City of Pebbles, Underground World.
Swift Owl rounded the corner past a stone pillar. He cautiously avoided the guards who were patrolling nearby, diving into the shadows. He was a descendant of the Shadow race bloodline, which gifted him the ability of passing through shadows. With that, he could enter almost any place.
His goal this time was to enter the warehouse of an auction house, where auction items that were about to be sold were stored. The Netherworld King apostles were very active, so many Netherworld River products were going to be auctioned this time, such as a Soul Vine, Netherworld crystals, red spider lilies, and bones that had been lying in the Netherworld River for a thousand years.
Swift Owl badly needed a Soul Vine, but with his current financial power, it would be extremely difficult for him to get what he wanted by bidding in the auction. Thus, he decided to stake everything on this mission.
He walked into the shadows on the wall, pushing himself into the interior wall. This was a very tough thing to do as shadows were normally projected on the outer surface of walls. He had to jump from the shadow on this side of the wall to the one on the opposite side of the wall.
At the edge of the shadow, Swift Owl could sense a repulsion force pushing against him. He grinned. This was a special curse placed on shadows and also the nemesis of the Shadow race. It was the reason why the Shadow race couldn't be upgraded to a level-6 civilization. This curse could be easily created at a low cost, yet it rendered the Shadow race's greatest skill useless.
However, this curse had no effect on Swift Owl. He was not a pure-blood Shadow race. The power of the Dark Spirit race flowed in his blood too!
He was of mixed blood, descended from the Shadow race and Dark Spirit race. His birth was a miracle. He was a fusion of matter and void energy, the start of a new race! However, he was the only one for now. He didn't know how his Shadow race mother managed to give birth to a child with Dark Spirit blood. His mother had left after he was born, and no one knew where she went. He was taken care of by his maternal grandfather.
After his grandfather passed away, no one knew that he was of mixed blood, and neither did they possess any knowledge of his current abilities either.
His body gradually faded into void energy. The next instant, he could sense the power of another curse that affected the Dark Spirit race. However, this power dissipated after lightly circling around Swift Owl. He was not a Shadow race with a material body, nor was he a Dark Spirit race made up of void energy. He was an existence in between, which enabled him to be unaffected by either curse. He jumped into another shadow.
The treasure vault was right in front of him as he walked out of the shadows.
He then leapt into another shadow. He wasn't greedy and didn't need much, other than just a small thorn on the Soul Vine. If he could cover up his tracks properly, no one would realize that a little something was gone from such a huge piece of Soul Vine. Everyone valued its natural traits yet ignored the foreign substance that came attached to the Soul Vine.
Swift Owl didn't take long to locate his target, a Soul Vine that was naturally shaped like a stick!
Swift Owl was tempted. This piece of Soul Vine was huge enough to resemble the shape of a walking stick, making it seem extravagant. However, he didn't need the whole Soul Vine. After getting distracted for a brief moment, he focused on his task at hand. Using his full attention, he concentrated on sensing the thorn on the Soul Vine walking stick.
He didn't take action immediately. He was safe in the shadows, but if he stepped out, there was no doubt that he would be annihilated the moment others could see him.
Although he couldn't sense it, there was definitely one Heavenly Core expert keeping tabs on this treasure vault at all times, or maybe even more than one. Nonetheless, if those Heavenly Core experts weren't particularly skilled in the spiritual element, they wouldn't be able to sense anything going on in the shadows.
This was Swift Owl's advantage, so he could only wait for the right moment to come. He took the risk to come here not because he was blinded by arrogance, but because of the terrifying secret he accidentally overheard while passing through shadows. Several Heavenly Core experts were unwilling to compete with others in the auction for the thing that they wanted. Heavenly Core experts may not lack money, but that didn't mean that their financial resources were infinite, especially when their competitors were Heavenly Core experts too, who came from high-level civilizations. Hence, they were going to join forces to launch a well-prepared attack on the auction house. Swift Owl thought that they had a 50% chance of success, and he could stand to gain a little something from this. As long as he wasn't greedy, no one would realize that he came here at all.
There were still seven days to the auction day. It was possible that those Heavenly Core experts might not come today. Nonetheless, Swift Owl didn't want to give this chance up, so he quietly waited. He had the innate patience of the Dark Spirit race in his blood, which granted him the ability to not feel hunger or fatigue.
Two days went by…
Swift Owl stayed hidden in the shadows. He spent his time thinking about the current situation in the underground world. Evidently, the rise of the Netherworld King had changed the structure of the underground world. The birth of a new Netherworld King usually caused the loss of numerous lives, but something was different this time. The Netherworld River provided protection for Netherworld King apostles. Even if some experts found a way to resist the corrosion property of the Netherworld River, they definitely wouldn't want to engage in battles while above it. In the underground world, a wounded expert would be an easy target that was more valuable than treasure.
Hence, those experts could only try to track the Netherworld King down with caution.
However, for those who were at the bottom of the underground world hierarchy but possessed various talents, the appearance of the Netherworld King was their only source of hope in this endless dark world!
Swift Owl was extremely interested in the Netherworld King, but he had his doubts at the same time. The birth of the Netherworld King had boosted the production of Netherworld River products. In the past, only a few experts were able to enter the Netherworld River. However, it was evident they didn't go there to help others search for treasure. The Netherworld River played a vital role in the cultivation journeys of many Netherworld Factions. They needed the materials and treasure from the Netherworld River. If they didn't manage to obtain those materials, it might even affect the inheritance of certain techniques in some Factions!
As news of the Netherworld King recruiting apostles got out, the Netherworld River Wanderer started to open up trade for more things other than the red spider lilies. Hence, an auction was going to be held. The Merchant race was also planning to auction the Netherworld River materials that they obtained previously in order to gain the favor of the Netherworld River Wanderer. They wanted to abolish the old trading system and be given full authority to run the trading business.
Swift Owl sneered at this plan that the Merchant race had come up with. The great Netherworld King used the Netherworld River Wanderer's identity to attract everyone's attention for a reason. It was a strategy to let the various Factions know that the Netherworld King wasn't the least bit interested in their affairs.
It was obvious that the Netherworld King only cared about his Netherworld River. Anyway, the Netherworld River was his territory, and no one dared to go close to it. The various Factions definitely wouldn't object to his claim on the Netherworld River.
Previously, the Netherworld River Wanderer only traded red spider lilies. Now, he was trading all kinds of Netherworld River materials. This was a sign of the Netherworld King expanding his influence, and it was also a message to the Factions that he was reasonable and could be negotiated with. He didn't want his birth to cause endless deaths in the underground world. Simultaneously, he was demonstrating the value of his existence to the Star Alliance. Before the Netherworld King was born, even the Star Alliance didn't have effective means to retrieve rare materials from the Netherworld River.
Now that the Netherworld King was helping them obtain materials, the Star Alliance didn't care what secrets this mysterious Netherworld King had, just like how they didn't care about the disputes between the underground world Factions and how they divided their territory in private.
Without this favor that the Netherworld King did him, Swift Owl probably would never have this chance to obtain the thorn on the Soul Vine.
As Swift Owl let his imagination run wild, he finally found the right timing to execute his surprise attack that he had been looking forward to!
The sound of exploding attacks could be heard from a distance. Swift Owl became more cautious and stayed at his hiding spot. Although he couldn't directly see what was happening, he could sense what was happening around him through the shadows.
Time was ticking. It took around a dozen breaths before Swift Owl decided it was time to take a risk. He knew that the Heavenly Core experts wouldn't be engaged in battle for too long unless they were having a death match. However, the possibility of that happening was very low. At their level of power, the battle outcome was rather predictable.
Swift Owl leapt out of the shadows. There was no one in the surroundings!
He caught hold of the Soul Vine walking stick and quickly located the thorn on it. His power that possessed both matter and void-energy properties wrapped around the walking stick. Soul power surged upwards, gently pulling his body closer.
It was done!
He didn't touch anything else just as he had originally planned. He wasn't greedy and jumped back into the shadows, following his previous path and swiftly escaping…
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