There wasn't a single leader for the whole exploration team. It was impossible to find an agreement between the four nations on that topic. Yet, the four rank 5 cultivators had long since decided to be reasonable during the mission.
They were in an unknown environment that had only one escape route, and that was obviously fragile.
For once, the cultivators of the four forces would have to work for the greater good of their Mortal Lands instead of minding their benefits.
It couldn't be helped. Greed could lead to the failure of the mission, which could trap them in that unknown land until King Elbas managed to open another pa.s.sage.
Of course, death was a possible outcome too, and that led them to abandon previous grudges to focus on the exploration.
The group of forty-four heroic cultivators silently dug an opening in the rocky ceiling and flew toward the outside world. The four rank 5 cultivators were in the lead, and Noah was right behind them.
No one dared to complain about his position. Status didn't matter in that place, and the vanguard would usually be the first to meet any potential danger.
Everyone knew that Noah was the strongest among the rank 4 cultivators. That was something that no one could deny due to the power of his sea of consciousness!
The group had to dig upward for a few kilometers before the rocky ceiling ended, and the sunlight filled the tunnel just created.
Wary expressions appeared on the heroic a.s.sets as they came out in the open and inspected their surroundings.
The scenery that unfolded in front of their eyes didn't seem to belong to a different world. It was a dull wasteland, which saw some vegetation appearing only at a few kilometers in the distance.
'Not the safest environment where to have our only escape route.' Noah thought when he noticed that the wasteland was, in truth, a volcano.
There were cavities on its sides and traces of burned terrain near them, which carried the marks of past eruptions. The other cultivators didn't fail to notice those details too, and the four leaders acted as soon as the environment turned out to be dangerous.
Their priority was to protect the fissure, so they had to make sure that the volcano remained stable for the entire duration of their mission.
The rank 5 existences had a brief discussion through their consciousnesses before they spread in the area and used their methods to prevent any sudden eruption. Elder Austin even glanced at Noah before diving toward the base of the volcano, and the latter simply nodded at that gesture.
It was clear that he wanted him to manage the situation while they were busy, and Noah agreed without uttering any complaint.
The other rank 4 cultivators focused on him when they realized that their leaders had silently left him in charge of the group.
Noah's figure stood proudly in front of them. His mental waves filled the area and swept them as he made sure that there wasn't any threat. The symbol of the Coral archipelago occupied the back of his robe, and his long hair fluttered in the wind as he remained focused.
The famous criminal that had surprised everyone with his achievement was now protecting them.
It was needless to say that such sight gave birth to conflicting emotions inside those cultivators, especially those from the Utra nation. The Elbas family had worked to suppress Noah since he reached the academy, but he was still there, and he was stronger than all of them.
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"Don't worry, Lady Ballor," One of the Royals said as he lowered his head to whisper to June. "We won't let him kidnap you again."
Shockwaves spread from Noah's feet as he shot in the sky, which seemed utterly empty. However, a dark figure soon became visible, and it reached a distance where rank 4 mages could sense its aura.
The figure turned out to be a huge winged reptile when it crossed the barrage of clouds, which radiated the unmistakable aura of a rank 5 magical beast!
Noah quickly appeared in its trajectory and kicked its mouth while carrying the momentum generated by the Shadow sprint martial art.
The reptile was a beast in the lower tier of the fifth rank, so the cultivators hovering above the volcano released surprised gasps when they saw that Noah's kick made it fly back behind the clouds.
'Rank 5 Flying snake!' Noah thought as he shot after the beast. 'This species lost to the dragons in my world!'
Excitement rose inside him when he saw an extinct species making its appearance right at the beginning of their mission.
The snake hissed in pain, but Noah reached its head before it could focus again and delivered a powerful punch. The creature felt a ridiculous pressure landing on its mouth and flinging it downward along with its entire body.
The snake crossed the clouds once again, but its descent saw it landing on the vegetation outside of the volcano's range at that time. Noah knew that his priority was to let the rank 5 cultivators stabilize the area, so he had pushed the beast away with his attacks.
The beast hissed again and spread its feathered wings to stabilize his fall, but Noah was already on it, and he delivered another kick that pushed it even further away.
The creature understood that it was time to change tactics and released a toxic substance from its fangs, which spread in the area and engulfed both its and Noah's figures.
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