Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
In just one hour, the compound of the Crimson Blood Sect outpost that had been teeming with activity with the recent inception of fresh members immediately became empty with every Cultivator—acolytes, initiates, and associated independents—making a beeline for the insectoid wormhole more than ten miles away.
The outpost was left completely undefended, but there was no need to worry. With Beaky still around, no Thousand Demon Ridge enemy would dare to attack and risk getting attacked by him instead.
But more importantly, with the insectoid attacks that were happening all over the Battlefield, everyone would be busy handling their own defenses.
More than ten miles away in the canyon where the wormhole had appeared, a battle had already begun.
The number of insectoids had increased further in the last hour, and with the insectoid’s incredible speed in breeding and growing, there was little wonder as to why insectoid attacks were regarded a cataclysmic event. So long as these monsters could find enough sustenance, they could become a potent legion of insectoids capable of ravaging and annihilating literally everything on the face of the Battlefield.
Hence, it could not be stressed enough that this was the single most important factor in defeating an insectoid attack. So long as one could whittle down their numbers and prevent them from becoming an all-out infestation, the insectoid threat could be contained.
The seven-hundred-man-strong force was broken down into almost a hundred smaller squads. Led by their respective squad leaders, they were scattered all around the perimeter of the canyon where they were to slay every insectoid monster they found while slowly moving in towards the bottomless abyss from whence these abominations emerged.
Individually, the insectoid monsters would not pose as much threat at all. By usual Cultivator standards, most of the insectoid monsters were just First- or Second-Orders. There were barely any Third-Orders at all and if anything, none of them were anywhere close to the ones Lu Ye encountered in the Rift of Illusions. The insectoid monsters inside the Rift were almost a man’s size.
But out here, the monsters were the size of a man’s head at best, the smallest just as big as a fist. Plus, with their crude methods of offense, slaying them wouldn’t be too difficult a task.
The only caveat would be their innumerable numbers. With tens of thousands of them now swarming the hills, every inch of the vista in sight had been turned into barren land.
Traces of Spiritual Power were spiking everywhere. Every single squad busied itself with clearing out the infestation of their respective zones and drenching almost every inch of the canyon with the slimy-green hemolymph of the monsters and leaving the whole area reeking with an intolerable acrid stench.
Contrary to the steady pace of the squads mowing their way through the multitudinous horde of insectoids was Lu Ye rapidly hacking a path straight through the insectoids like a bulldozer, leaving a trail of maimed torsos and limbs in his rear sight.
There was only so much that he could do with Inviolable against enemies of such diminutive girth. He could easily swing his weapon and slay a few with one blow, but it was nowhere near enough.
Fortunately, Inviolable was not Lu Ye’s only mode of offense. After all, he was a Spell Cultivator, to a certain extent.
Using Fire Phoenixes and Fire Dragons interchangeably, Lu Ye was able to dole out vast amounts of area-of-effect damage, incinerating large amounts of insectoids into charred remains with every attack. Most especially the Fire Dragon technique—as a subsidiary technique of the Red Lotus Sky Mnemonic and a spell that could only be learned by a Seventh-Grade, its damage and range far outstripped the Fire Phoenix technique by leaps and bounds, although that would also meant that the spell would consume more Spiritual Power.
Of the two fire-elemental spells, Lu Ye was especially satisfied with the Fire Dragon technique. At the very least, he would not feel embarrassed whenever he used it.
Somehow his Fire Phoenix looked every bit like a puffy chicken alight with flames instead of a majestic bird of fire.
On the other hand, the Fire Dragons he conjured appeared so real and so elaborately detailed that he could almost make out the scales on the Dragons’ trunks.
The canyon was not at all large or wide. Lu Ye reached within sight of the wormhole in no time. When he finally made it to the bottomless abyss, he looked inside and saw a black pit staring up at him. Swarms of insectoid monsters of different shapes and sizes were still scaling the jagged and rough surface of the hole as if they had detected him approaching and some even lunged at him, although all of them were already reduced to sickening pieces of bug flesh and viscera all thanks to Inviolable before they even got any closer.
With just one beat of hesitation, Lu Ye hurled himself into the hole. As he plunged downwards, insectoid monsters pounced at him one after another but every one of them was repelled with Lu Ye channeling his power and enveloping himself in an energy shroud.
Lu Ye hit the bottom of the abyss with a loud crash. He looked up and estimated the depth. The fall was barely thirty-five meters by his reckoning and that was good news.
All around him, he could hear the incessant buzzing surrounding him. More insectoids were stampeding at him.
Lu Ye channeled his powers once more. There was no time to stop. Swinging Inviolable wildly at anything that came his way, he charged deeper into the insectoid nest.
The fiery luminescence blazing over the saber’s blade illuminated his way.
That was Glyph: Radiance at work. While it might have seemed useless at first to Lu Ye, in this situation, it turned out to be extremely handy.
But to conserve Spiritual Power, Lu Ye kept the glow to just within thirty-five meters.
He was down there for at least a quarter of an hour before he came screaming out of the pit like a soaring bird, the fiery pair of wings on his back was the first thing that everyone noticed the moment he made his appearance.
He flew over the canyon until he found Hua Ci and he landed next to her, utterly sodden with green mucilaginous hemolymph dripping off the hems of his clothes.
A few First-Order independents rushed forward to attend to him by washing off the muck with water.
Hua Ci had been keeping herself away from the action. As the only full-fledged Medical Cultivator they had, she needed to be here so that she could administer treatment whenever needed to. But the extermination had only just begun so there were hardly any casualties yet.
There were more than a dozen Cultivators here. Most of them were only First-Orders and being in the thick of the fight could be too risky for them, hence they were assigned to assist Hua Ci here.
The rest were acting as apprentices to Hua Ci since their desired path was Medical Cultivation just like hers.
That was fine for Lu Ye. In fact, the Crimson Blood Sect could use different varieties of Cultivators, especially Medical Cultivators. At the moment, the strength of the outpost here might still be in its infantile stage, but with Cultivators of different principal paths, its development was heading in the right direction
“Found it?” asked Hua Ci as she plucked a maimed arthropod leg out of Lu Ye’s head and tossed it ignominiously away.
Lu Ye shook his head.
“It’s a maze down below. I couldn’t go further without risking being lost.”
He was searching for the nest.
Deep inside the labyrinthian underground passage, the insectoid monsters must have come from somewhere and it could only be the nest—their very origin.
To end an insectoid attack, one needed to locate the insectoid nest and destroy it.
This information came from Li Baxian.
The nest would expectedly be guarded by stronger and more powerful insectoids that Lu Ye would need help dealing with. That had been the usual tactic other sects and orders used whenever they were dealing with an insectoid infestation. While not all of them would marshal the entire force of their outposts, the gist had always been the same: to deploy men to control the number of insectoids while they located the nest for further action.
But with enough experience in dealing with insectoid attacks, many of the sects and orders in the Battlefields had long mapped out the subterranean tunnels where the insectoids would emerge from, and that had helped them to know how to plan their strategy.
In the meantime, this was the first time the Crimson Blood Sect had mounted any endeavor to meet the insectoid threat. Hence, they would need to search the underground tunnels themselves.
The first order of business would be to first clear out the whole canyon before they could shift their focus underground.
No one knew how the insectoids came to be. Cultivators could fully exterminate the scourge up to the last monster, and still, more would come after some time.
But every time an insectoid attack came, the same indicative lightning column phenomenon would occur.
Next, insectoids would appear out of nowhere and start to multiply. Before long, they would proliferate enough to stampede and overrun everything they could find.
Therefore, whenever the same lightning phenomenon repeated after quite some time, everyone would know better than to discount it as just some harmless anomaly.
Which was also the reason behind Li Baxian’s immediate warning to Lu Ye when he realized what was going on.
The first casualty came in at last, which was expected since the enemies were just so numerous despite their being so weak.
Hua Ci quickly attended to him as best as she could, not neglecting to provide explanations and advice to her apprentices.
There was no need for Lu Ye to get directly involved. He could slay these insectoids with the same ease of a farmer wielding his scythe through a fistful of stalks, but Contribution Points he would be rewarded would just so few because of his rank, where he would need more than twenty or thirty kills just to scrape enough points to matter.
Unlike the rest, who were awarded enough points the moment they made a kill. This bug-killing spree really was turning out to be a windfall for them all.
Without a permanent way to earn Contribution Points steadily, this was a one-in-a-million chance for the Crimson Blood Sect members to earn as much as they could.
With enough manpower to deal with the insectoid infestation, there really was no need for Lu Ye to get involved.
Heading inside the pit and searching for the nest, that was his forte.
More casualties began to pile in, although the wounded were quickly allowed to rejoin the fight once Hua Ci was done with them.
A few hours later, the area of infestation had been drastically reduced by at least half. By closing in the perimeter, the work was getting easier the more the perimeter constricted.
At long last, with the last insectoid felled four hours later, everyone celebrated with peals of cheers.
Maimed carcasses still dripping with hemolymph agglutinating into sickening-green streams and puddles swaddled the landscape.
“Clean the place then take a rest. We’re going spelunking in six hours!”
As soon as Lu Ye finished barking his orders, everyone sprang into action. With several squads watching the entrance of the pit to prevent any more insectoids from coming up, the rest scurried about to collect the carcasses.
Carcasses that could be sold to the Vault of Providence.
The Vault really was a cornucopia of boon to the Cultivators of Jiu Zhou. Whatever one needed, so long as one had enough Contribution Points, one could procure from it. At the same time, virtually anything could be sold to the Vault in turn, although the prices offered by the Vault oftentimes were borderline scandalous.
These insectoid carcasses were not worth much individually, but there were just so many that the full amount would have been astronomical.
By the end of the sixth hour, all seven hundred Cultivators mustered around the pit, each of them lit up with confidence and exuberance.
With a hand on the hilt of his weapon hung from his waist, Lu Ye strode towards the abyss with Amber padding quietly beside him as the crowd parted to let him through.
Yi Yi was sitting just on top of the white tiger’s back.
He paused at the edge of the pit then he leaped down without even a hint of hesitation. So did Amber with Yi Yi still on his back. Next to jump was Chen Yu, followed closely by the squad led by Sixth-Orders.
Almost immediately, those still waiting outside the pit could hear the screeching death rattles of the insectoid monsters coming from below.
Minutes later, everyone could hear Chen Yu calling. “It’s safe down here! Come on down!”
The squads still outside now began to descend the pit. As soon as they got down, they set alight their torches as they prepared to explore the tunnels with their squad leaders in the lead.