The weather of the Merciless Storm Peak was definitely fitting for the name. Perhaps "merciless" was too weak of a word, calamitous energy gathered here. From the ebony colored clouds to the chaotic lightning strikes, not to mention the heavy rain and powerful winds, it was a grim sight.
The lightning of this land had a particular feature, it sought out those with life. Man or beast, so long as there was a heartbeat, the lightning would chase after them. This was why many considered it an execution ground, the most dangerous of the five Continent Marks.
Lao Gan took a few paper talismans from his spatial ring and slapped them onto his backpack. Created from yellow paper and a unique red ink, the characters for "lightning" was written on all of them. Afterwards, he brought out the light trinket from before.
It was a white gem embedded on the top of a wooden rod.
Under his control, the gem shined brightly, illuminating the dark atmosphere. After glimmering for a few seconds, the gem dimmed to a gentle glow.
"I bought these Lightning Ward Talismans and a Staff of Leigong from an auction in the Golden Treasure Kingdom, one of the six great kingdoms. It was a costly purchase but it should come in handy for our needs."
It was true.
With the talismans and the staff, it seemed that the storm wad not targeted them. Every now and then there would be a stroke of lightning that came close to decimating them. Each time, they would be scared out of their wits. Watching as the flashing bolts came and destroyed their surroundings.
Although they've managed to deal with that, there were many other things that hindered them.
Because of the wind and rain, walking through the terrain was rough. Sometimes, they'd come across a slippery slope, holding each other together to keep from falling. The sheer stress that they felt was exhausting, the environment left them wet and ragged. Even though they had cloaks to shield themselves from the weather, it was hard to endure.
After what felt like hours, they found shelter under a short cliff jutting out of the mountain. It was not perfect but provided enough to shield them.
"It's just this damned mountain that's left, then it will be the seafood of the Ying Long Sea."
Lao Gan was battered up and weary, keeping himself optimistic.
Ming Yue was in a similar state, tired and drained but hopeful. Once she crossed the Black peak Mountains, it was ony another day's walk before she reached the Dark Water Kingdom.
However, this final step proved much difficult than she had expected. Despite shielding the others with her Quintessence Energy, it provided no help under the influence of the Merciless Storm Peak. The air was dense and chaotic. Even if she were to use all of her energy, it would not survive more than a few minutes.
She brought out a towel from her spatial ring and began drying Hei Yue's wet fur. Xiao Yin's feathers were in disarray, the two beasts found protection within Ming Yue's rain cloak. If they had not stuck close to each other, both would've been thrown off by the winds.
"I wonder how much time has passed, how much do we have left to walk?"
The clouds above the Merciless Storm Peak covered the sky, blocking the moon. They did not know whether it was day or night.
Resting both their minds and bodies, everyone turned wary from the sounds of foot steps. A figure slowly appeared from the heavy rain, they walked with ease, unaffected by the storm around them.
Emerging from the rain and coming under the small cliff where the others were, Ming Yue and the others saw a masked man, dressed inconspicuously in black. The mask was made of ivory and had no decoration. It was a simple, oval piece that had two slits for eyes, though it was obscured by something.
They could not see this stranger's face in any way but their faces were uncovered.
The man looked at them before lingering on Ming Yue's face. He said nothing and turned away, leaving them and walking off.
Ming Yue noticed his gaze on her, finding something familiar about this mysterious person. She thought hard, trying to remember who it was that this person reminded her of.
The others found him strange but thought little of it. He was only here for a moment and did nothing but look around. Lao Gan was a bit intrigued by this person.
"Perhaps, he is one of those people, someone that is looking to die", he said.
Ming Yue shook her head, believing it was not the case.
"It doesn't seem like he wanted to die, it felt like he was on some sort of mission."
That was what she thought. The gaze she felt was spirited, strong, almost hateful. Someone looking to die would not have such a powerful gaze.
"If that's the case, I wonder what his goal is", Lao Gan rubbed his chin.
They pondered in silence, listening to the sounds of thunder and rain. After a less than decent rest, they continued their walk.
As for that masked figure, he trekked up the Merciless Storm Peak, climbing up steep slopes and braving the dangers. Despite hours of climbing, he did not seem tired in the slightest. Close to the top of the mountain, the masked figure climbed into a giant cave and walked in.
If anyone else was here, they would be shocked beyond belief. Within this cave was a castle hiding in the shadows, it wasn't very large but it was forified with all sorts of formations and enchantments. Thick, gray slabs of stone formed the walls and at the center was a tower that reached to the roof of the cave.
Entering the castle, the man took off his mask and went to the main hall, where he kneeled in front of a hooded figure.
In fact, this hooded figure was none other than Dai Mian, the sect master of the Tao Feng.
As for the masked figure, his face had been tattoed with four black lines coming down his forehead to his chin. However, he seemed incredibly familiar.
"I've returned, master", the masked figure spoke in a cold tone.
"Good, how was it at the Yellow Leaf Sect? Was there anyone useful?" Sect Master Dai Mian rested his chin on his fist, leaning to one side.
"There was no one. The sect master of the Yellow Leaf Sect was quite strong but he is too old."
"Hm, what a shame. Ever since, Grand Elder Huang from Heaven's Gate began hunting us down. We had to rely on the hidden castle to survive, forced to hide and work in secret. The plan for "The Conquest" has been slow, too slow. We need more sacrifices or the true calamity will come. More than that, we need more people to join us."
Sect Master Dai Mian paused to think, before giving new instructions to Zuo Er.
"Go to the southern kingdoms and search the sects there. The Eternal Blade Sect is also there so be wary. Take anyone you deem useful back to me."
The mysterious figure set off immediately, leaving Dai Mian by himself. The Sect Master of the Tao Feng left his hall, walking into the deeper reaches of the castle. He stopped in front of a large stone pit, it was dark and incredibly deep.
Taking off his hood, Dao Mian was a middle aged but a very muscular man. If it wasn't for his pale skin, he would've resembled something of a heroic figure. Long white hair and sharp eyes were the prominent features of his face. He wore a frown, an unhappy expressioin, something akin to an impatient man.
He looked down and into the pit.
It was unlit and standing above it, one would see little. However with enough focus, they would find that the pit was filled with bodies.
Men and women, all of whom were poweful cultivators, had their cold bodies thrown in. No one but Daio Mian knew how deep the pit was, however, there were over a hundred corpses within it. Some were rotting, others were still fresh.
"Far too little", he said, before falling into the pit and bathing in the bodies.
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