It was a critical juncture. In order to test out the true spirit, the young boy gave new life to the Dire Skybanyan, which had previously been panting on the verge of death. However, the price which had been paid was enormous: the lives of all of the cultivators of the Sky River Court.
It was an unforeseen turn of events that caught the River-Defying Sect unprepared. According to any estimation, after the death beetle was destroyed, the Sky River Court should have surrendered.
After all, the death of that beetle was supposed to signify the end of the punishment.
But now everything had changed. The Dire Skybanyan roared as its enormous frame rose up over the Heavenspan River. Countless roots were connected to either side of the river bank, making it look almost like a giant.
Outside of the log cabin, the boy frowned. He didn’t care at all about the deaths of the Sky River Court, nor about what the River-Defying Sect was doing. He only cared about that baby girl.
“So, she can only remain active for ten breaths of time, huh...?” The boy shook his head sadly. After a moment, a look of sadness appeared in the eyes of the old man, and even pain. He almost seemed to be hesitating over some decision.
As for all of the other cultivator clans and sects that had come to observe the fighting, they were completely shaken by what they had seen, and could hardly control their own breathing. That was especially true considering that they had seen the powerful death beetle wiped out with the single wave of a finger. Then the Dire Skybanyan suddenly surged with life force. Everyone began to back up, trembling.
Most of the River-Defying Sect cultivators had managed to flee successfully. Although a few had been wounded or killed in the process, most were now back in the Heavenspan Battleships, whose shields had been raised. As for the Blood Stream Division, most of them were on the banks of the river.
Bai Xiaochun had no time to think about the matter at the moment. He was surging with incredible power, and his skin was the color of gold. The feeling of being at the peak of the Undying Skin and Undying Flesh left him with the sensation that he could hurl mountains and drain seas.
As soon as Master Godwind called out to him, he blurred into motion. He could now move even more quickly than when he had just stepped into the Heaven-Dao Gold Core stage. Although the waters of the Heavenspan River were very dangerous to most people, they wouldn’t harm Bai Xiaochun at all!
Thus, he dove into the water and shot downward toward the Blood Ancestor. It only took a few breaths of time before the Blood Ancestor’s eyes opened and began to shine with golden light. Slowly but surely, the Blood Ancestor rose to his feet!!
Before, something like this wouldn’t have been possible. Bai Xiaochun needed the combined strength of countless other Blood Stream Division cultivators to take control of the Blood Ancestor. But now, with effort, he was able to do it single-handedly.
As the Blood Ancestor rose up from within the waters of the Heavenspan River, the Blood Stream Division cultivators flew into the air and quickly disappeared inside. Then, the Blood Ancestor began to radiate even more incredible power than last time. Under the control of Bai Xiaochun, the blood-colored giant leaped up into the air.
It was in that moment that the Dire Skybanyan turned its gaze to the Blood Ancestor. Hatred and animosity burned inside of it as it sent countless branches and vines swirling together to form a huge hand, which then shot toward the Blood Ancestor in the form of a fist.
Instead of retreating in the face of such an attack, the Blood Ancestor continued to fly through the air, even higher than last time. In a flash, he appeared directly in front of the Dire Skybanyan, whereupon he reached out and grabbed ahold of the incoming hand, then unleashed the Mountain Shaking Bash.
Boundless golden light glittered as the Blood Ancestor bashed into the Dire Skybanyan, ripping it up by the roots and sending it flying backward several thousand meters.
Everyone who was watching could scarcely believe their own eyes. The events which were playing out this day completely surpassed the imaginations of anyone present, to the point where they almost felt as if they were suffocating.
The Blood Ancestor and the Dire Skybanyan were both gargantuan giants, large enough to be the headquarters of a huge sect. And here they were fighting at close quarters; each blow unleashed contained the power to destroy heaven and earth. Shockwaves blasted out in all directions, sending earth and vegetation flying everywhere. Even the waters of the Heavenspan River were affected.
The giant and the tree fought back and forth relentlessly across the landscape, felling mountains and hewing massive craters into the earth.
Of course, the Dire Skybanyan hadn’t truly recovered; it had only been aided by being fed the life force of the entire Sky River Court. The tree had long since been doomed to die.
Considering the intensity of the fighting, it wouldn’t be long before its injuries flared out of control, and it slipped away into death!
The enormous tree let out roars of rage as it was battered backward and backward. Because of the unrelenting attacks of the Blood Ancestor, the Dire Skybanyan was unable to seize the initiative. Bai Xiaochun had already become very comfortable in his control over the gigantic body.
His Heaven-Dao Gold Core surged with energy, releasing constant power. His Undying Heavenly King Core also seethed, unleashing boundless fleshly body power.
With the increase of his cultivation base, Bai Xiaochun could also send his consciousness to greater limits. His mind now filled the Blood Ancestor, and at the same time, his fleshly body formed a resonance, giving him an unheard-of level of control. Sometimes, he even forgot that he was actually inside of the Blood Ancestor.
It was almost as if he truly were the Blood Ancestor!
“Die!” he howled. However, his voice came out of the Blood Ancestor’s mouth, rumbling like thunder. The Dire Skybanyan was shoved backward again, and yet, before it could get very far, Bai Xiaochun reached out and grabbed it by the arm, flinging it through the air.
The Dire Skybanyan slammed into the ground some distance away, then struggled to rise up again. Meanwhile, the log cabin inside the huge tree hadn’t been affected at all. The boy still stood outside of it, a thoughtful expression on his face. As for the old man, a look of determination had finally solidified in his eyes.
Taking a deep breath, he reached out and pushed his hand down onto the trunk of the tree. In that instant, his body withered, and a powerful aura of death completely surrounded him.
The boy looked over at him.
“Fellow Daoist,” he said coolly, “please pardon my actions from moments ago. I got caught up in the heat of the moment, and my desire to interact with an Outsider. That was unfair to you, and it also made things hard for the River-Defying Sect.
“Ah well.... If this is the choice you wish to make, so be it. With new life breathed into the skybanyan, your mark will be left behind for all time.
“It will also serve as a bit of recompense to the River-Defying Sect on my part.” With that, he waved his sleeve behind him, stepped out into the air, and vanished.
The old man didn't say anything when the boy disappeared. He looked at the huge struggling treant, and at the same time, his body withered. Everyone in the Sky River Court was dead, and he didn’t have much longer to live either. Therefore, he was choosing to sacrifice himself to give the Dire Skybanyan a chance to live.
At the same time, some of his own will and life force would remain behind within the tree.
“Henceforth,” he murmured. “I acknowledge allegiance to the River-Defying Sect. I will protect it, just as you protected the Sky River Court!” With that, he withered up, fusing into the Dire Skybanyan.
The Dire Skybanyan shivered, and then the red glow in its eyes faded away. Even as that happened, the Blood Ancestor sailed toward it, fist held back in preparation to launch a blow. That was when the Dire Skybanyan prostrated itself and said in a deep voice, “I acknowledge allegiance....”
Even as the words echoed out, a scintillating light flew out from inside of the huge tree. The light shrank down until it revealed a green crystal, which was the heart of the Dire Skybanyan. Whoever controlled that crystal would have the Dire Skybanyan’s life in their hands.
Under Bai Xiaochun’s control, the Blood Ancestor stopped moving right in front of the Dire Skybanyan.
Everything went silent, and all of the cultivators of the River-Defying Sect looked over at the Blood Ancestor.
It wasn’t just them. The surrounding cultivator clans and smaller sects were also waiting to see what the Blood Ancestor would do.
No one could interfere. The choice was up to Bai Xiaochun. Not even the Nascent Soul patriarchs could do anything. Bai Xiaochun hesitated for a moment, then smiled and reached out to grab the green crystal.
Instantly, a heaven-shaking, earth-shattering swell of cheering rose up from the three Heavenspan Battleships.
“From now on, our River-Defying Sect is a Middle Reaches sect!!”
“We won, we won!!”
Within the cheering could be heard crying, whistling, and shouts of excitement. Everyone in the River-Defying Sect was boiling with elation. Moments later, a beam of bright light became visible, shooting through the sky. As it neared, a stone stele could be seen inside.
The stone stele slammed into the ground, burying itself halfway into the earth. Visible on the top half were three characters.
Beneath those three characters was another smaller line of characters....
Subdivision of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect!
That stone stele was a sign of the approval of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, and as soon as the cultivators of the River-Defying Sect saw it, their excitement grew even more intense. This was everything they had worked hard for, and at long last, they had confirmation. Many of them began to think back to all the fighting that had been involved in becoming a Middle Reaches sect, and it left them sighing.
The surrounding cultivator clans and small-scale sects all began dropping to their knees to kowtow.
“Greetings, River-Defying Sect!” More and more voices joined together, creating a cacophony of sound. As for the three representatives from the other sects, they took deep breaths as they recovered their composure. With a final look at the Blood Ancestor, they turned and left.
Everyone knew that from this day on...
The eastern Middle Reaches was no longer controlled by the Sky River Court, but rather, the honorable River-Defying Sect!Previous Chapter Next Chapter