Chapter 261 Forbidden Grounds Part 2
“Are we at the end of the Pitch Black Cave?” asked Ye Ci as she tilted her head at Alaunar. She looked at the amount of Ancient Ores in her inventory, and was not satisfied with the fact that she had arrived at the end of the cave.
Alaunar clutched his hair as he shoved another piece of meat into his mouth and shook his head, “I don’t know. You know that I’ve never been here before. Someone like me will never be able to come here with Nuoba.” The boy’s words rang true. A lowly member of the army like him could only join in on hunts, but would never be qualified to explore the Pitch Black Cave.
“Alright then. We’ll take a short rest, and I shall continue mining for more ores.” As they were already at the end of the cave, Ye Ci no longer wanted to waste time on exploring the map. She might have scoured through every inch of the cave during normal circumstances, but her mood was already completely ruined. The most important thing on Ye Ci’s mind was to raise funds.
Ye Ci stuffed the last piece of roasted meat into her mouth, and produced a bottle of mineral water from her inventory. She gulped down her drinks to recover her Stamina, and handed a bottle to Alaunar as well. After their short break, the duo stood up and began to leave the cave.
Before they could even move, a sound from far away entered Ye Ci’s ears.
As a Shaman, Alaunar’s base Perception was lower than that of a Hunter. He stood behind Ye Ci and stared at Ye Ci’s long, pointed ears with great interest. The Doluo Tribe was born from the union of Humans and Barbarians, and Alaunar had only ever stayed within his tribe for as long as he lived. Other than the children in his tribe and some Mermaids, the boy had never laid his eyes upon a member of another race before. That was why his mind was instantly filled with curiosity about the Elves when he began to grow familiar to Ye Ci.
He gaped at Ye Ci’s ears that were twitching in response to the source of the sound, and grabbed his own ears. He was curious if his ears were as flexible as that of an Elf’s.
Of course, such a phenomenon was common among the Elves. As a race that was in tune with nature, the Elves were very sensitive to the sounds of their surroundings, and their ears would twitch in response to any stimuli. This was also a sign that an Elf’s Perception was being pushed to its maximum.
As Alaunar was still fixated on Ye Ci’s ears, the player in question had already entered stealth and was staring intently at the direction of the sound.
Alaunar was alarmed when Ye Ci entered Stealth, “What is it, Elf?” Alaunar asked in a low voice as he hid behind a rock.
“Stand back and hide in a corner. Don’t make any noise. I’m going to check it out.” whispered Ye Ci.
“But..” Alaunar, who did not know what was going on, grew nervous.
Ye Ci shook her head and responded with a smile, “Don’t worry, it’s okay. Just hide in a corner until I call out for you.”
Alaunar trusted Ye Ci. He nodded and hid himself in narrowest crevice in the deepest part of the cave. That’s not an easy task even for him. Mused Ye Ci as she glanced at Alaunar’s chosen hiding spot. Any other Doluo children would not even fit into that place.
Once Ye Ci was sure that Alaunar was safely hidden away, she began advancing slowly towards the source of the sound. Even with her movement speed reduced by 30%, she was still able to quickly reach the source.
She chose her hiding spot behind a large rock and began to listen.
The sound came from the footsteps of at least 20 individuals. Their footsteps were heavy, and it was obvious that these individuals were used to physical labor. She knew that they were not players, as it was simply impossible for players to be present on the island at such a number. They were definitely NPCs, and were members of the Doluo Tribe. But who are they?
The tribesmen were quite a distance away from Ye Ci, and the sound of their conversation was masked by their heavy footsteps. It took Ye Ci great efforts to listen in on parts of their conversation.
“Why is the cave so empty?”
“Have you not seen all the dead Magma Golems?”
“Oho! I’ve not expected the Elf to be so strong. She was able to kill every single Magma Golem in this place.”
“It’s a damn shame that the diluo Alaunar is still alive. What a pain in the ass! I’m reminded of the shame of our tribe when I laid eyes upon that trash. I thought that he would definitely die after learning that he’s coming to the cave with the Elf. What a lucky bastard.”
“That Elf must be an idiot.”
“Why is that?”
“If she’s not one, why would she bring along a burden with her here?”
“People like us will never understand what an idiot thinks.”
As the men broke out in laughter, Ye Ci could sense something familiar in their voice. They must be Nuoba’s men. Ye Ci was not happy with what the men had to say about Alaunar. Even the NPCs are no strangers to gossip it seems.
Of course, their conversation was something trivial and did not matter to Ye Ci. Something else has piqued her curiosity: Why are Nuoba’s men here? Ye Ci could still remember Alaunar’s tales about the horrendous casualties suffered by Nuoba’s men during their expedition into the Pitch Black Cave. Then again, the Magma Golem were strong melee fighters, and the only reason Ye Ci and Alaunar could deal with them at ease was because they were both fighting at range. A group with melee warriors would definitely suffer without the aid of a good healer.
The group of men had gotten closer and closer as Ye Ci was still deep in her thought, “No way! That Elf has gotten rid of all the Magma Golems in this area! Oh? She had even mined away all the magical crystals as well.”
“I have no idea why Lord Dalufar would give the Elf such a huge leeway. Why is she allowed to do as she pleases in our territory? She mine up our Ancient Ores and Magical Crystals, and was even allowed into this cave. Has Lord Dalufar forgotten that the Pitch Black Cave is a forbidden ground to our tribe?”
“Hush! Hold your tongue! Do you think that you’re the only one who knows about this? Be careful with what you say, or you’ll be in deep trouble if the Elf hears what you said.”
And the grumbling immediately grew quieter, “Say, we’ve been in this cave for quite some time now, but why have we not run into that Elf and Alaunar yet? Are they even in this place?”
“How would I know? If they’re not here, she might be mining outside.”
“It’s hot in here. I’m getting real uncomfortable the longer we stay. Let’s just check if they’ve discovered that thing and leave. Lord Dalufar will surely punish us if he found out that we’ve entered the cave without permission.”
“Why are you afraid of that old man? He does nothing but spouting nonsense all day long. Just look at how old he is! He won’t stay alive for long. Lord Nuoba will be the chieftain of the tribe one day, and all we have to do is to listen and obey whatever he tells us to do.”
“But Lord Dalufar is still our current chieftain. He’ll be greatly angered if he learns that Lord Nuoba sent us here, and Lord Nuoba might not even be able to save us in time.”
Ye Ci could not hear more of the NPCs conversation as their voices slowly faded away, but her mind was full of fresh information that she had just received.
The Pitch Black Cave is a forbidden ground for the Doluo Tribe? Why have I not heard about this from Alaunar before? Even if they’ve intentionally lied to Alaunar about something like this, it means that there’s a treasure in this place. Nuoba’s men did mention that they’re here to check on something.
Also, is Nuoba planning a coup? Ye Ci made the decision to not notify Dalufar of her discovery, and decided to tail the group of Doluo men.
Ye Ci advanced towards the direction of the voices of the tribesmen, and was quick to catch up with their small group that was heading towards one of the shorter forked roads of the cave. This was an area that has been explored by Ye Ci and Alaunar, and she had found nothing but a very small number of Magma Golems in the area. Why are they walking in this direction? There must be something that I’ve missed.
This aroused Ye C’s curiosity. She had always been very perceptive when it came to the exploration of a map, and prided herself in her ability to find even the most carefully hidden hints left behind by the developers. Reality however, was telling Ye Ci that she had missed something, and how could she let something like this go? Hence, she immediately hastened her steps.
One of the Doluo tribesmen detected a presence, and turned around, but Ye Ci had already hidden herself behind a rock.
“What is it?” asked one of the soldiers who had noticed his action.
The Doluo man shook his head, “Could’ve been the wind, but I have this odd feeling that we’re being followed.”
“Really now?” said another soldier as he approached the head of the column to give a report. The entire group stopped, and a soldier was sent to search the cave. Ye Ci was in close proximity of the tribesmen. She held her breath as one of the soldiers approached her location, hiding even the tiniest hint of her presence from the man.
It did not take long for the soldier to return to the group, “That Elf must’ve left the cave with Alaunar and is mining somewhere. I can’t find them anywhere, but all the Magma Golems are dead.”
“Let’s carry on. Being alert is good, but getting alarmed by every single thing is very annoying.” said the leader of the group as he glared at the Doluo tribesman who discovered Ye Ci’s presence.
The tribesman lowered his head and followed along at the rear of the column.
Ye Ci sneered at Nuoba’s men as they left, and continued trailing the group. They reached the end of the path and one of the men did something that was out of Ye Ci’s view, and a dark doorway opened up with a loud crack. The group of Doluo tribesmen filed in through the doorway, and it immediately disappeared. The only thing that Ye Ci saw was the darkness that engulfed Nuoba’s men before they disappeared from sight.
They disappeared just like that?
Ye Ci left her hiding spot once she was sure that the entire group of Doluo men were already gone . She walked up to the already-closed door, and began running her hands through the wall. To her dismay, she was not able to find any trace of a door, and she might not even know of the presence of the door if she did not see it with her own eyes.
How did they do that? Ye Ci ran her hand through every piece of rock near the hidden doorway.
The loud “crack!” was the telltale sign of some sort of mechanism, but where could it be? Ye Ci was trying her best to look for the slightest hint of a switch that could open the door.
Just then, her hand felt a slight vibration of one of the rocks to her right, and she immediately entered stealth.
Are they coming out?
The doorway opened slowly right before Ye Ci’s eyes….