The moment he came into contact with that cold intent, Qianye felt as though he was swimming in a boundless ocean of ice, one filled with snowstorms and raging waves. Compared to it, Qianye’s will was like a small boat that would capsize at any moment.
Qianye shivered as the will of the Earth Dragon left. Before this, Qianye had imagined how strong this being was, but he hadn’t expected it to be this powerful. It was already close to Sky Demon’s level and certainly not something an ordinary divine champion could contend against. That was why Su Dingqian, who had lived in the nearby Port City for so many years, was never able to approach its true body.
Although the cold intent had passed, there were still waves of remnant fluctuations left behind in the cave. This was akin to the corner of the Earth Dragon’s eyes—a single misstep might lead to being detected.
“Let’s go. Here on out, we might encounter danger at any given moment.” Bluemoon made a forward gesture and went ahead.
The one taking point became Bluemoon after approaching the Earth Dragon’s lair. The two elders contained their origin powers firmly and were wearing tense expressions. They had formally entered the Earth Dragon’s lair from this point onward and would have to face its will at all times. Attracting its attention would mean immediate annihilation, and those with greater cultivation levels bore a greater burden here. The Earth Dragon might not pay attention to small insects crawling about, but it wouldn’t ignore a rat scuttling into its lair.
As they went on, Bluemoon came to a sudden halt and produced a queer-looking apparatus. This instrument consisted of a dial on the surface and the needle within was moving about constantly. At the end of this dial was an eye-catching red zone—Bluemoon sighed in relief after confirming that the needle never entered this red area.
The two elders seemed much more relaxed, but they still couldn’t shake off the chill.
“Here on out, we might encounter people from that side,” one of the elders reminded.
Evading experts was a completely different concept compared to avoiding fierce beasts. For instance, the two old men began installing some small instruments in some unassuming corners. These things had no destructive power but could release special fluctuations upon sensing bypassers and served as a warning to the owner. Naturally, if they could do this, others could also do the same.
The four slowed down their rate of advancement and paid attention to every corner for traps and traces of other experts.
The further they went in, the stronger the Earth Dragon’s will became. Every time it swept past them, Qianye could feel his blood energy growing restless. It would be difficult for him to proceed if it wasn’t for the purity of his origin power and the high quality of his blood energy. He would have to activate Bloodline Concealment or risk getting detected by the Earth Dragon.
The three Highbeards, including Bluemoon, had locked down their origin power and were operating with the aid of their mechanical parts. This weakened their vital fluctuations so much that they were even inferior to ordinary beasts; it was only natural that the Earth Dragon would ignore them. Comparatively, Qianye’s bloodline power became quite obvious.
After several kilometers of travel, Qianye began to feel the situation going out of control. He felt that he might be discovered by the Earth Dragon if he didn’t use Bloodline Concealment. However, this skill was one of Qianye’s hidden aces, so he wasn’t willing to use it in front of other people if he had a choice. Otherwise, his enemies might specifically target this facet of his powers, or, at the very least, they would be guarded against him.
Just as Qianye was hesitating whether or not to use Bloodline Concealment, he noticed a small, unnatural object through the corner of his eyes and quickly pulled Bluemoon to his side.
The two elders were astonished, but they kept themselves in check. It was just that some protruding objects were aimed at Qianye from under their cloaks.
Qianye gestured for them to calm down and pointed forward.
There was a pile of fragmented rocks where he was pointing, and there was a small, finger-sized rod poking out from one of them. This little pipe was painted to resemble a rock, down to the veined patterns and would be easily overlooked at a glance. If it wasn’t for Qianye’s superb visual acuity and attention to detail, he might not have noticed this small object.
There would never be a rod-like object protruding from an ordinary rock. Avoiding the small rod, one of the Highbeard elders picked up the rock and headed in the direction it was pointing. He walked all the way to the other side of the passage and put the rock down gently. By the time he was back, his breathing had grown somewhat coarse. Apparently, this movement wasn’t easy for him.
The elder explained everything to Qianye—this rock was actually a clever tripwire with a receiver on the other end. The small rod would fire a constant beam of origin power toward the receiver, which would explode once this connection was interrupted, thus alarming the owner.
Unlike the transmitting end, the receiver had been completely camouflaged. There was no way to tell which rock was the trap without cracking all the rocks open. Hence, the old man chose to move the transmitter and open up a path, ruining this trap in the process.
Qianye was full of admiration after learning about this. The design of this tripwire was genius and easy to trigger. If it wasn’t for Qianye’s shocking eyesight, even the Highbeards would’ve tripped it.
The tripwire’s presence warned everyone that they had reached the operation zone of the Spider Emperor and Moonlight Demons.
Bluemoon fished out a long silver needle and flicked it toward the ground. In Qianye’s perception, he could sense an inaudible sound wave spreading out in all directions. These waves were weak but exceptionally penetrative, even capable of going through some of the thinner rock walls.
Bluemoon listened intently for the echoes bouncing back from some directions. There was an odd-looking apparatus on her right ear, apparently for catching the echoes. She pointed at a certain direction and gestured that someone was there.
The four retracted their auras and moved slowly toward the target. Before long, some faint voices could be heard up ahead.
It was a naturally formed cave, and the two sentries guarding the entrance were chatting with one another.
One of them yawned. “So boring. Old Li, don’t tell me we have to guard this place for an entire month? There’s not even a single ghost here.”
“Don’t tell me you want to go deeper?”
“You’re not that bored, are you?”
The other guard snorted. “You think that’s a good job? The headman said it’ll be lucky if half the people in there return alive. I had to pay a lot to get assigned to this post. The only reason you’re standing here is because you shared a large part of the costs.”
The tall guard laughed along. “Isn’t the headman your uncle? Who’s he going to look after if not you? I only tagged along on the fortune. But guarding these disgusting things is getting really unbearable in the long run.”
“Being alive is better than anything.”
Just as he was affirming the statement, the tall guard noticed his partner’s eyes lose focus as the man collapsed silently. At the same time, he felt a sharp object pressed against his waist. “Don’t move if you want to live!”
This guard was no warrior of steel, to begin with. He immediately raised his hands and said, “I’ll cooperate, I’ll cooperate!”
He did indeed cooperate, even reducing his voice to a whisper.
Bluemoon arrived before him and performed a detailed interrogation. However, this guard knew little because he had been assigned to guard the entrance not long after coming in with the unit. Even the squad with which he had come was only one of the many that had gone underground.
Seeing that there was nothing more to gain from him, a cold gleam flickered in Bluemoon’s hand as her dagger slashed the man’s neck open.
The group went further into the cave, hoping to see what was being set up inside. They had just entered when an intense smell of blood rushed at their faces. Qianye broke into a frown because his sharp senses told him that it was the smell of fresh blood, and such intensity couldn't be produced by just a dozen people.
He entered the cave in brisk steps, but there was anger on his face.
There was a stone altar at the center of the cave, roughly ten square meters in size, and upon it were several metallic plates that formed its origin array. The altar was covered in hundreds of human corpses, all of them cut up into small, precise pieces to maximize the outflow of blood.
The blood from hundreds of people was enough to make a pool of blood, yet not a drop of it flowed out of the altar due to the origin array—it was as though the altar was surrounded by a transparent wall. The blood here wasn’t very warm, but it was boiling constantly and the bits of flesh inside were rolling about.
Bluemoon glanced at the two elders. “So, that’s how it is.”
“What’s going on?” asked Qianye. This altar was fairly disturbing to look at and reminded him of the dark races’ blood feast. He strode forward with his sword, ready to slash this altar apart.
“No!” Bluemoon stopped Qianye.
Qianye glanced at her for an explanation.
Bluemoon replied, “This blood sacrifice is the key component in their pacification of the Earth Dragon. Once destroyed, the Earth Dragon will not only regain its perception but become even more sensitive. At that point, we can forget about leaving this place alive!”
Bluemoon pointed at the sanguineous line at the center of the blood pool. “Look, they’re using the origin array in this blood altar to refine the essence of fresh blood and pacify the Earth Dragon’s will. As long as there are enough sufficient altars, it’ll give the Earth Dragon a false sense of satiety. Void colossi like the Earth Dragon will become less active once it’s full and become half-asleep.”
Qianye glanced at Bluemoon and said meaningfully, “You seem to know quite a lot about this.”
Bluemoon lowered her gaze, avoiding eye contact with Qianye. “Don’t forget that my ancestor has explored this lair before. He naturally knows a lot of secrets, including how to pacify the dragon. In truth, there are three ways to pacify the Earth Dragon, and the blood altar is only one of them.”
“How did the Spider Emperor and the others know about these secrets? Don’t tell me they’re also being aided by Highbeards?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Expect erratic chapter times for the next 3 days! Sorry!
TL: Legion ED: Moxie