Chapter 362: Who Was It? Oh, It Was You!
In the northern tundra in Emperor-Receiving Prefecture, next to the Supreme Beginning Netherflight Pillar, Sir Bloodsmelter was about to take away Xu Qing and the Captain. Before he could, the pillar suddenly erupted with over a hundred beams of light that shot right toward him. The suddenness of it provoked numerous gasps from the crowd below.
Sir Bloodsmelter reacted quickly. Flicking his sleeve, he gathered the beams of light before they could even arrive, then turned and flew away.
With Xu Qing and the Captain falling one after the other, the competition over ranking was on the verge of ending. Although the others climbing the pillar could continue struggling, there was no way any of them would take first place.
The most likely contender was Qing Qiu, who was currently just past 8,700 meters, her teeth gritted as she slowly moved up.
As for the elders from the Swordsage Court who had been watching the proceedings, their eyes all glittered as they watched Sir Bloodsmelter take Xu Qing and Chen Erniu away.
“Those two little punks must have both taken a bit of the totem’s aura.”
“We’ve done a lot of research into that totem’s aura over the years, and it’s very mysterious. Unfortunately, it’s never been possible to absorb it, only use it externally.”
“It’s something they definitely can’t control. In accordance with our rules and systems, we can send someone to just take the aura back, and compensate them with military credits. That said, if they don’t agree, there’s no need to force them.”
While the elders put forth a resolution regarding the matter, Qing Qiu eventually stopped at 8,790 meters. That was her personal limit, and she couldn’t go any farther. If she tried, she might succeed, but it could destabilize her foundation. And besides, there was no way she would ever make it to 9,000 meters. To Qing Qiu’s regret, she had to release her grip and drop down.
With Qing Qiu’s run ended, it seemed to signal the end of the competition. However, only half of the six-hour time limit had passed. And that was when someone walked out of the Supreme Beginning Netherflight Pillar.
He was tall and handsome, his expression calm as his long, blue robe swirled around him like flowing water. His eyes were especially noteworthy, as they glittered brightly. What was more, there were magical symbols in his pupils. As he walked along, the air around him twisted and distorted as if in response to some technique he cultivated. In fact, it made it seem like he was piercing through space itself. It was something rarely seen among Gold Core cultivators.
His arrival on the scene attracted immediate attention. Many people inhaled sharply, and looks of reverence could be seen on faces everywhere as people stepped aside to make a path for him.
He was the dao child from the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society, Zhang Siyun. His face was tranquil as he strolled forward. He didn’t like being in the presence of bugs, so he hadn’t been interested in climbing the pillar with Xu Qing and the others. He waited until everyone gave up before he arrived.
As everyone looked on, he reached the pillar and started moving up. He took one step, a leap that propelled him seemingly without stop all the way to 3,000 meters.
The eyes of the onlookers glowed, but there was no chatter or cheering. It was as if everyone had expected that he would do something like that. After all, he was the top disciple in this generation among humans in Emperor-Receiving Prefecture!
Meanwhile, the swordsage elders turned their attention to him.
“This Zhang Siyun isn’t bad at all. You might as well consider him a quasi-swordsage.”
“His Sect Grandfather is none other than Daoist South Arbiter, who is one of the four honor guards in the county’s Swordsage Palace. Though his rank is technically the same as our own, the fact that he works at the palace means that we have to address him as ‘exalted’ whenever we see him.”
“I heard a rumor that Daoist South Arbiter asked Zhang Siyun if he wanted to skip the selection process. But the kid refused and said he wanted to participate. He wanted to become a swordsage the normal way. Only afterward would he take advantage of his Sect Grandfather’s authority to bolster his standings among us swordsages.”
“That just shows how confident he is. There are only three spots available, but in his mind, he already has one of them.”
“There are more outstanding individuals this time than expected. We’ll have to wait and see who those three spots go to.”
As the swordsage elders discussed the matter, Zhang Siyun didn’t slow down at all. From the 3,000-meter spot, he ascended to 5,100 meters. And then, with seemingly no effort at all, he reached 6,000 meters. It was only then that he slowed down a bit. However, all he did was pause for a moment. Then he kept moving at top speed. 6,600 meters. 7,200 meters. 7,800 meters.
If you looked very closely, you would see that he was actually panting a bit. After all, the attacks of rancorous will at that height were very intense. But then an umbrella suddenly appeared, covering him with dazzling white light.
It was his life lamp. It was different from Xu Qing’s two umbrellas, which were black and seven-colored respectively. This umbrella was pure white, and it gave off a holy sensation as it burned with white flames. It looked almost like an inverted mountain, bursting with divine, holy sensations. It was a white-mountain holy-flame lamp! Massive amounts of white fire surrounded the mountain, flowing along it, burning the air that was near it.
And beneath it, Zhang Siyun was also surrounded by white fire. It emanated a white glow that created a perfect contrast to his blue robe. He seemed extraordinarily handsome, and his calm eyes abounded with a divine and holy look.
What was more, a piercing cry rang out from behind him. The air behind him shattered as a huge white dragon emerged from within him, then circled around him. It had two long dragon whiskers which undulated on either side of him. The smaller whiskers growing on its neck also rippled in the wind. It made Zhang Siyun seem like he was an otherworldly immortal that even an azure dragon would yield to.
Looking down at the ground, he thought, Those bugs from before don’t deserve to stand higher than me. Now they can watch as I crush their records.
With that, he moved again, effortlessly going higher and higher. 8,100 meters. 8,400 meters. 8,700 meters. Passing the spot where Qing Qiu had been forced to give up, he reached 9,000 meters. His intention was to keep moving, but just like before, the bizarre moon totem released a flash of light. The third!
A tremor passed through Zhang Siyun.
Far from Emperor-Receiving Prefecture in the distant west of Revered Ancient, in a land of endless night where a red moon hung in the sky, a vague, indistinct voice rang out.
“Who stole some godsource from… huh? Oh, it was you.”
The moment that voice spoke, Zhang Siyun, who was 9,000 meters up the Supreme Beginning Netherflight Pillar, suddenly experienced a change in facial expression. Now, he looked completely astonished.
The calm in his eyes vanished, to be replaced with horror. Disbelief and utter incredulity swept through him as he sensed an indescribable, shocking power inundating him. It was like a god had descended, bursting with rage and extermination! It was so sudden that he was like a bug beneath the finger of a giant, incapable of fighting back. Incomparably weak.
A bloodcurdling scream escaped his lips, along with a mouthful of blood. Popping sounds rang out of him as blood sprayed from his pores. His life lamp umbrella dimmed as if it might be extinguished. The white dragon behind him let loose an agonized shriek as half of it exploded, staining the rest of it bright red with blood. Zhang Siyun experienced the same thing. His legs exploded, while the rest of his body, including his arms and torso, became a mass of mangled gore. As the effects of eradication spread, despair appeared on his face, as well as deep confusion. He really had no idea what was happening. It was all too sudden.
A figure shot out from the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society, and at the same time, several of the swordsage elders took action.
The elders weren’t showing partiality. Though Xu Qing and Chen Erniu had been seriously hurt, it obviously hadn’t been so serious, and didn’t border on being fatal. But for some reason, it seemed that Zhang Siyun was about to be wiped out of existence. They couldn’t just stand idly by while a chosen died in that manner.
In the blink of an eye, the figure from the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society arrived. Including the swordsage elders, that made a total of four Void Returning cultivators who had arrived to save Zhang Siyun.
The person from the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society was an old man. Without any hesitation he produced a huge quantity of precious materials, including an incomparably valuable ‘supreme arbiter pill.’ That pill had previously been intended for Zhang Siyun to use during a critical breakthrough moment. But there wasn’t time to worry about that now. The terrifying life force in that pill, combined with countless other medicinal pills, was the only thing that kept Zhang Siyun’s injuries in check.
Having done that, the old man from the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society took the weak and unconscious Zhang Siyun into his arms. Looking at the swordsage elders, he said, “Exalted elders, what happened?”
The three elders were also puzzled. Looking at the totem on the Supreme Beginning Netherflight Pillar, they smiled wryly and shook their heads.
“We’ll look into it right away.”
The old man from the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society sighed and took Zhang Siyun away.
The event was now over. The Swordsage Court quickly sealed the Supreme Beginning Netherflight Pillar and prohibited further climbing attempts. Then they got to work studying the pillar.
Under the shocked eyes of the crowd, Zhang Siyun was taken back to the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society garrison, where no expense was spared to heal him. Zhang Siyun was an extraordinary individual, so it only took two days for him to recover.
However, neither he, nor the old man from the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society, nor the Swordsage Court ever noticed… the real reason why he didn’t end up dead.
Deeply hidden in a corner of Zhang Siyun’s sea of consciousness… was a red moon. Seated atop that moon was a figure with both hands covering its face. That was particularly strange considering that the figure didn’t have any facial features. Instead, its face was covered with countless tiny holes that wriggled and writhed, all while fresh blood flowed out of them…. It was very, very inauspicious.
“It wasn’t him. The thief must be similar to me…. After I return, I’ll find the thief and consume him. This body is weak. It needs time to get stronger. Until then… I’ll continue sleeping.”
The whisper from the moon grew fainter and fainter.
Zhang Siyun didn’t have the ability to know what was happening. He thought everything had gone back to normal. But the truth was that there was only one reason he wasn’t dead.
Back in the Eight Sect Coalition garrison, Xu Qing, who was seated cross-legged in meditation trying to recover, suddenly opened his eyes. They were filled with lingering fear and also astonishment as he looked in the direction of the Supreme Arbiter Immortal Society garrison.