Chapter 184: The Strange Tunnel
After staying there for a while, they did not find anything of note. Then the two of them started to head towards another group of miners. Along the way, they did not dare to be careless. If there was any mishap and they got spat on by a Spirit Swallowing Worm, they would be in trouble.
The morning passed in similar fashion, and the tunnel was frighteningly calm. The eighth layers of tunnels were much smaller than Xiao Chen had initially imagined.
The dense lines on the map gave off a menacing appearance, but most of them were actually dead tunnels. They had few places to patrol. In hindsight, this was probably why they only needed two people to patrol this layer.
In fact, in Xiao Chen's opinion, there would not be much of a problem even if the two of them were not here. They only needed to send two of the ten Martial Saints standing guard in the headquarters to do the job. They would be able to easily deal with their work.
The two of them managed to complete their patrol before noon. Following that, they took out their dry rations and took a break.
Mu Xinya was a chatterbox, talking without end. Right as they sat down, she asked, "Senior Brother Ye, do you think there is a pattern to the appearance of the Spirit Swallowing Worms?"
The two of them had discovered some Spirit Swallowing Worms after completing their patrol earlier. The worms quickly fled before they could make a move, leaving them with no choice than to give up their pursuit.
Xiao Chen had not notice any pattern at all. He could not help but ask, "Did you notice any?"
Mu Xinya laughed out loud and said, "This lady is very perceptive! Of course I noticed one. Where do we normally discover the Spirit Swallowing Worms? Is it the places with mining going on or places without?"
Xiao Chen's eyes lit up, as though he had connected something in his brain. From what it seemed like, they never encountered a Spirit Swallowing Worm in areas where the workers were mining.
The Spirit Swallowing Worms were not like the corpses. When those corpses came out, they moved quite slowly, allowing the miners some time to run and seek help. When the worms attacked, they would spit out a few mouthfuls of venomous fluids and kill these miners easily.
It seemed like nothing like this had happened with the Spirit Swallowing Worms before. However, what did this have to do with the pattern of the Spirit Swallowing Worm's appearance?
Mu Xinya sported a cocky smile as she said, "Have you figured it out? Seeing that your face is filled with doubts, you probably have not figured out the key point yet.
"Let me tell you then; the Spirit Swallowing Worm naturally relies on raw ores of Spirit Stone to survive. You have not seen it before, so I can only describe it as your resting time being different from theirs."
Xiao Chen suddenly felt enlightened, and he immediately understood the most important point. He said, "The both of us rest when the miners are also resting. That is to say, when we are resting, the Spirit Swallowing Worms are active."
Mu Xinya nodded, "Actually, you can look at this from another angle. After the Spirit Swallowing Worms start resting, we and the miners come out to do our work. When the Spirit Swallowing Worms become active, we start our rest."
Mu Xinya's words were only flipping Xiao Chen's words upside down. It may seem to mean the same thing, but when examined carefully the emphasis was different.
Xiao Chen was not a fool; he quickly figured out the most important part. The time when the miners and us are at work is not something that is decided casually. Instead, it is the people in charge who decided this using the timing of the Spirit Swallowing Worms' activity.
It was done so that we could avoid the Spirit Swallowing Worms' active hours. However, what is the point of this? The Spirit Swallowing Worms are not strong. If we could gather them together and deal with them all in one go, wouldn't that be better?
Ye Wen once said the greatest enemy in the mines were not the corpses. Instead, it was the Spirit Swallowing Worms that ate the raw ores of Spirit Stone.
Could it be that Ye Wen was lying then? Xiao Chen thought, Could these small Spirit Swallowing Worms be hiding something?
Mu Xinya leaned over in a bizarre manner and said, "Senior Brother Ye, how about we go out tonight and earn some contribution points. I can guarantee that we can obtain at least a hundred points. All we need is one night of time."
This should be the reason why Mu Xinya came back so late last night. Xiao Chen felt excited at the prospect of her suggestion. However, he soon rejected the idea. He said, "These are only your guesses. Don't speak of this again without any evidence."
"But I..." Seeing that Xiao Chen did not believe her, Mu Xinya's cute face turned anxious.
Xiao Chen interrupted her, "Don't say 'but', just complete this one month peacefully. I keep feeling it is not safe here. It is best to not get distracted and avoid getting involved in more problems."
A piercing alarm went off from the mines. The two of their complexions changed. They quickly ended their conversation and rushed towards the origin of the alarm.
Before long, they ran into the fleeing miners. These miners were running with an unsteady gait in panic; it was incredibly strange.
Xiao Chen was surprised, as the low grade corpses should not be very powerful. To think it actually scared the miners to this degree. He quickly looked for the supervisor to question him.
The supervisor said with a pale face, "Sir and Madam, run quickly. I am not sure what we dug out this time. Two mutated corpses appeared at the same time. Half our members died."
Two mutated corpses... Xiao Chen frowned deeply and fell deep in thought. The so-called mutated corpse was the one that Ye Wen had spent a lot of effort to kill the other day.
To think two appeared at the same time today. What in the world did they dig out to attract two at the same time? Could it be a raw ore of Superior Grade Spirit Stones?
Regardless of what they had found, he had to go check out the situation first. He could not simply just take these people's word for it.
It was best to ignore these miners first. Given that such a big thing had happened, it was not realistic to expect them to continue mining.
Xiao Chen took out the map and obtained the exact location first before leading Mu Xinya over. They quickly rushed over; as they did so, he extended his Spiritual Sense outwards with all he had. It covered a radius of around two hundred meters around him.
"Stop!" The rapidly advancing Xiao Chen suddenly stretched out his hand to signal for Mu Xinya to stop. He took out the map and checked how far away they were. He determined their distance to be only 600 meters away.
Six hundred meters... To a Martial Saint, it would only require a few breaths of time.
The strength of the mutated corpse was conservatively estimated to be about that of an Inferior Grade Martial Saint. Xiao Chen did not dare to be careless. If he rushed in recklessly, he might accidentally lose his life.
Xiao Chen turned his Spiritual Sense into a thin thread and extended it forward slowly.
After a while, Xiao Chen could see the scene of the incident. The area was in complete disorder, and the corpses of miners were strewn about; their hearts had all been gouged out from their chests.
The ground was covered in blood. Xiao Chen's Spiritual Sense circled around, but he could not find the whereabouts of the two mutated corpses.
That's strange, where did the man-eating corpses go? Xiao Chen thought with suspicion. He used his Spiritual Sense to search the surroundings carefully, but he had yet to find them.
After repeatedly double-checking, Xiao Chen felt secure enough to bring Mu Xinya with him to the location of the object the miners claimed to have dug up.
This was the first time she had seen so many miners expire. Mu Xinya revealed an unsightly expression on her face at the sight. Xiao Chen patted her on the shoulder when he saw her reaction. He consoled her, "Don't overthink it. This is unavoidable. Before they came here, they signed a life-or-death contract. If they die, their family will receive a large compensation.
"To them, there is no regret doing this. From the moment they signed the life-or-death contract, they had already put their lives on the line."
Mu Xinya's expression remained a rictus of horror, but she eventually forced herself to smile, "I know... Let's quickly find the thing they dug up!"
The two of them started searching every nook and cranny. Before their arrival to the scene, Xiao Chen had already used his Spiritual Sense to sweep through the area many times, but he came up with nothing. Now that he was here in person, he launched a more thorough search. However, he was still unable to find it.
Could the supervisor have been lying? Or did the two corpses dig out that thing after killing the miners?
Comparing the two options, Xiao Chen was rather convinced of the former. Because if the latter was true, then it meant that these two mutated corpses had already developed an elementary amount of spiritual intelligence.
If that was true, then this was an extremely horrifying thing. Compared to a corpse that fought solely on instinct, a corpse with spiritual intelligence was far stronger and much harder to deal with.
If these two corpses continued hiding for a long time and cultivated within this mine in the interim, they might progress their cultivation to a terrifying degree, evolving into something like a corpse king. Xiao Chen shivered just thinking about it.
"Stop looking for it, it is clear the two corpses have taken the thing away," Xiao Chen said slowly. Although he prayed for the otherwise, given the situation, the truth was obvious.
It was impossible for the supervisor to have lied to him, because he had no way to get out of this mine layer. If the supervisor did lie to him, he would be immediately punished once it was discovered. He would only do so if he was tired of living.
After Xiao Chen spoke, he quickly led Mu Xinya over to the headquarters. Given such a big thing had happened, it would no longer be something the two of them could solve.
They saw Ye Wen in the headquarters. Xiao Chen informed Ye Wen of the events that happened in detail. Ye Wen frowned heavily and said, "Where did the surviving miners go to?"
Xiao Chen answered, "Given that such a major incident has happened, I let them go have a rest."
"Go to the common dormitories and bring the supervisors here to meet me," Ye Wen turned around and instructed a person. Then he said to the two of them, "Accompany me to the scene of the incident."
Running back and forth was something anyone would be displeased at repeatedly doing. However, Xiao Chen could only endure. They brought Ye Wen to the scene of the incident.
After they arrived, Ye Wen started inspecting the place quietly. After a while, the person Ye Wen instructed to fetch the supervisors ran over anxiously.
"Elder Ye, I did not find this group of people in the common dormitories. Furthermore, the miners who were resting today have not seen them, and the miners in the other areas have not seen anyone either. I even searched around myself and could not find them. This group of people seems to have vanished."
Xiao Chen was shocked. He said in a hoarse voice, "How could it be!"
How could they have vanished? Mu Xinya and I clearly saw them earlier! Furthermore, it was a large group of miners, Xiao Chen thought to himself, deeply suspicious.
Mu Xinya at the side also found it strange. "That is impossible, we saw at least twenty miners. Furthermore, the supervisor even spoke to us. How did they disappear?"
Ye Wen muttered to himself for a while before saying, "I will send someone to investigate. You two continue patrolling."