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Following Lord Long Zhiming through the dark unknown, Zhang kept a constant eye on his surroundings. Although he couldn't be completely sure if something was amiss or not, a sense of unease had arisen within him.
“If he is plotting something then it won't be long before all hell breaks loose.” Zhang said to his wives through his divine sense.
“I don't think it's whether or not he is plotting something, he is definitely plotting something. Instead of sending his subordinates to contest for the painting, he simply stood back and watched. As if he did not wish for anymore conflict to ensue. For the most part, he has been ushering everyone forward as if he was afraid that we would change our minds, give up on the supposed inheritance and leave.” Ling stated as she looked at Lord Long Zhiming with eyes full of suspicion.
“I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed it or not but some of these pillars have runes inscribed onto them. From what I can tell we may be walking within a massive sealing array.” Yuying said to the others through her divine sense.
“Are you sure it’s not the same array that cloaks the entire island so that the severed souls can roam free?” Zhang asked.
“Perhaps cloaking the island is a mere after-effect of this formation but its main purpose should be to keep something or someone leaving the island.” Yuying replied.
“What could possibly be sealed here? Wasn't this place supposed to be the tomb of the founder of the Dragon God Palace?” Lingqi asked in a slightly confused tone as her voice was projected into the minds of the others.
“Maybe all of the rumors regarding the inheritance were simply made up and instead of being pieces of a treasure map the pieces of the fake Ascending Beauty Painting were actually keys to a prison.” Zhang said.
“Someone or something that a half-deity level expert wished to keep locked away even after his death… We can only image what is being kept here.” Lingqi said with a hint of anxiousness in her voice.
“Whatever gets in our way will get the living daylights punched out of them, nothing to worry about.” Ai with a chuckle in a carefree manner.
“Silly girl.” Yuying said through her divine sense while playfully ruffling Ai’s hair.
“I'll prepare the Black Thorn Coral and the wyvern for use in case things get out of hand.” Yuying said as a large pair of gates situated not too far ahead came into view.
Towering roughly thirty feet high and stretching about twenty feet across with two massive lifelike stone dragons and hundreds of runes carved into each gate, only the word awe-inspiring could be used to describe what stood in front of the group.
Compared to the many gaudy gates lined with gold and jewels that Zhang had encountered before, the pair of gates in front erect in front of him could be considered in a league of its own.
As the group approached the pair of massive gates Zhang noticed that there was actually a tiny piece missing from one of the stone doors. Appearing as if someone had taken a sword and slice off a triangular corner of the gate, a path that was large enough for a person to walk through was cut directly through the stone gate.
“Someone must have been here before us.” Zhang concluded with a single glance. The cut in the stone gate was too precise and clean to have occurred naturally, leaving few plausible possibilities behind for one to pick from.
Not long after Zhang's came to his conclusion many of the other saints did the same. As a storm of questions stirred in everyone’s mind, a foreboding sense of unease began to seep into their hearts.
“Aren’t we supposed to be the first ones to arrive here in hundreds of years?” Someone asked while pointing at the opening in the stone gate as their sense of unease overcame them.
“We should stop our advance, for now, there have been simply too many odd occurrences for me to continue on with confidence.” Someone else said as a murmur enveloped the group. Voicing their opinions and slowing their pace, everyone sought answers and strived to relieve themselves of the chaos that was consuming them from within.
“I concur, before all of these questions that are plaguing have been answered I will not set a single step from this very spot. Nor will I risk blindly placing my people in harm’s way.” The master of the Divine Wave Sect said in an adamant tone.
“Hmph, of the lot of you wish to remain behind then you are all welcome to. Just don't expect me to hand you all a share of Long Shijie’s inheritance.” Lord Long Zhiming said with an unhappy snort as he signaled for his people to file into the opening in the stone gates, successfully splitting the group in two.
“From one perspective one may think that Lord Long Zhiming and the experts of the Dragon God Palace were so eager to claim Long Shijie's inheritance that they were leaving everyone behind, but from another perspective, they could possibly be trying to spur everyone on by using the inheritance as enticement. Of course, this is all but speculation.” Ling stated to the others through their divine sense after as she saw a few people anxiously wishing to run after Lord Long Zhiming.
“So, the question is do we continue to follow him and walk into a trap or do we remain here in the dark and remain ignorant of what is actually happening.” Zhang asked through his divine sense.
“If we remain here sooner or later trouble will come to find us, if we follow after them then we will be looking for trouble.” Yuying replied with a sigh.
“Everyone let's push aside our doubts for now and continue onward, splitting up now will only serve to weaken us.” Master Shan Jin said as Zhang and his wives conversed amongst each other.
From Master Shan Jin’s perspective although the Dragon God Palace was an adversary that he would eventually have to fight against, for the time being, they were a necessary ally whose power can prove to be very useful.
Thus, prompting him to try to convince everyone to put aside their differences and move further together.
“I believe Master Shan Jin is right. As of now, we are in the light and the darkness is brimming with hidden dangers, splitting up will only decrease our battle potential.” Zhang said.
After some back and forth in regards to what should be done, another split occurred within the larger group occurred.
Resulting in a majority group following after Lord Long Zhiming and a minority group choosing to remain where they were.
Making their way through the stone gates, Zhang and those that choose to go forward, after the forces of the Dragon God Palace, found themselves in a room filled with gleaming essence stones and other riches.
Compared to the barren chamber that they had come from, this room filled with essence stones was a most welcomed sight for all of those who had chosen to press onward.
With columns and walls made of entirely out of essence stones, one could only imagine how valuable the treasures in this room were.
“Where did those guys from the Dragon God Palace go?” A lesser saint asked.
“Damn, they must have already left with all of the valuable treasures already and these are mere scraps.” The full saint with darkish blue hair complained.
Believing that the Dragon God Palace must have filled their pockets before leaving, those present could only allow their imagination to run wild.
Little did everyone know; the members of the Dragon God Palace had not taken a single essence stone and had actually ignored the vast riches that they had come upon. Not tempted by greed, they had walked past the piles of essence stones without even so much as a glance.
“How will we split up this hoard of essence stones.” Zhang asked while trying to appear indifferent.
“As to prevent conflict and dissatisfaction, how about we split everything equally amongst the respective forces.” Ling suggested. If all of the essence stones were equally given to all of the individuals present, Zhang and his faction would receive the smallest percentage. However, if the hoard was split amongst the various forces present, a substantial sum would end up in Zhang’s pocket.
“Since one of the mistresses of the Blood Coral Cove suggested it, I believe it would be fair to equally distribute all the of essence stones here amongst the various forces present.” Master Yu Xui said with a smile before a few other leaders spoke out in agreement.
“When no one is around I'll come back and take away these columns also.” Zhang inwardly chuckled as he stored away a portion of the essence stones lying on the ground.
Content with their spoils everyone began to go in search of the members of the Dragon God Palace and Lord Long Zhiming. Holding flickering torches and manipulating floating balls of fire or other light sources they strode into the unknown.
Having sensed that something is bound to go awry very soon, Yuying kept a vigilant eye on her surroundings, ready to unleash a swarm of Black Thorn Coral and a vicious wyvern on whatever threatens her and her loved ones.
After some time passed, Zhang and the others finally caught up to Lord Long Zhiming and his subordinates, who could all be seen sitting crossed legged around a gigantic three-legged cauldron with their hands pointed outward.
“Quickly! Help me and I will give all of you an equal share of Long Shijie’s inheritance!” Lord Long Zhiming yelled as beams of essence shot out from his palms toward the gigantic ancient looking cauldron while streams of sweat trailed down his brow.
“Tha-that’s the legendary seven colored fire! The flames of creation!” Master Shan Jin cried in an astonished tone as he saw flickers of flame dancing over the gigantic cauldron’s rim.
“The Lost Flame of the Eastern Sea!” Master Yu Xui yelled out as everyone else looked at the cauldron with amazement.
“Long Shijie’s inheritance!”
“One of the heavenly treasures!”
Doubts, fear, hesitation, all of these feelings were instantly swept away as glimpses of the dazzling seven colored fire could be seen.
“There is a powerful barrier encasing the seven colored flames, all us must combine our efforts or else it will be impossible to retrieve the inheritance!” Lord Long Zhiming said, prompting the majority of the people present to channel the essence within their bodies and release it all toward the huge iron cauldron, smashing into the thin membrane that encased it.
“Everyone keep your distance I have a bad feeling that something is about to happen.” Zhang said to his wives and his subordinates through his divine sense, signaling them to all distance themselves from the cauldron.
Bombarded by the power of dozens of saints, the barrier surrounding the cauldron slowly but surely began to wear away as thin branching cracks started to appear on it.
“Just a little bit more!” Lord Long Zhiming yelled excitedly as a delirious glint surfaced in his eye.
“Shatter!” A full saint with fang-like teeth roared as a white colored spear appeared in his hand moments before being launched through the air toward the huge cauldron and causing, even more, cracks to appear on the once pristine membrane.
Copying the full saint with fang-like teeth, many others started to launch their weapons at the cauldron, hoping to quickly shatter the protective barrier and claim the Seven Colored Flames.
“Just a little more!” Lord Long Zhiming could be heard repeating himself over and over in a somewhat deranged manner.
“We did it!” Someone yelled in a joyous tone as the barrier covering the gigantic cauldron shattered into thousands of bits and pieces before fading away into nothingness.
“WE DID IT! With this, the Sea Beast Sect will rule over the Eastern Sea once more!” Lord Long Zhiming laughed maniacally a strange looking crystal skull appeared in his hand.
“Oh, great lord, Long Jieshu! Arise from your slumber and lead us to greatness once again!” Lord Long Zhiming said in a loud voice as he tossed the crystal skull in his hand into the flaming cauldron.
As if they were mute, all of the saints on the scene stared at the cauldron utterly dumbfounded and confused at what was currently occurring.
“Di-did he say, the revival of the Sea Beast Sect? Is this some kind of sick joke?” A lesser saint said in a stutter.
Before anyone could answer this lesser saint’s question, however, a blinding beam of light shot upward from within the massive cauldron and up toward the heavens.
Near the shores of Sea Beast Island, a large mass of people could be seen blotting out the sky and covering the sea, consisting of hundreds of thousands of members originating from the various forces that ruled the sea. This large mass of people had faced countless storms and fought many beasts to reach the ruins of the Sea Beast Sect, where their lords and ladies currently were.
What they did not expect was that the moment they arrived, a blinding ray of light would pierce into the sky causing the atmosphere to quiver and shake as dark clouds began to gather.
“Brethren! Fallen comrades of old and children of new! Our lord has finally returned! To make this glorious occasion, the Sea Beast Sect will once again conquer the Eastern Sea! Long live Lord Long Jieshu!” A menacing voice rang into everyone’s ear as thousands of wisps of black smoke rose up from ruins of the Sea Beast Sect.
“Long live Lord Long Jieshu! Long live the Sea Beast Sect!” All of the members of the Dragon God Palace suddenly cried as they unsheathed their weapons and began to randomly cut down everyone around them.