Chapter 211: Permutations
aka: Circles of Hell
In the long black tunnel, there was nothing else but a stretch of endless darkness.
This was, in short, a psychological torment!
Imagine someone trudging forward in a small space that differentiated no day or night for several hours on high vigilance for any unexpected danger that might appear. An average person would have gone insane.
Huang Xiaolong willed himself to move forward.
However, other than the first step he took, there wasn't a single reaction from the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring, both had been silent ever since.
Roughly a day passed in the black tunnel.
Huang Xiaolong had spent a day walking forward in the darkness yet there was still no signs of an end. Even for someone as strong-willed as Huang Xiaolong, he started to feel an anger rising and irritation.
In the end, Huang Xiaolong simply stopped walking and sat cross-legged on the spot, meditating and adjusting his breathing to eliminate the anger and annoyance he felt inside his heart.
Just like this, time passed unknowingly. Only when he had calmed down did Huang Xiaolong get up and continue onward.
Hours and days went on as such; moving onward in the darkness and stopping to sit down to meditate. This happened in so many intervals that Huang Xiaolong had even lost count of the days.
When he was starting to feel numb, he suddenly caught a glimpse of light up ahead in the endless darkness.
For the current Huang Xiaolong, the tiniest spark of light represented boundless hope!
Huang Xiaolong leaped forward, no, he sprinted to the source of light with all his might.
However, though that tiny light looked close, it was further than Huang Xiaolong had expected. Even after an hour of flying, he had yet to reach where the light was.
As Huang Xiaolong flew forward persistently, the sand-grain sized 'hope' became bigger, reaching the size of a large sphere.
And it became increasingly bigger, gradually enveloping Huang Xiaolong. The scene before him changed in an instant when the light enshrouded his body. He exited the endless black tunnel and came to a mountainous open space.
The grounds surface was littered with white bones everywhere!
There were human, beast, and some unknown creature's bones.
Heaps upon heaps, mountains piled next to each other.
Some bone mountains peaked as high as a hundred zhang!
These white bones emanated an evil Yin energy that formed a fiendish gale that swirled in the air above like wailing ghost cries.
Looking at this scene, Huang Xiaolong frowned.
What kind of place was this? How could such a place exist within Saint Pavilion? These heaps and mounds of white bones from humans, beasts, and strange creatures shouldn't exist in Saint Pavilion.
Perhaps... this space was no longer part of Saint Pavilion? A thought suddenly flashed in Huang Xiaolong's mind.
Huang Xiaolong continued to walk forward as if he had arrived in an underworld of white bones.
In the next moment, the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring in his body trembled violently. Huang Xiaolong's eyes lit up. Getting a sense of the Absolute Soul Pearl's location, the Wings of Demon spread out and he shot out in a certain direction.
This time around, the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring did not behave as they had before, stopping after a small reaction. Both shook with increased intensity. In the end, both flew out of Huang Xiaolong's body!
Hovering in midair, the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring exuded a blinding light before both flew forward of their own accord, whistling through the wind.
Seeing this, Huang Xiaolong quickly chased after them.
Huang Xiaolong had just flown for a short while when the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring issued a long humming sound. Their speed increased even more.
Huang Xiaolong needed to exude all his effort to keep up with the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring.
Just as abruptly some distance ahead, the two heavenly treasures stopped in midair, prompting Huang Xiaolong to search around for clues. Almost immediately, he saw a human fist-sized purple pearl hovering not too far away!
The Absolute Soul Pearl!
No doubt this purple-colored pearl before him was the Absolute Soul Pearl!
But Huang Xiaolong had a grave expression on his face. A dark-gray fog swirled around the surface of the Absolute Soul Pearl. The same thick gray fog Huang Xiaolong came across when he first entered the valley, but it was much more condensed and had a gray liquid-esque appearance.
From time to time, there were dark shadows flickering across the surface, accompanied by echoing shrieks. Those were none other than the strange dark creatures that Huang Xiaolong was powerless against... and a little afraid of.
Under Huang Xiaolong's observation, the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring flew towards the Absolute Soul Pearl, hovering in circles over the fist-sized purple pearl. Yet when the two heavenly treasures moved too close, the dark-gray fog around the Absolute Soul Pearl's surface would start to surge, blocking the Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring's approach.
The strange dark creatures' cries became more frequent and grew in intensity, almost as if they might escape and burst out from the gray fog at any time.
In midair, the brilliant glow of three heavenly treasures glittered.
The Linglong Treasure Pagoda glistened an ember red, the God Binding Ring illuminated a brilliant golden light, and the Absolute Soul Pearl glowed a deep mesmerizing purple.
Three different colors of light twined and clashed.
As Huang Xiaolong watched, the black and blue dragon martial spirits in his body flew towards the Absolute Soul Pearl.
With the twin dragons joining the fray, the fragile balance and calm between the three heavenly treasures were broken. The Linglong Treasure Pagoda and God Binding Ring's light soared, while the Absolute Pearl's deep purple glow gradually diminished.
As the light on the Absolute Soul Pearl grew bleak, the piles of white bones around the spacious mountainㅡthe human, beast, and strange creature bones, moved.
Huang Xiaolong's face tightened.
These white bones were likely numbered in the millions, at the very least hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of thousands of white bones crashed over Huang Xiaolong like a giant wave. Terrifying evil Yin energy filled the area, transforming into a ferocious fiend and baring its sharp teeth at Huang Xiaolong.
With no place to retreat or dodge, he was drowned in the wave of white bones, overwhelmed by the evil Yin energy. His vision darkened, consciousness sinking into oblivion.
There was a feeling of entering a dream for a very, very long time. In that dream, he was surrounded by countless white bones. When the white bones disappeared, a vast sea of blood manifested. Then a hell of evil fiends with sharp claws and ferocious teeth appeared after that. Scene after scene changed, all depicting the gore and carnage of Hell. Evil spirits, the Chinese myths of Hell's guardians, Ox-head and Horse-face, headless ghosts, etc.
Images repeated, overlapped, and even intertwined.
Huang Xiaolong was swept away in a river of memories that didn't belong to him, unable to retract himself as he floated along.
A long time passed before a blinding light flashed in his eyes. Clarity slowly returned and he woke up.
Opening his eyes, there was a face in front of him, a blurred image that slowly became clearer.
Huang Xiaolong shook his head in order to clear it more. Trying to get up, he took in the surroundings and asked at the same time, "Where are we?"
Xie Puti looked at Huang Xiaolong with a weird expression when he heard his question.