As black as ink, swaths of qi were occasionally extruded in the wake of the vortex’s revolution. With each spin, the middle-stage Foundation Establishment qi within became stronger and stronger!
Ziqi. Xu Yangyi called out in his spiritual sense, but he didn’t gain the other’s response.
Not calling out again, his gaze focused on the vortex before him. Without rest or pause… what in the world was this thing? Everything here was too strange… so strange that it didn’t make any sense at all!
Even after Nalan Liusu, the battle still hadn’t concluded. The entity appearing now was already middle-stage Foundation Establishment. Supposing he did win the coming fight… then would a late-stage Foundation Establishment opponent come next? Or… Core Formation?
Swoosh swoosh swoosh… The vortex noiselessly spun. Ten minutes later, a pale hand bulging with veins slowly extended out.
Following this hand’s extension, shadows churned out from the vortex like a tide. These shadows seemed like living beings. Some shadows revolved at the hand’s fingertips then became a butterfly or a small black tiger. Some shadows arched out like electricity, as if sensing the fingertips becoming a sharp sword. A majority of the shadows, subconsciously, only knew to curl upon this hand. It was as if this hand was the master of all shadows.
“This…” In the instant the shadow appeared, Xu Yangyi fell into a daze.
He was familiar with this hand. Perhaps it could be said that he was very familiar with this hand’s might!
“No… this is impossible…” Somewhat in a trance, he stared at the hand. The familiar hand lightly squeezed, and the shadows between the seams of its fingers scattered, making the sharp crack of knuckle joints.
“He can’t be here… This isn’t him!” Lost in thought for a few seconds, Xu Yangyi regained his wits. He ruthlessly pierced his sword in the ground, and the clang of metal sang in the air. Due to his mental fluctuations, his chest was heaving up and down a little.
He didn't attack. Instead, both his hands pressed down on the pommel of his sword, and he fixed his gaze on the vortex. Five seconds later, another hand stretched out from the black spinning mass.
In kind, countless shadows lingered upon it. In the following moment, the two hands came together and then gently separated to both sides of the vortex. The sound of ear-piercing cracks followed, and a figure unhurriedly walked out from inside.
Xu Yangyi closed his eyes, his throat shivering a little painfully.
A familiar person…
A very familiar person…
The figure bore an immortal air, the Dao entrenched in his bones. His stature was not tall, and he wore a Daoist robe. As his old eyes looked around, shadows radiated from his seven apertures. Shadows ascended, adding quite a demonic aura to him. And although he was old, he stood over yonder like a lofty mountain, leaving one no choice but to only look up to him above. Not the slightest inkling of contempt was born in the heart.
Under his feet, endless shadows seem to rampage in ecstasy, surging and screaming, nothing more than then impassioned sentiment for their king’s esteemed presence.
Since the beginning, Xu Yangyi had guessed whether or not it was Ancientpine. He had only witnessed such power from his former master. Until Daomaster Ancientpine finally walked out, he still didn’t dare to believe his eyes.
Silent, Daomaster Ancientpine and Nalan Liusu were the same, hardly a word making way past their lips. Like so, a pair of pitch-black eyes gazed intently at Xu Yangyi.
A few seconds later, Xu Yangyi opened his eyes and hefted up his longsword, pointing it at the other.
“A fake.” His emotions wavered rather fiercely. Scenes of the past flickered through his eyes. From when Ancientpine had given him the grand mountain-protector array, from when Ancientpine had accepted him as his disciple, and finally to when the two of them were akin to passing comrades and Daomaster Ancientpine had personally stated his intent to kill him. Xu Yangyi only felt pain in his heart.
However, what surged even more violently than his pain was his rage.
“Even if my relationship with Daomaster Ancientpine as master and disciple is already over, the power of Core Formation isn’t something I have any ability to resist. Not now and not then. You right now, though… you’re borrowing his skin, but you’re just barely middle-stage Foundation Establishment?”
“Unfortunately.” He gripped his sword, all his veins flushed out against his skin. “You… borrowed the body of the person I don’t want to attack the most, but also the body of someone I just can’t let go no matter what…”
“There’s no leaving for you today.”
Before his voice even fell, not even waiting for the fake to make a move, Xu Yangyi had already become a stream of light, suddenly rushing up!
Like his last battle, this wasn’t the sanctimonious and unsullied tactics of Foundation Establishment cultivators, but rather the physical combat of Qi Condensation cultivators that Foundation Establishment looked down on.
Only by sending his fists flying through the air at the person in front of him could he make his body totally feel the nameless fury radiating from his heart!
But who was he mad for?
He didn’t know. Perhaps it was because of his senior brother, or maybe it was for him. Perhaps it was because of that great undefiable power that day, or because his idea of the one he respected so deeply—the two concepts having flourished together—gradually drifted further apart.
He only knew that while he and the other had a karma of master and disciple, they had separated as such. The polarity of this concept was as far different as it could be. He only wanted to be unburdened by this trace of regret. He wanted to take his blade and cleave the fake in front of him in two, even if it wasn’t Daomaster Ancientpine.
His Emperor Armament escaped his hand and became flowing black light. Ancientpine’s face was as serene as an old well without water, leaning slightly away. The streaking black light brushed past and left behind a smidgen of blood on his face. In the next instant the sword’s edge passed, a tall figure had already dashed over in front of him!
BOOM! A fist sailed out, without technique or divine ability, purely of the most innate power of the fleshly body.
This fist slammed into another fist. Old yet brimming with vitality, this fist bulging with veins came from Ancinetpine.
Neither Xu Yangyi nor the fake had retreated at all in the clash!
The duo’s gazes locked together like knives. One could even hear the resounding clang of weaponry in the air. Afterwards, Xu Yangyi’s other fist rocketed out. Only simple qi circulated within it, bringing forth several meters of azure light.
Ancientpine had taught him… so he would use his body to welcome his former master!
Bang! Ancientpine’s fist wreathed in black light likewise came up to meet his own. Not the slightest trace worse or one hair weaker, he and Ancientpine precisely crashed against each other.
BOOM!!! A ball of black and azure spirit light abruptly exploded! Parts of the ground roughly twenty meters all around them scattered through the air and then transformed into specks of fine powder!
“Solution Eighty-Three… Chopping Iron!!!” Along with strong black qi, a fist struck Xu Yangyi’s chin, and a thread of blood spilled out from his mouth. However, Xu Yangyi didn’t fall back. His head jerked up because of the physical pain, but he mercilessly sent another fist flying!
I fought for you, suffered for you, but I almost died because of you. Today, our fists will settle the last shred of worry.
A fist landed on Ancientpine’s chest, but his expression didn’t change one bit. He seemed to be cast and forged out of copper and iron, and returned with a back hand that slammed into Xu Yangyi’s shoulder!
In moments, the two of them were like storms, their punches and kicks even giving rise to countless tremors in the area! From far away, only an orb of black light and an orb of azure light could be seen intertwining. At the eye of the tempest, the continuous noise of striking exploded inside. All around, black and azure balls of qi erupted with a boom and then vanished.
Bang bang bang! Like the pitter-patter of rain, punches fell ceaselessly in the air. Both Xu Yangyi and Ancientpine didn’t use any moves. One person’s chest struck by a fist was bound to be returned with a kick to the other’s chest. The two of them went back and forth, trading blows. Spider-web cracks started to appear on the ground!
BOOM! Five seconds later, a crisp noise echoed, and the sound of two bodies separating rang out.
Their clothes were slightly disheveled. Xu Yangyi wiped the corner of his mouth. The thread of blood was clear and easy to see.
He was at a disadvantage.
After all, he was a step shy from advancing to middle-stage Foundation Establishment in strength. He was being forcibly jammed. And although his single step short couldn’t be said to be a difference of heaven and earth, there would always be somewhat of a gap.
“As expected of a fake.” Xu Yangyi wasn’t dispirited, insteading laughing heartily. “If you were the real Daomaster Ancientpine, I would probably be deader than dead right now. Do you have more battle strength?”
“In any case…” He licked his lips, and wisps of lifelike dark-green mist, visible to the naked eye, leaked out from his entire body. The purple color of his face and his chest, still gasping for air, swiftly calmed down. “If you can’t kill me in one go, then you’ll be the one dead!”
Before his voice even fell, a burst of golden light flared from his body.
This radiance hadn’t come from the surface of his body, but rather from inside him. From every single bone and each one of his muscles, light shone!
“This?” He looked at his hand in shock. In front of him, Daomaster Ancientpine also appeared to be stunned. Soon, Xu Yangyi heard cracking noises from his spiritual sense gradually become more distinct!
Swoosh swoosh swoosh… In a page among the Eternal Alchemy Canon’s divine abilities, something had been opened.
As his spiritual sense entered, he saw the scene of the endless Eternal Alchemy Canon raising up fields of golden powder in the mist-filled world. This golden powder was like the golden ink paste used for sealing objects in ancient times. And in the region where the ink paste went… was the tree diagram of the Nine Glorious Stars Descent!
Hum! Following a low humming noise, a row of large, bold, and flamboyant characters at the right side of the Heavenly Opening Six Erosions on the tree diagram finally ignited with its own flame at the peak!
A Thousand Li Invincible! 
This, was its name.
The second star of the Nine Glorious Stars Descent! He’d actually activated it without even meaning to! He didn’t even know what it was due to!
Regardless, now wasn’t the time to look at these things. He promptly drew his spiritual sense back out, but everything before his eyes left him with his tongue tied and eyes wide.
Little by little… Daomaster Ancientpine’s body was unexpectedly beginning to disappear!
Evidently, not even Ancientpine himself understood why he was fading away. With a look of strong bewilderment on his face, he stared straight at Xu Yangyi.
Still, this didn’t stop a thing. His body was like a sand castle, formlessly dissipating in the wind.
A minute later, Ancientpine’s figure vanished without a trace. In this instant, the world began to slowly quake.
Xu Yangyi’s qi cycled through his entire body, and he scanned his vicinity with total vigilance. This place… was too strange. He wasn’t sure what else would appear next.
Crack! A brittle noise echoed, and his gaze quickly chilled.
In the space in front of him… a faint glass-like crack had appeared!
This enormous crack cut across everywhere he could see! Followingly, another sound rang out, and a second crack emerged before him.
“This… is a space some great cultivator used an absolute divine ability to isolate?” The ground began to shake, and he unhurriedly rose into the air. He studied the area around him carefully. “No, that’s not right! There can’t be any space this strange; anything shows up just if you talk about it. There’s not even a little sign!”
“What… the hell is this place?”
“And who… is manipulating all of this from behind?”
1. 千里不留行. So this move is based on a poem/story by Tang poet Li Bai. A more direct translation might be, A Thousand Li Leave No Travel. The full phrase is more along the lines of “to kill a man at every ten paces of a thousand li left without any path to journey”. The story goes that Zhuang Zhou (yes that Zhuang Zhou) was bragging to King Wen of Zhao that his sword skills were supreme and nothing could stop him. In modern times, this phrase is used to describe courage and being unstoppable.
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