Chapter 157: Fighting Back!
Bai Xiaochun's eyes shone with piercing light, and yet, inside, his heart was pounding. He had known all along that his attempt at Foundation Establishment couldn't be made without interference. Unless he immediately ended his seventh and eighth Tideflows, people would definitely try to kill him.
"Song Que. Nine-Isles. Fang Lin. You're all despicable!
"I'm not taking away your earthstring energy, yet you send your fellow disciples to try to stop me?!
"Just wait until I'm in Foundation Establishment, then you'll know how awesome I am!" Gritting his teeth, he temporarily suppressed the hatred in his heart. He knew that he was in a moment of deep crisis, and that the slightest carelessness could result in utter catastrophe. The people coming at him weren't just trying to prevent him from proceeding with his Foundation Establishment, they were trying to kill him and steal the earthstring energy that existed in his spiritual seas.
Because of the life-or-death danger, a vicious, maddened look appeared on his face. All of a sudden, he felt like he was back in mountains being chased by the Luochen clan.
Rumbling sounds echoed out above the lake as dozens of disciples from the three sects closed in. However, even as they neared his immortal's cave, Bai Xiaochun activated two hundred of the more than one thousand paper talismans he'd set up at the entrance of the cave.
As they ignited, an enormous shield dozens of meters thick appeared, causing the lake water to churn violently. As for the incoming disciples, they were completely blocked by the glittering shield.
"Each one of those defensive paper talismans is extremely expensive. Bai Xiaochun is down to his last line of defense. Destroy these shields, and we'll be able to get into his immortal's cave!"
"Kill Bai Xiaochun, and the earthstring energy inside of him will return to the world around us. We'll finally get a chance at Foundation Establishment!"
The dozens of disciples that had arrived viciously unleashed numerous powerful attacks onto the shields. One by one, the shields began to distort and then shatter.
Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath. The seventh and eighth vortexes spun rapidly, filling heaven and earth with rumbling sounds, causing massive amounts of earthstring energy to rush toward him.
When about half of the two hundred paper talisman shields had been destroyed, Fang Lin of the Pill Stream Sect completed his Tideflow, despite the pressure which had been weighing down on his vortex. Without hesitating, he began his seventh Tideflow.
Next was Nine-Isles.
After that, Song Que. Soon, all of them were in the middle of their seventh Tideflow.
Ghostfang had begun twenty hours later than Bai Xiaochun, and was now about half finished with his sixth Tideflow.
Even still, it took all of them added together to match the speed with which Bai Xiaochun was absorbing earthstring energy.
The earthstring energy in the Fallen Sword World was rapidly diminishing, causing the disciples of the three sects to grow even more anxious. More and more of them chose to try to kill Bai Xiaochun. After all, the overall earthstring energy that remained was now almost half gone, and the only way to reverse the situation was to kill Bai Xiaochun.
More and more disciples showed up to attack him. By this point, the lake was destroyed, and Bai Xiaochun's defensive shields were almost gone. The nearly one hundred disciples who had gathered in the area were starting to get very excited.
"Come one. One big blast should destroy those shields!"
"Hurry up. Bai Xiaochun's shields are almost gone!"
However, even as hope flickered in their eyes, Bai Xiaochun ignited another four hundred paper talismans.
Instantly, the shields were hundreds of meters thick, a dazzling display that provoked cries of shock among the attacking disciples.
"Dammit! He had more!?!?"
"How many paper talismans does Bai Xiaochun have?!"
"I refuse to believe this! This has definitely got to be his final line of defense!"
Booms echoed out as nearly one hundred disciples attacked with bloodshot eyes and even greater killing intent. As one shield layer after another shattered, Bai Xiaochun pushed the vortexes even harder, madly absorbing as much earthstring energy as he could.
"Faster," he growled. "Must go faster!" Time passed, and soon the active paper talismans had been whittled down from four hundred to one hundred.
At that point, hissing sounds could be heard as the seventh vortex transformed into a full Tideflow, and a seventh spiritual sea appeared in his dantian region.
Bai Xiaochun could clearly sense how much more powerful he was with that boundless seventh spiritual sea. At the same time, his eighth vortex began to spin even faster.
It was at this point that Fang Lin trembled and finished his seventh Tideflow. However, he was incapable of beginning an eighth and, in fact, anyone who could have examined him closely would have been able to tell that his seventh Tideflow wasn't complete.
Bai Xiaochun was essentially in control of half of the earthstring energy in the world, and Fang Lin simply wasn't as well prepared as everyone else. Lower level Tideflows didn't require as much earthstring energy, but in the seventh, it was quite the opposite, and Fang Lin simply couldn't compete with everyone else. He was totally spent.
"Bai Xiaochun!!" Eyes raging with killing intent, he had no choice but to end his Foundation Establishment with a partially completed seventh spiritual sea.
When the vortex above Fang Lin faded away, less of the earthstring energy was being absorbed, and the overall tension in the Fallen Sword World eased up a bit.
Not long after that, Song Que and Nine-Isles completed their seventh Tideflows. Then, it was with great difficulty but no hesitation that they called upon the power of their secret magics to begin their eighth Tideflows.
Rumbling filled the entire world as unstable vortexes appeared above each of them.
It seemed that for both of them, the Eighth Tideflow could fail at any moment. Apparently, the earthstring energy in the world was barely enough to sustain two such vortexes.
However, both of them struggled to hang on even longer!
"I can definitely reach eight Tideflows!" Nine-Isles howled.
"My goal isn't eight, it's nine!" Song Que's eyes were completely bloodshot as he performed a double-handed incantation gesture, causing his chest to wither up, and yet simultaneously unleashing a bizarre power that poured into the eighth Tideflow vortex, resulting in it accelerating rapidly.
The acceleration of Song Que's vortex seemed to exert incredible pressure onto Nine-Isles's vortex. Nine-Isles began to tremble as his vortex slowly withered.
"There's still hope!" Nine-Isles bit the tip of his tongue and then spit out a mouthful of blood, which transformed into a magical symbol that settled down onto him. As it did, the chain of magical symbols that surrounded him began to emit dazzling light, causing the whirlpool inside of him to speed up. Soon, he was catching up to Song Que.
However, it was at this point that Ghostfang completed his seventh Tideflow and began his eighth. Instantly, Nine-Isles, who had already been teetering unstably, let loose a cry of despair.
Moments later, Nine-Isles' vortex shuddered, and then ground to a halt.
"No!!" Nine-Isles howled, his eyes shining with madness. However, there was nothing he could do. His eighth Tideflow was a failure.
Now that both he and Fang Lin had ceased to absorb earthstring energy, the pressure in the Fallen Sword World had eased significantly. With two less Tideflow vortexes in the picture, Song Que's eighth Tideflow stabilized even further.
As for Ghostfang, he also had a better chance than before, and was catching up relentlessly. Although he was also teetering on the verge of failure, he was still hanging on, and the question was how long he could continue to do so.
Of course, Bai Xiaochun also benefited, and began to advance even more rapidly.
It was a dazzling scene as three people proceeded through their eight Tideflow: Bai Xiaochun, Song Que, and Ghostfang!
Two people had failed so far: Fang Lin and Nine-Isles!
As for Shangguan Tianyou, Beihan Lie, Zhao Rou and Xu Xiaoshan, they were in the second wave. Because so much earthstring energy had been absorbed by the disciples in the first wave, their speed was significantly slower. All of them had just begun their fourth Tideflows.
Hou Yunfei and some of the other miscellaneous Chosen were in the third wave, and had just begun their second Tideflows. As far as Hou Yunfei was concerned, considering his latent talent and expectations, even reaching one Tideflow in Earthstring Foundation Establishment was a significant accomplishment.
By this point, the rest of the disciples had no hope whatsoever of finishing their earthstring capture crystals, and therefore, no chance to even achieve a single Tideflow.
In their despair, such disciples' killing intent soared, and their eyes came focus on the three vortexes up above that represented the disciples in their eighth Tideflows.
"Ghostfang just started his eighth Tideflow, and isn't completely stabilized. He has a lot of earthstring energy, but not as much as Song Que and Bai Xiaochun!"
"Song Que is super famous, and has a shocking murderous aura. Plus, it's never a good idea to provoke people from the Blood Stream Sect. Furthermore, he probably doesn't have as much earthstring energy as Bai Xiaochun...."
"Bai Xiaochun is already being besieged by quite a few people. We should take advantage of the moment to kill him. If he dies, his earthstring energy will disperse back into the world!" After analyzing the situation, most of the disciples chose to target Bai Xiaochun.
In that same moment, Fang Lin finalized his Foundation Establishment and solidified his spiritual seas. Rumbling sounds echoed out as he flew up into the air, emanating the crushing pressure of Foundation Establishment.
His hair whipped about as a mighty wind swirled around him. At the same time, the image of the Heaven-Earth Furnace Cauldron appeared behind him. Clearly, he was far superior to any Qi Condensation cultivator.
He was the first person to reach Foundation Establishment, and was now the most powerful person in the Fallen Sword World!
"Since I got seven Tideflows, the rest of you better not even dream of finishing your eighth!" Eyes flickering with killing intent, he looked around at Song Que, Ghostfang, and Bai Xiaochun. Then, he shot toward Bai Xiaochun like a bolt of lightning.
"I'll kill you first, and absorb your earthstring energy. Maybe I can still reach eight Tideflows after all!!"
When using Tideflow power to reach Earthstring Foundation Establishment, it was possible for someone interrupt any one of their first eight Tideflows and prematurely reach Foundation Establishment. Furthermore, because the Dao foundation wasn't complete in such a situation, it was possible to continue after the interruption, as long as too much time didn't go by. However, because of the huge amount of earthstring energy required, it was usually too difficult to do such a thing.
In contrast, once a ninth Tideflow began, one had to choose to either complete it, or die trying.