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When Meng Chao finished speaking, the underground cave fell into a huge silence again.
Only the rumbling that came from digging and the dense footsteps above the rock layer grew increasingly loud in the silence.
It was the sound of troops… no, several mechanized troops approaching the underground cave from all directions.
This was because the current targets to be captured were highly likely two Deity Realm experts.
Aside from Meng Chao, who volunteered since he had the totem armor's protection, the other pursuers did not barge in rashly.
Instead, they set up a solid and tight defense line around the cave in an attempt to minimize any additional damage.
In any case, an inescapable net had been laid out.
The founder and successor of the New Blood Alliance had nowhere to run.
The gray-haired office worker remained silent for about half a minute.
Finally, he sighed and slowly reached out to wipe his face, removing a layer of something as thin as a cicada's wing.
His facial features immediately underwent a tremendous change.
He transformed from an ordinary office worker to someone with a face that all Dragon City citizens often saw on the major media's front page headlines. He had white hair, but a young face, which was as smooth as jade, and his face was quite similar to Lu Siya's.
However, although Meng Chao had exposed his identity, and a large group of people had surrounded him, there was not much dejection or despair on Lu Zhongqi's face.
On the contrary, he was filled with a sense of relief. Every pore on his face exuded a sigh that said, "It's finally over."
"It's no use, Yun Feidian."
Lu Zhongqi shook his head at Yun Feidian, who was still tense and trying to put up a last-ditch fight. "We've completely lost this round. If we continue to struggle, we'll just be spilling your blood to make Meng Chao's medal shine even brighter.
"Come with me. Sit down and rest for a while. The past few years have been hard on you!" he said.
Lu Zhongqi snapped his fingers as he spoke.
He was the best crystal ore expert and mine explorer in Dragon City. His rock manipulation skills were more refined and advanced than Lu Siya's.
As he moved, the ground that seemed as hard as iron emitted a "sha sha" sound.
The rocks turned into sand, and the sand turned into fine sand, which gushed out like a spring. It turned into three three-dimensional geometric seats with extremely delicate structures behind him, Yun Feidian, and Meng Chao.
The moment the seats were formed, the sand and dust converged, condensed, and crystallized again, turning back into lustrous rock.
Lu Zhongqi gestured at Meng Chao invitingly.
Meng Chao pondered for a moment before he walked up to the stone chair Lu Zhongqi had made and sat down boldly.
Yun Feidian bit his cheeks so hard that his teeth were cracking. It was as if he were chewing the flesh of a monster that did not exist. The flames spurting out of his eyes swirled and turned into two bottomless vortexes.
He looked at Lu Zhongqi and then at Meng Chao. He did not say a word and sat down as well.
"Do you know what this is?"
Lu Zhongqi opened his palm and summoned an ordinary stone from the ground. He held it in his palm and squeezed it gently. It was immediately crushed into powder, and the powder flowed out of the gaps between his fingers.
However, the particles of the stone powder that leaked out after being melted by his spirit energy rubbed against each other at a high speed. As a result, they released a dim fluorescence that gradually outlined a complex, crisscrossing three-dimensional rune in the darkness.
Meng Chao frowned slightly.
Lu Zhongqi's question was too simple.
"This is a Spirit Gathering Rune, one of the most basic and important runes that human beings discovered when they explored the ancient ruins. Its function is to collect the tiny spirit elements that are free in the air and the earth, stimulate the activity of human cells, promote the secretion of growth hormones, and help human beings to awaken extraordinary strength…"
Meng Chao paused for a moment, not finishing his sentence. "Even a primary school student would know this."
"That's right. This is indeed a Spirit Gathering Rune. It is one of the most basic and important runes to Dragon City's civilization. There isn't just one of it.
"It's because of the Spirit Gathering Runes that so many superhumans have been awakened in the last few decades. To this day, more than five percent of human beings have more or less glimpsed the mysteries of the extraordinary realm.
"Without the Spirit Gathering Runes, mankind's journey in exploring the supernatural realm would've been much longer and tougher. Maybe only 4%, 3%, 2%, or even 1% of the people could've become superhumans.
"You should know what that means. Dragon City has been able to stumble along to this day thanks to the continuous efforts of the superhumans. If the number of superhumans was reduced by a third or even half, we would've been destined to never win the Monster War. The entire civilization would've been destroyed.
"But Meng Chao, do you know what the exact process was like when humans discovered the Spirit Gathering Runes?
"At that time, the ancient slates carved with Spirit Gathering Runes were buried at the bottom of Rift No. 322 deep inside the ancient ruins.
"Around Rift No. 322, there were traps, rats, and ants that carried the ancient virus, as well as mysterious ravings known as the Ancient Ruins' Summon. It's one of the most dangerous places in the entire ruins.
"The people who ventured deep into Rift No. 322 recklessly were not cut into pieces the size of dice by ancient but advanced traps or even vaporized into a bloody mist.
"They were bitten by snakes, insects, rats, and ants, infected with the ancient virus, and they turned into deformed, ugly, irrational, and inhuman zombies.
"Otherwise, they were attracted by the Ancient Ruins' Summon, plunging into the zigzagging underground crevices. They melted into the immeasurable darkness, never to return.
"At least a hundred explorers have been killed in Rift No. 322, but none of them have been able to map out 50% of its area.
"If the nine mega corporations, the Azure Alliance, the Red Dragon Army, or any other 'bright, righteous, kind, and merciful' organizations had presided over the operation, the exploration of Rift No. 322 wouldn't have continued.
"No such organization is capable of sacrificing hundreds of lives without a change in expression and sacrificing hundreds more.
"No such organization can withstand the fury and suspicion from the victims' family and friends, who erupt like a volcano.
"No such organization can afford the compensation for the victims and give the public a reasonable explanation for exploring Rift No. 322.
"After all, exploring the ancient ruins is like opening a blind box.
"Every gap deep within the ruins is a brand-new blind box.
"Until dozens, hundreds, or even more precious lives fill these gaps, no one will know what the next 'blind box' will bring. It could be a major discovery that will change history and save our civilization, but it could also possibly be nothing.
"Meng Chao, if you were in charge of the exploration and you lost almost a hundred lives but gained nothing, would you still have courage? Would you be willing to lose a few more hundred lives in Rift No. 322?"
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