Without hesitation, Sisi took out a few easy-to-carry rings, necklaces, and small ornaments from the whale storage bag.
He put on what he could and stuffed the rest into his bag.
Jiang Chao Ge put away the storage bag and walked forward with Tian Rong and Zui Yu.
Sisi smiled and swung his legs back and forth while he sat on a thick tree branch as he carefully admired a large golden ring, showing a satisfied expression.
Yu Ren Shu frowned, “Chao Ge, how much did you take from my bedroom?”
“You’ve asked that question so many times.
The storage bag is right there, I haven’t hidden anything from you.
You can go in and see for yourself.”
“You didn’t take everything, did you?”
“If I really did take everything, you should be thanking me instead.
Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been able to get anything and would have had to eat foraged wild plants.”
Yu Ren Shu sighed, “That makes sense.”
Zhi Xuan grabbed Jiang Chao Ge by the collar and growled with discontent, “When did he start calling you by your name?”
“I don’t remember.
“He’s younger than you, why does he call you by your name?”
Yu Ren Shu raised an eyebrow, “Am I younger than you?”
“Of course.” Jiang Chao Ge pried Zhi Xuan’s hand off his collar, which was choking him, “What’s wrong, my predecessor?”
“I want to call you by your name too,” Zhi Xuan said with a scowl.
Jiang Chao Ge chuckled, “Sure, go ahead.”
Zhi Xuan swallowed, “Chao…Ge.”
“Well, you pronounced it perfectly.”
“Chao Ge.” Zhi Xuan spoke clearly again, with a slightly awkward tone.
“Yeah,” Jiang Chao Ge casually replied.
Zhi Xuan laughed, his face turning red.
He buried his head in Jiang Chao Ge’s chest, rubbing his head against him.
Jiang Chao Ge rubbed his head and smiled.
After walking for an afternoon, the road became increasingly difficult, with either mountains or deep gullies.
As dusk approached, heavy rain began to fall, and the sudden drop in temperature and the muddy forest greatly reduced their speed.
Sisi disappeared for a few minutes and then inexplicably reappeared.
He shouted in the rain, “There’s a cave ahead, let’s go in and take shelter.”
Everyone ran forward, and sure enough, they saw a covered and difficult-to-find cave entrance at the junction of two peaks.
Sisi drew his machete from his waist and cleared the weeds from the cave entrance.
Everyone quickly crawled inside.
Sisi shook the water out of his hair and said proudly, “I came here two years ago and didn’t expect my memory to be so good.
I found it right away.”
Jiang Chao Ge looked around and found that this was a natural stalactite cave, with countless stalactites of different shapes hanging from the stone walls, which was spectacular.
Jiang Chao Ge unconsciously began to calculate the cost, operational methods, investment return, and more for developing tourism and indulged in it for a while before remembering his present situation and couldn’t help but sigh deeply.
Zui Yu held a towel and wanted to wipe Long Xiang’s hair.
Long Xiang felt embarrassed and dodged left and right but couldn’t avoid it, so he blushed and let Zui Yu wipe.
Ruan Qianxi prepared the fire and asked, “Why are you sighing?”
Jiang Chao Ge squatted down to help her make the fire.
“In our world, this kind of stalactite cave is worth a lot of money.”
“How is it worth money?”
“People living in cities haven’t seen it before, so they will spend money to come and see it.”
Sisi was surprised.
“What is there to see? There are several in the Kunlun Mountains… Oh, why are you making a fire here?”
“The heavy rain won’t stop for a while.
Soon, water will pour into the cave.
This place is low-lying, and we’re sure to be flooded.
We need to move further inside.”
The two had no choice but to pack up the firewood.
The cave had a lot of space, but due to the many hanging stalactites, neither Tian Rong nor Zui Yu could move freely.
So, they transformed into human forms and walked further into the cave, searching for higher ground.
After around twenty minutes of walking, they found a high rock platform with a small pool beneath it.
This was where they would rest for the day.
Everyone made camp, started a fire and began cooking.
Sisi squatted on the ground playing with rocks as he spoke, “We should be able to reach Taihua Peak by tomorrow.
It’s teeming with all sorts of beasts, but the area is vast, and we might not even come across any.
Once we reach Taihua Peak, we should move as a group.
The beasts are large and conspicuous, and with a bit of luck and my expert guidance, we might be able to avoid them and make it through to the other side.
The journey ahead will become much easier.”
Jiang Chao Ge chuckled, “Then we’ll have to rely on our guide.”
Sisi supported himself with one hand and somersaulted nimbly to land close to the fire.
Rubbing his hands impatiently, he asked, “Is the meat ready yet? Come on, come on.”
Yun Xi moved away from him, distancing himself.
“No, it’s not ready.”
Sisi widened his eyes and shifted his body to be closer to him, “What are you doing? I’m not going to eat you.”
Yun Xi moved further away, darkly saying, “Don’t come near me.”
Sisi was a little annoyed, “Why?”
Yu Ren Shu replied, “Don’t give him a hard time.
He doesn’t like to be close to anyone.”
Sisi was puzzled, “Then why is he here with you?”
Yun Xi muttered under his breath, “I was deceived.”
The cave was dry and warm, and after finishing their meal, they didn’t set up the tent and just slept next to the fire.
As usual, Tian Rong and Zui Yu took the night watch.
They chatted, and after a while, Zhi Xuan got up and went to find Zui Yu.
Jiang Chao Ge slept until midnight and felt his body was getting cold.
The warmth next to him suddenly disappeared, making him feel uncomfortable.
He struggled in his sleep for a while before waking up.
As expected, Zhi Xuan was missing.
He turned his head to look, and three animals were whispering something.
To comply with Zhi Xuan’s domineering demand, Tian Rong and Zui You turned into children.
At first glance, it was as if three little bunnies were sitting together chatting.
The scene was somewhat comical.
Jiang Chao Ge turned over and lay on his back, intending to continue sleeping.
He was about to close his eyes when he saw something on the stalactite above his head.
The only source of light in the cave was the fire not far away, so it was very dim.
He rubbed his bleary eyes and tried to see it clearly.
When he did, fear surged through him like a tide, and a chill spread instantly throughout his body.
It was a face… A face was full of wrinkles, sunken eye sockets, protruding eyeballs, prominent cheekbones, and sparse hair, with an old man’s appearance but a baby-sized head.
Most terrifying of all, the face was upside down, staring at him without blinking!
“Ah—!” Jiang Chao Ge screamed in terror and jumped up from the ground.
His cry woke everyone up.
Zhi Xuan instantly turned into an adult form and ran to his side, standing in front of him.
Everyone followed Jiang Chao Ge’s gaze and was taken aback.
Then, countless faces hanging upside down behind the stalactites slowly appeared, staring at them with eyes that seemed to want to jump out of their sockets.
The eyeballs rolled, and it was extremely frightening.
Sisi whispered, “Don’t move, nobody move.”
Everyone broke out in a cold sweat.
The faces seemed to grow out of the stalactites, one after another, unnaturally white and twisted.
“This is a nest of owl men.
I never thought this cave would be their den.” Sisi chuckled, “Haha, I never would have thought.”
Long Xiang glared at him.
Sisi swallowed and said, “Everyone, take your things and carefully leave the cave.”
Yuren Shu whispered, “Are you sure they won’t attack us?”
“Um…” Sisi hesitated, “I’m not sure.”
Zhi Xuan wondered, “Why can’t I sense their spiritual power? Can such a low-level spirit beast hide its spiritual power?”
“Spirit beasts are always evolving, so it’s not surprising that they can hide their spiritual power.
Especially for spirit beasts with low-level spiritual power, they’re the easiest to hide,” Yu Ren Shu explained.
Jiang Chao Ge muttered under his breath, “These things look so disgusting!”
Yu Ren Shu said, “Stop talking and let’s go quickly.”
They picked up their luggage and cautiously retreated from the cave.
The heads of the owl men turned in unison, causing Jiang Chao Ge’s heart to race with fear.
He wanted to bolt away.
Suddenly, Jiang Chao Ge saw one of the owl men open its mouth and let out a sharp, piercing cry.
In an instant, all the monsters in the cave screeched, spreading their black wings and flying toward them.
“Run! Poisonous!” Sisi yelled, the first to sprint away.
Jiang Chao Ge cursed, “Why the hell didn’t you say so earlier?!”
They ran as fast as they could.
The terrain was low and unsuitable for them to use their abilities, so it was best to leave as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the owl men were too fast and quickly caught up with them.
Ruan Qiansu turned around and swung her crescent blades, and there were screams as several monsters fell to the ground.
One of them fell in front of Jiang Chao Ge, and he took a quick look, only to realize that this spirit beast had the body of an owl and was the size of a small dog.
It didn’t look threatening alone, but there were simply too many of them.
Yu Ren Shu said, “You guys go, I’ll deal with them.”
Sisi shouted, “Don’t use spiritual power attacks.
If the stalactites fall and hit you, you’ll be done for.”
Yu Ren Shu clicked his tongue and swung his Tian Rong mace, hitting an owl man, “I can still kill them without using spiritual power!”
The group realized they couldn’t outrun the monsters and had to fight back.
Jiang Chao Ge swung his sword and yelled, “Do their bites have any venom? Is it lethal?”
“It can paralyze the nerves for some time.
If bitten too many times, it can be fatal,” Sisi hid behind a large rock, pulled out his bow and arrow, and shot two owl men simultaneously.
Yun Xi summoned four zhen niao, flying low and tearing at the enemies.
Tian Rong and Zui Yu were too large to transform, so they had to use their short swords to attack.
The group fought off the owl men while running towards the cave entrance.
Suddenly, Ruan Qiansu let out a muffled cry as she was bitten.
Although she quickly chopped off its head, the nerves in her arm were immediately paralyzed, causing her to miss when swinging her crescent blades, nearly hitting Long Xiang’s head, and scaring him into shrinking his neck like a turtle.
Jiang Chao Ge rushed forward, swinging his sword to fend off the approaching owl men.
“Summon Zhen Chen and take Yun Xi out first,” he said.
Ruan Qiansu summoned her crescent blade spirit, the human-faced horse, and swiftly mounted him, grabbing Yun Xi and pulling him up too.
They ran towards the cave entrance.
Sisi said enviously, “Wow, a Shuhu.
I’ve been wanting one for a long time.
They can run and fly, so they’re not easy to catch.”
“Quick, retreat to the entrance!” Jiang Chao Ge yelled.
The four zhen niao spread their wings to block the path of the owl men, protecting the group as they retreated towards the entrance.
However, just as Zhen Chen was about to lead Ruan Qiansu and Yun Xi out of the cave, water suddenly rushed in from the entrance.
It had a strong force and was like a waterfall, sweeping Zhen Chen off his feet.
The rushing water continued for over ten seconds, gradually weakening but still pouring into the cave.
Ruan Qiansu and Yun Xi were soaked through, their faces drained of color from the cold.
Zhen Chen grabbed their collars with his mouth and dragged them out of the water towards higher ground.
However, the water level continued to rise, soon reaching their waists.
Sisi’s face darkened.
“Damn it, it must be high tide.
Let’s go back.”
Jiang Chao Ge exclaimed angrily, “What kind of a place did you choose?!”
Yun Xi summoned the zhen niao and pulled them out of the water.
However, the water was still pouring in without any sign of stopping.
If they swam across, they would be defenseless against the owl men in the water and would likely be paralyzed by their venom, risking drowning.
With no other choice, they had to retreat into the cave, but the number of monsters continued to increase.
They fought their way into the cave while retreating, eventually reaching a higher ground where a fork in the path appeared.
“Sisi, which way do we go?” Jiang Chao Ge yelled.
Sisi wiped the water off his face.
“How would I know?”
“You’ve been here before, haven’t you?”
“I only slept near the entrance, I’ve never been inside!” Sisi exclaimed.
“You bastard…” Ruan Qiansu gritted her teeth.
“Let’s go right.
The path is wider on the right.”
Without hesitation, they all charged into the right fork of the path.
Although it was said to be wider than the left path, it was still narrow enough for only two people to pass side by side.
Long Xiang stayed at the back to defend, and the small path prevented the owl men from swarming in and reducing their attacking power.
As they passed, they left numerous monster corpses behind them.
After running for about ten minutes, the path suddenly opened up to reveal a huge water hole.
The water hole was tall and wide, but due to the extremely dim lighting, they couldn’t even see the other side.
In the center of the pond, there was a cave entrance, and raindrops fell incessantly, indicating that there was still a torrential downpour outside.
The faint moonlight reflected off the black water, making it look mysterious and chilling.
Long Xiang said, “The owl men haven’t chased after us.”
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
Jiang Chao Ge chuckled.
“I picked up two.” He held up two of the beasts in his hands.
Ruan Qiansu frowned in disgust.
“What are you picking up these ugly things for?”
“To make money, of course,” Jiang Chao Ge smiled matter-of-factly.
“And if all else fails, we can eat them.” He put the owl men into his storage bag and even peered back at the fork in the path they came from, thinking of going back to pick up a few more.
Long Xiang also looked disgusted.
“I won’t eat anything with a human face, especially when it’s poisonous.”
“Hmph, no one’s forcing you to,” Jiang Chao Ge retorted.
Yun Xi sat on the ground and whispered, “Keep them.
Let me extract the venom so we can make poison.”
Jiang Chao Ge pulled him up from the ground.
“Are you okay?”
Sisi said, “Our clothes are all wet.
This won’t do.
Let’s change our clothes and start a fire to warm up.
And you, the skinny one, put the owl men at the fork in the path to stop them from launching another surprise attack.”
“My name is Yun Xi.”
The river water pouring into the cave was filled with mud, sand, and vegetation, making it extremely dirty.
They were all in a sorry state, with pale faces due to the cold.
While they could use their spiritual power to withstand low temperatures, once their bodies got wet, it was difficult to resist the cold.
As they were about to change their clothes, they suddenly realized there was a woman among them and looked at Ruan Qiansu awkwardly.
Ruan Qiansu sneered.
“I won’t turn around, and you guys shouldn’t either.” She began to change clothes.
Sisi changed his clothes and listened to the rustling behind him, unable to resist the urge to turn around and take a peek.
But Long Xiang glared at him and he quickly turned back.
After changing clothes, they gathered around the fire and discussed how to get out.
“The other side seems to be far away, and we can’t see anything.
Let’s wait for the rain to stop and climb out from the top,” Jiang Chao Ge suggested.
Sisi looked up and said, “That’s fine.
We’ll climb out from the top, but I’m worried that we’ll lose our bearings once we get up there.”
“In that case, we’ll have to start over again.”
After warming up, they became curious about the water hole.
Jiang Chao Ge and Zhi Xuan walked around in the cave with a torch, looking for other exits.
Zhi Xuan said, “I didn’t expect there to be so many places in the Kunlun Mountains that I’ve never been to, like the stalactite cave you mentioned.
I’ve never seen it before.”
Jiang Chao Ge laughed.
“Stalactite caves take millions of years to form.
Maybe it hasn’t formed yet in your time.”
“What were you and Yin Chuan doing in the Kunlun Mountains?”
Zhi Xuan thought for a moment.
“He reads, and I drink.
Occasionally we talk, and sometimes we just sit silently.
That’s how it went for years, decades, centuries.
When I got tired, I would leave and go for a walk.
Yin Chuan also left occasionally, and every time he came back, he would bring back more books and oddities.”
“Where did you discover the essence of heaven and earth?”
“It was discovered by Yin Chuan, and I’ve never seen it before.”
Jiang Chao Ge asked curiously, “How did you determine that such a thing exists?”
“The spiritual power of the essence of heaven and earth is incredibly strong.
It’s much stronger than any divine beast, heavenly god, or witch ancestor we’ve ever encountered.
If such a thing existed before, we would have discovered it already.”
Jiang Chao Ge sighed.
“You two have been fighting for so many years, just for something you’ve never seen before.”
Zhi Xuan fell silent for a moment and whispered, “Yeah, it’s ridiculous.”
As they talked, they circled the water pond and arrived at a waterway that was likely connected to the first cave they were in.
They continued walking and came across several similar waterways.
In the glow of the fire, they discovered a white object in one of the shallower waterways.
The two of them squatted down and curiously held up their torches to illuminate the object.
“What is this?”
The white object was quite large, resembling a giant shield.
Its surface was smooth and pristine, buried in the water without any signs of corrosion.
It didn’t seem like something that would be found in the water.
Zhi Xuan examined it closely and shook his head.
“I don’t know.
Jiang Chao Ge called out, “Sisi, come here.”
Sisi ran over.
“What’s going on?”
“Take a look at this object.
Do you know what it is?”
Sisi looked at it for a while and also shook his head.
“The lighting is too dim.
I can’t see clearly.
Why is it so clean and not corroded? Is it porcelain?”
It’s probably been here for a short while, otherwise, it wouldn’t be kept so well.” Jiang Chao Ge’s eyes lit up.
“If it’s porcelain, is it valuable?”
“With such a large piece, it should be quite valuable if it’s intact,” Sisi replied.
Jiang Chao Ge’s desire for money was now completely undisguised.
Since he found out that Ruan Qiansu had returned all the gold to the Qi family, he had to pay a high commission to Long Xiang and promised to give Sisi a large guide fee.
He also had to support such a large group of people, how could he not worry about money? As long as there was a chance to make some money, he wouldn’t let it slip away.
He rolled up his sleeves and said, “I’ll go down and get it.”
Sisi stopped him.
“No, we don’t know what might be underwater.
There might be some dangerous fish like the Wenyao fish or the Ranyi fish around here.
Although they’re not considered fierce beasts, they can still give you a nasty bite.”
“I’ll go,” Zhi Xuan said.
“I’m not afraid.”
Jiang Chao Ge looked at him gratefully.
“The water isn’t deep anyway.
Oh, take off your clothes first so you won’t get them wet.”
Zhi Xuan took off his clothes, revealing a slender and muscular body.
Without hesitation, he jumped into the water.
Sisi asked curiously, “What kind of beast is he?”
Jiang Chao Ge smiled slyly.
“It’s a secret.”
Zhi Xuan swam to the white object, yanked it loose, and pulled it out of the water.
The moment Jiang Chao Ge touched the object that surfaced, he had a feeling that it wasn’t porcelain.
The texture was wrong, but he couldn’t quite describe what it was.
The three of them worked together to pull the object ashore, only to discover that it was an oval-shaped egg!
Sisi was a little dumbfounded.
“This…this is…an egg?”
Jiang Chao Ge looked at the perfectly round shape and confirmed that it was indeed an egg.
Zhi Xuan put on his clothes and curiously asked, “What kind of egg is it? It’s not light.”
Jiang Chao Ge pressed his ear against the egg and lightly tapped it.
“The shell is so thick.
Could it be a fossil?”
At this time, the others had warmed up and walked over.
“What are you doing?”
“We found an egg.”
Yun Xi walked over, circled the egg, and suddenly changed his expression.
“Quick, put it back!”
Jiang Chao Ge was surprised.
“Put it back now!”
At that moment, the group felt the mountain cave beneath their feet suddenly trembles.
They looked at each other, thinking it was just an illusion.
But the next second, the cave shook again.
The previously calm water surface suddenly rippled, and then a whirlpool formed at the center of the pool.
The whirlpool grew larger and deeper, until the entire pool was sucked into it, and the water level dropped sharply.
The group was shocked, and Yun Xi angrily shouted, “You guys…run for your lives!”
The half-empty pool suddenly surged violently, and water sprayed out, soaking the people on the shore once again.
At the center of the whirlpool, a huge, pitch-black object slowly surfaced.
Sisi swallowed and nervously chuckled, “Oh, it’s actually an egg.”
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