Chapter 605: The Other Side of the Scheme
Translator: flycrane01 Editor: Millman97
While Li Yao was deep in thought, he suddenly heard a tiny ‘crack’ sound. A black tile in a corner of the temple suddenly lowered, revealing steps leading to the underground.
Then, a black shadow dashed out and appeared on the ground!
It was a barbaric warrior wearing bone armor, ear rings, and nose rings, with tattoos all over his face.
Yet, the brightness of evilness and wisdom that was glittering in his eyes did not befit an unclever primitive barbarian at all.
Also, he had dashed out extremely fast just now, almost as quick as a phantom. There was no telling how much stronger he was than the real barbarians outside!
The moment the man dashed out, on the black wall, a slender shadow slowly condensed and gradually formed into a man.
The man was wearing qi-trainer armor, with the battle emblem of the Burning Sun Tribe on his chest. However, his behavior was mysterious, and his face was gloomy. The air around him was entirely different from that near the wild, casual Iron Plateau natives.
Li Yao felt that cold sweat on the back of his neck.
The first person had come out too suddenly, and he couldn’t have foreseen him coming. But the expert hiding beside the wall had escaped his attention the whole time!
Thankfully, he was merely exploring the temple with Neltharion and kept the magical equipment sliding at the lowest speed and altitude in stealth mode.
If he had snuck into the temple in person, the expert next to the wall would’ve discovered him immediately!
Judging from the perfectness of his disguises and the first person’s agility when he dashed out from the underground, the two of them were very likely above the high level of the Building Foundation Stage and were good at the arts of disguise and assassination.
One of the two was dressing like an Oasis Tribe warrior, while the other was dressing like a qi-trainer of the Burning Sun Tribe. However, they were apparently very familiar with each other. They nodded in greeting and exchanged a thoughtful look.
The man next to the wall said, “Change of plans. The six tribes of Iron Plateau will be delayed for two days. Carry out Plan No.4.”
The barbaric warrior from the underground nodded and left the temple. The entrance on the ground was sealed again.
The man next to the wall hopped backwards into darkness, melting into the wall.
Li Yao was even more cautious. He was literally moving Neltharion inch by inch.
Something had to be hidden underground, but the entrance was closed, and an enemy was monitoring the surroundings from the outside. What should he do?
Suddenly, Li Yao thought of something. He drove Neltharion out of the temple from the same way he’d come in.
If there was a secret chamber below ground, ventilation tubes leading to the surface of the earth were always necessary to retrieve fresh air.
Li Yao circled the temple patiently with Neltharion and examined every detail. As he expected, he found an inconspicuous crevice on the left side of the temple near the foot of the cliff.
Air was popping out of the crevice now and then. Neltharion had detected that the temperature of the air was slightly higher than that of the environment.
The narrow and long crevice was only the width of a palm. There was no way that a normal person could cram in. If somebody were to detonate it, their attempt was bound to be discovered.
However, Neltharion was exactly the width of a palm, and therefore could crawl into the crevice easily.
After zigzagging inside the crevice for a long time, traces of man-made objects were finally exposed. A ventilation tube had been buried deep inside the crevice.
Neltharion moved downward in the ventilation tube for three minutes in stealth mode until it met dozens of branches ahead.
It appeared that the scale of the secret chamber was larger than Li Yao had thought.
He chose a branch randomly. It was not until Neltharion reached fifty meters below the ground that it entered a narrow pathway.
The pathway was absolutely straight with no places to hide in at all. There were a few guards in the clothes of the Oasis Tribe warriors on both sides. Those people looked equally shrewd and tough, and in no way did they resemble the ignorant barbarians.
Li Yao held his breath and controlled Neltharion to move forward along the foot of the wall. At the end of the pathway was a heavy iron door behind which cries and shouts could vaguely be heard.
In the lower part of the iron door was a hole not very large that was probably meant to deliver food and water to the prisoners inside. Neltharion crept into the room through the hole.
Li Yao was greatly surprised by what he saw.
This was an extremely spacious cage where almost twenty prisoners were confined. They were all young people in their twenties at most.
Most of the young people had fair skin and elegant manners, entirely different from the style of the Iron Plateau natives.
Some girls were sobbing. Some young men were arguing with each other. Some were listening to the noises nearby by sticking their ears to the wall, while some were comforting their weeping companions even though there was nothing but gloom on their own faces.
Li Yao observed the young people one by one with Neltharion, only to come to a suddenly halt.
He found an old acquaintance among the young people— Xie Anan!
Xie Anan was a freshmen year student in the Refining Department of Flying Star University and also one of the volunteers in the Skyhill Sword Seminar. When Li Yao applied for the Skyhill Sword Seminar, he had registered at her desk.
When he arrived in the Skyhill Domain, the two of them had met by accident in the Museum of Swords and Sabers. Later, he had gotten to know a few other fellow Cultivators in the circle of refiners through Xie Anan and had taken part in the ‘Sword Tasting Get Together’ with them.
After that, when she saw that Li Yao trained with the Purple Ring Sword Ants, she had tried it herself, only to foam and pass out due to the excruciating pain. She had left a deep impression on Li Yao.
How on earth was she captured and brought to Iron Plateau?
Li Yao tried his best to hold back his curiosity and observed carefully.
Xie Anan was much thinner than a few months ago. Her round, apple-like face had become long and thin. She looked much more mature, too, with resolution on her face.
She was comforting one of her female companions who kept sobbing. “Rest assured. The sound of combat is breaking out in the outside. Somebody must’ve come to rescue us!”
After pondering for a moment and scanning the environment in the cage, Li Yao found no alternatives except to gamble.
He drove Neltharion to pass through the crowd cautiously and arrived behind Xie Anan. He then touched her back with the head of the warship model softly three times.
Xie Anan’s eyes were wide open. She turned around and check, only to find nothing.
Li Yao pinned Neltharion’s head to Xie Anan’s body and wrote on her back. “Don’t be alarmed.”
Xie Anan blinked her eyes. She managed to not scream although it was quite hard.
Controlling Neltharion, Li Yao wrote again. “Go to the bathroom.”
The cage was mixed with males and females. There was a booth in a corner that was some sort of bathroom. It had no door, but there was a curtain that could block the vision from outside.
Xie Anan swallowed troublesomely. She said a few more comforting words to her companion before she walked into the bathroom and pulled the curtain shut.
Li Yao wrote on her back. “Who are you? Why are you here? Speak in your lowest voice.”
After he finished writing, he immediately drove Neltharion to Xie Anan’s mouth.
Xie Anan rubbed her face hard to calm herself down. She held her face with her hands. A barely audible voice leaked out from between her fingers. “My name is Xie Anan. I am a student of Flying Star University. Who are you? Are you here to rescue us?”
Neltharion flew to her back again and started writing. “Keep talking. Don’t stop. Tell me everything you know, including everyone’s identity.”
Xie Anan swallowed and moaned, “I… I barely know anything! As a freshman year student of the Refining Department of Flying Star University, I was listed as a volunteer of the Skyhill Sword Seminar according to tradition, but then a great explosion took place during the event!
“The Skyhill Domain was in a havoc back then. Affected by the blast, my head was dizzy. I only vaguely remember that, in the flames, a man in a doctor’s uniform asked me whether or not I was a student of Flying Star University. I nodded, and he brought me to an ambulance. I don’t know what happened next.
“When I woke up again, I found myself in what seemed to be a carrier and confined in a fully enclosed cabin. My hands and legs were sore, and my spiritual root was locked by certain barriers. I couldn’t make use of spiritual energy at all and became completely useless.
“Somebody brought me food and water every day. Occasionally, several people wearing masks would come and interrogate me. They wanted to know who I was and the social network of my family and friends. Now and then, they would bring a few photos over and asked whether or not I knew people on the photos.
“Many of the people were my classmates. Some were the big shots in Heavenly Saints Institute.
“I… I didn’t want to tell them, but their eyes seemed to be shining and glittering. Without me knowing it, I’d confessed everything.”
Li Yao nodded. The interrogators would have been Meditation Healers who were adept at mental attacks. It would have been more than easy for them to deal with a low-level Cultivator who was no better than an ordinary person now that her spiritual root had been locked.
Xie Anan continued. “I found myself in many different carriers on my way, but I didn’t know when the changes took place. I often slept very soundly, and when I woke up, I would be in a different cabin. Just like that, I was all by myself. I didn’t even know how many days it had been since I was captured.
“Until… about five days, or ten days—I really can’t tell—ago, I lost consciousness again. When I woke up, I already in this cage.
“There were already eleven people in the cage when I arrived. Eight more came one by one later. Together with me, there are twenty hostages in total now.
“I know almost everyone here. Some of them were exactly the people I saw in the photos. Anyways, they are either students of Flying Star University or students of Heavenly Saints Institute.”
Li Yao narrowed his eyes. Flying Star University and Heavenly Saints Institute were the two supreme academic establishments in the Flying Star Sector. Students of the two colleges were literally superstars of tomorrow. They enjoyed a high status both in the world of Cultivators and among ordinary people.
Neltharion went on to write on Xie Anan’s back. “What else do they have in common except that they are all college students?”
Xie Anan thought carefully for a moment and said, “Yes. Although everyone here cannot wield our spiritual energy because they’ve locked our spiritual roots, they do not forbid us from talking. After communicating with each other, we found that many of us have impressive familial backgrounds.
“Of the twenty prisoners, twelve are students of the Heavenly Saints Institute. Heavenly Saints Institute is a private school that only admits the descendants of the privileged in Heavenly Saints City.
“For the twelve of them, many of their parents and grandparents are all in the important posts of the six major sects. There’s even Wan Hongying, who is the blood granddaughter of the leader of the Burning Sun Alliance!”
Blood granddaughter of the leader of the Burning Sun Alliance, one of the six major sects in Heavenly Saints City!
Li Yao felt that his blood was freezing.
Xie Anan continued. “As for the eight students from Flying Star University, although our backgrounds are less intimidating, our families are deeply connected to many forces in the Flying Star Sector. We are either heirs of noble families or have family members who are in the important positions of certain sects. Take me for example. I am from the family of Xie, a noble family of refining, but I’m the most insignificant one here.”
Twenty heirs of major sects and families as well as brilliant students of the best colleges in the Flying Star Sector had been kidnapped and confined in Iron Plateau.