Hu Gan’s voice slowly dissipated from the mountain valley. However, there was not the slightest movement from the two gray-robed human figures. It was as though they did not hear him.
Although he saw that there was no reply to his words, Hu Gan also did not speak again. He maintained his posture of having his hands cupped together as he waited quietly.
Behind Hu Gan, Xiao Yan, and the others faced each other after seeing this scene. Even Hu Jia, who had a lawless character, also wisely kept her mouth shut. She had never been here before, but she knew that with Hu Gan’s status in Jia Nan Academy’s Outer Academy, there was hardly anyone that could compare with him. However, he was now this courteous in front of these two gray-robed human figures. From this, one could see just how frightening these two gray-robed human figures guarding the ‘Book Collection Hall’ were. She may be lawless, but she was no fool. She knew who she could provoke and who she could not.
In the silence, the finger under Xiao Yan’s sleeves suddenly gently rubbed the dark, black, ancient ring. His drooping eyebrows could not help, but knit together. This was because he had discovered that ever since the two mysterious gray-robed people appeared earlier, the thread that represented the connection between Yao Lao and himself had actually completely disappeared. This kind of situation was a first ever since he had come in contact with Yao Lao.
This kind of connection was between both parties. However, Xiao Yan did not taken the initiative to sever the connection. In that case, it was clear that it was Yao Lao who had taken the initiative to cut it. Yao Lao had never done such a thing in the past. Now, however… Xiao Yan blinked his eyes. He looked at the two gray-robed people at the pavilion as he exhaled quietly within his heart. By being able to cause Yao Lao to be fearful enough to cut off all connections, these two people were indeed frightening. This was worthy of being Jia Nan Academy, a place where tigers and dragons hide…
The quiet atmosphere in the mountain valley continued for nearly ten minutes before the robes of the two gray-robed human figures seated crossed-legged at the main entrance of the hall moved slightly. Immediately, two pairs of calm, old, well-like eyes, similar to those of an old monk, were lifted slightly. They swept indifferently across Hu Gan and the others one at a time before finally and suddenly stopping on Xiao Yan’s body. Their gray robes trembled slightly and there was a soft hoarse exclamation that was quietly emitted, “Heavenly Flame?”
The soft sound slowly reverberated through the quiet mountain valley, and also clearly entered the ears of Xiao Yan and the others.
“May I know what the name of this young friend is?” The gaze of one of the gray-robed men remained on Xiao Yan. There was a vicissitudinous that was accumulated with time seeping out from within his hoarse voice.
Hearing that the gray-robed person actually cast Hu Gan aside and questioned Xiao Yan instead, everyone in the valley was startled. Immediately, they turned their heads and threw strange gazes at Xiao Yan. From the respectful attitude that Hu Gan had used to treat the two gray-robed men, it was clear that these two people had an extraordinary position within the academy. Yet, Xiao Yan was able to cause the two of them to form a little interest in him. This kind of treatment caused Hu Jia and the rest to quietly be envious.
Xiao Yan was also startled at the gray-robed person’s question. He immediately and hurriedly cupped his hands together as he spoke respectfully, “This little one, Xiao Yan, greets both Elders.”
“The flame tends toward a greenish color. The flame is like a lotus and a volcano. If the old me is not mistaken, the ‘Heavenly Flame’ that young friend controls should be the ‘Green Lotus Core Flame’ that is ranked nineteenth on the ‘Heavenly Flame Ranking’.” The old voice resounded beside Xiao Yan’s ear, causing his calm heart to suddenly tighten. There was an additional fright in the eyes that he used to look at the two gray-robed people. This mysterious gray-robed person was the first person who had managed to see through the exact details of his flame before he had even displayed the ‘Green Lotus Core Flame’. This person was truly frightening!
Xiao Yan’s throat rolled a little as he nodded slightly. His gaze glanced over to Xun Er and the rest around him before he realized that it was as though they had not heard the words that the grey-robed person had said earlier. He could not help but become stunned. His heart came to an immediate and sudden understanding. This was likely a trick of the two mysterious gray-robed people.
“Being able to control a ‘Heavenly Flame’ at such an age, how truly gifted…” The gray-robed person on the left side gently sighed. There was some admiration within his voice. Immediately, he shifted his gaze toward Hu Gan and said with a hoarse voice, “The top five this time around are much better than the previous five.”
Hu Gan sighed in relief when he heard these words. He smiled as he said, “Since that is the case, can I request both Elders to open the Space Lock.”
“Space Lock?” The foreign name caused Xiao Yan and the others to become blank.
“Xiao Yan ge-ge, look at the spot in front of Deputy Headmaster Hu Gan.” Xun Er’s soft voice was suddenly transmitted into Xiao Yan’s ears. The latter lifted his head and took a look. Initially, there was still some doubt on his face. A moment later, the doubt gradually disappeared and was replaced by a grave expression.
Xiao Yan’s eyes stared intently at the place around half a meter in front of Hu Gan. A moment later, he realized that if he were to carefully observed the space there, one would actually be able to discover very shallow folds. These folds were hidden in the air and were extremely difficult to discover. Xiao Yan’s gaze followed the movement of the appearing and disappearing folds before he suddenly realized that the folds of this space had nearly become something like a wall — protecting the entire ‘Book Collection Hall’ behind it!
“This is a Space Lock. An extremely strong mirror knot that only a strong Dou Zun would have the ability to lay. This Space Lock is left behind by a predecessor of the academy a few hundred years ago. If we didn’t have the two Elders inside to use a special method to open it, even a strong Dou Zong would not be able to break in.” Hu Gan, who was in front, seemed to clearly understand the loss that Xiao Yan and the others felt as he gave a smile and explained.
Xiao Yan and the others nodded their heads in sudden comprehension. Their hearts were, however, slightly shocked. A mirror knot that even a strong Dou Zong was helpless to break. This was far too frightening.
The two gray-robed people outside of the pavilion slowly extended their pair of shriveled hands from within their sleeves. Immediately, they began to use their fingers and their palms to slowly form some hand seals. As the seals were formed by their hands, Xiao Yan could clearly sense that there were two extremely strong, shapeless ripples that were being emitted from their palms, like waves.
The shapeless ripples gradually disappeared and finally came into contact with those folds in space. When the two came into contact, the space in front of Xiao Yan and the others immediately became like a mirror that appeared to be formed by water as circles of ripples repeatedly surfaced. A moment later, the ripples ceased and something like a door was slowly being pulled open by a formless, large hand.
“Let’s go.” Hu Gan waved his hand when he saw the doorway into this space. After which, he took the lead and walked in. Behind him, Xiao Yan and the others hesitated for a moment before they carefully walked into this shapeless doorframe.
After taking one step through the shapeless door, Xiao Yan realized that the sight in front of him had become much brighter. The eyes, which he used to looked at the pavilion had also become a little clearer. They had truly entered into this Locked Space.
“Ke ke, we have troubled both Elders.” Hu Gan smiled and said to the two gray-robed people seated cross-legged outside the hall.
“It is but our duty.” The two mysterious human figures wrapped in gray robes did not even move their bodies as a hoarse faint voice slowly sounded.
“You can all enter the ‘Book Collection Hall’ now. Remember, no matter what you want to obtain, you cannot insist and forcefully try to obtain it. That is because there is an energy layer added to everything here. If your hand is able to pass through the energy layer without any resistance, you can take away the thing inside. Of course, no matter how many you can take, you can only bring one of it out of the ‘Book Collection Hall’. Do not be greedy. Otherwise, you will gain nothing at the end, just like if you try to fetch water with a bamboo basket.”
TL: Bamboo Basket – Cookie Jar example for western cultures
“If you cannot pass through the energy layer, then you should give up. With your current strength, you cannot break them. There are quite a number of people among those who enter the ‘Book Collection Hall’ every year who end up returning empty handed. Therefore, leave everything to fate. Don’t try to forcefully take those things that you are unable to.” Hu Gan pointed at the ‘Book Collection Hall’ with his finger as he explained the situation to Xiao Yan and the others.
Xiao Yan and the rest nodded when they heard this. They exchanged glances with one another before they finally and slowly lifted their legs and walked toward the ‘Book Collection Hall’.
Only the rustling of footsteps sounded in the quiet mountain valley. Xiao Yan and Xun Er walked at the back of the group. The few of them passed through the grass patch in front of the pavilion. They finally stepped onto the green rock steps, which had been ravaged by time until they were full of potholes.
There was a green layer that covered the rock stairs. When one stepped on it, one would feel that they were somewhat slippery. However, it was fortunate that it did not pose much of a hinderance to Xiao Yan and the others. They followed the green rock stairs and walked for a while before arriving in front of the ‘Book Collection Hall’. When they raised their heads to eye the ancient horizontal signboard, a desolate feeling spread out from it, lingering over everyone’s heart and did not disappear for a long while.
A hoarse cough suddenly sounded, awakening the five of them from their absent-minded state. The five of them were blank before they hurriedly and immediately moved their sight away from the horizontal signboard.
“What a weird horizontal signboard. It actually has the demonic strength to attract people’s mind. Why is it that every part of the ‘Book Collection Hall’ is filled with this mysterious aura?” Xiao Yan lowed his head and sighed while muttering in his heart.
“Go in. The door will only be open for one hour. After one hour, you must come out regardless of whether or not you have obtained anything.”
The sleeves of a gray-robed person to the left of the five of them was blown by the breeze until they fluttered. The tightly-shut main door immediately let out a creaking sound as it was slowly opened, revealing a dark tunnel behind.
As the main door was opened, an ancient, bleak aura came pouncing toward them. It caused Xiao Yan and the others to hurriedly tighten the defense of their mind, not daring to have even the slightest thought of something else.
Hu Jia, who was leading them inhaled a deep breath of air and took the initiative to step into the ‘Book Collection Hall’. Behind her, Bai Shan and Wu Hao hesitated for a moment before following closely.
“Let’s go, Xiao Yan ge-ge.” Xun Er pulled Xiao Yan’s hand and spoke with a smile as she eyed Hu Jia and the two others, who had disappeared in the black tunnel.
“Yes. Be careful.” Xiao Yan nodded. The corner of his eyes swept past the two mysterious gray-robed human figures beside him. He immediately pulled Xun Er and walked into the ‘Book Collection Hall’. Finally, they quietly disappeared endured by their soft footsteps.
After all five of them entered the ‘Book Collection Hall’, the main door, which was open, began to creak as they were slowly closed. Finally they were tightly shut.
As he once again watched the tightly closed main door, Hu Gan sighed gently and said with a smile, “Hopefully these little fellows can find the things that they like. It is a very rare opportunity to be able to enter the ‘Book Collection Hall’ of the Jia Nan Academy. They must not waste it.”