Qian Wanyu stated her intentions, “If it seems too complex, feel free not to voice it. We’ll be standing guard by the stone gate’s entrance. I genuinely hope that group doesn’t actually discover a method to subdue the dragons.”
“Definitely not.” The Dragon Seal shows resistance towards that group. In its memory, the group has resided in Dragon Valley for a significant duration, wrongly claiming the magpie’s nest as their dominion. “The Nine Dragons will show them no mercy.”
However, the Slumbering Dragon Seal refrained from mentioning that the nine dragons were not invincible. For a certain period, nine dragons rest within the mural.
Sure enough, when the group initially unearthed the real entrance to the Nine Dragons Cave, they unwittingly woke the nine dragons while feeling their way along the stone wall. Immediately they were shredded to bits by Kowloon, leaving only the leader who managed to escape.
Qian Wanyu and Dongfang Minghui were conveniently present at that moment. They waited and apprehended the wounded man who had lost a considerable amount of blood.
The man’s face was unremarkable, easily forgotten in a crowd. Yet, he had managed to flee from the nine dragons’ onslaught, an achievement not to be downplayed. Qian Wanyu suspected that even the immortal binding rope might not restrain him, so she promptly added her lightning whip.
Leaving the man carelessly in the narrow area outside Nine Dragon Cave, Qian Wanyu squatted in front of him. “Do you still remember me?”
A glimmer flashed in the man’s pupils.
“I wonder if soul search will work on you. If the people behind you find out you have betrayed a plot that has been set for many years, I wonder how severely you will be punished.” Qian Wanyu’s tone was casual, but she kept her gaze fixed on him.
The man’s pupils contracted, his face reflecting disbelief.
“Will you willingly confess, or should I search your soul?” Qian Wanyu offered him a choice. A wise individual would likely opt for the former. The process of soul searching can be wicked; a single misstep could erase a person’s memories, reducing them to an empty shell within minutes.
“Qian Yiling, you’re capable of soul searching, hahahahaha.” The man failed to differentiate between Qian Yiling and Qian Wanyu, much like Dongfang Minghui’s initial confusion between Qian Mama and Seventh sister.
“Laugh, go on and laugh.” Dongfang Minghui grew irritated by the man’s harsh laughter.
“It appears you’ve chosen the latter.”
The man’s laughter ceased abruptly, the smile on his face disappearing instantly. “Qian Yiling, what do you want to know?”
Qian Wanyu returned his gaze with a clear implication, “What do you think?”
Dongfang Minghui stood to the side, focusing on her own thoughts. She wore an expressionless face but inwardly admired her Seventh sister’s profound strategy to corner the man.
The man scowled, seemingly disconcerted by the other party’s query. “It’s all true: the sacred medicine is real, and the rumors about the Spiritual Saint are true. We merely discovered that the Spiritual Saint ruins might be concealed behind this stone wall, and the sacred medicine could be housed within those ruins.”
Qian Wanyu sneered, her voice tinged with sarcasm, her disappointment evident sounding exactly like her mother. “Where is Meng Ruoyu?”
“Your elder brother and Meng Ruoyu were taken by our master.”
“Who is this master of yours?”
Dongfang Minghui was intrigued. She had never encountered such a forthcoming individual before and was internally exhilarated. The mystery that had plagued them for years was about to be unraveled, and the truth about the puppet master was on the verge of being revealed.
Just as she patiently waited, the man began writhing in pain.
“It’s a soul-inducing technique, get out of the way!” Qing Mo, having studied the soul-inducing technique, knew that the first time is always unexpected, and repeating the mistake would be unacceptable.
Qian Wanyu dragged Dongfang Minghui out of the cave, swiftly escaping.
Contrary to their expectations, the Dragon Valley didn’t crumble. At the pivotal moment, a halo emanated from the Dragon Seal’s body, encapsulating the power of the self-destructing man, and ultimately launching it skyward.
Then, the self-detonation’s power was fully demonstrated, resembling a brilliant firework bursting in the sky and emitting a dark hue. A rain of colossal boulders, mingled with gore and blood, followed without interruption.
They could even hear the splashing of water deep within the pool. Dongfang Minghui, shielded by Seventh sister, was too terrified to move. Even now, her ears were ringing; the sound of the self-detonation was deafening.
“Ninth Sister, Ninth Sister.” Seeing her in a daze, Qian Wanyu feared she was shocked by the man’s actions. “So many stones have fallen; we need to reach the bottom of the abyss. If the black pool is blocked by the stones, it will be difficult to find the exit next time.”
Dongfang Minghui was evidently still a bit dazed. Upon regaining her composure, she discovered the Sleepy Dragon Seal resting limply on her neck. “The Sleepy Dragon Seal? The Sleepy Dragon Seal?!”
“Seventh sister, can you help me see what happened to the Sleepy Dragon Seal?”
“It seems… not quite right.” Qian Wanyu gingerly touched the object, and a key fell to the ground, as limp as a piece of plasticine. “This—”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal, lying on the ground, was visibly shrinking.
Dongfang Minghui cradled it in her hand and gently prodded it twice. “Why is it shrinking? Sleepy Dragon Seal, don’t feign death, wake up quickly.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal twitched in her palm, then became utterly motionless.
“Seventh sister, surely the Sleepy Dragon Seal won’t just die like this?”
“The Sleepy Dragon Seal is a spirit body. If it truly dies, it would completely dissipate. Don’t worry, its current state is likely due to an exhaustion of spiritual power.” Qian Wanyu quickly identified the problem and pondered for a moment. “You were once the host of the Sleepy Dragon Seal, maybe your spiritual power can rejuvenate it. Try it.”
Feeling somewhat awkward, Dongfang Minghui responded, “Seventh sister, let me give it a shot.”
As they descended further, Dongfang Minghui attempted to channel her spiritual power into the Dragon Seal. Despite a significant expenditure of energy, she could not perceive any response from the seal. “Little Colour, how does one nurture this?”
“Raising and nurturing cannot be rushed. If you choose to use spiritual power for this task, you must persist.”
“But the Sleepy Dragon Seal doesn’t seem to respond.”
“That’s because you haven’t spent enough time on it. Recall how long that scheming thing took to develop itself with your body after moving away from Qian Yiling’s influence before leading us to the Sleepy Dragon Valley. You must proceed at a similar pace.”
Dongfang Minghui became more concerned upon hearing Little Colour’s words. She wondered whether months of nurturing would be necessary and if her little Toothless would be trapped within the stone gate’s deep pool all this while.
“No, we can’t leave this cycle of reincarnation until the Sleepy Dragon Seal is restored.” Dongfang Minghui, upon realizing this, fervently poured her spiritual power into the Sleepy Dragon Seal as if it were a mission. Fortunately, her spiritual power reservoir remained bountiful, and within an hour, the Sleepy Dragon Seal faintly responded to her input.
Her continuous flow of spiritual power to the Sleepy Dragon Seal finally elicited a response.
This was a good sign.
However, their return to the bottom of the abyss was met with a chaotic scene. A gigantic stone had entirely covered the black pool, and the scattered black water had rendered the already dark area even murkier. The debris and rubble nearly obstructed their path to the abyss.
Dongfang Minghui raised her head and looked up. “These stones didn’t fall from the valley where we first stood, did they?”
She could still remember their initial step into the Sleepy Dragon Valley, where they had stood on a small spot of over ten square meters.
“Let’s leave the scene as is for now. We can’t get in, and those people trapped in the ice world won’t be able to get out either.” Qian Wanyu made a swift decision, which everyone else naturally accepted. She beckoned Qing Mo to a corner and meticulously relayed the peculiar occurrences they had experienced in the ice world.
“Do you suppose that the entire ice world is actually an illusion?”
“Have you inspected the wound on your back?” Qing Mo abruptly asked.
“Wound?” Qian Wanyu had almost forgotten about the injury she had sustained. She touched her back reflexively and said, “Ninth Sister healed me. I should be alright.”
“If there’s a wound, it implies that what you experienced wasn’t within an illusion but was real. The reason you perceived it as an illusion might be due to the vast scale of the ice world. What you saw was merely the tip of the iceberg.”
Qian Wanyu mulled over it. The idea held some merit, but such a massive construction couldn’t have been achievable in just a few years. “Could it be that someone foresaw this and built a secret base here in advance?”
“Twenty years.” Qing Mo reminded her of the timeline theory, harking back three years prior. “The Dragon Seal mentioned that three years before your mother arrived at the Dragon Valley, a group ventured in and directly descended to the bottom of the abyss. That group never left.”
Qian Wanyu initially intended to question Sleepy Dragon Seal further, but turning around, she saw it lying limply in Ninth Sister’s hand like a paper figure. It was unlikely she’d get any answers from the key for now.
“But, I still can’t understand the timing. It felt like we were in the Ice World for a short while. How did seven days pass since we arrived here?”
“If you can decipher the concept of the time axis and the memory lens, you might understand why there is a time discrepancy.” Qing Mo speculated that the memory reincarnations within the Sleepy Dragon Valley were interwoven. It was likely that the Dragon Valley itself had the issue of a time differential, not the Ice World specifically.
In the following days, everyone was busy with their tasks. Qian Wanyu and Qing Mo endeavored to comprehend the principles of time displacement and the memory fragments. But the complexity of the problem was overwhelming. They utilized every available space in the Nine Dragon Cave for their research and never ceased their efforts.
Simultaneously, Dongfang Minghui kept feeding spiritual power to the Sleepy Dragon Seal, even taking short naps between her nurturing sessions.
Little Colour was persistently training and, after each session, would resolutely transform into a twig and attempt to burrow into Dongfang Minghui’s forehead. However, every time, it was repelled by a strong force, suffering repeated setbacks.
Feeling a tender touch on her fingers, Dongfang Minghui jerked awake. The tiny paper figure, Sleepy Dragon Seal, after many days of nurturing, had finally regained some vitality. It stood on her palm, gently clasping her fingers.
“Sleepy Dragon Seal, hello.”
“I’m not fully recovered yet.”
Sleepy Dragon Seal still held onto her fingers, not releasing its grip. “Could you continue to infuse me with spiritual power? I promise to repay you.”
Dongfang Minghui felt like she was in a dream. She had been through a lot with the Sleepy Dragon Seal before, but she had never seen it so humble. “Sleepy Dragon Seal, why did you suddenly become so lethargic? You scared me to death.”
“I don’t know myself.” The moment it woke up, it found that it had been weakened.
“What, you don’t know what happened to you?” Dongfang Minghui’s eyes widened in surprise. She thought she was often confused, but she didn’t expect there to be someone even more perplexed than her. It appeared as though the Sleepy Dragon Seal itself was caught off guard by the self-detonation.
If not for that, they would have suffered considerable damage, given the destructive power of the self-detonation.
“Unfortunately, the person who was about to reveal the truth had an ill-timed interruption.”
“Oh, so that’s how it is.” The Sleepy Dragon Seal still appeared to be lethargic. It would act impulsively whenever the Sleepy Dragon Valley was in danger. “Thank you for your help during the self-detonation incident.”
“As long as you return my Toothless to me.” Dongfang Minghui was entirely focused on her little Toothless. Not seeing him for a while made her feel as though something was missing.
“It–is it from the Dragon Clan?”
Dongfang Minghui was quite proud. She never thought that the giant egg would hatch a little dragon. If she had known about Toothless’s breed earlier, she wouldn’t have raised him the way she did. Now, she felt regretful.
“It’s a fortunate coincidence.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal seemed to ponder. This was the first time it had seen a dragon clan break into the Sleepy Dragon Valley and accidentally enter the Nine Dragon Cave. “Perhaps, it’s a good fortune.”
As for what the good fortune was, it wasn’t sure either.
A month later
Dongfang Minghui poked the Sleepy Dragon Seal’s tiny head, “What’s the situation with you? I’ve been feeding you spiritual power for a month, almost progressing to the next stage, yet why do you remain this way?”
She thought that the discussion between Seventh sister and Qing Mo would take just a few days, but it had been an entire month. Her Seventh sister and Qing Mo were immersed in their research, only periodically interrupting their work to ask her or the Sleepy Dragon Seal a question or two. They barely acknowledged her presence on regular days.
“It’s not easy to condense a spirit body.” Sleepy Dragon Seal too, wished to be able to roam around energetically.
“Okay, Sleepy Dragon Seal, since you remember things from so long ago, are the memory fragments possibly stored in your head?” Dongfang Minghui remembered every time her Seventh sister seriously questioned the dragon seal about its past. “If that’s the case, why don’t you let Seventh sister perform a soul search on you? Maybe she’ll discover everything she needs to know.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal was so startled that it stood upright on her palm. It had been lying down just a moment ago. Hastily, it explained, “I too have moments of uncertainty. I see many fragments in the mirror of the deep pool.”
“Then, show Seventh Sister a replica, maybe she can solve the mystery of our time displacement.” Dongfang Minghui had absolute faith in Qian Wanyu. Thinking about what she had said, she felt a surge of inspiration and added persistently, “See, we’ve gone back to three years ago, which means the memories in the deep pool are fairly complete. If I can perceive them, Seventh Sister surely can too.”
The Sleepy Dragon Seal seriously considered the feasibility of her suggestion. “But—three years ago, I hadn’t yet returned to the Sleepy Dragon Valley.”
Dongfang Minghui couldn’t contemplate this issue. She might end up confusing herself further. “But aren’t you in the Dragon Valley now? Try it. The worst-case scenario is that we continue to shuttle within the cycle of memory. But if Seventh Sister can crack the mystery of time reincarnation, we might be able to return smoothly to our original timeline.”
After a long pause, the Sleepy Dragon Seal nodded.
Although Dongfang Minghui managed to keep a straight face, she was overjoyed inside. But then, she heard the Sleepy Dragon Seal shake its head again, “Unfortunately if it was the me from before, I would be capable. But now, I am not. I need to continue to recuperate.”
She looked at the innocent and adorable Sleepy Dragon Seal and felt an urge to call it a sly fox like Little Color.
“Sleepy Dragon Seal, did you just mention that if you return to your previous state, you can directly transfer the memories to Seventh Sister?”
Hearing the creature’s firm affirmation, Dongfang Minghui took a deep breath, feeling the weight of responsibility and pressure grow heavier on her shoulders. “Don’t worry, I will make you hale and hearty again, but in return, you must help me solve Seventh Sister’s problem.”
“Okay.” The Sleepy Dragon Seal then extended its tiny hands towards her, “I want little bean sprouts.”
Thanks for the support fam! <3