The tempests mixed with wild snowstorms did not die down until they raged for a whole day and night.
By the time the last tempest faded away like a dragon that had been filled up, the world had been entirely reshaped.
Before the blizzard—although it was a poor, desolate, undeveloped area—gray rocks could be seen on the earth. Occasionally, there were also scarce yellow and brown grasslands. Some rivers that were almost dry were zigzagging by, too.
At this moment, however, the entire world had been enshrouded in pure whiteness. The snow field extended from everybody’s feet to the horizon before it seemed to go straight upward and froze the entire sky. The continuous mountains also turned into translucent peaks of ice in the snowy world.
It was noon when the sun should have been scorching, yet the sun was struggling on the horizon. The flickering light that it released only managed to dye a dim orange color at the edge of the sky. Most of the parts in the sky were variegated and blurry, like the eyeballs of frozen, dead fish.
That was the real appearance of the Land of Eternal Night!
On all the maps in every dynasty, the terrible zone that was frozen all year around without absolutely any native creatures was known as the Land of Eternal Night. It was a forbidden area for most people!
Although the blizzard was already far away, the temperature that had plummeted never bounced back. Li Yao secretly measured with a thermometer from the Star Glory Federation, only to discover that the average temperature was below minus fifty degrees even at noon!
This place was only the periphery of the Land of Eternal Night, far away from where the Divine Palace was located. It was easy to predict that the temperature would not get any higher if they continued going north.
Such an extremely low temperature was beyond the description of ‘a drop of water would become ice immediately’. Every breath of air that people exhaled was like a cluster of icy mist that they spurted out, which then covered their face, body, and hair like an ice shell.
The Ancient Sages Sector did not possess the advanced mustard-seed combat suits that entailed coldness-proof functions like the federation and the Imperium did. Everybody could only wear thick, cotton coats, although the cotton coats were all specially-made robes where the crystals of the fire class and all kinds of runes had been added.
General cotton coats would have frozen into pure ice in less than one day if they were kept in such an environment!
Even if the Cultivators covered themselves in as many clothes as possible to the point that they looked ridiculously fat, the cold wind of the Land of Eternal Night that felt like tiny, sharp needles would still pierce through every invisible hole possible, stimulating the flesh, veins, and bones of the explorers incessantly. Most of the Cultivators were forced to turn on their spiritual shields or heating magical equipment twenty-four hours a day to resist the harsh weather. As a result, their consumption on spiritual energy and crystals was greatly increased.
Other than that, there was another issue, which was that most of the magical equipment was not functioning properly due to the extreme temperature. The erosion rate and the crystal consumption rate had both been increased, whereas the efficiency had dropped.
In the environment of minus fifty degrees, the uneven, delicate patterns on the magical equipment had all been covered in frost. The durability of the weapons such as swords and sabers had plunged. Even some of the Cosmos Rings were malfunctioning, making it impossible to retrieve or store objects.
The magical equipment such as sabers and swords could be stuffed into the Cosmos Rings to address the issue.
However, the floating rune arrays, power rune arrays, defense rune arrays, and heat rune arrays on the flying boats had to be exposed to the cold air.
Not only were the flying boasts consuming twice as many crystals as usual, their speed had been lowered by about two thirds. The exploration fleet that had been rushing like lightning previously was struggling to crawl forward in the frigid hell like an army of tortoises.
Thankfully, they had foreseen the situation before the exploration.
Inside the thirty airships, other than the tough soldiers, most of the assets accommodated were crystals and various kinds of resources. Also, every Cultivator had been equipped with at least two Cosmos Rings that had been packed with materials.
The technology of Cosmos Rings in the Ancient Sages Sector, of course, could not have been more developed than that of the Heaven’s Origin Sector.
Most of the storage magical equipment that the middle-level and low-level Cultivators used only had the space of a backpack. It meant that, other than the storage space in the cabin, everybody was carrying two backpacks of life-saving items, nothing more.
They still have twenty-six flying boats. Other than the wind runners to manipulate the flying boats, there were 977 experts from the Imperium guards such as the Fiery Phoenix Legion and 1,026 Cultivators from the six major sects.
“Master Spiritual Vulture, please!”
On the deck of the airship in the lead, a few imperial guards and Cultivators invited Li Yao to look at a piece of bizarre-looking magical equipment respectfully.
It looked like dozens of iron rings large and small that had been embedded together and rotating in a dazzling way.
On every iron ring, countless glittering silver balls were rolling, colliding, and uttering clanging noises.
The magical equipment was named Heavenly Magnetic Measurement Instrument. It was used by the locals of the Ancient Sages Sector to determine their location in a long journey.
It had always been a great headache in the Ancient Sages Sector to determine the precise coordinates of where one was.
There was not a network made of hundreds of satellites in the orbit of the Ancient Sages Sector. If the Cultivators were on the ocean or in the wilderness where the directions were beyond recognition, how should they measure where exactly they were?
In other ancient Cultivation worlds, the astronomical magical equipment to observe stars had been invented very early. The Cultivators could observe the relative locations of the stars and run a series of complicated calculations to determine their latitude and longitude.
Unfortunately for the Ancient Sages Sector, the ‘stars’ were not the stars in the universe whose trajectory was relatively stable but glittering, radioactive debris of the primeval war near the Ancient Sages Sector.
The war debris were susceptible to the gravitational force of the stars, the planets, and the satellites. They would even collide into each other every once in a while. Their direction and trajectory were utterly chaotic and of zero significance for reference purposes.
Therefore, it was not until recently that the Ancient Sages Sector finally invented magical equipment to determine one’s specific location by measuring the intensity of the magnetic field. Even the concept of ‘latitude and longitude’ was rather new.
However, the intensity of the magnetic field was a rather ambiguous notion that was under the interference of many factors. Therefore, the precision of such localization was not very high. One might say that it was only slightly better than nothing.
Li Yao had drawn a few rough maps marking the location of the Divine Palace based on his memory, but the maps were certainly far from detailed.
The Cultivators from the royal observatory who specialized in astrology and geography turned the Heaven Magnetic Measurement Instrument by pushing the handles on its two sides, allowing the interconnected iron rings to lean toward different angles. The silver balls on them were running into each other nonstop, too. The few of them gathered and calculated something together for a while. Finally, they concluded their location precisely.
Drawing a line from the coordinates of where they were to the coordinates of the Divine Palace would be their sailing route.
The same work had to be repeated three times every day to adjust the sailing route.
Sometimes, due to the disorder of the magnetic field, something went wrong with the localization, and they were misled into going backward instead of moving forward.
But all in all, after an arduous march, they were still drawing ever closer to the Divine Palace.
Boundless ice occupied the sky and the earth. Except for the whiteness on the ground and the grayness in the sky, there was not a third color to be seen. The monotonous environment was almost driving everybody insane.
Thankfully, most of them were determined Cultivators, and it was not unusual for them to train in seclusion for a year and a half. That was why they had managed to persevere.
On the fourth day after they entered the Land of Eternal Night, they discovered something that did not belong to the place for the first time.
It was a flying boat, or what was left of it, that had been shattered by the tempests. The remains were scattered on the snow field and about to be entirely buried by the snow. Only a few bare masts were still exposed on the ground.
It was possible that there were crystals and other resources that were not used up yet in the flying boat that had an accident. Naturally, it was not ignored.
The Cultivators spent half a day excavating the remains of the flying boat. The result, however, was rather unexpected for them.
It was not one flying boat but a tiny fleet made of three flying boats. Also, the accident that caused their fall did not happen a long time ago but only around two days prior.
Although none of the three flying boats were flying their banners, Qi Zhongdao recognized quite a few Cultivators who had been frozen to death.
“They are subordinates from the Dragon Ocean Sect, the Equal Mountain Sect, the Heaven Shocking Hall as well as another five or so sects!”
Qi Zhongdao looked rather awful.
One condition on which the six major sects had been allowed to participate in the operation was that they must handle the smaller sects that were seething with impatience and prevent them from causing trouble.
Li Yao did not know what kind of pact the six major sects and the smaller sects had reached in exactly what way, but it was obvious that the Core Formation Stage Cultivators and the Nascent Soul Stages in the smaller sects did not intend to abide by their promise at all. They might have established fleets with higher speeds and risked marching into the Land of Eternal Night earlier than the six major sects did, hoping to discover the Divine Palace in advance!
“They were asking to be killed!” Qi Zhongdao remarked coldly. “Even the six major sects and the court, with the finest flying boats of the entire Flying Star Sector and the best wind runners, have to tread lightly and make thorough preparations for every step!
“But those guys were trying to barge into the Land of Eternal Night and loot the Divine Palace in advance with just the few of them, insufficient crystals and resources, and probably not even the Heaven Magnetic Measurement Instrument?
“Idiocracy can never be cured!”
They discovered the body of a Nascent Soul Stage not far away from the remains of the flying boats that had an accident.
The Cultivator from the Dragon Ocean Sect, who had always been a well-known celebrity in the world of Cultivators, had died the most miserable death. His body was like a skeleton as if his flesh and blood had been drained.
According to Qi Zhongdao and Master Bitter Cicada’s analysis, he must have escaped alone after the flying boats were ripped apart by the tempests. He had tried his best to fly out of the dangerous area, only to be caught in the turbulence. He had activated the spiritual energy inside his body to resist the force of nature and eventually died of exhaustion.