Cheng Hao smiled seeing the nine figures speeding towards him. He looked around and saw the thousands of terrified mercenaries surrounding him and a vicious idea formed into his mind…
His expression turned cold and ruthless as he yelled “Members of the Shadow Dragon Faction! You may blame me, but you must first blame yourselves for standing in my way! I firmly believe that it is your own choice that you stand here in front of me! I respect that, so I will give you a word of advice…”
He smiled mockingly and lowered his head so that his extremely fiendish expression couldn’t be seen “Be careful not to get too close to a fire, otherwise you will get burned!”
Suddenly, his body flickered and he reappeared almost a mile away. Those who saw him immediately jumped back in fright, expecting some kind of brutal attack, but the child unexpectedly simply closed his eyes and stood still.
The mercenaries looked at each other in confusion but they didn’t dare to lower their guards. Instead each of them prepared themselves to attack: some lifted their weapons, some began to chant strange scriptures, others ate mysterious pills and felt their bodies’ energy skyrocket…
Just when they were about to charge ahead, Cheng Hao moved slightly, startling all the surrounding cultivators. Just like animals scared by the smallest noise, they jumped back a few meters, their legs trembling and their breathing became ragged.
Cheng Hao opened his mouth and a faint golden smoke came out, coiling around him like a dragon made of golden mist. The faint golden glow began to gather around him and the boy began to rise into the air. Hovering in the air while surrounded by that golden aura, it made him look like some kind of divinity who had descended upon the world of the mortals.
He opened his arms as if he was embracing the whole world and his expression was serene. When he opened his eyes, they glowed with a light so bright that it was almost blinding.
He opened his mouth and muttered “I warn you one last time… Don’t get too close to me or you might lose some of your weight… Actually, you will lose all of it!” He smiled fiercely and a strong air current suddenly began to churn around him like a tornado, the current was completely golden and spanned a few meters in all directions from Cheng Hao’s body.
Two of the cultivators were engulfed as soon as the aura expanded, they closed their eyes and awaited their death… Which didn’t come! Flabbergasted, they looked at their bodies and didn’t find anything wrong with them.
They were enraged and their cheek were completely red from shame. They yelled and charged towards the eye of the golden storm without waiting any longer and they soon could not be seen anymore.
The mercenaries looked at each other: their gazes grew firm and their expressions became determined. They were about to charge towards the boy when someone suddenly shrieked “My body! What is happening?”
Hearing that yell, a man suddenly felt uneasy and soon after he began to feel cold. At first it was only a slightly chill and he ignored it but it soon became unbearable: it was as if all warmth was being sucked away from him, as if all his blood had been turned into ice.
He looked down to see his hands. His heart almost bulged out of his chest: wrinkles were slowly appearing on his hands and they were slowly losing their strength, the energy sucked away. He let go of his weapon to touch his face and, instead of the smooth skin of a youth he found the rough surface of an old man’s skin full of wrinkles.
“Wh-What is this?”
He looked around him and saw that the people around him were all aging at rapid speeds, those who were the closest to the center of the hurricane were now nothing more than dried up bones with a faint layer of skin covering them!
Their pupils grew opaque and the glow of life that shined up until a few moments ago had already almost completely faded away.
“How could this be?” He heard his voice that had already grown raspy, his tongue completely dried up and the previous moist and tearful eyes lost all lucidity. As he fell to the ground he had time for one last thought ‘Do not get too close to the flame or we will get burnt… That is right, this time, we were nothing but moths…’
Now nothing more than bones, the remains of the countless mercenaries soon turned into ashes, scattering into the wind and then disappeared completely from existence, thoroughly absorbed by the terrifying golden tempest.
The faint yellow color of the small storm was now bright gold and the fierce winds had now turned into a huge hurricane, spanning for hundreds of meters: all the people inside it had either turned to ashes or were about to.
Their life energy, strength and struggle served only to enhance the size and power of the golden hurricane which absorbed even more people into that continuous cycle of suffering and death.
Up in the sky, Yin Hei and Lao Jianghu exchanged one last blow before distancing themselves from each other. The Shadow Dragon stared wide-eydedly at the scene below him “What the hell is that!”
His skin was completely black and although it looked like it had the consistency of carbon, it was actually really durable. Beneath various cracks, faint red light could be seen coming out. Two yellow eyes with a vertical black pupils resembling those of a snake stared at Lao Jianghu with both fear and annoyance
“Is it another one of your tricks, Tiger? That golden hurricane… Truly impressive, but don’t think that it will be able to defeat me! As I am now, nobody in this lowly plane should be able to even think of defeating me! Look at me! A body with a peak Reverend stage cultivation!”
His appearance was completely hideous and he looked like a man had been cut into countless pieces, had been thrown into lava and then each and every charred piece of his flesh had been meticulously sewn back together with red bloody strings.
Right now, black blood was flowing from some of his wounds, they were in no way life threatening wounds, they were mostly scratches and bruises.
“Humans have challenged the heavens and thus their path to immortality has been sealed! This is the peak of the life forms named humans! No human would be stronger than the Reverend stage! You would not be foolish enough to think that you will be able to find any help in this plane, where only human cultivators dwell and no beast of the heavens live, would you?”
Lao Jianghu panted and then looked at the battlefield below unconcerned. He listened to the man’s words in front of him as he rested, not worried in the least that he would use some dirty trick as they spoke.
It was a somewhat unspoken rule: both of them had been fighting each other for a very long time so they had grown somewhat… ‘Affectionate’ to the other.
Although this would not change the fact that they were going to ruthlessly murder each other later, the spirit of two rivals was born deep into their subconscious.
That was why, although before the battle they would prepare with all sort of tricks, in this final battle they would not act cowardly and attack the opponents with sneak attacks or annihilate them while they were talking, they were proud creatures, they were Heavenly Beasts!
Kings among beasts such as them would fight to the death, exhausting all their means but they would also be more civilized about it and fight it out in a ‘fair’ contest. Or at least, they would act fair during breaks and not gang up on the opponent.
The Aura Tiger looked at the Shadow Dragon and narrated calmly “A bit more than a thousand years ago, a genius amongst geniuses appeared into a lowly realm of the humans. Nobody knew when, but he suddenly rose in power and became an expert! He was unparalleled amongst both mortals and the great beasts of the Heavens, the greatest prodigy this universe had ever seen…”
Yin Hei rolled his eyes and then scoffed “Have you grown senile, you old feline? What does that have to do with that guy?” He looked at his hands and licked off a few drops of red blood from the top of one of the claws.
“This prodigy… One day, he met the Primordial Heavely Beast, the Crownless Dragon Emperor, the Heaven Devouring Dragon, Blindlight.” Lao Jianghu also wiped away a drop of black blood from his weapon’s tip. It was a beautiful golden longsword but even it couldn’t break past the human form dragon’s tough skin.
Lao Jianghu tapped the weapon’s surface and then sighed as it cracked slightly. He blew softly on top of his fingers and a faint glow could be seen forming on their tips.
“Do you know why Blindlight’s title is the Heaven Devouring Dragon?” Lao Jianghu asked as he touched the parts where the longsword had cracked.
The cracks glowed slightly and then fixed themselves. The old man smiled and turned to look at Yin Hei.
The Shadow Dragon frowned once but then smiled, showing off an ugly grin full of sharp, yellow teeth “Simple question. He found a way to manipulate Aura without condensing it. It would not use the Aura from one’s body but instead steal it from other people’s. As Aura is nothing more than condensed Qi, Blindlight would refine the bodies of their opponents directly into pure energy, also killing them in the process”
He shook his hand free of a few shattered scales and scratched his chin “He then brought his technique even further: by using the energy that he obtained over long periods of time, he then enhanced his Fleshly Body to the highest level and he turned into one of the most powerful beings aside from the four Primordial Emperors”
He pondered “This technique was incredibly dangerous and frightening because it would use your own body’s strength against you. Its few weakness were that the energy could not be preserved for too long and you would have to either enhance your body immediately or it would disperse. What’s more, using weaker foes to weaken him would do the contrary, enabling him to absorb stronger foes as long he refined enough enemies…”
“This is all without talking about the ability to summon beings and weapons from the highest realms by using that energy as a sacrifice… This allowed him to challenge even the grandest and largest armies” he sighed and stood up.
“Hypothetically speaking, if he were to start by absorbing each and every being under Heaven he would probably become invincible even if he faced the Jade Emperor himself!” He shook his head “Unfortunately he’s soft hearted and lazy, only doing what he likes doing and you Heavenly Schmucks have never reached such a crisis yet, he would be my ideal partner otherwise…” He turned to look at Lao Jianghu who was still meditating “Why would you ask me such an obvious and meaningless question?”
Lao Jianghu smiled knowingly and chuckled “That genius, after he met Blindlight, studied the dragon’s technique and made it his own! He even renamed it and called it the Golden Aura. Unlike Blindlight who had to open his mouth and swallow the being to absorb it, this new version would not be as fast…” the old man smiled when he noticed Yin Hei’s expression changing into stupor and fear as he seemed to understand what those words implied.
He looked down at the dispersing hurricane and saw the figure of that annoying brat was still standing unscathed. This time as he glanced down though, in Yin Hei’s eyes there was not only shock and annoyance… there was also fear!
Lao Jianghu grabbed the golden longsword with one hand and lifted the other in the air: the illusory paw of a gigantic tiger appeared around his arm and it left behind a seal resembling that paw’s footprint. The seal was then sucked into the weapon in his hands, which began to emanate a faint golden light.
“Instead, he would refine everything in his surroundings… By absorbing it through a golden hurricane!” Lao Jianghu stepped up and entered a fighting stance, his longsword was now glowing as it appeared many times sharper than before “That genius who had long been thought dead after being killed by Tian himself is now walking amongst the realm of the living once again! His name was once Xu Ling…”
Yin Hei shook his head as he stared shocked and terrified at the child below: he had just finished absorbing all the people in a radius of a mile and was holding in his hands what looked like two bright sparks, one was red and one was golden. He threw the red one in the air and it seemed to disappear as it was munched on by something that couldn’t be seen.
Except, Yin Hei could see it and his expression twisted when he saw the golden dragon. It was more than five meters long, its body as wide as a grown man’s arm, he had a red mane and beard and many golden horns sprouted from the top of his head.
Yin Hei trembled as he muttered under his breath “That appearance… Blindlight! It really is him! Although he looks like a dragon cub, I am sure it is him! He must have Re-Lived… But if that is really him, then is everything that kitten said…”
The Shadow Dragon turned and awaited an answer by Lao Jianghu. The golden robed old man smirked as he kicked off the air and charged towards the terrified Yin Hei, his blade slashing down. Yn Hei tried to block the slash with his claws just like he did countless times before, but the blade cut through his arm like a hot knife cutting through butter and two of the bloody talon-like fingers fell down.
A huge gash appeared on the man’s charred chest, the slash left behind a golden afterimage in the air. Black blood began to flow out of the wound: it was deep, much deeper than any of those Lao Jianghu had already inflicted earlier.
“Xu Ling is not dead! Now, the man who once cast the Nine Heavens into chaos is but a young boy. Even though now he is nothing more than a child, he still is a Star that is definitely going to shine brighter than any other!” He yelled at Yin Hei as he slashed the sword left and right, shaking off the black, putrid blood.
“DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU, WHY CAN I NEVER BEAT YOU? WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS A STEP AHEAD?” Yin Hei yelled as he brought his wounded hand to his wounded chest.
Lao Jianghu ruthlessly stared down at him and fiercely yelled “That child is Cheng Hao! And the reason you can’t beat me is because you don’t think of the people surrounding you as your equals! You think of them as mere subordinates! I, on the other hand…”
He turned his head and looked at Bi Liang fighting with all his might against Chu Sai and his expression grew soft. He then turned to look back at Yin Hei and he yelled “They are my family! They are my brothers!”
He looked at a tired Mu Gu who kept making hands signs and moving all over the battlefield, not taking into consideration his fatigue at all. An illusory tree appeared above the few wounded, protecting them and healing their wounds.
He turned to look below: Fang Lu wielded a large scroll that spat out blades of wind, caused earthquakes, called down lightning, created huge waves and summoned seas of flames whenever the youth made a hand seal;
Wherever Te Rin passed, bright lights flashed as she summoned crystals to do her bidding, slashing the enemy and creating shields to protect her allies;
Fu Yin and Xiao Wu were all over the place, looking like two angels of death engaged in a beautiful duet that made people want to stop fighting to look at them. Just like two deities of the underworld, dancing for the souls of the dead, they were both mesmerizing and deadly, their movements perfectly synchronized as if they could read each other’s mind.
Lao Jianghu then turned to look at the last person, the one who made all of this possible. He looked at Cheng Hao grinning at Goldy by his side, and fires of determination burned into his eyes.
“They are my friends! They are parts of me, and for their sake, I, Lao Jianghu, Fifth amongst the Twelve Aura Beasts will defeat you now, Shadow Dragon Long Yin Hei!” The weapon in his hands shined even brighter as he slashed once more towards Yin Hei.
The man gritted his teeth and waved his hands: a scythe made out of a black metal appeared and clashed with the bright longsword. At first it seemed like it would be able to block the blows of the golden weapon, but after a few more exchanges it shattered in Yin Hei’s hands.
He looked with shock at the blade in Lao Jianghu’s hands “What is that weapon? That is no metal! It was even able to cut my skin!” He gritted his teeth and summoned another scythe, except this time it was completely made out of shadows.
Lao Jianghu smiled and then slashed once more “This is one of the hundreds of thousands of weapons that make my real hide, a golden longsword completely made out of Aura of the highest purity! What metal could possibly hope to hold its ground when put in front of the Essence of a Heavenly Beast?”
Yin Hei gritted his teeth “Still, you will not be able to defeat me with just that! My scythe is made out of one of the ninety-nine shadows hidden inside Yama’s treasured safe: Covet Life! Your weapon might just be on the same level as mine, but don’t think that you will be able to land a single clean hit on my body from now on!”
Lao Jianghu gritted his teeth and then lifted his head “When did I say that this was all I got?” He dashed forward and slashed once again at Yin Hei’s figure, two streaks of golden and black light clashed in the cloudy sky above the Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect…