Chapter 70 – Effigies
On the far edge of the hall, Ye Wei was at a standstill worrying about Lin Zi Yan’s safety after she disappeared down the path that led into the deeper parts of the labyrinth. He could tell that Mo Ya and Jin Yan could pose a threat to her if they decided to somehow work together against her.
Ye Wei could not stop thinking about it. Both of the Ning City Warriors possessed a medium-grade Mystic Arm. He wanted to follow her down the path, but he thought about the difference he could actually make and who would be protecting who if he was to join Lin Zi Yan in venturing deeper into the labyrinth.
‘I’ve wasted too much time in the past… I will just burden her if I go in.’ Ye Wei again became bitter as his mind wandered.
“I have to become a seven-star Student as soon as possible. Maybe there will be something in this labyrinth, pills or some kind of medicine that could help me get there.” Ye Wei mumbled to himself. “When I can start creating and refining stances, I’m sure I will be able to catch up!” He clenched his fist determinedly.
‘Should I really follow Zi Yan’s advice and leave this place? She led me all the way here to Bloodmist Valley, and now she’s heading even further in. She signaled me to leave, so I should trust her to find the Welkin Leaves, right? But I can’t always rely on her. I can’t hide behind her back when she takes all the risks!’ The recent incidents with Lin Zi Yan made Ye Wei think of her as more than a friend; he could not help but overthink everything about her in his mind, ‘I will wait here…’
“Those are mine! Drop it or I will end you!”
During the next two hours, yells and screams echoed in the hall as the brawls continued until more and more fighters fell. The floor was now covered with bodies and blood as the noise eventually died down.
After the chaos ended, the seven low-grade Mystic Arms found their new, exhausted owners. With Luo Mu Xue gone and Lin Zi Yan, Jin Yan, and Mo Ya deeper in the labyrinth, Lu Chao, Hong Xun, and Xue Yao were the strongest left in the hall; therefore, they got the most treasure of all the survivors.
The group led by Zhao Hou also got a nice cut of the treasure.
Now that the hall had quieted down, the survivors finally had the time to look around. They started to think back and realized how brutal and barbaric they have been. So much so that some of them were actually scared of themselves as they didn’t know such a blood-thirsty side of themselves existed.
A lot of cultivators with great potential died that day. Most of the survivors were at least five-star Warriors or above, but it wasn’t only the survivors’ capabilities that kept them alive. In the dog eat dog world luck was more important than strength.
Clarity hit some of the survivors, and after experiencing the bloodbath first hand a lot of them were mentally traumatized. They chose to leave the labyrinth just for some peace and quiet. When all of the fighting was completely over there was only around one thousand people left in the hall.
Ye Wei watched all the skirmishes at the edge of the hall. He did not enjoy seeing the bloodshed at all, but he was calm as he witnessed everything. ‘I have to stay here. I am not going to leave this labyrinth until I get my hands on some Welkin Leaves, or at least, I will wait here until Zi Yan returns safely!’
The silence was brief as the people who stayed behind prepared for more bloodshed. They wanted more treasures therefore they started talking about the paths at the front of the hall.
They were under the impression that the path to the right would lead them to more treasures because that was the one Lin Zi Yan, Mo Ya, and Jin Yan choose. People started gathering around the entrance of the rightmost path led by Lu, Hong, and Xue.
The three unofficial leaders slowly walked towards the semi-transparent barrier that the three earlier easily went through.
Hong Xun made the first move. He channeled his Qi causing his skin to turn bronze. His short hair stood up akin to a porcupine with steel spikes. He then signaled for Lu Chao and Xue Yao to take a step back. They had an unspoken agreement that Hong Xun should go first as he was the strongest of the three at the eight-star Warrior level while the others were only at the seven-star level.
He stomped the ground and with his foot as the center a spherical, invisible forcefield spread outwards. Hong Xun threw his arm in the air and started drawing runes with his fingers. The runes then formed a golden Qi bell around his fist as he threw a punch towards the barrier mercilessly.
The presence of Hong Xun’s punch drew everyone’s attention, and even Ye Wei could feel the Qi disturbance from the edge of the hall. Everyone watched Hong Xun wondering what kind of treasure they would find behind the barrier.
His fist connected onto the barrier and with a loud rumble, the barrier started oscillating and eventually it forced Hong Xun’s strike backwards.
Hong Xun’s face was ashen as he was forced to take three steps back before he could stand steadily. Each of the steps left a shoe print on the solid ground.
He then coughed, and a line of blood appeared in the corner of his mouth. He stared at the barrier with shock and confusion, ‘Am I that much weaker than those three? They entered effortlessly…’ He was not the only one discouraged. Everyone who saw the failed attempt was depressed as well. They were afraid that if the strongest couldn’t get through, none of them would be able to, and that all the treasure behind the barrier would never be recovered.
After a few deep breaths, Hong Xun’s eyes turned to the path on the left, and he quietly walked towards it seeing that they didn’t really have a chance to get through the rightmost barrier. Lu Chao and Xue Yao both sighed and followed in his footsteps. ‘I guess we will also have to settle for this path…’
‘This guy was not able to get through with that much power behind his punch? I guess Zi Yan will be fine then as it literally took her less than a second to get in. How strong must she be to accomplish that?’ Ye Wei thought as he walked out of his hiding place. He could see everyone were more or less calm now, so he felt safe enough to get closer. He wanted a closer look at the entrances so he could feel the disturbance of Qi from each direction.
The path on the left was a tunnel that was not blocked by anything. There was no barriers or doors, Lu, Hong, and Xue walked in with the rest of the survivors following them. ‘I will just go in and take a look. I might be able to find some Welkin Leaves myself.’ Not willing to go to the rightmost path alone nor wanted to draw any attention onto himself, Ye Wei followed the crowd onto the left path without attempting to break the barrier.
This tunnel looked similar to the ones that led everyone into the hall, but this tunnel was longer, and there were no barriers or anything on the sides; it was just an ordinary tunnel.
After a while, they reached the end of the tunnel. The people in front of the group could see a wide, open area covered with small sharp rocks. They seemed sharp enough to cut a person’s feet if he or she were not careful.
In the middle of the rocks stood one thousand life-like stone effigies. They all had a humanoid shape. Most of them were brown stones and around forty of them were silver-white. Five effigies were larger than the rest, and each of them stood three meters tall and shone with a golden hue.
The effigies were all a bit different, most of them even had weapons in their hands. Some had swords, some had spears, and some of them had shields.
Nobody dared to step into the field, not even Lu, Hong, and Xue. Everyone just stood at the end of the tunnel peeking.
Hong Xun grabbed a five-star Warrior who stood next to him and said: “Why don’t you go in and take a look?” As he threw the Warrior into the field out of the blue.
The Warrior was surprised, but he did not lose balance. He landed steadily on his feet clearly not pleased with how he was treated, so he started swearing at Hong Xun quietly. Pressured by Hong Xun and others, he had no choice but to investigate the field.
He unwillingly walked around the whole field carefully and nothing happened. Now relieved, he waved at the crowd and signaled that it was safe. People then started running into the field and inspecting the statues hoping to find hidden treasures somewhere.
‘I have a bad feeling about this…’ An image of a mountain flashed inside Ye Wei’s mind, and he started to panic while everyone else’s guards were still down. He felt like he was being watched by something, something alive, something bloodthirsty, something that wanted him dead. He became cautious and started restlessly looking around himself, but nothing was wrong. Everyone was just as they were before, some looking for treasures, some of them were just appreciating how lively the effigies looked.
Just as Ye Wei thought he was having an unreasonable panic attack, a barrier appeared at the tunnel’s exit, blocking the way out.
“Careful!” Ye Wei shouted to alert everyone and reached inside his bag. He held one of the Mystic scrolls tight. The crowd then turned to see the tunnel was sealed by a barrier that looked like the one Lin Zi Yan, Mo Ya, and Jin Yan opened earlier back in the hall.
“Who did this?”
“I told you not to touch anything!”
“What? How are we going to get out now?” The crowd started panicking when they heard a rumbling sound.
The brown effigies started moving and opening their stone eyes. Beams of red light shot out of their eyes brightening the dim field. They started lifting their arms and waving them around. The effigies looked massive and clumsy, but they were unexpectedly fast, and their stone fists flew all over the place. The field suddenly filled with wind from the effigies’ ferocious strikes.
People with better reflex were doing just fine dodging these attacks, but for the ones who were frozen in place with fear and the ones who were injured in the brawl earlier, the red lights from the effigies’ eyes and the heavy impact of stone fists became their last memory.
The seven-star Warriors had it easy as their primal feather wings helped them effortlessly maneuvering between the fists. But it was a struggle to survive for the rest of the crowd.
Fear spread on the field. The effigies did not feel nor did they care, they were programmed to kill and they would not stop.