"Say that one more time!" the youth in black snapped, glaring at Di Zang with his bestial eyes.
"Don't be reckless, Wuxin! We’re on the same side!" D Zang struggled to say.
"Say that again and I'll tear you apart alive."
"Alright, it's my mistake! Don't do this, Wuxin!"
Jiang Wuxin only loosened his grip after Di Zang pleaded with him. Then he walked a few paces away and sat on a nearby boulder, staring northward. His hand clutched his empty left chest. Only one heart in the right side of his chest continued beating.
Di Zang wiped the blood off his face and pretended to forget what had happened moments ago. "I really didn't think that I’d be screwed by that accursed Dugu Jin. He's still waiting for me to go back to Xuanyuan Lake and take on the brunt of Nine Dragon Formation for him! He plans to use me to rule the world!"
"But when the time comes, you'll have to go back in and fight to the death all the same, right? It's your fault for letting him find out about the communication ritual, you know," the Archaionfiend said.
"It's all in the past now. It's still not certain yet which side will emerge victorious! We still have two critical trump cards! First, they all think that Jiang Wuxin is dead. Jiang Wuxin can just hide among Dugu Jin's army and steal Xuanyuan Dao's key when others least expect it. Second, I bet many of them also forgot about you, right? The other key should be inside Soulburn Hall, so you should go take it. As for me, I'll act as bait and draw their attention and the attacks of the Nine Dragon Formation. I’ll lure Dugu Jin's army to cause chaos for the two of you to act."
"You might just die from this, you know," the Archaionfiend said with a chuckle.
"It’s only a matter of time anyway. I just want the specters to return. Someone has to be the sacrifice."
"How impressive. All I want is to take my eye back. After that, I'll make sure that brat pays dearly for what he’s done! He’s so powerful that I can no longer deal with him alone. When the specters return, I'll work with them. They'll eat lifebound beasts while I'll consume caeli. We'll have a feast and grow stronger together!"
"That's why it’s imperative that you take Ouyang Jianwang's key!"
The Archaionfiend responded with sinister laughter. "Just wait while I add a few more seals to make sure the girl is secured here for good. That way she won't be able to cause any more trouble."
"You're a really good judge of character, picking a partner that'll intentionally work against you." Di Zang shot him a thumbs-up.
"Leave it alone!"
Xuanyuan Dao entered the Old Deepstar Path and looked around. At the very front of the group of people was a blinding sun that illuminated the entire path. There were a few other suns that orbited around it, the combined light of which made the whole place even more blinding.
When Xuanyuan Dao came to his side, the light from the suns began receding, revealing a white-haired youth. Based on his aura right now, he had once more advanced to the death phase.
"How many days left?" Xuanyuan Dao asked.
"Twelve," Tianming said.
"I see. Looks like the specters awakening from hibernation in the Ninefold Hell has bought us some time." Xuanyuan Dao seemed relieved. Tianming's advancement was always a good thing for them.
"Is there any other matter?"
"Two days ago, you went to Pentaphase and stopped those originally from Nonahall from attacking the cities there. However, Dugu Jin has now occupied the four sects and destroyed their formation cores. Now, his army is marching back to Taiji Peak Lake in preparation for the final battle."
"Have they already arrived?" Tianming said with a furrowed brow. "By the way, can formations be restored after their cores are destroyed?"
"Normal formations can be repaired if the foundations for the formation are still around. Rebuilding will take some time, though. The Ninefold Formation, for instance, needs a month at least."
"Looks like we won't make it in time. The final battle will take place here at Xuanyuan Lake, then."
"Are you confident?"
"If Di Zang comes for a suicide battle, I think we can just barely hold on."
"Can you fight Fang Taiqing off as you are now?"
"I'm not too sure, but I'll give it a try. We still have time, so I'll keep working at it."
"Alright, I'll stop bothering you. I'll inform you if anything changes."
'Have the treasures been distributed?"
"Yes. Our combined might has significantly grown. Even though we only have around six hundred thousand troops, we should be stronger than their army."
Once Xuanyuan Dao left, Tianming continued his cultivation.
"The caelum of the founding ancestor is truly impressive. Now my heavenly will is improving at a rate similar to when I’d just reached Samsara. In fact, the heavenly will he cultivates is incredibly similar to my Imperial Will. It's like the caelum was made for me. That's probably why the Dragonhide chose me."
Being able to look into the caelum of the emperor was like experiencing his life and insights firsthand. Some memories were a little blurry, but Tianming could feel how badly the humans from two hundred millennia ago had had it. They were enslaved and stripped of their dignity, practically reduced to living corpses. That feeling deeply resonated with Tianming, allowing him a deeper glimpse into the path the emperor had taken.
In a short dozen days, he had managed to break through to the eighth-level death phase. Naturally, a huge part of his improvement was also thanks to the good karma he had received from breaking the Amnestic River Voidbanner.
"It's still not enough power! The fourth strike, Asura Fiendgod Formation, is starting to take form. But I still need more practice. Asura, fiendgod, slaughter, death, hatred, battle.... Perhaps I should look into how the specters cultivate for some insight."
Tianming temporarily released the caelum of Great Emperor Xuanyuan and turned to those of the specters. He released his feelings of fiery passion, anger, and bloodlust that derived from his experiences here and his and Feiling's fates, especially Fang Taiqing's betrayal.
"Even though Xuanyuan Lake is in peril, the founding ancestor is looking over us. Not only that, the caeli of the specters will definitely bring me even more different insights." Killing the crown prince of the specters and getting all those caeli had been a grand stroke of luck for him.
He attracted the many specter caeli, causing them to surround him. "Come!"
He opened his arms wide and allowed them to envelop him, diving deep into the cultivation experiences of the specters. Since they were able to ascend, their experiences would be valuable to him.
The emperor was only one example, after all, and there were many more ways the specters used to achieve godhood. The fact that they were able to do so while imprisoned in the Ninefold Hell was probably something he could afford to learn more about.
"There’s many ways to ascend to godhood, but the common point is making sure that your heavenly will is cultivated to its fullest extent! I'm only at the eighth-level death phase right now, so I have to continue cultivating my heavenly will to break past to the ninth-level life phase. However, breaking through should be enough for me to change my and Ling'er's fates, perhaps even that of the world...."
Tianming rapidly absorbed the experiences from the specter caeli, distilling them to their quintessence for his cultivation. Days passed with his cultivation uninterrupted, a sign that Dugu Jin was still waiting for Di Zang's appearance. The fact that he hadn't made a move yet meant that he was still waiting for the perfect opportunity. Otherwise, even if he managed to get the keys, he wouldn't be able to enter the Heaven Cauldron. They had believed that Tianming wouldn't be able to do much within that short period of time. Little did they know that Tianming had the help of all those caeli from the specters.
"I'm just a little bit short! Just a little bit more!" This entire time, he had been trying to form his ninth life samsara rings. Twelve days passed and he was almost there.
"Fate, are you fucking with me? Or are you telling me that I have to fight a close call to be able to gain true insight into survival? Even with a thousand gods helping me, the path to godhood is still unbelievably hard!" he lamented.
"You're probably just being too hard on yourself. Most people take at least ten years to go from the eighth-level death phase to the ninth-level life phase," Feiling said.
"Well, that's true...."
Right at that moment, someone came in to make a report. "Di Zang's lifebound beast has appeared near Xuanyuan Lake!"
That was the sign of the impending chaos. Everyone in the Old Deepstar Path immediately left, Tianming included.
During the past two weeks, all six hundred thousand strengthened troops had been waiting for this day to come. Xuanyuan Dao and Li Caiwei's formations were deployed While Lin Yuntian and the other sect masters were getting their samsaran elites prepared for battle. With their respective sects now occupied, they no longer had anywhere to retreat to.
"Everyone, once Dugu Jin shows up, use the tomes to hold him back! Keep him away from Soulburn Hall!" Tianming told the sect masters. He had given them the few third-origin tribulation tomes he had.
Xuanyuan Lake waited in silence as the grand army of the Flameyellow Imperial Sect emerged from their stations. They were all mounted on lifebound beasts that growled impatiently for the start of battle. The land outside Xuanyuan Lake was already shaking from the approach of the impressive army.
Tianming turned back to the rest, all of whom were his seniors, with a resolute gaze. Protecting humanity meant protecting himself. "We will win! Nobody shall tread on our turf unabated!"
Everyone nodded in response. While Tianming really was young, he was still the backbone of their morale.Previous Chapter Next Chapter