Chapter 169: Thousand River’s Cave
Standing by the lakeside Hui Yue was astonished at the beauty of this cave. The rivers which ran into the lake were filled with water flowers, medicinal herbs, and beautiful flowers.
Next to the rivers and streams were beautiful and elaborate gardens, small glass houses, and tall pagodas. The entire land was made for scenery rather than agriculture and on the lake itself were numerous boats with couples in them.
“This place earns its money from tourism and their academy. Everything that has to do with food and materials gets brought in from other caves while anyone who wishes to go for a stroll or a vacation comes to this cave.” Xu Piao said with a low voice by the white-haired boy’s side.
Nodding, Hui Yue somewhat guessed that this cave was special, but hearing that it was a place for vacations he understood why the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming. The young man could not think of anything more suitable atmosphere than this when it came to breaking through to Grandmaster. The entire world was filled with essence from the heavens and the earth.
As he thought this, the group slowly made their way down the lake side towards the academy which was to be Yang Bai’s home for the next many years. He would not be returning home to the Demon Dwelling Cave until he had graduated and become a King ranked expert.
Moving around within the Thousand River’s Cave, Hui Yue could almost feel the essence of the heavens and the earth that was how thick it was here. He also guessed that because of this the cave was able to survive on tourism alone. Anyone who wished to enter into secluded meditation would come here and purchase one of the glass houses where they could meditate amongst beautiful scenery and boundless energy.
Having spent half a year together, Yang Bai had become very attached to the entire group and although he was now a thirteen years old and unshed tears were visible within his eyes as they got closer and closer to the academy, to the place where they would say goodbye.
Having been together for such a long time and travelling through the tunnels and caves together the guards had long since become much more like mercenaries. They had increased their skills at getting rid of demon beasts. They had even learned how to dissect beast perfectly without wasting anything after being taught by the nitpicky Hui Yue.
Yang Bai was not the only one who felt strangely nostalgic, Hui Yue and his friends all felt the same way because they to had been travelling together for half a year. Within this half year, the young master had done everything he could to become a part of their group, and although he was not travelling with them on the ground during day he would spend every night at their campfire, listening to stories from their past.
He heard about how they all met each other at an academy and how they became best friends, along with their adventures they experienced at their academy.
Although the youngsters spoke about their time at the Royal Academy, they never mentioned the name of the place and the naïve Yang Bai believed that it was an academy in the Dragon Core. He thought that they all belonged to the most amazing academy in the entire Azure Dragon Caves.
Yang Bai was not the only one who listened intently every time the four friends spoke about their friends and previous experiences. Xu Piao and Xie Lan both found it incredibly interesting, especially since both were aware that these were stories from the world above.
However, knowing that they were from the world above, Xu Piao was astonished to find that although they spoke about another world everything was pretty much the same as it was within the tunnel and cave-system in which he lived.
There were forests where magical beasts lived much like in the tunnels; there were major cities much like the cities within the caves, and there was land which was used for agriculture. One of the differences which he imagined was that one did not have to travel through tunnels to be able to meet other cities in the world above. He knew that the biggest thing about the world above was freedom; the fact that there were no walls closing in on the cities, there were no ceiling above you. Other than that everything sounded pretty much the same below ground as above.
Another thing which Xu Piao noticed missing from their stories was the Dragon Corps. Within these tunnels and caves, the Dragon Corps was the ultimate power. They had the real power within every cave and they were everywhere. Usually the City Lords of the capitals, the most esteemed position in each cave, were held by a member of the dragon cave. Only two caves were different.
One of these two caves was Cave’s End. A cave so weak and meaningless that the Dragon Corps long since had decided not to bother doing anything apart from picking up their yearly taxes.
The other cave was the Golden Lion’s Cave. As to how they managed to make the cave into a kingdom, Hui Yue did not know, however, his theory was that it had something to do with the Primal Laws.
“We are finally here.” A sigh escaped the servant’s lips. Unlike the others in the group the servant and the butler both felt relief with finally having made their way to the academy, neither of them having enjoyed the trip where they had to live within the carriage. Now they could finally look after their master in a suitable environment.
Hearing his voice, Hui Yue was dragged from his thoughts and a sad smile was present on his face. They were standing right in front of the academy gates. The gates were closed and the guards were all King ranked experts.
Getting inside the academy was impossible, but the guards alerted a professor and after a short while the professor came rushing to meet them, his robe flapping around his body as he rushed down the slope.
“Young master Yang Bai?” He asked curiously. With a nod of the young master’s head a smile spread on his face. “Greetings, I am professor Lin. I would like to show you to your dormitory. Have you brought guards and servants with you? Oh these men? Yes, that is great. Please follow me. Say goodbye to your friends now and we will get you ready to start at the academy tomorrow morning.”
Everything happened so fast. As soon as Professor Lin arrived the gates opened and the guards along with the servant and the butler were led inside together with Yang Bai. After which the gates closed once again leaving behind the four guards who purchased the mercenary spots and Hui Yue with his friends.
Looking at the gates Hui Yue smiled a wry smile after which he turned around, “Come let’s find a place where we can stay a while.” He said after which he walked from the academy city, walking on the road leading to the capital of the beautiful Thousand River’s Cave.
The capitals were usually known because they shared the same name as the caves themselves, and the signs on the road led towards Thousand River’s City. A city known for its beauty and small water canals running throughout the city.
The trip to the capital took twelve days, and once more nothing went wrong everything was tranquil within the cave and every traveler they met on their way was friendly and smiling.
The thick air filled with the essence of the heavens and the earth caused Hui Yue’s cultivation technique to work faster than normal, however, no matter how much spiritual energy he refined his body showed no signs of breaking through to the Grandmaster rank. Instead his spiritual energy sea just rose in size. It was reaching its borders but the borders did not expand, instead the sea just constantly clashed against an unknown barrier. A barrier making it impossible for him to increase his cultivation base.
The closer they got to the city the more rivers they saw on the way.
“Why don’t we rent a boat?” Hui Yue eventually said, as they were following a road beside a river and were constantly being passed by one boat after another. By the side of the road there were boats docked, all of which were offering to bring groups of cultivators to the city for a few demon coins.
The group was worn out after half a year of constant migration. Their clothes were filled with dirt and their bodies were sore and exhausted. Although the trip had been simple and not much happened on the way it still had been long and pretty much nonstop travel, only making very brief stops here and there, never giving them enough time to truly relax.
There had been no time to relax because the young master needed to rush towards the academy and now when they finally had time, Hui Yue felt that they needed to spoil themselves.
“Let us take a boat and then relax a little in the capital.” Hui Yue said sighing, his words made a collective sigh sound out aloud from the friends all of them agreeing with his suggestion.
The next boat that they saw Hui Yue instantly stepped towards it, followed by his friends and as they stepped into the boat and sat down joy was visible on their faces. Because they could now spend their time observing their surroundings rather than focusing on moving forward.
The boat was somewhat large. It was oval shaped and had both an upper deck and a lower one, allowing for the passengers to be either on the deck where the view was splendid, or sit in a chamber down under the water where they could cultivate. Should some of the passengers prefer that.
They had walked for three days before deciding to travel by boat. After boarding the rest of their journey passed by in a relaxing manner allowing for them to see the beautiful city long before they arrived at it.
Arriving in the city, the water canals were like the roads spreading throughout the beautiful city creating another way to get around.
The boat on which the group departed from was one of the larger ones that sailed into the city and as soon as they reached the inner circle, the boat was no longer allowed to go further. Only smaller boats were allowed into the inner regions of the city.
All over the rivers winding throughout the city were places where the boats could dock, and docking at exactly one of these places, everyone left the boat and started walking on the dusty roads.
The city was very different from the cities Hui Yue had been to in the caves before as although there were some inns, the majority of the inns were instead rentals. This was where one would rent a courtyard and stay there for as little as a week or as long as a year. These rentals were usually rented out to cultivating guests who wished to stay within the Thousand River’s Cave for an extended period of time to improve their cultivation base.
“How long do you think we should stay?” Hui Yue asked Xu Piao, as the lot of them were standing in front of the clerk renting out courtyards.
“Leave this to me,” Xu Piao said with a big smile on his face as he took out a bag of demon coins which he then passed to the clerk in front of them.
“One year? And one of the high-class courtyards? You will have to have some sort of background for me to rent one out to you.” The clerk said with a hesitating voice, however, Xu Piao pulled out a golden emblem with a silver symbol embedded within. Seeing the emblem, the clerk instantly became slightly confused and bowed deeply. “Milords, we would never dare to charge such esteemed guests for a courtyard, please feel free to use it to your heart’s content!”