Hidden among the rocks at the front was a small cave. The two of them walked in the cave, talking and laughing. The seemingly small cave was much more spacious than it appeared to be. It was cold and full of beautiful stalactites whose colors were changing nonstop under the light.
They found the Blue Water Spring at the bottom of the cave. Li Yao picked up a handful of water and tasted it. The water was indeed sweet and refreshing.
“Great water!” Li Yao complimented and was about to fill in the empty buckets.
“Wait.” Blinking his eyes, Guo Chunfeng suddenly interjected. “Let’s not hurry to fill in the buckets. The Blue Water Spring has another great advantage. There’s this Sand Bamboo Worm living at the bottom and in the wall of the spring. It is fresh and succulent. One of the best meats in the world, I would say. This is the best season to eat them. Let’s me see if I can find any.”
The spring was only half a meter deep. Guo Chunfeng did not care about his demeanor and simply crouched next to the spring, groping for the worms for a long time in the spring. In the end, he stood up in disappointment and shook his head. “Bad luck. I didn’t find them.”
“Let me have a try!” Li Yao was greatly interested. He crouched next to the spring like Guo Chunfeng and extended his hands into the spring.
“Okay, but don’t use your spiritual energy. Such worms are most sensitive to spiritual energy. They must’ve retreated into the mud because of the tiny bit of spiritual energy that I wielded,” Guo Chunfeng reminded him.
Li Yao concealed his spiritual energy to the minimum. Like a completely ordinary person, he lowered half of his body into the spring and groped with all his attention. Even his head was soaked in the water.
Behind him, Guo Chunfeng stood in silence like a tree that was infested by bugs.
He also seemed to be swallowed by an invisible swamp inch by inch, with struggles written all over his face.
His face was now discontented, now angry, now aggressive, now frustrated, and now filled with the intense affection for his wife and his daughter.
The veins on the back of his hand bulged three times but died down again, only to rise thicker, higher, and more twisted!
Li Yao felt none of it. Half of his body was soaked in the spring as he groped for the Sand Bamboo worms carefully.
When his veins bulged for the fourth time, Guo Chunfeng’s pupils had been melted into his eyes, which were now pure black. He seemed about to become someone else. But at the last moment, something seemed to occur to him. He grunted, with cold sweat popping up all over his body, and lowered his hands. Stepping backward, he lost all his vigor, and his face was brimming with confusion and desperation.
“Let’s go back,” Guo Chunfeng said feebly.
“Wait a moment.” Li Yao stood straight in the spring and wiped off the cold water from his face. “I’m about to get them. Let me have another try.”
“There’s no need.” Upset, Guo Chunfeng said, “Maybe they have all been dug out by the gourmets. Let’s go. Everybody is waiting for us!”
Li Yao shook the water off his body and filled the two empty buckets with the spring water. He handed a bucket to Guo Chunfeng and eyed him curiously. “Brother Guo, are you not feeling well? Why is there cold sweat all over your forehead?”
“You don’t know the answer? Because I’ve been exhausted recently, of course! I asked you to help me, but you hid in your refining workshop and didn’t leave the room for quite a few days. You didn’t even have time for a promotional video. Are there any other federal heroes like you?”
Guo Chunfeng glared and picked up a bucket. Turning around, he walked out of the cave. “Let’s head back. I’ll show you how I make tea!”
“Alright!” Li Yao said with a smile. Carrying the other bucket, he followed Guo Chunfeng. The two of them crawled out of the cave.
While crawling, Li Yao said casually, “Right, Brother Guo, there’s something that I want to ask you. Not very serious. You can talk if you are willing to, but it’s perfectly okay if you would rather not.”
Guo Chunfeng replied without looking back, “Go ahead. You have the highest permissions now and are qualified to know most of the confidential information anyway.”
“It’s not anything confidential.” Li Yao scratched his wet hair to one side of his head and asked at ease, “I’m just curious about one thing. Why didn’t you attack when I was crouching next to the spring? It was your only opportunity to kill me!”
Guo Chunfeng’s body suddenly froze at the entrance of the cave before he turned around slowly.
Li Yao and Guo Chunfeng, one tall and the other short, confronted each other in the cave where gloomy wind was blowing.
“It appears that we won’t be back for the time being,” Guo Chunfeng said coldly.
“I don’t mind walking while talking, but I’m afraid that you will.” Li Yao opened his hands and said, “Although Brother Guo is known as ‘the best Core Formation Stage Cultivator of the Heaven’s Origin Sector’, it only describes the breadth of your talents but not the depth. In terms of absolute combat ability, you are no match for me, Brother Guo.
“Right now, I’ve just recuperated from heavy wounds, my capability has not fully recovered, and even my crystal suit is not repaired yet. I was not defending myself at all, and I concealed my spiritual energy to the minimum.
“If you mean to kill me, it was your best, and perhaps only, opportunity. Now that you’ve missed it, after I completely regain the combat ability of the Nascent Soul Stage, few people in the three Sectors will be capable of killing me, and Brother Guo is definitely not one of them!
“I said that I would investigate Abyss until the truth is out. Brother Guo, you must know that I always keep my word!
“Killing me here not only has the highest odds of success but also has no eyewitnesses. You could blame it on the remnants of the Patriots Partnership. Although it is not flawless, you don’t really have a better choice.
“You hesitated three times. The fourth time, you almost made up your mind to kill me, but you gave up in the end. Why? Brother Guo, Director Guo, or… Abyss?”
Li Yao was quite relaxed. His voice was not very high, but every word he said stabbed into Guo Chunfeng’s body like a flying sword.
Guo Chunfeng was so feeble that he could not keep carrying the bucket of water, which weighed only several kilograms. The bucket turned upside down, and the cold water inside all flowed out.
“The water!” Li Yao said. “The water has gone!”
Guo Chunfeng could not withstand the coldness in the cave any longer. After a moment of rigidness, he crawled out to the brightness on all fours.
After he crawled out of the cave, he collapsed on a giant rock that was covered with moss nearby, allowing the sunlight to warm his frozen body from the gaps of the bare branches.
Li Yao crawled out of the cave, too, and sat next to him, observing him with great interest.
Gudu! Gudu! Gudu! Gudu!
Guo Chunfeng drank up the remaining half bucket of water. Gazing at the high, cloudless sky, he mumbled, “I never knew that, if you drink the water here too fast, it tastes like liquor. The hardest liquor.”
“Well, Brother Guo. Can we talk like normal people? Please don’t use the lines of cowboys and act as if we are having a duel,” Li Yao remarked. “It was just a casual question. Just forget it if you don’t want to talk.”
“Huh?” Guo Chunfeng was dumbfounded. “Is it forgettable?”
“Of course!” Li Yao nodded. “If you want, you can pretend that I said nothing and go back to fill the bucket. We’ll return then. How does it sound?”
Guo Chunfeng stared at Li Yao with his bloodshot eyes as if he were eyeing a monster.
Of course, in a certain sense, Li Yao was an out-and-out monster.
Looking at him for a long time, Guo Chunfeng was frustrated again. He said with a bitter smile, “Fine. Ask whatever is on your mind. I’m too tired to disguise myself any longer. I can tell you everything. But before that, I want to know why you are certain that Abyss is not nonexistent and why Abyss is me.”
Li Yao sipped the spring water, too. Clicking his tongue, he observed, “It doesn’t taste like liquor at all. It’s just water! About Abyss… here, let’s have a proper analysis.
“First of all, what baffled me most was Elder Nether Spring’s death!
“Let’s review the scene for a moment. At that time, I snuck into the base of the Patriots Partnership in the East Ocean alone, released Neltharion to pry into the secrets of the base, and happened to run into the members of the Patriots Partnership who were interrogating Elder Nether Spring with the soul searching technique!
“Then, Elder Nether Spring was dead, right in front of my face. That’s too uncanny, isn’t it?”
Guo Chunfeng was dazed. “Elder Nether Spring was a powerful man. Is it strange that he kept some of the drugs inside his head and, after condensing enough drugs, killed himself at the critical moment when the base was under attack to avoid further suffering?”
“It’s not strange that he killed himself, but why did he choose the time when I snuck into the base, no earlier, no later?” Li Yao gesticulated as he spoke. “If you think about it carefully, Elder Nether Spring’s death was the trigger for everything that followed!
“If Elder Nether Spring hadn’t died at that time, the Patriots Partnership wouldn’t have extracted his memories into the Jade Crystal Disc.
“Without the Jade Crystal Disc, I would’ve been short of the critical proof to unveil Lu Zui’s real face. It would’ve been possible that the war between the two Sectors was not stopped!
“If that is what happened, maybe, you and I would be in the middle of smoke, bullets, and dead bodies on a battlefield right now!
“We can even say that Elder Nether Spring destroyed the Patriots Partnership with his own death and avenged himself for Lu Zui’s capture and torment!
“Is it really a coincidence?”
Guo Chunfeng frowned. “Your words are getting stranger and stranger. What could it have been if not coincidence?”
Li Yao narrowed his eyes as he said, “When I manipulated Neltharion to dive into the undersea base, I was very careful, fearing that I might encounter battle-type Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators who were likely to discover Neltharion. Thankfully, there were only three battle-type Core Formation Stage Cultivators and a research-type Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator in the interrogation room. It was almost possible for them to detect Neltharion with their Cultivation.
“I’d always thought that in the past. But during the past month, when I reflected on the whole thing in retrospect and sorted through all the details, it suddenly occurred to me that I overlooked someone very important!
“I was wrong to think that there were no battle-type Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators in the interrogation room!
“There was still Elder Nether Spring! He had been a strong demon emperor in the beginning. Although his strength system had been transformed, and he had been devastatingly tortured, his level was not lowered, and his senses must’ve been as keen as before. Stimulated by the drugs such as the Brain Exciter, his senses could’ve been multiplied!
“He was an out-and-out battle-type Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator!
“More importantly, Elder Nether Spring knew of Neltharion’s existence because he had been caught out by the device once before!”