Chapter 99: Children
“We are going to camp here until there is no more spiritual energy within the pond,” Hui Yue relayed the orders from Lan Feng and no one questioned it. Instead they stayed within the spiritual spring for a long period of time until it felt as if their bodies were bursting with energy.
Sha Yun was the first to leave the pond, after which she instantly entered meditation to assist refining the spiritual energy into the type of energy used for magical beasts. Allowing for it to merge with the other energy she had within her beast core.
Wang Ju Long was the next who left the pond, and her very first move was to get dressed after which she too sat down and meditated, assisting her Qi spiral and the spiritual energy sea within her to refine the sudden influx of spiritual energy.
Another hour after, both Hui Yue and Deng Wu left the spiritual pond and sat down to refine the energy they had absorbed. Although there was still an immense amount of energy left within the pond, it was obvious that the colour was far more transparent now compared to the thick silver it was previously.
This evening no one went out to hunt, instead they all lived off rations they had packed in advance for their trip. No one spent energy on setting up tents either, and Hui Yue only started a small fire by using his elemental affinity.
The four youngsters were all completely focused on refining the spiritual energy they had obtained. The first day Hui Yue managed to refine enough spiritual energy for him to reach the fourth star of the Master rank, while Deng Wu managed to reach the ninth star. Wang Ju Long broke into the third star, and Sha Yun was also around the third star with her beastly cultivation base.
The night was spent using various spiritual arts to merge the new spiritual energy into the old, and then cultivate in an attempt to balance the sudden boost in strength. The following morning once more saw four naked youths floating within a pond that gave off a silvery hue.
The same events transpired for four days straight before they finally absorbed the last drop of spiritual energy. There had been no more breakthroughs, but in spite of that all of the youngsters, apart from Deng Wu, were now at the peak of their star and ready to break through at any moment.
After the final drop of spiritual energy was soaked up Hui Yue stayed still for a long time, contemplating their options. He was very curious about the village which Lan Feng had mentioned, but although he was curious he also knew that right now his spiritual energy was fairly unstable, after having been increased by such a large amount within such a short time.
Making his decision Hui Yue nodded to his friends and they all followed behind him, being as quiet as possible. On the way towards the Dungeons of the Divine they had been able to play and chat with each other while travelling, but their situation was different now.
Hui Yue was unaware about which kind of creatures lived within the forest which they were entering, nor did he know if there were any humans around who would be enemies. If there were humans around these areas, it was quite likely that Hui Yue and his friends had just robbed them of their greatest treasure by soaking within the spiritual spring, and no one would be kind to them for doing that.
Looking towards the road which Lan Feng said led to the village, Hui Yue shook his head and went the other way. He found a small stream which brought water to the pond and decided to follow it.
There was one thing which Hui Yue learnt from Lan Feng that he stressed the most and that was to be on guard. Hui Yue had friends with him whom he could rely on, yet the four of them were all only Master ranked cultivators and their ability to survive was mediocre at best.
Now that they had gained more strength, if it was not integrated into the spiritual energy sea properly then it was likely to cause a backlash and injure them instead of supporting them.
Following the small stream, Hui Yue saw a clearing up ahead. This caused him to stop in his tracks, and he gestured for the others to stop as well.
Smoke was rising from the clearing and Hui Yue felt his hair stand on end as he looked around. Although there were no movements he had the feeling that they were being watched.
Hui Yue lifted his hands up above his head as he cleared his throat and kept looking at the forest with vigilance.
“Come out,” Hui Yue called with a gentle voice, “We have no intention of harming you.”
Having said that rustling could be heard, but unlike what Hui Yue had expected it was not a horde of fierce warriors, nor was it a dangerous wild magical beast. Instead it was a little boy who could not be much older than seven, yet within his eyes was time itself. They were completely black with thousands of glittering stars inside. A chill ran down Hui Yue’s spine as he noticed his peculiar eyes.
“What are you doing in my forest?” The young child asked. His voice sounded mature with no hint of threat or enmity within, only pure curiosity.
Looking at the child, although he seemed innocent Hui Yue had a hard time shaking off the feeling of danger that lurked within his heart, and he showed the utmost respect as he answered the question. “We are travellers from the outside. We are currently looking for a quiet place where we can stabilize our cultivation.”
Looking at Hui Yue with a quizzical expression, the young boy stepped closer as he asked, “What is this outside? Is it a new village? I don’t know a village named Outside. Is it a new one? Are the four of you the only humans there? That girl looks weird, why does she have a tail? Is it a place with humans like her?”
Hearing so many questions, Hui Yue could not help but laugh a little, as he squatted down so that he was eye to eye with the young child that seemed human, but yet not.
“The outside is a vast place with no ceiling over the sun, no walls to hold you in. It is the place where you can wander day in and day out yet never see the end of the road.”
For each word which Hui Yue spoke, the black starry eyes grew larger and larger, causing the child to pant in excitement.
“Come home with me,” He said jubilant, “I want to know more about this outside place.”
Following the young child, Hui Yue and the rest were dragged the opposite way from where Lan Feng said the village would be. It seemed as though even this world beneath the ground had changed throughout the many years it had been left alone.
Following the child, the four friends were led through the forest stunned as they saw how the trees, although seemingly the same as the ones up on the surface, were different from what they were used to. Some of these trees even seemed as though they had a will of their own, the branches moving away making space for the child and his guests to travel through.
Hui Yue was shocked to find that the clearing, which he had seen earlier, was no longer just ahead of him, but instead a mirage confusing anyone who looked upon it. Despite this he followed the young child without asking any questions.
The travel through the pathway which had been opened up by the trees went on for but a few minutes before Hui Yue and the rest ended up within a clearing where a small wooden cabin had been built.
The cabin was of high quality, nothing like the shack which Hui Yue had lived in for ten years. Even the village elder’s house would seem rundown next to this beautiful cabin.
This house was built with wood from the forest, and a chimney could be seen on its roof. Smoke was coming out, making Hui Yue furrow his brow confused as to whom might live with this star-child.
Getting closer, the door opened and a small girl exited the house. This small girl was around the same age as the boy, and her eyes were the exact opposite of the boy’s, bright golden light shone from within.
“Xingye!” The girl called happily as she saw the boy arriving, the smile on her face growing larger as she saw that he brought friends. Her little body was jumping up and down from sheer excitement.
“Xiaji!” The boy called back, and upon hearing his voice, three other children appeared behind the first. Two guys and one girl.
The young boy who had invited Hui Yue and the others was shocked when he saw the children, but he also felt a sense of relief as no adults were near.
Arriving at the cabin, the children all came up to the boy and he patted their heads while saying their names.
Qiuji was the little girl. Her eyes shone in a hazel brown colour, her hair and even her skin was also brown.
Dongji was one of the young boys and he seemed even paler than Hui Yue, his hair as white as the older boy’s with ice-blue eyes. Looking at him, one would think that Hui Yue and Dongji were brothers.
The final boy was very energetic with his green eyes and his golden hair. His name was Tanhuang.
“Tell us about the outside.”
“Do all humans look as weird as you do?”
“Will we also grow a tail one day?”
“Why are your eyes not shining?”
The questions flooded in as soon as Xingye had introduced the four newcomers and a tranquil atmosphere descended over the small cabin.
Hui Yue sat down and the children instantly gathered around him. “May we stay here a few days?” He asked politely, and the children all nodded their heads with such force it caused laughter to escape from all the older ones present.
“I’ll tell you about the world outside,” Deng Wu said as he too sat down. His words caused all the children which had previously grouped up around Hui Yue to instantly move to Deng Wu.
A smile appeared on his face as he started describing with elaborate words the world which he came from.
“You feel familiar,” Xingye suddenly said as he sat next to Deng Wu. “It’s something I have not felt for thousands of years.”
The words greatly shocked everyone present as none of them had expected the small child to actually be vastly older than all of them, yet suddenly the starry eyes shone with excitement as all the children looked at Deng Wu with great admiration.
“Father is that you?” Dongji suddenly asked, his icy eyes gleaming with excitement.
“It feels like father!” Xingye agreed and within seconds all the children were sniffing Deng Wu, touching him and hugging him. Tears started sprouting within their eyes as happiness seemed to fill them all.
“Father finally returned to us!” Xiaji exclaimed and threw herself into Deng Wu’s embrace, like a lost child finally finding his father.
Seated with four children in his arms, Deng Wu was deeply shocked, his face filling with dread. The whole scene was so unexpected yet, knowing Deng Wu and his womanizing ways, no one seemed more suitable for the situation than he did.
Laughter suddenly rang through the clearing, as Wang Ju Long no longer had the ability to hold back. Her bright voice broke the stunned silence, causing the others to laugh together with her. A laughter which contained both shock and confusion.
‘Oh right,’ Lan Feng finally spoke from within the dantian cave after having been silent for days on end. ‘The seasons were supposed to live in this part of the dungeon. I see Xingye here, but I wonder what happened to Sun. She should be here to look after the kids.’