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No one knew at all that at this moment, above Chengdu, at a boundary that neither Foundation Establishment cultivators nor the clans could reach, in a place that couldn’t be seen even at the highest altitude of 12,000 meters that a normal airplane could attain, there was majestic palace that was roughly 20,000 meters long hidden from view in the cloud sea.
It was in the form of a tortoise. Here, sunlight was especially gorgeous, shining on the tortoise and reflecting an infinite radiance. The palace seemed to come alive and roam the sea of clouds.
The Heavenraiser Palace, Daomaster Ancientpine’s abode.
The master hall.
“How?” Ancestor Ancientpine clasped his cup of tea and asked leisurely.
In the great hall, there was no one, but a rough voice reverberated in emptiness. “Not bad. Everything’s done being arranged.”
“That’s good…” Ancientpine sighed and slowly walked down as he carried his tea. He wanted to say something, but his voice ultimately became a long sigh.
“Good or bad, we have associated with each other for decades. You were originally one of high character and moral integrity, how could you turn coat?” His gaze carried a trace of lonesomeness and looked towards the north. He shook his head imperceptibly.
After a few seconds of silence, the tough voice said, “Then, what about your disciple? And those great clans?”
Ancientpine said nothing.
The voice said flatly, “The northwest and the southwest, the two of us are as close as the lips and the teeth. This matter… the consequences are too severe. Longsu Province’s cultivators… how many can survive? Even Nanzhou City will have to be entirely rebuilt.”
Ancientpine kept his silence. After ages, the Dao Master quietly pitched an unrelated question, “Have you investigated thoroughly?”
“Of course.” The voice exclaimed as well, “In fact, rather than say I’ve conducted a thorough investigation, isn’t it better to say that since Danxia Temple’s great transformation, the recovering greater-demon soul fragment hidden within she of the utmost integrity has long since become ill-concealed? Demonic qi in the Forbidden City… Hehehe, others do not sense it, but This Dao Master has made my name through demonbeasts. How could I not feel it?”
“If not for this, what need was there for us to forcibly blockade Longsu for half a year under the pretense of surveying?”
Ancientpine finally said, “Face-to-face against Fellow Daoists of the same stage… an even longer period to prepare is no exaggeration. It is merely a pity…”
As he bemoaned the heavens and felt himself pity his fellow man, he glanced down below in lamentation. “The sacrifice is too great.”
This time, it was the rough voice’s turn to be silent. After several seconds, Ancientpine said, “Thirty-one days, in the early hours of four in the morning, all those participating in this matter in Longsu are to disperse. Your support will give Chengdu’s cultivators a little semblance of rest for ten-odd minutes. This poses no difficult to you.”
“Sure.” The voice asked again, “And your disciple?”
“If the situation permits it, I will save his life.” Ancientpine softly replied.
The voice chuckled heartily, “You old fogey Daoist… you seem to treat your disciples the best out of all of us, but you truly are colder than anyone else… Since you heard about the Azure Lotus Demonic Art, have you perhaps killed your heart concerning it? You even gave your disciple a mountain-protector grand array… and as for telling him that this is a test? Also telling Jadesun that you wish to send him ‘Inside’? Hehehe… Shadow Emperor, ah, Shadow Emperor, I am ashamed of my inferiority. Has your heart truly already cultivated into a dead tree?”
Daomaster Ancientpine stowed his gaze and said indifferently, “Once the tiger is mounted, it is hard to get off. The opportunity must be seized. You ought to know, this time… It will surely come. There is no better battlefield than this place. It destroyed the Capital, and it destroyed Nanzhou. What choice do we have?”
“Do you believe that I am so willing to watch a disciple with such prospects die? If the Nanzhou war does not take complete hold, why would it be worried that its secret has been discovered? How could she come here from the Capital?”
His voice was already growing loud, reverberating throughout the palace hall. “Do I put on a play? Between China’s cultivation world and a single disciple, which do you choose?! If he does not light this fuse, who will?!”
There was no answer. After several seconds passed, the voice sighed, “To be your disciple… truly, not even nine lives are enough to be reaped.”
“I have said that should the situation permit it, I will surely save his life! If he does not die, this land is his! Is this not sacrifice enough to stake his life? Get out, I wish not to spare faulty words with you!” Ancientpine snorted coldly. He brushed his sleeve and turned his head but didn’t otherwise turn around.
From behind, the voice laughed, “At that time… will you still have the energy to save someone? Old man, is it so interesting to believe in your own lies… hehehe…”
The voice disappeared, and a wisp of helplessness flickered through Daomaster Ancientpine’s eyes. After ages, he made a long sigh.
“Those who know me speak of the sorrow of my heart… Those who do not, speak of what I seek…”
“A cultivation inheritance of millennia always requires someone’s sacrifice, someone to bridge the future and the past. What to do… What can be done?”
Time passed, day after day.
Twenty days… Barely ten days remained until Longsu Province was open to cultivators.
“Huff…” On an airplane flying from the Capital to Chengdu, a man furrowed his brows and yawned. Presently, it was six in the afternoon, the evening twilight dyeing the horizon an expanse of crimson clouds. There was still another hour before the plane reached his destination and finally concluded this aerial journey.
But he now suddenly discovered… that the television in front of him had been stowed away. Just as his brows knitted together, a stewardess walked down the aisle with great haste, bowing cordially towards all the passengers.
“Esteemed passengers, due to the appearance of unforeseen supernatural phenomena ahead, the airplane will temporary land in Jingyang Airport for approximately thirty minutes before resuming flight. As a result of this inconvenience, we ask our passengers for your understanding… To reiterate: esteemed passengers, due to the appearance of unforeseen supernatural phenomena ahead…”
Everyone dozing off stood up. A middle-aged woman frowned and said, “How? The plane’s stopping? Supernatural phenomena? Are you kidding me?”
“Yeah! I’m in a rush! An important meeting is waiting for me! How can we stop flying all of a sudden?!” A man in a suit said, anxiety written all over his face. “Do we have to stop? There’s no other way? Can we transfer?”
“I apologize, sir.” A stewardess maintained her smile, “The received notice has stated that all channels are closed off 3,000 meters ahead.”
“What the heck?!” A man angrily hammered his fist into a seat. What was the damn reason? He hadn’t heard anything said about this! Supernatural phenomena? Who knew whether the airplane would dispatch when the time came! Once he returned he was definitely registering a complaint about this service approach!
However… his anger didn’t last for long. Because in the next moment, on the other side of the airplane… an eye-piercing red light shone!
“God!!!” A man with somewhat grizzled hair suddenly glued his face to a window. He looked into the sky as if he saw a celestial, his voice shaking, “S-S-Supernatural phenomena… It really is supernatural phenomena!!!”
At the other side, everyone near the windows leaned up against the glass. With eyes wide and mouths hanging wide open, they peered. They grouped up so tightly that they were impenetrable, not even a droplet of water capable trickling through!
Over a thousand meters away from them, between the clouds below and above them… they saw a scarlet-red pillar of clouds form between the two sides! Like a cyclone of clouds! Bolts of lightning were surging and wandering to and fro within the supernatural wonder!
The heart of the full moon torrents violently like raging waves, the sky wind shaking great sea tides.
At this moment, in the sky above and clouds below, a cloud pillar had completely linked the two, storming angrily like the ocean and stirring like waves. Streaks of seemingly explosive red light jetted out from the cloud pillar, thunder and lightning illuminating several thousand kilometers of clouds in its wake!
20,000 meters high above, Daomaster Ancientpine glanced down insipidly, withdrawing his gaze soon afterwards without the slightest care.
“Descend! Quickly descend!!!” On the airplane, it was unknown who screamed out. Following this cry, everyone on the entire plane began to shriek! Even the fabulously-trained stewardesses were no exception, each one of them falling to wide-eyed astonishment!
“Bring the plane down! Hurry up!”
“Captain, hurry up and switch to a different flight path!”
“God… God!!! I-Is this the apocalypse?!”
The world below were unaware of the events occurring on the airplane. At this instant, Xu Yangyi and Chu Zhaonan were standing before a window, watching the sky with grave expressions.
Mortals could not see… but right now, all of Chengdu’s cultivators looked up at the sky in unison.
Half an hour ago, all the clouds began to rage. An endless, immense vortex was slowly taking root in the sky!
It formed in thirty minutes. Since the beginning of mad surges to the present gentle rotations, the clouds were still clouds. The sole difference was the fear-inducing spiritual pressure ceaselessly swelling in the eye of the cloud maelstrom!
Qishan’s Bottomless Pit, the hall of the Linghu Clan’s White Tiger Hall. The Linghu Clan were already searching the clouds above, looking at the towering cloud pillar beneath the setting sun.
Above the character “wang” (王) on a tiger’s head, a white-haired old man leaned against his walking stick. He was dressed in an ancient changpao, scaling above to the summit.
The boundless cloud sea laid below his feet, his scalp reflecting the red of the sky. This cloud pillar was the shared boundary point of Longsu and Xichuan.
His gown and snow-white beard and brows whistled in the blowing wind. Two middle-aged men in tunic suits stood at his side, their pupils golden slits and their hands folded into their pockets. The trio set their eyes on the tremendous cloud pillar with extreme solemnity.
The Linghu Clan… The renowned Three Tigers of Linghu. Mention of their names sent panic and terror throughout the lands!
“Come… Come…” The old man stretched out both his arms and closed his eyes, as if he was welcoming the great storm. He seemed to further embrace this giant blood-red curtain. His voice was husky because of his imminent bloodthirst. “Nanhuai Province, the Kindling Mulberry Wall of Jinling’s Zhao Clan… has arrived…”
Xu Yangyi’s expression was terribly grave as he looked up at the sky. This horrific spiritual pressure…. This was no natural phenomenon whatsoever… but rather a super-large transference, a spatial warping heralded by several thousand meters of transference!
At the head of the Sky Universe Palace’s white crane, there were five old men wearing changpaos who had hairpins fastened in their hair. They stood high up in the sky, the expression in their eyes like a hook as they stared straight at the cloud pillar.
The Lou Clan’s Five Honored Stars. The Lou Clan’s greatest in power!
They had 9,000 subordinate cultivators and close to 600 imperial defenders. Twenty-eight Foundation Establishment cultivators and two half-step Core Formation!
“Kindling Mulberry Wall, eh…” An old bald man opened his muddled yellow eyes. “Truly an old adversary worth of reminiscence…”
BOOM!!! Thunder and lightning pierced through the heavens. In Xu Yangyi’s location, all that could be seen of the clouds above was a shining stretch of pure gold. He and Chu Zhaonan clearly understood that this was the result of a finished Transference Formation.
In the next second… the cloud bank shattered.
Above Xu Yangyi, a tremendous shadow quickly shrouded all of Chengdu!
It wasn’t tall, only around fifty to sixty meters high. Contrasted to the colossal white crane and the white tiger that was hundreds of meters in size, there was fundamentally no comparison to be made.
And yet… it possessed no less than half of Chengdu’s size!
Ruuummbblee… Countless ashen runes lingered over the surface of pitch-black stone. Its walls carried the scars of infinite divine abilities. Gorges that extended several meters deep spread over it, bringing a formless air of desolation. Seizing the boundless cloud sea, the mass slowly pressed down like a mythical beast in the sky.
Xu Yangyi didn’t speak, softly gripping the teacup in his hand.
“That’s the Kindling Mulberry Wall.” At this time, the door soundlessly opened, and a low but familiar male voice rang out, “The Zhao Clan of Jinling. This city was once in Xunyang. It was taken as a spoil of war by the Zhao Clan and towed back to Jinling.”
Xu Yangyi didn’t answer because he already saw… that as the city walls gradually revealed themselves in the clouds… a minimum of 500 black-armored cultivators stood in the clear sky. Cold like sharp swords, they followed the slow emergence of the Kindling Mulberry Wall.
Tremendous pressure and a tremendous city. Like heavenly generals and soldiers surrounding and protecting the throne hall of the high heavens! White clouds like waves were split apart by the giant city. Richly ornamented buildings and towers brought the taste of deathly stillness, little by little. Floating clouds, vast and distant, appeared before the crowd’s eyes.
1. “You were originally one of high character and moral standing, how could you turn coat?” (卿本佳人，奈何做贼) Literally: You are a fine person, how could you be a thief? Chinese phrase originating from the History of the Sui dynasty (581-617 CE).
2. A poem by our favorite Tang poet Li Bai.
3. 王 means “King” in Chinese.
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