Chapter 182: Demon Frog

The man in gold had lain in wait all this time, hiding so well that Lu Yun and Qing Han were oblivious to his presence. However, the sight of the starstones was too tempting for him to remain hidden. He showed himself, threatening Qing Han with his best friend.

A starstone was formed of celestial energy gathered over the span of countless centuries, a treasure valuable beyond compare. The sword light inched closer and closer to Lu Yun’s brow.

Qing Han froze in place with worry, simultaneously preoccupied with the resurfacing of the large tadpole he’d sent back down. The combined power of two starstones had sunk it into the deep, but it’d sustained no lasting injuries.

“What? Are the starstones worth more to you than his life?” the man in gold snickered when the young man didn’t move.

“Alright, you can have the starstones.” Silvery light receded from Qing Han’s body and his sterling locks returned to their usual black. He tossed the two starstones—two glittering points of light—into the man’s hands.

“Hahahaha!” Starstones in hand, the man in gold cackled loudly. “Now that I have these, I don’t need to go looking for some noble’s tomb any longer. You two… can die!”

His sword light expanded malevolently, thrusting toward the middle of Lu Yun’s head.

“Heh.” It was Qing Han’s turn to snicker.

Hum.

The starry stones in the man’s hands burst forth with blinding radiance, accompanied by a terrifying force that sent him flying. His sword light disintegrated as soon as it touched Lu Yun’s brow.

“How stupid are you? Or should I say, naïve? Taking my starstones barehanded like that….” Starlight returned to Qing Han as he spoke. A simple backhand slap repelled the enormous tadpole once again.

“How is this possible!” the man in gold gaped. “The stellar energy from starstones can’t possibly be refined, it can only be borrowed… how did you do it?!”

Anyone could borrow an endless stream of power from a starstone, but it was practically impossible to make it a personal item.  

When Qing Han had drawn upon his starstone’s power in the past, he’d needed to remove his disguise in the process. But thanks to the Imperial Star and Empress Myrtlestar’s assistance, he’d made it entirely his.

Formed by the heavenly body that was its namesake, the Imperial Star was no ordinary starstone. Its sovereign status over the stars commanded mastery of the real Polar and Fire Stars, much less their starstones.

Although the man in gold had gained temporary possession of them, their power remained attached to their rightful owner. Qing Han once again blasted the tadpole back with one hand and hurled the man away with the other. The exchanges took place in the span of a breath.

Silver starlight flooded everywhere. Spreading from Qing Han’s hair, it cascaded into the water and filled the firmament above. Even Cloudwater was plated with a layer of brilliance.  

“This is the power of a starstone!” Fervent recognition seized Yue Cheng. “Its power is that of a connate-grade treasure! A starstone, under Cloudwater Lake!!! Move!” He couldn’t sit still any longer. He had to get his hands on it!

Zhu Yu turned serious as well. “A starstone… if I could have that, I might be able to become a dao immortal.”

“Avast!” Yuchi Hanxing and her lance were both aloft in the air. Nearby, soldiers of the Dusk Phalanx clumped up into the Heavenly Formation of the Black Tortoise again. The beast’s clamorous image and terrifying momentum pressed upon everyone’s heart.

“Don’t bother stopping them. If they want to die, they can come all they like.” Qing Han’s voice cut through the air.

Yuchi Hanxing blinked, then retracted her weapon. Though she moved out of the way, the image of the Black Tortoise didn’t disperse.

A throng of crazed treasure-seekers charged toward Cloudwater Lake, ignoring the dire words they’d just heard. By now, the waters of the lake were also a glistening silver.

More than a dozen tadpoles writhed among the waves, each of them easily three meters long. The man in gold was tangled in a messy brawl, leaping to and fro to evade the tadpoles’ bites. Qing Han stayed at Lu Yun’s side, shielding him with a barrier of multilayered starlight.  

“What kind of monsters are those?!” The immortals were shocked by the tadpoles’ grotesque form and size. They exuded neither immortal nor monster spirit energy, but their sinister auras were palpable.

“These are the spawn of Spiriteater Demon Frogs! Are those demonic creatures not yet extinct?” Zhu Yu gasped. “No wonder the dao immortal who once dove into the lake never returned. If these larvae are here, there must be a mature frog as well!”

Severe dread spread across her face. “We need to leave, now! Even these tadpoles aren’t something we can deal with.”

Following Qing Han’s repulsion of the singular tadpole, a dozen of its brethren had come out to join it. Smart enough to figure out which target was easier, they beelined for the strange man instead.

The man in gold was a strange being in his own right. His cultivation was only at the peak of the august immortal level, but he fought like a golden immortal. Among the dozen or so demonic spawn, he remained relatively unscathed.

“Rawwwwr!” Amid a loud roar, one of the tadpoles slithered out of the water, lunging at the immortals and cultivators on the shore. Its black hole of a maw enveloped several hundred in terrifying suction.

“Wh-what’s happening? Help!”

“I can’t move!” 

The captives shrieked and struggled, but their energies and movements were sealed. They could only gibber in terror as the noxious maw threatened to swallow them whole.  

Boom!

Light erupted from the water in the form of a silver pillar, sending the tadpole flying and helping those under its nefarious influence regain their freedom.

“Scram.” Qing Han’s voice was cold. The crowd didn’t need any further prompting to disperse in terror.

“That starstone is Qing Han’s treasure, eh!” Greed flashed in Yue Cheng’s eyes.

“If you dare take it from him, the Twin Devils will tear you to shreds. Don’t expect to be safe anywhere you go,” Zhu Yu murmured. Her words were a bucket of icy water, forcibly separating Yue Cheng from his avaricious thoughts.

His clan rivaled the Qing Clan in size and importance, but any clan that lived in Xiankan knew not to rub Chen Xiao and Qing Buyi the wrong way.

“Still, there must be other treasures beneath the lake!” Yue Cheng gritted his teeth. “Qing Han and Lu Yun wouldn’t have disturbed the monsters there, otherwise.”

Ribbit.

Before Zhu Yu could reply, a loud croak echoed from the serene lake. The dozen or so tadpoles immediately retreated at the sound.

“The Spiriteater Demon Frog… that ancient monstrosity really is here!” The woman turned deathly pale.

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