Xie Yi made an unhappy noise and, after some consideration, blasted the door to pieces. He didn’t plan to stick around for so long that someone would find the destroyed door.
As soon as it was open, Shi Yue had to gag. The stench didn’t overwhelm Xie Yi, but he was just as disgusted. Even more so by the sight in the room.
Other than the youth, no one had seen how the flowers grew. There had been a rough description, but nothing could be compared with the reality before him. Shi Yue paled and clasped a hand before his mouth.
There were only five bodies. That was a sign of how hard it was to raise the plants, especially since only one of them looked healthy and the others were small and slightly withered.
Their opened bodies were blaring red, the bit of left intact skin full of scars. Xie Yi wasn’t worried - these were the corpses of demonic cultivators, as could be seen by the dark core, and he hardly cared for their souls.
The flowers were quickly crushed under his hands.
Another bomb was placed within the room before he looked at Shi Yue, who was as white as a sheet. The man hadn’t moved an inch away from the doorframe.
“Are you okay?”
Shi Yue laughed sadly. His eyes moved away from the corpses, towards the walls. “I fear that my imagination hadn’t been able to draw the image as gruesome as it is in reality.”
“Unwell?” Xie Yi frowned and nervously walked over. He didn’t know how other people would take the sight.
Shi Yue shook his head. “It’s okay. We should hurry.”
They left the experimental corner behind.
It was halfway through the lower floor when Xie Yi’s steps faltered first, shortly followed by Shi Yue. Without hesitation, Xie Yi pushed both of them into a nearby room and locked the door behind them.
The steps they had heard were quickly approaching.
With their superior senses, they heard quiet cursing and steps much too loud for any good cultivator. Being out of visual range, the muddle-headed researcher would not even notice their existence if he cared to search for it, and he wasn’t.
The curses he spat out were filthy to the point of embarrassing Shi Yue, who listened for all sounds around them.
The researcher hadn’t wanted to leave his safe little corner. He was one of the weakest, both in strength and in hierarchy - so when his boss had demanded him to get the notebooks from the man’s room, he had to go.
Who needed something to keep themselves busy when there was a war out there?! Of course, that bastard was safely sitting behind walls of arrays, but he had to go!
And the building was damn creepy if there was no one around!
The researcher blurted out another row of curses under his breath and hurried his steps to the point of nearly jogging.
Xie Yi leaned against the door from the inside. They were inside a room filled with research materials - shelves and shelves filled with books, folders with sketches and notebooks. They were, however, all of the more official kind and not private notebooks like what the researcher was sent to fetch.
A finger tapped on Xie Yi’s shoulder and the youth replied by flicking a finger towards his throat; a rough gesture of slitting it.
Killing the guy meant that the others would get suspicious soon.
But leaving him alive… Well, it would have been possible if his direction wasn’t right past the clearly destroyed door of the flower room.
The man’s steps slowed when the obvious stench reached his nose. They halted, then slowly continued on with his breath lowering.
When the first crunch of debris under his shoes reached Xie Yi’s ears, the cultivator stepped out.
The researcher did not react until he noticed a shadow looming over him. He slowly turned around, looking into a beautiful smiling face with fearsome, shining red eyes.
“Hi”, Xie Yi said and even cheekily waved at him. “Do you want a really good hint from a random passer-by?”
The researcher did not even ask what kind of random passer-by would manage to sneak into the Demonic Sect’s main quarters. His voice was hoarse in his dry throat. “What hint?”
“Don’t be a demonic cultivator next time. This world doesn’t like it, so you’ll always be on the disadvantage”, Xie Yi said earnestly and patted the researcher’s shoulders. The man was young, not much older than Xie Yi himself. Too bad he had chosen the wrong direction.
There were a number of exceptionally gruesome ways to kill a person given the nearby tools and a researcher of that sect deserved every single one of them.
Yet, Xie Yi chose one of the simplest and quickest ways. The temptation to spend some time was large but this wasn’t the time for it, and he wanted to avoid showing too much cruelty in front of Shi Yue.
The crunch of the man’s spine was accompanied by the gurgle of a crushed windpipe. He sunk to the floor and Xie Yi wiped his hand on his thankfully dark clothes (the throat of a low-level cultivator was really not durable when compared to a Grandmaster’s physical strength).
“And on we go”, Xie Yi said, going back around the corner and joining the waiting Shi Yue.
Far away, the army of spiritual cultivators was still doing everything within their might to drag out the fight and destroy the canyon. The war raged on and the common people hid, waiting in fear for the outcome.
Those that were left behind in the sects were quiet and solemn as they did their tasks to ensure that their people would have a warm welcome once they were back. No one spoke of deaths, but people prayed at night when they were alone.
The Transcendents of the world who were not allowed and not willing to intervene listened and watched.
Days seemed to pass like seconds and yet dragged on like years as bodies fell and blood dripped in rivers.
In turn, the headquarters of the Demonic Sect were quiet.
After another hour, Xie Yi was the one to hold back on cursing out loud for the sake of his beloved who did not like such language. He grit his teeth and wrapped another layer of gauze around his bleeding arms.
Not all safety mechanisms were the same as before, and it was impossible for him to get through it without a mistake.
Because he wanted Xie Yi to be at his best in case they had to fight, Shi Yue was the one who supplemented the vast majority of energy needed to destroy the mechanisms leading to the uppermost floors. He was wheezing, his whole body beginning to hurt as if he had sore muscles from too much practise.
“I’ll take the next one”, Xie Yi stiffly tried to convince him.
“You know them and how they fight. It’s better if you are ready. Let me do these tasks”, Shi Yue said, eyeing the bloody gauze worriedly. The backlash of some mistakes would have torn off the arms of cultivators below Master-stage. For Xie Yi, they merely left deep cuts.
“We have it soon”, Xie Yi promised. “Three more to go.”
But sadly, they did not know what was awaiting them on the highest floor. The people who lived up there were strong enough to hide their presence on this distance, just as Shi Yue and Xie Yi could. Pitted against each other, they were like common people.
The upper floor had a completely different aura from the lower ones. Where the lower ones felt dangerous and tainted, the upper one was peacefully silent. If Shi Yue had simply walked through here, he wouldn’t have expected a demonic sect to live here.
There were even pictures on the wall - large drawings, mostly of beasts, some of landscapes - and everything felt as if it belonged to a common castle.
Shi Yue avoided speaking, but Xie Yi gave him a wry smile nonetheless.
No one could deny that the upper-tier lived comfortably. After all, their main goal in life was a life where they could live under their own rules and spend their days leisurely. The Demonic Sect was a small version of that, which was why the entire floor was clean and neat.
Which room belonged to which person was even funnily obvious and something he could tell from afar.
There were common doors for random rooms, two doors that were clearly hiding important things that shouldn’t be touched, more personalized doors for living spaces…
And the five equally lavish doors on the other side of one double-winged door that Xie Yi made an unhappy face to. The office.
Right on the other side of the elders’ personal living spaces.
One could comment that it was weird they shared a hallway with others so happily, but the last person trying to walk down the hallway to their doors without being allowed to hadn’t left much behind.
That wasn’t even a net of arrays anymore, it was a wall.
And it would be a great annoyance to unravel.