Gu Beiyue followed Long Feiye’s directions and eventually arrived at the exit beneath the tree. He delivered the unconscious Tang Li outside before doubling back to help. Little Yu’er was almost out of strength while Fourth Young Miss Ren was exhausted. When Gu Beiyue re-entered the tunnel, Gu Qishao seemed to recall something. He quickly picked up Su Xiaoyu and headed out, leaving Fourth Young Miss Ren to Gu Beiyue. There was a certain distance from the ground to the tree’s exit up above, so Gu Qishao didn’t want to carry an unfamiliar female and fly through he opening.
Naturally, this thought occurred to Gu Beiyue as well.
“Fourth Young Miss Ren, please pardon me. May I piggyback you up?” Gu Beiyue was still modest and unassuming despite being an academy head.
Fourth Young Miss Ren’s heart had long turned aflutter, but she carefully climbed onto his back. Unfortunately, she’d hardly felt his warmth before they reached the exit. Gu Beiyue might be a warm and gentle man, but his speed was nothing like it. As soon as he set her down, it was all over.
Guarding this exit was Xu Donglin and a few poison guards, female mercenaries, and Chu Tianyin’s ten personally-picked archers. They were the only remainders of the Chu Clan troops who still knew Driving Arrow Arts.
“What’s the situation? How is His Highness and the princess?” Xu Donglin asked hastily.
“What happened to Tang Li?” Chu Tianyin came forward as well.
“It’s a complicated situation underground. Ning Jing perished in a sea of fire while Tang Li...his situation isn’t optimistic. Xu Donglin, you have to keep an eye on him. If you can’t, then tie him up. And remember, tell the Tang Clan to send people here!” Gu Beiyue instructed carefully. “Also, have someone escort Fourth Young Miss Ren and little Yu’er back. Little Yu’er’s injuries need immediate treatment.”
Xu Donglin was left hapless. “Miss Jing…”
Neither Gu Beiyue nor Gu Qishao had time to waste. The former said, “Everyone, look sharp! It’s very possible that Bai Yanqing will try to escape!”
“Don’t worry! We’ll definitely be on guard!” Chu Tianyin replied earnestly.
Xu Donglin supported Tang Li with an expression of anguish, but nodded his head. “Orders accepted!”
Gu Qishao and Gu Beiyue prepared to leave when Fourth Young Miss Ren hastened to remind them, “Academy Head Beiyue, take along some water and food, just in case! The princess is still pregnant and can’t afford to starve.”
It was sound advice, so the shadow guards quickly delivered the goods. A sack of dry rations wasn’t heavy, but the two jugs of water weighed quite a bit. Still, Gu Qishao was dissatisfied by the sight. “Too little, too little! Get three more bags of rations and two more jugs of water. I want the big jugs! And it’s best if it’s hot water!”
Fourth Young Miss Ren hesitated. “If it’s too heavy, will it affect you all…”
“What’s with the blathering? Hurry up!” Gu Qishao said unhappily.
Xu Donglin immediately ordered men to bring over the items. After some thought, Gu Qishao added, “Is there a bamboo crate or basket? Bring one over, quick!”
The shadow guards on duty ate nothing but field rations and carried them in such containers. Xu Donglin found one for them, and a delighted Gu Qishao quickly began to pack up the items with care. All of the food went into the crate, stuffed full and tight. At the very top, he squeezed in the jugs of water before carrying everything on his back. When he saw Xu Donglin’s ox-horn water bottle, he snagged that too and hung it off his shoulders.
Gu Qishao had completely forgotten the fact that he was still dressed in tatters and covered in wounds!
Gu Beiyue couldn’t bear the sight and had a shadow guard about Gu Qishao’s height lend the man his outer robes. The heavy crate made it hard for Gu Qishao to use his strength, but he was still incomparably happy.
With a shout, he cried, “Brothers, just wait! When I truss up Bai Yanqing and bring him back, everyone can award him with one slash!”
The duo returned to the maze. Currently, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had almost reached the exit that led to the cliff. Gu Qishao and Gu Beiyue managed to meet up with them by following Long Feiye’s markings.
“Your Highness, princess, we’ve successfully sent the people off,” Gu Beiyue reported seriously.
Meanwhile, Gu Qishao gave Han Yunxi a water jug. “It’s hot!” he announced.
“Thanks!” Han Yunxi drank it down.
Long Feiye glanced at Gu Qishao’s crate full of food but didn’t say a word.
“There’s natural light ahead which should be the exit. Everyone be careful,” Han Yunxi said. She and Long Feiye had already checked the other pathways nearby and didn’t find any sign of Bai Yanqing. Perhaps the man was waiting for them just up ahead. Still, when the quartet approached with caution, they saw no sign of him.
Where is he?
They’d headed here soon after saving little Yu’er at fast speeds, so there wasn’t much delay. Had Bai Yanqing discovered something amiss?
“Since there’s no movement outside, he must still be inside the maze!” Long Feiye said coldly.
“If it was me, I’d stay inside too!” Gu Qishao remarked.
Truthfully speaking, Bai Yanqing was more familiar with the maze and its share of secret switches. He would gain an advantage here.
“Just what did they use this maze for? What was the deal with that sea of fire?” Han Yunxi was curious. Monarch’s Peak had no such thing in its underground palace!
This reminded Long Feiye, who muttered, “Bai Yanqing’s very familiar with the switches here. How did he learn about them?”
The hive maze had a regularity to it, but the hidden switches within the maze were scattered haphazardly, As long as they didn’t overlap, it was perfectly possible to put them wherever one wanted. Yet Bai Yanqing knew about their locations and even pinpointed the locations of the amplifying rocks. Had he found them himself, or did someone tell him about it?
“He should have had a blueprint,” Gu Beiyue declared.
“Then it’s probably with him. We’ll still need to figure out a way to track him down,” Han Yunxi said helplessly.
Bai Yanqing was probably keeping a healthy distance from their group. Han Yunxi had tried for a long time but failed to sense Lil Thing’s existence.
Gu Qishao said, “How about this? Let’s start searching from this entrance and destroy every pathway and stone room that doesn’t have him! I refuse to believe we can’t force him out!”
What a...headstrong method!
Long Feiye rolled his eyes while Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue resisted the urge to do the same. It was impossible to casually destroy things as they pleased. Suppose it triggered an unknown switch that screwed them over instead? Wouldn’t they end up as a joke to Bai Yanqing?
After some hesitation, Gu Beiyue proposed, “Your Highness, princess, this location is still dangerous and you’ve delayed your dual cultivation. Suppose we’re trapped inside the maze? Our efforts will all be in vain. Why don’t we…”
Gu Beiyue trailed off, but Long Feiye and Han Yunxi understood his meaning. Bai Yanqing wasn’t going anywhere, but hidden inside the maze to wait for them. Although they’d saved the hostages and had no more qualms against him, Bai Yanqing still held the advantage. He was very familiar with the inner workings of the maze, so if their group was trapped inside and missed the dual cultivation deadline, it’d be too late to regret anything. Rather than search for him, it would be more prudent to guard the exits until the two completed their cultivation. They weren’t worried even if this took a year and a half or more!
“Moreover, the princess’s delivery date is around the same time as the dual cultivation deadline. If this drags on, the princess might not be able to bear the Moye sword spirit,” Gu Beiyue added.
Dual cultivation took time. Long Feiye was the main cultivator while Han Yunxi was his support. It didn’t take her much effort, but subduing the Moye sword spirit and housing it in a brand new sword would take lots of work. Han Yunxi realized she had to consider the problem seriously.
Gu Qisaho was rather relaxed in comparison. He chuckled and said, “Then you three guard the exit while I deal with him myself!”
When it came to smarts, Gu Qishao was truly intelligent; when it came to stupidity, he was less dumb and more forgetful. Long Feiye and the rest didn’t even bother to roll their eyes this time, choosing to ignore him outright. This guy had definitely forgotten how he was trapped underneath the room of blades a while back. If they hadn’t discovered the room in time, he’d be spending the rest of his undying days in that dark and cold hole.
“Let’s get out of here first. Dual cultivation is more important,” Long Feiye decided.
Han Yunxi didn’t object. She gave one last glance at the dim tunnels before following Long Feiye outside. Gu Qishao was neither happy nor willing to agree, but leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. The bamboo crate made this position rather uncomfortable, so he shifted on his feet. Unexpectedly, his bamboo basket made a strange noise as it scraped against the wall.
Han Yunxi and the rest immediately looked back as Gu Qishao grew startled. This wasn’t the sound of bamboo, but…
“It’s a switch!” Gu Beiyue strode over to touch the wall. It didn’t feel particularly different, but he noticed something odd when he rapped against its surface.
“This isn’t made out of stone!” Gu Beiyue exclaimed.
Long Feiye knocked against the walls a few times before pressing against it gently. He discovered that the wall was similar to the wordless stele they’d encountered in the past--with an outer covering that resembled rock. Soon enough, he pried the “stone” wall away, revealing a round Xuan gold door.
“This doesn’t look like any kind of switch?” Gu Qishao muttered doubtfully.
“Right, it’s not a switch, but it does look like...some sort of secret alcove to hide away objects,” Gu Beiyue said.
Long Feiye searched for awhile but didn’t find any switch to move the Xuan gold door. He glanced at Han Yunxi as Gu Beiyue spoke up. “Princess, we’ll have to trouble you to try.”
Back at the Skypit, it was Han Yunxi’s blood that activated the Xuan gold door. Perhaps the same principle applied to this small patch of wall. Han Yunxi immediately bit her finger and smeared fresh blood against the surface. The liquid was quickly absorbed into the Xuan gold and disappeared.
“It took it in!” Gu Qishao rejoiced.
Han Yunxi waited anxiously. As expected, the round Xuan gold door began to rotate slowly. However, instead of opening up a door, it simply began to change form, creating bumps and recesses on its surface. Han Yunxi’s group circle around the object in stunned shock. Gradually, the sight before their eyes astounded the group, because the various bumps and shapes began to take shape.
This was a 3-D model of the maze!Previous Chapter Next Chapter