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The few of them got to their feet. Taking a look around the dim cavern where they had spent the past eight days, their eyes were especially solemn.
It had been a very peaceful eight days!
Once they left the cave, they would have to face countless trials and bloody battles! None of them knew whether any of these brothers who were standing next to them right now would be able to leave the north-western region alive!
They were in a most perilous situation!
For a moment there, they were actually rather reluctant to part.
“Once we’re outside, we will face hard battles! It may be you or perhaps I who will perish in these north-western lands!” Chu Yang’s voice was somber. “There is absolutely no chance of all nine of us leaving the north-west unscathed!”
“Someone will definitely die!”
“Everyone, you need to be prepared!”
Wei Wuyan and the others nodded solemnly.
“After we leave the cave, let’s try our best to stay together and preserve our full strength. Unless absolutely necessary, do not ever separate!” Chu Yang went on seriously, “However, it is inevitable that we will eventually be scattered. Therefore, I will bid my farewell in advance here — Everyone, take care! Stay alive!”
Everyone was rather moved. Gazing deeply at one another, they shouted in unison, “Everyone, take care! Stay alive!”
At this instant, even the four officers felt the same way. Extraterrestrial Demons be damned! At this moment where they stood as one, all of them were brothers who lived and died together!
“Let’s go!” Chu Yang took the lead and headed out.
Wei Wuyan and the others followed closely behind him.
The four officers took a couple of steps forward before they stopped in their tracks. Then, turning around, they dropped to their knees. “Boss! May you find Big Sister-in-law and be together with each other forever in all the lifetimes to come!”
With great conviction, the four of them kowtowed. When they raised their heads, their faces were already wet with tears.
They were bidding farewell to Lang Yilang, who was already separated from them and in the netherworld.
On ground, after much persistent disturbance by the Li Clan, the snow that had accumulated to a thickness of several meters had all disappeared, leaving behind only black earthen soil.
Right now, there was a faint movement in the black earthen soil. A small hole the size of a person’s head quietly appeared. Then, the surrounding soil soundlessly shifted and formed a barrier, blocking the newly-revealed hole from sight.
Only after that did a head cautiously poke out of the hole. A pair of alert and intelligent eyes darted from side to side as they examined the terrain.
Nothing was out of the norm.
Chu Yang breathed a sigh of relief inwardly.
Numerous scenarios had crossed Chu Yang’s mind while they were heading out. Of course, they were all very ridiculous. For example — The moment he poked his head out into the open, someone would grab his hair and say, “Hahaha… Kid, so you were hiding here…”
Fortunately, such a situation did not happen.
Chu Yang slithered out of the hole.
Yes, he slithered his way out.
He pressed himself against the ground after poking his head outside the hole. Then, as though he was an invertebrate, he exited the hole bit by bit. His head led the way in front as he slithered out, exactly like a snake.
Following that, eight other people behind him did the same and ‘slithered’ out as well.
The hole was then sealed off immediately.
There was no trace of it ever having existed before.
Lying flat against the ground, they looked out into the distance. At once, they took in a sharp intake of chilly air.
The snowfield, which was once flat and level, was completely different from what it had been in the past. Countless holes and pits covered the entire area!
Where it was once a spread of silver and white, only sparse flakes of snow remained. Every inch of land had been overturned! Yellow ocher earth was everywhere.
If not for the fact that snow was still falling from the sky, they definitely wouldn’t have been able to see even this bit of snow.
“The saying goes ‘to dig three feet deep’ but judging from this, how could it be merely three feet deep that the Li Clan has dug up?” Chu Yang sighed. “They have dug a good 30 meters deep… Did they excavate the entire place?”
Speechless, everyone nodded.
The Li Clan had certainly spared no effort. Every inch of land within sight had been overturned by them. Even the mountains in view had become mounds of earth.
Obviously, in the search for them, they had upturned even the mountains…
This degree of strength and extent of meticulousness made them all suck in an icy breath of air.
“Everyone can see how hellbent the Li Clan is on looking for us by now, right?” remarked Chu Yang as he took a deep breath.
Everyone nodded gravely.
“Let’s not say anymore and move. If we wish to escape the Li Clan’s net that reaches everywhere, then we’d better make some preparations!” Staying close to the ground, Chu Yang flew ahead. “Follow after me!”
The rest trailed closely behind him.
At this instant, their lives, future and mission — they placed them all into the hands of this young man without any hesitation!
Trust and rapport had already quietly formed among them.
Chu Yang moved around the grounds like a wisp of soundless and motionless smoke. “Keep up with my speed and follow my actions. Don’t get anything wrong.”
“Change out of your black robes the first chance you get after we get out. This goes especially for the four officers. The black law-enforcement robes are too eye-catching in this north-western region where there’s snow everywhere. The four of you are practically a natural target.”
Everyone traveled on with great care. While Wei Wuyan and the others followed Chu Yang’s pace without question, the four law-enforcement officers didn’t think much of his instructions in the beginning. However, as they continued to move forward while copying Chu Yang’s movements, they discovered that every single one of these actions, which initially looked to be completely useless, was in actuality making perfect use of every alteration in the body to take advantage of the surrounding terrain.
Even blades of grass and rocks the size of fists were used by Chu Yang as cover!
In addition, all these were done seamlessly.
What was especially astonishing was that even the refraction angle of light coming from the dim sky was calculated in every action Chu Yang took.
Even if there were someone right by their side, so long as his cultivation level wasn’t high enough, it would be very difficult for him to realize that there was actually a group of people passing by soundlessly in front…
Gradually, everyone realized that the path which Chu Yang was taking was one that was familiar to them.
This… Wasn’t this the path that they had gone in when they were fleeing eight days ago?
What? Was Chu Yang going back the same way?
Their suspicions were verified the very next moment when Chu Yang’s anxious voice drifted over to them. “This is the path that leads to the battleground. Firstly, this path must have already been combed by them countless times. Secondly, so much time has already passed; they must think that we have already escaped far away… Therefore, in comparison to others, this path is the safest.”
Then, he let out a low laugh. “Thirdly… This is also where five of your brothers lost their lives. If by any luck we could find any traces of them… that would also be a token of remembrance and appreciation from us, the living. Fourthly, so long as we can reach the area where the battle started, this would also be the path that all of you are the most familiar with which leads to the outside world… It will be easier for you to escape.”
The eyes of the four officers turned red. With utmost sincerity, they said, “Thank you…”
They honestly didn’t expect that Chu Yang would be this attentive to even consider their feelings and the biggest regret they held in their hearts.
Indeed, those few brothers of theirs were ultimately a presence no different from a thorn in their hearts. If they could find some kind of trace of them… and even if they didn’t… it would still be a kind of great consolation to them.
“I have brothers too… I understand how this feels.” Chu Yang’s voice drifted over softly in the wind…
Everyone kept silent for a while.
Under everyone’s careful movements, it didn’t take long before they finally reached the place where the battle had broken out back then.
When the mess and debris in the area came into sight, all of them were rather downcast.
The whole way here, there was indeed no one from the Li Clan laying in wait.
The four officers opened their eyes wide and searched the messy area seriously and meticulously… looking for traces of their brothers.
After searching for a long while, they finally found a few black scraps of fabric, half a sword hilt and a short segment of saber hilt. Other than that, they didn’t find anything else.
A name was engraved on the saber hilt while only a character was engraved on the sword hilt. But these were enough to indicate who they had once belonged to.
Staring at the sword hilt half and saber hilt segment, hot tears fell from the eyes of the four officers as they grieved.
“Put them away. Now isn’t the time to cry,” said Chu Yang solemnly. “You can cry after you’ve brought them back.”
He paused for a moment before he said, “Now, we need to determine what route we should take. What must we do so that we can safely escape? I’ve never been here, so I need all of you to tell me about the terrain.”
After looking for a quiet place where they could get out of the wind, the nine of them came together and discussed in detail. With his brows tightly furrowed, Chu Yang swiftly drew up a mental map of the terrain…
Amongst the heavy snow, everyone walked soundlessly in the dark. This entire way, there wasn’t even a village to be seen, causing them to not even be able to fulfill their wish of changing their clothes.
They had already traveled for close to 500 kilometers. There was no sign of the Li Clan even till now.
But this peace caused them to become even more on edge. The Li Clan would never give up! They definitely wouldn’t allow them to go back alive.
This peace was merely the darkness before dawn.
The more peaceful it was now, the more torturous and bloodier their path ahead would be!
The land beneath their feet had all been overturned this entire distance of over 500 kilometers and the surrounding mountains had all been reduced to mounds of earth. Some of them had even become mere piles of broken rock and earth.
Other than the snow that had freshly fallen from the sky, the snow that had once accumulated on the ground in the past was basically nowhere to be seen. The Li Clan’s extensive search actually didn’t overlook any blind spots at all!
All the forests that could conceal people had all been thoroughly destroyed!
The further they walked, the more chills ran down their spine.
What kind of determination could push one to go to such lengths?
Only after they traveled more than 1,250 kilometers did a landscape of silver and white connecting the heavens and earth finally appear before them!
Which was to say that the Li Clan had completely overturned… a large circle of easily radius 1,250 kilometers!
This meant that the remaining area had not yet been fully combed through by the Li Clan. Therefore, starting from this area on, there would be experts from the Li Clan standing on guard. The battle was starting soon!
“Take note, the battle is about to start,” warned Chu Yang solemnly as he gazed at the snowy whiteness connecting heaven and earth tens of kilometers away. “Once we exit this area… we could encounter enemy attacks anytime.”
Everyone slowly nodded.
“Are all of you ready?”
“Then, we’re going to go and die!”
“This is a path that leads to certain death! Only when we have fought our way out can we be considered to have survived!”
“Fine! Then we shall take a walk down this path that leads to death!”
Amidst a chorus of low laughter, nine figures rose into the air. Lying close to the ground, they shot out swiftly!
“From here, we’ll have to cross almost 4,000 kilometers before we can be considered to have left the north-west!”
Crouching on top of a small hill, they were fully buried in snow as they peered at an intersection ahead. The surroundings were completely silent, but there was no doubt an ambush laying in wait here.
For a long while, no one moved.
Just as they felt like they were about to turn dizzy from staring too long, a shadowy figure seemed to flash in the direction where the intersection was. A white-robed figure suddenly appeared.
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