Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Time passed quickly. Lu Ye’s island continued to collide and merge with other islands, and from time to time a huge battle would break out.
Since their initial battle plan had worked flawlessly, Lu Ye’s group saw no reason to change it besides fine-tuning some details. Gao Tai and Lan Yudie would bait the enemy into their island, and they would take them out once they had inhaled the spores. The routine was nothing new but extremely effective regardless.
There were many times the enemy had seen through their simple tactic, but so what? Unless the Thousand Demon Ridge cultivators chose to remain on their island, victory was the only outcome.
Of course, they also ran into cultivators from Grand Sky Coalition sometimes.
The attraction and merging of the Chess Islands were probably decided by proximity. The two closest Chess Islands would be pulled toward one another, and it was the same with the bone fragments.
Three days later, over twenty Grand Sky Coalition cultivators had gathered on Lu Ye’s island. At this point, it was pretty rare for either Thousand Demon Ridge or Grand Sky Coalition to encounter isolated groups of cultivators. The weaker groups would’ve been slaughtered to the last, and all the stronger ones would’ve met up with some allies and formed groups of various sizes.
A group of over twenty people was not an insignificant force. For one, it made their battles much easier than before. They weren’t worried even when the enemy group was bigger than theirs. Thanks to Hua Ci, they did not need to minimize their injuries every time a battle was engaged. The medicine cultivator would naturally treat them all when the battle was over. Lu Ye’s Gathering Spirits also allowed them to fully regenerate their Spiritual Power, meaning that they could go all out every time without needing to worry about energy consumption. The Thousand Demon Ridge cultivators who had the misfortune of going up against them sometimes wondered if they had taken some drugs.
At some point, Hua Ci stopped growing her mushrooms altogether. It was because the island had grown beyond the limits of her control. Even so, she was a high-value target that was protected by two bodyguards at all times. Lu Ye himself was no exception. Every time he walked down to the battlefield, Gao Tai would be there to protect him. The body tempering cultivator followed him like a shadow and was ready to sacrifice his life to save him if necessary.
Although their cultivation level was easily the lowest of all the Legates and prolegates participating in the battle royale, their effectiveness in a battlefield like the Chess Sea could not be understated. Nobody dared to let anything happen to them.
Aquamarine light caressed the edges of Lu Ye’s vision as a tingly sensation came from his wounds. Hua Ci was treating him right now.
Their latest opponent had been a tough nut to crack. They were a group of over thirty Thousand Demon Ridge cultivators; a terrifying force that was nigh unstoppable at this stage of the battle royale. Under normal circumstances, no one would be a match for them.
Clearly, this group was able to meet up with many of their allies prior to encountering Lu Ye’s group. They had invaded the island in high spirits believing that there was nothing the enemy could possibly do to stop them. Of course, that wasn’t the case at all. The moment they had entered the kill zone, they lost at least a dozen of people in just dozens of breaths. The rest scattered in panic and lost a couple more members before they finally returned to their island.
Lu Ye’s group gave chase as a matter of course, but it turned out that the enemy had also laid their own traps. After suffering some casualties and deciding to pull back for the moment, the battle came to a screeching halt.
Neither side was willing to invade the other’s island without thought, so instead they dispatched a few people with a way with words to the shores and have them yell obscenities all day and night. For a time, it seemed like the battle of insults would never end, but Lu Ye’s group knew they couldn’t allow the stalemate to continue. After a brief discussion, they decided to launch an attack on the basis that they had the numbers advantage and a medicine cultivator in the backline.
In the Chess Sea, it was ill-advised to drag out a battle because there was no way to know when the next island would arrive. If the newcomers were allies, then all was well, but if they were enemies then their situation would only worsen for them. After all, even with Lu Ye and Hua Ci’s help, they still needed some time to recover after every battle.
Unfortunately, the second attack didn’t go very well either. They didn’t lose anyone this time, but they still had to retreat after sustaining some injuries.
“We can’t drag this out any longer. Thanks to those bone fragments, the chances that the next island will also belong to a Thousand Demon Ridge group is extremely high. The situation will get much worse if that happens,” said the Legate of an Eighth-Tier sect.
It was no alarmist talk. Although their group was over twenty people strong, they had encountered far more enemies than allies in the past three days. In fact, their probability of encountering a Thousand Demon Ridge group so far was around 70%. The bone fragments were clearly affecting the Chess Sea’s movements.
“The problem is the array cultivator of the enemy group. Although his arrays are pretty crude, their power is not to be underestimated. We’ll need to eliminate him first before we can vanquish the enemy.”
“They know that though. That’s why they’re defending him with everything they got. It’ll not be easy to kill him!”
The group discussed tactics while they were recovering their strength, but no one was able to come up with a viable plan. Worry and fear weighed heavily in their minds. It wasn’t like the enemy was unbeatable. They outnumbered the enemy almost two to one, so they could definitely win if they launched a mindless, all-out attack. There was no telling how many people would die in the process though. It was the last resort no one wanted to use unless they had no other choice.
While this was going on, Lu Ye was watching a thin male cultivator repairing a palm-sized spider; a golem that was almost lifelike enough to be the real thing. The thin cultivator was the Legate of Thousand Gear Pavilion, and his name was Lu Yushan.
Thousand Gear Pavilion was a special sect in Jiu Zhou. It was because they were a sect of Golem Masters.
There were plenty of minor factions besides the six main factions of cultivation. Some of them had a long history, and some did not. However, they were all niche factions with little to no influence because they did not fit with the current trend of cultivation.
Lu Ye’s sect master had owned a two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage that was pulled by horse-shaped golems that almost looked like the real thing. Unfortunately, it was destroyed on the way to the Crimson Blood Sect.
Lu Ye remembered Tang Yi Feng telling him that he might encounter a Golem Master in the future, and he was right.
Lu Yushan was a Golem Master who excelled at crafting various mechanical tools. In the past, Lu Ye believed that Golem Masters were only good for crafting supporting equipment such as the two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage, but he realized his perspective was too narrow after fighting side by side with Lu Yushan. They could craft powerful weapons that dealt huge damage to the enemies as well.
Lu Yushan owned a Spirit Artifact named the Thunder Dragon Cannon. Its function was very simple. The Spirit Artifact would absorb the Spiritual Power from Spirit Stones and compress them into a ball. Once it was ready, it would unleash its power at the user’s command.
Lu Ye had seen with his own eyes a Seventh-Order combat cultivator taking a hit to the torso and losing half of his chest just like that. The attack was so powerful that even his Protection wouldn’t be able to stop it.
That said, the cannon had plenty of flaws. For starters, it took ages to charge up its power, meaning that it was easy for the enemy to dodge out of the way if they knew where to look. That was why Lu Yushan rarely used it unless he found the perfect opportunity to do so. Second, it cost a lot of Spiritual Power to fire the Thunder Dragon Cannon just once; four Spirit Stones’ worth of Spiritual Power to be exact.
The mechanical tools of Golem Masters were extremely sophisticated. Since they mostly relied on external tools to bolster their strength, very few of them ever became high level cultivators. Of course, that didn’t mean that the way of Golem-making was a dead end. Talented Golem Masters were perfectly capable of cultivating to a higher realm. One such example was the sect master of Thousand Gear Pavilion, a Divine Ocean Realm cultivator. The only reason their sect was just an Eighth-Tier sect was because they had too few disciples.
The spider Lu Yushan was repairing right now was a purely supportive mechanical tool that was used for scouting purposes only; a Spider Golem. It was how he scouted the enemy’s island earlier.
After Hua Ci was finished treating him, Lu Ye picked up a Spider Golem and examined it curiously. Lu Yushan shot him a smile before asking, “Do you like my Spider Golem, Brother Yi Ye?”
“I’ve never seen something like this before.”
“We Golem Masters are a small faction. It’s no wonder you’ve never seen one before.”
“How many Golems do you have, Brother Yushan?”
“A dozen or so. Feel free to play with it if you want to,” offered Lu Yushan generously.
Lu Ye thanked him before walking toward Hua Ci with the Spider Golem in hand.
Every hair on Hua Ci’s body stood on end when she saw this. Keeping her composure on the outside, she asked, “What are you doing?”
“Take a look at this.”
Lu Ye tossed the Spider Golem in Hua Ci’s direction, but to his surprise she did not catch it. The girl had frozen right as it landed on top of her chest, the blood visibly draining away from her face as she looked down on it. Even her body was beginning to tremble slightly.
“You’re… scared of spiders?”
Lu Ye shot her a surprised look after he picked the spider off of her chest.
That was what she said, but she couldn’t even keep her pitch straight.
Lu Ye nodded. “Brother Lu has a dozen more Spider Golems, and I was wondering if you could grow your mushrooms in them. If it works, he can slip them behind enemy lines, and when the time is right…” He unclenched his fist. “Boom!”
If the enemy wouldn’t step into their mushroom trap, then they would deliver it to them themselves. The effects would be the same either way. In the future, this meant that they were no longer limited to just baiting the enemy into their kill zone. They could also take the fight to the enemy and win practically any engagement—assuming that Lu Yushan had enough Golems, of course.
“So? What do you think?”
The Legates who were still discussing battle strategies stopped their discussion and looked in their direction. Even Lu Yushan had stopped repairing his Spider Golems.
Hua Ci sucked in a deep breath and grabbed the spider in Lu Ye’s hand. She then said in a calm voice, “I’ll give it a try!”
She might have fooled the others, but Lu Ye could feel exactly how cold her fingers were…
A short while later, Hua Ci gave them the good news. “I did it. I’m not sure if Brother Lu can still control it though. Can you give it a try?”
The moment Hua Ci said this, Lu Yushan channeled his Spiritual Power into the Spider Golem. It suddenly came to life and brushed its hairy legs against her palm.
[Slap!] Hua Ci slapped the spider right across Lu Ye’s face. His face was instantly covered in spores, and the delicate golem was shattered into a couple of pieces as well.
Everyone could only watch this in stunned silence.
Hua Ci mustered a brave smile and said, “Sorry, my hand slipped…”
Lu Ye wiped his face and stared at her expressionlessly.
And Lu Yushan extended a trembling hand while groaning, “My baby!”
After the little intermission, everyone immediately made the necessary arrangements to execute the plan. Lu Yushan had joined the Battle Royale of the Legates with a junior sister, so they had more than enough golems to spare for this battle. Hua Ci looked like she was about to faint after she grew her mushroom in each and every one of them.