The grand scenery of the underground world shook Elder Wei and Anderfel just as much. They held their breaths and exhaled deeply only after a long while.
The elder who had been calm this entire time sighed. “This old man has never witnessed such a sight before. Without coming here personally, who would’ve thought there existed such a magical scenery?”
Anderfel was startled. He pointed into the distance with trembling hands, saying, “Elder Wei, look! Is that a door?”
The duo’s eyesight was apparently not as good as Qianye’s. Elder Wei replied after a moment of concentration, “Should be.”
The astonishment in Anderfel’s heart was no less than Qianye. “The Earth Dragon can build doors?”
Elder Wei stroked his long beard. “What do you think the Earth Dragon is?”
“This…” Anderfel wanted to say that an earth dragon was just an earth dragon, but he swallowed the words back immediately afterward. There was no way the answer could be that simple? All along, his recognition of the Earth Dragon was limited to the many legends that he had heard. No one had really seen the dragon before, knew what it looked like, or if it even existed.
Anderfel’s thoughts spun about. “Could it be that Elder Wei has seen the Earth Dragon?”
The old man replied, “This old man hasn’t seen it before, but I know someone who has.”
Anderfel was shocked. “That exploration party from hundreds of years ago?”
“Of course not, it’s the empire’s probe from seventy years ago.”
Anderfel was astonished once more. The empire had actually investigated the Earth Dragon’s lair secretly and even seen its main body! “No wonder you knew how to pacify the dragon and even upgraded the method.”
Elder Wei replied, “Your people embrace the old methods and never seek advancement, showing no change in several hundred years. Your method of pacification is unbearably crude and full of openings. Trying to placate the Earth Dragon with that method, heh heh, if it wasn’t for the neutral lands being remote and isolated, I fear it may have become the empire’s property by now.”
Anderfel laughed along. “Everyone admires the flourishing empire. Why else would our clan’s sire put in that much effort? It’s all for a territory in the empire.”
Nodding in satisfaction, Elder Wei waved his hand, saying, “Let’s go check out that door. If I’m not wrong, the Earth Dragon’s lair lies behind the door and the thing we want is also there.”
Anderfel’s expression was serious as he gazed in that direction. “This path isn’t going to be easy.”
The road was indeed difficult. The giant pegmatite crocodile stood at the center of the area, flanked by two insect hives. The remaining open ground was also filled with roaming beasts and birds.
“I have my ways.” Elder Wei went forth on his own. Hence, Anderfel had no other choice but to bring all his men forward. Without the need for a command, the warriors fell into battle formation and advanced cautiously.
The old man wasn’t bluffing. He raised a book and flipped to one of the pages, shooting out a faint silvery light that engulfed the entire squad.
Far off in the distance, Qianye sighed softly. In his perception, he noticed the elder’s group emitting a bit of the Earth Dragon’s aura. He would’ve thought this was a beast horde in action if he hadn’t seen them personally.
This concealment method was quite magical, especially since many of the insects didn’t rely on vision, but instead other senses, to detect their prey. It was likely that they could fool their way past these creatures.
Not daring to be careless, Elder Wei took a long detour around the giant pegmatite crocodile. This monster’s power had far surpassed the marquis level. Although it was asleep right now, the entire group would be wiped out once it was roused from its sleep.
Since he had found out that the other party’s objective was the giant door, Qianye had no more need to follow them. He activated his Bloodline Concealment and moved stealthily along the cave walls toward his destination.
The biggest obstruction along this path was the insect hive, but Qianye had long since made plans for it. He rubbed a bit of the giant insect’s fluid on his body to suppress his smell and climbed all the way up to the ceiling. There, he passed the hive by crawling along its borders. The bug nest was hundreds of meters below the ceiling and most of its inhabitants were either on or below the ground, rarely taking to the air. In this manner, Qianye passed by this obstruction without any danger and arrived on the other side of the underground world.
He had long since selected his hiding place, a stone pillar closest to the giant door. The surface of this hundred-meter pillar was filled with cracks and crevices, all of which made for great hiding places with unobstructed vision.
Qianye was naturally faster since he was operating on his own. By the time he had settled in at the hiding place, Elder Wei, Anderfel, and their soldiers were only a third of the way across.
With enough time to spare, Qianye began observing the giant door.
From close by, it was even more evident that the doors were a grand project. Each of them was dozens of meters wide and decorated with carvings of mountains, rivers, and beasts. They were depicted in coarse outlines, but the imagery was vivid and lifelike, almost as though an aura of the ancient desolation were rushing at one’s face. No one knew who created these works of art, but the deepest grooves on them were a meter in depth, a testament to just how thick these doors were.
There were some vines creeping along the borders of these mottled doors—who knew how many years it had been since they were last opened. Qianye knew not whether its material was metal, wood, or stone, but judging from its size, the door was sure to be extremely sturdy. Otherwise, it would’ve crumbled under its own weight. At the moment, the doors stood perfectly straight without the slightest hint of bending.
Even a divine champion would have trouble opening such a door. Perhaps only heavenly monarchs, with their ability to move mountains and seas, could operate them. The current Qianye was far from capable.
He observed along the border of the doors but found no traces of a transmission mechanism. Even if there was some sort of kinetic system, it was probably inoperable after the centuries of disuse. Qianye had no way to open these massive doors without external power. After some contemplation, he felt that he might be able to chip a small opening in the door if he used all the remaining grenades he had brought.
However, using grenades would alarm Elder Wei and Anderfel. Besides, it might not be a wise move for Qianye to enter first without knowing what was on the other side. At the thought of this, Qianye decided to wait and see how Elder Wei would open the door. The best outcome would be to sneak in after they had opened the door, but even if he couldn’t, it wouldn’t be too late to attack them at that point.
Qianye waited patiently after forming his plan.
The book in Elder Wei’s hands turned dim after walking for a certain distance. At that point, he would flip over a new page and maintain the light barrier. Their route was circuitous and, in order to keep the light stable, they couldn’t move too fast, either—the book had already reached its last page by the time they reached the giant doors. Drenched in sweat, the old man put away his book and heaved a long breath. They had gotten through the perils without mishap, but the drain on his mind was significant.
Elder Wei was in no rush to observe the door. Instead, he sat down cross-legged and began a process of recovery. Despite his eagerness, Anderfel could only arrange his subordinates to guard the elder.
His arrangements were quite interesting. Under the cover of the stone pillars, two snipers climbed a hundred meters up and hid themselves. One of them observed the surroundings with a binocular while the other set up his sniper rifle to cover the unit’s rear.
Judging from this setup, it would seem that they had come prepared for an ambush from the backside. After some thought, Qianye realized that they were guarding against Bluemoon.
The Highbeard girl had revealed powerful concealment abilities while ambushing Keimor, and her cultivation was also much higher than before. It would seem she had been hiding her power all along, so much so that she never dropped her disguise even when one of the Highbeard elders was wounded. It could be said that Bluemoon’s schemes were deep—if it wasn’t for Claudia hiding behind her, her ambush would have succeeded back then. That wouldn’t have changed the outcome, though, since Qianye was also concealed nearby. The Earth Dragon’s blood would surely fall into his hands in the end.
Qianye’s current position was a hundred meters above the two enemy snipers. Never imagining that there would be someone up above, they were completely concentrated on observing the area. They were to be the backup line if Bluemoon were to ambush the troops.
Anderfel heaved a sigh of relief after the snipers were in place; then, he waited patiently for Elder Wei to recover. The vast underground world was just as quiet as before—only the giant crocodile’s breath whistled like the wind, echoing throughout the chamber.
Time went by, little by little. Just when it seemed like the world would go on in this perpetual state, Qianye noticed a wisp of origin power flickering near the cave wall. This fluctuation was simply too small compared to the massive underground world, and it had already moved dozens of meters before Qianye picked it up.
That human-sized mass of origin power moved slowly along the cave wall and was gradually approaching the group.
Needless to say, this person was an expert in stealth. Even after noticing the intruder, Qianye still couldn’t see anything. The approximate location was completely empty except for the slightly blurred scenery. Not to mention a careless glance, even someone observing the place intentionally might overlook it.
Qianye sighed in admiration—such stealth movement was at the point of perfection and almost undetectable. The only way to catch them was to lay down a large number of traps and restrain their movements.
The concealed person stopped moving several hundred meters from Elder Wei. The moment they stopped, the origin power disturbance also disappeared from Qianye’s perception.
Below Qianye, the two snipers were still observing the area. Their scopes passed by the stealthy person, but none of them discovered the target.
But after pinpointing the location, Qianye was confident that this person was Bluemoon. Just like him, she was also waiting for the door to open. Just the weight of those gates was enough to stump everyone below the divine champion realm.
Elder Wei’s cultivation wasn’t obvious, and even Qianye couldn’t see through his realm. Anderfel was a powerful, marquis-rank vampire, but he was still helpless against those doors.
At this point, a group suddenly appeared on the other end of the tunnel, and its leader was that Claudia who had fought briefly with Qianye.
Upon seeing Claudia, ripples appeared in the stealthed person’s origin power; she was apparently finding it hard to calm her emotions. The fluctuations vanished as quickly as they had appeared, and the two hidden snipers never sensed them. In truth, they didn’t even know that they had been discovered.
A thunderous laugh echoed on the other side of the chamber. “Such a grand occasion! How could you not wait for me?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
The party grows...
TL: Legion ED: Moxie