Chapter 247: Earth Shattering
While many questions popped up in Zhang’s head, now was not the time to seek answers, so pushing these thoughts aside he focused all of his attention on dodging Long Jieshu’s attacks while skillfully controlling the hundreds of wisps of Soul Devouring Flames that currently littered the sky.
“Now that I’ve managed to conjure a sizeable number of them, let’s give those full saints and high saints a taste.” Zhang said while smiling gleefully as he waved his hand and caused the hundreds of wisps of black flames to swirl around his body before break off into small groups, each group targeting a different full or high saint.
Although a single wisp of black fire was only capable of extinguishing a lesser saint's soul, four or five of them was enough to take out a full saint while ten or so was enough to force a high saint into submission.
In a midst of fiery chaos and confusion, those who would otherwise be considered lords and rulers of the sea fell from the sky one by one, with each of their deaths adding to the accumulating fear that permeated the air.
Due to the fact that many had never come face to face with something as mystifying as Zhang’s Soul Devouring Flame before, they were incapable of properly exploiting its weaknesses.
As powerful as the Soul Devouring Flames were, there was a huge flaw in their nature that could be exploited. Unlike the Underworld where there was an abundance of essence to fuel and ignite countless black flames at a whim, in the mortal world where the density in of essence in the air was fairly low and where everyone’s soul was protected by a fleshly body, which greatly reduces the potency of the Soul Devouring Flames. In simpler terms, whenever Zhang used the black flames on a regular person in the Underworld he would gain enough essence to ignite another black flame, while in the mortal world he was required to kill someone roughly at the level of a lesser saint to gain the equivalent amount of essence.
Had anyone known and exploited the Soul Devouring Flames weakness by using the bodies of some of the hundreds of thousands of low-level cultivators as their shields while draining all of the essence out of the air, Zhang’s greatest trump card would effectively be unusable.
With all of that being said, currently there were but a handful of people that knew of the Soul Devouring Flame’s origins and ever fewer who could have possibly known about its weaknesses, thus Zhang had little to worry about.
Like an envoy of death and a god of war, Zhang slew dozens of saints at a time while trying his best to evade all of Long Jieshu’s attacks on top of taking any opportunity he could to experiment with Long Zhiming’s tribulation lightning.
“It should work this time.” Zhang thought as he waited for Long Zhiming’s sixth bolt of tribulation lightning to arrive. Feeling confident that his next attempt would end in success after quite a few failures, Zhang was quite ecstatic, to the point where he was able to ignore the aching pain the was being extruded from every inch of his body, paying no heed to the tattered robes that now barely covered his upper body and forgetting about the trials of fresh blood that had streamed from the corners of his mouth moments prior.
Despite having a few close run ins with death, Zhang was able to hold his own and maintain his livelihood, even though he had to sever his limbs a few times. Generally speaking, as a high saint he was quite well off since he was able to survive against a half-deity level expert’s onslaught of attacks for so long.
By now even if Zhang were to fall in battle, his name would still resound across the Eastern Sea and the domains beyond it, for he was doing something that few could only dream of doing.
Some will remember him as a hero who desperate fought against all odds in order to prevent the revival of an ancient evil while others would remember him as a monster who slewed hundreds of lesser saints and dozens of full saints, a monster that was capable of stand against an even scarier monster who went by the name of Long Jieshu.
But above all else, Zhang would be remembered as the man who was able to accomplish the impossible, a man who was able to harness the wrath of the heavens and bend it to his own will.
Signaling the birth of a legend, Long Zhiming’s seventh bolt of tribulation lightning streaked across the sky, deafening everyone’s sense of hearing as it boomed down from the heavens.
To ensure that no one would get in his way, Zhang manipulated hundreds of wisps of black flame to congregate around him and swirl about, creating an artificial hurricane that would shield him from most if not all attacks directed at him.
“Powered by heaven’s fury, shaped by thoughts that had crawled out from the dark abysses of the mind, created by the fibers of that make the world and granted life by the flame of creation, congeal and come to life!” Zhang yelled in a voice filled with a mixture of madness and joy as he appeared in the air above where Long Zhiming was.
Unlike his initial attempts, the powers of the Underworld Heart, Abyssal Cape and Eternal Flame did not form into the shape of any sort of man, bird or beast nor did it form into simple spheres, rather Zhang expanded upon his previous designs and came up with something revolutionary.
Creating a five hollowed out spheres that would fit in one’s hand and allowing them to bathe in and soak up as much of the golden tribulation lightning as possible, Zhang initiated a process that would require a dozen or so steps.
“Now the spheres have absorbed all of the tribulation lightning, I can start to form the nucleus.” Zhang mumbled to himself as he made the five spheres that were now filled with lightning to move through the air and form a circle. Once coming into close proximity with each other, the give spheres began to connect with each other and before long a ring of lightning was created.
“Now that the nucleus has been formed and the spheres have synergized with each other to create a circuit I need to begin inscribing the array before I create the outer shell.” Zhang said as he quickly put to use the knowledge that Yuying had taught him while employing the knowledge that he had recovered from his previous life during his escape from the Underworld.
Combining knowledge from past, present, and knowledge from another world, Zhang began to meticulously inscribe dozens of intricate looking runes onto the five spheres.
At first, he had not thought about incorporating the use of runes and arrays into his creation, however, after some thought Zhang actually found them to be essential to what he was trying to accomplish. With the use of the arrays that his lovely wife had taught him and how knowledge regarding circuitry, Zhang found that he was able to not only contain the tribulation lightning but he would also be able to make itself sustaining.
In simpler terms, after the array was laid down and all of the circuitry put into place, Zhang would have an unlimited amount of tribulation lightning at his beck and call, effectively granting him yet another trump card.
Although he was sure that even with an unlimited amount of tribulation lightning at his command, he would only gain a slight advantage when running into other half-deities, at the very least he would be able to slay the likes of Long Jieshu and basically everyone one else who was present on Sea Beast Island.
Knowing that Zhang’s success in harnessing the tribulation lightning would greatly contribute to his demise and the destruction of the Sea Beast Sect’s plans to regain control of the Eastern Sea, Long Jieshu redoubled his efforts as the hundreds of thousands of miniature sized Oceanic Needles fused together and returning to their original form before shrinking into the size of a regular staff and flying into his hands.
“I don’t care if those flames had belonged to a fallen god or not but when facing the might of the ocean, all flames shall be extinguished!” Long Jieshu said as the sea began to churn and swell, creating massive tsunamis that towered into the sky.
Using the Oceanic Needle, Long Jieshu gained dominance over all of the waters of the ocean within a twenty-thousand-mile radius, in which he funneled toward Sea Beast Island, splitting the sea in the process. Surprisingly enough, as it an invisible wall was holding it up, all of the water outside of the twenty-thousand-mile radius remained unchanged.
Standing contrast to one another was a solid wall of water that allowed one to peer in and watch the otherwise unseen oceanic creatures, the other a sprawling land void of even a droplet of water, a land filled with coral, and other strange plants that only grew within the dark depths.
“Everyone flee! Run for your lives!” Many of the members of the Sea Beast Sect and the coalition screamed as they saw the sun slowing being blotted out by the sea.
In the face of such a catastrophic, the lull of power and fortune were no longer enticing, while the strings of loyalty were strained and only served to drag one down.
Regardless of they were, be they almighty saints who were capable of soaring through the sky, the saints who normally gazed down at all beneath them with disdain and pride, or the proud people who lived out their lives in the sea, everyone present regardless of which side they were on, cursed themselves for being idiotic enough to be present on this battlefield that would soon be swept underneath the waves.
One may wonder why those who are capable of breathing underwater be afraid, and the answer would be simple, once the massive tsunamis that Long Jieshu conjured smashed down from the sky, even if one knew how to breathe underwater, the powerful pressure exerted by the many millions of gallons of water pressing down upon their bodies along would be enough to kill just about anyone.
Fleeing toward the mountains and soaring into to the sky in the hopes of escaping the inevitable, hundreds of thousands of people dropped their weapons and ran with all their might. Well, of course, there were a few people who occasionally stopped to loot the bodies of the saints that Zhang had killed, but one could call them another breed of people.
“If you want to get to him, you'll have to go through me first!” A voice suddenly rang into everyone’s ear as four silhouettes appeared around Zhang’s tornado of black flames.
Rather than attempting to absorb enough heavenly energy to trigger their tribulation trials, the four beauties had rushed outside to aid their husband, hoping to find an opportunity to escape together. However, to their amazement, they had found that their husband had actually surpassed them and not only did he become a high said but also triggered his own heavenly tribulation.
But without enough time to celebrate of their husband’s awe-inspiring progress, the beauties were forced to try to intervene as they saw Long Jieshu’s attempt to hinder Zhang.
Without caring for their own safety, the four beauties unveiled all of their trump cards and secret techniques and in a stroke of brilliance, the sky was lit up under a dazzling show of love, sacrifice, and fury.
Having now become a high saint, Ling was able to conjure and manipulate roughly five times as much water as she could before, allowing her to invoke not one nor two but four scorching rays of sunlight.
Harnessing the power of the sun, Ling focused her four rays of death onto the incoming tsunamis, and ice the two forces of nature collided an otherworldly explosion occur, causing a boiling veil of mist to shoot out in all direction.
For the few who were unlucky enough to be enveloped within this veil of mist, their skin blister while their insides cooked due to the intensely hot water vapors.
“Interesting! However, just the four of you won't be enough to stop me! In any shape or form, water is useless against me!” Long Jieshu laughed as he manipulated the ocean’s waters to move forward even faster, miraculously overcoming Ling’s four death rays bit by bit before he grasped at the air and took control over the water droplets that Ling had controlled, reshaping them into icy needles and launching them at her body.
“The battle has just begun, underestimating us just because you're stronger will only come back to bite you later.” Lingqi said as a familiar looking zither appeared in front of her, moments before a deafening symphony of shockwaves echoed across the sky.
Invisible and untraceable, these shockwaves resonated with one another as they created an invisible wall around Ling, saving her from being skewed by hundreds of icy needles. Once she had helped Ling, Lingqi then redirected her sonic sound waves toward the towering tsunamis, preventing them from flowing forward.
“Maybe four isn't enough, but maybe ten or perhaps twenty will be!” Yuying said as an eerie green light shone from her pupils all the while as evil looking green mist poured out from the sleeves of her robes.
In a flash twenty pummels of green mist crept down from the sky and wrapped around the bodies of the fallen lesser saints that Zhang had killed, pouring into their eyes, mouth, nose and ear, before causing these lifeless corpses to spasm and come back to life.
“Allow this princess to show you what a truly unfair fight is like.” Yuying said with a devious looking smirk on her face as twenty undead lesser saints took to the sky, staring at Long Jieshu with lifeless eyes while greenish colored blood and mist flowed out from their mouths and eyes.
“When they were alive they wouldn’t have stood a chance against me and in death, nothing shall change.” Long Jieshu said, waving his hand casually and creating dozens of thin razor sharp blades of water which embedded themselves into the bodies of the undead saints before exploding, causing a mixture of bloody limbs and mesh to rain down from the sky.
“If they went down so easily then this wouldn’t be an unfair fight, would it?” Yuying said as she snapped her fingers, causing green mist to spray out from the severed limbs and in an instant later the corpses of the twenty fallen lesser saints were patched back together. Of course, after having their bodies ripped apart into hundreds of pieces, even if they were patched back together, these twenty undead lesser saints had definitely become a horrendous sight to behold.
Snapping her fingers once again, Yuying made the twenty undead lesser saints soar back into the sky once more, as a frown appeared on Long Jieshu’s face.
“Think fast!” Ai’s voice rang into Long Jieshu’s ears as he felt an extremely powerful force smash into his back, launching him downward like a meteorite.
“Ho-how… I didn’t sense any fluctuations of essence at all…” Long Jieshu said as he stood up from within a newly created crater, glaring into the sky toward Ai.
“Although I made this in a haste, I hope you enjoy it.” Lingqi’s voice could be heard as ten vials filled with blackish goo fell onto the ground near where Long Jieshu stood, shattering and splattering everywhere.
Like before, before Long Jieshu could even say a single word, he noticed patches of his pale white skin turn into an ugly grayish tone. Upon closer inspection, one would notice that Long Jieshu’s these patches of skin were actually terrifying and turning into stone.
Absolutely infuriated about the turn of events, Long Jieshu roared angrily as throw the Oceanic Needle which had been tightly grasped in his hand, into the air where it split into hundreds of thousands identical copies like it had done before.
“It seems like you were right, if I don’t take the four of you seriously then I’ll only continue to make a fool out of myself. So now I will kill you four first and then I’ll make your husband watch as I skin your corpses!” Long Jieshu yelled as hundreds of thousands of Oceanic Needles shot upward toward the beauties.
“Just a little longer and I’ll be able to lend a hand!” Zhang’s voice rung in the minds of his four wives, however without needing Zhang to act, an unforeseeable event transpired.
While Zhang was hastily trying to finish inscribing the inscription arrays onto the five spheres containing tribulation lighting, thin cracks began to appear on his interspatial ring. By the time, Zhang noticed what was happening, the entirety of his interspatial ring had already been covered with cracks as whitish colored light could be seen leaking out from them.
Not waiting to see what was going to happen and not willing to take any chances, Zhang quickly took off his interspatial ring and tossed it up into the air, where a blinding explosion soon occurred.
Much to Zhang’s grief, all of his accumulated wealth, all of the riches that he had plundered, swindled and fought for, scattered down from the sky. An unbelievable number of essence stones, a sea of gold coins and all sorts of other valuables trickled down upon Sea Beast Island just as Long Jieshu’s deadly attack was about to strike Ai, Ling, Yuying, and Lingqi.
In the moments that followed, it was as if the world had stood still and time had been frozen, just as the beauties were about to deploy various means of defense, a simply looking portrait of a very beautiful woman fluttered through the air and arrived in front of them before suddenly releasing an extremely powerful burst of essence that caused the air itself to shudder.
“Th-the Ascending Beauty Painting!!!!” Someone cried as Long Jieshu’s attack was stopped and hundreds of thousands of Oceanic Needles accompanied Zhang’s wealth, falling from the sky.
“IF ANYONE DARES TO TAKE EVEN A SINGLE ONE OF MY GOLD COINS, I’LL KILL THEIR ENTIRE SECT!!!” Zhang's voice reverberated into everyone’s ear as the Ascending Beauty Painting’s power was put on display.