Chapter 193: Probing
Within the pitch-black tunnel, Xiao Yan hugged Qing Lin tightly as they used the incline of the tunnel to continue descending. In Qing Lin's hand was a Moonlight Stone. It emitted a gentle and faint light, allowing Xiao Yan to see if the route in front had any obstructions.
Not far behind the two of them, over ten faint lights closely followed. Everyone had their backs leaning against the tunnel's wall which created a 'chi chi' sound that reverberated within the tunnel.
As his body was descending, Xiao Yan's gaze swept across the two tunnel walls by the side. A long while later, he was somewhat stunned to realize that the tunnel was extremely smooth. There were no rocks protruding from the wall. Looking at the tunnel, it would seem that it was created by some enormous pillar of energy that charged directly through the ground.
After two to three minutes of descending at the same speed, Xiao Yan finally saw the bottom of the tunnel. His legs bent slightly and a moment later, his bent body reached the ground, releasing a soft muffled sound. As his body straightened, he completely nullified the reverse force from his descent.
After landing on the ground, Xiao Yan released Qing Lin from his embrace. He pulled her, took a few steps forward and swept his gaze over the tunnels in front of him. As expected, he found over ten completely dark tunnels.
Shaking his head helplessly, Xiao Yan smiled and said to Qing Lin, "You should try and sense for the right tunnel. It would require at least a few days before we could complete the search if we were to walk down each tunnel."
"Yes." Nodding her head, Qing Lin's small hand pulled Xiao Yan. Her eyes blinked and the three tiny green colored spots around her dark green pupils had quietly appeared.
Due to the dim light in the tunnel, Xiao Yan was unable to sense the change in Qing Lin's eyes.
Qing Lin slowly closed her eyes and sensed the Qi in the tunnels. The surroundings once again became quiet. A moment later, waves of soft muffled noises came from behind; and Xiao Yan knew that Xiao Ding and the others had caught up.
Tilting his head, Xiao Yan gestured to Xiao Ding and the others to keep quiet and then pointed to the closed eyed Qing Lin.
Seeing Xiao Yan's action, Xiao Ding nodded his head. He made a hand signal and caused the people who had landed behind him to swallow their inquiry understandingly.
Placing the rope in his hand properly, Xiao Ding and the other members of the Desert Metal Mercenary Company slowly drew their weapons. After which, they quietly stepped forward, surrounded and protected Xiao Yan and Qing Lin in the middle. Their cautious gazes continued to sweep their surroundings.
The silence lasted for awhile before Qing Lin finally opened her dark green eyes in a gradual manner. Her small hand pointed to a tunnel that was slightly to their left and said softly, "Young Master, although the other tunnels also had some remnants of the Qi, this tunnel has the densest one. Looks like whoever was here spent the longest time there half a year ago."
Hearing this, Xiao Yan's gaze swept toward the completely dark tunnel. This tunnel was clearly extremely long. When his gaze looked over, there was only a profound darkness. Xiao Yan could not help but frown when he noticed this situation.
Tilting his head, Xiao Yan and Xiao Ding exchanged glances. The former then let out a gentle breath and was about to take the lead when he was stopped by Xiao Ding.
"Wait a moment..." Xiao Ding shook his head towards Xiao Yan. After which, he turned around and softly said to a large man with a sturdy figure, "Han Mu, can you probe a little to see if this tunnel has anything unusual hidden within."
"Yes." Hearing this, the large man called Han Mu nodded his head. He walked toward the front of the pitch-black tunnel and bent over on the floor. The side of his face touched the floor while his pair of hands were violently inserted into the sands surface.
"This is?" Seeing Han Mu's strange action, Xiao Yan could not help but ask in surprise.
"Han Mu's affinity is a variation of the ground element: the sand element... Thus, he can use the help from the sand in the desert to feel some hidden Qis that other people may have difficulty sensing." Mu Ding explained.
"In this kind of unknown place, we must be extremely careful. Randomly charging around is not a wise move."
"Haha, there's really quite a number of unique people in the Desert Metal Mercenary Company. This kind of group cooperation is naturally much better than me randomly searching." Xiao Yan smiled before sighing.
"It's only some small tricks to survive." Xiao Ding carelessly shook his head. He then raised it and looked at the large man who had finished his probing. "How is it?"
"The probing isn't complete..." Han Mu frowned and shook his head. He smiled bitterly. "I have probed around a distance of five hundred meters but did not find any hidden Qi. Just as I was planning to continue a little deeper, however, I found that the ground type energy had completely disappeared. Replacing it was an extremely hot fire type energy. In that kind of environment, my probing became useless."
"The ground type energy had disappeared?" Hearing this, Xiao Yan and Xiao Ding were shocked. The area deep under the desert should be where the ground type energy was the richest. How could it completely disappear?
"Looks like there is something strange inside." Xiao Yan softly muttered. A hot flame jumped into his dark black eyes. The stranger this place was, the greater the chances of it possessing a 'Heavenly Flame'. For Xiao Yan who had been having a hard time searching for the 'Heavenly Flame', this was undoubtedly an exciting and good piece of news.
Seeing Xiao Yan's manner, Xiao Ding helplessly shook his head. He ended up swallowing some words of caution that he wanted to say.
"Let's go in and take a look. If we see something wrong, I suggest that we retreat first and then do some proper planning. After all, we already know that the place is here. As long as we spend some time, we should be able to achieve our target." Xiao Ding said gravely.
Xiao Yan smiled. He gently touched the Heavy Xuan Ruler on his back and sighed. After placing Qing Lin behind him, he took the lead and walked into this dark tunnel.
Walking into the completely dark tunnel, Xiao Yan felt that his body was a little cold. He licked his lips and swept his squinted eyes across the sleek tunnel walls. His finger rubbed across his storage ring and an 'Energy Recovery Pill' was swiftly placed into his mouth. This kind of action had almost become a habit of Xiao Yan's before he did anything. After all, it was difficult to say when that little bit of Dou Qi would have the ability to determine if he lived or died.
"Remember, place a Moonlight Stone on the tunnel wall at every fifty meter mark..." Xiao Ding, who was behind Xiao Yan, softly ordered the members of the Desert Metal Mercenary Company. In front of him, Xiao Yan involuntarily clicked his tongue. His elder brother covered all aspects when he did things, making sure of any small details.
More than ten human figures, with the help of the light from the Moonlight Stones, slowly walked within the pitch-black tunnel. As they were unsure of what kind of dangers there were, everyone maintained an unusual silence. Throughout the journey, other than the faint rustling of their footsteps, everything was quiet.
Within the tunnel which was quite dark, no one had any sense of time. Everyone simply continued to progress in a somewhat stiff manner. As for the tunnel, it appeared as though it was never ending and no one could see the light at the end. This kind of scene... was as though they were continuously walking toward the center of the world...
As they began to go deeper into the tunnel, Xiao Yan suddenly felt the coldness that was covering his body abruptly disappear. Replacing it was a faint warmth.
Feeling this change, Xiao Yan's footsteps gradually paused. He tilted his head to look at Xiao Ding and others. Seeing the shock on their faces, he gently licked his lips and said softly, "It's not that the ground type energy has disappeared. Rather it is that the fire type energy is too dense that it suppresses the ground type energy to the point where it is very hard to sense..."
"We had only just entered the region of the fire type energy, yet it is already so dense. If we continue ahead, just how terrifying will it be? Don't tell me that under this place there really is the existence of a 'Heavenly Flame'?" Xiao Ding said in an astonished voice.
Xiao Yan pursed up his lips. A flame of desire rose within his eyes. 'Heavenly Flame'. This was a natural wonderous thing that he had dreamed about ever since he had began training 'Flame Mantra'. Now, it was about to appear in front of him. This kind of sudden feeling of anticipation almost caused Xiao Yan to tremble in excitement...
"Let's go. Continue to descend. Everyone, if you cannot withstand the grilling from the surrounding fire type energy, then please stop. Otherwise if you were to continue going down, you might be burnt to ashes..." Xiao Yan took in a deep breath, turned around and said seriously.
"Yes." Seeing the serious expression on Xiao Yan's face, no one dared take his words lightly. They immediately nodded their heads in response.
"Qing Lin, if you feel that you cannot endure any longer, then do as I have said. Do you understand?" Lowering his head, Xiao Yan told Qing Lin gravely.
"Yes." Qing Lin nodded her head obediently, Looking at the expression on Qing Lin's small face, it appeared that the surrounding hot fire type energy wasn't displeasing her.
Once he had given the appropriate orders, Xiao Yan tightened his fist and strode toward the inner regions of the increasingly deep tunnel.
On the remaining part of the journey, the surrounding fire type energy grew increasingly dense as everyone went deeper. A few members who were a little weaker began to be unable to tolerate the high temperature and helplessly chose to withdraw.
Although there were some who pulled back, the descent continued. At the very end, only Xiao Yan, Xiao Ding, and Qing Lin endured and pushed forward. The rest all pulled out when they could not withstand the increasingly irritable fire type energy.
As they went deeper, Xiao Yan's expression also grew increasingly serious. Besides being serious, there was a faint unrestrained joy. This was because he could feel that the circulating routes of the 'Flame Mantra' in his body had automatically began to quickly circulate with the Purple Flame Dou Qi without any control from him. This was the first time such a thing happened since he had begun training.
"We're almost there..." After taking a turn around another corner, a red colored light appeared at the end of the tunnel a short distance away. Seeing this, Xiao Yan's body shivered excitedly. He wiped off the perspiration on his face. His voice was hoarse as he said dryly.
The three people increased their speed for the final stretch. They swiftly passed through this short route and finally arrived at the end of the tunnel.
Standing at the end of the tunnel, the three of them watched the fiery, red world in front of them with their faces filled... with shock...