Chapter 72. Hidden Oasis (1)

Once upon a time, there was a certain truth-seeker.

He was a nomad that had sought the truth his entire life.

The truth-seeker had been left behind in the middle of the Bariton Desert.

He didn't have a camel, supplies, or any possessions. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have any water either.

The truth-seeker recklessly traversed through the desert.

But the heavens hadn't forsaken him.

There was an oasis right before his very eyes, and he rushed towards it.

However, no matter how much he ran, the oasis wouldn't get any closer.

It became difficult for the exhausted nomad to run anymore. Still, he didn't give up and continued to walk onward.

Eventually, the truth-seeker reached the oasis, or so he thought.

Once he'd reached the oasis, it disappeared. The oasis had been nothing more than a mirage.

The truth-seeker fell to his knees.

He no longer had the strength to walk and prepared himself for the worst.

"Will I be unable... to find the truth in the end...?" he lamented as he gazed at the sky.

Then...

He heard something from the sky.

"Don't give up. Go a little further and you will find the truth you are looking for."

The truth-seeker felt a surge of hope, and so continued his trek through the desert.

He began seeing the oasis once more and walked towards it step by step.

The truth-seeker finally arrived at the oasis; fortunately this time it was no mirage.

He rushed over to the oasis and drank a mouthful of its clear water.

After that...

"The truth-seeker left these words behind: 'There is truth in the ending mirage.'," Grano said.

He then added, "What I've told you thus far is part of the legend that has been passed down regarding the oasis of truth."

"Hmm. It doesn't say anything about treasure or a hidden oasis."

Kang Oh tilted his head. Grano's story was much different than he'd expected.

"That's because it's detailed in the sequel to this story," Grano said.

"Come on, keep going," Eder pestered.

Grano nodded his head and continued his story.

"There was once an explorer called Melank..."

The explorer Melank had heard the story of the truth-seeker and the oasis of truth.

Once he heard that story, he’d come up with a hypothesis.

The oasis that the truth-seeker had found wasn't one widely known; rather, it was a hidden oasis that no one knew about.

Furthermore, there was water there that could impart truths.

"The oasis of truth exists. I'll find it and obtain the truth."

After that, Melank searched for the oasis of truth.

But a short while later, he went missing.

However!

A short while after he'd gone missing, a merchant group traversing through the Bariton Desert came across his corpse.

They found gold sculptures and priceless jewelry on his body. 

Also, this was written on the final page of his exploration notebook.

"It said, 'I found the hidden oasis, but there was no truth to be found anywhere. Instead, it was filled to the brim with treasure.'. After that, rumors spread that the hidden oasis was filled with treasure," Grano finished.

"I really enjoyed the story," Eder said.

"Ultimately, it's saying that there is a treasure in the hidden oasis."

Kang Oh grinned, pleased by the prospect of treasure.

"But how do we find that hidden oasis?" Eder asked.

There weren't really any concrete leads he could find within Grano's story.

"Mr. Grano, when we first met, you said you had information on the hidden oasis. I think now's the time to share it," Kang Oh said.

Their eyes made contact and Grano nodded his head, signifying that he would begin explaining.

"The hidden oasis is probably below the desert, or underground," Grano said.

"You're saying an oasis is located underground?"

Kang Oh couldn't understand.

What was an oasis in the first place?

An oasis was a hollow space in the desert filled with water and was surrounded by grass and trees. Yet, Grano was claiming that it was underground.

"Yes. The hidden oasis does not exist above ground. Therefore it either never existed in the first place, it cannot be seen through some mysterious force, or it exists in the air or underground. Personally, I believe it exists underground."

Grano sounded absolutely confident.

"Why do you think so?" Kang Oh asked.

"I came upon this by coincidence."

Grano opened his subspace and retrieved something.

It was a ring.

The ring was adorned with an eye-shaped ornament and had a question mark at the center of the eye.

"What is this? Kang Oh asked.

"It's a ring that represents a secret society known as the Order of Truth," Grano replied.

"May I take a look at it?"

"Go ahead."

Kang Oh took the ring and appraised it.


[Order of Truth Signet Ring]

A ring that verifies the identity of the members of the secret society, the Order of Truth.

There is almost no knowledge of the Order of Truth.

In order to become a member of the Order of Truth, one must undergo a certain ritual; the only information that remains is the name of the ritual, the 'Taruman Balk'.


"Taruman Balk?"

What kind of language is this?

"In the ancient tongue, Taruman Balk means Final Journey," Eder, who had a profound knowledge of the ancient tongue, said.

"Indeed. Final Journey," Grano said.

Kang Oh examined the ring and said, "The oasis of truth and the Order of Truth... as well as the ritual to join, Final Journey..."

It felt like the puzzle pieces were coming together.

"Was the truth-seeker a part of the Order of Truth?" Kang Oh asked.

"I believe so. Also, the legend of the oasis of truth details the truth-seeker's Final Journey."

Grano sounded absolutely sure of it.

"What kind of ritual is the Final Journey?" Eder asked.

"I don't know the specifics, but it's likely a ritual that requires one to overcome danger to obtain the truth."

"Like surviving in the desert... without anything on him?" Kang Oh asked.

It all lined up.

The truth-seeker hadn't coincidentally been left behind. Rather, the members of the Order of Truth had left him there on purpose so that he could undergo the ritual.

"Yes. But it's likely in a more specific location than just the desert," Grano said.

"Then where is it?"

"There is one place in the desert where one cannot return from; it is a place that means death to anyone who comes across it, quicksand!

Quicksand.

If one is caught in quicksand, then they sink into the ground and die. It was indeed indicative of death in the desert.

"So we have to enter quicksand," Kang Oh said.

"Yes. And if we pick the wrong spot, then... all that will await us is death," Grano said.

This was the reason Grano had been unable to find the hidden oasis, despite having such a lead.

There was no way for him to figure out which quicksand pit was correct.

"Are you still going to look for it regardless?"

"Of course. And we won't die from the quicksand either."

After all, what ability did Kang Oh possess!?

Hyper Intuition!

If he found the quicksand pit that hid the hidden oasis, then his Hyper Intuition would active without fail.

‘As long as I find the right spot, all the treasure will be mine!’

Kang Oh laughed automatically.

"Hehe."

* * *

The desert went on for miles and miles.

Kang Oh's party were riding upon their camels at the center of this endless sea of sand.

"Here," Grano said.

Grano pointed towards a downward slope.

Kang Oh closely examined the sand-bed. The sand was definitely being sucked into a single area. There was no question; it was a quicksand pit. 

"How is it? Did that Hyper Intuition skill of yours activate?" Grano asked.

Kang Oh shook his head.

His Hyper Intuition remained silent.

"Is that Hyper Intuition or what not even real?"

Eder stared at him suspiciously.

"You don’t trust me?"

Kang Oh furrowed his brow.

He'd informed Grano and Eder that he possessed a special skill known as Hyper Intuition.

Kang Oh had explained that this skill would inform him of any hidden items or locations if they existed.

'If I just told them that I had sharp senses, then they wouldn't have believed me.'

He hadn't found the right time to reveal his Hyper Intuition, and he hadn't had a reason to reveal it either.

But now was the time to tell Grano and Eder; plus, by telling them that it was a skill, they could more easily accept it.

"I trust you, but..." Eder trailed off.

"I'm telling you. The reason I was able to pick the right rocks for the quiz was because of my Hyper Intuition," Kang Oh said.

"You told us that you figured it out by weight," Eder pressed.

"Well, I thought it'd make me sound smarter at the time," Kang Oh said, looking absolutely shameless.

"Whatever the case, I'll believe you have this Hyper Intuition skill or what not after you find the right spot," Eder said as if he were doing him a favor.

"I'm serious. Remember when I found the Cave Hidden by the Wind..."

Kang Oh even pulled from past events to convince him.

However, Grano interrupted him.

"Mr. Kang Oh, I believe you. This isn't the right spot, yes?"

"Yes, it's not the right spot."

"Then let's go find another spot."

Grano's camel began to trudge through the desert.

Kang Oh hit Eder.

"I'm telling the truth."

"Alright, fine."

Kang Oh and Eder's camels followed suit.

Behind them, two Sandurions followed their camels' tracks.

* * *

The fat man, Modune, took a bite from a dragon fruit with juice spilling out of it.

Then, his bushy bearded subordinate approached him. It was his right-hand man.

"I think they've found the hidden oasis."

Modune licked the juice from his lips.

"They're finally on the move. They haven't figured out that we're watching them, have they?" Modune asked.

In order for this operation to succeed, Grano and his party couldn't know that they were being targeted by Modune.

If they weren't aware of it, then Modune and his men could follow them to the hidden oasis, or steal the treasure from them once they've made their way out.

"Yes. We’ve kept tabs on them through the Sandurions, but they didn't seem wary of their surroundings," his right-hand man said.

Insect mages were capable of controlling the Sandurions from a distance, as well as share vision with them.

Because of that, Modune and his men had been able to keep tabs on Kang Oh without them noticing.

"Tell the captain of the Red Sand Unit to be ready to sortie at a moment's notice."

"Yes, sir."

"When will the magical device arrive?"

There was a chance that Grano would escape with a return scroll or a teleportation spell.

That's why Modune had asked for a magical device from the Arabas Kingdom; it would create a barrier, preventing those within it from teleporting away. 

"It will be here in two days."

"Two days..."

"Bariton is a huge place. They shouldn't be able to find the hidden oasis in two days no matter what they do."

"Indeed."

Modune nodded his head.

After all, Modune and his men had scoured the desert for a month to find the hidden oasis.

However, he'd come up empty-handed.

In other words, they wouldn't be able to find the hidden oasis that easily.

However!

That was a huge miscalculation.

Kang Oh had already found the quicksand pit that led to the hidden oasis.

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