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Chapter 510: Traitors
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
“How was it?” Slayer Yaksh’s tone sounded frantic.
Merciless Tyrant opened his eyes, his gaze undisturbed. His voice sounded as parched as ever, without any hint of moisture in it. “The divinatory plate is useful, but it’ll be dangerous once we enter the restricted area. I noticed many sinister things from afar. I even sensed a terrifying breath lurking in the depths, which was why I didn’t dare to venture any further and returned.”
Slayer Yaksh suppressed his disappointment. “If that’s the case, let’s inform Emperor of the Netherworld about this entrance.”
He immediately sighed. “I thought it’d be our chance after the entrance emerged from the earthquake. Who knew…”
Merciless Tyrant’s voice was mostly serene lacking turbulent emotion. “Who can we blame when it’s our lack of strength? We should just make our report as soon as possible lest someone else discovers the entrance and takes our findings for no reason,” he replied, his voice carrying a faint hint of wry laughter.
Meng Qi was dumbstruck as he listened to their conversation. Merciless Tyrant had responded fluently and smoothly, showing no flaw or abnormality at all.
Was that strange feeling and sense of danger that he felt in the pa.s.sage earlier just him giving himself a good scare? Had Merciless Tyrant not encountered any accidents after all?
Meng Qi even suspected that he had been too nervous then, allowing the outside world to affect his state of mind to the point of seeing illusions. Otherwise, how would it explain the fact that Merciless Tyrant had returned unscathed?
However, several thoughts quickly crossed his mind: Carefree Valley, Zhenwu’s Decoy Grave, and the possession of the evil spirit!
Based on the clues he had garnered from Sikong Tu, he could basically determine that the entrance to Carefree Valley was located in this canyon, even if he was not sure about the exact location.
The Carefree Valley had something to do with Great Emperor Zhenwu. His decoy tombs had remnants of his evil Embodiment, his Huangfu Tao form, and others.
They, like the rest, had not shown any abnormalities before going mad in their later years!
Even if that sinister, damp feeling, as well as the shuddering that Merciless Tyrant had caused him, were different from what he had felt with Huangfu Tao, everything was related to Great Emperor Zhenwu. He could not help linking them together.
He even suspected that the change in Bomi back then was due to the opening of the Carefree Valley.
“It might not necessarily be the possession of the evil spirit but it’s likely that Great Emperor Zhenwu had sealed something within the Carefree Valley… The sinister, damp water screens earlier seemed deathly afraid of the dense b.l.o.o.d.y mist, not daring to get close to it. The mist seemed just as terrified. Furthermore, the deeper I went, the thinner the mist became…” Countless thoughts crossed Meng Qi’s mind. He got the feeling that the Carefree Valley had greatly surpa.s.sed his expectations.
In the beginning, he thought that the third step of the serial task would not be much trouble considering his and Jiang Zhiwei’s current strength. He would put himself at more risk or get injured at most. He had thought that the main challenges would be finding the entrance, preventing himself from getting besieged in Bomi, and not meeting the top masters among the old devils. However, even a master like Merciless Tyrant had gotten himself in trouble without warning. Everything seemed so strange and terrifying.
“Just how much of Bomi’s secrets had the two grasped, including the Emperor of the Netherworld mentioned in their conversation? Were they searching for the entrance to Carefree Valley? If they could exchange information, it would save me a lot of trouble and help me avoid danger…” Meng Qi’s thoughts ran wild before he finally came to a decision.
Before this, he had deliberately forgotten about the existence of the chief examiner behind him, preventing him from developing a sense of dependence and becoming reckless and fearless in his actions. Even if he could complete his task and become an official member of the Immortals, others would look down on him. Right now, however, he was deciding to firmly remember that there was someone backing him up and a chief examiner following him. He would take advantage of this and use his official task to attain his personal goals. He would get to the bottom of the Carefree Valley matter while completing his a.s.sessment task and eliminate all the dangers that he could in advance!
If he was not wrong in his estimations, the chief examiner ought to be Progenitor Doumu, also known as the current leader of Huamei Heights- Ice Fairy Ye Yuqi!
She might have come here to clean up the affairs of her sect and chanced upon his application to be an official member. So, she took it as her duty and served as the chief examiner in his a.s.sessment task.
On the surface, her realm was at the peak of the Exterior. Her strength was, to be honest, in the realm of Half-step Dharmakaya!
Even if he was mistaken in his guess, the chief examiner would at the very least be in the peak of the Exterior realm! That was what he had garnered from the a.s.sessments of Jiang Hengchuan and the others.
Merciless Tyrant and Slayer Yaksh returned the fallen vines back to their original spots and removed all traces of themselves before vacating the place. They then flew over the canyon.
Just then, they heard a chuckle.
“Please stop, my friends!”
The chuckle resonated in the red mist, drifting straight into their ears. Shuddering physically and mentally, they quickly adopted defensive stances while suspended in mid-air.
“Who is it?” they whispered. They had their guards up and did not make any abrupt moves.
Someone appeared out of the rolling red mist, with flames licking his white robe. Though his face was plain, his features were grave. He appeared to have a calm temperament, making him look confident.
“It’s him!” Merciless Tyrant and Slayer Yaksh were gripped by fear, afraid of the consequences.
“It’s you!” Slayer Yaksh raised both of his hands and pointed his steel fork at Meng Qi.
“This guy actually dared to return!”
“Did he discover our secrets?”
Slayer Yaksh would have attacked Meng Qi if not for the fact that he could not tell what it was that gave Meng Qi such confidence to appear before them!
Merciless Tyrant’s eyes briefly flashed as he placed one hand behind his back and the other in front. Devil Qi shrouded him as he planted his feet on the void.
“It’s me.” Meng Qi smiled, still carrying that cold temperament.
The more confident he appeared, the more he struck fear into Slayer Yaksh’s heart. The latter frowned and said, “And who exactly are you?”
“I’m a martial artist who entered the Exterior realm a decade ago. I don’t suppose you’ve heard of my name.” Meng Qi’s voice was calm and steady as if he was not concerned that he was speaking to two vicious old devils.
Slayer Yaksh could tell that the person before him was young. It was also true that he had lost track of new people who had entered the Exterior realm after he started hiding in Bomi. The exceptions were those who had risen through the ranks in one shot and exceptional Exterior-level members of the new generation.
The caravans coming to the frontier trade would bring them news from the outside world, letting those hiding in Bomi know if their enemies had died, whether hostile forces had been defeated, and news of recent major incidents.
“What have you done for you to hide in Bomi?” he asked, getting straight to the point. He could not figure out why Meng Qi had appeared out of nowhere.
Meng Qi retained his temperament and smiled. “I didn’t commit any crimes. I’m here to find a great opportunity.”
“A great opportunity?” The two of them narrowed their eyes.
Meng Qi gave them a “self-introduction”, saying, “I’m Shen Bao, Cultivator Grand Sun of the Luo Denomination. I inadvertently learned of a clue in an ancient tomb, and found out that there’s a good opportunity lying in Bomi. Seeing that you two have discovered something, I’ve come especially to reward you with great riches!”
He had purposefully used the twisted line ‘Please stay, my friends!’ earlier. He was planning to change his name to Shen Gongbao but after thorough consideration, he became worried that there would be other Samsara travelers in the organization. Being cautious, he decided to use the name Shen Bao instead.
His hand was behind his back, turning the prayer beads in the center of his palm. He used his physical body to block any reactions.
Merciless Tyrant and Slayer Yaksh did not notice the malice sweeping them. The latter asked, half-vigilant half-curious, “What riches?”
Meng Qi triggered the deep brown prayer beads in his hand and small specks of starlight entered his body. Their surroundings turned illusory, giving them the familiar feeling of instantly experiencing the threads of karma. However, this time it would be heart to heart. The inner voices and secret conversation of Slayer Yaksh and Merciless Tyrant resounded at the same time!
Meng Qi’s expression did not change, knowing that it would be crucial to be careful. He no longer concerned himself with the chief examiner behind him and smiled as he probed the two of them. “The orchid-like flower with seven petals with scarlet stamens; its fragrance would draw you into a state of intoxication, making you forget all your worries and concerns…”
“Asoka Blossoms!” Merciless Tyrant and Slayer Yaksh cried out at the same time.
Meng Qi also heard the quiet voices of their intentions:
“He really knows our secrets!”
“He has indeed come for Carefree Valley!”
“I wonder if he has discovered any clues that we have not…”
Meng Qi remained as calm and serene as ever. He did not consider anything else and spoke his mind. “My friends, judging from your response, I suppose you believe me now?”
Asoka Blossoms were mystical flowers that grew only in Carefree Valley and its vicinity, capable of brewing the Sorrows-banis.h.i.+ng Essence. The essence could help one wash away memories of one’s former reincarnations, leaving behind only memories of ancient ma.n.u.scripts. Using those ma.n.u.scripts, Carefree Valley had been determined to be located in Bomi precisely. Later, even more clues were discovered and the location of the valley was essentially confirmed.
Thinking about it now, that person had suffered from a disease out of nowhere and met a violent death. Meng Qi supposed things would not be as simple as they appeared…
These were all the thoughts crossing his subconscious mind.
“What are you up to?” Slayer Yaksh asked quietly.
“The landscape of Bomi is complicated and the red mist is strange and mysterious. I would like to work with you two, seeing as you appear to know quite a lot, and save some time,” Meng Qi said firmly.
“Work together?” Slayer Yaksh had been expecting this answer but he could not help feeling astonished at the same time.
A voice from within emerged, saying, “He’s actually trying to work with us? Looks like he didn’t dare come near earlier and didn’t hear about Emperor of the Netherworld!”
“This is an opportunity… Humph. You’re just a kid who’s trying to make us sacrifice our self-interests. I’ll see how you escape once we pa.s.s the news to Emperor of the Netherworld through the Nether Soldiers when he arrives!”
“Of course, I have items that can help me escape. If you spare me such malice, I’ll be able to retreat unscathed.” Meng Qi honestly told them about his secret treasure and Samsara talisman.
Slayer Yaksh and Merciless Tyrant exchanged looks and began talking to each other using a secret technique.
“It’s wiser to work together than trying to defeat him. He has items that can help him escape, after all. He might even resort to self-destruction and we’ll lose the clue for no reason. We might as well have Emperor of the Netherworld secretly follow us. He can make trouble once we’ve entered Carefree Valley and found the treasure,” Slayer Yaksh suggested. He was one treacherous old devil.
Merciless Tyrant was momentarily quiet before finally saying, “Let’s go ahead with that plan.”
“I’ll try him again,” said Slayer Yaksh.
Meng Qi listened to their conversation without changing in his expression. His mind was blank, without thought.
Slayer Yaksh coughed a little before saying, “It’ll be difficult for just us three to handle a dangerous place like Carefree Valley. You should let us go and recruit some helping hands.”
Meng Qi made a purposeful change in his expression but his tone remained calm. “You musn’t recruit anyone who has surpa.s.sed the first step of the Celestial Ladder or more than three people. I’ve heard this from my friend, Seven Luminaries Devil. You two have met Devil-slaying Sword recently, haven’t you? He’s quite suitable…”
He had brought up the matter in their conversation seemingly coincidentally but he was, in fact, telling them that he was not ignorant of their organization and also trying to get them to bring Yang Zhenchan along.
Yang Zhenchan had been in the vicinity recently so he ought to be the easiest candidate for a helping hand.
“Deal!” Slayer Yaksh agreed in an instant. He told Merciless Tyrant, through their secret conversation, “Let’s use this opportunity to inform Emperor of the Netherworld and have him follow us secretly and make a move at the right time.”
“Ha. This kid heard something about us from Seven Luminaries Devil but there’s no way he’d know about Emperor of the Netherworld. Once we succeed in our mission, we’ll see how wonderful his face looks! Let’s see if he’ll dare to play tricks on me again!”
“Then do you want to get Yang Zhenchan to join us?” Merciless Tyrant asked.
“Since he knows Yang Zhenchan, who’s in the area anyway, then let’s just get him. Once everything is said and done…” Slayer Yaksh said, the implication in his words clear as day.
Meng Qi continued to pretend as if he heard nothing of their conversation. “I’ll wait for you here. I’ll be in hiding to see how many helpers you’ve recruited and how strong they are.”
Slayer Yaksh said nothing else. He turned around and flew away with Merciless Tyrant.
Just then, Meng Qi noticed fine specks of powder drifting in the air. It was rather similar to the feeling that his Mind Connection Beads exuded!
“Did Slayer Yaksh use similar secret treasures earlier?”
“He’d been trying to peek at my thoughts and confirm if I’m telling the truth?”
“What a cunning old fox!” Meng Qi felt glad deep inside.
He had always been on guard against invasions of his thoughts ever since the President of the Commandment Hall had probed his mind using Mind Connection Beads. Now that he was also using the beads, he would naturally be even more cautious. Thus, since the beginning of their encounter, he never once thought about the matter with the examiner.
He was fine, even glad, that they heard about the other things on his mind. That would eliminate their doubts!
Meng Qi had not hidden in the mist for long when he noticed the return of Slayer Yaksh and Merciless Tyrant. Two people were following them.
The one flying beside Slayer Yaksh had a head of grey hair and a bitter, weathered face. He carried a Chinese Astrology Jin sword in his hand. It was none other than Devil-slaying Sword, Yang Zhenchan. The one next to Merciless Tyrant was an elegant-looking, middle-aged scholar. He appeared to have changed his appearance and concealed his breath. Meng Qi found him to be familiar yet could not quite pinpoint his true ident.i.ty.
Slayer Yaksh’s voice reverberated through the area. “My friend, Shen Bao, we’ve returned. Neither of these two friends of ours have pa.s.sed the first step of the Celestial Ladder.”
The other three looked around and suddenly felt the red mist rolling before them gradually splitting open to reveal Meng Qi sitting cross-legged on a rock. His back was straight and his sword was balanced across his knees. He appeared cold and calm, giving off quite the impressive air.
“Shen Bao, I didn’t lie to you, did I?” Slayer Yaksh said, chuckling.
“Not bad.” Meng Qi nodded.
The two exchanged smiles, both seeming “calm” and “honest”.