Chapter 66: Isolated
Yue Qiang had a bad feeling about this. The corpses’ disappearance was just too unnatural.
This was not a martial-based world. Most of the skills, powers, equipment and many other factors in this world could barely be explained through science if they were converted into the real world.
However, the complete disposal of a full floor of corpses where even the bloodstains were evaporated to thin air would be a very difficult phenomenon to explain.
Unless… the person who did this owned a power that surpassed a normal human’s limits.
After taking everything into account, the only person who had reached such a level was the Zhao Army General, Zhao Yan. The smiling old watchman who was responsible for Progress Point trading also gave off a feeling of unfathomable depths, so he might be another person of extraordinary power as well.
However, it would seem that there was now a third person with powers that exceeded the human limits.
From what he already knew, it would seem that such people were considered to have surpassed human limits only because they had a particular attribute that had exceeded 40 points. On the whole, they weren’t actually too powerful. However, Yue Qiang knew very well that their strength lay on the fact that their limits were completely unknown and indecipherable. It was possible for him to deduce from the interim cutscene that the general Zhao Yan must have over 40 points of Strength. But what was the exact number of his Strength? It could 40 or 50 points… or it could be 100 or even 200 points!
How powerful was 200 points of Strength? Yue Qiang could not imagine it at all. If 15 Progress Points could be used to exchange for a single freely distributed stat point, then 3000 Progress Points would be needed to increase a particular attribute to 200 points.
What was 3000 Progress Points? If he counted it per normal soldier, then he would have to rack up a body count of thirty thousand before he could accumulate such a number. This was akin to sending a single man to fight against a supersized army!
Of course, Progress Points might not be the only way to increase one’s stats, and the comparison of thirty thousand versus one man was a little exaggerated, but it also reflected just how rare it was to run into a person with such strength.
A person like this could probably wave a hand casually and annihilate all of the corpses. If he ran into someone like this… no, if this person went up against him on purpose or worse, tried to kill him, then there was no way that he would survive at all.
Yue Qiang closed his eyes and considered this for a moment. In the end, he opened his eyes and decided to give it a shot.
High risks equalled high reward. The same goes with high difficulty.
If the person who destroyed these corpses wanted to be his enemy, then he would be already dead. Since he was still alive, it meant that this person might have destroyed the corpses for other reasons. Therefore, Yue Qiang ultimately decided to continue with the expedition.
It was at this moment Ai Qian said, “According to the information I got and the analysis I made along the road, this place is definitely the entrance of the School of Mo’s Great Camp. There is also no doubt that the coffin, the riches inside the coffin and the female corpse is here. If you have searched through the small room at the end of the path carefully, then you might have discovered the path to the true great camp for real.”
Ai Qian ordered four of his soldiers to guard at front hall of the cave before leading the remaining six into the passage with Yue Qiang and Yin.
As expected, the tiger’s corpse had vanished as well.
The bloodstains on the floor had disappeared as if a janitor had washed them just like the front hall of the cave. Without a closer examination, it was almost impossible to identify the dark red bloodstains mingled with the soil and rock bits that proved that there was the body of a huge tiger here yesterday.
They hadn’t walked for long when the armored soldier scouting at the front reported,
“Lord Ai, there is only a small room at the front with no other exits. We have searched through the small room carefully and discovered an entrance at the bottom of the wooden table at the center of the room. Please come and have a look, Lord Ai.”
I thought it would be something like this.
Yue Qiang glanced once at Yin before hurrying forwards into the small room.
The wooden table that was once used to hold the S/L modules at the center of the room had already been overturned to reveal a deep, dark hole at the bottom. There were some dug soil and stones at the surroundings.
Looking from outside the hole, a ladder could be seen stretching all the way towards the bottom. The inside of the hole was pitch black, and it was impossible to see what was down at the bottom.
Yue Qiang turned around and glanced once at Yin, “Can you sense what’s down there?”
Yin’s eyes were closed the entire time, but she had the Eye of Truth and was able to see what’s before her. Yue Qiang wasn’t sure how the skill worked, which was why he asked Yin about it.
“I can’t.” After a momentary pause, she answered, “There seems to be a… strange energy that’s preventing me from doing so.”
Without a second choice, they could only send someone down directly to scout out the area.
He wondered what lay at the bottom of this hole. Would it be the true School of Mo’s Great Camp, or a deathly still School of Mo’s necropolis that awaited them at the end of the tunnel?
When the three armored soldiers had descended, they kept at a certain distance from each other. Neither too far nor too close, it was just the right amount of distance where they could reinforce one another or cry for help if something unexpected were to occur.
Yue Qiang listened to the three soldiers’ footsteps from above the hole. There were no signs of disorder thus far.
“We have reached the end of the tunnel. There is a passage up front.”
“It’s very dark. We can’t see anything in front of the passage. Up there, mind lending us a few torches and ropes?”
Ai Qian agreed. He looked at a soldier and motioned for him to take three torches and head down. Suddenly, he looked at another soldier and said, “Wait. You, yes, you go down with him as well. Both of you will tie a rope to your waists and stray not too far apart from each other. You’ll be able to help each other and it’ll be safer.”
The two soldiers went down the hole as well.
The five soldiers at the bottom – three at the front and two at the back – continued to walk deeper into the passage. From time to time, the reports ‘clear’ and ‘all good’ would ring from the bottom.
After sending a total of five soldiers to scout the path ahead with great caution, Yue Qiang, Ai Qian and Yin finally reached the bottom of the hole through the vertical ladder as well. For some reason, Yue Qiang kept feeling that something was wrong.
They had two groups of people scouting at the front, and they could also see the faint light of the torches from the corner of the passage. Still, he couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong.
Perhaps it was exactly because that they were at such a place that ‘normal’ was the greatest abnormality of them all?
Right now, Yue Qiang, Ai Qian and Yin were right beneath the entrance, and just ahead of them were the two soldiers on standby. Further ahead around the corner were the three soldiers and the reflected light of the torch.
Suddenly, the light vanished.
The reporting voices of the three soldiers also came to a spontaneous end as the sounds of three armors hitting the ground, ‘thump, thump, thump’ rang from around the corner. It was incredibly jarring in this quiet environment.
The three soldiers at the front had lost all signs of activity in an instant.
Ai Qian felt a little unwell under the pressure and tension of the atmosphere. He yelled loudly, “You three at the front, report!”
A long time passed, but there was no answer.
Yue Qiang could see that Ai Qian’s face had turned a little ugly from the torch’s light.
They had lost three people in an instant without a sound, and the worst thing was that they had no idea how they died. There were neither sounds of combat nor cries of help. The three soldiers had vanished just like that.
The two soldiers with ropes tied around them looked a little scared, as one of them said, “Lord Ai, do you think we should… go back?”
Ai Qian hesitated for a moment before saying, “Let’s do it this way. You, keep the rope with you and walk to the front. While you scout ahead, the four of us will hold the rope and walk right behind you. But don’t go too deep once you’ve passed the corner, and stop the second you see the three soldiers at the front. At the least, we must know how they are doing right now… when we go back, I’ll increase your reward fivefold!”
The soldier did not want to obey the command initially, but when he heard that his reward would be quintupled, he ultimately steeled himself, clutched the rope and walked to the front.
And so the group of four followed followed behind the soldier and watched him turning around the corner and continuing forwards. From time to time, he would report his current condition.
When Yue Qiang and the others turned around the corner as well, they immediately saw an eerie sight.
The soldier ahead was saying, “All clear. Wait, I see them…”
Abruptly, his body crumpled without warning before he could finish his sentence. A loud thump resounded throughout the passage ceaselessly.
Yue Qiang felt every hair stand up on his body. They had lost someone again without knowing why at all. Just like before, there were no signs of any attacks whatsoever. It was almost as if the soldiers grew tired and fell asleep on the ground!
The torch at the front was extinguished as the soldier fell on the ground. The passage was now pitch black, and nothing could be seen.
It was at this moment rapid footsteps resounded from behind their backs!
Yue Qiang abruptly swiveled the camera around and prepared himself for battle. He would not be caught off guard the stuff of nightmares were to come after them. However, what he saw was no nightmarish monster.
The person who ran hurriedly towards them was the soldier they left inside the room above them. Just like the four soldiers in the main hall, The soldier was left there so he could reinforce them if anything unexpected occurred. However, the soldier had climbed down the vertical stairs, turned around the corner and reached them in a fluster.
“Lord Ai, something terrible happened, something terrible happened…” The soldier said while catching his breath, “The passage outside, that is the one that’s connected to the front hall, it’s suddenly closed off!”
The passage that connected to the front hall was the passage Yin first discovered at the very beginning.
Once that passage was closed, it meant that they could go nowhere but forwards!
Just when they thought that there would no longer be any surprises, they suddenly lost four soldiers and had their retreat path cut off as well!
The tension in Yue Qiang’s heart had reached its absolute maximum, and right now he felt like a taut string that would snap given just another push. But before they could digest the shock something strange happened yet again!
The armored soldier who rushed over to report the situation, and the armored soldier who was holding the end of the rope suddenly crashed at the same time!
The trajectory of their fall was incredibly clear beneath the torch’s light. One second the soldier was still reporting the situation, and the next his knees suddenly gave out as he collapsed on the floor. The other soldier at the end of the group was still gripping the rope tightly when he collapsed onto the ground.
The last two soldiers had died without any warning just like the first four soldiers before them.
Yue Qiang saw everything as clear as day, and yet he could not see any trace of an attack at all.
In just a few minutes’ time, Yue Qiang, Ai Qian and Yin were the only ones left within the passage.
They were completely isolated.