Chapter 249: Crimson Flames
“How the heavens have helped me!” Long Jieshu laughed with glee as he condensed together a large mass of essence, while staring into the sky at Zhang.
When facing their ninth and last bolt of tribulation, high saints who were undergoing their trial were at their most vulnerable, and thus a perfect opportunity arose for Long Jieshu to turn the situation around in his favor.
Long Jieshu knew that if he did not take this opportunity to rid himself of Zhang, then obviously once Zhang attained his second Ascension, the situation would be irreversible.
While he was still fairly confident in his ability to successfully escape if the need arose, he knew if he did not deal with Zhang now then he would be unable to ever do so again.
Manipulating and molding all of the essence he could gather, Long Jieshu made hundreds of thousands of swords made entirely of ice rise into the air from the boundless sea.
Once these hundreds of thousands of ice swords rose up into the sky, even more essence was infused into them, until they gave off an eerie black colored glow that screamed of danger and devastation and gleam as if they were forged from metal.
Ignoring all else, Zhang’s focus was glued to the looming danger lurking above the clouds. Like a serpent that was waiting for the right moment to strike, the ninth bolt of tribulation lightning snaked in and out of the dark clouds that now covered the sky.
Pouring all of the essence that he had collected through the Soul Devouring Flames, into the Underworld Heart, Zhang released hundreds of purplish pulses of essence that coated and enveloped everything within a ten-mile radius of him.
“Let's hope this works.” Zhang thought as he waved his hand and made millions upon millions of scattered gold coins shoot into the air and circle around.
With a wave of his hand, Zhang the made these millions of gold coins clump together to create golden spikes that all pointed upward toward the heavens.
Just as Zhang finished doing this, a loud beast-like roar thundered into everyone’s ears. Before they knew it, a few of those present were temporarily robbed of their ability to hear as streams of blood seeped out from within their ears. While a few of the weaker severed souls felt the very fibers of their being screaming for them to flee.
In the following moment, a massive lightning bolt the likes of which few have ever seen before descended from the heavens.
Traveling at a speed in which many were incapable of observing while releasing majestic and blinding light the ninth bolt of tribulation lighting sped toward Zhang.
“I really hope this works.” Zhang mumbled just a half a second before his Lightning Abyssal Dragon released a torrent of golden lightning from its maw.
In an attempt to fight fire with fire or well rather lightning with lightning, Zhang’s Lightning Abyssal Dragon used its ultimate move against the ninth bolt of tribulation lightning.
Sadly, much to Zhang’s dismay and unhappiness, the two torrents of lightning intersected and intertwined for a fraction of a second before one of them was consumed by the other.
“Now I really really hope this works.” Zhang mumbled to himself yet again as he quickly descended toward the ground while waving his hand and causing the millions of golden coins that were previously levitating in the sky to be propelled forward.
Like speeding arrows, the millions of gold coins weaved upward as Zhang tried to use them as a means to divert or better yet disperse the ninth bolt of tribulation lightning.
Whereas one golden coin would be rather useless, Zhang was hoping millions of them would be able to conduct and then distribute the heavenly lightning from one to the other, that way once the tribulation lightning reached if, if it did at all, would be incredibly weak and manageable.
“Of course, he would try to use gold coins to overcome his heavenly tribulation.” Yuying said with a soft chuckle as she glanced at Zhang, before redirecting her gaze back upon Long Zhiming who was currently surrounded by twenty undead lesser saints, a large poison spewing wyverns and the three other beauties, all of whom had confident smiles on their faces after glancing at their husband.
To make sure that they did not give Long Zhiming even the slightest opportunity of escape, the beauties had called forth one of the wyverns that was stored within the Ruler’s Domain.
“Just a little more than my technique will be complete and then I'll be able to shoot him down from the sky.” Long Jieshu muttered to himself.
Despite the faith that the beauties held in their husband, despite how hopeful Zhang was, as an old saying went, plan and scheme as one may but one cannot out plan nor scheme against the heavens, in other words, failure is always around the corner and success is never guaranteed.
Much to Zhang grief and sadness, the ninth bolt of tribulation was not dispersed amongst the millions of gold coins, rather it melted and turned into smoldering hot blobs of liquid metal, which of course began to rain down from the sky and drip onto an unlucky few who were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. While one must be pretty unlucky to have molten hot gold drip onto them, everyone held boundless luck as no deaths were caused by Zhang’s failed attempt.
“Damn it…” Zhang cursed as he hurled the Rising Moon Sword at the bolt of tribulation lightning, only for it to be sent spiraling toward the ground where it embedded itself into a boulder, after merely absorbing a fraction of the golden lightning’s strength.
Despite so much occurring, everything had taken but a few short seconds to transpire and not much time had actually passed at all, serving as a means to gauge Zhang and the tribulation lightning’s speed. With that being said, if Zhang's speed was compared to that of the tribulation lightning bolt’s, then the lightning bolt was roughly moving at twice the speed in which Zhang could.
This meant that it was but a matter of time before the two of them meet face to face.
“Die!” Long Jieshu’s voice could be heard as a sound reminiscent of that of a swarming flock of birds could be heard piercing through the air.
In an instant, Zhang found himself surrounded, from above his ninth bolt of tribulation and from beneath thousands of razor sharp blades of black ice.
Never in his wildest dreams would Zhang had anticipated the power of his last bolt of tribulation lightning. Even if all of the previous bolts of tribulation lightning were combined together, they wouldn't’ even amount to a quarter of the force contained in this ninth bolt.
Zhang had figured, that he would be able to quickly overcome the last portion of his tribulation trail, ascend to godhood and then quickly deal with Long Jieshu, however, the situation had now entirely array and his very survival was now at stake.
“Damn it... What do I do? What do I do?” Zhang thought as he felt a cold chilling sensation approaching his back while an electrifying tingle spearhead toward his front.
“Which do I defend against? With my current power, I, would have been able to survive that ninth bolt of lightning by a narrow margin, however, if I don’t come up with a way to defend against that bastard’s attack I’ll still be done in…” Zhang thought as his mind raced and numerous scenarios played out before him.
“I guess this might work.” Zhang mumbled to himself before igniting a dozen or so wisps of black flame around his body and diving through the air, toward the ground.
Charging toward a sea of swords, Zhang made the black flames that surrounded fly forward, creating a spiral of flames that would engulf all that stood in his path.
Before long, Zhang’s black fire came into contact with Long Jieshu’s icy swords, wrapping them underneath a blanket of dancing flames. Once engulfed in flames, due to the nature of the Soul Devouring Flames, Long Jieshu’s black ice swords did not melt but rather a large portion of the essence infused within them was burnt away and absorbed, causing a few of them to crumble into bits.
“Begone!” Zhang roster as his hand swept sideward, shattering a few more of Long Jieshu’s ice swords and flying into the small gap within the sea of swords that had just been created.
“Ice Thorn Coffin!” Long Jieshu said as he performed a series of hand signs, causing all of the countless ice swords to redirect their tip toward Zhang before flying forward once more.
“Good! Good! Have all of your swords come at me.” Zhang laughed manically as his body rotated and his eyes stared into a blinding bolt of lightning that was but a few feet away from his body.
Like a beast closing its jaws on its prey, the last bolt of tribulation lightning, smashed apart hundreds of Long Jieshu’s ice swords as it enveloped the entirety of Zhang’s body.
Successfully managing to use the ice swords as a means to block his tribulation lightning, Zhang could be seen with a slightly bitter smile on his face as his entire body disappeared beneath a curtain of blinding light.
Closing their eyes due to the intense brightness given off by the tribulation lightning, no one was able to witness a series of miraculous events that took transpired in the following moments.
As his body became wrapped in lightning, as his clothing burned to char, as his limbs began to cook and blacken, as blood seeped out of his pores and vaporized, a dark crimson flame sped through the air and engulfed Zhang.
Had this been the only thing to occur, then things wouldn’t be considered so miraculous, however not only was Zhang’s body engulfed in crimson fire but the Ascending Beauty Painting which had positioned itself in front of Ai was also set ablaze.
When considering the awe-inspiring display that the Ascending Beauty Painting had put up previously, one could only imagine what the flames that were capable of reducing such an otherworldly to ashes are capable of doing.
Despite being turned into cinders and ashes, in actuality, the Ascending Beauty Painting was actually not destroyed in the least. Rather than actually destroying the Ascending Beauty Painting, the crimson flames had actually released it from its bounds and reactivated its true abilities.
Upon igniting, the image drawn on the Ascending Beauty Painting had actually done the impossible, it had actually begun to move, it had actually started to walk toward the crimson flames.
Once the entire painting had crumbled to ashes and scattered across to the winds, a faint image of Ai’s lookalike who had been drawn on the Ascending Beauty Painting could be seen levitating in the air, moments before transforming into an orb of light.
Under the cover of the tribulation lightning’s blinding light, the glowing orb released from the Ascending Beauty Painting moved through the air and toward Ai before enveloping her in a radiant glow that quickly faded away a flicker of a second later.
Once the glowing orb faded away, Ai who had been somewhat oblivious to what had just occurred, felt a tremendous and mysterious force disperse within her body, infusing with every fiber of her being and empowering her, body, mind and soul.
In the meantime, Zhang who had just been struck by his final bolt of tribulation lightning and engulfed within the terrifying crimson flames, felt a warm and reassuring sensation seep into his pores. Slowly but surely, Zhang felt a foreign, warm and powerful type of essence invade and mend his tattered body. Surprisingly enough unlike the destructive properties that were shown against the Ascending Beauty Painting, the crimson flames were actually healing Zhang and replenishing his dwindled stores of essence.
From afar, a slightly familiar looking man who neither appeared old nor young could be seen levitating in the air and staring at Ai and Zhang with caring eyes.
This man, of course, was the same man who had slain almost all of the Fire Fang Eels that resided within the Shoal of Serpents, the same mysterious man who had appeared and then disappeared at key intervals within Zhang’s journey toward achieving power.
“Old friend, with this the first step of our plan has been completed. Once she awakens, once she is ready I will take her to meet you.” The mysterious man mumbled to himself as a smile full of delight stretched across his face from cheek to cheek.
“Until the realms align and the great rift opens, you better keep her safe because I won’t be leading you any more help after this.” The mysterious man said with a chuckle as a crimson flame ignited in his palm, transforming into the shape of a crow before flapping its wings and soaring through the sky.
“Who goes there!?” Long Jieshu roared as he felt an incredibly powerful aura quickly approaching, however instead of the reply he was hoping for, he found himself engulfed in flames.
“Begone...Since you’ve done your part and helped speed up my plans a bit, I will spare your pitiful life, however, if you do not heed my warning don’t complain when this old man decides to extinguish your soul…” The mysterious man’s voice echoed into Long Jieshu’s mind as smoke and pain emanated from every inch of his body.
Knowing that if he remained any longer, his life would be forfeit, Long Jieshu quickly flickered across the sky and disappeared into the distance.