Chapter 236: Malevolen
Walking through the ruins of the once splendid grounds of the Sea Beast Sect, Zhang, and the beauties curiously looked about. From the remains of these ruins alone they could tell the vast power and influence that the Sea Beast Sect once held.
“It’s hard to imagine a force that was once capable of controlling the whole Eastern Sea disappearing just like that after their master was defeated.” Ling said as she walked alongside Zhang while tracing her hand on a crumbling wall.
“I find it quite hard to believe also.” Lingqi agreed.
“Maybe they all fled or went into hiding somewhere far away. Regardless of wherever they went, as long as they left behind some treasure for us then I’ll be content.” Zhang said with a wholehearted laughed prompting his wives to shake their heads while giggling at him.
With a bright and cheerful mood came good fortune as a few moments later a large tree covered in weirdly shaped fruit caught Lingqi’s attention from the corner of her eye. Sprouting upward out from the remains of what had once been a house, this tree was red in color, color similar to that of blood. Its leaves looked like flattened hands, it’s limbs as thick as a man’s waist and its fruit bearing the face of children.
“Th-that is a Human Face Peach Tree!” Lingqi yelled in disbelief as she stared at the somewhat creepy looking fruits hanging from the large tree.
“These things look kind of creepy.” Ai commented as she looked at the humanlike faces plastered on the peaches. From a glance, it would appear as if the face of a child who had been peacefully sleeping had been snatched and fused with the fist sized fruit.
“Growing only on land that had once been soaked in blood, it is said that the fruit of the Human Face Peach Tree, the Human Face Peach is very a delicacy for demonic beasts. Being both beneficial for their growth while also helping them awaken bits of the ancestral blood coursing through their veins. From what I know, the last Human Face Peach Tree to ever be spotted on our Wulin continent was in the capital of the Sai Empire. However, as you all know, the capital of the Sai Empire had been struck by an unknown calamity and disappeared.” Lingqi said as she reached her hand out and plucked one of the Human Face Peaches from the tree.
“Darling, lend me a hand and let’s pick all of the peaches before someone else spots this tree.” Lingqi said as she looked at Zhang with a smile.
“Why would we pick a few fruits, when we can take the whole tree?” Zhang said with a laugh as he looked toward Yuying who responded with a wink.
Employing the power of the Underworld Heart, Zhang enveloped the entire Human Faced Peach Tree in a layer of essence. From the smallest of leaves to the deepest of roots, Zhang covered every part of the large tree before lifting his hands upward toward the sky. With Zhang’s simple gesture the ground began to shake as the large tree began to wiggle its way out of the group.
“Be sure to take as much of the soil as you can. The tree only grows in blood soaked soil, preferably the blood of demonic beasts. If it’s planted in regular soil, then it will die.” Lingqi said.
“Alright.” Zhang said with a nod as he enveloped a large portion of the blood red soil underneath the tree in a layer of essence, causing it to rise into the air.
In the meantime, Yuying had opened a portal to the Ruler’s Domain and thus in no time at all the Human Face Peach Tree was replanted.
“To think after a short walk, we were already able to gain such a great harvest.” Lingqi chuckled as she and the rest of the group continued to walk around the ruins.
One could call the ruins a treasure trove in disguise as Zhang and the beauties spotted one rare herb after the other. At each turn and every corner, there would be some kind of usual plant for Lingqi to retrieve. Plants that have been extinct on the Wulin continent for hundreds of years grew in abundance causing the sparkling glints within Lingqi’s eyes to never cease. Transferring these various plants that were found directly into the Ruler’s Domain, Yuying construct a small herb garden brimming with rarities.
As they received a stream of chance encounters with good luck, Zhang and the beauties soon stumbled upon something very peculiar after they made their way into crumbling building in their search for riches and treasure.
Walking with brisk and quick steps, Ai made her way into the building first while the others followed not too far behind.
“What’s that?” Ai mumbled the instant as she entered the building. Staring into the distance, a strange wisp of blue smoke could be seen lingering in the air.
Oddly enough, the hairs on Ai’s body stood on end as she felt as if the wisp of blue smoke was actually staring at her.
A fraction of a second later, the temperature began to plummet and the air began to chill as a fearful roar reverberated throughout the crumbling building. Like a turbulent wave, the wisp of smoke shot through the air toward Ai at blinding speeds.
“Ai be careful! That’s a severed soul! Move away from it! Or else it may invade your body, extinguish your soul and take over your mind!” Yuying yelled in a frantic tone as she quickly made a series of hand signs while channeling the essence within her body.
“Be gone!” Yuying said in a powerful tone as she pressed her hand on the ground and made chains of runes appear on the ground and snake toward Ai. However, despite how fast Yuying had reacted to the current situation, the severed soul had arrived in front of Ai before the runes, repelling them away with an invisible force.
Turning into a vicious looking black color and engulfing Ai in a shroud of smoke, the severed soul attempted to seize her body, causing a frown and creases to appear on Yuying’s face as she charged forth.
As for Zhang, Ling, and Lingqi, they had just set foot in the building and were at a loss, not knowing what was currently happening. All they knew, from Yuying’s actions, was that something bad was occurring, so within much delay, they all quickly rushed toward Ai while channeling the essence within their bodies and readying themselves to act.
Zhang couldn’t help but slightly curse himself for not being on higher alert and allowing his wife to have danger befall upon her.
With worried and frantic expressions on all of their faces, everyone arrived beside Ai, only to stand beside her utterly stunned with their jaws wide open in astonishment.
“Achoo!” Ai sneezed, causing the cloak of black smoke that enveloped her body to disperse.
“Ai, are you alright!?” Zhang asked as he grabbed Ai’s shoulders after shortly snapping out of the stunned state that had been thrown in.
“Of course, I'm fine, silly.” Ai said while using a handkerchief to wipe her nose, acting in a somewhat carefree manner that made light of what had happened more moments ago.
“Hold her still and don't let her move! I'm going to check and see if she really is fine.” Yuying said, prompting Zhang to turn Ai around a hundred eighty degrees and wrapping his arms around her waist, bear hugging her.
“Wha-what are you doing?” Ai asked with slightly blushing cheeks in somewhat confused tone.
Tapping Ai’s forehead and doing something she had never done before, Yuying began to probe to see if Ai’s soul defenses had been breached. Surpassingly enough, Yuying’s found her attempt an instant failure.
One must know that despite only being a full saint, the strength of Yuying’s soul was unfathomable and very powerful. Although Yuying could not take advantage of the strength of her soul to defeat high saints due to the severe gap in power, merely using it to prove Ai’s condition should have not posed any problems at all.
“Her soul defenses are even stronger than the ones that those wyverns possess. Knowing her, this is her innate defenses acting on their own without anything else to reinforce it.” Yuying thought as her hand pulled away from Ai’s forehead while a warm smile appeared on her face a few moments later.
“Next time if someone were to attack us with soul attacks, we just need to hide behind this klutz right here.” Yuying said while laugh, as she hugged Ai, who now also had a faint smile on her face.
“Although we did not suffer any losses this time, I think it would be best to stay on high alert in case there are other severed souls lurking around. Even if Ai escaped without any complications I cannot say the same for the rest of us. It is unwise to judge everything as a whole through one separate event. Severed souls usually belong to powerful experts who had possessed the power of high saints when they were alive.” Yuying added.
Elsewhere on the island, many other people who were also searching for treasure like Zhang and the beauties, also found themselves face to face with a severed soul or two.
“So-so-someone he-help me!” A female lesser saint’s scream shook the air as her body was enveloped in a mist of black colored smoke. As the black colored mist spilled into her eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, while assaulting her soul defenses, the severed soul caused the female lesser saint to fall onto the ground where she could be seen convulsing uncontrollably as only the whites of her eyes could be seen.
Foaming at the mouth, the female lesser saint’s body was quickly overtaken by the severed soul. Unlike Ai who possessed monster innate soul defenses, unlike Yuying whose expertise lies with the matters of the soul and the high saints who were steadily developing their souls in order to survive the tribulations required for them to become half deities, lesser saints could be considered defenseless when facing a severed soul.
“Ahahahahah! How long has it been since I’ve since I’ve been able to feel the warmth of the sun?! How long has it been since I was able to take in a breath of fresh air!” The female saint said while laughing manically as she pushed herself up from the ground, wiping the foam and spit that covered half of her face, causing her companions stare at her with fearful expressions.
Knowing that something was wrong with their comrade, the female lesser saint’s two companions, who were also lesser saints, quickly leaped into the air, fleeing with all of their might.
“Where do you two think, you're going? Even though your bodies are inferior, they’ll have to do since there are quite a few of us who need new homes.” The female lesser saint laughed as her hands gripped the air, unleashing a powerful suction force that stopped the two fleeing lesser saints in their tracks.
“Junior Sister Mei Qing! Let us go!” One of the fleeing lesser saints screamed as fear filled his heart. Feeling the power of a full saint envelope his body, the man knew that escaping was no longer an option.
“Mei Qing? Hmmm, not a bad name! I’ll keep it.” The female lesser saint said as she pulled her hands back, causing the two fleeing lesser saints to fall from the sky and crash into the ground, creating two large craters.
Sprawled out and nearly lifeless, the two lesser saints laid on the ground helplessly as two hazy wisps of smoke appeared and enveloped their body.
Like their friend, these two lesser saints both had their soul defenses shattered and their bodies stolen in a flash.
“You old wench… Why'd you have to be so heavy handed? It's been so long since I've felt this much pain… it's been so long since I've felt any pain at all…” One of the two men, an individual with tanned skin and a slanted nose complained while stretching his limbs as if he had just woken from a long slumber.
“Isn't this feeling wonderful!? I finally feel so alive!” The other man who had fallen from the sky yelled in an energetic voice.
“You three can celebrate your resurrection later. Come with me and prepare for our lord’s return.” A man whose face was covered with a mask with a pair of horns protruding from his head said as he appeared from the shadows.
“Hmph! Just because you’ve brought us these bodies don’t think that you have the right to order us around! When we were ruling over the Eastern Sea you were but a mere servant, the kind I could have put to death with but a single word!” Mei Qing said in a haughty tone as if she were talking to a mere ant.
“That may have been the case all of those hundreds of years ago, however as of now with my current body I can kill all three of you without even lifting a finger.” The masked man said as a powerful wave of essence swept through the air and wrapped around the newly bodies acquired bodies of the three severed souls, directly assaulting their souls.
“If I wished I could destroy your connection to these bodies and disperse your consciousness with a thought!” The masked man said causing the three people in front of him to quiver in fear before quickly submitting and kneel on the ground on one knee.
Throughout the island, many of the lesser saints and full saints who were having their bodies snatched away as many severed souls appeared.