protected by a glittering shield, and was capable of astonishing speed. Although a terrifying amount of Spirit Stones was required to operate it, it was essentially the only type of item that the Western Desert Tribes could use at the moment. Anything that normally operated on spell formations that absorbed the spiritual energy of Heaven and Earth, was now inoperable.
There were a few special totem branding techniques that were the topic of heated debate within the city. However, what caught Meng Hao’s eyes the most were the neo-demons.
The Eight Branch Alliance had over a hundred thousand neo-demons of all varieties. The mere sight of them was shocking.
In fact… there were three totemic Sacred Ancients that the Eight Branch Alliance had on display. One was a three-headed Xuanwu turtle. Another was a three hundred meter long golden eagle. The final one was a blind crow. This crow was very similar to Meng Hao’s other black crows; however, its aura was vastly, vastly more powerful.
Unfortunately, these three totemic Sacred Ancients seemed extremely weak and listless. Clearly, the Tribes and Tribe members who had exercised faith in them had been slaughtered. Therefore, the faith power they had stored up was thoroughly exhausted, and had not been replenished.
In addition, they were bound by fine, silver chains that pierced through their bodies. Their previous aloofness and haughtiness had changed. Now they were items for sale that anyone could glance upon casually.
Every day, a voice would ring out through the entire city, filled with sincerity. It didn’t seem to contain even a scrap of hypocrisy, and sounded completely credible.
“Greetings, Fellow Daoists. The Eight Branch Alliance will be holding our final auction in six days. After the auction, we will be leaving this area. During this final auction, we will be selling all of the items that you have had a chance to look over recently. Some of these items belong to the Eight Branch Alliance, but the majority have been entrusted to us by other parties to sell.
“In some cases, these items will not be sold for Spirit Stones, but rather other special items that we require. After all, it is such items that we will prepare to auction off in the next location we travel to.”
Considering the reputation built up by the Eight Branch Alliance, as well as the extremely attractive items up that were to be put up for auction, more and more Cultivators arrived each day.
These people didn’t just come from the neighboring seven Tribes, but even Tribes from further south. Of course, for safety’s sake, large groups of Cultivators had been dispatched, all well-known figures. The leaders of all of these groups were of the Nascent Soul stage.
Three days before the auction was set to begin, the foreign population of the city had already swelled to twenty thousand. The city was packed, and the atmosphere extremely lively and out of the ordinary. In fact, some Tribes had already begun doing business secretly.
Sun Dahai was as happy as a fish in water; he immediately began to interact with the other Tribes as he attempted to gather together all the supplies they needed. As of the day before the auction, Meng Hao had already spent all the Spirit Stones he had brought in order to acquire the various items they needed.
The more people arrived, the more Sun Dahai seemed to think the area was safe. As for Meng Hao, he felt exactly the opposite. During the past seven or eight days, he had not actually engaged in any of the purchasing. Instead, he walked around the city, observing and studying it. In the end, he was convinced that under the surface of this entire area was a huge spell formation!
The spell formation was very complex. Even with many people working at it, it would take months to set up. Considering how long the Eight Branch Alliance had been in this area, Meng Hao was certain that the spell formation… had been put together by none other than them!
Most curious of all, this spell formation seemed to be able to stir and congeal Demonic Qi!!
The spell formation was so well hidden that even a Nascent Soul Cultivator would be incapable of detecting it. The only reason Meng Hao could sense it was because of the Demonic Qi that was congealed inside. Obviously, the body Meng Hao was using was illusory, materialized from Demonic Qi; naturally, he was extremely sensitive to Demonic Qi.
Demonic Qi was shapeless, which Meng Hao well knew. No one could see it, nor feel it. Only neo-demons or totemic Sacred Ancients would be able to sense it. However, considering the weakness of the Demonic Qi in the spell formation, it would probably be difficult even for Sacred Ancients.
Unfortunately, it could not escape detection of Meng Hao, Demon Sealer.
“A spell formation that attracts Demonic Qi is not the type of formation that an ordinary Cultivator would set up. The actual skill used in creating the formation is secondary to the mere fact that it contains Demonic Qi. Whoever made it has some level of understanding of Demonic Qi.” Meng Hao thought about it for eight days as he walked about observing the city. It seemed as if he were examining the items which were being sold, but in truth, he was carefully observing the spell formation.
The more he observed it, the more interested he got.
At the moment, it was now one day before the auction. Meng Hao was standing in the center of the city, where there were no shops, but rather, an altar. The altar appeared ordinary. Placed on top of the altar was a huge statue that depicted a Cultivator with outstretched wings on his backs.
This was the totem statue of of one of the eight Tribes that made up the Eight Branch Alliance. Similar statues could be seen throughout the city, each one of which represented one of the eight Tribes.
As soon as he neared the altar, Meng Hao could sense at least ten streams of Divine Sense fall onto his body. It was impossible to tell what type of cultivation was practiced by the owners of these streams of Divine Sense. It was too deeply hidden. The level of the Cultivators was also impossible to determine. There was even a strand of Demonic Qi present, which stuck out to Meng Hao. Inwardly, he gave a cold laugh. He knew that if he did anything out of the ordinary, this place would instantly be filled with at least ten Nascent Soul Cultivators.
He looked up at the statue with glittering eyes as he walked past casually. He didn’t stop. However, what he did do was secretly merge his Spiritual Sense in the Demonic Qi down below. It slowly spread out underground, undetectable. Based on his several days of study and observation, Meng Hao was now certain that this altar was the center of the spell formation.
As the Spiritual Sense spread out, Meng Hao could see the majestic spell formation. Furthermore, at the center of the spell formation was a pulsing black mist. Whatever was inside that black mist was impossible to see.
It was at this moment that a tremor ran through his mind, the source of which was inside his bag of holding. It was an archaic voice that he had not heard for a long time during his time in the Western Desert. It echoed out to fill his mind.
“Third Generation Demon Sealer blood refinement, Demon Weapon Lonelytomb!
“The League of Demon Sealers! The First Generation is the Ancestor. The Second Generation is the Inheritor. The Third Generation is the most powerful. After the Fourth Generation, the successive generations grow weaker…. But the Ninth Generation is the ultimate! If the Ninth Generation is not slain, it is the pinnacle!”
This chapter was sponsored by Kristian Seljevold, Saheed Falowo, Tjandra Johannes and LB