The inside of the building was dead silent. Tianming went from wing to wing, but didn't see any trace of Lin Xiaoxiao. "Did she leave for somewhere else to cultivate?"
Right as he said that, he saw her in the corner of a small room with the door left open. It was really quiet inside. Tianming peeked into it and saw the slender girl shriveled up in the corner unmoving on the cold ground, completely out cold. Her aura was so weak that he would think she was dead if he didn't look closely.
Tianming felt a little troubled seeing her like this time and time again, though he was getting used to it somewhat. He raised her up by her clothes and said, "Hey, wake up and stop playing dead."
Her skin was pale and a few bloody marks were on her face. She seemed a little gruesome to look at. She twitched a little, then slowly opened her eyes and began giving off some faint death tribulation energy.
"Why are you here?" she said weakly with a smile as she pushed his hand away and leaned against the wall.
While her cultivation method seemed really horrifying, it was obviously effective, given her rate of growth. Now that she was a samsaran at her age, she was a proper Heaven Branch disciple. Tianming clearly knew when she had reached the Empyrean Saint stage, after all.
"Take it easy. Don't cultivate so much or you'll die, oh servant of mine," Tianming said a little pitifully.
"Alright. Will you come back here now that the summit is over?"
"I won't be. You're cultivating alone now. I'm now officially the goddess's disciple, so I'll be at Soulburn Hall."
"As if. I love silence."
"Where's your lifebound beast? Let it out to play with Lan Huang."
"She doesn't want to."
"She's afraid? Oh well, I was just here to check to see if you died. Since you're alive, I'll be leaving now." Though Tianming had wanted to find out her secret, it hadn’t worked out this time. He decided he would come again, refusing to believe she would be laying on the ground half dead during his every visit.
"I'll send you off," Lin Xiaoxiao said.
"No need." Tianming turned and disappeared in the snow.
When he was gone, an eerie voice came out of her lifebound space. The Archaionfiend excitedly said, "I've been waiting for so long... my chance is finally here!"
"What do you mean?"
"Can't you tell? His body is filled with my eye's aura. He's been stealing my essence with Archfiend alone at Fiend Palace lately, and managed to absorb a lot! But my eye won't be taken so easily. If he's too hasty, he'll end up like Xuanyuan Yuheng and fall under my control!"
"That doesn't seem right. He still seemed like himself to me, unlike Xuanyuan Yuheng."
"That's because he's only starting out. If this continues, his mind will begin deteriorating and I'll get my chance. As long as I find an opening, I'll be able to get back at that shameless, plundering thief."
"He's the imperial son, you know. He's protected by lots of people now. Even if you manage to control him, what can you do about it? I think it's hopeless now."
"That's easy. Xuanyuan Yuheng was a test case, and nobody could tell he was under my control. When the time comes, just take him to the Old Deepstar Path."
"That's too risky," she said with a furrowed brow.
"We have to give it a try. If it works, he'll be mine to toy with or kill! As for you, try to get close to Heaven Cauldron so that I have a chance to interface with my eye to tempt him. Maybe I can goad him into sealing up his lifebound space."
"Kill him? Didn't you say that all we needed to do was take Archfiend away?"
"If we don't kill him, he'll snap out of my control."
"He won't know who took Archfiend anyway, and without it, he won't pose a threat to you."
"Mercy only begets widows, you know. You'll understand when you suffer for being so soft," the Archaionfiend said with a chuckle.
After leaving his old residence, Tianming decided to head to Deepstar Pool near the Old Deepstar Path. At the entrance of the Old Deepstar Path, he saw a familiar face: Fang Xingying, who was currently standing there alone.
"Hey," he called out before giving him a slap on the back.
Fang Xingying responded exaggeratedly by quickly drawing his sword and charging toward Tianming, but he blocked it by sandwiching the sword between his fingers. "You're too slow and weak."
"Imperial Son!" Fang Xingying began sweating nervously as he knelt, but before his knees reached the ground, Tianming pulled him up.
"Why do you look like you've done something to wrong me?" Tianming asked.
"I.. I didn't," he said, trying to calm down. "You're being worshipped by everyone lately, so I'm just feeling really nervous and salty about it."
"Is that so? Congratulations on reaching the Samsara stage and becoming a Heaven Branch disciple."
"Ah, I see...." Fang Xingying smiled.
"Face your life properly from now on." Tianming then left for the Deepstar Pool. It was already open, and Xuanyuan Muxue was inside.
"Morning," she said.
"Likewise. Today seems like a good day." Tianming entered and immediately began assimilating astralsources. He couldn't stop training his Ancient Deepstar Godbody. Currently, he had around five hundred astralsources absorbed, but he realized he could still accommodate many more. The same applied to tribulation sword ki.
He picked up a rock-like astralsource and took it into his body. It began sizzling and the pain came streaming into his mind. Right at that moment, the dragonhide appeared and covered his body. "What's going on?"
The astralsource near him flooded toward the dragonhide as he stood there, stunned. At the same time, seven or eight of them stuck directly to the armor and began being assimilated. They turned into liquid form before entering his body, allowing him to absorb them at a much faster rate without any additional pain.
"Is it really that good?" Tianming wondered. "The Human Emperor's Dragonhide comes from Great Emperor Xuanyuan himself, while the Old Deepstar Path and Deepstar Pool are also things that the emperor obtained from the cosmic aether. Maybe that's why I can absorb astralsources much faster now!"
Within a short two hours, Tianming had absorbed more than a hundred astralsources, strengthening his body to a frightening degree. During the same time, Xuanyuan Muxue had only managed to absorb two as she watched the monster in front of her. "If I compare myself to you I'll definitely burst a vein one day."
Tianming only stopped when it was about time for the pool to close. After that short session, he felt that his body was much stronger than average tribulation artifacts now.
"It's so unfair... I'm the real descendant of the founding ancestor, you know," Xuanyuan Muxue muttered with a pout as she looked at the armor.
"What do you know? I'm a great grandson-in-law of the founding ancestor many times removed, you know."
"What are you talking about?"
"It's a secret."
"Don't tell me... you have feelings for Her Eminence?" she said with an odd look.
"Hey! Don't go around spouting nonsense," he nervously said.
"Know your limits. Her Eminence is way out of your league," she said, chuckling.
"Fine. What made you think I fancy Her Eminence anyway?" Was he really that obvious?
"Well, it's just womanly intuition."
He really didn't know what to say to that. Either way, he would definitely be coming back to Deepstar Pool again thanks to the Dragonhide.
"By the way, make sure to leave some for me."
"You mean astralsources?"
"Yeah, what else?"
"Haha, sure. I'll take the rest then!" Being able to absorb a hundred astralsources a day was unprecedented in the history of the sect.
"Since ancient times, the Deepstar Pool has never run out of astralsources before, but it will soon...." Xuanyuan Muxue had an unpleasant premonition.
Within the Hexapath Sword Palace under Xuanyuan Lake, Tianming continued keeping himself busy. He was the only one there now, so he casually opened the sword barrier and caused the Hexapath Sword God to appear again.
"Senior, I'm here again," Tianming greeted.
"Beautifully done, young man."
"Can I pluck your beard off?" Tianming asked.
"Beautifully done, young man."
"Haha, Senior, take a look at my Animacorpus Eradication. Did I improve it enough to unlock a new move from you?"
"Beautifully done, young man."
Since he was repeating himself, Tianming decided to split his Grand-Orient Sword into two and perform the Animacorpus Eradication in front of the Hexapath Sword God. "Hungry Ghost Dao, Ghost Sword Intent, Animacorpus Eradication!"
The power of that move had been honed to near perfection after the battles during the summit. His mastery of it was more or less on the same level as his mastery of the Mortal Dao Sword, thanks in great part to the rage he executed it with to avenge the dead disciples of his sect. With his emotions in sync, his sword intent was even stronger. After the demonstration, he turned to the Hexapath Sword God expectantly.
"Beautifully done, young man."
It was the same thing as usual. It appeared that Tianming hadn't met the requirements set for acquiring the next move, much to his dismay. He felt that he had done rather well already.
"Let's try again."Previous Chapter Next Chapter