As Li Mo raised his spiritual energy output, the thin swordsman, unable to keep up with him, spat out a mouthful of blood. Only when Li Mo saw that he was no longer able to resist did he draw back, at which point the man slumped against the ground.
“Ah, even the Pi family’s expert isn’t a match for them!”
“There’s no way we’d be able to put up a fight! Quick, let’s run!”
The other swordsmen all began to flee.
Yun Ruoyan immediately conjured up a dozen fireballs, which she launched at the cultivators who had already begun to run. As their clothes caught on fire, they stumbled to the ground and began to roll around; others were caught unawares by Li Mo’s icicles, which stabbed them in the legs.
“If you don’t run, we won’t kill you. Otherwise…” Yun Ruoyan called out, finally prompting the cultivators to stop running and wait for judgment.
Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan walked toward the thin swordsman, but before they could ask him anything, he spat out a mouthful of blood and closed his eyes for good—he had committed suicide by bursting his spiritual pathways.
Compared to the Wu and Chen swordsmen, who fled at the first sign of danger and were scared stiff by a few fireballs and icicles, this was clearly a seasoned warrior from the Pi family.
Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan then walked toward the carriages, where Li Mo removed the thick fabric covering their contents. A concentrated wave of spiritual energy struck him in the face.
“Raw spirit crystals,” Yun Ruoyan murmured.
Li Mo nodded, then turned toward a Chen swordsman relatively close to him. “Were these spirit crystals stolen from the vein in Peak Darkness?”
“Y—Yes,” the swordsman stammered. According to him, the Pi family had already wrested control of the spirit crystal veins, and they were only a group of relatively weak swordsmen responsible for transporting it to the Pi city. The thin swordsman had been an expert from the Pi family sent to protect the shipment. There were ten such shipments in all, each with an expert protecting it, and they were the last of the ten.
“Every shipment with an expert of this caliber?” Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help but glance at the thin man’s lifeless corpse. He was a first-rank sword saint, and if there were ten such swordsmen responsible for transporting the spirit crystals alone…
Li Mo also frowned. Based on their understanding of the Pi family, the Pis didn’t possess so many experts. The only possibility was that they had borrowed men from the Chen and Wu families, but this too seemed unlikely: after all, neither family could best the Pis in martial strength.
“According to the information in the letter, Feng Yicheng and Zhuo Yifeng should have arrived at the mines by now,” Li Mo began. “We’ll figure out the exact situation once we get there.”
The two of them had the captured swordsmen turn around and transport the carriage back to Peak Darkness. After almost the entire day, just as they were about to reach the mines, they sensed a battle taking place from about two miles away.
“They’re fighting again!” one swordsman shouted.
“Have there been many such fights?” Yun Ruoyan asked. Neither she nor Li Mo had been particularly cruel to the captured swordsmen, and they had stopped fearing them so much. During the way, they had even begun chatting a little, allowing Yun Ruoyan to figure out that they weren’t swordsmen at all, but rather porters who had been temporarily assigned to guarding the carriages on their way to the Pi city.
“These sorts of fights started two days ago. After the Pi swordsmen took over the mine, they began excavating it furiously. Two days ago, the Feng troops arrived, and there have been fights ever since.”
“In that case, how did all of you manage to send this shipment out?” Yun Ruoyan asked.
“There’s a secret exit, of course!” Given how long the mines had been under Pi control, there were a few secret passages leading out of Peak Darkness that even the Feng family wasn’t aware of.
Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo commanded the Chen and Wu porters to hide the carriages of spirit crystals in a secluded location. Then, Yun Ruoyan bewitched them all with intoxicating fog and let them go free. Immediately afterwards, they headed in the direction in which the sound of fighting and release of spiritual energy was the clearest: judging by how much spiritual energy they could sense, there had to be over a dozen men fighting at once.
By the entrance of a valley surrounded by three white mountains was a tall fence, and a barrier had been cast over the top of the valley, preventing entrance by swordflight. Gathered outside the fence were a hundred cultivators engaged in battle.
“Zhuo Yifeng!” Yun Ruoyan spotted his figure amidst the crowd. His black whip danced like a dragon, defending him against any attack, physical or spiritual, directed his way. His strength left Yun Ruoyan shocked: out of nowhere, Zhuo Yifeng had developed such incredible power, and it felt as though she were being left behind.
Li Mo only glanced coolly at Zhuo Yifeng before turning to Feng Yicheng, who was being surrounded by three swordsmen of more advanced cultivation. One of the three was attacking him with a wood-attuned external spiritual technique, summoning all sorts of vines to entrap him, which Feng Yicheng barely avoided. The two other swordsmen attacked him with ice-attuned techniques, and his wrists and ankles were starting to bleed quite severely.
Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan exchanged a glance with each other, then quickly flew toward the battlefield. In midair, Li Mo shot out a fireball at the three cultivators gathered around Feng Yicheng, burning the vines that threatened to entrap him to cinders. The spiritual fire spread to the enemy swordsman, giving him no chance to attack further.
As for the two ice-attuned cultivators, they were directly set aflame, and they began rolling on the ground in pain. Feng Yicheng stepped forward and unhesitatingly pierced the chest of the wood-attuned cultivator trying to smother the flames on his body.
“How’re you?” Li Mo asked, glancing at his bleeding wounds.
“They’re all superficial injuries,” Feng Yicheng replied. “Excellent timing. We’ve spent two whole days trying to get in. With your help, we’ll take control of this valley by the end of the day.”
Feng Yicheng struck at a Chen swordsman by his side, then pointed at a long-haired Pi swordsman embroiled in battle. “That man’s a demon. He killed over a dozen Feng swordsmen in combat, and it took me and Zhuo Yifeng working together to fight him to a draw. However, neither of us could kill him.”
Li Mo glanced at Yun Ruoyan, a circle of empty space forming around her—no one dared brave the heat of her sword. Zhuo Yifeng seemed to also have seen her, because he was heading her way.
Li Mo then turned to the long-haired swordsman, who was a first-rank sword saint. His greatsword swinging, he was chopping down any Feng swordsman who dared to get close to the entrance of the valley. Some were screaming in pain after having their hands chopped off, others had lost their necks, and some were even bisected in two through their waist. With his other hand, the swordsman was lobbing fireballs every which way, quickly setting any enemy swordsman unlucky enough to be hit aflame.
Based on his spiritual energy fluctuations, Li Mo judged that he was almost about to become a second-rank sword saint. Such an expert had to be taken down by someone even more advanced, or he would unleash wave after wave of devastation on the battlefield.
Li Mo drew his sword and flew toward him, swiftly striking at his head. Despite the speed at which he attacked, the opponent responded in time, holding his sword in a defensive posture above his head. With a great clang, Li Mo’s sword broke his opponent’s in two, then bisected his head as easily as if he were slicing a block of tofu.
With that swordsman’s death, the Pi family’s strength was dramatically weakened, and the Feng troops quickly took the upper hand. Li Mo turned back to Zhuo Yifeng, who had moved to guard Yun Ruoyan, and he was likewise looking back at Li Mo.
Li Mo found his gaze uncharacteristically cold, and even a little sinister. He tried to get a closer look at Zhuo Yifeng, but he had already run off toward the fleeing Pi troops.
The Feng swordsmen quickly knocked down the gates guarding the entrance to the valley and streamed toward the mines.
“Li Mo, let’s go too.” Yun Ruoyan turned to face Li Mo, but he was staring somewhere into the distance, his thoughts a mystery. “Li Mo? Let’s go in.” She tugged on his arm, then joined the rushing troops with him in tow.
After almost three days of fighting, after losing over a hundred swordsmen, the Feng family had finally wrested control of the spirit crystal veins once more, only to find it all but fully excavated...Previous Chapter Next Chapter