Chapter 214: Enemy Ploy
Upon receiving the elderly saint’s commands, a group consisting of a full Saint who had three neatly braided ponytails and ten lesser saints charged toward Ling who in turn redirected her ray of death toward them.
“Scramble! Avoid contact with that beam!” The full saint with three ponytails commanded, knowing it would be the end of him and his subordinates if any of them so much as touched Ling’s death ray.
“She’s harnessing the power of the sun, use the Ghostly Shroud technique!” The saint commanded after he and his men scattered in dozens of different directions and surrounded Ling from all sides.
“Protect the madam!” Xiao Gong’s roar could be heard as the massive figure of his true form and Nai Fan’s appeared and loomed over Ling.
Now with a trusty pair of guards, Ling focused all her attention towards attacking and no longer needed to mind her surroundings. However, this was short-lived because the saints of the Golden Pearl Sect, who specialized in water magic, invoked their will on the vast waters that surrounded the island that Golden Shell City was built on and conjured a veil of mist to stop Ling from harnessing the power of the sun.
“Tch…” Ling clicked her tongue as she waved her hand and made crescent shaped blades of water and large shards of ice form around her.
As the battle continued on, Golden Shell City which was famous for it's unusual but oddly beautiful walls and scenic landscape was transformed into a hell on earth.
Streams of blood began to flow into the sea, dying the shores of Golden Shell City a murky red. Hills of corpses stacked almost as high as the city walls while hundreds of Saint level experts scrambled across the sky, engaging in intense combat.
Normally when a single saint perished, their belongings and heavenly energy would be almost instantly seized by another Saint or their remains would stir a swarm of level ten cultivators into action. But now despite there being tens of dead lesser saints scattered throughout the battlefield, no one was even remotely moved or enticed. Rather, wherever the corpse of a saint could be seen, there would be a wide perimeter around it, void of living combatants.
At first, many of the soldiers of the Blood Coral Cove and disciples of the Starry Sea Sect and Golden Pearl Sect on the ground had swarmed when a saint had fallen from the sky. Overcome by greed and the thought of becoming a saint themselves, scores of people fought to acquire the possessions and corpses of the fallen saints, further intensifying the already daunting battle.
Death tolls began to climb exponentially in the areas where the corpses of the saints landed, to the point where the majority of the people partaking in the battle deemed it was not worth to even try to get near them because anyone who even came remotely close to the corpses of the fallen saints instantly found themselves cut down mercilessly.
One may wonder why none of the saint level experts had bothered to swoop down and collect their spoils of war after defeating another saint level expert, but the answer is simple, the battle taking place in the sky was dozens of times more dangerous and fierce than the one taking place on the ground.
Countless awe inspiring attacks, techniques, aerial maneuvers and the like were currently being employed as hundreds of lesser saints and a dozen or two full saints battled for supremacy. Despite a higher intensity in the battle between saints, the casualty count was actually exponentially lower when compared to the battle below, however, an immense amount of concentration was required to remain alive.
Unlike the combatants below, the battle between saints took a much higher mentally, for one wrong move could result in instant death and render all of the time and effort required to become a saint, meaningless.
After demolishing the city gates, Zhang had engaged the elderly full saint, who was leading the forces of the Golden Pearl Sect, in a close quarters struggle. Although his opponent appeared to be ancient in age, Zhang found it extremely difficult to gain an upper hand.
Perhaps it was due to a severe gap in their combat experience, but every single one of Zhang’s body movements were properly read and countered, making it so that he was still unable to cause even a single scratch on his opponent despite having sparred for what seemed to be a hundred exchanges.
“You're a thousand years too young to thank you can beat this old man in a one on one battle!” The elderly saint said with a laugh as he seemed to only grow stronger as his battle with Zhang continued on.
“For one as old such as yourself to be fighting a junior such as myself, shouldn’t you be ashamed?” Zhang retorted with a mocking laugh as he swung the Rising Moon Sword while making singularities appear left and right in an attempt to seal the elderly saint’s escape routes.
“A thousand years ago they called me Yu Xiang the undefeated and a thousand years later they will continue to do so, while a nameless brat like you will only be added to a long list of those who had fallen to my blade.” The elderly saint named Yu Xiang said as he lunged at Zhang while manipulating the moisture in the air to create tens of swords of water appear and home in on Zhang.
“Maybe you should retire now before people start calling you Yu Xiang the defeated.” Zhang said as his Abyssal Cape fluttered and a swarm of shadowy sparrows shot out from his shadow, smashing into the swords of water conjured by Yu Xiang and creating a curtain of droplets that scattered down onto the ground below.
“You whippersnapper, you dare to mock this old man’s glory?” Yu Xiang said in a powerful voice as his speed increased exponentially, allowing him to arrive in front of Zhang in an instant while swinging his sword.
“He should be as powerful as a low tier high saint…” Zhang assessed as he used the Rising Moon Sword and Mirage Viper Fang Sword to block Yu Xiang’s attack before performing a dance like footwork that allowed him to maneuver himself behind his opponent.
“I must say, though; it has been many years since I’ve run into another full saint who can hold their own against me for so long. If you had not been here, then no one else on this battlefield would be powerful enough to stop this old man.” Yu Xiang said, praising Zhang as the two continued to exchange sword strikes.
“In terms of pure power, there’s someone here who is much much stronger than me, however as a husband how can I bring myself to allow my lovely wife to fight someone as strong as you. What if she breaks a nail or has a wardrobe problem?” Zhang replied with a laugh as he glanced at Ai who was busily roaming the battlefield with the other beauties.
If Ai was allowed to fight Yu Xiang, then in terms of pure power then Zhang was fairly sure she would be able to slightly over power Yu Xiang. However, she would also be put at risk and since their fight would be a fairly close one, Zhang did not want to place his wife in harm’s way.
“Could you possibly be talking about that haughty little girl earlier? Although her techniques appear mysterious and foreign to me, I doubt she would be able to hold her own against me.” Yu Xiang retorted as he thought Zhang was referring to Yuying.
“Old man, you are sure asking a lot of questions for someone who is supposed to be adding me to his long list of slain opponents,” Zhang said, ignoring Yu Xiang’s question.
“This old man merely acknowledges you for your strength. Had you not come here with malicious intentions then I would have surely offered a toast of wine.” Yu Xiang said with a slightly sincere look.
“Had your Golden Pearl Sect not come to my Blood Coral Cove with malicious intentions then maybe we wouldn’t be here at all.” Zhang replied in an unhappy manner.
“If we did not receive that accursed letter then none of this would happen…” Yu Xiang murmured in a low tone that Zhang was unable to hear as a dozen rays of black lay shot up from various towers built at certain intervals along Golden Shell City’s walls.
“Demonic Pearl Array…” Zhang mumbled as the dozen or so rays of black light began to bend and connect with each other.
“All Forces! Regroup! Regroup! Withdraw from the city! Move out before we fall prey to the effects of the Demonic Pearl Array kick in!” Countless voices could be heard as the various commanders of the Blood Scale Army and elders of the Starry Sea Sect, who had charged through the gates of Golden Shell City, saw the Demonic Pearl Array began to form around the city.
“Ha-ha, what made the lot of you think this was the Demonic Pearl Array?” Yu Xiang said after a hearty laugh as he heard Zhang mumble.
“It’s not?” Zhang asked with a bit of curiosity, a hint of disbelief and some confusion plastered on his face.
“All disciples of the Golden Pearl Sect! Retreat! The Golden Prism Array has been activated!” Yu Xiang’s voice reverberated throughout the battlefield as he ignored Zhang and sped toward the city.
Seeing that something was amidst, Zhang did not pursue and simply watched as Yu Xiang departed. Soon after the black colored rays of light turned into a bright golden color and a massive semi-invisible membrane enveloped Golden Shell City, trapping some of the members of the coalition inside while keeping a few members of the Golden Pearl Sect locked outside. Before long the semitransparent membrane turned into a solid golden color which prevented those from the outside to peer in, inadvertently preventing Zhang from opening a dimensional rift inside.
A storm of panicked cries could be heard as the people cut off from their respective forces pounded on the invisible membrane, but sadly their cries fell on deaf ears and they were all soon rounded up by either coalition force or by the Golden Pearl Sect.
“Chu Shuo and Hai Xing, the two of you go collect the corpses of all of the fallen saints. You guys may distribute some them to our saints before handing the spoils over to me. Get things done quickly before guys from the Starry Sea Sect can get their hands on them.” Zhang commanded as the battle came to a sudden end.
“Right away my lord.” Chu Shuo and Hai Xing said simultaneously with wide grins on their faces.
After they started working under Zhang, the two of them had received an abundant amount of Heavenly Energy had gone through their hands and they were close to becoming full saints hence the reason behind their grins.
“Brother Zhang, I had just received word from our sect headquarters. It appears the Golden Shell Sect had rallied a number of other sects and are on route here. I received word to set up defensive measures in case the enemy arrives before our reinforcements.” Shan Li said as he descended from the sky and arrived beside Zhang who was tending to the wounded.
“So instead of waiting for us, they are coming here…” Zhang muttered as he was helping a soldier of the Blood Scale Army clean his wound.
“Our Ancestral Sect Master will arrive here with reinforcements in three days, as long as nothing happens then we will be alright.” Shan Li said.
“Three days… Do you know how many other sects they've managed to rally together?” Zhang mumbled to himself before asking Shan Li.
“I'm not sure, however, I was told they had offered up half of their sect’s base foundation to whoever would join them. They had also said that we are in possession of a piece of the Ascending Beauty Painting. So they'll have a frightening number of experts and people at their disposal.” Shan Li replied with a sigh.
“To think they would give up half of their base foundation. The coming battle with the Golden Pearl Sect and their allies will be a headache…” Shan Li added.
“I'm sure they won't be the only ones to give us a headaches. I'm certain other forces will show up to either watch the festivities or join in, either against us or with us. Especially when one considered the scale the upcoming battle will be, and the news regarding the painting.” Zhang said.
“A lot of the people who are in possession of the pieces of the Ascending Beauty painting will more than likely gather here after being told that we are in possession of a piece of the painting. If lots of pieces of the painting are gathered in one place, I'm sure those bastards will be coming too…” Zhang thought as though of the Dragon God Palace and how much they wanted to gather all of the pieces of the painting.
“Now that I think about it, we could have all been played by them…” Zhang thought.
“Brother Shan Li, it may be a bit late for me to ask, but why did you attack my Blood Coral Cove? Was it because of Madam Diao Yu?” Zhang asked, hoping to confirm his speculations.
“Madam Diao Yu? Of course not, although we had done contact with her and she had sent us a transmission about you possibly being in possession of a piece of the Ascending Beauty Painting. Without much proof to back her words, we weren't going to act on pure speculation.” Shan Li replied.
“But in the end, you guys did end up attacking the cove.” Zhang said.
“That was because the Golden Pearl Sect had arrived and offered us an alliance. They had also said they their sources could confirm that you have a piece of the painting in your possession.” Shan Li recalled.
“Everything is going according to their plan…” Zhang thought as creases appeared on his brow.
“By putting us together by using the Ascending Beauty Painting as bait, they only needed to wait until more people who are in possession of the painting gathered and then once piece was in the same area, they would only have to wait until we all slaughtered ourselves and then move in and collect the painting.” Zhang thought as he believed the recent series of events was all plotted by the Dragon God Palace.
“That old bastard Long Feng knew that the Starry Sea Sect and Golden Pearl Sect wouldn't be able to defeat me and things would have led to our current situation… Or rather even the Starry Sea Sect and Golden Pearl Sect had succeeded in destroying my Blood Coral Cove, then the Dragon God Palace would have surely stirred the pot some more and in the end, everything would still result in the way they wished.” Zhang thought as a storm of bits and pieces began to come together in his mind.