Cheng Yang immediately refused his request, saying, “Absolutely not. If you died, the territory would suffer a huge loss.”
Zhao Chuan wanted to argue with his lord, but only let out a sigh and left to go find a soldier up to Cheng Yang’s standards.
After a while, Zhao Chuan returned with a twenty-nine-year-old man in tow. Since he became a soldier after Zhao Chuan became a general, Cheng Yang didn’t recognize him.
Zhao Chuan introduced him, “My Lord, this is my subordinate Wang Cheng. He has agreed to help you in exchange for a favor.”
Cheng Yang nodded and addressed the soldier, “Do you understand the risks associated with what I’m asking?”
“I know that I will most likely die but how can that be considered a risk? Since that damn earthquake, every hour I’ve lived has been a struggle. Instead of dying in vain, I’d rather my life create value for my family. My Lord, I hope that after this you’ll allow them to stay in a house in the Inner City even after I am long dead,” Wang Cheng replied with a resolute expression.
Cheng Yang’s eyes flashed with profound respect. People with this kind of mindset were rare to find after the apocalypse. Although most people knew that their lives would be a constant struggle to live, how many people could genuinely embrace death?
“I give you my word that I will fulfill your request.” Cheng Yang said without hesitation.
Unable to stay silent, Zhao Chaun interjected, “My Lord, of this task will be as dangerous as you say it is perhaps you shouldn’t-“
“I know what I’m doing,” Cheng Yang cut him off. “I have a territory filled with tens of thousands of citizens who rely on me, so I don’t plan on dying any time soon. “
With a nod, Zhao Chuan gave up on persuading Cheng Yang not to risk his life.
A few minutes later, Cheng Yang left the village with Wang Cheng.
Ten minutes later, once the pair had reached the Mystery Gate, Cheng Yang thoroughly explained what the portal was.
“Now that you understand, here’s what I want you to do. Enter the Mystery Gate for me. Unless you’re attacked and killed immediately, there’s a chance you’ll survive so long as you find a good hiding spot. If you’re not dead, I’ll follow you inside and tell you what to do next.”
“Don’t worry my Lord. Although I would prefer to live, I am not afraid of death.” After saying that, Wang Cheng entered the portal with a steely resolve.
Once Wang Cheng disappeared, Cheng Yang sprinted back to Phoenix Village. He rushed straight towards the center until he arrived in front of the Warrior statue. Cheng Yang quickly checked the system pane. When he saw that the number of warriors hadn’t decreased, he felt relieved.
This meant Wang Cheng was still alive, and the Mystery Gate didn’t lead to a quick death. Unfortunately, Cheng Yang had no other way of checking to see of the Mystery Gate was safe to use. Although this method required him to sacrifice someone, it was the only way to guarantee that he wouldn’t die needlessly.
After another sprint, Cheng Yang found himself standing in front of the Mystery Gate once again. After taking a deep breath, he stepped inside.
Suddenly Cheng Yang was falling from an unimaginable height. His weightless body was tumbling into the void. With a violent shake, his momentum stopped, and he nearly blacked out. He found himself standing in a dense stone forest when he recovered.
“Is this the Yunnan province?” Cheng Yang wondered, staring at the stony trees that surrounded him. That was the only place in the world with a stone forest this big before the apocalypse, but he wasn’t sure this was the same place. After all, the gods had changed the geographic landscape entirely a few days ago. For all he knew, this was a desert in the past.
All of a sudden, a head popped out from a crack in the stone followed by a waving hand.
Even from a distance, Cheng Yang was able to recognize Wang Cheng.
Cheng Yang walked over to meet the soldier. “Nice spot. You’d be able to stay hidden here for days.”
“Yep, I got pretty lucky I’d say. After all, I finished your high-risk mission safe and sound. What do I need to do next?” Wang Cheng asked.
“You’ve done everything I need you too. Just stay hidden until the timer runs out and we get teleported back.”
When they passed through the Mystery Gate, both men were alerted by the system that there were just over five hours until the gate closed. On their system pane, a countdown had appeared that currently read 5:03:42. Cheng Yang estimated that the timer started at seven hours since the god’s messenger had made an announcement about two hours ago.
Wang Cheng didn’t even consider offering to help. His Lord’s strength was well known, so there was no reason for him to risk his life if Cheng Yang didn’t ask him too.
“Do you know where we are?” Cheng Yang asked while looking around.
“I’m not sure, but we’re definitely overseas right now.” Wang Cheng replied.
“Really? Why do you think so?”
“Look at the sun. It was getting close to setting back home but its early morning here.”
When he glanced up at the sun, Cheng Yang realized he had been far too unobservant. “Stay here. I’m going to go explore.”
“Stay safe, my Lord.” Wang Cheng gave Cheng Yang a heartfelt blessing. Not only had Cheng Yang developed Phoenix Village to the heights it was now, but it was also inevitable that if he died, the village would collapse.
Cheng Yang nodded. After Wang Cheng hid, he picked a direction to start moving in.
After walking less than ten steps, Cheng Yang felt a magical vibration that made his knees quake. Although there was nothing around, he quickly found a place to hide.
A few seconds later, a massive flying figure split the sky in half. As it flew past trees were uprooted, and a high pitched whistling could be heard as the wind whipped through the stones.
“Damn! What is that?” Cheng Yang thought to himself, his face white with fear.
Even from thousands of meters in the air, it had enormous presence. With a length in the hundreds of meters, it was enough to put any old-world aircraft to shame. Similar to a western dragon, the massive beast danced through the air as it flew.
Was it a monster or an Ascendant? Cheng Yang couldn’t tell. According to theories from his past life, when animals became Ascendants, they would mutate slightly. However, it should have been impossible for any animal on Earth to mutate into a dragon. It was even more implausible that the creature was a monster. If monsters that powerful had started spawning on the tenth day of the apocalypse in his last life, humanity wouldn’t even have lasted until the end of the second week.
Although Cheng Yang didn’t know what level the dragon was, it was definitely a higher level than a Mature or Exalted monster. It might have even reached the fifth or sixth stage of evolution, if those levels existed.
Even after the dragon was long gone, Cheng Yang wasn’t able to determine what it was.
With a wan smile, Cheng Yang wiped the cold sweat off of his forehead and continued exploring.
Although he had been careful before, his actions now were made with the utmost caution. There was a high chance that every single creature living in this area rivaled the dragon in power.
More importantly, where was the treasure? Although Cheng Yang had the memories from his past life to help him, no one had ever visited a stone forest. Humanities expansion outwards had been slow to non-existent, so it would probably have been decades before a human visited this area without a Mystery Gate.
Although he had tried to walk North, the winding paths of the stone forest forced him to travel in winding circles. It was far to easy to get lost in the forest’s dead ends, several forks, and twisted paths. If not for the rules of the Mystery Gate, Cheng Yang wouldn’t have dared to try and explore the forest.
Suddenly, a leopard sized rodent―a Rotoskr―sprang out from inside a hole in front of him. Cheng Yang was no stranger to having giant monsters suddenly appear, and he certainly wasn’t a stranger to killing them.
Rushing forwards, Cheng Yang greeted the six-legged rat with a frosty shard of ice.
Unable to dodge the Icicle Blast, the Rotoskr let out a grating squeak as it was hit in the chest.
However, it didn’t die. As a High-Grade Immature monster, this random mob would be able to go toe to toe with Cheng Yang if he wasn’t wearing any equipment.
Even so, Cheng Yang’s Movement Speed was higher, and he was a ranged fighter. The monster never stood a chance.
As Cheng Yang’s second attack hit, the Rotoskr collapse.
Just as Cheng Yang had relaxed, another Rotoskr jumped out of the same hole.
“Damn it! Is that a colony?” Cheng Yang cursed his luck as an Icicle Blast charged on the tip of his stave.