"My strength?" asked Ming Yue.
"Yes, although you will be coming with us. We have to know the limits of your strength to determine what sort of equipment we must bring to keep you safe. As you know, the gravesite contains the corpses of dragons and so the pressure exerted by their bodies will be difficult to withstand without proper preparation."
As the Long siblings spoke, they brought out four ivory flags.
"These flags will simulate the environment there and under its influence we will determine how well you will persist when we get to the gravesite."
"I see. We should start then."
The two then put their hands forward, stopping Ming Yue.
"Wait, we will not be doing it here but at the Heaven Earth Platform. This place is much to valuable to do it here. Please follow us."
Ming Yue found the pair quite strange but nonetheless saw them as another one of the many eccentrics. WIth the Grand Researcher follwing them from behind, they headed to the Heaven Earth Platform, finding an empty space to set up the ivory flags.
"Please", the pair finished and allowed Ming Yue to enter this formation.
"There are 10 levels to this formation, each one represents the areas that we have traveled through. Of course, we will be starting at the first level."
Ming Yue nodded, showing her readiness.
Standing by idly, she waited for the formation to activate. With Long Wei and Long Wang on either side, they made several hand symbols and turned it on.
"This is the first level."
Ming Yue felt slight pressure but it was nothing to be distressed about.
At the second level, the pressure increased. At the third, there were traces of dragon energy. At the fourth, the dragon energy had become much thicker. By the fifth, Ming Yue was struggling to stand up as the dense dragon energy weighed on her.
It was certainly an experience. Dragon energy was much more than mere pressure but carried an aura of awe. Even if she couldn't see it, she could feel a sense of inferiority like she was below that of a dragon. It did not attack just her body but her soul and mind, filling it with instinctual veneration.
"This is the fifth level, can you go on?" the pair asked.
MIng Yue nodded, though her body was shaking under the pressure.
"Are you sure? At this level, you are already fit enough to enter the depths of the gravesite. You do not need to go further", Grand Researcher Ou looked concerned over Ming Yue. She did not want her to push herself when the expedition would happen in a few weeks.
Ming Yue only nodded, signalling that she wanted to go further.
At the sixth level, the shadow of a dragon head began to appear as the dragon energy grew stronger. All of her senses were assaulted under the pressure but she still held on. The Eternal Heart Ring glimmered and glowed, fueling her body and lessening the burden on her entire being. If it weren't for that, she would've been in a much worse state.
The Long siblings looked at her in both surprise and approval, they did not think that she could hold on for so long as even they would have trouble. Though, considering that they were researchers and not fighters, their cultivation meant little in terms of physical strength.
"This is the seventh level", changing their hand signs as they spoke.
The dragon head fully materialized as the energy had exploded in power. The oppressive aura pushed Ming Yue down onto her hands and knees, it felt as if she had to prostrate herself in front of this dragon head.
At that moment, the ivory formation deactivated and the dragon head disappeared.
Ming Yue gasped for air as she struggled to stand up. That feeling of awe that the dragon head gave off was still ingrained in her mind. It wasn't something she could forget so easily.
"Are you okay?" asked Grand Researcher Ou, who approached her as the Long siblings picked up the four ivory flags and placed them into their spatial ring.
"Yes, I'm alright, just a bit drained", Ming Yue recovered and with the help of the Eternal Heart Ring, she recovered quite quickly.
"It seems that we should not have to worry too much. We will meet at the main teleportation channel in three weeks to get to the docks at the north of the kingdom. Do prepare well for this journey as we will be at sea for around a month, farewell."
"Grand Researcher, We bid our farewell."
Having cleaned it all up, the Long siblings said their goodbyes and left the platform, going back to their department.
Ming Yue wiped her head of her sweat as she thought about what she had just experienced.
"Are you regretting it?" asked the Grand Researcher.
"No, I had expected something like this for a place that contains the corpses of ancient dragons and old heroes. Besides, this is something I've decided for myself, I won't give up so easily. This experience has only shown me what I should expect when we are at the gravesite."
"Hm, your spirit is commendable. Let's make the most of our time before the expedition, I will also be telling you a bit more about it."
Ming Yue nodded and left with the Grand Researcher. Apart from her time spent at the Research District, Ming Yue wasted no time and focused on improving her use of Mental Force as well as the Sword Path.
Throughout the weeks, Ming Yue had made several trips to the Craftmen's District for the three elders as her sword did not have a gem inserted yet. Despite that time and the massive inventory thta Zhang Guang had, there was no gem that worked well with Drifting Sky. Certainly they worked but something about it made it feel incomplete.
Zhang Guang could only scratch his bald head and go back to the drawing board.
"This isn't quite right", he would say before delving back into his warehouses.
Time went by quickly and soon enough, the day came for Ming Yue embark on this expedition. As she could only come by herself, she left Hei Yue and Xiao Yin in the care of Zhi Qing and the Grand Researcher.
Though the pair were sad that they could not come, they had grown accustomed to Zhi Qing as her child-like appearance and naivety made her comfortable to be around.
Ming Yue packed the things she needed for this trip, extra clothes and other necessities for this long trip. She made her way to the transportation channel that the Long siblings had spoke about. She arrived at the central building of Dark Water City and entered the main hall. Upon reaching the transportation circle, she found that everyone except the Long siblings were already here.
Most of them wore the same red and gold robes as them thought it was not as lavish. At the same time, they had heavy backpacks lying on the ground next to them, filled with all sorts of equipment.
She looked around and studied them all finding that their cultivations had varied along the spectrum of the Earth Realm though a majority of them were at the Perception Stage, just one stage above of her.
When she arrived, they glanced at her before returning to their own activities, talking with each other or inspecting their equipment. Considering their behavior, it seems that they had been told of the her addition to the group. Though they didn't necessarily look down on her, they did not feel a need to greet her or show much respect.
MIng Yue was not bothered by this. After all, she was an outsider and only here to see the gravesite.
Minutes later, the Long siblings arrived and every stood up straight. Unlike the others, they did not have large backpacks, most likely it was all in their spatial rings.
"It looks like everyone has been accounted for. Let us depart."
Everyone else put on their backpacks and walked on to the carved circle on the ground.
One of the siblings, Long Wang, took out a staff from her ring and pressed it into the center of the circle, activating it and disappearing on the spot.
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