Cheng Yang ran the entire way there. Whenever he encountered monsters, he directly killed them.
Half an hour later, he arrived at the entrance to The Forgotten Grave. He then directly entered the instance with his subordinates.
Since the strongest monster inside was a Pinnacle-Grade monster, Cheng Yang and Enlai were like gods of combat inside.
Clearing the instance was a lot easier than the Abandoned Citadel. A combo attack instantly killed the pseudo-boss of the dungeon, and the rest were cleaned up within minutes. The priests they brought didn’t even have the chance to show off.
Once the fighting ended, and Cheng Yang saw the numerous Black-Iron items littering the ground, he had an impulse not to bother picking them up.
Cheng Yang sighed. His heights were set so far above ordinary people now. The first time he wrested a piece of Bronze Green equipment from a monster, he was filled with indescribable joy. Now he felt like picking them up was too troublesome.
Thankfully, he didn’t need to take action personally. The priests he brought along were already moving to collect the equipment. At this point, that much equipment was a fortune for them. Even if Cheng Yang sold it on the Auction House, he would get a few hundred Experience Fragments.
Letting the others deal with the mob drops, Cheng Yang ran to the back of the canyon. Once he arrived, he saw an item floating above the pedestal without the support of a chest.
It was a necklace. One Cheng Yang had been looking forward to obtaining since he had been reborn.
Sigh of Ice and Snow
When the Goddess of Ice and Snow died in the war, her corpse transformed into a stunning piece of jewelry: The Sigh of Ice and Snow. It changed hands dozens of times before being lost to history. Over billions of years, the furious blizzards and permafrost within have sealed many of the necklaces functions.
Grade: White Copper
Requirements: High-Grade Apprentice
Effect: Extend the Frozen status by 0.5 seconds
Effect: Increase spell damage by 80%
Sealed: Upgrade to Red Gold
Sealed: Unknown Condition
Sealed: Unknown Condition
Sealed: 100,000 Experience Fragments
Upgrade Condition: 1,000 Experience Fragments
Even though it was the lowest possible grade of equipment and most of its power was sealed, this was the single most powerful item Cheng Yang possessed. It was even better than his Red Gold staff.
Although it was ranked lower than Green Bronze equipment, White Copper equipment wasn’t the same as starter gear since it had durability. Using more universal game terms as a reference: starter gear was level one, whereas White Copper gear was level 5, and Green Bronze was level 10. After that, every rank of equipment would increase the difference by an additional five. Black Iron was level 20, Purple Silver was level 35, and Red Gold was level 55.
Unfortunately, even though Red Gold equipment was outstanding, it couldn’t close the gap between evolutionary stages. A Low-Grade Apprentice might be able to beat a High-Grade Apprentice by getting twinked, but a Pinnacle-Grade Apprentice wouldn’t be able to defeat a Low-Grade Scholar even with a full set of Red Gold equipment.
As for how equipment fared after the Scholar levels, Cheng Yang wasn’t clear. After all, no one had reached that level in his previous life.
Regardless, Cheng Yang felt that the Sigh of Ice and Snow would be able to carry him through the Scholar levels at the very least. It’s increase to spell damage was astronomical, and the stun buff was good too. However, Cheng Yang had a hunch that the necklace’s real powers were the ones currently sealed.
Although it was demotivating to read the unsealing requirements, the actual upgrade conditions weren’t that bad. It only needed a thousand Experience Fragments to upgrade the necklace from the White Copper grade to the Green Bronze one.
However, that low price worried Cheng Yang. Although it seemed like there wasn’t a conflict between upgrading the necklace and unsealing it, Cheng Yang could think of several ways they were related.
If he upgraded it before unsealing, what if it reset the equipment to White Copper? On the other hand, what if the quality of the unsealed effect directly correlated with the equipment’s grade before unsealing. There was no way to test that, so Cheng Yang’s anxieties forced him to wait until he needed better equipment to do so.
Since he got what he wanted, Cheng Yang left the instance dungeon. Then, he and Enlai returned to Phoenix Village.
Once he was approaching the Southern Bridge, Cheng Yang dismounted and had Enlai hide. Since Yuna Jianzhe wanted to break their contract, he would catch him in the act!
Cheng Yang’s senses had moved beyond mere sight. Now, so long as he wasn’t underground, he could see clearly at night.
After a few minutes of searching, Cheng Yang spotted a pair of spies behind a broken wall.
“I’m just saying, I think this is dumb! Why should we worry about a few deserters? Even if there were thousands of them, we’d crush them easily, so why not let them starve out there in the forest?” Asked a light voice.
“Just shut up and watch, or do you want to haul shit out of the safe zone like the others?” Another deeper voice growled. “If we could have defeated them, why do you think we’ve resorted to measures like this? You weren’t there that day, but the leader of that group is a total monster!”
“How powerful could one person be?”
The deep voice groaned. “Keep this a secret since we don’t want anyone to panic, but he slaughtered over a hundred soldiers without breaking a sweat. If he isn’t taken care of, even if we brought our whole army, we’d be screwed.”
“How is that possible? Everyone should be at about the same level. Even if he was one or two ahead, he shouldn’t be that powerful.”
“If you don’t want to believe that, I don’t care, but just know, if we ever do see him trying to cross into our territory, we’ll die as soon as we fire the flare.”
“That’s absurd, do you….”
Cheng Yang had heard enough. Although these soldiers were technically close enough to the bridge to consider it a violation of the contract, it wasn’t worth it for Cheng Yang to kill them and startle Yuan Jianzhi. Unfortunately, all he learned from them was that the bridge was under surveillance, he wasn’t able to prove that the people spying on the village were doing so under Yuan Jianzhe’s orders.
Although Cheng Yang didn’t plan to go to war if the contract was broken, he was disappointed. If he had caught Yuan Jianzhe red-handed, he would be able to extort more money from him.
Cheng Yang arrived at Phoenix Village around eleven that evening. After a quick meal, he cleared the Nightmare Difficulty Blood-Soaked Cathedral.
Then, Cheng Yang used his newly acquired Ranger Statue Lifting Stone and finished his daily training.
After that night, Cheng Yang’s experience bar nearly broke through the fifty percent milestone. He was one step closer to becoming a Scholar.
In his previous life, there were hundreds of Scholars among the survivors. With their appearance, humanity was no longer defenseless. As for the safe zones, staying near them was like being on a field trip.
So, even though his training was progressing well, Cheng Yang always felt a sense of urgency. If he weren’t able to become a Scholar before a monster siege occurred, everything he worked for would disperse in the wind like a castle of sand.
No one knew how unpredictable the world could be more than Cheng Yang. In the past, no one thought a disaster could appear from nowhere, resulting in hundreds of territories falling overnight. Phoenix Village was one of them. Cloud City was in more danger than usual, and there was one simple reason: Shennongjia.  Even before the world ended, Shennongjia represented the mysterious unknown.
Cheng Yang kept the danger posed by Shennongjia secret since he didn’t want others to despair. He was the backbone of the village, so he needed to appear confident. Otherwise, how could anyone else feel at ease?
When he finished training, Cheng Yang cleared the Blood-Soaked Cathedral again before starting new research. He also sold off the potions he made that night.
Only one chore remained before Cheng Yang left for Crane Summit. He bought all of the Stones of Return from the Grocery and listed them on the Auction House.
After that, he rode Enlai towards Yicheng. Using a Statue Lifting Stone was just far too wasteful, so Cheng Yang was unwilling to do so.
His goal today was simple: gather enough wood for Crane Summit to build a wall and the Lumber Mill. Without him protecting the new soldiers while they transported the lumber, the casualties would be unimaginable.
After building those structures, the village would become self-sufficient since the soldiers wouldn’t need to venture deep into the wilderness.
After that, Cheng Yang would take Lau Hui to find the second Territory Altar.
 Shennongjia is a state administered forestry reserve