“Seventh sister…” Dongfang Minghui muttered. Her hair stood on end, and she accidentally fed her hand into Uncle Wood’s mouth. In the dense smoke, she noticed something white looming. She widened her eyes, trying to make out the shape amidst the smoky chaos.
Toothless prowled around the golden-red flame, occasionally growling towards it, seemingly agitated. The flame emitted a crackling sound accompanied by a foul stench. Under Toothless’s intense heat, the white object began to take form, standing upright like a human. No, it was a ‘person’. Dongfang Minghui held her breath, scrutinizing the entity’s every move.
“Ah!” She cried out in surprise. Her focus was interrupted by a sharp pain in her wrist. Looking down, she saw Uncle Wood biting her wrist. It had taken him awhile to draw blood, and when he did, it gushed out. With gritted teeth, Dongfang Minghui managed to mumble, “Woo! Wood! Uncle! Uncle!”
“Qian Ziyan!” Qian Wanyu finally managed to snap the falcon’s neck. She threw the lifeless bird into the air, where it was instantly engulfed by the golden-red flame. From her vantage point, she could clearly see the white object. It was a pile of bones, covered in black streaks, giving it a rather terrifying look. More shockingly, the bone seemed sentient and was autonomously assembling a skeleton.
She quickly descended, attempting to separate Ninth Sister and Qian Ziyan.
Qian Ziyan was obstinate. He bit into Dongfang Minghui’s wrist unyieldingly, drawing blood with a certain fervor. The corner of his mouth was smeared with blood that he failed to swallow in time, giving him the appearance of a vampire.
“Uncle Wood, stop draining my blood…” Dongfang Minghui’s vision began to dim and her voice grew weaker. She gestured towards the phantom, “Seventh sister, be careful behind.”
“Qian Ziyan, let go of her!!!” Qian Wanyu shouted. She noticed that Ninth Sister’s face had turned pale and her rage towards Qian Ziyan surged.
A humanoid skeleton emerged from the golden-red flame and darted towards Toothless with a swift gait. Toothless lowered his massive body, slightly bending his forelegs, ready for a confrontation. However, when the white skeleton approached Toothless, it swiftly turned around and charged at Qian Wanyu and Dongfang Minghui.
“Wanyu, watch your back.”
Just as Qing Mo’s soul body swooped down, Qian Wanyu turned around, and there before her was the white bone skeleton, its empty eyes holding a chilling void.
“Now, let’s go.” Sleepy Dragon Seal lightly tapped Qian Ziyan’s forehead with his arm, freeing Dongfang Minghui’s wrist. Their surroundings seemed to freeze, then space distorted before their eyes.
As unexpectedly as their arrival, they vanished without a trace in an instant.
After a long and tedious fall, Dongfang Minghui found herself in Qian Wanyu’s arms. She felt weak, probably from blood loss, and lay there with her eyes shut. Thankfully, her bite wound was healing slowly.
“Wanyu,” Qing Mo began, glancing around. They were back where they started. The tree was the same, but its leaves were all withered. The valley was empty and the surroundings had subtly changed. “Wanyu, look at this place.”
Qian Wanyu looked at Qing Mo, perplexed. “You haven’t returned to my soul sea yet, which means we failed to go back twenty years into the future.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal was stepped on by Qian Wanyu, flattening it. “Quickly, let go.”
Why did it always have to be trampled upon landing? It must have been landing incorrectly!
Qian Wanyu swiftly retreated, holding Dongfang Minghui close. “Sleepy Dragon Seal, which timeline are we in now?”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal managed to straighten up. It shook itself and its trampled form filled out again. After some light hopping, it responded, “We’re a bit off.” It was still the wrong time.
Fortunately, they were only three years from the correct time, not thirty.
Qian Wanyu thought of the moving bone she saw last. She narrowed her eyes, “Qing Mo, could that skeleton be Meng Ruoyu, who was burned to death by the flames?”
Qing Mo surveyed the area. The valley’s lone tree seemed to be dying; its leaves were almost gone. Autumn hadn’t arrived, yet the tree was bare, giving off a sense of desolation. “Meng Ruoyu is different from a typical Death Spiritual Master. I suspect it has something to do with the corpse refining technique he’s practiced.”
“Three years ago…” Qian Wanyu frowned and nudged the Sleepy Dragon Seal with her toe. “How can we get back to the original point, do you know?”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal glanced at Dongfang Minghui, who was still unconscious, and cautiously replied, “I’m not sure. Last time, I felt it due to a slight response from the Dragon Valley, but this time—I don’t know why—we’re back here.”
Three years ago meant that seventeen years had passed since they fought Meng Ruoyu.
Qian Wanyu furrowed her brow. “Qing Mo, did we miscalculate?”
“Ninth Sister and I met Qian Ziyan around this time. You and Ninth Sister previously mentioned that the Dragon Seal blocked off the entire Dragon Valley, so—”
How did Qian Ziyan escape?
Qing Mo: “…”
The two of them exchanged glances, then simultaneously turned to look at the Sleepy Dragon Seal.
The Sleepy Dragon Seal vehemently shook its head. “I didn’t do it, I swear.”
Qian Wanyu studied its distressed expression, convinced it wasn’t deceiving her. “Last time, we went to the abyss to kill Meng Ruoyu. This time, we need the Sleepy Dragon Seal to take us to the heart of the Sleepy Dragon Valley, no matter what. We need to investigate the location.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal instinctively retreated, clearly unwilling.
Qian Wanyu narrowed her eyes slightly. “Don’t worry. We won’t try to seal the Dragon Valley. Plus, even you probably don’t know what’s beneath the deep pool, right?”
Sleepy Dragon Seal tilted his large head, as if contemplating the feasibility of Qian Wanyu’s proposal.
The conversation ended abruptly, leaving an eerie silence that lasted until Dongfang Minghui regained consciousness. She felt dizzy and weak. Recalling Uncle Wood’s previous ruthlessness, she subconsciously glanced at her wrist, “Huh——”
“Ninth Sister, what’s wrong?”
“Why is the fairy rope gone?” Dongfang Minghui stared at her wrist; it was bare, not even a trace left. Could it be that the fairy rope had been eaten by Uncle Wood…
“Didn’t you put it away before?” Qian Wanyu had never paid much attention to the thin rope-like plant tied around Ninth Sister’s wrist, especially since it was covered by her wide sleeves.
Dongfang Minghui’s face was filled with disappointment. The fairy rope could slowly regrow and be used multiple times…
“Ninth Sister, don’t be sad. Worst-case scenario, if we meet those fairy boys again in the future, I’ll ask their ancestors to get us another one.” Qian Wanyu regretted her earlier negligence. If she had been a bit more attentive, Qian Ziyan might not have eaten it all.
“The chance of meeting them again is slim.” In the vast world, the probability of bumping into them was negligible.
Qian Wanyu’s face was tense, unsure of how to comfort Dongfang Minghui. She simply held her and gently patted her back, much like one would comfort a child.
Amused by Seventh Sister’s efforts to console her, Dongfang Minghui finally took notice of their surroundings. The first thing she saw was the large tree, almost devoid of leaves. Quickly, she got up from Qian Wanyu’s embrace, “Seventh sister, look, I told you this is the tree that saved me.”
Right on cue, the large tree rustled, its leaves moving more violently than before.
“So, Seventh Sister, will the valley we’re in be swallowed by the abyss soon?” The only living tree in the valley had withered.
“But as far as I know, normal plants should die soon after withering. How did this tree survive until we came to Sleepy Dragon Valley?” Qing Mo was puzzled.
“And despite the valley’s collapse, this place hasn’t sunk.”
When things seemed amiss, there was usually a hidden reason. Qian Wanyu scrutinized the tree, but she couldn’t find anything unusual. “This tree seems normal. It might just be a coincidence.”
Dongfang Minghui still remembered the tree’s life-saving act. When she first woke up, she was precariously positioned next to the cliff of the abyss, able to see the bottomless pit.
“Big tree, you have to stay strong.” She poured the last bottle of spirit liquid she had refined into the tree’s roots. The tree swayed again as if it was grateful.
Sleepy Dragon Seal watched eagerly, attentively following Dongfang Minghui. Wherever she went, it trailed behind.
Dongfang Minghui probably knew what it wanted. After teasing for a while, she looked up at the sky and said deliberately, “The weather is really nice today, the little bean sprouts should come out to sunbathe.”
Sleepy Dragon Yin chased after her eagerly, and stretched out its hand automatically, “Give me the little bean sprouts.”
Originally, its spirit body had no hands, just a big head and a leg underneath, looking like a key shape. But for the sake of the little sprouts, Sleepy Dragon Yin had formed two more hands, and seemed so used to this form, that it forgot to change back to its original state.
“Sleepy Dragon Seal, at most one hour, once the hour is over, you have to take us to the cave with the deep pool from last time.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal seemed lethargic, even as it held the little bean sprouts, it didn’t appear to have any energy. It silently carried the sprouts to the highest point in the valley, where the two large boulders were located, “Why do they want to go to the deep pool? It’s so dangerous.”
Even it, a guardian of the Sleepy Dragon Seal, didn’t dare to venture into the deep pool willingly.
Since gaining consciousness, it has harbored an inexplicable fear of what lies in the deep pool. Furthermore, the memory fragments beneath the pool were unstable and prone to collapse. The previous incident was purely accidental, and it never expected that its host would be reckless enough to jump into the fragments, getting stuck and unable to move.
Little Bean Sprout shook its big head and extended a tiny leaf to gently stroke Sleepy Dragon Seal’s finger, retracting it after a few strokes.
The unexpected touch startled the Dragon Seal, taking it a moment to realize that Little Bean Sprout was comforting it. “Little Bean Sprout, you can understand me, can’t you?”
Little Bean Sprout pulled its head back in, pretending to ignore the Sleepy Dragon Seal.
From Sleepy Dragon Seal’s perspective, Little Bean Sprout was simply enjoying the sunlight lazily, its proud appearance particularly pleasing. “Little Bean Sprout, you are so kind.”
Having lacked companions since its birth, Sleepy Dragon Seal felt comforted by Little Bean Sprout’s presence, filling it with joy.
This joy didn’t fade until Dongfang Minghui approached.
Sleepy Dragon Seal unwillingly handed over Little Bean Sprout to Dongfang Minghui, “The deep pool is very dangerous. You should keep Little Bean Sprout in your space temporarily. I can guide you there, but I won’t join you. I hope you can come out alive.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal had resolved that if these two violated the taboo of the Dragon Valley or perished in the deep pool, it would seal itself away, never to leave the Dragon Valley again.
Dongfang Minghui noticed that Sleepy Dragon Seal seemed different, its usually gloomy aura was absent. She patiently reassured it, “Sleepy Dragon Seal, don’t worry. We won’t touch anything beneath the deep pool. We’re just trying to solve some lingering mysteries and hope to find answers at the bottom.”
Sleepy Dragon Seal pondered in silence. Every outsider who had arrived here sought the secret of the Sleepy Dragon Seal, but they were torn apart by the Nine Dragons guarding the stone gate before they could reach the deep pool. The Nine Dragons were horrifying enough; beyond them, there were even more formidable guardians lurking beneath the deep pool, a taboo that no one must touch.
They advanced towards the Nine Dragon Cave without obstruction. Just like seventeen years ago, there were no surprise attacks from monsters. Suspicious, Qian Wanyu took a detour and inspected every path they trod. There were indeed monsters residing there, but strangely, these creatures seemed lifeless, lying still as if asleep. “It’s like a silent valley of death.”
Sleepy Dragon Seal was unsure why the Dragon Valley had become so still. Since its earliest memory, the Dragon Valley had been bustling with activity. All the changes began when the Dragon Valley was sealed twenty years ago; since then, all the creatures in the valley seemed to have fallen into slumber.
One could only wonder if the nine dragons in the Nine Dragon Cave were also soundly asleep.
Sleepy Dragon Seal knew the way well and took the lead into the entrance of the Nine Dragon Cave. Unexpectedly, it began to bounce around in front of the two guards, “Hey, I’m here, here.”
Dongfang Minghui and Qian Wanyu crouched down and stepped into the cave one after another, witnessing the Sleepy Dragon Seal leaping up and down in front of the guards as if having a fit.
“Sleepy Dragon Seal?”
“Yes, they don’t seem to be responding?” Sleepy Dragon Seal shook its head, “How could this be?”
It hurriedly rushed into the inner cave, and Qian Wanyu and Dongfang Minghui shared a glance before quickly following, with Qing Mo leisurely floating behind them.
As soon as the Sleepy Dragon Seal appeared, the mark on the stone gate promptly materialized. It glanced back at Dongfang Minghui and Qian Wanyu and then at the murals on the wall that were as quiet as wallpaper, “Are you ready? There’s only a brief moment.”
Dongfang Minghui wanted to touch the lifelike dragons on the wall, they seemed so real. She wondered who had created them, so remarkably depicting the appearance of the nine dragons as if they were alive. But Qian Wanyu grabbed her wrist, “Don’t move around, this place is dangerous.”
Qian Wanyu turned to Sleepy Dragon Seal and said, “Get ready, we only have a split second.”
Dongfang Minghui had no idea what Seventh Sister and Sleepy Dragon Seal were discussing. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw the dragon’s tail flicker. She rubbed her eyes with her free hand, suspecting she had seen wrong. She looked again, “I think I might have been seeing things—”
“Don’t look, concentrate, hold onto me tightly no matter what you see later.” Qian Wanyu firmly pushed her head back, whispering.
The stone gate opened with a loud bang, and the nine dragons locked within the mural instantly unleashed their true nature instantly. The moment the stone gate opened, the nine dragons were immediately freed, but their movement was limited to this stone cave.
The closeness in nature made Toothless pop out from Dongfang Minghui’s space on hisown. Toothless shook its head and looked curiously at the nine dragons packed within the narrow stone gate.
The nine dragons hovering in mid-air stared at Toothless in stunned silence. What were they seeing?! Another dragon?
Dongfang Minghui was shocked for a moment, and when she turned around, her eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. The reason being that Toothless stood outside the stone gate while she had been quickly brought into the gate by Seventh Sister. Raising her head, she saw the dragons bound by iron chains floating above like clouds, piercing dragon eyes reflecting a light of disdain.
Good heavens – a real dragon.
After the stone gate opened, it seemed like it was about to close soon. As the stone gates on both sides were slowly closing, the group of dragons in mid-air became restless, their iron chains clanging, as if they were about to break free in the next second.
Dongfang Minghui focused on the tiny iron chain, doubting the type of material it was made from. She questioned whether such a small iron chain could trap these dragons, otherwise, the entire Trapped Dragon Valley would be in danger.
“Toothless, come back quickly.”
Toothless excitedly wagged his tail at Dongfang Minghui but remained motionless in front of the stone gate, his large, round eyes full of confusion.
Dongfang Minghui was inexplicably flustered. She stretched out her hand, “Toothless, come back, mom will take you to find your parents, come back.”
Toothless gave one last reluctant glance at the bound dragons, “Ho Ho—” as if to say I’ll be back.
With a quick dodge, Toothless squeezed into the stone gate with the last three breaths before it was about to close, leaped towards Dongfang Minghui, nuzzled his head affectionately into her arms, and licked her face from time to time, “Mom.”
Alrighty the timeline is gonna get a bit confusing for the next couple of chapters so I’ll give a small summary at the end.
Basically, Wanyu and Minghui are going backward and forwards in time, previously they were at a timeline when Minghui’s mum had sealed off Dragon Valley to trap the Meng Ruoyu inside, now they are 17 years ahead of that timeline which is 3 years ago.