Cheng Yang wasn’t the type to waste time, so he took the soldiers to sweep the area. They wouldn’t earn much from killing the monsters around here, only around three thousand Experience Fragments, but only in Cheng Yang’s eyes. To the soldiers, it was several days worth earnings.
When they returned to the cliff, the soldiers were shocked. The originally normal-looking cliff now had a cave entrance thirty meters wide. The inside was filled with a ghastly smog illuminated by a faint orange glow preventing them from seeing further inside. Above the opening, a few characters had been carved into the stone as if by a sword: Magma Wastes.
“What is this place?” Wang Yuan asked.
“Doesn’t it have a label?” Cheng Yang chuckled. “It’s the Magma Wastes.”
Wang Yuan gave Cheng Yang a dumbfounded look. Of course, she could read, but that didn’t mean she understood.
“There should be around a thousand monsters in there, so we should get started.”Cheng Yang said with a smile. “I brought you here to help me exterminate them.”
Cheng Yang stepped into the cave, closely followed by the others.
The cavern was incredibly wide, far more than the hill could contain. It was also sweltering and heavily smelled of sulfur and ash. It wasn’t surprising since the name implied as much.
The Magma Wastes were a dungeon, but not the same type as the Blood-Soaked Cathedral. The Magma Wastes was an open-world dungeon. Every month, a new one would appear in the vicinity of each safe zone as long as the previous one was conquered.
Unconquered dungeons had monsters a level higher than usual, which wouldn’t respawn naturally. To conquer it, all you had to do was kill every monster inside. After that, it would start spawning monsters at regular intervals.
In Cheng Yang’s previous life, the Magma Wastes weren’t cleared until the apocalypse’s sixth month, right before he died. This was considered slow since an open-world dungeon in Lagos was conquered during the apocalypse’s third month.
Losing out on a new dungeon spawning was a serious issue. It may not seem like it since there were plenty of monsters to kill in the wilderness, but that wasn’t the case. The spawn rate would continue to decrease over the next few months in every area except the open-world dungeons and monster Nests.
Unfortunately, Nests were an unreliable source of income. Most would be destroyed because they were a threat, and those that weren’t were too far away to be useful.
Nests were considered strategic resources, and only a strong enough force could benefit from one without being destroyed by it. As a result, national governments or military forces controlled all of the Nests in Cheng Yang’s previous life.
As a result, once the spawn rate decreased to a certain extent, and the hordes in the wilderness were too strong to challenge without a unified safe zone, open-world dungeons would become the only efficient way to gather Experience Fragments.
It was the same for the villages in the Phoenix Empire. The five battalions were exhausting themselves at the very edges of the wilderness for low returns while the new Adventurers and town guards had to be content with earning next to nothing in the areas near the walls.
Phoenix Village had seven hundred square kilometers of cleared wilderness surrounding it. Over such a vast area, around four hundred thousand monsters spawned a day.
It may sound like a significant number, but it averages out to around twenty-five monsters per square kilometer per hour.
Think about it. If everyone with a class spread across the available area, there would be more than ten per square kilometer. Hunting monsters would be pitifully inefficient, and even higher level people would only earn a handful of Experience Fragments a day.
Open world dungeons were different. Monsters’ respawn locations were fixed and respawned every ten minutes—moreover, the monsters in open-world dungeons respawning in groups instead of individually. Sometime respawn points created a dozen monsters, and others a hundred, making it perfect for group battle training.
So, Cheng Yang made it a priority to conquer the Magma Wastes.
Of course, open-world dungeons had downsides as well. The monsters inside were twice as powerful, making it difficult for anyone below the High-Grade level to hunt there.
The entrance sloped downwards for tens of meters before suddenly opening up into a vast cavern baking in the dull red glow of boiling stone.
“My Lord, the heat is-” Jiang Yang was cut off by Cheng Yang.
“Don’t worry. I’ve already prepared for that.” Cheng Yang took Undine’s Tear out of his ring, chilling the air around them.
A hundred meters later, the group encountered another obstacle. The path they were following, which was around thirty meters wide, had narrowed to just seven meters. Moreover, it was surrounded by endless seas of lava.
“My Lord, this…” Wang Yuan hesitated, “How are we supposed to cross that?”
“By walking.” Cheng Yang chuckled. “Don’t worry. As long as you don’t fall in, it will be perfectly safe. Also, make sure you kill the monsters in the lava before they get close to you.”
“Monsters in the lava? What level?” Jiang Yang asked.
“The weakest are High-Grade monsters, but they’re all as powerful as a Pinnacle-Grade monster from outside.”
“That…” Jiang Yang was at a loss for words. “How are we supposed to fight that? Is there something we need in here bad enough to face those kinds of monsters?”
“We might find a few things, but that’s not why we’re here.” Cheng Yang said, “The Magma Wastes are primarily a place to earn Experience Fragments.”
“My Lord, is this a good decision? The monsters are stronger, but won’t the Experience Fragments rewarded stay the same?” Wang Yuan argued. “Isn’t that too risky? Isn’t hunting normally better?”
Cheng Yang sighed. Since there wasn’t a better way to convince them to keep moving, Cheng Yang thoroughly explained the importance of open-world dungeons.
“So, that’s why we need to fight those monsters. Once the dungeon is conquered, the monsters will return to their normal strength, and the magma will recede enough to allow travel without Undine’s Tear. Do you understand now?”
The soldiers nodded.
“Good. I’ll lead the way. You follow and attack any monsters you see as soon as they appear.” Cheng Yang said while stepping onto the narrow path alongside Enlai, who acted like he owned the place. “Even with their strength, surviving more than two attacks will be difficult.”
The magma’s heat was so intense the air distorted, but even so, none of them felt a thing. It was an amazing experience.
It only took ten seconds for the first monster to appear. Twenty meters to their right, a living ball of fire rose from the lava sea’s bubbling depths.
“What’s that?” Jiang Yang asked, peering at the small ball of fire with curiosity.
“Dead!” Cheng Yang declared while charging up a spell.
At the same time, Enlai rushed in front of the group, positioning itself between them and the monster. He knew his only use in this kind of terrain was as a meat shield.
When they saw Cheng Yang begin to attack, the others prepared to fight as well. Then, in tandem, five streaks of light flew towards the fireball. They weren’t elite soldiers for nothing.