Luo Sword Manor poured money into renovating and fortifying Taihu Sword Island every year, including adding or updating formations – which varied from island and island. Luo Ming chose to designate Dragonroot Island as the preliminary competition location because it was the island closest to Taihu Sword Island and was one of the few islands not laced with formations.
A Supreme Ten Saint once attempted to plunder from Whale God Island in the past and failed miserably. He never would’ve found Ancient Cauldron Zhurong on the surface when it was hidden deep underground to leverage the earth’s flames. Besides often relocating the cauldron, a thief would have to learn invisibility to spend five nights searching. Good luck with that. In the hypothetical scenario that someone does manage to pull off the impossible, they’d have to fight their way through the army leading underground and the blacksmiths from the smithing department. Let’s suspend reality further and pretend anyone could do that. How were they going to surreptitiously hoist out a cauldron taller than several adults stacked on top of each other and weighing tonnes – not to mention without burning themselves? But… exceptions to the rule always exist when you introduce freaks of nature to the equation…
Two young, newly-instated blacksmiths couldn’t make heads or tails of the dust still emanating from the rocky wall when they visited the toilet at the first layer.
“… Wh-who is that? Why is he coming out from inside? Isn’t there a mountain outside?!”
“I don’t suppose he’s the new leader of Sun Character Worship here to check on the progress of things?”
“You ever seen any of them come out from rocks? What happened to Master Hua? Isn’t he guarding the first floor?”
“He… is probably under the rubble…”
“Hey, the guards have arrived. Let’s get out of here.”
“No, he’s coming this way! It’s too late!”
Not only did the swordsmen fail to touch the intruder but also would drop whenever he meandered past them and fall into a catatonic state, yet nobody saw the intruder retaliate. All the intruder did was survey the surroundings, seemingly searching for something. When the supposed best swordsmen somehow stayed standing to charge at the intruder, he swatted them as though they were actual flies.
“Why aren’t any guards from the second or third floors coming to help?”
“Hey, guys,” hollered the intruder. “Have you two seen… a chubby rat?”
Yeah, this guy is a nutcase!
I’m never procrastinating again!
Shen Yiren, equally as bewildered as everyone else who saw the wreckage, moved the bits and pieces aside to find the entrance to a secret passage.
“Boss, I’ve been captured. Requesting assistance.”
In front of Ming Feizhen, who had his hands tied, were two young men with chattering teeth. It took a while for Shen Yiren to “Oh…” and then knock out the two young men to “rescue” him.
Ming Feizhen failed to find Wugufengdeng from the two blacksmiths or at the first floor from his search by the time he heard Shen Yiren catching up. Hence, he hurled the swordsmen down before she arrived. He then explained that he accidentally stumbled into the secret passage, leading to his arrest.
“Feizhen, we might have chanced upon Luo Sword Manor’s secret. Stay alert because this could be the most dangerous place.” Shen Yiren drew her sword.
After walking through an unguarded area, Shen Yiren asked, “We… have a fork in the road. Which way should we go?”
Ming Feizhen extended the range of his senses.
It’s a riot down the left path. I assume the heat coming from further down is the big cauldron’s work. I don’t sense anything on the right side, so there’s likely a heavy stone door or a hidden room even deeper down preventing me from hearing anything. If there’s a secret, it should be hidden down the path on the right. Well, there are also the unconscious swordsmen piled up on the staircase down the left side…
“What, you have something in mind?” Shen Yiren questioned.
Ming Feizhen pretended to perform a divination on his fingers: “This year, good luck is found on the right, and misfortune is to the left. Based on my profound knowledge of yin yang, the five elements and eight trigrams, we should go down the right path.”
If nothing else, he sounded serious enough to convince Shen Yiren he had a plan, though she couldn’t tell if the contents of the speech were legit or not.
Ming Feizhen suddenly stopped and looked in the opposite direction.
“What is it, Feizhen?”
“Nothing. I just thought someone was calling me.”
“And who would that be here? Get a move on before we run into patrols.”
Meanwhile, on the other side – third floor…
“Again?! You two never learn to give up?! One more time and I’ll skin you.”
“Scream now! Hit me now!”
Buried in a barrage of punches, Hong Jiu cried, “Leader! Big Bro! Where are you?! I can’t last much longer!”
Hong Jiu’s eighth attempt at breaking out – fail again.