The Tian Dang Mountains
Nian BIng exchanged glances with Feng Nu and asked in a low voice, “Did you feel it?”
Feng Nu nodded. “We really might’ve struck the hot plate this time. That aura is very familiar to me; it is quite possible that this is the special clan I spoke of to you.” Previously, Nian Bing and Feng Nu had both sensed something. Nian Bing could not sense it on his own, but because the True Sun Knife suddenly heated up, he felt the unstable fluctuations in his own magic power.
Very soon, Hua Rui’s figure flew back. The makeup on her face had been sloughed off due to her high speed. To Ka Luo, she said, “I didn’t see anyone.”
Ka Luo frowned. “You didn’t see? Could you tell if it was human or beast?”
Hua Rui shook her head and said, “It is hard to say. However, could a human be so fast? I am quite quick myself, and if I didn’t see them, they must be a martial saint. But there are only several martial saints on this continent. Why would they come to this place where birds don’t even shit? It’s more likely to be a magic beast that specializes in speed. It is normal for mountains like these to have magic beasts. If we are careful there shouldn’t be a problem. Ka Luo, we must move as fast as possible and cut down at time, lest something happen.”
Ka Luo nodded. “We’re heading out. Everybody, prepare your defenses and pay particular attention to the mages. If you discover any danger, make sure to warn everyone right away.”
They set out again. This time, the atmosphere of the troop was obviously much more keyed up. Unlike the close formation of before, they spread out in order to cover a greater area, to guard against an unknown enemy’s attack
They walked from dawn to noon and had entered the deeper parts of the Tian Dang mountains. In that time, a similar feeling from before did not occur; it seemed that everything was normal. Nian Bing kept his eyes shut the whole time, extending his spirit to sense the outside world. Surprisingly, this was much more sensitive than using his own eyes. Neither the fluctuations of the air current nor grass movement could escape his spirit’s senses. After hearing what Feng Nu said, he felt that something was just not right. Although the feeling of being observed had disappeared, he still felt that people were watching him from a distance. What was this clan Feng Nu spoke of?
The mountain passage became even more rugged. The four warriors at the front continuously hacked at the brittle brush with their longswords while the sedans, surrounded by mercenaries, continued to make progress behind. Suddenly, Li De shouted. “Everybody, stop!” He began his chant. “Mighty spring! Please let your tears flow unto me and travel the world. Seek the mysterious aura–eyes of eternal rebirth.”
A faint blue light gathered around Li De. The water element the air obviously intensified. Nian Bing, who was familiar with every sort of magic was shocked. This was the rank 8 water spell, eyes of eternal rebirth!
The blue light continued to glow brighter. Li De raised his small magic wand to the sky which became wrapped in a faint blue light. His body exuded a divine aura and he pointed the magic wand forward. The dense, blue haze suddenly flew into the ground, and the light grew outwards, forming an expanding blue sheet. Li De’s nonstop chant created ripples in the blue light like ripples on a spring.
As the blue halo began to extend outwards, everyone at the scene could clearly feel a warm energy touch their bodies. As this energy washed over them, everyone felt that their sense organs had been strengthened.
Nian Bing knew that Li De was certain that he would find something. If not, he would not have wasted so much magic power in this rank 8 water spell. Eyes of eternal rebirth had a very obvious function. Not only could it sharpen the companions senses, it could also sense all life forms within its range. It came from the spring of life. As long as there was water, the eyes of eternal rebirth would not fail.
The blue halo finally disappeared, and Li De shut his eyes and stopped his chanting. Everyone turned to look at him in silent anticipation.
Suddenly, Li De convulsed, falling onto the sedan without any warning. His whole body twitched violently as he began to froth at the mouth. The aura of his life force disappeared of him rapidly.
Nian Bing was very close to Li De and was immediately frightened by what he saw. He hastily jumped out of his sedan over to Li De, pouring pure magic power into Li De. At the same time, his expression turned extremely grave. He had read about what happened to Li De in a book. When a mage sent a probing type spell into their environment and encountered a powerful spiritual attack stronger than themselves, they would immediately be ‘counter-devoured’. For Li De, who had the strength of a magic scholar, almost the strength of a magister, it would be rare to have someone strong enough to counter-devour his rank 8 spell. tT appeared that not only was there a hidden enemy in this Tian Dang Mountains, but that this enemy far exceeded their expectations.
Long Ling grabbed onto Li De’s other hand. Ice and water were of the same origin. She and Nian Bing poured ice element into Li De’s body, hoping that they could help him break free of the counter-devour.
With the aid of two great mages, Li De’s convulsions gradually stopped. However, he still wasn’t awake. Nian Bing hesitated for a moment, then waved his right arm. The Ice and Snow Goddess’ Sigh appeared in his hand. He placed the Ice and Snow Goddess’ stone to the Li De’s forehead, in order to channel his ice magic into Li De through the Ice and Snow Goddess’ Stone. At the same time, he opened the Holy Light Stone’s box and placed on Li De’s chest. One to rouse his spirit and one to stabilize it. With the addition of these two exceptional treasure stones, Li De managed to shudder in a breath. He slowly opened his eyes.
“Teacher Li De, how are you feeling? What did you see that counter-devoured you so fiercely?” Nian Bing asked impatiently while having his own suspicions in his heart.
Long Ling took out a handkerchief from her chest and used it to wipe away the froth at Li De’s mouth. “Let Teacher Li De rest first.”
Li De shook his head. When he felt Nian Bing’s outpour of magic, he managed a smile. “Thankfully you were here. If not, I would not have even know that I died. It was much too frightening. There was this red, a red I could not see clearly, but the red was filled with a matchless domineering aura. I tried to use water to guide my spirit to see its secrets, but I was unable to sense anything. My spiritual power received a powerful shock and it felt like the spell just crumbled.”
Nian BIng questioned solemnly, “Where is the place that you searched?”
“It was at the center of the Tian Dang Mountains. I suddenly felt that something was not right. As you know, water and ice are extremely sensitive to fire. On this bitterly cold day, I suddenly felt myself warm. It seemed like someone had manipulated the fire element to surround us. In light of what happened earlier, I decided to explore a wider area. I didn’t think that I would be counter-devoured and nearly die.”
Nian Bing turned to look at Ka luo. “President, is the treasure trove on the map located in the center of the mountain range?”
Ka Luo smiled bitterly. “I wished it were not so, but reality is not so kind. According to the marks on the map, the treasure trove is located on a mountain in the center of the Tian Dang mountains. The mark on the map is a simple cross; I don’t know whether it means a cave or some other geographical feature. We will only know after finding the place. With our current speed, it would take about three days before we got there. However, Mage Li De sensed danger, so we must think it over cautiously.”
The ‘bucket’ Hua Rui snorted and said, “What’s there to think about? Perhaps Magic Scholar Li De sensed a volcano. Could it be that you are saying that a volcano’s energy is not enough to produce such a sensation? We are not like the man of Qi who was afraid of the sky falling. Let’s talk about it again after reaching the place. Even if it’s dangerous what’s there to be scared of. We have so many people. If we can’t defeat the danger, can we not run? We have spent so much time and energy for this mission, how could we give up halfway?”
Next to her, Jia Te LIn affirmed her words, “I agree with Hua Rui’s reasoning. We cannot so easily give up because of a fright.”
Ka Luo said, “I do not mean that we should give up. I just want everyone to be very careful so we can better complete the task. It is already noon; we should all rest and let Magic Scholar Li De recover.”
Nian BIng looked at Li De silently. He then asked quietly, “Teacher Li De, could it have been a volcano?”
Li De thought it over. “I have no way of being certain, but it’s definitely possible. It was a truly strong fire-attributed energy. Nian Bing, this operation looks to be much more challenging then we expected. You must promise me one thing. If there is a danger so great we cannot deal with it, you must protect Ling’er no matter what and leave. This is what I promised the president. Right now it looks like my magic will take at least two days to recover. Please, I implore you.”
Nian Bing looked at Long Ling, looking as if she had not heard what Li De said. “Teacher Li De, do not worry. Without your reminder, I still would have tried my hardest to protect Ling’er. It’s just that my strength is poor, so I might not be able to meet your expectations.”
Li De smiled weakly. “In the end, the matters of humans follow the Mandate of Heaven. Ah, if only my spell hadn’t been broken. I could get a better feel for the surroundings. Right now, we can only barge away through. I really hope that what I found was just a volcano.”
Nian Bing saw from Li De’s eyes that he also knew that this could not be a volcano. How could he make such an amateur mistake? The eyes of eternal birth were water based. Could there be water in a volcano? If it really was a volcano, Li De would not be able to see it.
Feng Nu had appeared to Nian Bing at sometime. Quietly, she asked, “Are you really continuing forward?”
Nian Bing replied, “Right now, I do not have any reason to go back. But it seems things are exactly as you said. Feng Nu, can you really not tell me more about this clan?”
Feng Nu hesitated for a moment but ultimately shook her head. “Perhaps things aren’t as serious as we thought. As long as we do not encroach on that clan’s interests, we will not illicit confrontation. That clan does not have interest in gold or precious items. I think that the treasure trove you seek is unrelated to them, so we don’t need to worry, necessarily.”
When he heard Feng Nu’s words, Nian Bing relaxed slightly. “I do hope that’s the case.”
Not saying anymore, Nian Bing walked over to the side. He elicited the help of two mercenaries to set up a stove and Feng Yun to take out the food from his space item, then began making the meal.
After all, he had to make over thirty people’s worth of food. NIan Bing chose the simplest of cooking techniques. He soaked the clean rice in water while shredding the chicken then throwing it into the pot. He then added some jujubes, then sprinkled in some salt and then stirred evenly. He then began to cook. There were so many people, and they were in the middle of a subversive crisis, so he did not care about showing off his culinary skills. He first priority was replenishing everybody’s strength; stuffing their stomachs was the most important. This shredded chicken jujube rice was not up to his standards, but it was extremely effective at replenishing strength. While cooking it, Nian Bing directly put the True Sun Knife into the pot and, along with his fire magic, quickly made everyone a meal that was not overly rich but still tasty.
After eating, all the mercenaries had recovered well. Ka Luo did not allow everyone more time to rest and quickly took to the road. The goal was still in the deepest part of the Tian Dang Mountains.
When they set out this time, Li De became the most important one to protect and was placed at the very center of all the mercenaries. He had eaten a few simple foods at lunch and was already meditating in the sedan, working hard to recover all of his strength.
The wintry mountains were not completely bare. Some cold-resistant vegetation still grew. The mercenary group followed the natural cavities in the mountain in order to save their strength. When the skies grew dark, they had passed through several mountains. Their nervous pace had brought them far, but naturally, the mountain road limited their speed. They were still two days away from their goal.
At night, Ka Luo chose a level depression in the mountain to camp. They set up all the tents. After a simple dinner, Ka Luo brought Nian Bing and the two vice-captains into his tent. As Li De had consumed a large quantity of his magic power, now Nian Bing was the most important mage in Ka Luo’s eyes.
The four people sat in a circle. Ka Luo unfolded a dilapidated map. This was the first Nian Bing saw the map to the treasure trove. It was made of leather yellowed by dirt. The markings were drawn on in red. The picture clearly depicted the Tian Dang mountains because the only marking in the left hand corner was Tian Dang City. It was marked very clearly, which made it easy to orient the map.