Xu Yangyi beckoned and a red mist, reminiscent to twilight, appeared before him. In total, there were several hundred Qi Explosion Pills. Still, he felt this wasn’t enough!
He didn’t know how many dangers he would encounter. Something Great Sage Sun suppressed… the stone sculpture that Sand Monk Sha Wujing dispatched to keep guard. With such a battle array, Bladevessel even spoke of making a solemn vow. He himself also held trepidation. Without making ample preparations, he absolutely wouldn’t step into the Taiji crack!
“250 pills… If I can find ten spirit-masters, plus me, Zu Huai’en, and that fellow Daoist… each person has less than twenty pills. It’s not enough… it’s still not enough!”
He had to keep going!
With this continuation, the door to his cultivation room didn’t open for three years.
Swoosh… Summer of the fifth year. Tian Guotao’s face was already covered with wrinkles. His realm was now at Great Circle Qi Condensation! Still, since the first year Xu Yangyi had entered this place, he still found time every day to sweep the area despite how busy he was, even if the villa here had been destroyed by Xu Yangyi’s Foundation Establishment, not leaving a single tile behind.
Apart from the region above the cultivation room, the sides were presently wrapped around in spider webs. There were even quite a few mushrooms growing. The surrounding weeds concealed the chain-reinforced metal hatch that led down to the passage below. Xu Yangyi still hadn’t come out.
The old man set down his broom and looked to the calendar. All that remained was less than five years until Xu Yangyi left seclusion, considering the two years he’d entered before.
No one was aware that in these five years, a beam of light had broken through the Clearcloud Realm. It extended out from the ocean triangle. Not even Bladevessel had felt it.
It fluttered through the world, seemingly graceful, but… it continued as before! Like a shooting star, its swiftness couldn’t be ignored!
Swoosh! The beam of light drew a snow-white shadow in the pitch-black vacuum of space. Without any hesitation, never once deviating, it rushed straight to a location. It seemed to be drawn in by a magnet.
Ultimately… a brilliant expanse appeared before it at the end of its five-year flight.
It was a mystery how far away this place was. Beneath endless stars was a majestic palace, no less than a tenth the size of China! It was slowly drifting in space.
It was a colony of palace halls, but the region they were constructed on was shockingly a broken branch!
Already, the branch was terribly mottled, however… it wasn’t dead! On the contrary, canopies of green leaves grew forth! Each leaf seemed as large as a giant mountain! Their lengths couldn’t be clearly seen!
The palace was richly decorated with sculptures and balconies. From time to time, extremely thin rays of streaming light flew into the palace from all around. They were all kinds of various magik artifacts manned with people. Large ones were several hundred meters in size. Small ones were dozens of meters in size.
They were large, but in front of the several-hundred-thousand-square-kilometer-sized palace, they were much smaller than a needle point.
“To the eastern Sun-Rabbit constellation of the Azure Dragon’s Room, the war of the Edgefire Realm and the Severed Ice Realm has escalated again. The Severed Ice Realm requests the upper realm to intervene. This is the fourth request this month.” A solemn-faced woman pushed on her glasses and extended her hand to catch a jade slip flying over. She snatched it out of the air in a practiced motion and put into the mechanical bird in front of her. Without missing a beat, the bird opened its mouth and automatically read aloud the information from the USB-like jade slip. 
“Where did you find this sound player? Can you exchange it? The woman massaged her brows impatiently and flung the jade slip into the air. Suddenly, a bamboo dragonfly glided over and brought the jade slip over to its corresponding area.
“To the southern Moon-Deer constellation of the Vermilion Bird’s Net, the son of the North Star Realm’s realm master is applying to study at China’s Heavens Law…”
The room was absolutely immense, taking up no less than several million square meters of space. Through the transparent glass, one could see floating worlds outside.
Some were round, some were square-shaped, and there were even some that were irregular in form. From here, one could even see a little of the outline. Occasionally, streaks of flowing light flashing between the space of each realm was visible. They were the flying magik artifacts of various trading regions. However, there were even more streaming lights flocking outside the immense palace. They settled outside the three floating characters of “Efang Palace”. The characters themselves were massive, a full several hundred meters in magnitude. If no one summoned them, none of them would take a step forward as they pleased. 
Everyone knew that this place wasn’t just the realm nexus that was China’s upper realm. They furthermore understood… that in this nexus, there were three old monsters that they couldn’t afford to provoke!
From the beginning of China’s arrival here, these three old monsters had existed. Since centuries ago… not a single one of them had ever been replaced!
Clearmoon, Scriptdraw, and Firestream!
Their names were enough to deter all of China’s lower cultivation planes!
This was China’s true hidden foundation that the nation’s mortals would never know of!
This was also China’s final trump, an ancient country that laid claim to 5,000 years of civilization!
No one knew that at this moment, in the tallest palace among the three structures, a gaze as serene as a lake slowly opened.
Her vision seemed to cross a hundred li, or even farther. After ages, all the cultivators stopped at the Efang Palace trembled in unison!
Swoosh… In the sky, countless spiritual lights gathered together. In less than three seconds, they formed a jade-white hand. The hand softly made a grabbing motion, and a mote of flowing light flew over like lightning from a distant place! The mote steadfastly entered the palm of the hand. Afterwards, a crash echoed and the hand faded away.
“T-That was Daomaster Clearmoon’s ‘Palm World’!” someone shouted out excitedly. “T-This is the first time I’ve seen Daomaster Clearmoon make a move! To tell the truth, I had my doubts that the madam was still here!”
“How could she not be here?! This place is Earth’s connection point with all the Lesser and Greater Thousand Realms! All business is conducted here! Otherwise, what’s the use of having such a huge palace here!”
“Yeah! How could the three Dao Masters leave a place like this?”
“But.. being able to see a Core Formation cultivator act once is still worth it!”
“Core Formation? When Ancestor Clearmoon got here, she was half-step Nascent Soul! It’s been so many years, it’s already been a hundred, right! Maybe… heh heh…”
Not the slightest murmur of the discussion outside entered the tallest palace. A jade hand softly held a light orb and placed it in front of her.
“It’s been hard on you,” a cool voice echoed indifferently. As she spoke, several thousand candles flashed in concert within the Daoist temple-like room. “To go through the trouble of having come so far… It is unknown which stronghold’s signal this is. I hope their souls find rest.”
She softly pinched the signal apart, eyes closed, seemingly listening to something. Three seconds later, her eyes snapped open!
“The Clearcloud Realm’s… Realm Anchor… This is…”
A name she was already soon to forget immediately surfaced in her mind.
“SSS-rank danger zone, Clearcloud Realm,” she mumbled to herself for ages, her expression a look of coldness. “I thought I’d never find you… fortunately… Sweetorchid.”
“Disciple is present.” Facing her was an empty space. Afterwards, numerous pink petals appeared out of nowhere and surged to the middle of the room. In less than three seconds, they formed a woman’s figure.
“Make application to my quota, activate the Three Slaughter Weapons,” she faintly murmured and continued, “Have ‘Star’ go.”
Sweetorchid was stunned.
“Master-Ancestor, the Slaughter Weapons… a-are existences that can destroy a Lesser Thousand Realm… To have it go a Lesser Thousand Realm… are you planning on making the Clearcloud Realm disappear?”
“No,” the woman uttered, “Only I know… how many went to the Clearcloud Realm and how many died inside there. That place… is strange and abnormal. Do you remember why I was injured sixty-three years ago and had to enter seclusion for three years?”
Sweetorchid coldly gasped, “Don’t tell me…”
“Yes.” The woman's voice was very clear. “The Clearcloud Realm is in no way as simple as it appears to be on the surface.
“Have ‘Star’ go and follow the signal’s return path. This return path will vanish within a day. If ‘Star’ cannot return with the Clearcloud Realm’s Realm Anchor and Star Position, then anyone else, including myself, will be of no use.” The light of her eyes flickered. “She… is one of the Chinese government’s final trump cards… that can rival Core Formation…”
Crack crack crack… Three hours later, without anyone having seen, layers of talismans brightened at the bottom of the Efang Palace. Boundless splendid light flashed, and a qi foundation no less than several thousand meters tall stormed out from the bottom with a rumble! In the qi fountain, four chains were faintly discernible in the open ten-thousand-meter-long passage.
Each one was a full several meters thick and several thousand meters long. If a cultivator was here, they would surely cry out in alarm. This was the cultivation world’s seldom-seen Demon-Suppressing Metal! A SSS-rank heavenly treasure! Yet today, it was only used to lock a door?
Crash… Qi waves billowed again and again. In the next moment, the chains crumbled apart, and a door of Profound-Metal Iron with a rat carved on it separated at all sides. However, there was another large door right underneath! It was wreathed in several thousand tons of chains made out of Demon-Suppressing Metal!
Crack crack crack… Opening the door almost took an hour. As the last door inscribed with a boar opened, the internal diameter was already as small as ten meters. And in these ten meters was a coffin forged entirely out of gold!
Creak… In the wake of four horn-shaped magik treasures that were fastened to the coffin loudly slackening, the coffin fell like a star, devoid of the slightest trace of qi. From the door, it descended into the plane of space, and then… transformed into a lightning-fast white light, speeding towards the direction the signal had come.
No one was aware of all this. Xu Yangyi moreover didn’t know. As before, day after day passed in the Clearcloud Realm, year in and year out.
Swept by wind and battered by rain, the chains above the villa basement had long since been mottled by rust. Tian Guotao continued to calmly sweep the area, but even now he was totally different from the him of eight years ago.
He was old and wrinkles climbed up his face. His hair was also already stark-white, but the clothes he wore were cleanly washed. Still, one could see that he was quite old. Broom in hand, he peacefully swept the lawn. The radio in his pocket was blaring with a piercing voice, broadcasting very loud news.
“The State of Shangchen’s chairman and premier is once again inviting all spirit-masters with promise to all join the resistance against this natural disaster. Comrades, at the very beginning, the qi decrease appeared the closest to the State of Shangchen and the State of Mingyu near the Endless Sea. It’s been a year and the top speed has worsened! Friends, how many have already become hopeless sufferers of Spirit Addiction! I invite again, sincerely invite, all spirit-masters to join the struggle against this horrific catastrophe…”
He looked to the sky, made a long sigh, and turned off the radio.
How long would it be… until the disaster reached this place?
Six years ago, the first Spirit Addiction outbreak had occurred… Who could’ve expected that in six short years, the Clearcloud Realm’s foundation of civilization, over a thousand years old, would actually face utter annihilation? How many cities would become ghost towns?
Tian Guotao raised his head and looked to the horizon, the direction of Baizhai City. In the region where Baizhai City approached the coast, a patch of purple clouds were slowly floating over.
1. “To the eastern constellation of the Azure Dragon’s Room”. So, in ancient China, ancient Chinese people recognized twenty-eight constellations that were separated into four quadrants. The Room of the Azure Dragon might be better titled (in terms of a “full, complete title”) as “Mansion Sun-Rabbit”, being part of the Constellation Scorpius in the west.
Thanks for reading! If you're enjoying the novel, consider recommending or reviewing it! If you'd like to discuss Archfiend, report a typo, or check on update status please come to the Archfiend channel on the Wuxiaworld Discord! Access to the channel can be accessed via the bottom-right image of discord on the web page or https://discord.gg/FKUPcue!