The explorers from the Realm of a Hundred Battles didn’t have much difficulty killing the local Qi warriors from the Realm of Dark Underworld.
Even Nie Tian was able to cut down a few lost members of the Flame God Sect with his Flame Star.
However, many of them failed to destroy their enemies’ discarnate souls immediately after killing them, with the Worldly realm experts and Gu Haofeng being the exceptions.
Once they failed to do so, the discarnate souls would rapidly fly out of the heads of the deceased and join the sea of Specters above the lake.
The odd thing was that both the Specters above the lake and the Phantasms hidden behind them turned a blind eye to the fact that they were killing the possessed local Qi warriors.
Not a single Specter or Phantasm rushed over to attack or stop them.
The massacre ended in fifteen minutes.
Each and every possessed Qi warrior from the Realm of Dark Underworld was killed, most of whose discarnate souls escaped and joined the army of Specters.
Not the slightest joy could be seen on Dong Mingxuan’s face as he looked down at the scattered corpses. Instead, he said, “I have a feeling that those Phantasms are using us to kill those local people for them.”
“I have the same feeling,” Shen Zhong said with a low voice.
“Something is different. The Phantasm relic in the lake is slowly floating closer to the surface of the lake. I didn’t find it like this.” Cao Qiushui no longer dared to hold any information back. He went on and explained his findings and the changes that had taken place during the past few months in detail.
Qin Yan was taken aback. “What?! You mean that you came here five years ago, but didn’t discover anything in the lake. All these changes have taken place over the past few months? And you were only able to discover the relic because it started to slowly float up from the bottom of the lake?”
Cao Qiushui nodded and answered with a bitter smile, “Yeah.”
At that moment, spirit beast roars suddenly echoed out from a dense forest on the other side of the lake.
Startled, everyone subconsciously gazed off in the direction of the sources of the sound. However, due to the exceedingly long distance, most of them failed to see anything.
Only Dong Mingxuan, Shen Zhong, and the other Worldly realm experts seemed to have discovered what was happening after unleashing their soul power.
On the other side of the lake, a large number of spirit beasts were madly attacking one another. Eyes narrowed, Shen Zhong said with a grim expression on his face, “It seems that spirit beasts can also be influenced by the Phantasms’ secret spells. Many spirit beasts are fighting one another to the death on that side of the lake. The discarnate souls of the dead spirit beasts are also flying out and joining the army of hovering Specters above the lake.”
With powerful experts like Shen Zhong there, Nie Tian didn’t feel the need to unleash his seven Heaven Eyes.
From his description, Nie Tian learned of what was happening on the other side of the lake: numerous spirit beasts were killing each other, giving birth to many more Specters.
A streak of lightning suddenly flashed across his mind.
“The Phantasms are doing this intentionally. They must somehow need a large number of Specters!” Nie Tian gave voice to his speculations.
Almost at the same time, Dong Li, who was standing right next to him, exclaimed, “The Phantasms must be trying to build up an army of Specters!”
Qin Yan also seemed to come to a sudden enlightenment as she blurted in a loud voice, “Perhaps it was the Phantasms’ intention for the Qi warriors from the Flame God Sect, the Spirit God Sect, and the other sects to discover this place! I even suspect that it’s the Phantasms that have secretly manipulated and guided those spirit beasts to this place!”
Nie Tian, Dong Li, and Qin Yan spoke almost simultaneously.
However, since both Dong Li’s and Qin Yan’s voices were higher than Nie Tian’s, Nie Tian’s voice was practically drowned in theirs.
Dong Mingxuan, Shen Zhong, and the other Worldly realm experts seemed to have long since thought of this possibility, but they didn’t simply feed it to the juniors. Rather, they seemed to be waiting for these youngsters to figure it out on their own.
After hearing Dong Li and Qin Yan’s speculations, they all shot approving gazes at the two of them, nodding gently.
A faint smile appeared on Dong Mingxuan’s face. “Good. It seems that you two have located the problem.”
Since Nie Tian had practically whispered his speculation into Dong Li’s ear, his voice was easily drowned by Dong Li’s loud exclamation.
Although nearly everyone missed his voice, Dong Mingxuan and Shen Zhong’s somewhat surprised gazes briefly stopped on his face as they openly praised Dong Li and Qin Yan.
Nie Tian immediately realized that they had both heard his voice, indistinguishable as it was.
However, although the two of them knew that aside from Dong Li and Qin Yan, Nie Tian had also seen the anomaly, they didn’t say anything.
Perhaps Dong Li and Qin Yan were more important in their eyes.
“Anything else?” Dong Mingxuan asked.
At that moment, Gu Haofeng, Qian Xin, and Cao Qiushui also realized that their seniors were intentionally testing them.
These seasoned cultivators, whose cultivation bases and experience were both much more profound than the juniors’, had known the answers all along, but they wanted the juniors to gain experience and grow from this exploration trip as much as possible.
Eyebrows furrowed, Gu Haofeng, Qian Xin, and Cao Qiushui pondered the matter in silence.
It wasn’t long before Qian Xin from the Pill Pavilion Sect opened his mouth first. “The local Qi warriors we just killed were all at the Heaven or Greater Heaven stage. Not a single one of them had entered the Worldly realm. According to Dong Li and Qin Yan’s judgment, the Phantasms are intentionally attracting people and spirit beasts to create more Specters.
“However, they also need to control the risks involved in such an undertaking. Since not a single Worldly realm expert has been lured to this place, it must mean that they think Worldly realm experts will pose a threat to them.”
Shen Zhong nodded vigorously and said, “Well done. The way I see it, the few Phantasms that are hiding among those Specters possess fifth grade bloodline power, which means their strength is roughly equal to ours. Our appearance is just as troublesome for them as their appearance is for us.”
Even though they had been slightly rattled at first, the moment they had arrived in this place, Shen Zhong and the other experts with profound cultivation bases had examined the situation with their soul power.
The reason they were able to remain composed was that they had learned that the Phantasms they could detect weren’t as formidable as they had imagined. They had a fair chance at defeating them.
The tip of Gu Haofeng’s eyebrow rose as he suddenly said, “Well, all the local Qi warriors and spirit beasts seemed to have lost their minds after entering this area, and started killing each other. Why aren’t we affected by whatever caused them to lose their minds?”
This was also what Nie Tian felt puzzled about.
Therefore, he also turned to look at Shen Zhong and Dong Mingxuan with a baffled expression on his face, hoping the two of them would explain it to them.
Dong Mingxuan smiled bitterly. “We can’t see through that one either. It can either be because it takes time for the Phantasms’ spells to work, or because they haven’t cast their spells on you yet.”
With a deep frown, Shen Zhong suddenly turned to Dong Mingxuan and Zhou Ruyun, who was from the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce, and said, “The Phantasms must be after something, gathering so many Specters. From the look of it, we can’t possibly count on our juniors to kill those Phantasms with fifth grade bloodline power.”
The powerful Worldly realm experts from the Realm of a Hundred Battles nodded together.
“Gu Haofeng!” Shen Zhong called out with a serious face. “How many thunderballs do you have left?”
“About two hundred,” Gu Haofeng answered without any hesitation.
Shen Zhong nodded. “You’ve shouldered quite some weight for us during this trip. In a moment, the few of us will charge into the army of Specters and try to kill those Phantasms. I want you to kill as many Specters as you can with your thunderballs. Try your best to clear a path for us.”
“Happy to oblige!” Gu Haofeng said excitedly.
At that moment, Dong Mingxuan added, “If you can do that, that will be a first-class merit on your part!”
Upon hearing those words, Gu Haofeng and every other member of the Gu Clan seemed greatly spirited, their eyes lighting up.
“Let’s get started!” With that, Shen Zhong stamped the ground with great force. In the next moment, a terrifying gravitational field was born around him.
A very large, dark-yellow greatsword appeared in his hand.
Holding that sword, Shen Zhong leapt into the air and shot directly towards the misty, cyan phantasm Qi above the lake.
Dong Mingxuan, Qiu Liang, Zhou Ruyun, and Gu Han left right after him. They summoned their spiritual tools one after another and sped off like bolts of lightning.
The five of them were all at the Worldly realm. Normally speaking, they shouldn’t be able to soar through the sky.
However, as they arrived above the lake, they were able to float in the air before the army of Specters.
A strange buoyancy seemed to exist above the lake. It was due to that mysterious buoyancy that the Phantasm relic had been slowly rising from the bottom of the lake. Seeing that the juniors were all flabbergasted by the spectacular scene, Cao Qiushui explained, “As profound as our seniors’ cultivation bases are, they haven’t entered the Profound realm, so they shouldn’t have been able to fly through the sky.
“But they must have sensed the strange buoyancy above the lake, and known that it would allow them to float in the air. That’s why they dared to charge into that area.”
“So that’s how it is...” Dong Li said in a soft voice.