GDK 651: Mischief in the dark
Gilbert was fortunate to have left ahead of time, otherwise, he would surely have suffered the same fate as his grandfather. It was also because of Gilbert’s lucky escape that Han Shuo managed to learn the path to the third layer of the underground world.
With Han Shuo leading the way, Donna and the party followed behind him in silence. They all had strange looks on their faces and simply stared at Han Shuo bemused.
The party of experts from the high-level material planes had grown rather interested in Han Shuo as they were surprised that a lowgod from such a low-level material plane could perform something so miraculous.
Li Wei, who had been crafty all along the way, made endless indirect inquiries at Han Shuo, trying to pry out some clues from him. She had suddenly shown great interest in Han Shuo. However, with the dark dragons massacred, Han Shuo was in a terrible mood and did not respond to her at all. He wore a straight face and kept his mouth shut no matter how many questions she asked.
Later when Li Wei finally lost interest, she stopped her relentless nagging around Han Shuo and went to Donna to exchange whispers. They would cast puzzled gazes towards Han Shuo from time to time. It was apparent that the topic of their discussion was related to Han Shuo.
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After the Brook brothers recovered from their astonishment, their gazes towards Han Shuo still carried a thin trace of hostility. Perhaps these spoiled youngsters were not happy to see the two ladies show so much interest in Han Shuo.
Along the way, Han Shuo slowly readjusted himself. He managed to regain his calmness after a while. In the Nine Changes realm, Han Shuo’s control over his heart and mind had significantly improved. Gilbert's chance escape from the calamity also contributed to the rapid recovery.
In accordance with the information provided by Gilbert, Han Shuo led the five experts around the countless dangers found in the second layer of the underground world. They headed towards a dark and damp region.
On this layer of the underground world, aside from the former dark dragons, there lived many super-ranked magical beasts with advanced intelligence. All along the way, not a single super-ranked magical beast dared approach them as they sensed the abnormality in the space around them.
As they ventured deeper and got closer to the secret path, Han Shuo discovered that there was no longer any presence of life around them. After they entered a narrow ravine with humid air, there were no more glowing stones above their heads that would illuminate their surroundings.
Han Shuo, who had been moving forward rapidly, suddenly slowed down his pace. Those following behind him immediately adjusted their paces to match Han Shuo’s.
“Is there something wrong?” Donna stepped forward and asked in a whisper.
“We are near our destination. Those from the Shrine of Ice must be ahead of us. I think we need to be vigilant from this point onwards, lest we step into their ambush,” Han Shuo replied without turning around. He was focused only on his surroundings and was carefully advancing forward.
“Everyone be careful!” Donna immediately understood Han Shuo’s words and hastily instructed the rest of them sternly.
“What are you so afraid of? Eriksson and his party had slaughtered the entire race of dark dragons. Perhaps they are thinking that we won’t find the way in!” Bolten said as he trudged along. He didn’t appear worried at all.
“Yeah, don’t get all stirred up over nothing. They would've surely rushed inside. Why would they waste any time in mounting any sneak attack against us?” Li Wei agreed. She was rather annoyed that Han Shuo had completely ignored her on the way here.
“The three of you, get behind!” Donna, as the leader, instructed at this critical moment.
When Li Wei, Bolten, and Bowen dared not to rebuke Donna’s orders. They slowed down their paces and followed behind Donna, Han Shuo, and Colbert.
Donna and Han Shuo were at the front, marching ahead shoulder to shoulder. Behind them was Li Wei. Colbert was beside but slightly behind Li Wei. At the rear of the party were the Brook brothers.
“You need to be careful as well. Those fellas might not try to ambush us, but they likely will deploy some hidden seals and boundaries. Kaiser and Eriksson are midgods. Traps that they deploy aren’t ones that you’d want to fall into,” Donna softly said to Han Shuo with her slender brows gently creased.
The two were walking in close proximity, so close that Han Shuo could even sniff her faint but sweet fragrance, which was similar to the scent of orchids. It was a delight to his olfactory. However, at such moments, Han Shuo did not let his thoughts wander. His attention was fully gathered on observing the environment.
Suddenly, Donna reached out with one hand and grabbed at Han Shuo’s right arm. She forcibly pulled Han Shuo back from stepping forward.
Han Shuo staggered. He quickly turned his head to look at Donna with puzzled eyes.
“Don’t take another step. That fella has sure enough deployed traps just in case we found the path. They certainly were at an advantage by being ahead of us!” Donna lightly shouted. She hinted Han Shuo to take a few steps backward. To proceed, she extended a hand forward with her palm facing outwards. Absolute darkness suddenly enveloped the entire ravine.
Han Shuo couldn’t see what was going on in the surroundings with his naked eyes. But with his other senses, he detected that the temperature on the ground where he was about to step had abruptly dropped to absolute zero. It appeared that a boundary of water deployed by Eriksson was triggered.
The absolute darkness dispersed as quickly as it emerged. In just an instant, the ravine returned to normal.
“Alright. For the remaining journey, you will tell me the directions and I will take the lead,” Donna gave Han Shuo a sweet smile and walked ahead of him.
“Ok!” With the experience of nearly walking into Eriksson’s trap, and recognizing that Donna had superior strength and was therefore a better expert in this aspect, he immediately agreed to the suggestion.
Han Shuo later noticed that Donna was holding a crystal compass that was covered with magical symbols. She would point the crystal compass around as she stepped forward. She seemed to be measuring something using the instrument.
Donna did not turn her head around but she seemed to have noticed Han Shuo’s interest in the crystal compass. As she continued marching forward, she explained to Han Shuo, “This crystal compass in my hand is a device for detecting elemental energy. It can detect fluctuations of elemental energy within a certain range. Many seals and boundaries require the use of elemental energy, which always results in fluctuation. With this crystal compass, I can detect dangers concealed in the surroundings.”
“Sure comes in handy,” Han Shuo replied softly.
“Hmph, unenlightened one, you have no idea just how valuable this crystal compass is!” Li Wei said disdainfully.
Han Shuo was too lazy to quarrel with her. He silently followed behind Donna without even turning to look at Li Wei.
“This crystal compass is indeed very valuable. It is made of very rare materials and there aren’t many who know how to make one,” Donna said smilingly while keeping her focus forward.
Han Shuo and his party were only several thousand meters from the entrance to the third layer of the underground world but they were very careful in their approach. Thanks to Donna’s crystal compass, they managed to find three more traps deployed by Kaiser and Eriksson within that short distance.
After half an hour, those gods finally arrived at the entrance.
The secret entrance was in fact a cave mouth covered by a dense layer of vines. Without knowing the specific location, one would have great difficulty in finding out that there was a cave mouth behind the dense layer of vine that connected to the last layer of the underground world.
Upon arrival, Han Shuo made a slight observation and noticed that some of the vines had been snapped off. He guessed that Eriksson and his party must have entered the cave ahead of them.
“It’s right here. See if there are any traps at the entrance,” Han Shuo pointed at the cave mouth and said to Donna.
Donna scanned the area with her crystal compass and explained to Han Shuo, “Nope. They didn’t place any trap at the entrance probably because they don’t want us to find out the location of the entrance through the trap.”
Han Shuo immediately pushed the vines aside, revealing the cave that seemed to be bottomless.
Han Shuo turned around to glance at the party and indicated them to follow suit before he stepped into the cave.
“The last person that enters the cave, make sure to put the vines back in place!” Donna instructed before her lovable figure shot into the cave.
Bolten and Bowen went into the cave right after with Li Wei closely following behind them. Colbert deliberately entered the cave last and meticulously returned the vines back in place.
The moment that the dense layer of vine sealed off the cave mouth, the already dim cavern immediately turned pitch-dark.
In this lightless cave, only Donna and Han Shuo who cultivated in the elemental energy of darkness and the miraculous demonic arts respectively could clearly see their surroundings without any external light source.
Donna, who was holding the crystal compass in her hand, suddenly looked at it in astonishment. As Han Shuo was just behind her, he noticed an indicator on the crystal compass jittering off the scale. He immediately froze every muscle on his body.
Sure enough, Donna suddenly warned, “There is a boundary of light deployed by Kaiser right ahead. As the cave is impossibly narrow, I worry that getting rid of the trap will cause the cave to collapse and block our way forward. We will have to walk past it in darkness. Do not use any illumination devices. Even a single ray of light will trigger that boundary.”
At her words, those who were about to withdraw their illumination devices to light up the path immediately stopped what they were doing. They carefully advanced forward in complete darkness.
Han Shuo turned around and shot a glance. He discovered that in this kind of complete darkness, except for Donna, the rest of the party had their sights affected. They all appear disorientated and advanced cautiously.
“Don’t worry about it too much. As long as there is no light, the boundary will not be triggered. Right, just walk forward and try not to get tripped by rocks,” Donna couldn’t help but advise when she saw her party become overly cautious.
“Oi, you ahead, don’t block the path,” Li Wei who was following behind Han Shuo deliberately said.
When Han Shuo saw Li Wei continue to behave obnoxiously towards him even as she was disorientated and trying to feel her way in the dark, he laughed grimly in his heart. He moved to the side and, with his feet, pushed a decently sized stone right before Li Wei’s foot.
In the complete darkness without a trace of light and unable to see, there was no way that the disadvantaged Li Wei would escape Han Shuo’s mischief. Every few steps, she would surely trip over a stone in her path. Flustered by the constant staggering, she cursed in a low voice, “Ugh, why are there so many stones in the way!”
The others walking behind Li Wei would more often than not repeat the same misfortune after Li Wei. They would stagger and stumble every few steps, forcing them to swear throughout the trek.
Donna, who was walking right ahead of them, was baffled to hear those behind her curse and swear. All along the way, although there indeed were stones around them, most of the stones were on the sides. Logically speaking, they shouldn’t have tripped so frequently.
Wondering what was wrong, Donna turned around for a glance. She discovered that Han Shuo walking behind her had a composed look and displayed not a trace of disorientation. Then, as she carefully observed, Donna saw that ridiculing smile on Han Shuo’s lips. She immediately understood what was happening.
In fact, Han Shuo did not try to conceal it from Donna. When he saw Donna turn around in bewilderment, he even grinned at her - that smirk that one would make after pulling a successful prank.
Donna immediately came to her senses and shook her head with a grin. She inwardly thought that Han Shuo had sure gotten his retaliation against Li Wei and the rest. Mischief as petty as placing stumbling rocks in their paths wouldn’t cause them any real damage. Donna thought that it wasn’t outrageous to let them taste a little pain. She may as well have even tacitly approved of Han Shuo’s actions.
Suddenly, a realization struck Donna. She herself cultivated in the elemental energy of darkness and it was perfectly normal that she could see in the dark. But how was it that Han Shuo could do the same? As if it were even possible to, Donna grew even more curious towards Han Shuo.
Noting Donna's approval of his actions, Han Shuo grew even more brazen. With a malicious smile on his face, he placed even more stumbling rocks in their path, causing them to wail and whine in utter misery!
“Eh? Bryan, how is it that you are doing just fine?” Bolten suddenly cried out when he discovered the abnormality.
“I don’t get tripped less than you do, but they feel more like tickles to me, not painful enough for me to make so much noise,” Han Shuo replied. As he walked, he turned around to shoot a glance at them with a big smile.
“Ouch!” Han Shuo stumbled and even subconsciously gave a light cry. He became embarrassed when he recalled what he had said just a second ago.
“Hehe! Who is it that cried out in pain just now? Did I hear that right?” Li Wei obviously heard that soft cry from Han Shuo and immediately ridiculed him. With that, the youngsters put down their suspicions that it was Han Shuo who was giving them hell.
Han Shuo, who managed to humiliate himself, was rather puzzled. I’m sure I didn’t see any rock in front of me, how did I stumble over one?
A thought crossed his mind. He raised his head to look at Donna who was walking ahead of him. When turning a corner, with a side of her face visible, Han Shuo discovered that the corner of her lips slightly was pursed up to make a smile one would make after succeeding in a prank.
Han Shuo was at a loss for words. He did not expect Donna who appeared to be serious and dignified was actually one who would pull a prank on others. Han Shuo was left between laughter and tears.