Chu Xiaoqi was mostly responsible for how things had turned out. Had she not been so hasty in chasing Meow Meow down, this wouldn't have happened, though it had to be said that Tianming being able to kill sixteen of them in such a short time was terrifying enough already. The surviving disciples stood there with tears flowing nonstop.
"They.... Sixteen of us died...."
The moment someone uttered that, the ten lights behind Meow Meow were suddenly extinguished—the hostages had been killed! In other words, only these fourteen of the original forty Biritual disciples were left. They weren't much better off than the Hexapath Sword Sect now.
"Aaaaah..." Chu Xiaoqi cried almost soundlessly as she knelt on the ground in pain.
"Junior Sister Xiaoqi...."
The other disciples also let their tears flow. They had tasted true pain and despair. Tianming's merciless killings made them aware of the kind of person who had experienced a true battle before. There was no room for mercy in war. The wars in the Grand-Orient Realm and the Theocracy were precious formative experiences for him. While the people there weren't that powerful, they knew better than to treat situations like these lightly.
"Everyone, let me teach you a lesson," Tianming said as he suddenly appeared before them on Meow Meow's back. "Do not unto others what you do not want done unto you."
His gaze was cold like a god of death's; fresh blood was still dripping from his sword, completely contrasting him from his previous playful self. The disciples had just learned his true nature. Tianming then set his eyes on the despairing Chu Xiaoqi.
"Big Sister, don't feel too good about yourself. Honestly, I can't even get into goods like you even if you wanted me to."
Right after saying that, he disappeared into the darkness. Chu Xiaoqi had suffered yet another mental blow from the words alone. Her eyes were bloodshot as she dug her nails into her flesh. "Li Tianming, I will definitely tear you to shreds and reduce you to ashes in this life!"
It was the first time she had lost so badly. It had all happened in an instant, and she hadn't even managed to react to it.
"I know you're young and reckless and all... but I’ll make sure to tell Her Eminence about your 'little brother's little brother'," Meow Meow teased.
"Ling'er will understand. I was fighting for my life," Tianming said.
"Explaining it will only make you more suspicious! Your life is over."
"Stupid cat, are you turning against me?"
"I'll go against you as long as you don't let me rest! I want naps!"
"Now that you've dealt with Quadform and Hexapath and left only a dozen Biritual disciples here, they won't be able to take on Xuanyuan Yucheng and the rest by themselves. What do you plan to do next?" Ying Huo asked, perched on Meow Meow's head.
"I'll go to the third layer and do the same thing. Destroy Heptastar's hell tree so that they'll start to regroup. I doubt they’ll have many people guarding it either. If I can get to them before they meet up with Chu Xiaoqi and the rest, it'll be a win for me even if it doesn't cause much chaos."
"Then let's hurry! Cat Bro, accelerate!" Ying Huo gave it a light tap.
"No can do. I need a rest."
Ying Huo flew back and perched on its tail. "What about now?"
Meow Meow bolted forward as fast as it could.
The third layer of the Nether Battlefield was even better for Tianming to move around in. He hid in the shadows as he had Xian Xian search for the hell tree. Currently, the Biritual disciples were on the lower layers, so only Jiang Wuxin's location was obvious to him. He had to do all he could before the Biritual disciples returned, for this method would no longer work if they joined up with Heptastar.
"I'll get close to them before I start searching!" He took Xian Xian and approached Jiang Wuxin's group first.
"Half-daddy, the hell tree on this layer isn't far from them," Xian Xian said.
"I expected as much."
The Heptastar Celestial Sect wanted to choose a base without exposing the location of their hell tree, so they probably picked somewhere nearby so they could react in time if anything happened to the hell tree.
"If it's nearby, it's even better. I won't even have to bother putting up an act. Once they see me destroying the hell tree, they'll chase me down without provocation."
Tianming made his decision and hurried Xian Xian up. It didn't take more than fifteen minutes for the tree to be located. At the same time, Tianming also noticed the Biritual disciples coming up to this floor, thanks to their glowing barrier formations. Now, their locations and Jiang Wuxin's were plain to see. While it would take some time for Chu Xiaoqi to meet up with the rest, it wouldn't be too long.
"Let's hurry things up!" He charged straight toward the hell tree that was guarded by four Heptastar disciples, one of whom was a fourth-level life samsaran. Tianming immediately unleashed all his lifebound beasts. Xian Xian took root next to the hell tree and dominated the battlefield with its Radiant Vines and Bloodrain Swords.
"Who is it?!"
"It's Li Tianming!"
In a panic, all of them sent out red flares into the sky. Jiang Wuxin could be seen immediately approaching the area, which surely meant the other thirty plus disciples were heading there, too. Tianming didn't have much time. As Ying Huo and the rest dealt with the four disciples and their lifebound beasts, he went straight for the hell tree.
The Heptastar Celestial Sect had a core bloodline called the Starbeast Clan. All members of that clan had lifebound beasts that were starbeasts—beasts that were shaped like stars. They didn't match typical species profiles like avians, insects, or fish and were, strictly speaking, luminous rocks that only seemed like they had real flesh.
The interesting thing about starbeasts was that they could fuse with their beastmasters and truly fight as one. For instance, a triple beastmaster could fuse all three starbeasts into one to gain more power than the sum of them all. A single body would be able to produce more power than three separate starbeasts, something other kinds of lifebound beasts couldn't imitate.
The disciples near Tianming could fuse their starbeasts together as long as they had two or more, but he didn't really pay attention to it. As Xian Xian and the rest were taking care of his foes, he used his strongest techniques and the Grand-Orient Sword to break the barrier formation. Though he could just use his left hand to tear it apart, he didn't want to reveal that before such a large audience.
Soon, the barrier formation broke and Tianming swiftly felled the hell tree, causing all the Heptastar disciples to brightly glow. The dark layer they were on was now as bright as day. Tianming immediately turned back, only to see a huge group of Heptastar disciples right in front of him.
"It's the goddess' disciple!"
"How dare he destroy our hell tree alone?"
"Chase him down!"
Everyone went mad in their pursuit. He didn't even need to provoke them to induce such a reaction in them. He had Xian Xian, Lan Huang, and Ying Huo return to the lifebound space and turned in the direction of the Biritual disciples.
"Want to reveal my secrets, eh?"
Tianming immediately darted in the opposite direction, causing all of the Heptastar and some Nonahall disciples to chase him down.
Cries like that echoed throughout the entire layer. The direction Tianming ran made it so that the Biritual disciples were trailing behind the Heptastar disciples. As long as they couldn't catch up, they wouldn't be able to find out about Tianming's plan. This time around, he was mainly relying on acute time management. The fact that they had based themselves so near the hell tree was a huge boon to him.
He rode away on Meow Meow without any obvious lights on him, but it didn't matter as his foes were close enough. But beyond two hundred meters, they would lose sight of him.
"This is exciting!" Meow Meow said as it freely ran, welcoming the rush of wind on its face.
"It's dangerous too!" Tianming saw a single light charging toward him at a terrifying speed—it was Jiang Wuxin. "He's much faster than before! Did he improve or something? It looks like life tribulation force. Maybe he made it to the fifth-level life phase."
Tianming knew how much Jiang Wuxin hated him.
"He's fast!" Meow Meow said.
"That's right. I think he cultivated a form of Kiloflash Sword Body." Tianming saw the light closing the distance on him, filled with killing intent. Jiang Wuxin was so bright Tianming couldn't make him out clearly.
"Meow Meow, can you shake him off?"
"More or less. As long as I don't stop, he won't be able to catch up."
"There’s some Nonahall disciples in the darkness too. You should be careful."
"Leave it to me."
Tianming saw that the group was slowly being drawn apart thanks to the speed difference. He immediately left Meow Meow and blended into the darkness. After about twenty breaths, one light disappeared without anyone noticing. The rest disappeared at a staggering rate too, as if they had been swallowed by a black hole.
"Stop chasing!" Chu Xiaoqi yelled, but to no avail. She didn't dare leave the other Biritual disciples behind, so her voice didn't travel far enough. She despaired when she saw the lights ahead of her disappearing one by one. By the time the Heptastar disciples turned back and noticed it, at least ten of them had died.
"Someone's striking from the darkness!" More and more such cries rang out.
A human head tumbled about in mid air.Previous Chapter Next Chapter