The elders of Tribulation Peak that didn't belong to the three great houses felt even more like they were part of the sect now. But as the war hadn’t yet ended, it was no time for excessive celebration.
"Sect Master Jian, you made your way back so soon," Tianming said when he saw Fang Taiqing and Jian Wuyi together.
"Yes. I came back as soon as I could to deliver the good news," Jian Wuyi said.
"Imperial Son, we truly owe you all a lot," Fang Taiqing said.
"It's thanks to all our efforts."
"That's right. By the way, we're short on time, so I have to briefly consult you about two things."
"Please do, Sect Master Fang."
"The first is about disbanding the cities." He paused to collect his thoughts. "I've already given the order to disband the cities. Do you have any objections to that?"
"What about your soul-controlling power? Is it stable?"
Tianming's responses reassured Fang Taiqing. "Alright. Currently, the Yinyang Demon Sect and Hexapath Sword Sect are applying lots of pressure on our east and west. As the cities there are still besieged, we can't really disband them now. We might need you to head there to help overwhelm the enemy troops. Once the cities are safe, we'll have all our troops retreat to Taiji Peak Lake."
"Alright. Where should I go first?" Tianming's thoughts were more or less aligned with Fang Taiqing's on the matter. Using Vitasteal to help those in the cities retreat to Taiji Peak Lake was a given. Before, they couldn't exactly do that as there was a concern that they would pursue the civilians into the wilderness to kill them. Now that the enemy was short on manpower, however, the cities could be temporarily abandoned. Also, having large groups of people gathered together made them easier targets.
Right before Fang Taiqing had an answer, a new report came. "Imperial Son, Sect Masters, the Hexapath Sword Sect mounted a total retreat back to their divine realm!"
That news wasn't a surprise to Tianming.
"Feng Qingyu was heavily wounded at Tianming City, so he definitely knows about the trick you have that can kill a million troops at once. The fact that he's retreating means he feels threatened by you," Fang Taiqing said.
"Then I'll go to the Yinyang Demon Sect's side," Tianming said.
"Alright. Li Caiwei and Qin Fengyang are there, too. Their forces and elders are also much stronger than Hexapath's. Their attack is fierce, and if they don't retreat, it's about time you showed them who's boss."
"Li Caiwei, huh?" Tianming had wanted to give her a walloping for a long time. She had given him a lot of trouble back then, so he'd show her what he was capable of now.
"That's right. They are currently attacking Fuling City. The Snowsprite Legion is currently stationed there. They’re really ferocious and have already taken three cities. They also have quite a lot of captives," Fang Taiqing said.
"So I have to send them running and help the captives escape into the wilderness?"
"That's right. Can you do it?"
"Do you need any help?"
"I can do it alone."
"Impressive, Imperial Son!"
"Of course. We already won at Tianming City. Currently, they're trying to gather at Taiji Peak Lake. I'll make sure to cut off their escape route. You Sect Masters are tasked with defending the Ninefold Formation, so leave the small matter of the Yinyang Demon Sect to me." It wasn't that he was proud, he just really did have the power to back up his confidence and was making sure Fang Taiqing knew it.
"Alright. It's a shame you won't get much of a rest after coming back."
"I'd even die for the sect, let alone lose a bit of rest." Tianming could tell that the whole Sterling House of Fang was even more loyal to the sect after their victory at Tianming City. When he left the hall, he didn't leave for the battlefield immediately.
Looking down from Tribulation Peak, he could see the entirety of Taiji Peak Lake preparing for the final battle. Many empyrean saints and above were flooding into the area. By now, the spirit threads of the Ninefold Formation were spread all over the place. Everyone who dwelled in the area was ready to fight, knowing that Nonahall was one to remember their grudges. The war would eventually come to Taiji Peak Lake.
"Before going to Fuling City, I have two more important matters to take care of." He sat down in the mountains and began cultivating. Feiling parted from him and materialized beside him. Though they were short on time, she didn't seem particularly worried, messing with her hair as she watched the white-haired youth train under the sun.
"Did you get good karma for being the one to deal the final blow to Si Ling?" she asked.
"Yes. It was a huge haul," he said with his eyes closed and a smile on his face.
"Then it was more than worth it." Almost a little unfairly so, since he didn't do the heavy lifting.
"It's certainly nice, but there’ll be no more chances like that in the future. I doubt there'd be anyone who’s accumulated as much sin as Si Ling had. Not to mention, breaking through the later stages of the Samsara stage will only get progressively more difficult. I believe we can no longer count on good karma alone."
He had a feeling that this was the last blessing he would receive from the heavens. Si Ling's death was a blessing to the masses—who knew how many more people would be turned into corpse puppets otherwise? The nightmare soulworm was only an accomplice, while she was the mastermind. And all the good karma from killing this unspeakable evil had gone to Tianming. His Imperial Will had been constantly growing on the way back.
"From life to death!" Once more, entering the death phase saw a terrifying and dark power flood his body, augmenting his aura to be even more terrifying. "I'm now at the seventh-level death phase! Even though this might be the last time I break through using good karma, it's just about right. I can take on those at the level of sect masters now!"
He could even rival Jian Wuyi, Long Cangyuan, Qing Ming, and many others. His recent breakthroughs had come far too rapidly.
"It doesn't feel like I've really grown stronger myself. Instead, it seems like there's a force pushing me to slay those sinners. It's like the invisible hand of heavenly justice. But in the end, I still have to rely on myself to change my fate!"
He stood up and waved to Feiling. They all sat on Meow Meow's back. He let Feiling sit in front of him and hugged her waist from behind. "This feels pleasant."
Meow Meow seemed a little disgruntled. "Are you monsters? I'm a minor!"
Tianming slapped its head and said, "Enough nonsense. Let's go!"
"To Fuling City?"
"No, we'll go to the five-colored star first." He looked up at the multi-colored star that hung in the sky.
Meow Meow angrily charged up to the sky and into the clouds, causing the strong winds to spur Feiling into Tianming's embrace.
"Oh, I swear that wasn't intentional," Tianming said.
"Want me to use Spiritual Attachment instead?"
"Please don't. Being able to see and touch you is much better."
Meow Meow, as if feeling a sting for still being single, kept charging ahead with abandon. Tianming continued to look at the star with a gloomy expression.
"What's wrong?" Feiling asked.
"Ever since the battle at the city, I feel far less pressure on me. It seems like victory is within our grasp. However, this star will be the thing that changes everything. I can't rest well until I know what in the world it is."
"I wonder if the two ghoul kings are there," she said.
"Guess we'll find out."
Soon, they arrived at the star. Tianming alone made the approach. "Where was the ninth black hole star again...."
He followed his memories to the location and almost did a double take. The ninth black hole star still looked embedded in the formation, but there was a formation on top of it. The first and second ghoul kings were also standing guard beside it.Previous Chapter Next Chapter