Imperial Beheader, Sovereign Beheader, and Godly Beheader, all three of them elder kings, as well as the elysian child Ascendant Beheader, reacted with open shock to the Eternal Heavenly Aria. Yang Qi was suddenly covered with halos of blessing, while they were cursed with halos of damnification that they couldn't expel.
Yang Qi was using his most powerful trump card. The Eternal Heavenly Aria could challenge anything under heaven by turning him into something like a magical treasure designed to face higher-level opponents in battle.
“So, Ascendant Beheader, people say that you’re the top disciple in the Hall of Beheadings and Executions. After I cut you down today, you’re going to be nothing but history.” He struck out with his spear, unleashing countless variations that forced Ascendant Beheader to lunge backward at top speed.
Ascendant Beheader didn't dare to let that spear touch him. He was the best disciple from the Hall of Beheadings and Executions, but when fighting Yang Qi, he was almost completely useless. Yang Qi’s seemingly casual moves immediately gained him the upper hand.
As for those powerful figures watching from the shadows, some shook their heads, some gasped, some sighed in admiration, and some glared at him with flickering killing intent as if they wanted to go out and fight him.
Of course, Yang Qi had already prepared for such an outcome.
“Epoch!” he growled, using his ultimate fist stance. The Hand of the One God shattered, creating a whirlpool of death that contained the destruction of the dome of heaven, the rotations of the sun and moon, the eradication of aeons, and the death of the host of immortals.
Epoch was a move that was akin to the end of the universe itself, like a heavenly great dao or a punishment from the highest heights.
Now that Yang Qi was a Demi-Immortal, he was so overtly terrifying that countless individuals from the Hall of Beheadings and Executions already regretted provoking him. Aggravating him was like poking a hornet’s nest.
Drawing on his sword energy, Ascendant Beheader shouted, “Dao of the Titan Emperor Heaven! Be Suppressed by Heaven!”
His sword energy swirled out and formed the character ‘titan’, which then transformed into a cage that dropped down onto Yang Qi.
Yang Qi didn’t care. Eight hundred and forty million particles within him erupted with power and he stabbed out with the Infernal Deity Spear once again, causing a vortex to fill the field of battle. In the blink of an eye, everything within that vortex began peeling away from the world around it. Shockingly, he was heading back into the depths of the Hell of Mahānata.
It was the very same tactic Yang Qi had used earlier on Kingly Beheader that had resulted in him breaking through to the Demi-Immortal level. Of course, the ability was even stronger now.
“Watch out!” Imperial Beheader shouted. “He’s trying to drag us into the Hell of Mahānata. If we get stuck in there, we’re dead!”
“Trying to stop me won't do you any good,” Yang Qi said. “I can kill chickens and dogs like you as easily as flipping my hand over! Prepare to learn what despair is, and what it means to suffer eternal torment!”
He threw his hands out, and a beam of godlight arced through the air, something that seemed no one could possibly block.
“Stay your hand!” someone shouted, and immense power suddenly erupted onto the scene. It was dazzling immortal energy that looked like chains, which spread out and wrapped around the space in the area, locking it down tight.
Frowning, Yang Qi looked over to see four newcomers clad in suits of golden armor etched with dragons, phoenixes, and other primeval godlings. These four individuals wore crowns, making them look like emperors on a conquest.
They were vice-rectors!
They ranked higher than the elysian children and were second only to the supreme rector in terms of power.
“Restrain yourself, Yang Qi,” one of them said. “Do you really think you’re going to wipe out the entire Hall of Beheadings and Executions? Not even the Invincible Dugu would dare to do such a thing. You’re being a bit rash, don’t you think?”
Now that the vice-rectors were present, the scene seemed to naturally go calm.
The forces of the Hall of Beheadings and Executions all stood down, as did Yang Qi.
“Well this is a surprise,” Yang Qi said, clasping hands behind his back and looking at the four vice-rectors calmly. “I never would have guessed that the vice-rectors would get involved in a little tussle between the Invincible Society and the Hall of Beheadings and Executions. Are you really that bored? You have nothing better to do than interfere in a minor squabble?”
“What?” said another of the vice-rectors, stepping forward. “You call this a minor squabble? You killed prime paragon elders—even an elder king! You put their heads on spikes above your main gate! Everyone saw you do it. If that’s a minor squabble, then how do you define a major one?”
“I'm just tidying up my front porch,” Yang Qi said casually. “There’s no reason for you to get all excited. In a flagrant violation of the rules, the Hall of Beheadings and Executions tried to rob me of my valuables. So, I decided to teach them a little lesson.”
“Teach them a lesson?” another rector said. “Who do you think you are? Unless I'm mistaken, you’re only a consecrated student. What gives you the guts to be this arrogant?”
“What gives me the guts? My fist. That’s what.” Yang Qi knew that the vice-rectors had come to stop the fight, and he wasn’t inclined to bicker with them. “Look, you’re on the side of the Hall of Beheadings and Executions, aren’t you? In other words, you’re against the Invincible Society and you want to take my belongings. Cut the crap and tell me what you want. Come on. Out with it.”
The vice-rectors were all ninth order Paragon Demi-Immortals, meaning that they were essentially invincible in the mortal world. If they joined forces, they would definitely be difficult to deal with. However, Yang Qi could enter the Hell of Mahānata whenever he wanted, and could also activate the warding magics of the Invincible Society at any time to protect himself. So in his current situation, he wasn’t very worried.
Even if they all attacked together, he could still handle the situation.
Now that he was a Demi-Immortal, there were few people in the world who could possibly cause problems for him, and unless one of those people truly managed to back him into a corner, they could never kill him.
The Demi-Immortal level was a watershed divide in which a cultivator became half immortal. It was also a level where the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth would release some of its most impressive, unbeatable abilities.
“You’ve got a lot of guts, brat,” said another of the vice-rectors. “You’re only a consecrated student, but do you know who we are? We’re vice-rectors and we exist far, far above you. Even royal students who encounter us will immediately drop to their knees. You're insane. Completely and utterly insane. Considering how disrespectful you’re being, we could imprison you this instant if we wanted.”
“Oh really?” Yang Qi replied coolly. “Does that mean you came to cause trouble for me at the behest of the Hall of Beheadings and Executions? You want to destabilize the Invincible Society? Elder Seventeenth Brother, did you hear that? This conspiracy goes all the way back to the vice-rectors! Make sure to send that information to Master, and let him decide what to do.”
“Alright,” Sword Seventeen said from his position within the warding magics of the Invincible Society.
Ascendant Beheader burst out laughing. “You’re going to send a message to the Invincible Dugu?” he said. “Good luck with that. The supreme rector sent him plenty of messages last time we had a collegium-wide meeting. He never responded. Either he’s ascended to the higher heaven, or he’s stuck in a cultivation bottleneck. Of course, it’s also possible that he's dead. If you think the Invincible Dugu is going to come and settle this matter, you might as well stop dreaming.”
“That’s right, you two arrogant brats,” one of the vice-rectors said. “We should just take you captive and force the Invincible Dugu to show his face.”
“Who exactly are you?” Yang Qi said, turning his attention to the one who had just spoken.
The vice-rector chuckled in contempt. “What, you want to know my name? You don't qualify. Not considering your status compared to mine.”
“Is that so? From what I can tell you’re worse than a stray dog. And since you think I don’t qualify, let me teach you a little something about qualifications. Based on what you just said, you deserve to die. So does your whole clan. I just killed an elder king, and I can kill a vice-rector too. If you’re so strong, why don’t you fight to the death with me? Right here, right now. Do you dare? I do. If you’ve got what it takes, let’s go. But if you keep hiding like a rat in a hole, then I don’t care what your status is—you’re nothing but a rat bastard. So come on. Fight me. Or are you scared?”
His words left no way out for the vice-rector, whose face flickered between shades of white, red, and green and looked extremely unsightly. He had just been challenged to a duel in front of too many witnesses to count. If he backed out, the loss of face would be incredible.
Of course, as a vice-rector in the Titan Emperor Collegium, he was no fool. He knew that the so-called rules and laws didn't mean anything. Only strength and power were important.
If an ant-like weakling had challenged him, he could have ignored it. But Yang Qi had just killed an elder king, which went to show how fierce and terrifying he was. For the vice-rector to ignore his challenge would definitely be taken as a sign of weakness.
After a moment of thought, the vice-rector smiled viciously and took a step forward. “Well, if you want to die, I’ll accommodate you. In front of all these witnesses, I’ll clean up the collegium a bit. Let’s see how long this little monster will keep up his arrogant front.”
‘It seems killing elder kings won’t be enough,’ Yang Qi thought. ‘In that case, I’ll kill a vice-rector. That will show people how mighty the Invincible Society is. If you kill chickens and the monkeys don't care, then that means it’s time to kill a monkey.’  Yang Qi’s eyes briefly swept the crowd, and wherever his gaze passed, people silently looked away. He was definitely the fiercest student in the school at this point.
“Prepare to die!” the rector shouted, lunging forward with a knifehand glittering with godlight that could pierce the void.
The light transformed into a saber nimbus spell formation, filled with saber-wielding immortals and gods.
“Invincible Saber of heaven; Shapeless and Incorporeal; Incorporeal Immortal-Slaughtering Saber!”
The vice-rector immediately resorted to a deadly move, the type that could kill immortals. And as the saber light spread out, Yang Qi had no leeway to dodge or evade. Boundless saber energy filled the entire area with the force to destroy the cosmos.
1. This is a play on the common Chinese idiom killing a chicken to frighten the monkeys, which means to make an example of someone. Back at the school I worked at in China, there was a foreign teacher causing big problems at work, so I told him about this phrase and said that if he didn't get in line, the school would fire him as an act of killing a chicken to frighten the monkeys. Sure enough, he kept causing problems and ended up getting fired.