Book 3: Rise of the River-Defying Sect!

Cultivation Base Breakthrough!

The Heavenspan Sea occupied the very center of the world. It was a vast, boundless body of golden water that not even Nascent Soul cultivators would dare to enter without some sort of magical device designed for sea travel.

Only people in the Deva Realm could possibly make an attempt at crossing the sea, and with difficulty at that.

In the east, west, south and north regions of the Heavenspan Sea, there were places where the sea water poured through openings that created four enormous rivers. Although those rivers didn’t reach the very borders of the world, they did come close.

Each of the four great rivers had a riversource sect at the base of the river, in the location where the sea and the river met. The sect which controlled the eastern river was the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect. After the river flowed for a certain distance, it split up into four smaller branches of the same river.

The locations where those four rivers branched off came to be known as the Middle Reaches of the cultivation world. Those locations were home to the Starry River Court, the Sky River Court, the Dao River Court, and the Polarity River Court!

Those four sects were deserving of the domineering reputation they maintained in the eastern Middle Reaches of the cultivation world. Any one of them was powerful enough to completely dominate the other smaller sects in the region, as well as the vast number of cultivator clans.

Although each river branch that formed the Lower Reaches was occupied by four powerful sects, even if those sects combined forces, they wouldn’t be a match for one of the larger sects that occupied the Middle Reaches. However, there was only one reason for that!

The patriarchs of the Lower Reaches sects were all Nascent Soul cultivators, whereas the patriarchs of the Middle Reaches sects were in the Deva Realm!

The Deva Realm was something completely different from the Nascent Soul stage. It was an almost unimaginable level of power, and the difference between it and Nascent Soul was even greater than the difference between Nascent Soul and Gold Core!

It was almost impossible to even fathom the disparity!

Because of the threat of such power, none of the sects in the Lower Reaches would ever dream of trying to topple a Middle Reaches sect, not unless some heaven-defying event occurred. Furthermore, the chances of one of the Nascent Soul cultivators from the Lower Reaches breaking through to become a deva were miniscule.

Even people who overflowed with latent talent would be hard-pressed to find an opportunity to do so. The reason for that was because in the Lower Reaches, the spiritual power of the Heavenspan River was different, the resources were different, and the techniques were different. An even bigger reason was that Deva Tribulation was virtually impossible to transcend without a Dharma protector!

However, the biggest reason was that the Middle Reaches sects would never let one of their subordinates in the Lower Reaches produce a deva! That would be a threat to their own positions!

However, none of that applied in this situation. An exceedingly rare opportunity had arisen with the Sky River Court.

For some unknown reason, the Sky River Court had done something to enrage the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect. As a result, two devas had been sent to execute the Sky River Court’s Deva Realm patriarch. In fact, they had even extracted part of his soul to create something that was rarely ever seen in the world, and very valuable: a deva soul.

In addition to that, more than seventy percent of the Sky River Court cultivators had been put to death, and that included portions of the reserve powers and precious treasures.

If they had wanted to, they could have simply exterminated the entire Sky River Court. Instead, they had issued an important ruling allowing it to stay in place!

By allowing the Sky River Court to survive, they had created the spark which led to the war among the four subordinate sects in the Lower Reaches.

By leaving the severely weakened Sky River Court in place, they provided an enticing goal for the Lower Reaches sects. Of course, the Sky River Court wouldn’t just sit around waiting to be supplanted. If they could survive the assault of the Lower Reaches sects, then according to the stipulations of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, they would have a chance to continue to exist!

If they managed to raise another of their cultivators to the Deva Realm in the future, then they might be able to return to their previous level of glory.

It wasn’t that they weren’t aware that the four sects had ended up joining forces. They did know, and yet, didn’t dare to interfere. According to the rules set forth by the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, they weren’t allowed to meddle with the affairs of the Lower Reaches sects. They had no choice but to sit still and await the final punishment which had been arranged by the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect!

That punishment was none other than the invasion of the Lower Reaches sects!

The sect headquarters of the Sky River Court was built atop the Heavenspan River itself. It was ten times larger than any sect in the Lower Reaches; after all, it was almost impossible to see one side of the river from the other in this area.

Much further down the river from that location was where it split into four more branches, which was the Lower Reaches of the cultivation world.

On the first of those four branches, it was possible to see an enormous giant plodding along, half-submerged in the river water. Every step the giant took sent water surging and spraying about, and the countless vicious spirits and other vile creatures nearby fleeing for their lives.

Even the most powerful of entities which lived in the river would choose to hide in the face of the power they felt, and would simply allow the giant to pass by.

Occasionally, it was possible to see a rabbit flitting about on the shoulders of the giant.

Some distance behind the giant was a 300,000-meter-long Heavenspan Battleship, slicing through the water. Countless cultivators could be seen on the battleship, most of them seated cross-legged in meditation as they attempted to get themselves into peak readiness for the fighting to come. A somber and solemn aura surrounded the entire battleship.

Two more battleships could be seen further back in the river, one of them 210,000 meters long, the other 90,000 meters. They seemed just as solemn as the first battleship.

Bai Xiaochun had converged the consciousnesses of numerous powerful cultivators to take control of the Blood Ancestor. His eyes shone with bright light as he strode through the river water. He could sense the vastness of the world around him, and to him, the water bashing against him felt soft and gentle. He couldn’t help but feel a grand sense of wonderment.

“One day, I won’t need to use the body of the Blood Ancestor to get this exact same feeling!” With that, he took another step forward, moving thousands of meters in the process.

Based on the speed of the Blood Ancestor and the Heavenspan Battleships, it only took a few days for them to pass unobstructed through the river until they reached the spot where it connected to the larger river upstream!

Stretching out to the horizon was a massive river that only the patriarchs had ever seen during their formal visits to the Sky River Court every sixty-year-cycle. For the other cultivators, it was their first time ever seeing a river this big; it was ten times wider than the Heavenspan River they were used to.

“The Middle Reaches Heavenspan River!!”

“Is this the Heavenspan River? It’s so huge!!”

“Compared to this river, ours really is nothing more than a stream!” The cultivators of the three divisions on the Heavenspan Battleships could immediately sense that the spiritual energy of heaven and earth here was ten times stronger than that which existed in the Lower Reaches.

Many people took in deep breaths, whereupon cracking sounds could be heard coming from inside of them. They had never encountered spiritual energy this strong, and for many, it immediately allowed them to break through cultivation obstacles that had hindered them in the past.

“This… this is the Middle Reaches! My cultivation base….”

“The only way to take over the Sky River Court is to defeat them in battle. If I continue to cultivate here, I’ll definitely be able to reach the level of a Nascent Soul patriarch!!”

Even the patriarchs of the River-Defying Sect were panting in excitement. In fact, their feelings ran even deeper than the other cultivators, because they were finally closing in on their ultimate goal: becoming devas!

If they could put down roots in the Middle Reaches, the resources and spiritual power there would make the Deva Realm more than just a distant dream. Furthermore, no one from above would come to interfere as they reached the breakthrough point; after all, having a Deva Realm expert was one of the main requirements for Middle Reaches sects!

Bai Xiaochun could sense the excitement of the patriarchs. As he controlled the body of the Blood Ancestor, he took a deep breath, and everything in heaven and earth shook. A massive surge of the spiritual energy of heaven and earth raced toward him, as he became like a black hole. After the spiritual energy entered the body of the Blood Ancestor, he sent it out to the cultivators of the Blood Stream Division, and then took a bit for himself.

His ninth spiritual sea had previously been just on the verge of crystallizing. As of this moment, it only took that single breath to finish the process!

The instant it fully crystallized, Bai Xiaochun trembled as his cultivation base erupted with power vastly greater than before.

After nine spiritual seas fully crystallized, that was the great circle of Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment!

“The Middle Reaches….” he thought, brimming with excitement. All of a sudden, he felt as if he were connected by destiny to the Middle Reaches; if not, why else would he have made a breakthrough the instant he entered…?

Despite being inside of the Blood Ancestor, he was still able to suck in spiritual energy without any wastage. It seemed boundless.

Eyes flickering, he sent the Blood Ancestor leaping forward. Massive rumbling could be heard as the Blood Ancestor flew through the air and then splashed down into the river that was the eastern Heavenspan!

RUMBLE!

Water splashed everywhere, and huge waves rolled out. It was in that moment that the three Heavenspan Battleships also burst out into the Middle Reaches!

Cultivation Base Breakthrough!

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Dire Skybanyan!

Bai Xiaochun felt truly free and unrestricted as he sent the Blood Ancestor up into the Middle Reaches. By this point, he could control the body of the Blood Ancestor with complete agility and dexterity.

The river began to get deeper, and soon it was up to the chest of the Blood Ancestor.

As for the three Heavenspan Battleships, because of the abundance of spiritual energy, they were able to move more quickly, making it easier for them to keep up with the giant.

Rumbling echoed out from the Heavenspan River as the group proceeded on upstream.

It was at this point that the patriarchs of the three divisions issued orders, and the enormous sails of the battleships were unfurled. Upon each sail could be seen three shining, golden characters!

River-Defying Sect!!

This was the first time that the name of the River-Defying Sect had been announced in the Middle Reaches of the cultivation world. As the wind caused the sails to flap, the words looked particularly impressive!

The patriarchs of all four divisions had agreed to do this ahead of time. Back then, the arch-patriarch Master Godwind hadn’t been completely sure that the plan with the Blood Ancestor would work. Therefore, the plan was to use the three Heavenspan Battleships, not just to transport the members of the sect, but also to impress and awe those who saw them.

It was an attempt to threaten anyone who harbored thoughts of trying to carve out their own spheres of power in the territory currently controlled by the Sky River Court.

Clearly, this method was working!

The cultivation world of the Middle Reaches was far larger in area than the Lower Reaches. Considering that all of the Lower Reaches was simply one part of the territory controlled by the dominant Middle Reaches sect, it was possible to imagine how large of an area that was.

Occasionally, smaller sects and cultivator clans were visible on the shores of the river. Clearly, such organizations had unique relationships with the Sky River Court to be permitted to establish themselves so close to the river itself.

Normally, they were a proud and arrogant lot, comfortable in their respected position within the Middle Reaches. As for the Lower Reaches, they looked down on them with disdain.

But now that the Sky River Court was being punished, such organizations were getting more and more nervous. Then they saw the three Heavenspan Battleships, and their eyes went wide. They were struck with fear and awe, and could scarcely believe what they were seeing. And that was without even mentioning the enormous giant that led the way for the battleships.

“They’re the River-Defying Sect?”

“They come from the Lower Reaches….”

“They’re going to attack the Sky River Court in the hopes of replacing it!!” The cultivator clans and small-scale sects were all trembling in nervousness, completely shaken by what they were seeing!

Once the battleships and the giant made their way off into the distance, the cultivator clans and small-scale sects immediately sent word to others that they knew in the Middle Reaches. Before long, everyone was shaken, and even the Courts on the other rivers became aware of what was happening.

Of the other sects and clans in the territory of the Sky River Court, some were terrified and some were nervous. However, there were some who merely narrowed their bloodshot eyes, as if they were trying to decide what to do.

However, other groups which had never been treated very well, especially groups more on the borders of the Sky River Court territory, quickly made up their minds.

“This is an opportunity for the River-Defying Sect, but it’s also an opportunity for our Zhoushi Clan!”

“We can show up in the River-Defying Sect’s moment of greatest need. If we join them in attacking the Sky River Court, the merit we earn in battle will be a protection for our clan. It will buy us at least 1,000 years of stability!!”

“Let’s risk it! If we don’t attack now, the heavens only know when we might get another chance!”

Before long, the entire Sky River Court territory was in a huge commotion as numerous organizations began to head in the direction of the Sky River Court’s headquarters.

Meanwhile, Bai Xiaochun’s progress up the Heavenspan River had slowed some. This was a decision made by the patriarchs of the four divisions. As far as they were concerned, it wouldn’t make any difference if they arrived at the Sky River Court a day earlier or a day later.

Besides, they wanted to wait for news of the River-Defying Sect to spread in the area. That way, any sects or clans who wished to join them would have time to make their decision. Furthermore, any who were on the fence would have a chance to make their way to the area near the Sky River Court to observe how things played out.

By waiting until the right moment to strike at the Sky River Court, they would be able to maximize the benefits of winning!

When Bai Xiaochun heard their plan, he couldn’t help but sigh. Clearly, the patriarchs were making a gamble. However, he knew that all of them were profound at scheming and planning, and were the slyest of sly foxes.

When they all got together to plan, they would hash things out to the finest detail.

At one point, the patriarchs of the other three branches gathered on the shoulders of the Blood Ancestor. As they sat there cross-legged, Master Godwind materialized in illusory form on the Blood Ancestor’s ear to confer with them. “Our attack on the Sky River Court will encompass three major offensives!”

Restrictive spells were cast to ensure that no one would eavesdrop.

As for Bai Xiaochun, he looked askance at the ant-like forms on his shoulders, and couldn’t help but feel a bit annoyed.

“The first offensive will be via the water! This assault must be lightning-swift, and we must achieve victory as soon as possible. Only in that way can we impress the cultivator clans and the other sects, and give them the confidence to join us!”

“That’s right. The second offensive will be through the jungle! The Sky River Court is enormous, and is surrounded by jungle on either side. The fighting will be bitter, and the main goal will be to reach the Sky River Court headquarters!”

“Heh heh. So what you’re saying is that the third offensive will be on the sect headquarters itself!”

“Yes. But the most difficult part of the final offensive won’t be dealing with the cultivators of the Sky River Court. It will be the Dire Skybanyan, which feeds on the flesh and blood of 1,000,000 cultivators every hundred years! The Sky River Court’s deva patriarch might have perished, but according to our intelligence reports, their Dire Skybanyan is still very much alive. Furthermore, its power is similar to that of a deva….”

As the patriarchs discussed their plans, Bai Xiaochun listened in, heart pounding with shock. When he heard them mention the Dire Skybanyan, he couldn’t help but be intrigued.

Time passed. Half a month later, the first of the cultivator clans presented themselves to the River-Defying Sect on the bank of the river, and declared their allegiance!

They would join the River-Defying Sect in attacking the Sky River Court!

These organizations who didn’t feel the need to wait and see how the fighting went before joining were taken very seriously by the River-Defying Sect. Although they weren’t invited to board the battleships, they were promised many benefits in the future.

In the following days, more organizations appeared to offer allegiance. Another half a month passed, and by that time, 30 cultivator clans and five small-scale sects had joined the alliance with the River-Defying Sect.

As they got closer to the Sky River Court, this trend influenced many of the other organizations, and became a major factor in their own decisions.

By this point, the River-Defying Sect felt that they were ready. With that, they pushed forward at full speed. Rumbling could be heard as the Blood Ancestor flew through the Heavenspan River, slicing through the water, followed by the three Heavenspan Battleships.

A few days later, the members of the River-Defying Sect finally caught sight of something astonishing up ahead on the river. It was a gigantic tree that reached high up into the sky, and actually connected both banks of the river!

It was an enormous banyan tree that was called a skybanyan!

The tree had lived for many, many years, and was tens of thousands of meters tall. Its roots were buried into both banks of the river, with rootlets dangling down to brush the surface of the water below. Many of the rootlets had grown together in clumps, creating walkways for people to tread upon. The entire sight was completely shocking!

The roots which sank into the banks of the river actually formed countless smaller skybanyans, almost like children to the mother that was the enormous larger tree. Because they were all connected together, they were like a huge jungle!

That jungle fairly radiated an aura of blood and gore. It was like an enormous graveyard, something which was nurtured by the power of flesh and blood.

That was because skybanyans were trees that loved to feast on skin and gore!

Although the patriarchs of the River-Defying Sect had already spread word about the skybanyans, when the members of the sect saw them with their own eyes, they couldn’t help but be shaken mentally.

The main tree radiated an aura of death, and many of its branches and limbs were withered, as were many of the smaller trees in the disorganized jungle which surrounded it.

Even more astonishing was that in the middle of the trunk of the main tree, an enormous handprint could be seen, as if a palm strike had been delivered with the intention of destroying it!

Clearly, the Dire Skybanyan, despite not being dead, was panting on the verge of passing away. Even still, the scant bit of power that it still retained was enough to threaten everything in the area!

The Sky River Court was a place that abounded with a sinister air. Currently, not a single cultivator was visible in the area, and yet it was possible to detect glares of hatred falling upon the River-Defying Sect from within the skybanyans. Most of those gazes were leveled on Bai Xiaochun and the Blood Ancestor.

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