Everyone could feel the entire area covered by the Radix World Tree radiating death tribulation force, as well as a feeling of aging. It was as if that power was draining their life force away.
"Aging and degeneration?" Xuanyuan Yucheng looked at his arm and saw the death tribulation force generated by Tianming wrapping around it.
"It’s really the case! Damn, I feel my face getting old. Can you tell? Are there wrinkles? Black spots? Did my skin worsen? Is it still glossy?" Beigong Qianyu anxiously asked.
"No, you're still as beautiful as ever," Xuanyuan Yucheng said after looking for a good while.
"I used a tribulation spirit herb as a face mask lately. Did you notice that my skin got better than before?"
"Not really. Haven’t you looked the same the entire time I’ve known you?"
Her efforts were completely wasted.
"Let's leave now. It's fine if my skin loses a little bit of bounce, but you women should stay away."
"At least you're considerate!" Beigong Qianyu immediately left. It wasn't that she was fearful for her skin, but Tianming was just too much like a vortex of death right now. The tree also wasn’t helping.
"The death tribulation force is growing more and more fierce. Looks like he's really entering the death phase. Once he does, not even I will be his match," Xuanyuan Yucheng said. "I hope he'll lead our sect out of the shadows and be able to pay Her Eminence back."
Their sect was currently on the chopping board of the others. The butchers were watching them and could end their lives at any moment. Yet Tianming alone had managed to give them hope once more.
Soon, he successfully entered the death phase. A death samsara ring could be seen on all of his and his beasts' deathsprings, allowing the force of death to overpower life. It only took one glance to see that he was in his death phase. The newfound power would surely be very useful in combat, but he found something really odd about it.
"What’s going on?"
After fusing Lifesbane into the death phase, he noticed a distinct change in his death tribulation force. Whenever the death tribulation force circulated in his body, it would wash some life force off him to fuel the power. As a result, him aging more than a hundred times than usual was only a conservative estimate, with the true figure being around two hundred times. Meow Meow was shivering from the sensation of its life draining away thanks to the Aeonic Grandbane's effects.
"I urgently need to take a nap to relieve my anxiety," it said with an awkward laugh.
"Be my guest. I hope you don't wake up and find yourself a rotting corpse," Tianming said.
"Waaah!" Meow Meow cried. It was truly tragic, but there was no arguing with the results of compounding his Lifesbane and Primordial Chaos Beast talent. However, he did notice something even more terrifying about his death tribulation force.
"Lifesteal?" When his death tribulation force touched Xuanyuan Yucheng, it drained away some of his life force. He could also convert it into life tribulation force to fill his lifesprings. "So my death tribulation force automatically drains my enemies' life force, which will fill my lifesprings and help the second samsaran ring to form for my lifesprings.... That way I can enter the second-level life phase sooner?"
That was merely a conjecture, but he was correct; it was all thanks to his Aeonic Grandbane. He wouldn't just be draining his lifespan in his death phase, but could also drain others' to eventually regain his vitality!
"So that is an inherent property of my death tribulation force. As long as I make use of it, I can steal life force! I can't avoid using it, either, unless I fight with only life tribulation force. But that isn't possible in the death phase."
For instance, if Ying Huo used only life tribulation force for its abilities, it would only have a third of its power. Though, he still had to test out the lifesteal ability to know how effective it would be.
"Since there aren't any wildbeasts here, I'll have to look for some enemies." He felt that the power the Aeonic Grandbane had given him was terrifying, but he couldn't resist its allure. "I’ll plunder my way back to the life phase!"
Now he was a true terror, the likes of which had never before been seen. He didn't think that it would be a blessing in disguise. Now, even if he tried, he wouldn't be able to easily hide his deathly aura. The moment he descended from the Radix World Tree, he was like a dead man. He noticed weird looks when he turned to the people around him.
"You look a little terrifying," Beigong Qianyu said.
"The kind of terror that keeps you awake at night?" Tianming joked.
"No, terrifyingly handsome and dangerous. A tempting mixture, to say the least," she said, then turned to glance at Xuanyuan Yucheng.
"Hey, I don't want Brother Yucheng to beat me up over it," Tianming said.
"What does it have to do with me?" Xuanyuan Yucheng asked.
Tianming was flabbergasted. There was being dense, and there was being dense. It was painfully obvious to him that she was trying to get a rise out of Xuanyuan Yucheng.
"Hmph!" Beigong Qianyu snorted at Xuanyuan Yucheng before leaving.
"What’d I do to make her mad this time?" Xuanyuan Yucheng groaned.
"Some things have to be seen to be believed," Tianming lamented. Xuanyuan Yucheng was so dense a neutron star would even turn away in shame.
Either way, he was more confident he could protect Feiling and himself now. He was no longer an ant that could be crushed at the whims of others.
It had been three days since then, and Tianming was hanging on one of the Radix World Tree's branches as he thought about how he would break out of his predicament. So far, Jiang Wuxin hadn't returned with reinforcements from the other sects yet. "Waiting here feels too passive. We're not too powerful, and we don't have any trump cards left to use. Jiang Wuxin will no doubt resort to shameless tricks for his revenge."
"There's nothing we can do. We have to protect the hell tree or we’ll be wiped out," Ying Huo said, perched on his shoulder.
"If only there was a way we could find the hell tree in the frost layer of the Nether Battlefield, or figure out where Jiang Wuxin and Feng Xiaoli are. We'd be able to play a more active role."
"Are you worried that Jiang Wuxin will bring a whole force over while we're looking for their hell tree?"
"That's right." He thought the enemy would come fast, but nothing had happened for the past three days. "How troublesome!"
Xian Xian flew about their heads as they were busy figuring things out. Then, it turned to them and said in a haughty voice, "So you want to find a tree, right?"
"Yeah," Ying Huo said.
"I can find it. If the hell tree is the only tree on the whole frost layer of the Nether Battlefield, it'd be far too easy. I am the ancestor of all trees, after all," it proudly said.
Tianming and Ying Huo looked at each other. "Dammit!"
Tianming grabbed Xian Xian's spiritform and asked, "Are you serious? Can you really find the hell trees?"
"I can try. Trees are lifeforms too. If there’s too many, they're harder to find, but if it's only one, that's much easier."
"Why didn't you say that earlier?" Ying Huo asked.
"You didn't ask! Half-daddy asked me to take root here and protect this tree. I'm just doing as I was told!"
"Then why didn't you help us find this hell tree when we first started?" Ying Huo asked.
"You didn't say it was the hell tree, you just said it was a random tree."
"What other tree could we be looking for?!"
"Chicken Bro, are you a chicken?" Xian Xian asked.
Ying Huo was absolutely stumped. "Of course not!"
"Then why does everyone call you Chicken Bro?"
"You and your smartass logic!"
"Enough of that. Xian Xian, come with me." Tianming decided he would take the risk of exposing the hell tree. The Radix World Tree revealed the hell tree as Tianming came to Xuanyuan Yucheng. "Brother Yucheng, I wish to seek out the Hexapath Sword Sect's hell tree to expose Jiang Wuxin's whereabouts."
"Alright. We shouldn't be waiting for them to come to us, either. I also wanted to do the same thing and was wondering who I should send to do it. If Jiang Wuxin and Feng Xiaoli aren't beside the tree, it's as good as undefended. You’re the best candidate to send there."
"What about here?"
"No worries, we can defend this place for now. If too many of them come, you wouldn't be able to do much here anyway, and if they don't send too many, we'll be able to hold on. Even though I'm no match for Jiang Wuxin, it's not like I'm so weak I can't put up a fight against him at all."
Not to mention, Beigong Qianyu, Fang Yuewei, and Fang Chenjing were there, too. They hadn't lost too many fighters so far as they were on the ninth layer of the battlefield, far further from the core battle zones.
However, Tianming didn't reveal that Xian Xian could possibly locate the hell tree directly. Its abilities still had to be thoroughly tested out first. After all, not even it knew the full extent of its capabilities, having only been born recently. Either way, going to the frost layer was really easy. They just had to take the path leading to the layer above them.
"Alright, see you later," Tianming said.
"Best of luck!" the others replied.
Leaving the group to operate alone required lots of courage. Tianming rose into the skies and zipped away. Given his samsaran cultivation, achieving an altitude of two thousand meters was no longer an issue. There were countless pathways surrounded by cold ice a thousand meters above the swamp battlefield. The temperature of the air there was chilly, to say the least. Tianming followed one of the pathways and continued ascending.
After traveling a few hundred meters, he emerged at the frost layer and saw nothing but blizzards and snow. The cold winds cut like the sharpest of blades. Finding the hell tree on this layer would be really difficult, but the terrain was rather good for defense.Previous Chapter Next Chapter