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Twenty minutes later, the bright cry of a skylark sped into the air, leaving a streak of golden spirit light in the sky.
At the Post Horse Station, all of Shangchen’s leaders gravely watched this stream of light.
“You’re saying…” The chairman fixed his eyes outside and said quietly, “They can succeed?”
The premier laughed bitterly. “I don’t know… but this is our greatest hope… the Clearcloud Realm’s hope! If the Clearcloud Realm’s two strongest people take all of Shangchen’s spirit-masters, and fail…” He shut his eyes, leaned back, and made a long sigh. “Then… everything is done for.”
“The Clearcloud Realm… can’t find two people this strong anymore! There’ll be no hope left!”
No one replied. Heavy psychological pressure weighed down on their minds like a boulder. They could only use their gazes to see the task force off.
Xu Yangyi and Moonless stood on the skylark’s head. Everyone else were in the skylark’s belly. Inexhaustible darkness confronted them as far as the eye could see.
Their line of sight could only penetrate several thousand meters. Everything else beyond was indistinct, forever belonging to the dead and silent primal chaos.
The surrounding air had also become ice-cold and morbidly quiet. Under the black clouds, as they ventured farther in, even the last thread of light disappeared. The skylark became a glint of gold drawing a bright golden string in the endless black curtain in the world. Twenty minutes later, they surged out from Shangchen’s territorial waters. Ahead, the world was one shade of color, deep and boundless, as if… they were headed into hell’s deepest abyss.
One hour… two hours… after three hours, the skylark stopped.
There was no way it couldn’t stop… because facing them was a pitch-black fog that blocked off the entire sea surface!
“Huff…” Following this soft voice, Xu Yangyi surveyed the region. Black clouds covered mountains, and stormy tides bore down on cities. Without end in sight, the vast black fog shrunk back a little inside to their surprise!
“Snore…” Another long breath sounded. The black mist that permeated the fringes of the Clearcloud Realm evenly bounded out. It was like… a person’s heart beating and throbbing as they breathed in and out!
“I can hardly believe it…” Moonless inhaled deeply. The black mist seemed to conceal countless demonbeasts and infinite danger. He took a step forward, and gales of demonic wind sent his clothes flying in disarray. His voice low, he said, “I haven’t taken a look in several years… but the Clearcloud Realm’s already been swallowed up so much…”
Xu Yangyi wordlessly looked at the scenery before him as well. No, not scenery, but extreme darkness! Unlimited darkness! Heart-shaking darkness!
“Fellow Daoist.” Moonless turned to look at him. “Let’s begin.”
Xu Yangyi stared blankly. “Begin?”
The light of Moonless’s eyes suddenly skipped and he heaved in deeply, “Fellow Daoist… you haven’t encountered the ‘Rule’?”
“This is the ‘Rule’!” Moonless only felt his scalp go numb, and his finger pointed straight at the several hundred thousand miles of endless black fog before him. His voice rose in pitch. “I’ve been in the Clearcloud Realm for decades, could it be that Fellow Daoist believes that I haven’t investigated the Sky Burial Festival? However, upon reaching this place, not another step can be taken!”
He stared right into Xu Yangyi’s eyes. The wisp of doubt in the demon slayer’s eyes didn’t escape him. His pulse increased somewhat. “You… just went straight in like that?”
Xu Yangyi didn’t answer and forcefully stomped his foot. In an instant, the skylark sped up again! It dove straight into the endless black mist in front of them!
“Are you insane?!?!” Moonless cried out alarm. “This is courting death!”
“Then so what!” Xu Yangyi snapped his head back and leveled his gaze on Moonless. His eyes were like lightning. “There’s black fog in front of us and tsunamis at our back! If we stay put what will be the consequences?! Don’t you get it?”
“If we don’t go ahead, we’ll be stuck on a dead end! If we crash our way through, there’s still a chance to survive!” Xu Yangyi stowed his gaze, his heart unconsciously starting to wildly beat. He locked his eyes on the Reaper’s black curtain in front of him, and gritted out, “Last time I managed to get in, and this time… even if it won’t let me I must go!”
Swish!!! In the sky, the skylark drew a resplendent golden thread. A boom followed, and it threw itself into the limitless black tide!
No one saw, however—Xu Yangyi not even sensing it himself—that just as they entered the black mist, the hexagon-shaped object he’d gained from Butterflymother Southflower shimmered.
Hum… The black mist rolled, like a black behemoth was eating a dessert. In an instant, even the skylark’s golden tail of light disappeared.
Bang bang bang! The skylark violently shook, like an airplane traversing a stormy ocean. Not once did Xu Yangyi’s eyes close. Moonless was likewise the same. The duo’s qi energies were fully cycled to the peak. Although this black fog didn’t have an iota of spiritual force, it gave them a feeling of unmatched danger!
Ten minutes… twenty minutes… a full thirty minutes! The coming tempest winds carried the aura of death, sending their hair and clothes into a flurry of ripples. Half an hour later, Moonless’s old eyes suddenly brightened. He took a deep breath and gritted his teeth. “Look… look! Look ahead!!!”
In the darkness was a solitary lamp. A stretch of hazy golden light brightened ahead of them. The radiance shot forward, and the surrounding black fog churned like clouds. They seemed to be walking inside a giant.
What was ahead?
No one knew. Purple fire-dragons were already roaming around Xu Yangyi. In Moonless’s hand, he held a small, fine jade buddha. A dot of penetrating green light was pulsing over the figurine.
Closer… even closer… Just as Xu Yangyi was able to vaguely make out a bit of the shadow inside the mist, Zhao Ziqi’s cry of alarm rattled inside Xu Yangyi’s mind. Big bro! There’s something inside this black fog!
“Careful!” Without a moment’s pause, Xu Yangyi shouted in the wild wind. Meanwhile, Moonless, his mind already stretched taut to an extreme, instantly formed a seal. Above the jade buddha, white light flashed, and a hundred meters of sword-light slashed out above them!
“Buddhist Sword, Seeks Heart!” Moonless’s hair stood on end! Under the sword-light, countless bodhi seeds and flowers unexpectedly came forth from the illusory. In the sword-light’s wake, they sprinkled free. For the first time, a pure-white screen of light punctured the darkness.
Jingle!!! The clang of metal exploded in the air. In the next moment, one became two, two became three, and three became all beings. Swiftly, the sword-light split into several hundred white spirit-swords, frantically shooting out in all directions!
Swoosh swoosh swoosh! Pure-white sword radiance pierced the darkness, and the endless black tide finally revealed a tiny clue about itself. Xu Yangyi keenly saw golden light flashing within. He was almost without the least bit decision, and the Ten Cardinals Purgatory thundered ahead!
“ROAR!!!” Purple fire-dragons snarled at the horizon, and purple and white struggled to outdo each other in splendor. In the end, the bottomless abyss forty to fifty meters around them was torn apart!
At the same time the darkness dispersed, as Xu Yangyi and Moonless readied their next killing moves, the two of them were dumbfounded.
There was indeed something…
Furthermore… this was something that no man could imagine!
It… was a thousand-meter-tall sculpture!
The sculpture’s chest was bared and it was bald. It wore a kasaya and its eyes were slightly squinted. It wore a smile on its face, a string of Buddhist beads hung over its chest, and its hand held a pouch. At the same time they saw this sculpture, Moonless was so alarmed that his hands trembled. With a thump, his jade buddha fell on top of the skylark!
“That… That’s…” He looked at the sculpture incredulous, voice shaking, “Monk Angida… that’s Monk Angida!!!”
Xu Yangyi also appeared spellbound. He’d imagined that there might’ve been an archdemon behind the black clouds or possibly something else. However, he certainly hadn’t expected that there would be a golden body of Buddhism! It was unknown where this golden buddhist has come from!
In that case… he forcibly pushed down on his wildly beating heart and gazed at the distant golden speck of light.
His hands flung out, and the Ten Cardinals Purgatory’s ten dragons became one and stormed ahead!
Swoosh swoosh swoosh!!! Flowing light passed the gap and died away in the turn of an eye. Still, in this instant, Xu Yangyi and Moonless both clearly saw…
In the black mist ahead, there were eighteen momentary flashes.
They… were eighteen thousand-meter-tall sculptures! Like behemoths, they towered silently in the black mist! And they were walking between the two lines that these sculptures formed!
Already, Moonless was already completely overwhelmed. Three seconds later, he quickly looked to Xu Yangyi. “Fellow Daoist! Were these things here the last time you came?! Tell me! Were they?!”
“No.” Presently, Xu Yangyi also felt his scalp numb. How had these sculptures come? Why hadn’t he seen them at all last time?
Moonless closed his eyes and took a deep breath. As he opened his eyes, a wisp of alarm flashed through them. “Those… are the Eighteen Arhats!”
“My Foundation Establishment walks the road of the Buddhist Monastery. There’s no way I’m mistaken… Above the realm of Arhat is Bodhisattva, and next is Buddha! Arhat ranks third in Buddhism!”
“A fiend able to force the Eighteen Arhats into suppressing it… along with Great Sage Sun’s Gold-Banded Staff… The Eighteen Arhats are monsters that approach the Bodhisattva realm at the very least!!!” He clenched his fist in a death grip and finally lost control of himself in this moment. His hands were tightly balled in front of him. “Are we really returning to Earth? Aren’t we just giving this monster… an evening meal?”
No one paid attention to him. The skylark zoomed ahead and swiftly passed Monk Angida, but no one saw…
In the black fog, the eyes of Monk Angida, the Bag Arhat, unexpectedly stirred. Afterwards, they mechanically shifted over and observed the tiny skylark journeying through the corridor of sculptures, without a trace of emotion.
Crack… crack… As the skylark traveled ahead, all the arhats’ eyes followed. They looked down from high above, their apathy without limit. In the last instant the bright light swept past, starting from the eyes of Monk Angida, two lines of bloody tears surprisingly dripped down the arhats’ faces.
The monks wept blood!
Among the Eighteen Arhats there was no exception. At this moment, the skylark had already rushed in front of the brightness! Xu Yangyi and Moonless clearly saw what it was!
It… was the ocean hole that Xu Yangyi had once entered.
Yet now in an ocean hole, a staff that went through heaven and earth was radiating endless golden light! All of the black fog was curling upon it. As the Gold Banded-Staff’s incarnation shifted ever so slightly, it brought forth swaths of creeping black threads that hung down from the sky to the world all around!
The Gold-Banded Staff had long since removed its stony exterior. Its entire body emitted golden light which penetrated layers of black fog. It seemed… to be calling on warriors to charge through the ruins!
“Hurry… hurry…” the Realm Spirit’s shaking voice echoed next to Xu Yangyi’s ear, “It… is going to come out soon… It’s already made the seal fully manifest itself. It… is struggling with the seal… Once the seal falls apart, it’ll immediately swallow this entire world!!!”
1. One of the eighteen disciples of Guatama Buddha.
2. Monk Angida is known as the Bag Arhat, because he has a bag that holds the secrets of heaven and earth.
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