Chapter 932 The Reckoning (9)
In just one single night, more than hundreds of thousands of warriors and champions were all slain like sheep.
Just who in the name of the gods was capable of such savagery?
The gorge was a lake of red from the blood of the dead.
A wide basin of blood where smaller streams separated from it, each bubbling and flowing in its most grotesque manner as the morbid streams spread far and wide like red slimy worms heading straight for the nearest crevice and crack in the ground that they could find.
Steaming red fumes billowed upward into the air, the gory hue from the bloody effluvium dyeing the vista red enough for anyone to wonder if the skies were on fire.
The blood of Cultivators held tremendous amounts of energy, more so, the blood of champions.
And the deep crimson effluvium came from the very dissipation of power from the blood.
That was why the sky became red. The blood that was spilled came from so many dead champions and caused so thick an emanation that it could have turned the skies completely red instead of just deep scarlet plumes. Something must be absorbing the raw power. Something prowling deep underground.
“What could be hidden underground?”
Li Mu was just wondering this when—
A sangria-colored column of gigantic proportions tunneled out of the ground and shot straight up into the sky—a spear of blood lancing straight up through the clouds overhead.
Li Mu gasped with shock.
The spot where the blood-red pillar had shot out from was where one of the ley lines was, the exact same spot where Lu Chuan intercepted the Lord of Venom only the day before.
“That presence… That’s the aura from the blood of the deceased Lord of Venom!”
Even from afar, Li Mu could pick up its trace.
And he was not the only one; the presence that the blood-red column was radiating grew so thick and palpable that everyone still in the revelry at the Creed of Divinity stronghold realized that something was terribly amiss and turned around to find with surprise and disbelief the sanguine pillar jutting upwards into the air.
Everyone could feel the strange, eldritch power radiating from the column.
And everyone knew that it wasn’t going to be the end of things.
Another column of blood tore up into the sky.
This time, it came from where Shen Jia had intercepted Zhu Lingfeng, one of the Grand Masters of the Great Five from the Eastern Orients.
Hovering in mid-air, Li Mu looked grimly in that direction.
“That’s Zhu Lingfeng’s aura. Shen Jia said he merely lopped off an arm; but it would seem that he too is killed, just like the Lord of Venom.”
Li Mu sped towards the site. Li Mu sped towards the site.
From the air, he could see a sigil inscribed on the ground using blood. A magical circle was drawn directly over where the ley line of that area would be passing underneath. The blood that formed the glyphs and markings as well as the circle itself came from underground, seeping up as if the soil itself was oozing blood. Nothing looked ordinary and normal; everything felt wicked, heinous, and even diabolical, especially with the dead body of the maimed Zhu Lingfeng lying at the center of the magical circle, clearly being used to fulfill a certain purpose—a medium or a catalyst, no less.
The magical circle was operating and the blood-red column now shooting straight into the skies came directly from the magic circle itself.
Another tremor shook the earth.
Another column of blood tunneled straight up into the clouds.
This time, it was where Yan Nanfei had battled against the Patriarch of the Central Truth Sanctuary.
Li Mu got there as well and found the elderly Taoist priest’s dead body. Placed at the very center of another magical circle, there he was, with his eyes still wide open even in death. But he looked more like a shriveled husk compared to when he was alive. Someone had bled him completely dry. But that did not make his corpse less useful at all. The corpse was nevertheless used as a medium for another pillar of blood.
The ground rocked like a jolted cradle and three more pillars of blood rose up and speared through the gathering masses of clouds.
There was no need to guess. The rest of the other columns of blood must be coming from the sites of the other ley lines and the remaining three Grand Masters of the Great Five must be dead by now, their dead bodies and blood now being used to power the magical circles.
Li Mu looked up. The five columns of blood—straight, tall, and imposing—each began to bend until all five of them met at the spot right over the Creed of Divinity stronghold. It was at this converging point that the surging blood coalesced into a gigantic crystallization—a humungous ruby of blood. Like the eye of a behemothic monster of planetary size, the ruby hung over the stronghold, its frost and deathly aura spreading panic and despair to all that dwelt below.
“So this is the plan: to use the lives and deaths of the five greatest warriors of the continent and the power of the ley lines that transected the bottom of Mount Divinity. So the war was all just a prelude to something more abominable and infernal?”
Li Mu finally realized the plan at last.
He flew back to the stronghold, gliding just overhead.
“Brother Zhiyuan!” called Lu Chuan.
“Elder Li!” cried a few of the Creed’s acolytes.
“Teacher!” Li Mu’s students all gasped.
Everyone looked absolutely grim and anxious.
None of them knew what was going on, but they were hardly fools. They could see that something was badly wrong and the war that they initially thought had ended was clearly far from reaching its curtain call.
“Get inside and make sure everyone’s safe! Don’t get out no matter what happens!”
Li Mu instructed urgently.
“But, Teacher—” Shen Jia wanted to protest.
“What happens after this is beyond what you can handle. The best help you can give me is just staying out of my way,” Li Mu added sharply.
“Be careful, Teacher.”
“Be careful, Brother.”
Seeing Li Mu so tense and distressed was something that few had ever seen before. That showed just how perilously dire the situation really was. As much as they were worried, Li Mu was right; their trying to meddle would only be more nuisance than help to Li Mu.
Everyone in the Creed retreated indoors and sealed the stronghold.
Meanwhile, Li Mu remained in mid-air, watching and observing for any developments.
“Heh heh heh heh…” A disembodied voice, thick with hateful contempt towards all things that drew breath, resounded from all directions.
Dregs of blood in the air gathered. Swirling and spiraling, more blood massed until the red was thick enough to condense into shapes—faces of the various people Li Mu could recognize. Amongst them were the faces of the son of the Lion, the Abomination, Nie Renlong, Zhu Lingfeng, the Lord of Venom, the Patriarch of the Central Truth Sanctuary, and many more…
Each of the faces belonged to enemies that Li Mu had faced before—enemies both powerful and deadly.
“Surprised, are you? You think you had got the last laugh, did you?”
Cold and steely was the voice, but each and every word was uttered with the different voices of Li Mu’s dead enemies before forming into a coherent patchwork that was the sentence itself.
Li Mu appeared strangely calm and reticent. “That’s it? Sacrificing so many lives just so that you could rebuild your body? Doesn’t that make you more evil and wicked than me, the demonic being from another dimension?”
“The wolf loses no sleep for the cares of the sheep, Li Zhiyuan. My cuirass is ready and finally, I shall let you witness what is true power.”
The voice turned clearer this time with no other voices present. It was Nie Renlong’s voice at last.
“The wolf loses no sleep for the cares of the sheep, Li Zhiyuan. My cuirass is ready and finally, I shall let you witness what is true power.”The swirling dregs of blood finally solidified into Nie Renlong’s face. Despite some minor obscurity, one could almost make out his full profile.
“So? What are you waiting for?”
“Heh heh heh heh… Patience, Li Zhiyuan… The reckoning between us will not be long…” Nie Renlong’s voice resounded raspily.
The gigantic ruby of blood blazed into pulsing glows and an unknown substance—black and formless like fumes—began swirling out of the ruby and enveloped the blood-constructed Nie Renlong’s physical form.
Li Mu merely watched and did nothing to stop the progress.
The black substance poured in larger volumes and devoured the blood-formed Nie Renlong, the entire black mass swallowed him before taking on the shape of a giant more than two meters tall. Li Mu might have guessed what was happening, but that did not make the surprise less shocking at all.
By the end of the transformation, what stood in Nie Renlong’s place was a black humanoid creature with ebony and scaly skin. Hideous and beastly because of the long fangs protruding from its mouth, what would have made it the perfect nightmarish monster were the twin arms on both sides of his shoulders and the bone spines that grew out of his limbs and torso grotesquely.
The Xenos from another world.
The same creature Li Mu had encountered twice during his foray into the Immortal Palace.
“Does that mean I was right all along? In my death, I was transported here… And this is the world of this Xenos creature?
“The homeworld of this monster?”
“This is the true Cuirass that gives me the power to destroy anything in this world, Li Zhiyuan… Heh heh heh heh… Hahahaha! You can be as powerful as you want, but you’ll never be able to match me ever again! You’ll die a slow and painful death!”
The Xenos’s mouth opened wide and amid the long and sharp fangs, there was Nie Renlong’s face inside.
Li Mu was surprised but he was, most of all, confused.
“You mean that is a suit of armor?”
He gasped with apparent puzzlement.
“So that means that Xenoses are actually humans like the people of the Ziwei Star Zone? The hideous outer appearance was only just a strange suit of armor?”
“Cuirass. Yes. One was designed by one of the Imperial Lords himself and this one is widely used across the galaxy. This one might still be freshly stoned and it could not yet be assimilated, but it should be enough to deal with you. Die, Li Zhiyuan!”
The Xenos’s mouth slammed shut and he charged at Li Mu.
He tore through the air, barreling straight at Li Mu like a cannonball. Such was his speed and power that the Time-Space fabric was warped by his rapid movements alone that he appeared before Li Mu in the blink of an eye.
Li Mu raised his arms in a feeble attempt to defend himself.
The ensuing noise from the collision sounded as if the air itself had shattered.
Li Mu was sent hurtling hundreds of meters away before he could flip himself back around and steadied himself.
“Hahahahahah! Do you feel it!? Such invincible power!”
Nie Renlong’s laughter reverberated in the sky. He was missing, turned into a sliver of light streaking around everywhere. No naked eye could easily catch him at all and like a bullet wheezing back and forth, he whacked and batted at Li Mu savagely like he was venting his rage and anger on a helpless boxing bag.
His Xenos cuirass did not afford him any enhancement in his Mana and power, but the raw strength and speed he exhibited were way beyond what usual warriors in this world were humanly capable of that one could wonder if a mere exhalation of his could kill even a man.
Using his own arms to shield himself was all that Li Mu seemed to be able to do.
“Is that all?” Li Mu’s lips curled all of a sudden. “Is that really all? Pity. I’ve seen cuirasses greater and far deadlier than yours. This power of yours, it’s nothing to me.”
He disengaged from his defensive stance, retaliating with a furious punch.
This time, it was Nie Renlong who was sent flying for thousands of meters.
He looked up at Li Mu in shock.
He could still feel his flesh throbbing even through the Cuirass and being able to feel it sent jitters and dread sweeping through him.
Li Mu approached him from the air. “I have to thank you. You’ve answered a question that has long been troubling me. If this is the trump card you’ve counting on to defeat me, I’m afraid that won’t be enough. I’ve encountered more Xenos champions and every one of them is way more dangerous than you are.”