Bai Xiaochun looked suspiciously at Sima Yunhua. As for Gu Tianjun, whether it was intentional or not, he was the type of person who always went around looking like his Daoist partner had just been killed, making it impossible to tell what he was really thinking.
“Maybe Gu Tianjun’s Daoist partner really was killed recently,” Bai Xiaochun thought. “But if not, what's the deal with that facial expression? Doesn’t his face get tired?” He cleared his throat. On any other occasion, he would have come up with some way of parting ways with Sima Yunhua.
But he was feeling particularly confident right now. Perhaps things might be different beyond the twentieth level, but up to that level, he wasn't worried about anything unexpected happening.
To make sure that neither of the other celestials suspected him in any way, he pretended to think about the matter a bit more before finally nodding.
At that point, Sima Yunhua finally breathed a sigh of relief. Smiling warmly, he clasped hands to Bai Xiaochun. Then the three of them headed toward the fan rib that Sima Yunhua had selected in the beginning. After reaching the entrance to the eighteenth level, Bai Xiaochun looked over at Gu Tianjun to see that his expression was as unreadable as ever. Up to this point, Sima Yunhua and Gu Tianjun had entered the levels to help him only after he had gone in ahead of them.
Therefore, he had no idea how they went about doing it.
However, after watching Sima Yunhua’s double-handed incantation gesture, he had an idea of what was about to happen. A glowing ball of light emerged from the man’s bag of holding. Before Bai Xiaochun could get a close look at it, it spread out, covering the three of them, and causing rumbling sounds to fill Bai Xiaochun’s ears. His vision blurred, and when it became clear… they were in the eighteenth level!
Yellowish desert sand spread out in all directions. A desolate, screaming wind hit their faces, and off in the distance, a sandstorm raged. At the moment, the only thing they could see was flying sand that seemed filled with killing intent.
“Did you see how I did that just now, Fellow Daoist Bai?” Sima Yunhua asked, casting an enigmatic smile in Bai Xiaochun’s direction. Inwardly, he was chuckling coldly. He had noticed Bai Xiaochun paying attention to him, and could tell that he was interested in the trick to entering the levels. However, he had long since taken precautions to make sure that no one, neither Bai Xiaochun nor Gu Tianjun, would be able to unlock the secret.
Bai Xiaochun also snorted inwardly, and was about to say something in response when, all of a sudden, a howling sound echoed out from within the sandstorm.
The ground quaked violently as, off in the distance, the sandstorm churned, slowly taking the shape of enormous head.
From the pressure radiating off of the head, it clearly had the power of a celestial!
Gu Tianjun and Sima Yunhua had somber looks on their faces as they looked at the head. As for Bai Xiaochun, he blinked a few times, but then quickly put a similarly serious expression on.
“That one little sand head has kept you stuck here all this time?” he asked, looking out of the corner of his eye at Gu Tianjun and Sima Yunhua, sneering slightly.
“Don’t underestimate this eighteenth level, Fellow Daoist Bai,” Sima Yunhua said. “If there were only one sand head here, then either Fellow Daoist Gu or myself could have passed the level on our own. Once you defeat the first head, ten more appear. And after that, there are ten giants. That level of power is what has us stuck.
“The real point of the level is to defeat the ten sand giants!” He was about to add some further information, but the howling sand head had begun to charge toward them.
Gu Tianjun’s eyes flickered, and before either Bai Xiaochun or Sima Yunhua could act, he took a step forward and simultaneously reached out with his right hand. As he did, an illusory sword projection formed, which rapidly solidified into an ancient greatsword!
With the sword in hand, his energy surged to shocking levels. Even Bai Xiaochun was taken aback. The Gu Tianjun of this moment looked so powerful, and his sword so sharp, that he seemed almost unstoppable.
Staring through narrowed eyes at the incoming sand head, Gu Tianjun unhesitatingly slashed his sword through the air toward it!
The sound of the sword screaming through the air caused the sandstorm to lurch to a halt, and the sky to tremble on the verge of collapse. Then, a boundless stream of sword qi slashed forward, destroying all the sand and rock that it touched.
Crevices opened up in the ground as the sword qi moved with blinding speed, appearing directly in front of the sand head a moment later.
The head shivered, and then exploded from the forehead out. In a short few breaths of time, the entire head had been destroyed by the slashing blow from Gu Tianjun!
Afterward, Gu Tianjun stood there panting a bit. Obviously, this sword blow of his was something extraordinary, and not easy for him to unleash. As for Bai Xiaochun, he stood off to the side, stunned by what he had seen.
Based on the performances he had seen earlier from Celestial Virūpākṣa and the others, Gu Tianjun’s sword was far more incredible. Bai Xiaochun’s scalp actually tingled with a bit of fear after seeing it.
“I can't believe this guy is so powerful…. Although, some of it is because he keeps his secrets just as good as that villain Virūpākṣa…. Plus, Gu Tianjun is a sword cultivator, so when he unleashes an explosive attack, it's pretty unique.” Bai Xiaochun forced himself to calm down a bit. After the destruction of the sand head, another sandstorm sprang up, and it was possible to see numerous heads forming.
Then, the ground began to shake as hands and arms stretched up.
Even as Bai Xiaochun pretended to be shaken by what he was seeing, the gasping Gu Tianjun hefted his sword… and slashed it at Bai Xiaochun!
“What’s the meaning of this, Gu Tianjun!?” Bai Xiaochun blurted. Naturally, he was a lot quicker to react than the sand head, and managed to dodge out of the way of the sword qi.
Unfortunately, as he did, Sima Yunhua smiled and performed a double-handed incantation gesture, summoning a blinding globe of light.
“Captivating Radiance!” Sima Yunhua shouted, thrusting his hands in Bai Xiaochun’s direction, and causing the light to shoot toward Bai Xiaochun. Clearly, he had calculated the range and trajectory of Bai Xiaochun’s retreat to match his attack perfectly with Gu Tianjun’s sword.
They were giving Bai Xiaochun no opportunity for escape. If that were all there were to it, it might not be a big deal. But it was at this moment, howls erupted from the sandstorm as the ten giants rose to their feet. Ignoring Gu Tianjun and Sima Yunhua, and seemingly captivated by the dazzling light, they charged in Bai Xiaochun’s direction!
In the blink of an eye, the ten incredibly fast giants had Bai Xiaochun surrounded in much the same way that he had seen Celestial Virūpākṣa surrounded in the past.
If this had occurred before Bai Xiaochun performed a spirit enhancement on the damaged fan, he would have been in major trouble. But things were different now. And he had already guessed what was going on.
“This isn’t what you said was going to happen, Sima Yunhua!” he roared in rage.
“Calm down, Fellow Daoist Bai. The truth is that there is a problem with the teleportation function in the eighteenth level. Just hang in there for a short bit. Buy a bit of time for Gu Tianjun and I. Afterward, our cooperation can continue.” He and Gu Tianjun backed up at top speed, both of them performing double-handed incantation gestures as they prepared divine abilities.
Bai Xiaochun’s eyes widened into a glare. “You tricked me!”