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.


Attacking The Sky River Court

In the moment that the Blood Ancestor and the three Heavenspan Battleships appeared in front of the headquarters of the Sky River Court, the entire Heavenspan River seemed to go quiet.

At first no one from either side said a thing. They only looked at each other, gazes burning with killing intent.

Whether it was the Sky River Court or the River-Defying Sect, neither could be considered in the right or in the wrong.

As the silence wore on, an intense pressure built up until the air itself seemed to solidify. At the same time, numerous organizations that existed within the territory of the Sky River Court were all watching to see what would happen.

After a long moment, an illusory version of the Blood Stream arch-patriarch appeared out in the open. Facing the Sky River Court, he clasped hands and bowed deeply. “I, Master Godwind, offer greetings to the ranking sect!”

Next, the Spirit Stream founding patriarch appeared in person. Bowing, he said, “I, Frigidsect, offer greetings to the ranking sect!”

After him were the strongest patriarchs from the Profound and Pill Stream Divisions. Their expressions were wistful as they clasped hands and offered formal greetings.

“I, Crimsonsoul, offer greetings to the ranking sect!”

“I, Sievepill, offer greetings to the ranking sect!”

At first, the Sky River Court maintained silence. Of the countless gazes emanating from the Dire Skybanyan, many were filled with mixed emotions. After a long moment passed, a hoarse voice echoed out.

“Master Godwind, Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul, Sievepill. Long time no see, Fellow Daoists….” As the voice filled the air, an old man emerged from the Sky River Court, hovering tall and straight. He had long white hair, and a malicious air to him. Especially terrifying was the fact that, on the left side of his face, he had a huge growth of flesh the size of an infant’s head.

Eight people appeared along with him, just behind him. Shockingly, each one was a Nascent Soul cultivator. The strongest was the old man, who was clearly in the great circle, and even had a bit of a Heaven-Dao aura to him. Given enough time, that old man would most likely be able to reach the Deva Realm.

The old man flashed a bitter smile. Eyes filled with profound ancientness, he said, “This fight doesn’t need a lengthy preamble. I know that you have come to offer greetings today because of the judgement set forth by the sect above us. There is no right or wrong here today, at least, not that exists between our two sects….

“However, there is one thing that I’m certain of. And that is…” As the man spoke, mixed emotions could be seen on his face. His voice grew softer and softer, until Master Godwind and the other patriarchs were straining to hear what he said. However, in that very moment, a crimson eyeball suddenly opened on the tumor on the side of his face, and it radiated venomous hatred and madness. Then the old man shouted, “… you people will all die here today!!”

Even as the words left his mouth, the air around the three Heavenspan Battleships began to twist and distort as tens of thousands of people materialized. All sorts of cultivation bases were present. However, each and every person was extremely fast, and was adept at using spatial manipulation magic. In the blink of an eye, they were already attacking the battleships.

Even more such figures appeared in the vicinity of the patriarchs, and those figures’ murderous auras were especially intense!

Clearly, the Sky River Court was attempting to take advantage of the River-Defying Sect’s moment of unpreparedness to launch a sneak attack, and hopefully, seize the upper hand!

However, in the very moment that the Sky River Court’s cultivators attacked, rumbling echoed out as an enormous sword materialized. Almost as soon as it appeared, it divided into tens of thousands of smaller greatswords which slashed through the air toward the Dire Skybanyan!

This was the Profound Stream Division’s sword formation, which normally took a significant amount of time to prepare. The fact that it had suddenly appeared right here and now indicated that the four patriarchs’ politeness earlier had just been for show!

This was a situation of fighting viciousness with ferocity! This was a war that would determine the fate of two sects, and there was no room for righteousness or morality. Any such weakness would come at a bitter price!

Rumbling booms filled the air as shields of light sprang up around the Heavenspan Battleships, completely blocking the attacks of the Sky River Court cultivators and preventing them from advancing toward the ships. Simultaneously, blood-colored light erupted from the Blood Ancestor, protecting the patriarchs.

In the direction of the Sky River Court, the Dire Skybanyan began to glitter with light, and then countless leaves flew out to block the sword formation. The mutual sneak attacks launched by both sides had failed to secure the upper hand for either one of them. Neither sect was showing any consideration for the other, nor was anyone interested in having a discussion. The fighting had begun!

Countless vine-like branches shot out from the Skybanyan like vicious, bloodthirsty snakes. Accompanying them were numerous cultivators, almost blurs as they shot through the air toward the River-Defying Sect.

The Sky River Court cultivators were skilled with spatial manipulation magic, and were far faster than ordinary cultivators. Furthermore, they were very skilled at concealing themselves. The truth was that in the Middle Reaches of the cultivation world, the Sky River Court was known for being able to kill anyone, anywhere!

It was even correct to say that the Sky River Court was a sect of assassins!

In the blink of an eye, more than ten thousand Sky River Court cultivators appeared, blotting out the sky as they unleashed deadly attacks. They flitted through the air as if they were performing teleportations; almost as soon as they became visible, they would vanish to another spot.

This was the first time that the River-Defying Sect was facing such techniques, and that gave the Sky River court a clear advantage!

Then there were the vines, which brimmed with astonishing strength as they screamed through the air. At the same time, numerous smaller skybanyans on the two banks of the river emerged from the ground and transformed into treants. Howling, they launched themselves out over the Heavenspan River toward the River-Defying Sect.

Some of the treants were dozens of meters tall, some of them were hundreds of meters tall. In each and every one of them, Sky River Court cultivators could be seen, sitting there meditating as they unleashed power to control the treants’ shocking strength.

Even as the Sky River Court forces charged forth, Bai Xiaochun sent the Blood Ancestor leaping up into the air. As a result, massive waves rolled out across the surface of the Heavenspan River water. Many of the Sky River Court cultivators were simply impeded by the waves, but others who didn’t evade them quickly enough screamed miserably as they were inundated and then melted by the water.

How could the Sky River Court possibly ignore the fact that the Blood Ancestor had just leaped up into the air? The truth was that the Blood Ancestor was actually the focal point of this fight. Instantly, countless vines shot out from the numerous skybanyans, which flew through the air and began to wrap around the Blood Ancestor.

Those vines emanated shocking strength, and were backed by the will of the Dire Skybanyan itself.

Bai Xiaochun’s eyes flickered with cold light. Without the slightest hesitation, he unleashed all of his blood qi, viciously waving his right hand and snapping all of the vines. Bai Xiaochun was well aware that his mission in this battle was to neutralize the Dire Skybanyan!

As he proceeded forward toward the enormous tree, more and more vines snaked out, speeding toward him with wild abandon as they attempted to impede his progress.

At the same time, the 300,000-meter-long Heavenspan Battleship shot forward, glittering with the light of spell formations as countless giants rose up. Roaring, the giants leaped out to fight with the Sky River Court cultivators.

A similar thing occurred with the second battleship. A vast host of puppets flew out, smashing into the forces of the Sky River Court.

More sword formations appeared up in the sky, and then a rain of swords began to fall. Then came the Pill Stream Division. An enormous cauldron materialized up in the air, which began to bathe everything in the area with soft light.

There was something toxic about the light, and any Sky River Court cultivator who it touched began to shake violently. In contrast, the River-Defying Sect cultivators who the light touched felt their cultivation bases rising and their wounds being healed.

Chen Manyao’s voice rang out as she gave orders to the Pill Stream Division. Toxic gas immediately began to spread toward the enemy.

In the blink of an eye, massive rumbling sounds rose up to the heavens.

Up in the air, the patriarchs from all four divisions began to fight with the Nascent Soul cultivators from the Sky River Court. Booms rang out. In the initial fighting, it wasn’t clear which side had the upper hand among the patriarchs. Although the Sky River Court was outnumbered, the old man who was half a step into the Deva Realm actually gave them a bit of an advantage.

The prime elders, legacy echelon cultivators, and Gold Core experts of the River-Defying Sect formed the backbone of the army. They outnumbered the Sky River Court, and thanks to their constant attacks, the Sky River Court’s Gold Core cultivators were suffering one defeat after another!

If that were all there were to it, it might not be a big deal. But then, the three Heavenspan Battleships erupted with blinding light, beams of destruction fully 300 meters wide.

The power source for the beams of light were the skeletal parts of the Deva Realm beast that formed their keels. As the light shot forth, rumbling sounds filled the air, and any Sky River Court cultivator who got in the way was instantly transformed into ash.

The target of those destructive beams of light was none other than the Dire Skybanyan!