Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Hao Ren was feeling quite confused as he stared blankly in the direction Lu Ye had disappeared. Things were happening so quickly that his mind couldn’t quite catch up to it.
Hao Qing’s confusion was even worse. “Why would the Great Serpent go to the Sky Pillar Sect’s Outpost if it’s unhappy, brother?”
“Maybe someone from Sky Pillar Sect provoked it in the past.”
“I see!” Hao Qing nodded in realization.
“You actually believed that?” Hao Ren said in a pained voice, “Isn’t it obvious? Brother Yi Ye’s the one luring the Great Serpent to the Outpost. It has absolutely nothing to do with its feelings, my foolish sister.”
Shock and disbelief filled her face. “But how did he do it?”
‘Why do you think I would know that?’ Hao Ren thought to himself. He was certain it was Lu Yi Ye’s handiwork though. Why else would the Great Serpent choose today of all days to act completely unlike its normal self?
He hurriedly messaged Luo Fu, “The Great Serpent has left its lair. It looks like Lu Yi Ye is luring it toward the Outpost.”
On the ship Spirit Artifact where hundreds of cultivators were gathered, Luo Fu was thinking if he should stay on course and return home. At first, he thought the Sky Pillar Sect would definitely make a move in response to the attack on their ore vein. He hadn’t expected them to do nothing at all and hole up in their Outpost. This put him between a rock and a hard place.
He had pulled several hundred people away from their work for this with the expectation to score something big. That the Sky Pillar Sect had given him no room to exploit annoyed him greatly to say the least.
It would be all for naught if he went back now, but it wasn’t like they could do anything if he chose to stay either. Once the sky brightened, the Sky Pillar Sect would definitely send someone to investigate the ore vein. However, it would also reveal them to their scouts. All the Sky Pillar Sect needed to do was then to return to their Outpost and hole up some more, effectively wasting his time.
Luo Fu was still struggling when he received the message from Hao Ren. His expression grew increasingly astonished as he read its content. He recognized every word on the message, but for some reason he just couldn’t make sense of them when he combined them together.
For starters, what did Hao Ren mean by “The Great Serpent has left its lair”? He had thought that the Great Serpent was just a myth, so how could it exist to do anything, much less be lured to the Sky Pillar Sect’s Outpost by Lu Yi Ye?
‘This has to be a trick.’
He thought for a second before messaging, “Tell me the truth, Brother Hao. Are you being held hostage by the Sky Pillar Sect right now?”
“I am telling the truth, Brother Luo! I didn’t believe it myself until I saw the creature, but the Great Serpent is around sixty meters long and as thick as a bathtub. Its eyes look like a pair of giant lanterns, and it has a meaty horn on its forehead. It’s seriously fearsome.”
“I see. Hao Qing’s the one who’s being held hostage?”
Beside the lake, Hao Ren grimaced like he just ate something sour. He thought for a moment before messaging again, “Hao Ren, disciple of Silverlight Island and my sister, Hao Qing swears that we are not being held hostage by the Sky Pillar Sect. May the Heavens strike me down where I stand if a single word of what I’ve told you is false!”
Luo Fu waited for a few seconds before replying to the message, “You still alive?”
“Please believe me, Brother Luo!”
“I believe you.”
How could he not? Hao Ren literally swore a Heavenly Oath and lived. This meant that the mythical beast was real, and it really had been lured to the Sky Pillar Sect’s Outpost by Lu Yi Ye. This was an opportunity straight from the Heavens themselves!
On the deck, Luo Fu announced with renewed spirit, “Full speed ahead!”
The ship that had been crawling forward at a snail’s pace rumbled visibly. Then, it sped toward the Sky Pillar Sect’s Outpost while shrouded by rich Spiritual Light.
At the Sky Pillar Sect’s Outpost, hundreds of murderous cultivators had been assembled at the square in front of the Sanctum of Providence. They were led by the Legate Zou Qi and the prolegate Yu Hongbao.
Right now, a couple of pale-faced cultivators were giving them a report of their earlier experience.
They were survivors who managed to survive Lu Ye and the Hao brother and sister’s killing spree and escape to the Outpost. Although the trio was positively unstoppable, the mines were built with an excessive amount of exits. They weren’t trying to conceal their presence either, so of course some Sky Pillar Sect cultivators managed to escape unscathed.
Their report was mostly useless though. These people had survived because they had had the fortune of not running into Lu Ye and the Hao siblings. All they knew was that the ore vein was attacked, and a ton of people had already died by the time they found out. They had no idea who had attacked them or how many attackers were present. All they knew was that the number of attackers was small.
Zou Qi and Yu Hongbao interrogated them thoroughly but were unable to dig out much useful information. In the end, they had no choice but to release them back to their ranks.
“What are your thoughts?” Zou Qi looked at Yu Hongbao.
“I’m surprised that none of these people were ambushed on the way back to the Outpost. Either there is no ambush outside the Outpost, or the ambushers have a huge appetite.”
Zou Qi nodded in agreement.
At least a dozen cultivators had managed to escape the mines and return to the Outpost, and not a single person had been ambushed along the way. This would’ve been impossible if the enemy had laid in ambush at the mine entrances. So either there was no ambush at all, or the enemy was playing the long game.
It needed not be said what the right course of action was. They had to remain in the Outpost until dawn broke. Worst case scenario, they were scared but safe for an entire night. It was much better than setting out in the dark and potentially incurring huge casualties.
Zou Qi said as much while glancing at the dark forest that seemed to be teeming with unknown dangers, “Let’s wait. It’s already Mao Shi (5-7 am). Dawn should be breaking any moment now!”
Their caution might seem excessive from an outsider’s perspective, but it was perfectly natural from their perspective. It was because the three Ninth-Order cultivators guarding the ore vein had died without being able to send a message. Even Brother Yuan Guang had died without a peep.
As a result, they sorely misjudged the situation and thought that factions hostile toward the Sky Pillar Sect had attacked them with a large force. Otherwise, they couldn’t have lost four Ninth-Order cultivators in a day without even knowing how. Who knows, it could be that the nearby two Grand Sky Coalition factions had joined forces.
While the Sky Pillar Sect was battling wits with the air, a danger far greater than anything they could’ve imagined was heading straight toward them. Yi Yi was luring the Great Serpent straight toward the Outpost, and Lu Ye was following behind the Spirit Beast on Amber.
Time passed bit by bit. The darkness began to lift as the first rays of dawn shone from the horizon.
As if on cue, the hundreds of Sky Pillar Sect cultivators waiting at the square tensed up. They were just waiting for Zou Qi to give the order to exit the Outpost and give the ambushers a taste of vengeance.
“Did you feel that?”
Zou Qi frowned all of a sudden. The ground was shaking slightly, and he could hear a strange rumbling noise from somewhere.
Yu Hongbao immediately dropped to his knees and pressed his ears against the floor. His expression grew sterner the longer he listened. “Something huge is moving toward us rapidly!”
“The Great Serpent!” Zou Qi uttered with a tremor in his voice.
“What?” Yu Hongbao glanced at his Legate and noticed that he was staring at a point in the distance with throbbing eyelids.
When he hurriedly got back to his feet and took a look, he too felt his mind blanking out in an instant.
Every cultivator in the Sky Pillar Sect’s Outpost was frozen right now. It was because they saw a massive Serpent at least sixty meters long slithering across the forest straight toward them.
The Great Serpent lived within the Sky Pillar Sect’s territory, so they knew the creature better than most. Most outsiders thought that the Great Serpent was just a baseless rumor, but they knew that the creature actually existed. Decades ago, the senior cultivators of the Sky Pillar Sect had witnessed it flicking its tongue at the moon and absorbing its essence with their own eyes.
Of course, the Sky Pillar Sect had thought to tame the fearsome beast and transform it into their guardian, but they had never succeeded. They gave up after making a couple of attempts to no avail.
To say that none of them was expecting the Great Serpent to appear before them would be an understatement. Not only that, it was clearly hostile for some reason!
‘What is going on here?’
The first thought that entered Zou Qi’s mind was that it was the work of the Silverlight Island. He rejected the idea almost as quickly as it came, however. If they were capable of this, they wouldn’t wait until now to smash their sect to bits.
There was no time to think why the mythical creature who had not shown itself for the past decade had suddenly left the lake where it resided. He shouted for the disciples to increase the power of the Grand Defensive Ward while praying that the massive beast was just passing through the area.
Unfortunately, his prayers proved to be useless. Not only did the Great Serpent not alter its course one bit, it had slammed head first into their Grand Defensive Ward at high speed.
There was a terrible noise as a shockwave visibly spread out from the point of impact toward its surroundings. The light of the Grand Defensive Ward also dimmed and rippled as if it would wink out at any moment.
Thankfully for them, the Grand Defensive Ward regained its luster in just a short time. It was because the cultivators were tweaking its configurations as quickly as they could.
In the Outpost, the cultivators of Sky Pillar Sect felt as if the Great Serpent had slammed not against the Grand Defensive Ward, but their hearts. A good number of them had even crouched down on instinct. The impact had been so terrible that some of the buildings within the Outpost were shaking a little.
Outside the Grand Defensive Ward, the Great Serpent raised over half of its massive body into the air, flicked its tongue, and stared emotionlessly at the panicked faces of the cultivators with its green pupils.
It then leaned a little to the back like a drawn bow.
Zou Qi knew it was bad the second he saw the Great Serpent’s posture. He was right. It launched forward like a ballista and struck the Grand Defensive Ward once more.
The world shook again, and the impact was worse than the first. It was because the Great Serpent was riding the momentum and not really aiming to breach the Grand Defensive Ward at the beginning. Now, it was. The force behind the two strikes were different as a matter of course.
The Grand Defensive Ward dimmed again before returning to full strength.
BOOM… BOOM… BOOM…
The shattering impact kept happening again and again. If the people in the Outpost weren’t panicking before, they were now. Everyone’s heart was bouncing up and down their chests at the same frequency as the flashing Grand Defensive Ward.
The Great Serpent was hammering their Grand Defensive Ward like it was insane, and the worst part was that they didn’t even know why it was doing this. The ward wasn’t going to go down in a short time, but it was only a matter of time before it happened. When that happened, everyone in the Outpost was going to have to face the wrath of the Great Serpent.
Zou Qi and Yu Hongbao were running through the crowd and asking if someone had provoked the beast as of late. However, no one was able to give them an answer.
The only person who knew the truth was currently standing on a slope about 2.5 kilometers away from the Outpost. He was looking over the hill and watching the Great Serpent slamming into the Sky Pillar Sect’s Grand Defensive Ward again and again as if the latter had murdered its entire family or something.
The young man was none other than Lu Ye. After he had caught up to the Great Serpent, he hurriedly messaged Yi Yi to check if she was fine. He relaxed when she replied that she was safe and sound.
On the surface, it looked like the Grand Defensive Ward was a half globe that covered the top half of the Outpost only. In reality, it was a full globe that protected both the surface and the underground. It was to prevent enemies from attacking them through the underground.
That was why Yi Yi was unable to enter the Outpost even though she could pass through the ground. She didn’t need to do that though. All she needed to do was to hang out underneath the Outpost.
The Great Serpent was completely overwhelmed by its desire for the red substance within the dragon scale right now. Grand Defensive Ward or not, anyone or anything that stood between it and its objective was an enemy!