Time passed quicker than anyone liked. Not the spiritual and demonic cultivators fighting at the canyon, nor the two cultivators hurrying towards a certain direction. It felt like the blink of an eye until they reached their destination, but that blink had cost dozens, possibly hundreds of lives already.
The mountain ridge was different from what Shi Yue had imagined.
It was simply a mountain ridge.
There was no especially dark feeling, or anything hinting at dark cultivators except maybe the large number of ravens waiting for scraps, but then again, this was how the sect had managed to stay hidden.
He and Xie Yi had stopped talking three days ago and slowed their pace. From now on, they were so close that it was better to stay unnoticed. No one patrolled the area at least, so it was easier to stay hidden.
Shi Yue let Xie Yi lead him, their hands holding each other tight.
The other cultivator’s eyes had changed colour, shining like an eclipse, and his face was both calm and frightening. A God of Death descended onto earth.
Shi Yue carefully scratched a finger over his lover’s palm and Xie Yi glanced back, giving him half a smile before continuing to scan the mountainside for the familiar stone formations that he remembered to be around the entrance he wanted to use.
Time and other factors had only changed the mountain slightly, and most of it was the same now as it would be in a hundred years.
Xie Yi listened to his surroundings as he approached the stone with his body hidden beneath the high shrub. This entrance was hardly ever used by anyone other than him, which meant at this time it shouldn’t be in use at all.
He felt no guard around.
Why would there be?
No one would check a whole mountain ridge for a single hidden entrance, especially if the entrance was hidden by ancient mechanisms. There truly was no need to protect it.
Once again, Xie Yi realized how much of a cheat his memories were. If he didn’t know about all of this, he’d be having a hard time finding any of the entrances.
Even if a hundred cultivators took their time to check the whole area, they’d not find a single entrance.
There wasn’t a single trap around, either.
If people noticed traps, they’d knew that there was something valuable around. Like this, all traps were centered inside the hidden building.
Xie Yi let his hand slide over the rock and Shi Yue watched the surroundings. Often he’d look over his shoulder to look at what Xie Yi was doing. His expression became one of surprise when he saw Xie Yi’s movements.
There were dozens, possibly hundreds of tiny natural grooves around the rock. Xie Yi touched them and, remembering the correct ones by feeling, placed his fingers against them and sent his energy into the stone, always making sure his ten fingers were placed on the correct combinations. There was a sound whenever he completed an area, but it was more of a small crunch that could also be coming from a random pebble moving a bit.
According to the elders, this particular entrance was likely one of those that only the ruling family inside the building would know about. A last resort to flee, or a chance to enter.
The combination itself was several times more annoying to remember than the way to the black market.
...There was a map for the code, actually, and any normal person would carry that around instead of memorizing it.
Once everything was input correctly, Xie Yi could push in a whole part of the stone. They’d have to crouch to enter, but it was enough for an adult male.
As soon as they were inside, the door closed itself.
Shi Yue curiously looked over the wall. He could feel every pulse through the whole mountain, as if this area had channels like a human being. It was abnormal but fascinating.
“There’s a leyline under here”, Xie Yi muttered. “Deep in the ground. That’s where it gets the constant energy from. Lots of mechanisms react only when activated by that energy from the inside.”
Shi Yue sighed. Leylines were a basically lost thing of the past. Too many wars where they ended up destroyed - the natural power supplies of this planet.
What a waste that the Demonic Sect had all of this. They couldn’t even use the spiritual energy with their cultivation.
The tunnel they continued to walk through was quite narrow. They had to duck and rely on Shi Yue to create light. Clearly, the mysterious but honestly lacking ventilation would not be able to endure a flame.
Xie Yi walked on with blind familiarity even when the path began to split. One or two of these would bring them to other places they didn’t want to go. All the rest were ugly dead ends.
Ancient defense mechanisms truly weren’t fun. Even less so if demonic traps had been placed on top.
The air was dusty and mostly stagnant, so Shi Yue noticed immediately when the softest draft appeared.
He raised his head a bit higher and Xie Yi, who was walking in front of him, squeezed his hand, then let it go. Shi Yue stopped walking and watched as Xie Yi went forward to what appeared to be another dead end.
It was too dark to make out how exactly this door was opened, but it did.
The room behind it appeared like a storage room. The kind of storage that was used often enough to not be weird if you walked into it, but not so often that people would remember it being there.
It was a storage room holding older, kind of useful things of mediocre worth. That much was clear to Shi Yue after a single glance.
He remembered what Xie Yi had told him.
Right now they were in one of the areas that belonged to the upper echelons. Not only the elders, but they were obviously included. Still, this area was placed in a corner mainly used for all kinds of storages - most of them better protected than this one - and it was a great corner to start their infiltration from.
Once again, the door closed behind them, so seamless that Shi Yue was unable to find any signs of a path behind it.
Xie Yi calmly pulled a bottle with a clear liquid out of his storage space. It was easily hidden beneath a couple of other things.
It was a product of the Demonic Sect, made with demonic energy. It wouldn’t be noticed.
But once this area burned, it too would explode. They only needed a single timed bomb. The rest could follow up in a chain.
Shi Yue watched the audacity with which Xie Yi placed the bomb and realized that this was a trait the Demonic Sect bred.
No one would ever find them here. No one would ever attack them here. They were safe to leave and act as they pleased.
And in fact, they were.
No one would find them here. And every member that knew where this was, was a trusted person. Heck, even if one of them betrayed the sect, people still wouldn’t find the entrance!
Who was their enemy in here?
No one, no one except for this single person who became an enemy mostly because he was reborn and could change his path. Otherwise, they’d be safe for much longer.
The Demonic Sect had more than enough people who wanted their lives, but those were all outside. Inside this safe place, they could let their guard down.
Shi Yue’s heart gave a twinge.
Everyone could let his guard down, except for the guard dog they had grown. That poor, poor person had been trained to never feel at ease. To always be wary. That was why he couldn’t sleep well even inside this fortress.
Xie Yi stood in front of the door with closed eyes. Everyone here had lowered their vigilance, so he’d notice people before they noticed him. They’d have to sneak around, but that was what they had expected in the first place. Once in a while, they’d be able to use some secret paths which would make it easier, but mostly they had to walk through the hallways.
And they were definitely suspicious. They’d stand out if anyone saw them. Xie Yi would still fit in, but everything about Shi Yue screamed spiritual cultivator. Let alone that the people who could enter this corner would recognize each other.
Or that no one should be here when everyone was out to fight for the safety of their precious canyon.