Unfathomable Senior

Chapter 624
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“Captain’s log, Stardate 800869. After descending into the depths of the sea we have encountered little resistance. The crew had been constantly circulating but was unable to discover any life signs of the enemy fleet. With no fish in sight, we fear for the worst…”

“What are you doing?”

“Huh? I uh… this is…”

Zhang Dong turned off the recording device that he was using to keep himself from being bored. The screen was showing just nothing but darkness in all directions. He wasn’t sure how far down underground they were but it was still going and the bottom of this sea had not presented itself to them.

His troops were able to pick up the path the underwater creatures took back by analyzing their spiritual energy. Everyone usually left behind trace amounts of Qi that could be sensed by some devices but also other cultivators. While masking this signature was possible these fish people certainly didn’t do their due diligence. The path was quite obvious but even after following it for a week, they didn’t find anything.

It was clear that their enemies didn’t expect anyone to dive down so deep and probably without the Golden Dong Palace in its current state it would not have been possible. The sheer amount of water pressure from all sides, coupled with the darkness that could easily disorient anyone made traversing these depths difficult.

“Is it something you picked up from that place you visited?”

“Yes, something like that.”

“Well, I’ll take a stroll around the palace and check up on a few things.”

“Take care.”

After giving his wife a smooch the two parted ways. After a whole week down here some people were getting spooked. They could go outside into the new outer yard of the castle but besides the shining light of the gold palace, everything was covered in darkness. There were no sounds from the outside and a battle could break out at any moment. Without knowing how long this would take, even the veterans were getting affected.

‘The palace isn’t the fastest but we have been going down at around a seventy-degree angle, this depth is quite staggering, how far does this sea even go?’

He could only continue to monitor the surroundings with his own superior senses while waiting for Bob to give him some kind of warning. Luckily with his system ever present he could check up on the state of the empire and confirm that nothing had changed. Now that they were a week into this dive, it would have been the perfect chance to attack their main city.

Nothing had happened, his previous assumption that the Long Clan was planning something was wrong. Now on the other hand he was concerned that they were acting strange. This was the perfect chance to make a move but perhaps his random teleportation escapades kept everything safe.

‘I hope that I’m just overthinking this and it will all be over after I take care of the Cerulean Empress. Though first, I have to actually find here… this trail could be a dead end too.’

At first glance it looked like the Cerulean Empire forces didn’t care about being found as the trail they left was quite obvious. This of course could have been a red herring. He could not discount the possibility of this being a path toward some type of trap or a wild goose chase that would take them nowhere and give his enemies enough time to regain their forces. Though after more than a month's passing since the last attack, he wasn’t sure if they needed more time to create more clones.

‘Maybe they just run out of ingredients for their classes, there don’t seem to be any fish left here, haven’t encountered any of those sea kings either. Could they have just used up all of them for the attacks?’

While pondering he looked at one of the screens and began waiting. There was nothing there and so it remained until they finally arrived at a new location. This location seemed to be at the ocean floor that was finally reached after another week of deep diving. His senses and the palace's detectors also picked up something interesting. The sea here was quite unruly and in the distance, the currents seemed to bend in unnatural ways. This was coupled with a surge of spiritual energy very familiar to him.

“Is this the edge of our empire’s sea?”

He asked himself while trying to compare the underwater current storm to the elemental one that separated the western region and the demi-human empire. It was very similar which made him believe that going any further than this would not be possible. Even the enhanced shielding of his fortress would be minced into pieces if he tried going through it. On the other side was probably where the Cerulean Empress and her forces came from.

“But I don’t see any bridges…”

The map that he copied from the Long Clan wasn’t very detailed when it came to this region. There was a giant red blob in the entire region which made it very hard to pinpoint the bridge from a glance. Now that he was here he finally realized why this bridge was somewhat unique.

While they were down on the ocean floor there was still somewhere that they could go. A huge chasm was down below and that was also where the trail was going towards. When looking even further it became clear that the enemy combatants would probably be somewhere down there,

“So they got in here through that… maybe beyond this blockade there isn’t really anything and this ‘Empire’ was hidden below this chasm but still within the Azure Empire's borders?”

He asked himself these questions while the golden palace was coming to a stop. It was possible to take a bit to come up with a strategy and also shed some light on this entire place. However even though the large lights from all the other ships and even the palace tried to pierce down into the giant hole, no bottom could be spotted. Soon enough he decided to leave this personal cabin and join his wife and all the other high-standing masters from his sect.

“What do you think?”

“I think that we are getting closer, what are we waiting for senior brother? Let us descend and get those damn sea monsters!”

“Why don’t you think for a moment? That chasm is wide but our maneuverability will be severely decreased if we go down there… what if it’s a trap?”

“A trap? This Huo Qiang doesn’t fear any traps, let them try!”

“How this idiot became the head of the Huo Clan and a founding elder at our sect…”

“Hah, if you are scared then you can stay here, me and my senior brother are enough to clear a path.”

“Don’t you even dare to talk about taking my husband along for a silly plan like that.”

“Uh… please you two, calm down… you are kind of making it hard for all the other elders to speak…”

Zhang Liena and Huo Qiang were back to arguing while everyone else could do nothing more than a glance. When the three founding grand elders were talking there was no space for anyone else to raise their voice. Now even less when Zhang Dong was also here, before the Zhang clan and the Huo clan sides would start arguing.

“If it was possible I’d like to send out a scouting vessel first. What if they placed some bombs on the walls to cave them in after we descend inside.”

Zhang Jin commented and the other elders started nodding. It was a reasonable assumption and a very old strategy everyone was familiar with.

“Isn’t this the only way out for them, would they block their only path outside just to get to us?”

This time Huo Qiao, one of the more faithful members and previously personal bodyguard of Huo Qiang, spoke out. In his eyes, the Cerulean Empress would risk losing access to the mainlands that she was trying to conquer if she caved in this place.

“Elders, the preliminary analyzation of the rocky formations has been done, a cave is not a probable event, the walls are just too hard to be broken, it’s like a natural barrier of heavenly might not much different than our own shielding technology.”

Another elder from the science department chimed in informing everyone of their surface-level analysis.

“If what they say is true then we should proceed inside, sending a scout vessel in these conditions will be hard, without the Golden Dong Palace our ships won’t be able to take the pressure of the sea.”

Zhang Dong decided to sit back and let his people decide on the best plan. There was no need for him to get involved in all of the decisions, moderating the conversations was enough. With him here the conversation couldn’t devolve into a shouting match like it did before his return.

The only downside of this method was that if he ever went away then things would probably go back to the old ways. He had not been able to think of a good solution for this problem but at least for the time he was here, he would make sure that things continued in this fashion.

“I think we have come to a decision then? Judging by the fact that it would be suicide for a smaller vessel to travel in so deep we will push forth with the palace.”

Everyone nodded as after an hour of deliberations they had come to a conclusion. While nascent soul masters and maybe some stronger core formation experts were able to resist the pressure, they still needed air to breathe. Some could hold out more than others but they would certainly not be able to sustain themselves on their spiritual energy forever.

Producing air with the Dao of air was possible but also draining without any natural air pockets around. Sooner or later everyone would succumb and suffocate. The gold fortress they arrived in had many plantlife that could produce oxygen and also some other devices to speed up the process.

“Let us depart then, be sure to light the path as the enemies could be coming for us from any direction.”

“As you command Patriarch!”

Thus the descent into the great unknown continued, what was down in the large chasm was unknown to them. They would certainly need to be careful as they were going to fight in the lands that were the home territory of the Cerulean Empire, a place they had never seen before.

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