”Li Yungu! ” An energized and roaring command left Hong Chunhua ’s mouth, prompting Li Yungu to react with a fierce shout of understanding. The bespectacled elf moved swiftly, forming several handseals in quick succession, sending out waves of spiritual force as she brought out eight stones. With a practiced motion, these stones shot out and transfixed themselves around the box in a octogonal-shape.
The stones were dull and grey, but after they entered this pattern, their colors started to change rapidly as a beguiling mist emerged around them in a large area, concealing their ship in a matter of seconds.
Immediately afterwards, Hong Chunhua formed a seal, and she jumped upwards and out of the mist. The other three followed, with Lian Yu staying behind. The ship rumbled softly and then began to rapidly sink into the Noxious Seas ’ violet-colored waters. A thin film encapsulated the entire ship, protecting it from the toxic properties of the waters below.
Lian Yu anxiously watched the others leave as she sank, her spiritual senses restricted within. She could only stay behind due to her low cultivation base. A fierce desire for strength ignited within her heart, a desire that had ignited many times before. Unfortunately, she was never able to match these elite experts or Long Chen, always relegated to an observer.
”Captain! ” Within the crow ’s nest, a lookout shouted with their eyes emitting dense and continuous rays of light. ”They ’ve hidden within mist! I can ’t sense or see them! ” She exclaimed aloud, ensuring the crew was informed. This female lookout had a cultivation base at the Soul Idol Phase, but her spiritual sense and sensory spells were the absolute best on the ship, so she was extremely well-suited for this position.
A thin, sickly looking man with ash pale skin and a gloomy gaze arrived on the deck, prompting the crew to give looks of respect and reverence. This man was the Light Reflection Phase Cultivator who sent the spiritual sight of Bei Yunhan and Zu Zun away. His name was Buze Yichen. Since the beginning of this year, he had earned the title of Captain of Pale Trees Pirates.
Buze Yichen slightly frowned. ”Are they running? ” He asked himself this, witnessing the mist start to rapidly spread in all directions, making it increasingly difficult to observe what was happening or in what direction. In mere moments, it already spanned half a mile.
”Men! Prepare for battle! ” Buze Yichen gave the order, not being one bit careless. There were only two options available to these newcomers, especially with their little numbers. Firstly, they could hightail it out of here while using a distraction. This might be an appealing idea at first, but they ’d never escape their Navy River Elven Tribe ’s boat designed to navigate these waters.
Or the other option, fight!
He had already pegged their boat way back, realizing there were only five cultivators present, and two of which were at the Fourth Stage of the Astral Core Realm, Spatial Resonance Phase from their spiritual sense. Those two were inconsequential, but to ensure little loss of life, he decided to take action personally. He had always been the cautious sort.
”Find them! ” As the men readied for a fight, their previously primed auras translated to legitimate readiness as wards erected ceaselessly around their bodies. The lookout was inspecting the mist, her eyes glowing brighter and brighter with spiritual light as she peered into the mist. They were only a mile away, so she was using her all.
Suddenly, she noticed a particular shift. Her heart leapt with joy as she screamed, ”They ’re still in the mi- ”
A sharp, piercing shriek tore through the air, exploded from the mist, churning the mist as a result. A line of mist formed a long tail of mist, and along that line to its end was a piercing arrow lancing through the void with lightning-like speed.
Buze Yichen ’s eyes constricted, the scent of fresh blood permeated the air, faintly overtaking the toxic aroma of the violet-colored waters.
The lookout didn ’t even get a chance to scream out in horror or fear or pain, an arrow accurately penetrated the space between her brows. The sheer power of the arrow didn ’t cause her head to be drilled in, but utterly exploded in an impact of dazzling light. The momentum sent her body out of the crow ’s nest, falling lifelessly amidst the crew with the thudding sound of flesh meeting wood.
”… ” The crew saw this, their hearts sinking a thousand feet with every passing moment.
”We ’re under attack! ” An expert at the Spatial Resonance Phase explosively shouted, his ward reinforced by his astral force several times over. Just beside him, two friends of many years had their lives ended by a swift arrow of light. Their heads exploded gruesomely, and it was simply too swift.
The subdued sound of their explosive deaths were mind-numbing, causing him to reel.
”Activate the defensive formations! Reinforce your astral wards! Beware the Archer! ” Buze Yichen ordered fiercely with a reminder, his eyes still reflecting a unique calm befitting a Captain as he inspected the mist. He hadn ’t expected such a fierce reaction without warning.
The navy blue ship started to flash erratically with various colored lights, soon engulfing the ship in protective spherical shielding. With the shield up, the others relaxed their tensed minds. This was especially so for the weaker members. An archer was absolutely hell to face out in the open seas.
The encroaching mist, however, was unstoppable. It swallowed the navy blue ship whole. Fortunately, the crew watched from behind the shielding, preventing the mist from entering the ship or affecting the crew.
A crew member at the Fourth Stage of the Astral Core Realm, the Spatial Resonance Phase, ran towards Buze Yichen. ”Captain Buze, do we retreat? ” They had just been attacked after hailing a ship, fully intending to plunder it. Clearly, those cultivators were not going to be robbed and killed without a fierce fight.
Buze Yichen glanced at the speaker, looking at the mist that surrounded them soon after. He frowningly said, ”It ’s too late. ” As if his words were an ominous premonition of future events, the shielding that held the mist back started to tremble.
The Spatial Resonance expert gawked, ”What ’s happening?! ” They swept their spiritual senses across the deck and shielding, noticing the formation ’s energies were being slowed with some strange power.
”It ’s affecting the circulation of the defensive formation. A parasitic mist. ALL MEMBERS! BE READY TO FIGHT! ” Buze Yichen shouted explosively, his aura at the Light Reflection Phase surged. He took out a saber, his eyes flashing with killing intent.
Soon, the formation stopped working. The shielding powered down and left the ship defenseless. A few unsuspecting crew members hadn ’t taken the appropriate precaution, trying to conserve astral force. But when the mist touched their standard conjured wards, the mist was like oxygen to an oxygen mask—it smoothly entered with no resistance.
Startled, those careless few tried to push it back yet was forced to breath in the mist after an unsuccessful attempt. They shouted and screamed out the mist ’s strangeness to the others, but mid-sentence, their throats seized, their auras faltered, and their wards started to dissipate.
They grasped their throats, trying to scream a cry for help but to no success. But the transformations hadn ’t stopped. Those unlucky few had their eyes lose color, their skin lose luster, and their bodies falling onto the deck with a lifeless descent. They lost consciousness.
Buze Yichen noticed this, ”Idiots! I said to reinforce your astral wards, and don ’t breathe in the mist! ” Despite his roaring warning, a few more were subjugated by the mist. As for those beneath the Astral Core Realm, they were unable to defend themselves.
The Spatial Resonance Phase expert kept the mist encroaching him from all angles at bay, ”What is this mist?! ” His inquiry was left unanswered as true enemies did not explain themselves in battle.
The crew devolved in a panic, with many believing those who lost consciousness had died, the light in their eyes vanishing and their breathing seemingly stopped. They cried out, some even saw things that weren ’t there. They unleashed attacks that struck their allies. A few pitiful souls lost their lives by their fellow brethren ’s blade.
”ARGH! NO! ” A boom sounded alongside a horrified scream. The sound of metal hitting flesh and flesh exploding resounded, tainting the mist a reddish tint. This color vanished in a few moments, but soon enough, another boom resounded.
Pu! Pu! Pu!
Three arrows flashed through the ship, finding their home in the skulls of three unlucky cultivators. These arrows were too fast, too strong, and those struck were all at the Sky Ruler Phase. They lost their lives despite their reinforced Astral Wards.
”THEY ’RE ONBOARD! DEFEND YOURSELF! ” But the mist lowered visibility. A few experts panicked, flying off the ship. But when they exited the ship, a strange gravitational force emitted from the edges of the ship, dragging them down as if a mountain was on their shoulders.
Those who tried to escape were brought into the Noxious Seas, their screams were abruptly shut off as they seemed to enter a vat of acidic liquid. After a short scream, only their white bones floated to the surface after a few seconds, completely devoid of flesh and clothes. Unfortunately, the visibility was too low, so many were falling to this fate. Even a Soul Idol Phase expert was caught off-guard.
”Don ’t leave the ship! There ’s a formation at the edges of the ship! ” Buze Yichen soon lost his calm. He knew he was losing control of his ship and crew, with many casualties born out of their enemy ’s sinister tactics. He didn ’t launch random attacks for fear of destroying the ship or killing off his own crew members, weakening their strength further, adding to the confusion.
”Vicious! ” He bitingly roared, trying to find the culprits. He shot forward, blazing past a few crew members trying to enter an area that was recently tinted red. When he arrived, he found the crushed remains of a female human. A fierce growl left his lips. He was losing his composure.
Just as he was about to continue his search, a blast of astral force shot towards him. His eyes lit with a ferocious light, using his saber to slice into the astral force, unraveling it with ease, and then retaliated with a flash of saber light. The saber light sliced into the mist.
”AHHHH! ” A scream of terror resounded, filled with death and grievance. When Buze Yichen arrived at the voice ’s location, he noticed it was one of crew mates. He had been sliced into two by saber force, their eyes reflected their shock and despair at the end of their life.
”Fool! ” He spat.
Pu! Pu! Pu! Pu! Pu!
Five successive sounds resounded, eliminating five more cultivators! The mist reddish tint at that moment had become deeper, but only for a mere moment. At that moment, Buze Yichen finally saw the trajectory of the light arrows. His eyes blazed with violent light, explosively shooting towards the area they all originated from.
He arrived in almost a blink, yet he felt no one nearby. His expression changed.
Pu! Pu! Pu!
He moved faster, rushing off the moment the sounds of impact were heard. Yet, there was still no one there. He hated this mist with a fierce passion. With it up, he couldn ’t use his Spatial Mark or Spatial Prison to locate or halt the enemy. If he randomly unleashed his strength, he ’ll be wasting astral force and might attack his own members. It ’ll be a double loss.
”Find the formation ’s core! ” Buze Yichen changed his objective as he unleashed several locator-type spiritual spells. He infused ample spiritual force in each, but they all failed to locate the formation let alone the core itself. Unfortunately for him, he hadn ’t realized the underwater ship ’s location was directly beneath them, underneath the Noxious Seas.
Buze Yichen knew he wasted time with these actions. The lives of many more died as a result. He could only helplessly hear their pleading shouts and heart-shaking death throes. It was a slaughter…
”Who are you?! ” Buze Yichen screamed out, his aura gushing to push the mist away. But the mist kept approaching, his aura only temporarily preventing its movements. Only his astral ward halted its approach, and he didn ’t dare expand his astral ward to engulf the entire ship.
”Commander, task completed! ” A female voice resounded.
”…?! ” Buze Yichen knew this voice was new, someone he ’d never met before. His eyes glowed with a sharp light as he gripped his saber, his expression revealing a hint of pure savagery. If he found this woman, he swore that he ’d ravage her thoroughly. The imagery placated his raging heart a little.
The mist slowly started to recede.
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