Chapter 284: The Overture of War (1)
One could see neither head nor tail of the behemoth. The tiger's body was concealed in countless clouds, and profound talismans and runes glittered on its form. Grand and imposing, the white tiger seemed like an imperial palace in the sky!
In the puppet's surroundings, there were several palaces that ranged from a hundred meters to a thousand meters in size. Encircling and protecting the white tiger, they added an even deeper kind of divine prestige to the machine as the eve of dawn approached.
However... like hornets... swarms of rice-sized shadows filled the white tiger puppet's surroundings!
With a mere glance, Li Zongyuan nearly went soft at the knees and said shakily, "My... god... W-What the hell is this?!"
Xu Yangyi's gaze was like fire, and he gravely observed the incredibly massive white tiger puppet. He even saw shadows entering and leaving the machine like butterflies flitting through flowers.
Tens... hundreds... a thousand black dots! Just like little flying saucers that an alien mothership deployed in a scifi movie!
"Those are cultivators." He licked his lips. "This... is some clan's lair... Their chief base... and they are absolutely no minor clan."
"This place... is Xichuan Province, Chengdu."
"Chengdu..." Li Zongyuan's gaze was somewhat blank as he looked at the white tiger in the sky. "T-This..."
"Should be the lair of some clan that's determined to wage war." Xu Yangyi looked deeply at the sky. This wasn't to mention... that merely based on the battle formation, he knew that the war over the heavenly paradise was doomed to be unimaginably desperate.
In the face of a thousand regiments and ten thousand horses, the charge of a grand army, individual battle strength would fall to the abyss. He alone was strong, but this power only held meaning if it attained the great realm of Core Formation ancestors. Otherwise, he would only be able to survive on the strength of his own power here.
Xu Yangyi didn't ponder for too long. To the east, the curtain of the sky was like black velvet. As the first ray of light cut across the sky, it was like a sharp jewel sword cleaving through the eastern corner. Little by little, the whiteness of a fish's belly suffused the dark sky and slowly transformed it red. At first, the sky was pink, and then orange and vermilion.
Sunlight bathed the earth once more. A new day had arrived. Time already drew closer and closer to this asura ground of cultivators.
"No..." Xu Yangyi abruptly knitted his brows, extending his hand and looking.
With great difficulty, Li Zongyuan quickly resisted his shock and murmured, "What's happened, Master?"
Xu Yangyi seriously watched his hand. The Sun had already ascended, but... where they were located was still bathed in shadow!
CLINK... The sound of a gigantic machine boomed, coming from behind them. This noise subsequently became louder and louder until it reached the skies.
BOOM... Following this mechanical noise, the soil under their feet made a gentle trembling noise. Chengdu, the provincial capital of the west, was roused from slumber. Many sanitation workers who had woken up early looked at the ground and sighed, "Huh... earthquakes are getting more frequent lately... Fortunately, they're small..."
No one spoke. Li Zongyuan's face was the color of earth, his sweat pouring out like broth. Xu Yangyi's expression was quite peaceful, yet he tightly clenched his fist.
They had both guessed what that sound was.
Taking in a few good deep breaths, he calmly turned his head back. At the end of his vision, a gigantic vermilion foot that was several hundred meters tall stomped into the earth until it pierced the skies!
Following the sun's rise, the clouds above, dense like a black curtain, slowly became transparent and scattered. The lone horn of a white machine crane, thousands of meters long, stomped into the earth, and another bow-like foot began to bend. On its back was a chain of unending palace halls. Brightly lit and hidden from view in the clouds, these pavilions resembled a city of day in the night sky.
As the first glimmer of dawn came, the crane's head that was hidden in its wing gracefully lifted upwards. Two eyes radiated hundreds of meters of white qi. The spirit crane at the side of the city was the same as the white tiger puppet, the shadows of countless patrolling guardians ceaselessly flowing on it. A rainbow of spiritual light stomped down below, causing the immense crane to seem as if it was hovering in the vibrant spirit clouds.
"Huff..." Li Zongyuan was already shocked, unable to say a word. He simply hadn't expected to meet something like this now!
Under the premise that only Qi Condensation soldiers were dispatched... was there any margin of resistance that even greater individual martial skill could pose against this colossus?
"M-Master..." He said in shock, "T-They're going to..."
"Li Zongyuan." Before the toad-demon even finished speaking, Xu Yangyi said dimly, "Feel it."
Li Zongyuan still hadn't realized it at the start but came to a sudden understanding. Closing his eyes, he merely cycled his arcane effort a little and nearly yelped out in alarm, "Master! It's strong! Such strong qi!"
Xu Yangyi didn't answer. His five senses had been transformed by the Eternal Alchemy Canon, far exceeding a normal person's keenness. As soon as he arrived in Chengdu, he sensed...
That in this place, slivers of fog-like qi were condensing everywhere! Such a phenomenon was extremely rare in other places! Chengdu's qi density was at least one-and-a-half-times greater than other provinces! And this... was still the fringes of Longsu Province! Because this land and Longsu shared a common border, it had received the great qi reparation, the naturally cultivated radiation of a heavenly paradise!
Li Zongyuan's chest rapidly heaved in and out. Although his experience was not great, he was no fool. There were only three possibilities of such a strong level of qi.
First: a secret treasure had come into the world. Second: a secret realm had manifested. Third... the qi circulatory system here was giving rise to a monumental transformation! A change even more inclined towards cultivation!
The answer was obvious.
The first two theories simply couldn't attract the mobilization of clan strongholds. Moreover, these were clans that were about to become apex clans! Only the last theory could cause them rush about like ducks!
"M-M-Master..." His chest heaving up and down for ages, the toad-demon settled down and said warblingly, "W-Why isn't anyone talking about this? Regardless of the cultivation net or cultivators? Such a great change has happened in Chengdu. How did this not reach the outside world..."
"Because the true powers that be are keeping this information under wraps." Xu Yangyi pointed ahead in disinterest. "Nanzhou is thousands of kilometers away from here. That place is the heart of the great change."
"What?!" Ultimately, Li Zongyuan was no longer able to prevent himself from crying out in surprise, attracting the countless rolling eyes of passersby. He cared nothing for them and said in disbelief, "That... Chengdu isn't even the center?! Nanzhou is?!"
His astonishment was no surprise. Chengdu was already like this.... It was hard to imagine the density levels that Nanzhou's qi had reached!
It was no exaggeration to say that a single day of cultivation was at the minimum equal to three to four days! Based on the hundred years of longevity held by Qi Condensation cultivators, this was equal to an increase of at least thirty to forty years of life!
The toad-demon licked his lips that had become somewhat chapped due to his great shock, and his gaze swept over the two tremendous palaces. He understood... He understood everything...
"Master!" Li Zongyuan immediately said. "We can't go to Nanzhou!"
"Oh?" Xu Yangyi faintly smiled. "Why?"
"This isn't a battle we can fight!" Li Zongyuan's life and Xu Yangyi's were connected together. He simply dared not hide a shred of truth. "Only if you reach Foundation Establishment, otherwise..."
"Do you know what an organizational power is?" Before Li Zongyuan's voice even fell, Xu Yangyi calmly interrupted him.
Li Zongyuan almost choked to death on the second half of his words. His master's jumps in thought process was too swift. He couldn't keep up!
"Master, place state it clearly..."
"Putting aside whatever function, a so-called power is bound to have a leader." Xu Yangyi seemed to recollect something. "Without a leader, an organization is a plate of scattered sand. With a leader, it can become a terrible killing machine, a tool to collect wealth-that's from Heavens Law's teachings, the new fifth year 'Cultivation Sociology'. I forgot which page."
Li Zongyuan listened respectfully. He had no clue what Xu Yangyi was trying to get at.
"I am in the Xingtian Legion, so only then is the Xingtian Legion the Xingtian Legion. If I am not present, the Xingtian Legion is a plate of scattered sand." Xu Yangyi stowed his gaze and looked straight at Li Zongyuan. "Only I, the branch master, can form a power and unite the Featherwood Guard. The Foundation Establishment legions won't obey me, but anyways, dozens of cultivators can by assembled from the Qi Condensation legions."
He eyed the giant red-crowned crane puppet above. "Real cultivators that can fight are completely different from these sentries. These... are only the vassals. A true elite legion, in the Featherwood Guard's records on demon cultivators, has the Nangong Clan's 'Featherplume Legion' with the most combatants. 937 people. As for these people here... they don't rank as an apex clan. I estimate that there are no more than 600 of them!"
"But..." He faced Li Zongyuan and laughed, but the familiar shivered in fright because of this smile. "I'm on Tianzi Mountain right now."
Li Zongyuan nodded. In the next second, he almost jumped up!
"The time difference?!" He coldly gasped, "That's right! We came here directly from Tianzi Mountain! Someone is hunting us, so that means someone is definitely monitoring us! They would also know that we entered a secret realm! But nothing's come!"
Nobody knew that they were in Chengdu!
"I'll remind you of two things again." At this moment, Xu Yangyi's mind was crystal clear. "The Demonheart Seed Magik. The Thousand Illusions."
Li Zongyuan stared a little blankly. He, who was no model of wisdom, pondered for ten minutes until he finally thought of one possibility...
As he thought of this possibility... he couldn't resist the shiver that traveled down his entire body!
"M-Master..." He was covered in cold sweat and bowed with unparalleled respect. He dared not believe that in such a pittance of time, Xu Yangyi had actually considered so much! If this was not fiendish, what was?!
Time difference... The Demonheart Seed Magik... The Thousand Illusions...
If these three things were spoken of separately, perhaps only Bai Suzhen's demon heart was the most terrible item. But if all three were joined together...
In a flash, a horrific and preposterous idea surged up in his mind!
"I'll speak. May I ask you to see whether or not what I say is right or wrong?"
Xu Yangyi lifted his chin at the toad-demon. The duo walked into a roadside coffee shop and both ordered coffee. However, Li Zongyuan didn't drink and said in excitement, "Sir, you can't make it to Nanzhou in a day, or the Featherwood Guard Longsu branch! You also have the immunity to not be named! Right now, inside and outside of Chengdu, the lairs of the noble clans are in the sky; countless Foundation Establishment spiritual senses are sweeping the region! Not even a housefly can get in undiscovered, but no one knows that you're in Chengdu!"
Xu Yangyi laughed and used his spoon to stir his coffee, hinting for the other to continue speaking.
"You're not technically here! They'll be embarrassed to move against the Xingtian Legion! Because there's no sense behind it! And you can hide your identity and tell Ancestor Ancientpine that you've been trapped in a secret realm! You're absolutely justified! Right?"
Xu Yangyi's spoon stirring his coffee paused.
Why did he suddenly have hope for this fellow's IQ?
"You got it half-right." Towards his subordinates, especially those who had handed their lives to him, he wouldn't strike too harshly. Xu Yangyi's slender finger gently tapped the table, and he studied the tremendous crane and tiger with rapt attention. He whispered, "Bai Suzhen's demon heart conceals qi, and the Thousand Illusions alters appearance. They won't know that I've already entered the Featherwood Guard. Hehe... a legion of 600, how many are they going to send to confirm that I'm deader than dead? Thirty? Fifty?"
Even now, a blaze pulsed in his eyes. He said not another word.
If the amount of people dispatched was only twenty, he grasped the certainty to have none of them return alive!
An elite legion of no more than 600. How many times could they allow a fifty-man squadron to perish? A group of twenty was already enough to send them thrashing in pain!
A power that was eaten away little by little before it was wiped out... As long as he devoured a hundred strong, this clan would find themselves in mortal danger on the battlefield!
Who was the prey, and who was the hunter? At this instant, the balance was already beginning to faintly tremble for the first time!