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381 The Hunt of Outer Island Part 1

    The scenery that surrounded the students changed, and soon after, they found themselves in what appeared to be the crater of an active volcano. Underneath their feet was a surface composed of multiple layers of rock and dust, and the smoke that came out of the small vents forced the thousands of young cultivators to have difficulties in even keeping their eyes open.

    Despite the odd situation, not a single one of these young cultivators entered into a state of panic. Instead, those who were adept in the use of wind essence, immediately formed massive gusts of wind that wiped out all of the smoke that came of the vents at a constant speed.

    Once again able to see, those who were adept with earth essence immediately formed a series of chimneys that prolonged the path of the smoke above the area on which they were standing, and preventing it from blinding their sight once again.

    As immortal cultivators, all of the participants were able to float, or even fly by simply letting go over the control of their immortal essence, and direct the stream in the opposite direction in which they were headed towards. However, this was a competition, and they didn't know if by taking off, they would be in less danger. They needed to assess the situation, and understand what the objective of the contest, as well as what the nature of their surroundings were.

    Now that they were able to see once again, the cultivators looked around, and immediately found out that they were standing on the top of a volcano placed exactly in the middle of a massive island. Far away in the distance, many more islands could be seen placed in a crescent moon-like pattern.

    Another, yet more internal row of massive islands could be seen connecting the external ring of one to the inner one. Each island of the inner ring was connected to two of the islands from the outer ring, which meant that the number of islands was half that of the outer ring, despite being much larger.

    The paths that connected the islands of the two rings were extremely long bridges, and if the islands of the inner ring hadn't been so massive, it would have been unlikely that they would have been able to see where these bridges would lead to.

    What was interesting about these islands, was the fact that each of the ones visible in the distance, seemed to present a different type of environment. The one to their immediate right was a dense forest, in the middle of which a massive temple made out of carefully cut boulders had been erected, while to their left, was what looked like a patch of desert surrounded by the sea.

    Another detail that these cultivators noticed right away, was the fact that they were not the only one present in their island. The number of participants was so massive that multiple groups of cultivators had been placed in the same island.

    The number of cultivators that were standing on the volcano's crater was closer to twelve thousands, than the original four thousand participants that the Egregious Mercantile Ethics had originally sent in.

    Most of these groups had been instructed to stick to their own, and help each other in obtaining a better result in the competition. That was the mentality of a group that, aware of the impossibility that the 'ones above all' would end up being part of their conglomerate, had instead decided to make the students attempt to obtain as much visibility they could for their own companies.

    This lead for the conglomerate present to immediately split into three different groups of four thousand cultivators. Each lead by the most powerful and talented students that the conglomerated had found within their domains.

    From the way these cultivators behaved, it was obvious that each group possessed a specific hierarchy, and their first objective was to regroup with the members of their conglomerate, before finding a way to proceed through the contest. The leading figures were either the disciples or the family members of each of the three conglomerates placed in this island, who also happened to be amongst the strongest individuals within the three small armies.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com  for visiting.

    Most of these talented and young cultivators had, at some point, had the chance to participate in a smaller, and yet similar competition, and usually, the testing methods would always follow the same principles. Reduce the numbers, proceed through a specific path, move towards the middle.

    These three simple notions lead the cultivators to focus on the massive islands present in the inner part of this seemingly endless ocean, and the bridge that separated them from it.

    An unwritten rule that most cultivators that would participate in a contest of which they did not know much about would usually follow, was to not attack each other unless specifically requested by the test, and since there appeared to be no reason to attack one another, the three leading members of their respective groups formed a mental path towards the bridge between islands, and ordered the advancement of their own group.

    The first two groups departed immediately, while the participants of the Egregious Mercantile Ethics remained behind.

    The reason for this was simple. While most of the cultivators that had been invited by Cato's conglomerates were here with the purpose of gaining fame and visibility for their own groups, that was not the case for the Egregious Mercantile Ethics. The objective of the leading members of this particular group had been assigned with the task of separating the students of the Hiel Academy, and if the occasion presented itself, to secretly kill one, while remaining on friendly terms with the others.

    Unfortunately, not even a minute after the beginning of the competition, these students had already failed in their task, as there was no trace of any of the seven students of Hiel academy in the volcano's crater.

    -----

    On the border of the island, just a few dozen kilometers away from the volcano, was a beach with clear white sand. The waves broke on the sand with a loud, and yet relaxing noise, only to end up seeping into the wet sand, and leave the place for another wave to come.

    This relaxing and eternal ritual had been going on undisturbed for who knows how many years, and was only interrupted by the arrival of seven individuals. These seven individuals were, of course, Nilo, Finn, Cynna, Fyro, Zack, Ivan, and Sigg.

    From the very moment the group had been teleported, instead of trying to discern their position based on their sight, the former five of them had relied on their sensing abilities. It was then, that they had noticed that their ability to sense their surroundings had been limited to about fifty meters in the distance.

    After the five of them understood in what kind of situation they were in, there was no need for them to discuss before deciding to leave immediately. Their initial plan was to learn more about the place in which they were before separating themselves from the rest of the group, but since the place was so large, and their sensing abilities were limited to such a degree, there was a real possibility that, had they stayed, the rest of the group would have kept much more attention on them, making their escape almost impossible.

    Instead of risking, they had decided to grab Sigg and Ivan, and escape before the others would bother to check if they were still there.

    "Is everybody here?" Asked Nilo after helping Ivan up from the patch of sand he had fallen on after being roughly handled through dozens of kilometers in a matter of moments.

    "We are all here." Responded Finn after trying to brush the sand off of his boots.

    After making sure that nobody had followed them, Nilo turned to look at the massive bridge that lead to the inner island, and said, "We might want to wait for the others to pass through before making our way there." He then turned to look at Fyro, who was the one with the deepest comprehension of fire and earth essence of the seven of them, and said, "Fyro, make a base for us underground. At least fifty meters deep, and if you can- What are you looking at?"

    For the whole time in which Nilo gave the first assignment, Fyro had been staring at something high up in the sky.

    The rest of the group followed his line of sight, and when they looked up, they immediately noticed something that they had never seen before. Floating in the sky, with a dark color which was in deep contrast when compared to the clear sky, was the number ten thousand.

    "That's new. What do you guys think that is?" Asked Finn with curiosity.

    Before anyone could make a guess, however, Zack's stern voice came from behind the group. "It's better if you take a look at that." He said.

    The way Zack had spoken was indicative that something was wrong, so it did not take long for the other members of the group to follow his suggestion, and turn around. When they looked at the direction of the beach, they quickly noticed dozens of heads emerge from the surface of the water.

    Each of these heads belonged to humanoid beings, but instead of possessing a smooth skin of the typical colors of humans, their skin was blue, and on their necks, right on their trapezius muscles, were dark colored gills. Their heads did not have hair, and in between the fingers of their hands and feet, could be seen a transparent and thin webbing.

    The robotic behaviour of these creatures immediately gave away that something was wrong with them. The power they were emanating was that of a cultivator at the peak of immortality, but from the way they moved and acted, their state seemed closer to that of puppets than normal cultivators.

    If either Aeron or Daniel had been here, they would have immediately noticed that these humanoids did not possess a mind, and instead, their bodies were shells that contained a numbed spirit that was commanded by an intent left by whomever had placed them in this island.

    This intent was, of course, to fight.

    The moment the first one of these warriors stepped out of the water, his head slowly moved in the direction of Nilo's group. A simple look was all it took for him to tighten his grip around the chain that was wrapped around his fist, and dash in their direction.

    "PREPARE TO FIGHT!" Shouted Nilo right before preparing to parry the attack.

    -----

    Not longer than a couple of minutes had passed since the nearly twelve thousand participants had found their bearings, and determined that their objective was to pass the bridge that lead further into the middle of this ocean.

    The travel was of only a few dozen kilometers, which for cultivators at the peak of immortality was just like taking a step, so it did not take for such a large group to migrate directly to the small area in front of their objective.

    What these cultivators noticed the very moment they arrived, however, was that the bridge was not an actual bridge, but in fact a tunnel, and that its entrance was blocked by a seemingly impenetrable barrier that prevented anyone from accessing it.

    Right when the confusion these cultivators felt was at its peak, a few of them finally noticed the large number that was floating high up in the sky, and that only a few seconds ago, had been covered by the thick exhalations of the volcano.

    "Hey, look over there. There is a number floating in the sky!" Said one of the more observant cultivators within the groups, leading most of the others to look up as well.

    "Is that the number of cultivators in this island?" Asked a young woman dressed in a tightly fitting green dress, to one of her companions.

    The person to which this young woman had directed her question towards was a man in his early thirties, and clad in a light dark leather armor that covered a portion of his light green clothes. He was considered the most talented individual within one of the two other conglomerates present in their island, and due to that, he had been appointed as the leader of his own group. However, the reason why the young woman's first instinct was to ask him, was not due to his talent and power, but his known intelligence.

    "No. The conglomerates have been given four thousand tokens each. We should be all here. That number could be a timer, or may-" In this young man's mind many hypotheses had formed, but before he could even list them all, the number changed from ten thousand, to nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine.
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