There was still something bugging Bai Yunfei even after listening to the entirety of Zheng Kai's speech. "As widespread as the aftermath was, wasn't all of this to be expected still? It doesn't even concern us still, so what's with all this urgency between the elders to talk about it?"
"Hehe, if it was just the deaths from within the pocket, there'd be nothing to discuss." Zheng Kai chuckled with a knowing look. "But what they're discussing to one another is about something else. It's about the events that happened afterward..."
"The events that happened afterward? What happened?"
"From what the students on the outside heard, almost every single faction that left the area came across an ambush of some kind."
"An ambush? Are you saying someone attacked the ones that took part in the battle for the pills? But none of the remaining parties are people to be easily attacked, they've Soul Kings leading their groups, who'd even possibly want to attack them?"
"No one knows who the ambushers were because...almost nobody survived the ambushes! Nearly everyone was killed!! There are only rumors of a single Mid-stage Soul King that managed to escape, but even he was halfway to death and out of his mind. No one could even make sense of what he was saying!"
"What?!" Bai Yunfei gasped. "A Mid-stage Soul King? Pushed to such an extent?! What...was the ambusher a Late-stage Soul King?!"
"Probably not, otherwise there'd be no way that Zhang Lengyi would've escaped."
"Zhang Lengyi? The Mid-stage Soul King that nearly went insane is the same Zhang Lengyi from the Flying Snow School?"
"The very same one. He was already pretty injured after his fight with Ma Xucheng back in Crushed Stone River. So everyone's assuming that the ambusher might not even be a Mid-stage Soul King if Zhang Lengyi was able to make his escape. Popular rumors say that there's multiple ambushers. That's probably how Zhang Lengyi got so hurt and broken like how he is now."
"Several Early-stage Soul Kings?" Repeated Bai Yunfei. Thinking about something, he asked, "Then wouldn't it be possible to take a look at the corpses and see how they died as a way to find out the ambushers' identity?"
Zheng Kai nodded. "That was the idea. When it comes to slaughter, everyone would definitely think about that 'Black Reaper' from back in the pocket. Judging from what you said, not only is he an Early-stage Soul King, but he has two companions with him that are also Early-stage Soul Kings. We've more or less confirmed they're from the Soul Refining School, and we've also surmised that they're the ones responsible for the ambushs.
"But..." Zheng Kai trailed off in suspense, "no one was able to make sense of the bodies. There weren't any particular wounds on the bodies, but...every single one of them were reduced to withered husks!!"
"Withered husks?! How does that even happen?"
"People are saying that it's some sort of demonic secret. No matter if they're male or female, young or old, strong or weak, they'll all be reduced to husks that are hardly even recognizable. It makes identifying the corpses hard. And to make it even worse, every single corpse had their soulforce, blood, bone marrow, and even essence drained away!"
"Drained of their blood, marrow, soulforce, and essence?!" Bai Yunfei exhaled sharply. This was a merciless description of an attack that'd make anyone shiver at the thought.
The death of a soul cultivator had several aspects to it. While the soul would dissipate upon death, the soulforce, essence, and other vital energies of the body would generally linger in the corpse for a short amount of time before dissipating into the world. This was known as 'decaying aura' and was noticeable to any soul cultivator above the levels of a Soul Exalt. Generally, the decaying aura of a corpse would remain around the area, even if the corpse itself was destroyed.
In the written records of the soul cultivator world, only the most demonic of soulbeasts were capable of harvesting this decaying aura for their own strengths. But those types of soulbeasts were rumored to exist in the 'Doomed Mountains'.
The Soul Refining School had demonic arts that were capable of draining soulforce and use it for their own training. This was already something already called unacceptable in several corners of the continent.
But whatever happened to the corpses of these people was of a level far more malicious than what the Soul Refining School was already known for.
"How many victims are there?" Bai Yunfei asked after taking in a deep breath.
"Twenty people at the very least. Five Early-stage Soul King are amongst the count." Replied a stone-faced Zheng Kai. "There's no connection between the victims at all. It seems like it was just a series of random killings but...there was one common point between the victims.
"Of every single group that was killed, they all had Soul Exalts who managed to take in some of the Extreme King Pill fragrance!!"
Bai Yunfei reeled back in shock. "Then the ambushers were after those who managed to get a hold of the Extreme King Pill fragrance? Doesn't...doesn't that mean the ambushers were able of draining the Extreme King Pill fragrance from within their corpses?!"
Bai Yunfei couldn't even begin to try and comprehend the reason behind the deaths of those people. By all that he knew, the reason should've been an impossibility.
"That's what everyone is assuming. It sounds almost like something straight out from a fantasy story, but if we take into account of everyone's strange deaths, that's the only likely reason we can take from it. After all...if even the decaying aura of the corpses was drained away, that means practically everything of value from a corpse was taken, the idea that the unabsorbed Extreme King Pill fragrance was taken as well isn't too improbable..."
"If we're to assume that's the case, then these demonic culprits, they'll surely be a lot stronger after taking in the Extreme King Pill fragrance, wouldn't they? It's not just the Extreme King Pill fragrance they took, the soulforce, soul, blood, and even decay aura. Everything was taken. These victims were practically 'cannibalized'. How terrifying..."
A cold shiver traveled up Bai Yunfei's spine. Everything he had heard so far was mortifying to hear at the very least.
"The entire soul cultivator world is in shock at what happened. All the affect parties have practically gone mad trying to figure out what has happened, but they're all too late. Not even a trace can even be found. Though they haven't appeared again since the ambushes, the entire soul cultivator world is on high-alert. And that's why the elders are currently in talks with one another right now."
"Tch...who would've thought something like this would happen after something as surprising as the Extreme King Pills appearing..." Bai Yunfei sighed again.
The conversation had brought about a heavy atmosphere onto the group. In order to lighten the mood, Zheng Kai decided to change the topic. Coughing once, he started to ask everyone on their plans. Hearing his words, Bai Yunfei smiled, "Now that you mention it, I plan to return to the Crafting School with the first elder after all this, what about you, Ah'Kai? Are you going to return to the Capital and continue processing the fragrance there? Or..."
"Didn't I say I wanted to go see the Crafting School before? My plans haven't changed at all. Besides, can't I train practically anywhere? Is there anything to worry about if I stay as a guest at the Crafting School? I could exchange advice with brother Song Lin if I'm there, so everything works out."
"Haha, you're a determined one." Bai Yunfei laughed, knowing exactly the reason why Zheng Kai was so adamant on going. "Fine by me. We can go back together then."
Zheng Kai laughed as well. "I remember you saying you'd help me strengthen some of my soul armaments, don't forget about that now."
"No problem, no problem. I'm preparing myself to fulfill my promise with the Underworld School in any case. Just give me your soul armaments and I'll refine them when the time is right."
"What?! Yunfei...you can already refine soul armaments?!" in the middle of Bai Yunfei and Zheng Kai's conversation, Song Lin suddenly interrupted it to ask a question of his own while Li Tiechui and Lian Lingmin looked to Bai Yunfei in shock.
"Haha, I've some experience in it. You three know about my special training method. Now that I'm able to craft a heaven-tier soul armament, I've gained a few insights on the art of refining..."
As if to cut their conversation short, the presence of another person came into range of the group. Recognizing the aura, Han Yue turned her head towards the source, "Isn't that elder Qi? What's he doing here?"
A single person dressed in white came walking into the courtyard just then. A single elderly male with a pointy chin and thin physique. It was the very same elder Qi who hadn't a friendly impression of Bai Yunfei at first.
And walking behind him was a very tiny figure who seemed almost cowardly with how they were following the elder. Peering from behind him, a tiny face looked up at the students all gathered around in the courtyard.
It was a young little girl.