Suyass was startled by this wail and the lapse in his concentration almost caused his casting to fail. After barely managing to finish his incantation, just before he released his spell, a loud rumble echoed our as the Alpha Thunderbird crashed into the ground.
For a few moments, not a sound could be heard in that entire world.
The battle was thus ended. Under the counterattack of the joint exploration team, the flock of Thunderbirds that had lost their alpha became headless chickens. The fighters constantly harried the birds with hit and run attacks while a few High Mages and Spirit Archers shot four Thunderbirds with a wave of fire. Immediately after, the joint exploration team kept consolidating their advantage and this battle also drew to a close. After a few minutes, of the hundred Thunderbirds, only one or two luckily escaped.
"Sir Suyass..." Lin Yun flew over and stopped right beside Suyass and told him, "I talked to Leader Lys, it seems that the situation is a lot more complicated than we thought..."
"Eh? Eh?..." Suyass let out a few grunts of confusion before he dared to look Lin Yun in the eyes.
Because Suyass suddenly felt like the young Great Mage in front of him had become quite unfamiliar to him.
He finally understood why Karon had talked to him for such a long time that night and tried to dissuade him from looking for trouble.
At that time, Suyass had thought that Karon was worried he would injure Merlin and draw the ire of the Star Sage, and the resulting punishment from his teacher Nolan.
But now, Suyass understood clearly. Karon was worried about him. He wasn't worried about the aftermath of injuring Merlin, he was worried about him not even being able to harm Merlin...
An esteemed Archmage being unable to injure a 9th Rank Great Mage... Suyass would have never believed Karon if he had directly stated it, but now, Suyass was also convinced.
Because just now, he had seen that 9th Rank Great Mage shooting down the level 25 Alpha Thunderbird. The power he had burst with was simply shocking!
From this alone, Suyass could see that this young Great Mage's true strength far surpassed the bounds of his rank. He hadn't thought that it was to such an extent. In the joint exploration team, only Suyass clearly understood what just happened.
Thunderbirds were spirits of thunder and lightning, and each of their feathers was filled with that power. Especially after reaching level 25, the boundless electrical power within their bloodline would awaken and each feather would be able to turn into lightning. When several hundred such feathers were converted at once, even an Archmage like Suyass would have no choice but to avoid the attack.
But that young Great Mage actually welcomed the lightning as it struck out at him. At that time, Suyass had truly thought that this young Great Mage was finished. But he hadn't expected that in that split second, the young mage would be able to find a small gap within the boundless lightning before rushing through it. When he saw that, Suyass was stunned silly. How terrifying was his control? After all, that young Great Mage wasn't using Flight, he was using an imprecise Magic Tool for that function.
How could Suyass not know the difference between flight granted by a Magic Tool and the Flight spell?
One was a spell crafted from one's own mana and thus completely under the user's control, while the other was the power of a Magic Tool. They were on two different levels. It could be said that a mage that could decently control a Flight Magic Tool could reach the same degree of nimbleness as a flying magic beast when using the Flight spell.
Moreover, Lin Yun's control was far from being merely "decent"...
Suyass had clearly seen him threading the needle and evading all the danger... Even if Suyass himself had been in such a position, he wouldn't have been able to grasp the opportunity to exploit that gap, yet Merlin did while using a Magic Tool.
What kind of concept was that?
This was a level of control Suyass had never imagined.
And then he saw the ball of flames...
If the precise control shown by the young mage had made Suyass feel shocked, then the flames he summoned made him feel dread.
The power of the flames was definitely comparable to that of an Archmage. It gently flowed into the body of the Alpha Thunderbird before exploding, entering from the belly and escaping from its back. In that split second only one thought appeared in Suyass' mind: 'True Spirit Magic Tool, that was definitely a True Spirit Magic Tool.'
Its power was too frightening...
After the fight ended, Suyass asked himself, 'If I were in that bird's position instead, could I survive that blow?'
The conclusion made Suyass dejected. 'I couldn't... I truly couldn't...'
He then thought about what had happened earlier in the camp. If not for Karon's sudden arrival...
Just thinking about it made Suyass feel cold and clammy.
Suyass felt quite dejected. He had thought that he was the strongest member of the entire expedition, so he had always acted as the leader. Even after the four of them got separated from the rest of the group, he kept directing the others around because he truly felt that it was the duty that came with power.
But thinking back on it, Suyass felt his face starting to burn up.
That huge gap made Suyass feel like he had been dancing like a clown. He believed himself to be unbeatable, but in the end, it had all been a joke.
"Sir Suyass!" At this time, the power of the Lava Dominator had been exhausted and Lin Yun had already landed and converged with Lys' group. After exchanging a few simple sentences, he noticed that Suyass was still in the same place, daydreaming, so he tried calling his name.
"Ah..." Lin Yun's shout woke Suyass. He subconsciously shook his head to put this chaotic train of thought to the back of his mind before slowly descending.
When Suyass landed, Lin Yun was already discussing with the others. Everyone had some understanding of the current situation and they were now sharing their ideas and opinions.
"What's going on, Great Mage Merlin..."
"It's like this Sir Suyass..." Lin Yun then repeated information that he had gleaned from Lys earlier.
At first, Suyass still seemed preoccupied with something else, but the more he heard, the more serious his expression became, especially when he heard that Lys' group had already been in this place for three months.
"This is a Time Cage!"
"Indeed..." Lin Yun nodded. He already knew of the Time Cage Suyass had mentioned. It was said that those who reached the peak of the Saint Alchemist realm could use arrays to alter space and time. These kinds of arrays were known as Time Cages.
But Time Cages were already legends. Even 30,000 years in the future, they were barely mentioned in a few books he had seen, so despite his great wealth of knowledge, Lin Yun didn't know the specifics of what a Time Cage truly was.
But everything Lys said was in accordance with the principles of a Time Cage. It was like everyone was locked in a crack in time. This was a gap in the river of time, where the passage of time was completely different from the outside. One year inside might be a day outside, but it was also possible for it to be the other way around.
It might be static, or it might change unpredictably...
In short, anything could happen in a Time Cage.
But why was there a Time Cage at all?
This was the question that Lin Yun truly cared about. After all, a Time Cage wasn't something a Saint Alchemist could casually set up. This was already touching upon the most basic Laws of this world. Without a suitable reason, who would spend a lot of time and resources to set up a Time Cage?
Moreover, Lin Yun knew...
Although the Time Cage had "cage" in its name, it wasn't a true cage. 30,000 years later, Time Cages were also known as Time Barriers. The different time flow made it so that any force used against Time Barriers would dissipate within the river of time. This property made it impossible for external forces to break through from the outside.
Lin Yun clearly remembered that the Shelter Tower's defensive system used a Time Cage as its core.
But the Shelter Tower was covering an entire city, it was Noscent's final hope.
Then... What was this Time Cage protecting?
'Could there be something important buried in this fake Gaugass world?'
"Great Mage Merlin... Great Mage Merlin..." Suyass had been waiting next to him for a response for a long time without saying anything.
"Sorry, I just remembered something."
"Great Mage Merlin, what do you think we should do?"
The others didn't react particularly to Suyass' words, but Solomon and Lys, who both paid attention to details, turned to look closer at Suyass.
Although they weren't as strong as Suyass, they had been in Thousand Sails City for a few dozen years, and they weren't easy to deal with. Hearing Suyass' words, they felt that something was off. Thinking about it carefully, they found that Suyass' attitude was different.
After all, Suyass was an Archmage. Even though he was a lot friendlier after Karon's appearance, he still exuded the pride and aloofness of an Archmage even though he tried to conceal it. It clearly showed when Suyass made a decision; he wouldn't consult with anyone and would act as if following his lead was a matter of course.
Why? Because he was an Archmage.
The world of magic was strict about ranks.
Suyass normally wouldn't have used such a tone and politely asked Mafa Merlin for his advice.
How could this be?
Why did an Archmage like Suyass suddenly act so polite with Merlin?
The two looked at him for a bit before exchanging glances with each other.
"We should walk south..." After saying these words, Lin Yun looked towards the north with a trace of reluctance.
Mountains could be seen spreading through the north for hundreds of kilometers. Lin Yun used his Magic Array to do a simple analysis and found out that 90% of the power of the Time Cage was concentrated among those mountains.
Lin Yun was almost certain that the secret that the Time Cage was protecting was somewhere in that northern mountain range.
Lin Yun remembered that the mountain range in northern Gaugass would shock all of Noscent 10,000 years later.
Unfortunately, Lin Yun knew that when that happened, Archmages were completely annihilated. Even a few of the weaker Heaven Mages fell. With his current strength, he wouldn't have the opportunity to explore that secret.
He could only leave for now.
And the further the better.
"South?" Suyass froze. Lin Yun had needed his Magic Arrays to analyze the place where the power of the Time Cage converged, but that didn't mean that Suyass wouldn't be able to notice anything.
Thus, Suyass was stumped when he heard Lin Yun's words.
"Yeah, let's go south..." Lin Yun didn't explain and only nodded.
Suyass opened his mouth and closed it a few times looking like a fish. But after seeing Lin Yun's expression, the Archmage felt less and less sure. Before now, Suyass might have just insisted on heading north.
But he didn't dare to now.
"Okay..." After a moment of silence, Suyass nodded reluctantly.
After they agreed on the decision, the joint exploration team restarted their journey. They went through the dense forest and followed the Harrison River south. The journey wasn't peaceful, as they would meet some magic beasts from time to time, but now that the group had reunited, they were much more powerful. Some of the weaker magic beasts were crushed instantly, while the more powerful ones only lasted a few attacks.
The trip was more taxing on the mind than on the body.
The Harrison River ended in Nolun, which meant that the Harrison River would eventually lead them out of Gaugass.
But when the party of twenty reached the end of the river, they only saw a gentle light flickering. The surging water was pouring down into the gentle light, not leaking a single drop.
Suyass did a simple magical check before stating, "This is a Teleportation Gate."
But even Suyass didn't know if they should enter this Teleportation Gate.
Even an idiot would know that it was best to avoid entering an unknown Teleportation Gate, because they wouldn't know where it led.
Naturally, the circumstances of the group were a bit special.
At least for the moment, it felt like the Teleportation Gate was the only exit they had. If they walked in, they might be sent to a terrifying place, but if they didn't enter, they would definitely remain in this damned place. It wasn't easy to choose between the two.
"I'll go first." After thinking about it for a while, Lin Yun went in without discussing with the others.
Because Lin Yun knew that even some other accursed place would be better than remaining in a Time Cage. Even if the flow of time seemed normal to them, who would dare guarantee that the flow of time would always remain normal? What if it suddenly sped up a thousand times? They couldn't stay there.
Lin Yun was already prepared for the worst when he entered the Teleportation Gate, so that he wouldn't be surprised even if he stepped into the Abyss.
But, when the surroundings stopped twisting and settled down, Lin Yun found out that he had entered a treasury.
"No way..." Lin Yun was dumbstruck as he looked around. This was simply an alchemy paradise. All kinds of magic materials were piled up like mountains, and even with Lin Yun's knowledge and experience, he was almost blinded on the spot.
'This... Could this be Vaughn's collection?' Suyass suddenly came out of the Teleportation Gate, and when he noticed the magic materials, he had the same shocked expression as Lin Yun.
Of these two, one was from the holy land of alchemy, the Mercury Tower, and had seen countless magic materials throughout his life, while the other one was from 30,000 years in the future, and although he hadn't seen such magic materials with his own eyes, he had read countless illustrated handbooks and references, and the breadth of his knowledge was extremely vast.
It was natural for these two to be so shocked when facing such a collection.
The treasury was ten meters high and at least a kilometer across. It was paved with moonstone and ivory rocks, and over a hundred chests were piled up on both sides. Each of those was filled with more magic materials.
If these magic materials were exchanged for golds, then there would be enough to buy Thousand Sails City ten times over...