1461 Anomaly in the Peaceful Ocean
After the meeting with Liu Ming, the Lin siblings' itinerary over the next few days continued as usual.
The information that was being spread on social media platforms did not give Lin Huang any cause for concern. He also did not continue monitoring the various noisy debates on the Internet; he merely checked the news every day as per usual before he went to bed.
On this particular day, Lin Huang clicked on the online news page like he usually did before he went to sleep.
The headline displayed on the Union Government's home page immediately caught his attention.
The title read, "Notice—Peaceful Ocean Off-Limits!"
"The Peaceful Ocean is off-limits… what on earth is going on?" Puzzled, Lin Huang immediately clicked on the notice.
"In view of all the monsters in the Peaceful Ocean becoming more powerful overall, the Union Government and the Hunter Association will be organizing a combined extermination campaign. From now on until further notice, the Peaceful Ocean is now a restricted zone; all cultivators below virtual god-level are forbidden to set foot there. After the extermination operation has been carried out, we will announce at the earliest opportunity when the area will be accessible again so that normal hunting can resume."
After Lin Huang had finished reading the notice, he could not help raising his brows.
His first reaction was that the Union Government was concealing the real reason for sealing off the Peaceful Ocean. This was because if they were really looking to mount an extermination campaign, it would not be necessary to make such a big fuss over declaring the place off-limits.
Something must have happened that the Union Government did not wish the outside world to know about, which was why they had made a strategic decision like this.
Somewhat puzzled, Lin Huang dialed Huang Tianfu's number.
Before the dial tone had even finished ringing, the video call connected.
"Your Majesty!" The minute Huang Tianfu saw Lin Huang appear on the call, he initiated greetings, a smile on his face.
Lin Huang gave a slight nod. "Tianfu, what's been happening lately over at Dynasty?"
"Everything is normal," Huang Tianfu replied, then extrapolated a bit further, "Mr. Fu and Lin Xuan are both still in closed-door cultivation. Other Virtual Gods are also in closed-door cultivation, and there are also some in the Royal wasteland. For the time being, there haven't been any unusual situations that have been reported back.
"Oh… I almost forgot; there's also some good news. Huang Wuji has elevated to virtual god-level—it just happened in the last two days. I didn't think it was anything particularly important, so I didn't want to bother you with it."
"With his talent and potential, his advancement is to be expected." Lin Huang nodded slightly. Huang Wuji had initially been ranked with Chan Dou as one of the Five Princes and could be considered exceptionally gifted among the younger generation.
If Lin Huang had not suddenly appeared out of the blue, eclipsing the Five Princes' brilliant talent, the Five Princes would probably have become the most formidable powerhouses of this epoch.
Moreover, if Lin Huang had not interrupted, Huang Wuji might very well already be holding the current position of Dynasty's Emperor.
"The First Prince's advancement is indeed a cause for celebration. Please reward him with a top-notch god relic weapon and a top-tier set of god relic armor. As for any other rewards, I'll leave that up to you."
"Very well, I'll make arrangements." Huang Tianfu nodded vigorously.
"Oh yes, today I saw the notice that the Union Government sent out regarding the Peaceful Ocean being off-limits. What's happened over there?" After settling the matter of Huang Wuji, Lin Huang switched the topic of conversation to what he really wanted to ask Huang Tianfu.
"For now, I still don't have any definite news…" Huang Tianfu finished speaking, then added, "However, I've heard that the Union Government has had several Virtual Gods dying in the Peaceful Ocean. This news hasn't yet been verified, though; up until now I still haven't received any information about what the actual situation is."
"Once you have any news, remember to let me know immediately." Lin Huang nodded.
The two men chatted for a little while longer before Lin Huang finally ended the call.
"Virtual Gods dying in the Peaceful Ocean…" Lin Huang was still more concerned about the matter of the Peaceful Ocean being declared a restricted zone. "It's normal for Virtual Gods to die. Besides, there are numerous large and powerful monsters in the deep sea area of the Peaceful Ocean—not only that, after the World Rules were finally complete, those monsters would have become more powerful anyway.
"Sealing off the entire Peaceful Ocean right off the bat, however, means the situation is probably more complicated than it looks." Lin Huang made this assumption because he had had dealings with Jiang Shan, Dongfang Bai, and the others more than once. He was very much aware that, based on the characters of these two men, they would not lightly make a decision like this.
Curious now, Lin Huang clicked on the black market forum.
Very quickly, he saw topics related to the Peaceful Ocean being sealed off; these topics were fairly numerous as well.
He investigated by clicking on a few posts that were trending more than the rest and discovered that all kinds of things were being bandied about.
Some people said that a powerful monster—suspected of being a True God—had appeared in the Peaceful Ocean and had slaughtered all the Virtual Gods that the Union Government had sent out for exploration purposes.
Some others said that a dimensional gateway from the great world had appeared in the deep sea area of the Peaceful Ocean, and armies from the great world were invading once more.
Still others insisted that the monsters on the seabed of the Peaceful Ocean had undergone abnormal changes, resulting in an explosive increase in power and turning the area into a zone forbidden to humans.
After Lin Huang finished reading all the posts, he still had no clue about what had happened in the sea areas of the Peaceful Ocean.
Although it only took a glance for him to identify the contents of many posts as being fake, there were also speculations in the contents of some other posts that could very well be possible.
After closing the black market forum, Lin Huang muttered irresolutely to himself for a while, then decided to push the whole matter of the Peaceful Ocean to the back of his mind for the time being.
The way he saw it, the matter had no real connection with him. Even though he was curious, he was not curious enough to immediately ask Jiang Shan or Dongfang Bai. Rather, he decided to wait patiently for news to come from Dynasty.
In the blink of an eye, another three days went by.
The Lin siblings departed from Magical Sky City, the grade-3A1 foothold where the Martial Hunter College was, and arrived at the grade-3A5 foothold of Wanbao City.
Lin Xin's reason for choosing Wanbao City was that it was No. 3 Zone's trade city, and it was also the largest trade center in the gravel world.
She wanted to wander around and see if there might be anything that she wanted.
After the siblings had eaten breakfast and found a hotel they could check into for a stay, Lin Huang's Emperor's Heart Ring suddenly began vibrating.
Lin Huang clicked on the communication page to take a look, and his brows involuntarily went up suddenly.
Initially, he had thought that the caller was Huang Tianfu, but he had entirely not expected that it would be the chief of the Union Government—Jiang Shan.
As soon as he saw that the caller was Jiang Shan, Lin Huang's first reaction was, 'Could this be related to the Peaceful Ocean?'
With this in mind, Lin Huang accepted Jiang Shan's video call request.
"Emperor Lin, I hope you've been well recently?" Although Jiang Shan wore a smile, there was something unnatural about it.
"I'm doing very well; every day I see beautiful scenery and eat good food," Lin Huang answered with a laugh, "Traveling really is something that gives a person pleasure."
Of course, Jiang Shan and the others were aware that of late, Lin Huang had been on vacation.
"I feel very bad about having to interrupt your holiday." Jiang Shan's smile held a faint touch of helplessness within it.
If it were not for the fact that he had encountered a matter that forced him into a last resort, naturally, he would not have contacted Lin Huang.
"Is it the matter of the Peaceful Ocean?" Lin Huang asked, quirking his brow.
"Yes, it is." Jiang Shan nodded hurriedly.
"Tell me in detail then; what on earth is going on?"
"Around six months or so ago, we sent several Virtual Gods to the seabed of the Peaceful Ocean to search for… that entrance to the great world that you'd mentioned." At this juncture, Jiang Shan lifted his head with a touch of embarrassment to gauge Lin Huang's reaction. "It was a team of Virtual Gods, eleven in total, and the team leader was a Virtual God rank-4. The very day that they began their explorations, we lost contact with all eleven of them, one after the other.
"The third day after they lost contact, we gathered together two contingents, each headed by a Virtual God rank-6, and sent them to the Peaceful Ocean to investigate why the previous team had gone missing. Each contingent was comprised of twenty-five Virtual Gods, out of which four of them were intermediate-stage. On the second day after the two teams had descended into the Peaceful Ocean, we started losing contact with them again one by one. By the third day, we had lost contact with every single one of them.
"After this second investigation failed, it took us another week of preparation, then three days ago—the day the notice was sent out, in fact—we gathered together yet another large contingent and headed to the Peaceful Ocean. Last night, Guan Zhong reported to me, confirming that we had definitely lost contact with all of them…"