AGM 183 - Guardian
Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng's speed was extremely fast. By this point they were already very far away from their earlier resting spot, with a total of five others pursuing them. Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng continued dashing forwards, with no intentions of stopping, opting to conserve their strength.
A cold light glinted in the eyes of their pursuers. Their targets weren't losing out in the slightest when it came to speed, and seeing how they were split off from their own main group, it would only spell disaster to continue chasing after the two, especially if they were to meet any groups formed by the other powers.
"People from the Beast King Hall?" At this moment, a silhouette appeared ahead. Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng slowed their steps, only to see that the new arrival was none other than Ouyang Kuangsheng.
"Ouyang Kuangsheng, this matter has nothing to do with you." By then, the five experts from the Beast King Hall had already surrounded Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng. Sweeping their gaze about, they finally relaxed when they saw that Ouyang Kuangsheng was acting alone, without the rest of his clan members.
But Ouyang Kuangsheng was really too self-confident, to think that he would opt to travel alone.
"Mmm." Ouyang Kuangsheng laughed as he crossed his arms in front of his chest, adopting the appearance that he was only there to watch the show.
A sharp glint of light flashed in the eyes of the leader of the five from the Beast King Hall, as an extremely chilly expression appeared on his face. "Kill the male."
"Roger." The robes of the four others fluttered as demonic qi emanated forth from their bodies. Two of them moved towards Qin Wentian, while the other two headed for Mo Qingcheng.
Qin Wentian's ancient halberd was already in his hands, as a cold glint of demonic light flashed in his eyes, so cold it pervaded the bone. A demonic look replaced his earlier expression, and monstrous killing intent gushed out from him, fluttering his robes about in the air.
The two walking towards Qin Wentian attacked simultaneously. One of them struck out towards Qin Wentian, his hands transforming into the claws of an eagle, as an illusory form of an eagle appeared in midair. A terrifying demon-wind arose from the force of the attack, threatening to lacerate Qin Wentian's body apart. The other cultivator blasted forwards with an explosive gigantic palm. In their eyes, Qin Wentian was already a dead man.
Swish~ A raging gust of wind blew as Qin Wentian slashed out tyrannically with his ancient halberd, aiming for the incoming eagle claw with a speed as fast as lightning. The terrifying energy within his strike caused the wind to howl, as an aura of sharpness could be felt emanating from it.
As sounds of piercing rang out, the ancient halberd ruptured the sharp eagle claws, penetrating through the entire arm of his opponent, right into his brain. At the same time, he raised his left hands, and executed the Falling Mountain Palms with a roar, directly matching palms with the gigantic demonic palms of his opponent. The impact from the collision creating a whirlwind storm with them standing at the centre. Only then did the opposing cultivator notice the coldness of Qin Wentian's eyes and was suddenly struck with a sense of terror.
Qin Wentian retreated slightly, sweeping out his ancient halberd in a horizontal arc, akin to the wing slash of a Vermillion Bird. His opponent could feel a monstrous sharpness bearing down on him. With a roar of rage, he blasted out with both his palms, trying to block the attack. Qin Wentian then spat out numerous rays of sword light, each manifesting into sharp swords. One by one, the swords pierced through the head of his opponent, slaughtering him with no mercy.
If one wanted to talk about combat, not many cultivators in the 9th level of Arterial Circulation could match up to Qin Wentian.
After killing them both, Qin Wentian turned his eyes to the leader. His silhouette flickered as he abruptly disappeared from sight. However, he didn't move in the direction of the leader but towards Mo Qingcheng instead. Bursting forth with indomitable strength, he stabbed his ancient halberd at the heads of his opponents.
Abruptly, a terrifying surge of demonic qi exploded forth. Qin Wentian turned, only to see the previously motionless leader releasing all three of his Astral Souls. All of his Astral Souls shone with resplendent light, and were actually condensed from Demonic Beast Constellations! The leader slowly moved forwards to Qin Wentian, as a towering demonic qi permeated the air.
Awoooooo~ Ferocious howls thundered out, as Qin Wentian's eardrums shuddered from the impact. Immediately after, it was as if he saw a myriad of demonic beasts galloping towards him, seeking to devour him.
"Yuanfu level cultivator." Qin Wentian's heart shook slightly for a second. From the aura his opponent released, Qin Wentian could sense two things: first, that the leader was exceptionally powerful even among Yuanfu cultivators; second, he wanted Qin Wentian's death with a single strike.
The leader also knew that his Yuanfu was sealed, which was why he chose to execute such a powerful innate technique requiring such a high consumption rate. He would rather kill Qin Wentian off with a single blow, rather than prolong the fight. After all, he noticed that Mo Qingcheng was also at the Yuanfu Realm.
Qin Wentian felt as though his eardrums were destroyed, and the galloping herd of demonic beasts gave him a tremendous sense of pressure. Qin Wentian's blood was boiling, as the demonic qi gushing out from his body increased in strength. Taking a step forwards, he transformed into a blurry shadow, and pushed forth his Fallen Star technique. The resulting unstoppable force collided directly with the innate technique of his opponent.
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. The terrifying might of his opponent's blows were akin to typhoons blasting against his body. However, his current physique was already comparable to a demonic beast and had extremely high endurance. Moving as a blurry shadow, he continued pressing forwards with his ancient halberd without fear.
Rumble~ The terrifying counter-impact flung Qin Wentian's body backwards, the force of the blow so strong it took two massive trees to break his momentum. Groaning, he spat out a mouthful of blood, the demonic qi so abundant that the entire atmosphere turned oppressive. The body of the Yuanfu leader no longer moved, as the ancient halberd had gored through his throat. He died with his eyes wide open, never expecting that under the pressure of his strongest innate technique, Qin Wentian who should be in imminent peril, would still able to fight back to such an extent.
Mo Qingcheng had also finished dealing with her opponents. Walking towards Qin Wentian, she retrieved a medicinal pill and placed it inside his mouth. Qin Wentian swallowed the pill as he regarded the nervous Mo Qingcheng, before smiling and reassuring her, "I'm alright."
Although he smiled, Qin Wentian couldn't allow himself to be the slightest bit complacent. The battle he had just faced, had opened his eyes to the dangers of these Refinement Grounds.
"Awesome." Ouyang Kuangsheng stared intently at Qin Wentian, admiring the beauty of the final strike he unleashed. Ouyang Kuangsheng knew that if he were the one facing the Yuanfu leader, he could have avoided injury, but unlike Qin Wentian, his own Astral Energy consumption definitely would have been higher. The Refinement Grounds were akin to a life and death marathon; small injuries were fine as long as they didn't deplete too much of the Astral Energy stored within their bodies.
Qin Wentian naturally understood this logic, which was why he didn't mind suffering damage in exchange for his opponent's death, not to mention that he already knew Mo Qingcheng had some recovery pills and medicinal pellets on her.
Nodding to Ouyang Kuangsheng, Qin Wentian didn't continue the conversation.
"If we weren't in here right now, I would definitely have sought you out for an exchange of pointers, haha." Ouyang Kuangsheng laughed as he departed, planning to search for his party members.
In here, even if Ouyang Kuangsheng was extremely confident about his own prowess, there was no guarantee he'd survive by himself if he ran amok at the start of his journey in the Refinement Grounds of the Celestial Lake.
It was considered 'safer' to go alone nearer to the end of the journey, after the strength of the other allied forces were reduced. After all, only seven spots were available, and in this place where danger lurked in all corners, history had proven that many outstanding talents would fall.
Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng left the area, too. After all, the area was strewn with corpses, so only after changing locations did they sit down to regulate their conditions.
Qin Wentian passed a few Yuan Meteor Stones to Mo Qingcheng. In the Refinement Grounds, one could only replenish their own store of Astral Energy by depending on Yuan Meteor Stones.
However at this moment, sudden sounds of rustling rang out. Qin Wentian quickly turned his head towards the noise, his heart tightening.
"Oh Brother Qin, so it's you." Yi Xiang appeared, laughing as he approached. Qin Wentian discovered that Yi Xiang was with several others, looking as though he had already formed an alliance. The white-clad leader, with a handsome and delicate countenance, was none other than Mu Baifei, the swordsman from the Yan Continent.
"Isn't Brother Qin together with those from the Greencloud Pavilion? Why are you injured?" Yi Xiang glanced at Mo Qingcheng as he inquired.
Although Yi Xiang was extremely cordial in nature, Qin Wentian still felt some misgivings towards him. He then nodded as he replied, "We ran into an ambush and were injured, as a result."
"Without the Greencloud Pavilion, I'm afraid that it would be even more dangerous for Brother Qin and Miss Mo to travel alone. Tell you what, I'll help to intercede on your behalf, so why not join our alliance?" Yi Xiang remarked.
Qin Wentian contemplated, glancing at Mo Qingcheng, but eventually agreed. Even if he had no care for himself, he wouldn't selfishly allow Mo Qingcheng to be in danger because of his lack of power. Travelling alone, with everyone else forming alliances, would indeed be a foolhardy decision.
"Don't worry, since we have an affinity, leave this to me," Yi Xiang heroically spoke, as he ran towards Mu Baifei, conversing with him before waving his hands to signal for Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng to come over.
Qin Wentian and Mo Qingcheng went over, There were 18 people in this alliance, which could be considered quite huge in terms of numbers. However, it was clear to Qin Wentian that this was merely the start of the Refinement Grounds' trials; for now, joining a powerful alliance equated to safety. But when the end of the journey is nigh, alliances would definitely collapse once people fought against each other.
There were a total of three, including Mu Baifei, who were all Swallow Swordsmen. They all carried ancient swords strapped to their backs and appeared extremely full of pride, even refusing to cast a glance at Qin Wentian. To them, these people who joined their alliance were of no value. This alliance was formed solely because of convenience; the others were also clear about this point and thus tolerated their attitudes. After all, the Swallow Swordsmen's name and reputation was also exceedingly famous in the Nine Continents.
With such a powerful alliance, they didn't really meet any dangers along the way, however occasionally they would come across the corpses of other cultivators sprawled around the Refinement Grounds.
After two days, they finally exited the Forest of Hallucination. Upon leaving, numerous pathways appeared in front of them, each separated by towering mountain peaks.
"Who will be the scouts?" a Swallow Swordsman standing at the side of Mu Baifei inquired. His tone of voice was cool and indifferent, sounding as though he was above the rest.
"Brother Qin, we would have to trouble you then." Yi Xiang smiled at Qin Wentian.
Qin Wentian stared at Yi Xiang, his eyes narrowed for an instant before returning back to normal.
"Don't worry, Brother Qin, these two shall accompany you, and we'll immediately rush over if there's an ambush." Yi Xiang pointed to two others by his side as he spoke, causing them to frown as well.
"Fine." Qin Wentian agreed.
"I'll go with you." Mo Qingcheng stepped forwards, standing beside Qin Wentian.
"Oh, we don't need that many people to scout." Yi Xiang laughed. Qin Wentian turned his head back, glancing coldly at him before holding onto Mo Qingcheng's hands, walking forwards with no regards for those behind him.
Qin Wentian had no wish to stay in this alliance any longer. Upon seeing this, Yi Xiang's eyes narrowed as a cold sinister light flickered within.
"Yi Xiang, what the hell are you thinking?" the female cultivator stated unhappily; she had travelled beside him on their way here. She had also seen Mo Qingcheng's true countenance earlier. Considering Yi Xiang's actions of asking Qin Wentian to scout ahead while retaining Mo Qingcheng, it would be very hard for people not to jump to conclusions.
Within the Celestial Lake Palace, inside a quiet hall, an extremely bewitching-looking woman sat upon a jade throne. Traces of cold intent could be seen in her clear eyes, her demeanor appearing as majestic as a queen.
Her beautiful eyes were staring straight ahead, upon which numerous screens were arranged. Each screen showcased various scenarios currently playing out within the Refinement Grounds.
Two figures stood at the side of the captivating queen. One was the Palace Mistress of the Celestial Lake Palace, while the other was an extremely ice cold ephemeral beauty that didn't seem to be from the mortal world. The aura she projected was somewhat similar to the captivating queen sitting on the jade throne.
At this moment, the cold gaze of the queen was staring at Qin Wentian. This youth, Qin Wentian, was said to come from Chu.
The Chu Country, back when the Azure Emperor had disappeared, the Azure Emperor Palace was faced with an imminent crisis. Countless gazes filled with greed locked onto the Azure Emperor Palace, and each and everyone of their members were under close scrutinisation. However, none of the overlords from the other transcendent powers found what they were seeking.
It was only recently that the constant surveillance had ceased after a piece of news had spread, claiming that prior to the Azure Emperor's passing, he had gone to a place called Chu.
At this moment, the corners of the cold bewitching queen's lips curled up into an unpleasant smile. Did those foolish fellows thought that they could find what the Azure Emperor had left behind? So what if they found the secret map? What use was there? There was still that woman standing guard, defending the final checkpoint!
"Will a new Emperor be born from the Azure Emperor Palace?" the queen murmured. Standing beside her, the Palace Mistress involuntarily shivered. However, the ephemeral beauty was unfazed, and without a single change in expression, as if her aloof and indifferent appearance would always remain as such!