A grand explosion was set off at the south gate. Smoke and fire rose to the clouds, forming a huge mushroom, and the aftershocks were no less deafening.
"Hahahahaha!" Laughter blended in with the cacophony of sound from the starlit stage. It was Yi Xingyin's laughter.
"Palace Lord!" Tianming cried as he rushed to the formation nucleus. By now, the 'stage' was already dim. When he arrived there, the fabulous man from before looked like he had aged years. Despite still standing with great effort, there were cracks all over his body.
"Self-destructing formations is a forbidden technique for patternscribes. The fact that I didn't die is a miracle!" Even though it felt like a huge waste, Yi Xingyin was still laughing. "Well, it's a shame that my saint palace is now bust. I just earned myself a lot of fame, yet I already have to retire.... How troubling."
Tianming stood before him with a blank expression. Even though Yi Xingyin was crippled, he didn’t seem the least bit troubled.
"Tianming, Tianming, come help me!" he said as he excitedly tugged on his hand. "Go to the south gate and see if that shitstain of a woman Si Ling is dead! Don't bother checking the east and west gates, they're definitely dead! Quick! I want to know whether I killed all four of them, or just three!"
"Alright!" Tianming nodded, giving him a last look. Yi Xingyin seemed to have forgotten the fact that he had traded his saint palace for this sacrificial move. Instead, he was bathing in bliss, having created a miracle. This was all he had wanted!
In fact, he suddenly knelt and tears began flowing as he bawled, "Dad, you said patternscribes were useless... I wonder if I've proven you wrong tonight?"
Tianming didn't know Yi Xingyin's story. Everyone had dreams and wanted to prove themselves to the world. As such, he held great respect for Yi Xingyin.
He quickly made his way to the south gate, eager to see if Si Ling was dead. By then, the entire city had quieted down. When the starlight began fading, the veil of dark night descended once more. But while he was still on his way, a ray of light was seen on the horizon. It was daybreak.
"I need to hurry!" Tianming felt the cold breeze of spring blow past him. Along the way, there were countless corpses of Nonahall warriors and their lifebound beasts. He stomped his way across the piles and piles of bodies and climbed up the south wall, seeing Jian Wuyi facing off against the necrofiend flare dragon. The former was completely fine, while the latter was carrying a badly battered lifebound beast. It was none other than the necrogale qilin.
Since Si Ling's lifebound beasts were there, where was she? Soon, Tianming spotted her in a crater, the same one that had resulted from the explosion of the formation sun. Si Ling had lost both her legs and one arm. Basically, only her upper body was left intact. As she struggled, the necrofiend flare dragon charged toward her, obviously intent on staging a rescue. It was apparent that right before the formation sun had exploded, the necrogale qilin took the blow and was blasted to pieces. Even so, what remained of the explosive force was enough to brutally wound Si Ling.
These injuries were far worse than what Feng Qingyu had suffered before. Missing legs aside, her whole body was now charred black, and exposed bone poked out from many parts of her body. Even her face was nothing but a bloody smudge. However, were she allowed to escape, she would no doubt rise again. Without another word, Tianming squeezed every bit of energy that he could still muster and charged in.
"Sect Master Jian, stop it!" he roared. Many others were still paying attention to this side of the battlefield. Tianming charged into the crater like a meteor and the dragon spat out green flames that burned his back before stretching its claw out, ready to strike him.
"Sect Master Jian?" Tianming abruptly turned back, his flesh already healing, thanks to the Greenspark Tower, and saw Jian Wuyi and his swordbeast engaging the necrofiend flare dragon and giving him space. He quickly drew the Grand-Orient Sword and charged toward Si Ling.
What he didn't expect, however, was that the flying dragon actually glared at Jian Wuyi and said, "What are you doing?! Li Tianming's about to kill her!"
"I'm sorry, but you failed. I have an even more important mission, so I'm afraid she'll have to be sacrificed." Jian Wuyi grit his teeth and continued keeping the dragon occupied.
All Tianming needed was an instant.
"Li Tianming...." Si Ling began levitating despite having only an arm remaining.
"I'll be sending you off to the afterlife!" Tianming made a rapid approach as she tried to escape, swinging his sword with both hands. "Farewell, Ghoul King Si Ling!"
Arcing through the air in a spinning motion, Si Ling's head plopped onto the ground, rolling along while her eyes were still fixed on Tianming, albeit upside down. She had landed flat on the top of her head. Tianming approached and picked her head up by the hair. "Ghoul King Si Ling, I hereby inform you that I wasn't the one who killed you. It was everyone in this city and a man of little fame in Archaion, Yi Xingyin."
Si Ling was now dead, the light completely faded from her eyes. Tianming made his way back to Yi Xingyin with her head in tow. "Palace Lord!"
Yi Xingyin turned to look and broke out into laughter as the others held him up. "Hahahahahahaha! If only Ouyang was here, I'd celebrate and drink with him."
"You can still boast to him when we get back," Tianming said.
The battle of Tianming City was finally over. The city walls had been breached, but the enemies were all killed. Yi Xingyin had paid the price of losing his saint palace. His life of cultivation ended then and there. This was something Tianming would be unable to forget for the rest of his life. Looking at the man who was filled to the brim with a sense of pride and accomplishment, he wondered what else he could do for him. Yet, to Yi Xingyin, he was lucky to get off with his life intact.
If I ever gain the power in the future, I'll make sure to allow him to continue pursuing his dreams, Tianming swore to himself.
By then, Jian Wuyi had also returned. He looked at Tianming, Yi Xingyin, and the others with an expression of awe.
"How was it?" Yi Xingyin asked.
"Amazing. I'm impressed," Jian Wuyi said, shooting them a thumbs-up.
"What do we do next, Sect Master?" Tianming asked.
"The four ghoul kings are dead, and only one of Si Ling's lifebound beasts remains. It left with the lifebound beasts of the other three dead ghoul kings. While they're still around, they've lost their beastmasters, so the most threat they can pose would be like the heartscourge fiend and skyscorch bloodfiend from before. They're nothing more than cannon fodder now."
"So with the four ghoul kings dead and their army of six million gone, we've won! Even though we lost the formation, it's a miraculous victory!" Xuanyuan Xie and Yi Xingyin joyfully hugged each other.
Everyone started cheering and tearing up. Even though their casualties weren't that high, all of them knew the number of times they’d had a close brush with death. Again and again, different people had stood up to the occasion to pull them back to the world of the living.
"It's a miracle, and everyone in the city is a hero." Tianming pursed his lips and finally smiled. Lin Xiaoxiao had contributed to their victory as well. All of them knew how rare this short moment of peace they just got was, and everyone was worn out.
"Tianming City's formation is gone, and reinforcements might come from Nonahall soon. They have a lot of people to spare, after all. We can't stay here for long. Our mission here to deal a heavy blow to them was a success, and Tianming City has fulfilled its purpose. Now, we have to leave this place," Xuanyuan Xie said to Su Wanfeng. She was the city lord, and this was where she had grown up and fallen in love.
"Even though we have to give up on this place, nobody will forget the city! Let's go! We’ll meet again if we're fated to!"
Everyone would have to head north. Some would be refugees, while others would return to Taiji Peak Lake to wait for their next orders, Tianming included. There was much more to be done after this momentous battle. One had to wonder what the five divine realms would do after their failure here; perhaps the worst was yet to come.
Moments later, Tianming stood atop the north wall of the city and looked north. Those who had fought alongside him were fleeing north, though they were still relishing in the joy of victory. Many other cities would definitely open their doors to welcome these heroes.
Then he turned south, gazing over the bloodstained and corpse-ridden battlefield. The city was now the burial grounds of more than five million troops and four ghoul kings. The city that used to bustle with life had become an antithesis to its former self, now filled with nothing but the dead. Those who fled north had gone with their injured, having little time to even clean up their homes before leaving. The war was still ongoing, and the heavily wounded enemy would no doubt strike back with even more intensity. However, Archaion had proven on this very day that they would not go down until their very last breath.
The sky suddenly brightened. Far away on the horizon, the real sun was peeking out through the mountains. Its red rays illuminated the clouds above, encroaching upon the land, dispelling the darkness and bringing back the light. The pools of blood sparkled eye-catchingly, almost as if they were works of art.Previous Chapter Next Chapter