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1557 The White City Enveloped in Light
Xia Fan tracked Xia Di by scent and traveled deeper into the continent. He had barely made it a few kilometers out from the Underworld River when he noticed that the Realm Barrier had mysteriously vanished from sight.
Xia Fan was startled. He retraced his steps and found that, while the river was still there, the dark Celestial Path and the Great Chiliocosm had disappeared from the opposite sh.o.r.e, replaced by a sh.o.r.eline bathed in sunlight.
Xia Fan rubbed his eyes and sniffed with his nose, but discovered nothing. It was like the Realm Barrier had never existed. The dragonflies flew to the other side without any effort, and the croaking of frogs could also be heard from there.
Xia Fan murmured in confusion, before setting off again. At the very least Xia Fan and the others were safe on the Celestial Path. With the strength of the Skywings, no would dare to mess with them. But Xia Di was different. The seven-year-old boy had been captured by the enemy, and his current status was unknown. Xia Fan was the only person who could save him!
The journey was longer than Xia Fan had imagined. Even though he was moving at more than 10,000 meters per second, even after two hours, he still saw no signs of Xia Di.
As he advanced, he saw many strange places. Standing on the summit of a mountain, he could see far into the distance, all the way up until a mountain range blocked his vision. This continent wasn’t a sphere, but a plane!
“I’m not on a planet. Is h.e.l.l a planar world?” Xia Fan murmured in shock.
When Xia Fan rested in a swamp, he encountered a host of strange creatures. Their bodies were like those of catfish, their eyes bulging out, and their skin was smooth, yet they walked on two feet and had webbed hands which they used to hold spear-like weapons. These fish monsters patrolled the dark swamp.
The fish monsters spotted Xia Fan and immediately roared a challenge, declaring that Xia Fan had invaded their territory and very unreasonably charging at him. Once Xia Fan killed two of them, the fish monsters realized they were no match and jumped into the swamp, using their webbed feet to swim away.
“Truly bizarre!” Xia Fan mumbled. He was starting to feel like this world was stranger than he had imagined, but he had to track down Xia Di and didn’t have time to investigate. He let the fish monsters go and continued on his way. After encountering the dragons and many other intelligent beasts, Xia Fan possessed a tolerance far above that of a normal person. He took the fish monsters to be another type of intelligent beast.
It didn’t take long for Xia Fan to pa.s.s through the swamp. He saw a snowy mountain piercing into the clouds. The peak of the mountain had a mystical halo around it, like that of an angel, slowly revolving in the air.
Xia Fan stood at the base of the mountain and couldn’t help but think of Xia Di’s drawings. That snowy mountain with a halo, a world of black and white divided by a river… they had all appeared in Xia Di’s drawings! The seven-year-old boy seemed to have some type of foresight and had seen everything that was going to happen!
Beneath the snowy mountain was a ma.s.sive pasture. There was a herdsman mounted on a red horse there, wearing a jacket and hat made from tanned sheepskin. He spotted Xia Fan, and his eyes went round as he pointed at Xia Fan with his right hand, appearing quite shocked.
“Look! It’s an outsider!” the herdsman shouted to his companions. He reached underneath his horse’s saddle to take out a bow and some alloy arrows.
But by the time he pulled them out, Xia Fan had already disappeared. After speeding up twice, Xia Fan arrived at the sun-facing side of the snowy mountain.
“The people here are quite fierce. An ordinary civilian would even loose arrows at me?” Xia Fan remarked to himself. He realized that his combat uniform made him stand out a lot, allowing anyone to identify him as an outsider.
The distant pasture disappeared behind him, and he now saw a ma.s.sive city built along the mountain’s face. It covered tens of thousands of acres and was capable of holding a population of millions.
The giant city was made of white stones, its high walls were manned by many armored soldiers. Weapons in hand, they patrolled back and forth.
At the highest point of the city was a white tower, and at the top of the tower was a ball of light. It radiated mystical energy, covering the entire city in a barrier.
Xia Fan recognized that the light protecting the city had the same energy pulses as the net of light that had captured Xia Di several hours ago. It was extremely powerful and not something he could get past. The only way of getting into the city was the drawbridge connected to the city walls. But that place was guarded by many soldiers equipped in an ancient style.
Xia Fan wasn’t in a rush to enter the city, instead heading into the cramped and filthy slums, hiding himself in the shadows of the shabby wooden hovels. The city was luxurious and grandiose, but the slums outside of it were awash with sewage and br.i.m.m.i.n.g with foul odors.
The residents of the slum appeared starving and wore filthy clothes of rough cloth. The occasional aromas of cooking coming from the hovels were from simple soups of potatoes and cabbages.
“Heyo, heyo, the land under the snowy mountain, heyo…”
In a gloomy hovel, a man was singing as he washed his body with cold water from a well. He had just returned from cutting wood in the forest. His wife took out new clothes for him and cleaned his shoes, placing them in a wooden bucket next to the bathing room. At the same, she took away his filthy clothes and went over the well to wash them.
Xia Fan reached through the openings in the fence to take the man’s clothes and shoes. Rubbing his hands in the filth, he instantly turned himself into someone who was dark and filthy from constant labor.
Observing himself in his reflection in the water, Xia Fan felt like he looked a lot like a local. He walked toward the white city, taking a black felt hat that someone had hung out in their yard on the way. A white feather had been stuck in it as a form of decoration.
Although he was worried about Xia Di, Xia Fan had no plans on openly charging into the city. Xia Fan had no idea of the level of the Lower Realm’s warriors. Moreover, the faint scent of Xia Di was drifting out from the city, so Xia Fan knew that Xia Di was still alive. He was currently being bathed, and a lavender soap was being used to do so!
Xia Fan rubbed his nose lightly. Keeping his Scent ability activated for a long time was an extremely excruciating experience. The odor of a man’s armpits, the garlic the guards had eaten for lunch, the mischievous children and old men of the slums peeing on the walls like they were stray dogs, the golden toilet some rich woman in the city was using…
All of these chaotic smells entered Xia Fan’s olfactory system, and his brain needed to work crazily, a.n.a.lyzing hundreds of millions of smells and determining which direction they were coming from.
Xia Fan dropped his head and walked to the drawbridge, mixing in with the crowd as he sought Xia Di’s scent.
The guards were talking about some charming woman they had seen in the tavern and let Xia Fan through the walls without even a glance, allowing him to walk upon a street paved with countless white stones.
As this was a city built on a mountain, the streets went up and down and were extremely difficult to walk. The horses pulling the carts loaded with heavy goods were very strong, easily pulling the carts up the slope as they displayed more power than even machines would. Moreover, those horses had silver eyes and single horns growing from their heads!
But Xia Fan couldn’t care less about the strange sights of the city. He was pursuing Xia Di’s scent, following it all the way to the city’s highest point, an ancient castle.
This castle was also surrounded by a mystical white light. One needed to go through its only gate to access it, but this was guarded by more than a hundred people organized in two rows, who were thoroughly searching everyone. Xia Fan could only force his way through!
Hiding behind a short wall, Xia Fan sniffed one more time. The scents from the castle were quite clear. Xia Di had just finished his bath and changed into a set of just-washed clothes. He was now in the middle of a big meal: roast quail with pickled olives, noodles in meat and tomato sauce, applesauce, raisins, milk pudding, and a drink made from a mixture of blueberry and plum juice.
“What’s going on here?” Xia Fan shook his head in confusion. If Xia Di was being held hostage in the castle, then he was definitely the luckiest hostage in the world, for not only was he enjoying a big meal, he had two maids attending to him…