Chapter 145: Departure
The morning dew was falling from the plants as Hui Yue and his party made their way past the fields outside Mercenary City. Three days had gone by quickly and Hui Yue spent the time refining even more materials, while his friends stocked up on necessities.
Light stones were much cheaper in this underground world than they were in the world above, and Wang Ju Long took the chance to purchase them in large quantities.
Light stones were not the only thing that they purchased before the group was ready to set out once again. Medicinal plants were bought in large quantities along with inscription paper, other scrolls, and simple memory stones.
Purchasing memory stones had become a much simpler task after breaking into the Master rank as they could now use spiritual energy, and it was now possible for the cultivators to refine the stones on their own.
Memory stones were small black gemlike stones which were as numerous as the stars in the sky, and these stones in their original shape were only able to hold short messages or imprints of skills which could be used just a few times before they would collapse.
It was these memory stones which Hui Yue had bought back when he sold the martial art skills in Riluo City.
All memory stones had a suction force inside of them which could be activated by qi. As soon as the suction force had been activated, these stones would capture what was transmitted into it, whether that was a message, a skill, or a scene which was occurring in front of it.
Apart from low grade stones were middle grade stones. These stones were refined slightly more making them able to contain longer messages and hold the martial art skills for longer. Depending on the size of these stones, and the purity of them, it was possible to refine them into storage stones.
Purity of the memory stones could be determined by its color and size. The blacker it was the purer it was.
Storage stones were memory stones of high purity which had been refined past the point where they could hold only messages and were able to hold items instead.
Above the middle rated memory stones where the high rated ones. These were the purest stones which were refined to contain large quantities of items, contain large messages and long recordings.
These were what standard memory stones were like, yet some of them were refined for special things such as the student emblem which Hui Yue was given at the academy.
Those memory stones were of the finest quality and were refined by specialists who constantly created memory stones for students. Memory stones which recorded everything, worked as a key, and also worked as a storage stone, allowing for coins to be deposited within.
So far, the memory stone which Hui Yue had gotten at the academy was by far the most amazing refinement he had seen, and it was impossible for him to refine stones to such a degree.
Although Hui Yue could not refine those memory stones he was still adept in creating storage stones and high rated memory stones, causing him to buy a large quantity of unrefined stones of various qualities.
Having purchased all the items they needed, Hui Yue ordered the final two days to be spent in cultivation. Even though he knew that Xu Piao and Xie Lan were going to follow them he could not help but remember just how dangerous the task was going to be.
Everyone understood his worry and no one complained. The excitement about moving on was growing within all of them and even Hui Yue could not help but feel impatient, excitement almost overflowing by the morning on the third day.
The morning mist was still hanging in the air the third morning, but the small courtyard was already bustling with life. The sun had yet to rise in the horizon, but none of the youngsters were able to keep put any longer, even Hui Yue sprouted an excited smile on his face as he went through his room packing up everything that belonged to him.
Everyone packed their items within minutes, and they had soon gathered outside the house fidgeting as they waited for Xu Piao and Xie Lan to arrive.
Hui Yue sat down and started cultivating. Deng Wu found some paper and started writing an inscription pattern, Wang Ju Long leaned against the house wall, and Sha Yun just stood there, staring impatiently at the gate, her tail tapping the ground showing her current emotions.
What seemed like an eternity later, Xu Piao and Xie Lan finally appeared in the gateway, both of them surprised to see the group of four ready to go, and a smile appeared on Xu Piao’s face as he realized that he had made them wait. They all were busy with something, but it was clear that what they were doing was only to waste time.
Sensing that Xu Piao entered the courtyard, Hui Yue opened his eyes and a smile appeared on his face as he gracefully stood up and dusted off his robe.
None of them said a word, instead Hui Yue and Xu Piao nodded to one another before Hui Yue beckoned with his hand pointing towards the exit.
Smiles were evident all around as they finally set out on their journey as the sun was rising in front of them, showing them the world in which they were to step into.
“We’ve been here before,” Hui Yue said with a sigh as he pointed at the tree in front of him which was marked with an x that had been carved deeply into the tree trunk.
Seeing the mark, everyone in the group was startled and had a look of shock on their faces as they could not understand what happened.
“This shouldn’t be so,” Xu Pioa mumbled, uncertain about what just occurred. “We are guiding our path with the sun and constantly moving towards the West, how can we have returned to our original position?”
Having set out on the road, Hui Yue and his friends were all extremely excited and were happily conversing as they started traveling down the dusty road leading towards the capital of Demon Dwelling Cave.
According to their estimation, it should be possible for them to arrive at the capital within a week, but three days after departure something unexpected happened.
The road which Hui Yue and his friends were travelling on suddenly led into a large forest, a forest which Xu Piao claimed did not belong there.
“I am certain,” Piao said again, slightly annoyed, not just at the fact that Hui Yue did not believe him, but also that he himself had a hard time believing it.
The usually straight road, which should have been surrounded by farmland was now going straight through a large and relatively dark forest which seemed to have been growing for centuries.
Seeing that the road went straight through the forest, Hui Yue and Xu Piao decided on entering, but now that seemed like a bad decision.
At first, as they entered the forest they saw ruins of old farmhouses which were swallowed up by the trees and the plants from within the forest. Strangely when one went to observe these ruins they did not seem old, rather, they seemed to be fairly well looked after and many items were left behind within the houses, items which seemed to have been used frequently up until few days ago.
In spite of finding these well cared for houses, Hui Yue and his friends found nothing living. No humans nor animals. What worried the group was not only was it devoid of living creatures, not even one corpse was seen, making them extra vigilant and they had made the decision to leave the forest instantly.
Unfortunately, it was not as easy as they hoped, and after turning around when following the road they constantly ended up at the ruins which they were walking away from.
After realizing that they were unable to return back the way they had came, Hui Yue and Xu Piao decided to walk forwards. They quickly found that following the road did not guarantee them any success in leaving the forest so instead they decided to walk east, using the sun as a guide.
It was at this point that Hui Yue and Xu Piao found that even if they used the sun as a guide, it was still impossible for them to break through whatever it was which kept them from leaving the forest.
Hui Yue sighed deeply as he sat down on a large boulder and closed his eyes for a moment to think. The area where they were constantly being led back to was a small clearing with a small stream of what seemed to be fresh water running through the forest floor, tempting them to drink it.
None of them were silly enough to try drinking the water, neither were they harvesting any kind of food from within the forest, even the wood used to set up a fireplace came from their provisions.
“So what do we do now?” Deng Wu asked as he leaned against the boulder which Hui Yue were seated upon, making the younger man open one of his eyes slightly to look at the black-haired handsome young man.
“We have a few options,” Hui Yue said with a sigh. “Firstly I can try using the Qi Fan and bring all of us above the trees. Hopefully we can get out that way,”
“Another option is that we can try walking different ways we have not tried before and see where it brings us,”
“The next option is to simply try and destroy the forest, hoping that it will let us go if we start a dangerous fire.”
“The last option is to just stay here,” Hui Yue finished as both his eyes once again closed and he returned to cultivating, trying to restore his Qi spiral to its peak condition before they went on to the next part of whatever plan they chose.
“What is this Qi Fan?” Xu Piao asked, as he was not as keen on any of the other ideas that Hui Yue came up with.
“It’s a martial art skill,” Deng Wu explained, “It creates a fan made from Qi and allows for us to ride it in the air.”
Hearing that it was possible to fly in the sky, Xu Piao stared agape at Hui Yue. Flying was something they wished for within the caves for such a long time, but to find a way of flight was incredibly rare. As far as he was aware, only one or two cultivators within the entire cave system was capable of flight. To hear that Hui Yue had such a skill, in fact something as weak as a martial art skill was already making Xu Piao even more astonished than had been before.
It seemed that Hui Yue still had lots of secrets which Xu Piao was unable to see through and this thought caused a sly smile appear on his face. He had, after all, not shown Hui Yue all of his abilities either.
“With our current situation, I suggest we try the Qi Fans out,” Xu Piao said with a smile. It was the best idea he thought and he also could not help but truly want to try and fly in the air.
Hearing Xu Piao’s words, Hui Yue nodded his head in approval, but his eyes did not open even once. Everyone guessed what Hui Yue was doing and as though they all were one entity everyone sat down and started cultivating as well.