The ominous cave was filled with danger. Dark attribute demonic beasts could leap at you from nowhere.
As Xie Yao set foot in the cave, three shadows rushed toward her.
Xie Yao waved her staff. A ball of light formed in her palm and erupted with a dazzling brilliance.
The three shadows were blinded. Moments later, they regained their vision, but Xie Yao was already nowhere to be found.
Nie Yan looked after Xie Yao into the cave, watching her go. He saw the three shadows, the bright light, and then nothing. There was no more trace of Xie Yao.
After waiting for about 10 minutes, Nie Yan entered stealth.
The shadows in the cave were Shadow Demons, extremely fast monsters with powerful physical attacks. Most were around Level 160–170. Some were Level 180–190. They were ordinary monsters for the most part, with only a few Elite class ones here and there.
Nie Yan watched his steps as he carefully snuck past them.
Even though there were so many monsters, getting through here wouldn’t be difficult since he was a Thief. For a Holy Mage, on the other hand, it would be incredibly difficult to get through here without a scratch. Their safest bet was to clear away all the mobs before advancing.
Going forward, Nie Yan didn’t notice any corpses on the ground. He had no idea how Xie Yao was avoiding the Shadow Demons.
Xie Yao was intelligent to begin with. Playing a Holy Mage for so long, running dungeons with the other experts of the guild, along with Nie Yan’s guidance, she had honed her skills to an extremely high level. In fact, she occupied the spot of number one Holy Mage in Asskickers United.
Nie Yan faintly smiled as he thought of this.
After passing through many narrow, winding tunnels, the path up ahead opened up. It looked like a whole ‘nother world. This place was filled with darkness energy.
Walking through a patch of grass, Nie Yan arrived at the edge of a large lake. The water was pitch black, and the surface deathly still.
After reaching the lakeside, Nie Yan finally met back up with Xie Yao.
“Are we swimming?” Nie Yan asked. Looking into the distance, the lake surface was covered with fog. There was no way to see the other side.
Xie Yao shook her head. “There are monsters in there. Plus, the water is poisonous. We’ll be taking continuous damage if we step in it. There’s no way to safely swim across.”
“Then what do we do?”
“There’s a small boat that goes back and forth across the lake. It’ll come in a bit.”
Nie Yan and Xie Yao sat down in front of the shore. They chatted to pass the time.
“It seems like Tang Yao is in love. He is sending a new bouquet of flowers to Purple Pearl every day. She’s probably annoyed to death by now,” Xie Yao said. This was the hottest gossip going around in the guild the last few days.
A face surfaced in Nie Yan’s mind. Purple Pearl was an Alchemist in Asskickers United. One of their better ones, in fact; a Grandmaster. Tang Yao had learned the gathering skill. Every time he set out for the wilderness, he would pick some high level medicinal plants and hand it over to the Alchemists in the guild. That was probably how the two met.
“You think Tang Yao has a chance?” Nie Yan asked. He was quite concerned about this brother of his. He hoped Tang Yao could break away from the curse of his past life and find true love. It was that same painful memory that had haunted him so many times. Tang Yao falling in love with an escort in a bar he frequented, well aware how fickle she was. This woman was to be blamed for his death just as much as Liu Tianshi! Luckily, Liu Tianshi was dead already. The same fate couldn’t befall his friend in this life anymore. It was better to let the mirage of that other world disappear altogether.
“Pigs will fly in the sky before he gets her. She’s way out of his league.” Xie Yao giggled.
“Ah, not again.” Nie Yan facepalmed. Ever since they were young, Tang Yao always sought out the most mesmerizing beauties, only to be rejected time and time again. It seemed like this time wouldn’t be any different.
“Why do you have so little faith in Tang Yao?”
“It’s not that I don’t have any confidence in him, but the punk tries really hard to take away what little confidence I do have in him. Whenever he sees a beauty, his first head clocks out and the second one takes control. Have you heard his pickup lines? It makes me want to bash my head against a wall.”
“Sounds like you’re the expert. Are you really that good at picking up beauties?” Xie Yao asked, a dubious look on her face as she put her hands to her waist.
“E-eh, how did the conversation shift to me?” Nie Yan awkwardly coughed, and said with a smile, “Hehe. Just pretend I didn’t say anything?”
The two continued bantering with each other. Eventually, the silhouette of a boat appeared within the fog and slowly approached the shore.
“It’s here,” Xie Yao said.
Nie Yan’s heart trembled. Looking up ahead, he saw the empty boat slowly floating over, like an apparition in the fog.
This was sort of creepy. The boat was steering itself!
If it weren’t for Xie Yao leading the way, he would’ve probably wasted quite a bit of effort trying to get to the other shore.
The boat got closer and closer before stopping at the water’s edge. A faint, almost transparent figure stood at the bow. The captain! His appearance was impossible to make out. The only features slightly distinct were his hands holding the oars. This spirit looked like it could disappear at any moment.
Nie Yan clutched his dagger, wondering if he should take out this ghost. But Xie Yao grabbed his hand and shook her head. “We need him to get to the other side.”
Xie Yao led Nie Yan to the boat. The two carefully stepped on and sat down in the middle.
The ghost raised his head and looked at the two with a clouded expression. Then, he lowered his head back down and started rowing.
Nie Yan inspected the ghost with Transcendent Insight.
Lost Soul: Level 0
The ghost had zero attack power. Even the weakest player could kill him, but that would likely spell the end of this quest.
The boat slowly moved across the lake’s surface, breaking into the fog.
They travelled across the lake for 20 minutes, the thick fog barring their sight. Sure enough, if Nie Yan had killed this ghost, they would be completely lost. Looking down at the water, he realized he could see the lake bed, where aquatic plants grew. This lake wasn’t deep at all!
There was a golden light flickering up ahead. It seemed to be coming from the bottom of the lake.
“What’s over there?” Nie Yan asked. He couldn’t help but think of treasure.
“A treasure chest. In about three minutes, we’ll be able to see it. I haven’t tried to open it because of the Water Demons lurking in the lake. Plus, the boat won’t wait for us. And with how thick the fog is here, we’ll lose vision of the boat pretty quickly. We can’t use our teleportation items either. So, we’d have to open it within a minute or two, or lose sight of the boat and die,” Xie Yao explained.
Nie Yan glanced at his pet slots. “You can’t summon flying mounts here?”
“Mhm.” Xie Yao nodded.
“Do you know what grade that treasure chest is?” Nie Yan asked.
“No, I couldn’t get a good look. There was too much vegetation blocking my view.” Xie Yao shook her head.
Nie Yan started comparing the boat’s speed with his own swimming speed.
“You’re planning to open it?” Xie Yao asked.
“Yeah. I want to give it a try.” Nie Yan nodded.
“It’s really dangerous,” Xie Yao said in a concerned tone.
“Since the system placed a treasure chest there, that naturally means people can open it. So, it shouldn’t be impossible, right?” Nie Yan chuckled. Risk and danger came hand-in-hand. Too many people in Conviction had a risk averse mindset. If they never stepped out of their comfort zone, they would forever languish in mediocrity. He didn’t wish to become someone like that. The greater the danger, the greater the reward.
Xie Yao knew that once Nie Yan had set his sight on something, there was no way of stopping him.
“Alright, just be careful,” Xie Yao said.
“Don’t worry. Just wait for the good news,” Nie Yan said with a confident smile. He looked up ahead and gauged his distance from the chest. Then, he used the Leaper skill and soared 30 meters across the lake before plunging into the water.
As soon as Nie Yan entered the water, he activated an underwater breathing skill. As he swam down toward the chest.
It rested on the lakebed, sparkling with a golden light. Since the underwater vegetation was too dense, he could barely make it out.
Time was short. Nie Yan dove deeper.
Back when Nie Yan was still a kid, he used to swim all the time. He had the technique, and now that he was more physically fit, also the power to swim fast. Plus, with the underwater breathing skill, he was like a fish in the water.
About 30 seconds later, Nie Yan finally reached the chest. Standing on the lakebed, he pushed away the water plants, revealing a sparkling golden chest. It was half buried in the silt. Its appearance was quite unique, covered in serpentine-like designs with a trident symbol engraved on the lock.
It was a Sub Legendary-grade chest. Nie Yan wasn’t disappointed. Though he of course had hoped for a Legendary chest, this was also good.
Nie Yan gazed at his surroundings. The water was extremely calm. He didn’t discover any of the Water Demons Xie Yao was talking about.
If Nie Yan lingered here for too long, they’d probably detect his presence.
Let’s quickly get this chest opened! Nie Yan crouched down and started picking the lock.
Opening chest… Progress: 3%... 7%... 36%...
Time slowly ticked away. Nie Yan was a bit anxious. He hoped no monster would interrupt him. Please, just let me open this chest in peace!
Nie Yan raised his head. Suddenly, he spotted several silhouettes quickly swimming over from 10 meters away.