Chapter 328: Dire Skybanyan!
Bai Xiaochun felt truly free and unrestricted as he sent the Blood Ancestor up into the Middle Reaches. By this point, he could control the body of the Blood Ancestor with complete agility and dexterity.
The river began to get deeper, and soon it was up to the chest of the Blood Ancestor.
As for the three Heavenspan Battleships, because of the abundance of spiritual energy, they were able to move more quickly, making it easier for them to keep up with the giant.
Rumbling echoed out from the Heavenspan River as the group proceeded on upstream.
It was at this point that the patriarchs of the three divisions issued orders, and the enormous sails of the battleships were unfurled. Upon each sail could be seen three shining, golden characters!
This was the first time that the name of the River-Defying Sect had been announced in the Middle Reaches of the cultivation world. As the wind caused the sails to flap, the words looked particularly impressive!
The patriarchs of all four divisions had agreed to do this ahead of time. Back then, the arch-patriarch Master Godwind hadn't been completely sure that the plan with the Blood Ancestor would work. Therefore, the plan was to use the three Heavenspan Battleships, not just to transport the members of the sect, but also to impress and awe those who saw them.
It was an attempt to threaten anyone who harbored thoughts of trying to carve out their own spheres of power in the territory currently controlled by the Sky River Court.
Clearly, this method was working!
The cultivation world of the Middle Reaches was far larger in area than the Lower Reaches. Considering that all of the Lower Reaches was simply one part of the territory controlled by the dominant Middle Reaches sect, it was possible to imagine how large of an area that was.
Occasionally, smaller sects and cultivator clans were visible on the shores of the river. Clearly, such organizations had unique relationships with the Sky River Court to be permitted to establish themselves so close to the river itself.
Normally, they were a proud and arrogant lot, comfortable in their respected position within the Middle Reaches. As for the Lower Reaches, they looked down on them with disdain.
But now that the Sky River Court was being punished, such organizations were getting more and more nervous. Then they saw the three Heavenspan Battleships, and their eyes went wide. They were struck with fear and awe, and could scarcely believe what they were seeing. And that was without even mentioning the enormous giant that led the way for the battleships.
"They're the River-Defying Sect?"
"They come from the Lower Reaches...."
"They're going to attack the Sky River Court in the hopes of replacing it!!" The cultivator clans and small-scale sects were all trembling in nervousness, completely shaken by what they were seeing!
Once the battleships and the giant made their way off into the distance, the cultivator clans and small-scale sects immediately sent word to others that they knew in the Middle Reaches. Before long, everyone was shaken, and even the Courts on the other rivers became aware of what was happening.
Of the other sects and clans in the territory of the Sky River Court, some were terrified and some were nervous. However, there were some who merely narrowed their bloodshot eyes, as if they were trying to decide what to do.
However, other groups which had never been treated very well, especially groups more on the borders of the Sky River Court territory, quickly made up their minds.
"This is an opportunity for the River-Defying Sect, but it's also an opportunity for our Zhoushi Clan!"
"We can show up in the River-Defying Sect's moment of greatest need. If we join them in attacking the Sky River Court, the merit we earn in battle will be a protection for our clan. It will buy us at least 1,000 years of stability!!"
"Let's risk it! If we don't attack now, the heavens only know when we might get another chance!"
Before long, the entire Sky River Court territory was in a huge commotion as numerous organizations began to head in the direction of the Sky River Court's headquarters.
Meanwhile, Bai Xiaochun's progress up the Heavenspan River had slowed some. This was a decision made by the patriarchs of the four divisions. As far as they were concerned, it wouldn't make any difference if they arrived at the Sky River Court a day earlier or a day later.
Besides, they wanted to wait for news of the River-Defying Sect to spread in the area. That way, any sects or clans who wished to join them would have time to make their decision. Furthermore, any who were on the fence would have a chance to make their way to the area near the Sky River Court to observe how things played out.
By waiting until the right moment to strike at the Sky River Court, they would be able to maximize the benefits of winning!
When Bai Xiaochun heard their plan, he couldn't help but sigh. Clearly, the patriarchs were making a gamble. However, he knew that all of them were profound at scheming and planning, and were the slyest of sly foxes.
When they all got together to plan, they would hash things out to the finest detail.
At one point, the patriarchs of the other three divisions gathered on the shoulders of the Blood Ancestor. As they sat there cross-legged, Master Godwind materialized in illusory form on the Blood Ancestor's ear to confer with them. "Our attack on the Sky River Court will encompass three major offensives!"
Restrictive spells were cast to ensure that no one would eavesdrop.
As for Bai Xiaochun, he looked askance at the ant-like forms on his shoulders, and couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed.
"The first offensive will be via the water! This assault must be lightning-swift, and we must achieve victory as soon as possible. Only in that way can we impress the cultivator clans and the other sects, and give them the confidence to join us!"
"That's right. The second offensive will be through the jungle! The Sky River Court is enormous, and is surrounded by jungle on either side. The fighting will be bitter, and the main goal will be to reach the Sky River Court headquarters!"
"Heh heh. So what you're saying is that the third offensive will be on the sect headquarters itself!"
"Yes. But the most difficult part of the final offensive won't be dealing with the cultivators of the Sky River Court. It will be the Dire Skybanyan, which feeds on the flesh and blood of 1,000,000 cultivators every hundred years! The Sky River Court's deva patriarch might have perished, but according to our intelligence reports, their Dire Skybanyan is still very much alive. Furthermore, its power is similar to that of a deva...."
As the patriarchs discussed their plans, Bai Xiaochun listened in, heart pounding with shock. When he heard them mention the Dire Skybanyan, he couldn't help but be intrigued.
Time passed. Half a month later, the first of the cultivator clans presented themselves to the River-Defying Sect on the bank of the river, and declared their allegiance!
They would join the River-Defying Sect in attacking the Sky River Court!
These organizations who didn't feel the need to wait and see how the fighting went before joining were taken very seriously by the River-Defying Sect. Although they weren't invited to board the battleships, they were promised many benefits in the future.
In the following days, more organizations appeared to offer allegiance. Another half a month passed, and by that time, 30 cultivator clans and five small-scale sects had joined the alliance with the River-Defying Sect.
As they got closer to the Sky River Court, this trend influenced many of the other organizations, and became a major factor in their own decisions.
By this point, the River-Defying Sect felt that they were ready. With that, they pushed forward at full speed. Rumbling could be heard as the Blood Ancestor flew through the Heavenspan River, slicing through the water, followed by the three Heavenspan Battleships.
A few days later, the members of the River-Defying Sect finally caught sight of something astonishing up ahead on the river. It was a gigantic tree that reached high up into the sky, and actually connected both banks of the river!
It was an enormous banyan tree that was called a skybanyan!
The tree had lived for many, many years, and was tens of thousands of meters tall. Its roots were buried into both banks of the river, with rootlets dangling down to brush the surface of the water below. Many of the rootlets had grown together in clumps, creating walkways for people to tread upon. The entire sight was completely shocking!
The roots which sank into the banks of the river actually formed countless smaller skybanyans, almost like children to the mother that was the enormous larger tree. Because they were all connected together, they were like a huge jungle!
That jungle fairly radiated an aura of blood and gore. It was like an enormous graveyard, something which was nurtured by the power of flesh and blood.
That was because skybanyans were trees that loved to feast on skin and gore!
Although the patriarchs of the River-Defying Sect had already spread word about the skybanyans, when the members of the sect saw them with their own eyes, they couldn't help but be shaken mentally.
The main tree radiated an aura of death, and many of its branches and limbs were withered, as were many of the smaller trees in the disorganized jungle which surrounded it.
Even more astonishing was that in the middle of the trunk of the main tree, an enormous handprint could be seen, as if a palm strike had been delivered with the intention of destroying it!
Clearly, the Dire Skybanyan, despite not being dead, was panting on the verge of passing away. Even still, the scant bit of power that it still retained was enough to threaten everything in the area!
The Sky River Court was a place that abounded with a sinister air. Currently, not a single cultivator was visible in the area, and yet it was possible to detect glares of hatred falling upon the River-Defying Sect from within the skybanyans. Most of those gazes were leveled on Bai Xiaochun and the Blood Ancestor.