They finally arrived back at the stone desert. Nothing could be seen of the team that had been given this territory but it could be that they had noticed the array and left because they figured this was the one that had already been found.
Yi Ju couldn’t help but turn to Yuan Lei and inconspicuously tug at his sleeve. “Is this the place? I thought there was supposed to be an array.”
Yuan Lei tensed slightly. Mei Chao Bing hadn’t told them about the array and they had only figured it out because of what happened afterward. He himself had never noticed either that there was an array here. He had been looking for more obvious things at that time. But if there was an array … “You can’t see it like this.” He glanced at Mei Chao Bing to make sure he had gotten it right and wasn’t making a complete idiot out of himself.
Mei Chao Bing nodded. “Yes. The array is hidden beneath …” He stopped talking and looked at the sand below his feet.
Elder Xing raised his brows. “Is something the matter?”
Mei Chao Bing furrowed his brows in response. “Elder Xing, this … this might be a strange question but … Did the border region always look like this?”
The Elder’s brows rose even higher. “Like this?”
“I mean this … dead. I figured it was like this because of the spirit gathering array. It takes the spiritual energy from the land surrounding it, thus sucking it dry over time. Then the change in the soil would lead to the sand being blown all over the place. The abandoned city we found was buried in it to a large degree. I didn’t think of it at that time but coming back here, it is the same in the stone desert. There is sand everywhere. Sand that might not have been here originally and was instead brought here by the demonic practitioners somehow to hide their tracks.”
Yuan Lei’s eyes widened. “Then you mean they did the same thing with the town and we were just lucky because some traces survived?”
Mei Chao Bing hesitated. This … This was what he had thought but now that Yuan Lei said it out loud, it sounded strange. It was way too coincidental that they had found those traces, wasn’t it? And how come no other group had been able to detect any array? Was there only this one? Or was it because he had already formed his Nascent Soul and only somebody of his level was able to perceive it? Or could it be that all of this wasn’t a coincidence after all and the demonic practitioners were actually a step ahead of them, actually allowing them to find the array and that mural in the city?
Elder Xing frowned when he saw Mei Chao Bing’s expression. Obviously, that boy had thought of something but refused to say it. He was of half a mind to ask him about it but then hesitated with a look at the other disciples. Maybe now wasn’t the right time. Just like with the conclusion he and Elder Baili had come to before, it might make the disciples panic if it was announced. After all, they didn’t know much yet and their experiences were shallow.
No, he couldn’t risk it. At the very least, he had to talk it through with Elder Baili. They were responsible for this mission together, after all. If they both thought that it was better to inform the disciples of this to keep them safe, then they could announce it together.
Elder Xing cleared his throat to draw the other disciples’ attention to himself and then motioned around them. “You have all seen what you found in that abandoned city. Just go about this as before and check this place for a similar construct as well. I will be here to take a look once you find it and intervene if something happens.”
The disciples nodded and then moved out. Elder Xing kept a close eye on them, watching out for everything Baili Chao had told him Mei Chao Bing warned him about. Looking at this batch of disciples, he was more or less satisfied.
Certainly, they were very much lacking in several departments — especially the younger ones like Yun Bei Fen and Yi Ju — but overall, they were doing a good job. It also seemed that they were working together quite well safe for some small issues. Mei Chao Bing had managed to group them up in a good way.
The disciples searched for a while but even though they knew what they were searching for this time around, they had no luck.
Yi Ju finally couldn’t help but turn to Yuan Lei and sigh. “Do you really think we’ll be able to find something? We’ve already been looking for so long but there seems to be nothing here at all!”
Yuan Lei glanced at her. “If you’re interested in tracking, then you’ll need to get used to this. It’s always looking for the smallest of clues that are hard to miss but incredibly important to discover.
“Oftentimes, you’ll overlook something especially when you’re only just starting out to learn. Then you’ll have to piece together the bigger picture with less to go off. That’s not easy at all. I understand that. But … If you do find something and make the right conclusion, then it can make the difference between being able to achieve a goal and having to return empty-handed. So even if all the others give up, the two of us can’t. That’s our job in this group.”
Yi Ju looked at him and then nodded. “Oh. I see. Thank you for teaching me, senior martial brother Yuan. I didn’t think it through.”
Yuan Lei shook his head. “It’s alright. I was like that in the beginning as well. It’s all thanks to one of my senior martial brothers that I’m able to help out now. If I can be even half of what he was for me to you, then I feel like even if I couldn’t find a single clue on this mission again, I’d still have done something good.”
Yi Ju laughed and the two of them continued to look, trying to make sure they were not overlooking anything.