“Maybe it’s so.” The old, white-haired man sighed, obviously not willing to dwell any longer on this topic.
By this time, the group had already entered the stone house. After walking to a stone staircase leading down, they descended down.
Liu Ming was following Zhu Chi closely, examining everything around him.
The entire stone staircase was made of green rocks, and every few meters there was a stone sconce on the wall that lit up the area around it.
After descending three hundred feet down, the path in front of them opened up as they walked into a hall with pathways leading in all directions.
All around this hall were several stone doors that had been broken open. However, the areas behind these doors were unknown.
The youth leading the way turned left without hesitation and went into a tunnel.
However, it was only a short time after that another hall appeared in front of them. This hall also had several tunnels connected to it.
This place was a mini man-made underground maze.
However, the disciples of the Nine Enlightenment Mountain had clearly explored this place before, and after leading Liu Ming and the others left and right as they walked through the passageways, they finally arrived at a red-violet bronze door.
When Zhu Chi and Martial Aunt Zhong saw this bronze door, their composure slightly changed.
The bronze door was slowly opened by two Nine Enchantment Mountain disciples.
Looking at how they were straining themselves, it seemed as if the door weighed tens of thousands of pounds.
The moment the bronze door opened, a burning hot gust of air came rushing out. This made Liu Ming and the other Barbarian Ghost Sect disciples flinch.
When Zhu Chi felt the heat wave, he knit his eyebrows together. However, he walked in with Martial Aunt Zhong without hesitation.
Liu Ming quickly followed behind Zhu Chi and entered through the bronze door. After looking at the surroundings, an expression of surprise showed on his face.
The cavern behind the door was at least a few acres large. The ground was laid in solid green rock slabs. At the edges of these slabs were small, faintly red gems. In the middle of the cave was a decently tall, bright red tree. On it were thirty or so emerald green fruits, the size of one’s fist.
The entire tree was shrouded in a faint blue light, while the ground at the roots of it was dark red in color. Heat waves were continually emitted from this patch of ground and made everyone in the cave feel as if they were in a hot oven.
However, both Zhu Chi and Martial Aunt Zhong did not seem surprised by this.
Zhu Chi stared at the Spirit Tree for a few seconds before saying.
“Looks like our prediction was correct. Soon after the Spirit Fruits mature, the volcano will erupt. It really is a pity about this Spirit Tree, since we would be able to get some Sky Jasper Fruit after a few more years.”
“If we didn’t notice such a thing would happen, neither you nor I would have let this Spirit Tree go so easily. Needless to say, we also wouldn’t be standing here and splitting the Spirit Fruits so amicably.” Da Zhi said with a smile.
“When the volcano erupts, the entire Suppressing Dragon Island will be gone. In addition, this Spirit Tree was planted here a long time ago. Once its Spirit Roots aren’t nourished by the volcanic magma, the tree will wither. Alright, I’ve already counted, there are thirty three Spirit Fruits on the tree like before. No fruit has been lost. We should start talking about the competition.” Zhong Spirit Master said.
“Since it’s our disciples fighting, it doesn’t need to be too complex. How about this, since there are thirty three Spirit Fruits, we can split them into three groups. Each group will have eleven Spirit Fruits and will be picked by the winner. Of course, since this is only a competition, either you or me can intervene in order to save a disciple from harm. However, intervening would basically mean that you have forfeited the round.” Da Shang, who had not talked much since the group arrived, spoke now.
“Looks like Fellow Da Shang has already thought this through. I do not have any objections. However, the two of you have already promised that no disciple of yours will be using a high-tiered puppet. If someone uses a puppet of Third Tier or above, it also counts as a loss.” Zhu Chi’s eyes flashed as he replied.
“Of course.” Da Zhi also agreed.
After working out a few more details about the competition, Da Shang sharply stepped down. His foot was at least a few inches within the ground. Then, his body blurred and when he appeared again, an acre wide circle had been drawn into the hard rock ground.
Through this feat, Da Shang, who looked old and senile, seemed to have not been made of blood and flesh.
“Alright, leaving the circle and losing the capability to move are both counted as a loss! Now, each sect can send out their first disciple.” Da Shang slowly drifted back as he spoke without emotion.
Just as his voice fell, a girl around fifteen or sixteen years old walked out from among the Nine Enchantment Mountain disciples. Her sleeves were rolled up while she had a yellow animal skin bag at her waist. Her hair was tied into seven or eight braids while her eyes were extremely bright and she seemed quite mischievous.
“Yu Cheng, she is also a Beginning Spirit Apostle. Why don’t you go?” Seeing the girl’s strength, Zhu Chi called upon Yu Cheng.
This was not the time to use tactics. If they dared to send in a Middle Spirit Apostle like Xiao Feng or Liu Ming, they would most likely be able to take this first round but at the same time, forfeit the other two rounds. This kind of action would ruin their reputation and forfeit their chances of getting more than one-third of the Spirit Fruits was definitely something that the two Nine Infant Mountain Spirit Masters did not want.
After answering him, Yu Cheng walked into the circle with excitement. The moment he stepped foot within the circle, his aura grew while a layer of yellow light appeared around him.
When the girl saw this, she smiled and dug around in the bag at her waist. Moments later, she threw out a round yellow ball made of dirt.
TL: Think small, like golf ball sized
After some creaking, the yellow ball expanded into a six foot long black serpent the moment it hit the ground. From its segmented body and reflective scales, it was apparent this serpent was a puppet beast.
The girl made a hand sign with one hand and poked her head with the other. Then, she started controlling the puppet.
The puppet swung its tail and slammed the ground before shooting like an arrow toward Yu Cheng.
Under the instructions of the Spirit Master, Yu Cheng was much more familiar with puppet beasts and was not afraid when this serpent came lunging at him. He calmly crouched down and pushed at the ground. On his arm, a couple of yellow Spirit Tattoos flashed into appearance.
With a muffled sound, a large green stone slab rose up from the ground and acted as a stone wall in front of Yu Cheng.
Seeing this, the girl’s expression changed slightly, but the black puppet serpent kept going straight and rammed into the stone slab.
With a “hong” sound, the stone slab was completely shattered and became dust that scattered in the air. The black serpent was also pushed back and fell to the ground.
However, once the puppet beast touched the ground, it suddenly opened its mouth and started glinting.
The glints were actually needles the size of a cow’s hair, they shot through the dust. With “peng, peng” sounds, they stabbed into something.
Hearing this, the girl’s face showed excitement. Her hand sign changed and was about to drive the puppet beast forward again when a yellow flash appeared above her head. A yellow stone, that was at least the size of a person’s head, appeared after the flash ended and smashed down heavily.
Surprised, the girl twisted her waist and narrowly dodged the falling rock that went by her shoulder.
However, at this time, a sound of “hu” appeared.
A crimson fireball shot out without warning from the dust, and in an instant, it was near the face of the girl.
With panic, the girl only had time to put one of her arms before her to block the attack.
“Hong!” The fireball exploded and engulfed the girl within it.
Yu Cheng laughed widely as he walked out from the dust. At the moment, his entire body was covered in a layer of thick dirt. The dirt layer acted like armor made from dirt.
The needles that the puppet beast had shot out were all stuck in the dirt armor, leaving Yu Cheng unscathed.
Seeing this, Liu Ming’s brows raised up slightly while he was somewhat regretful that he couldn’t learn such a technique.
This technique was called “Earth Armor Technique” and was exclusive to the Earth Spirit Method. Cultivators of other cultivation methods that wanted to learn it would not find much success and would instead be wasting their time.
“Senior, I think you’re laughing much too early.”
A thread of anger came from within the fire. With a “sou”, the fire was swept away by a violent gust of wind and the girl once again appeared in everyone’s vision.
However, at this time, there was a red-yellow shield before her arm that was held defensively in front of her and in her other hand was a crimson glyph. The glyph was sprouting a red light that covered the girl within it. In addition, the girl showed no signs of being burned or even hurt.
When Liu Ming saw the glyph in the girl’s hand, he showed an expression of surprise.
Even though Liu Ming had only joined the cultivation world not too long ago, he knew the rarity of Glyphs like the one in the girl’s hand, which contained special techniques and spells.
Other than a couple of Glyphs that could be used over and over again, Glyphs that only had a one-time use were rare, even for Spirit Masters.
“Avoiding Fire Glyph! The two of you have really spent a grand sum for this competition! Not only is the material for making this glyph extremely hard to find, a normal Glyph Maker has a success rate of less than one-percent! How could your disciple obtain such a rare Glyph?” Seeing the Glyph in the Nine Enchantment Mountain girl’s hand, Zhu Chi’s face became ugly.
“Haha, you two Fellows have wronged us. This Glyph was not from us. Do you know what the surname of this girl is?” Da Zhi wasn’t surprised at this situation and asked with a laugh.
“What is it?” Zhu Chi felt odd at the nonchalance Da Zhi was showing.
“Her surname is Nan!” Da Zhi said proudly.
“Nan? Does this girl have some relation with Master Nan?” Zhu Chi paused for a second before suddenly remembering something.
“Haha, Fellow Zhu has finally understood. This girl is one of the more loved granddaughters of Master Nan. However, ever since she was young, she has loved Puppet Techniques, which is why she is under the two of us. Thus, having Glyphs on her is extremely common.” Da Zhi slowly responded.