Chapter 163: No Quarter Asked, None Given!
For most cultivators, when it came to heavenstring energy, there was no such thing as cooperation with fellow disciples. There was only competition.
Regardless of whether someone had already reached Foundation Establishment or not, as long as you got heavenstring energy, you could use it to reach Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment!
Even the weakest level of Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment was above the peak of Earthstring Foundation Establishment. To cultivators, reaching that stage was like entering the heavens with a single bound!
If Song Que acquired it, then considering he already had an eight Tideflows earthstring cultivation base, then when he reached Heaven-Dao, then he would be nearly at the peak of power.
On the other hand, if Bai Xiaochun acquired it, then he... would become something that hadn't appeared in the eastern Lower Reaches of the Heavenspan River in thousands of years.... A nine Tideflows Earthstring Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment expert!
He would be the most powerful type of Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment cultivator there could be!
However, what mattered most to Bai Xiaochun was not how powerful he would become, it was the 500 years of longevity. Mortal-Dao Foundation Establishment came with 100 years. Earthstring Foundation Establishment came with 200 years. Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment... came with 500 years!
In the cultivation world, which had a history that stretched back tens of thousands of years into the past, 500 years didn't seem like very much. But to mortals, that was equivalent to ten generations. Furthermore, it was exactly what Bai Xiaochun constantly dreamed about!
How could he not go crazy about it!?
He wasn't the only one. Most people present were driven mad. There were only a few cultivators who were in the middle of Tideflows, or who perhaps had other reasons, suppressed their excitement. Hou Yunfei was one of them, as well as the other Spirit Stream Sect disciples whom Bai Xiaochun had helped to acquire earthstring energy. They chose to stand aside.
But everyone else didn't harbor even a single thought of giving up!
Instantly, the hundred or so remaining survivors in the Fallen Sword World all sprang into actions. Hoarse shouts rose up as they flew into the sky toward the descending strand of golden heavenstring energy.
Bai Xiaochun was the fastest to react. Just before taking to flight, he slapped his chest, causing a black light to flash off of his wrist and gather near his chest. It transformed into a black pearl, which was the life-saving magical item Li Qinghou had given him. After pushing the pearl down onto Hou Yunfei's back, it melted, and spread out to cover him, which would protect him as he completed his Foundation Establishment. With that, Bai Xiaochun flew up into the air.
"That heavenstring energy is mine!" he howled. He seemed to have gone just as mad as everyone else, and he only had one thought in his mind.... He had to get that heavenstring energy, no matter who he had to fight to do so!
That heavenstring energy was essentially his own life!
"If you steal that heavenstring energy, you're stealing my longevity!" he growled. He flew at top speed up into the sky, moving so quickly that he was the first to close in on the heavenstring energy and reach out to grab it.
However, just when he was about to grab it, Song Que emerged from the immortal's cave he had carved out. Blinding light shot out from his Feng Shui compass, which altered the course of the heavenstring energy.
Just as Bai Xiaochun's hand was about close down onto it, it split apart into two pieces and slipped through his fingers. One part, the smaller half, changed directions and headed toward Song Que, while the larger part sped off into the distance.
Bai Xiaochun's eyes were bright red as he ignored the smaller strand of energy and focused on the larger one. Rushing after it, he was just about to reach out and grab it when Ghostfang threw his head back and roared, causing ghost qi to surge around him. Disregarding any potential negative ramifications to his cultivation base, he caused a powerful mist to rise up around him, within which echoed ghostly weeping and howling. At the same time, a ghostly hand stretched out from the mist, radiating an intense, murderous aura.
Back when he had been opposing Song Que and trying to destroy his spell formation, he had been worried about the instability of his Dao foundation, and hadn't resorted to going all out. But now he didn't seem to care about that. He drew upon all the power he was capable of, causing his battle prowess to rise dramatically.
"Beat it!" he howled, shooting up into the air to fight with Bai Xiaochun over the heavenstring energy.
In the blink of an eye, they slammed into each other. Ghostfang attacked with deadly force, causing rumbling sounds to fill heaven and earth. Shockingly, ten enormous ghost hands could be seen within the mist, each one of which radiated the power of Foundation Establishment as they bore down on Bai Xiaochun.
"You think I'll just back down like that?!" Bai Xiaochun retorted. Waving his sleeve, he caused violet qi to swirl out and form a huge cauldron that shot toward the ten ghost hands. Bolstered by the power of nine Tideflows, the enormous violet cauldron was more powerful than ever, to a terrifying level.
Rumbling sounds rose up as Ghostfang's ten ghost hands collapsed into pieces. Blood sprayed out of Ghostfang's mouth as he was shoved backward by a powerful force. Bai Xiaochun's Undying Gold Skin glittered with radiant light, making him look like a celestial warrior. Although he seemed unfazed by the encounter just now, the truth was that his qi and blood were in chaos.
Ghostfang had reached seven Tideflows, only two less than him. Plus, they had been relatively evenly matched in Qi Condensation. Thankfully, Bai Xiaochun had broken through the first shackle of mortality, and was thus able to crush him.
After forcing Ghostfang away, Bai Xiaochun sped forward and reached out toward the strand of heavenstring energy. However, it was at that moment that a howl of fury tore through the air.
"Bai Xiaochun!!" A beam of shocking sword light shot through the air heading directly toward Bai Xiaochun.
Within the light was Shangguan Tianyou, who was ignoring any potential danger to his Dao foundation, and was even calling upon a secret magic to loosen a reincarnation seal inside of him. A murderous sword appeared which seemed capable of slicing apart the heavens, and it was stabbing directly toward Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun's face flickered from the sense of danger he felt because of Shangguan Tianyou's sword. As the sword qi closed in, his eyes began to shine, and he performed a double-handed incantation gesture. Waving both hands out to either side, he summoned the image of an enormous dragon, which howled as it charged toward the sword qi.
At the same time, a gigantic mammoth appeared behind him, which reared up on its hind legs before smashing its feet down toward Shangguan Tianyou.
It was none other than the manifestation of the Dragon Mammoth Sea-Forming Scripture, which had become a divine ability after he had fully mastered it.
When the divine ability slammed into Shangguan Tianyou, ear-splitting rumbling sounds spread out. Bai Xiaochun stopped in place as the dragon and the mammoth collapsed, and a powerful force slammed into him. However, golden light flickered, and the power was suppressed.
As for Shangguan Tianyou, he coughed up mouthful after mouthful of blood as he staggered backward. At the same time, his body withered visibly; obviously, the sword attack he had just unleashed had come at a hefty price.
Because of the delays, the heavenstring energy was now far off in the distance, where a dozen or so disciples from the other three sects were already starting to fight over it.
Ghostfang gritted his teeth and abandoned any attempts to attack Bai Xiaochun, opting instead to pursue the heavenstring energy. Shangguan Tianyou did the same.
Eyes bloodshot, Bai Xiaochun flapped his wings and pierced through the air, easily passing them up. As he blasted into the group of fighting cultivators, he waved his sleeve, sending power bursting out, which transformed into an attack that sent everyone in the area tumbling backward. Finally, Bai Xiaochun's hand... closed around the strand of heavenstring energy.
This time, he was ready, and as soon as he grabbed the heavenstring energy, he began absorbing it into his right index finger.
Seeing that Bai Xiaochun had taken the heavenstring energy caused killing intent to surge among everyone present.
"He can't absorb it immediately. Cut off his finger and take the energy away!"
There were a dozen or so cultivators from the other three sects, and all of them attacked like mad. Quite a few were in the Foundation Establishment stage, which ensured that their attacks shook everything in the area. The Blood Stream Sect disciples unleashed particularly bizarre magical techniques. One of them even summoned a gargoyle, which lunged toward Bai Xiaochun as if it wanted to consume him.
Another of the Blood Stream Sect disciples who seemed particularly strong attacked by summoning the illusory image of a huge hand. It seemed very familiar to Bai Xiaochun, but he had no time to think about it at the moment. Being besieged by a dozen or so people, all of them attacking from different directions, caused his eyes to erupt with killing intent.
Although he feared death, the events with the Luochen Clan had long since impressed upon Bai Xiaochun the fact that sometimes the only way to make sure he didn't die was to kill the people who were a threat!
On this day, if these people didn't die, then he would. When it came to heavenstring energy, there were no reasonable discussions, only the seizing of opportunities!
"All of you... are seeking your own deaths!" he growled. Other than the people he'd killed upon first stepping into Foundation Establishment, he hadn't harbored any desire to kill anyone else in the Fallen Sword Abyss, not even the disciples of the other three sects.
But now... it was time to unleash a slaughter!!
Even as his voice echoed out, he pushed his Undying Gold Skin to its limit.
A boom echoed out as he sloughed off the divine abilities they had launched against him. His qi and blood were roiling, and blood oozed out of the corners of his mouth. However, he moved so quickly that he only left afterimages behind as he unleashed a fist strike against each of the people besieging him!
Each fist strike was backed with killing intent. He had already broken through the first shackle of mortality, and was at the peak of Earthstring Foundation Establishment. His blows were like a deadly wind that slammed into the surrounding disciples of the three sects. All of them trembled, and then dissolved into mists of blood.
Ghostfang and Shangguan Tianyou had no other option than to retreat in the face of such ferocity.
One of the Blood Stream Sect disciples, in the moment before he exploded, unleashed some unknown divine ability that allowed his soul to flee his body, leaving behind nothing but a husk. As his body died, his face rippled, and a mask was revealed. The soul entered the mask, and instantly attempted to flee, but Bai Xiaochun noticed and grabbed it. After squeezing the mask hard, he realized he couldn't destroy it, so he poured some cultivation base power into it to seal it, then threw it into his bag of holding.
By this point, all of the dozen or so disciples who had attacked him were dead. And yet, more disciples were closing in from off in the distance. One among their number shot out in front of the pack.
"Leave that heavenstring energy and get out of here, Bai Xiaochun!" It was none other than Xu Xiaoshan. Mixed emotions could be seen on his face as he waved his hand, causing nine huge coffins to appear. Based on the sealing marks on the coffins, they could only be opened by someone in the Foundation Establishment stage. Moments later, Xu Xiaoshan's Foundation Establishment cultivation base erupted with power, and the stone coffins began to open. An aura of death spread out, and nine zombies appeared, all of them sporting long, black hair!
Each and every one had the aura of Foundation Establishment!