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A group of people arrived before a cavern. All of Danxia Temple was attached to a great mountain, yet below the mountain there were over a hundred caves of varying sizes. This cave was approximately four meters in width and three meters tall, not at all small. Inside, a stream flowed out that didn’t cover the feet. Everyone’s mountaineering boots cut through the side.
Quiet. This location was extremely quiet. A tremendous door, able to support both heaven and earth, was already a distance of several thousand meters away from where they were. Presently, everyone’s gazes converged on this door. And yet no one had expected that there would still be people making a detour to the openings of the hundred rivulets forming a diagram!
Each person's face had grown completely solemn.
“The Zhao Clan’s passage is underneath.” Zhao Wuye breathed in deeply. “The distance from here to the front of the honeycomb wall is safe. We’ve walked it countless of times.” They nodded, no one hesitating. The group of forty-something people advanced inside.
It was dark. Very dark. There basically wasn’t anything inside which could be clearly seen. But to cultivators, this was nothing significant. Strictly speaking, cultivators didn’t need to use “eyes” to see things.
At this instant, close to forty spiritual senses spiraled inside the river cavern and covered everything in the surroundings. They walked for roughly ten-odd minutes. All of a sudden, Zhao Fenglai raised his hand, turned around, and looked at everyone with great focus. “The water becomes deep on this path.”
“Last time, I brought a team to explore it. The water of the hundred streams forming an image wasn’t able to go over the ankles. But now… Fellow Daoists, take a look.” His expression was reserved as he beckoned in passing, and a surveyor’s rod appeared in his hand. After he gently and carefully stuck it in, he used his hand to press down on the water-surface thread. Lifting it up to take a glance, he narrowed his eyes and said, “Right now… the water depth has already reached eighty centimeters…”
“It’s just a little deep… It doesn’t matter, right?” Fang Cheng asked in confusion.
“No.” Xu Yangyi’s complexion was also equally grave. “It might be nothing elsewhere… but here, any minor accident might become the reason one loses their life if they aren’t dead-careful. And… ” His gaze twinkled as he surveyed all around. “Haven’t you guys discovered… that this cavern is slowly getting bigger? When we just entered, it was only three to four meters. But now, it’s at least ten.”
“Actually, this isn’t a change.” Zhao Fenglai pondered and said, “After all, this rock cave leads to the honeycomb wall. Connected to such a giant space, it’s certainly not a small cave. Also, this section is only the start. After an hour, the cave will expand to a hundred meters in size. As for the place where the Zhao Clan rested and stockpiled resources in the past, it further reaches a thousand meters in size.”
Xu Yangyi deeply shook his head and gazed at the other. “If it was when you guys came, just feet-deep water would be nothing. But right now…” He forcefully stomped his feet, and the water below splashed heavily. His face chilled. “Currently… it’s already at this water depth… Will it get even deeper inside later on? If there are things in the water, none of us won’t even be able to think about escape.”
A sentence caused Zhao Fenglai’s face to somewhat ashen. If… the water depth exceeded two meters… or so deep as to three meters or four meters… in that case…
In his mind, he recalled the size of the cave below that followed, and he grew cold from head to toe! In such a scenario… if there was something, that place would become their grounds to be encircled and hunted!
Xu Yangyi swiped his ring without the slightest hesitation. Shortly afterwards, a golden scroll appeared in his hand. He casually formed a seal, and in a twinkling an indistinct Vajra manifestation flashed and died away in the wake of a faintly visible Sanskrit verse. With him as the center, a golden ripple spread forth, and a light-golden carapace-like ring emerged on each person’s body.
“Vajra Formation?” The light of Zhao Wuye’s eyes brightened. “A good item! It can take readings of all kinds of qi. With this item, going straight to the honeycomb wall will be much more certain!”
Xu Yangyi glanced indifferently at him. “The certainty prerequisite is that the changes here aren’t too severe.” Another ten minutes passed. The water depth… had already reached 1.2 meters. He turned his head and murmured, “We can’t keep going. Fellow Daoist, if you have some emergency measure, you should take it out.”
Zhao Mingfeng nodded, took out a brocaded pouch, and waved out to the wind. Suddenly, enormous tortoise-puppets, no less than four to five meters in size, appeared in front of everyone. Followingly, they steadily floated on top of the water.
No explanation was required. Over a dozen giant tortoises continued onwards to the cavern’s depths, four people standing per puppet. Ten minutes passed. Twenty minutes passed. The group of people slowly went forward in the vast and endless cave.
The brightness which penetrated the cave mouth had already turned into a thumb-sized white dot. Right now, eyes were of no longer any complete use. All that remained… was an infinite, oppressive darkness. The rustling sound of bodies cutting across the water surface echoed.
The sound of paddling water rang out in the extreme stillness. On the contrary, though, it became a torment to one’s sense of hearing. Monotonously repeating, it incessantly beat down on one’s mindset.
Apart from Zhan Twelve and Xu Yangyi who were cool and composed, everyone else’s faces were a little unsightly. This darkness, this pinnacle darkness. Not even the reflection of light on the water’s surface could be seen. Infinite and unbounded darkness expanded the tentacles of one’s thoughts. It seemed as if a giant creature would possibly jump out at any time and swallow them down.
The mind was stretched taught without end. Everyone, including Xu Yangyi, was like this. Especially… as the water became deeper and deeper.
The Vajra Formation was rather quiet, absent of reaction. However, such an imprisoning atmosphere and obsidian darkness caused everyone to feel numb in their hearts.
Thirty minutes later, Xu Yangyi, who was sitting on a giant tortoise at the forefront, raised his hand. He turned his head around and whispered behind him, “Peony, check the depth.”
“Yes.” A gentle woman’s voice was heard from behind with similar softness, as if she was afraid of disturbing this expanse of unknown darkness. Several seconds later, Peony replied, “5.4 meters.”
The faces of the three cultivators Zhao Wuye, Zhao Fenglai, Zhao Mingfeng were terribly gloomy.
“How is this possible?!” The complexion of Zhao Mingfeng’s slender face was ashen, and he gritted his teeth. “It actually surpassed five meters!”
Five meters was a boundary. Above five meters… it was rather likely that large organisms would appear. Especially in a time of Danxia Temple’s strange transformations! In the end, none were any the wiser whether or not this was even a region from before or after Danxia Temple’s unusual changes. A water depth of five meters… was already enough for a large creature to wander and move about!
“Leave this place at full speed,” Xu Yangyi gravely said to Zhao Wuye. “Speed up. I keep on feeling somewhat off.”
It was far more than an abnormal feeling! He didn’t speak to anyone. His spiritual sense had already exceeded a great majority of peoples’ by at least a third. The inside of this cave was at the smallest a hundred meters in size! Based on his spiritual sense, he was able to completely shroud it. But now...
Two meters and onwards below the water was a muddled stretch! Xu Yangyi’s spiritual sense seemed to encounter indescribable separation. The final three meters simply couldn’t be penetrated!
“No problem.” Zhao Wuye was equally grave as well and nodded towards Zhao Mingfeng. The other formed a seal and the giant tortoise’s speed hastened. It was like they were traversing the Yellow Springs, and the quiet sound of rowing water became increasingly faster. Yet in the wake of their progressively deeper entry, Xu Yangyi’s face became more and more serious in the darkness.
Already… his spiritual sense was unable to touch the walls around! His present spiritual sense was enough to shroud a radius of 200 meters! He was able to clearly see the places where his spiritual sense was set. It was moreover successful in every occasion to take readings of boundaries, but it was now unable to probe anything whatsoever!
In other words… had they now entered a cavern surpassing 200 meters in size? This didn’t further alarm Xu Yangyi, and his hand lightly traced his storage ring. A tape measure noiselessly slid into the water. This surveying rod was a full thirty meters in length. The top had long since been tied with a Soundsink Stone by him. When the Soundsink stone reached the bottom, he would then know of this area’s general depth.
Zhao Wuye sat at Xu Yangyi's side, saw his action, and nodded at him. He said a low tone, “When we came in the past, the creek water didn’t go over the knees, and we used lighting magik artifacts. Now… the changes are too great. We don’t risk using them, and we’re not even sure where we’re going right now. But based on the time, there’s still twenty minutes at most until we can reach our destination.”
Old and wise. In the darkness, Xu Yangyi smiled. His gaze carelessly swept the surveying rod.
Eight meters… and it was still going! Ten meters… Thirty meters… The water depth here was beyond imagination! Moreover… it hadn’t even come to an end!
“It still hasn’t hit the bottom?” Zhao Wuye looked at the measuring tape in Xu Yangyi’s hand in shock and said in amazement, “This place should be very close to approaching the hoarding site that the Zhao Clan left behind. Otherwise, the space couldn’t possibly be this big…”
Xu Yangyi passed the time listening, but in the next second he suddenly looked at the measuring tape in his hand!
Flap! An exceptionally soft sound echoed in the darkness. It was lightning fast and rough. It broke the gurgling sound which had persisted for the past several tens of minutes!
The measuring tape in his hand abruptly drew taut! Moreover, below the water it suddenly ascended with an extreme speed!
“This is!” Zhao Wuye couldn’t help but cry out in alarm, his soul flying beyond the heavens. This situation… was akin to a fisherman on the ocean suspended over a sea monster! It was like a fishing line was being pulled up as if its life depended on it! In this place and darkness, such circumstances moreover caused one to be frightened out of their wits!
Xu Yangyi released the measuring tape without the slightest hesitation and roared towards everyone. “Full speed ahead! There’s something in the water!”
Three Zhao Clan cultivators gasped and sprung for their medium-grade spirit stones, shoving them inside their giant tortoise’s mouth without a moment’s delay. Their giant tortoise’s eyes flared with red light, and its speed doubled!
It was uncertain if an unknown creature was still behind him, but… it was definitely below the water! They, in the present darkness, were racing against an unseen enemy!
Devoid of any hesitation, Xu Yangyi activated his luminescent watch, counting time second by second. “One minute… Two minutes…” His rear was a silent domain. Nothing attacked. After a full twelve minutes, a faint brightness suddenly emerged ahead.
“We’re here! We’re here!” Zhao Mingfeng took a long sigh and wiped away at the cold sweat on his head. In the darkness, a soundless pursuit and the divergence of thoughts was countless times more terrible than seeing a monster in the light of day! Even he couldn’t help his heartbeat from pounding like a drum. At this moment, he forced out laughter. “Please relax, everyone. The Zhao Clan’s stockpile site is on a high platform. There’s no way it would meet water…”
It was at this time.
CRASH!!! The sound of a huge wave suddenly rushed out from the water’s surface! It seemed to bring a rain of splashes. Two seconds later, a loud crash rang out again! A heavy object entered the water.
Morbidly silent. A silence like death. An unknown period of time had elapsed, and Zhao Ziqi shrieked mournfully, “SEVENTH UNCLE!!!”
Everyone was dazed.
It… was an enormous creature, no less than seven or eight meters long!
Moments ago, like a carp leaping the Dragon Gate, it had rushed over the giant tortoise’s back. In its wake… a crunching sound of shattered bone followed. In the darkness, it couldn’t be seen in full view.
Xu Yangyi licked the corner of his mouth. Some water had splashed at the side. Salty, it was Zhao Mingfeng’s blood. He gnashed his teeth as he looked below his feet. The Vajra Formation… actually hadn’t reacted at all!
“What are you distracted for?!” He instantly raised his head and snarled behind him, “Use divine abilities! Are you going to space out as you wait for death?!?!”
1. Yellow Springs is another term for Chinese underworld.
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