After resting for an hour, Xue Wei got up from the ground and sat in a lotus position on top of the bed. He closed his eyes and steadied his breathing.
He could feel the energy of the heavens and the earth in the surrounding air and how it all entered his body with each breath he took. It roamed through his meridians. Whenever he started cultivating with the support of the Azure Dragon Scripture, this scattered energy was slowly refined into Qi.
The entire night was silent, no one disturbed the two guests in the inn, and they spent the whole night cultivating by themselves.
As morning broke, the two friends gathered in the restaurant once more to get their breakfast. They ate a filling meal, and paid a few silvers to check out of their rooms.
Where the restaurant had been filled with people the evening before, it was now rather empty. Not many were there for breakfast; most ate at home before embarking on a new day's trials.
As they left the restaurant, they encountered every child aged ten and above rushing out of their homes towards a training field where they were going to practice their martial arts and cultivation techniques.
Xue Wei smiled as he saw them rush to the outskirts of town where the training fields were. He was reminded of his eagerness to learn martial arts when he was their age. Although he did not remember anything that had to do with his father, he did remember certain aspects, amongst which were the memories of him trying to become a martial artist and failing.
The two friends gathered their stuff and left the village, going straight into the forest. This forest was breathtakingly beautiful. Every leaf had a shade of red. Some were Vermilion, some were bright red, and there were even scarlet leaves.
The trunks of the trees were also all in a shade of vermilion. The sound of mortal beasts could be heard as soon as one entered the forest. Birds sang in the treetops, and mice ran across the forest floor.
Now and then, a deer could be seen in the distance. However, the moment it noticed Xue Wei and Hei Gou’s presences, it would skitter away in fright.
They walked deeper and deeper into the Vermilion Forest. The deeper they went, the deeper the color of the trees seemed to become and the denser the trees' crowns were, blocking out almost all sunlight and making it so that it felt as if they were in their own world, where the only color was red.
The treetops blocked the sunlight, and the few rays that shone through the leaves had been dyed red, making everything seem as if it was painted with blood.
After reaching this deep into the forest the surroundings turned eerily quiet. The two friends could no longer hear the sound of the mortal beasts, and there was no sign of life left in the area. The only sound that entered their ears was the sound of branches cracking underneath their feet.
Both Xue Wei and Hei Gou frowned. Something felt off, but they could not put their hands on what exactly it was. The eerie silence was like a heavy blanket that had laid itself over them, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. Both friends were on high alert, and their entire bodies were taut.
They stopped in their tracks and tried looking behind them, but it seemed as if every direction was the same no matter how much they looked around. All they could see were incredibly tall vermilion trees.
They then tried to climb up to the top of the trees. But when they got a view from above, all they could see was a vermilion sea of leaves and treetops as far as the eye could see
Xue Wei frowned. Neither he nor Hei Gou had spoken to one another while walking, but they could easily guess the other party's concern. Because of the strange silence, neither of them felt a need to talk. In fact, they feared something would happen if they broke this silence.
They walked for a full day, unsure of what else they could do. When the sun started to disappear and the forest turned dark, both of them each found a tree where they jumped up to the tree top and sat on a thick branch.
Although both were on high alert, neither of them said anything and began their cultivation while having all their senses heightened to their limits. Although they were cultivating, they knew everything that happened around them, yet nothing happened. The leaves didn’t shake despite the gentle breeze that rolled through, no rodents were scurrying about on the forest floor, and no owls or other birds had appeared in the night either.
The night was tranquil. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, and it was not until the following morning that they saw the first living creature they had seen in a long time.
As the sun rose in the sky and the red rays of sunshine shone through the dense group of leaves once more, Xue Wei and Hei Gou awakened from their cultivation.
On the ground below, a human figure had appeared. When Xue Wei and Hei Gou looked at him, they found that he was a first layer Sky Warrior, but unlike most humans that traversed into the Vermilion Forest, this human did not seem to have any sense of alarm.
He was walking through the forest as if it was his back garden; his steps were bouncy and fast.
Xue Wei and Hei Gou stared with astonishment at one another, but they quickly descended from the tree. Xue Wei started hearing rustling from around them and spread his spiritual sense to cover the area surrounding them. He found ten people that were heading towards the same direction as the first man they had seen.
These people were all casual and carefree. Xue Wei and Hei Gou decided to follow them, but at a distance, relying on Xue Wei’s spiritual energy to locate them to ensure that they would not be noticed.
They followed the group for a full three hours. After these three hours, Xue Wei stopped in his tracks, causing Hei Gou to bump into him. The two of them were both shocked. Right in front of them was a large village.
This village seemed to be deserted. When one looked at the fence around the village, it was made from half-rotten wood, and the gate was hanging on its hinges.
Still, these ten people that they had been following were all heading into this village, and they seemed as if they had a purpose in being here.
"Should we enter?" Hei Gou asked with a compressed voice. Xue Wei pondered for a moment. "It might be a lucky chance for us," he said hesitatingly.
"The experts we saw were all at the most a seventh layered Sky Warrior, and the majority were ninth layer Earth Warriors."
"We can defeat them if we push ourselves, so I guess we should try!" Xue Wei's eyes glistened with excitement. He had heard about ancient ruins before, and now he was curious as to whether or not this old village was an ancient ruin filled with treasures and lucky chances for them.
Hei Gou seemed to share the same thoughts, grinning widely. Although it was dangerous, risk and reward went hand in hand. The two friends inched closer and closer to the broken gate where the company from before had entered.
They snuck close to the gate. Xue Wei frowned. "Ever since they entered, I have been incapable of sensing any lifeforms," he said through a compressed voice. "It is as if they vanished from right in front of us."
Hei Gou was startled. "Do you think it is the entrance to another dimension?" he asked curiously.
"I know that there are peculiar dimensions within the Northern Taiga. We were always warned about them since entering means you might not be able to exit because of the traps laid down, or if you can’t find the mechanism to leave."
"Dimensions like those are ancient, as old as the world itself, from back when sovereign beasts roamed the world and experts were as numerous as the clouds in the sky."
"These experts could rip apart a hole in the fabric of reality and create a small world of their own in the layers they tore apart. These worlds they created were used as their abodes or places to leave their legacy. If this truly is a place like this, then we are incredibly fortunate!"
Xue Wei was surprised. He had never heard about these separate dimensions before despite having read thousands of books, but this was due to his humble roots and the level of knowledge available to his old home.
Xue Wei grew up in the human world where there were no such remnants of the old age, but these things existed aplenty deep in the danger zones.
Both Xue Wei and Hei Gou felt their heart rates speed up. "A legacy you say?" Xue Wei licked his lips curiously. "I lost my Heritage Ring, so it would be good to get abilities from other places. If I can get a legacy, would that not improve my strength drastically?"
Hei Gou was aware that any skills and abilities were useless to himself, but most places that had a legacy also held various treasures. He could use pills, herbs and other treasures to raise his cultivation base, as well as find new metals to reinforce his claws.
Both Xue Wei and Hei Gou were eager to enter, but they were also cautious. They understood that if they were not strong enough, then they would end up becoming corpses.
Feeling slightly nervous, the two looked at one another. They were standing right in front of the broken gate, unable to see anything else than an empty yard, the people that had entered had vanished, and their hearts quivered slightly.
"Let's go!" Xue Wei finally said with a deep sigh. Steadily, he stepped into the broken gate, followed closely by Hei Gou.
A mist seemed to billow out from inside the gate. The deeper they made it into the fog, the thicker it became, clouding their vision.
At the start, they could see a few meters in front of them, but after walking for ten minutes they could not even look at their hands. They ended up finding a rope in their bags and tied it around their waists to avoid getting separated.
It was impossible to tell the time of the day because of the mist. There was no sunshine, no light source, and no sound.
The two walked on and on, but no matter how much they walked, they could not seem to get out of the mist. The amount of time they had walked was also impossible to be determined. On one hand, it felt as if they had just entered, while on the other it felt as if a year had already passed.
They continued to walk forward aimlessly. There were no signs of life in this fog; not even insects could be found.
Finally, after walking for an unknown amount of time, the bustling sound of a village entered their ears. This was the sounds of faint voices that were being brought over by the wind.
Some of them were supposed to be loud, but it all petered out into a low mumble. Although it was impossible to understand what these voices said, the fact that there were voices made both Xue Wei and Hei Gou feel incredibly relieved. They had started to fear the dead silence of the fog that they had been walking through.
Xue Wei and Hei Gou wished for nothing more than to rush towards the voices, but they halted instead.
"This could not be a trap, could it?" Xue Wei asked with a compressed voice. His voice carried a trace of hesitation. He was eager to see if there was a village, but he would not risk their lives due to extreme loneliness forcing him towards the sound of life.Previous Chapter Next Chapter