These were two celestials of the Saint-Emperor Dynasty, and yet they had brazenly led Bai Xiaochun right into a trap.
Sima Yunhua wore a kind smile, and if you looked closely, he even seemed slightly apologetic. Of course, it was all for show. Inwardly, he was chuckling coldly.
What he was really thinking was that the best way for he and Gu Tianjun to pass the eighteenth level was either to have someone willingly sacrifice themselves, or somehow distract the sand giants. With the extra time that would give them, Gu Tianjun’s astounding sword qi, combined with Sima Yunhua’s long-range magical techniques, might be enough to succeed.
Up to this point, they had tried every option they could think of. Unfortunately, although the sand giants themselves were not very intelligent, making them relatively simplistic opponents, spell formations and restrictive spells didn’t work in the eighteenth level.
Getting a demigod to come in and help buy time didn’t seem to be an option. Therefore, Bai Xiaochun was their best shot.
“Don’t blame me!” Sima Yunhua thought. “I didn’t force you to get greedy for the rewards from level eighteen and beyond!” Sighing, he went about with his magical techniques, keeping an eye on Bai Xiaochun at the same time. Right now, he was just as confident that Bai Xiaochun could handle the sand giants as he had been that he would agree to the proposal to begin with.
After all, they were both anything but ordinary cultivators. Although his little scheme would cause a grudge, he was confident in being able to resolve that grudge later. And he wouldn’t give up on the possible profits of the moment just because of that.
Furthermore, Sima Yunhua had also resolved that, if the plan worked out, and they passed the level, he would still give Bai Xiaochun the share he had been promised.
As he pondered the entire matter, his smile grew wider.
Bai Xiaochun saw that smile and snorted coldly. The truth was that if he wanted to get past this level, it would have been the simplest of matters. But that smile, and Gu Tianjun’s look of scorn, caused him to pick a different course.
“Lord Bai has treated these two scoundrels with far too much benevolence. Considering what I did to Virūpākṣa and his buddies, the fact that I did nothing more than make it harder for these two to get through the levels clearly shows how easy I went on them. I didn’t push them to the point of despair!
“After giving them a break like I did, they go and do this to me?!” Bai Xiaochun knew that without his authority over twenty percent of the damaged fan, if he got into this position, it would have been very, very bad. He would have been unable to escape, and worse, even if he managed to hold off the giants, he would have ended up seriously injured.
Even if he was given roughly thirty percent of the reward for the eighteenth level, it wouldn’t be worth it. His injuries would have made him useless in the nineteenth and twentieth levels, and he would definitely have been prevented from going in.
“Well, whatever. Maybe if they had been honest about this from the beginning, I could have accepted it. But instead they try to take advantage of me? Do they really think that Bai Xiaochun is that easy to push around!?” Eyes narrowing, he backed away from the incoming sand giants. As they attacked, and he dodged, he could tell that unless he started using some divine abilities, he wouldn’t be able to hold out for much longer.
“This is my territory! How dare they try to screw me over here!” Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath and decided not to leave. That would be going too easy on these two bastards. Letting out a shout, he shifted his momentum and began to rush toward the sand giants.
At the same time, he called upon his strange connection to the damaged fan. Ripples spread out around him in the air as he slammed into the giants, upon whose faces blank expressions appeared.
A moment later, a heaven-shaking, earth-shattering boom filled the air as Bai Xiaochun screamed, staggered backward and coughed up blood!
“I can’t handle it!” he shouted. “You two have to think of something! These giants are so strong! I’m hurt! I'm gonna die!” Then he toppled over, and lay there completely unmoving.
Apparently, the sand giants believed Bai Xiaochun to have perished. Ignoring him, they turned, looked at Sima Yunhua and Gu Tianjun, and began striding toward them, vicious expressions on their faces.
“Dammit, that bastard is actually feigning death!” Sima Yunhua’s scalp tingled at the sight of the ten giants rushing toward him and Gu Tianjun. There was no time to ponder why the sand giants believed Bai Xiaochun to be dead. He quickly finished his incantation gesture and unleashed the magical technique he had been preparing, sending a wall of flame out. At the same time, he began to back up at top speed.
Gu Tianjun acted similarly. As they fell back, Bai Xiaochun lay there, expression grim.
“We’re all celestials here!” Gu Tianjun shouted, his eyes glimmering with disgust. “If you didn’t want to work with us, you could have just said so. I can’t believe you’re pretending to be dead. How completely shameless! You might have a celestial cultivation base, Bai Xiaochun, but you don’t have the heart of a true powerful expert!”
As far as Gu Tianjun was concerned, a celestial shouldn’t feign death even in the direst of circumstances. In fact, he was so angry that he was just about to shift directions and try to head away from the giants and toward Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun lay there getting angrier by the minute. Sending out a thought, he caused a hundred giants to suddenly rise up out of the sand.
Roaring, they converged on Gu Tianjun before he could go through with his plan. When he saw what was happening, he gasped and fell back at top speed.
Sima Yunhua was equally stunned.
“There’s actually a third phase!!”
When Bai Xiaochun heard that, he sighed at the fact that he had too few Aphrodisiac Pills in his bag of holding. Otherwise, he would have made sure there was a fourth phase too.
Meanwhile, more than a hundred sand giants were blasting Gu Tianjun and Sima Yunhua backward across the battlefield. Blood sprayed out of the mouths of the celestials, who despite being anxious, were simply trying to hold on for the time it takes an incense stick to burn, whereupon they would be teleported out.
If it had been ten sand giants, they wouldn’t have had any problems holding out. But the sight of more than a hundred had their scalps tingling in fear. Unfortunately, they had no other ideas of what to do.
“Dammit,” Sima Yunhua growled under his breath, “how could things have changed so quickly?!” Finally, he gritted his teeth and fell over, simultaneously causing his aura to vanish. Apparently, he was choosing to imitate Bai Xiaochun in feigning his death….
Bai Xiaochun was very pleased with this. He immediately had the giants who had been attacking Sima Yunhua turn to the only other ‘living’ target in the level… Gu Tianjun.
Gu Tianjun’s jaw dropped….
With Bai Xiaochun and Sima Yunhua both pretending to be dead, Gu Tianjun’s fate was sealed. More than a hundred sand giants closed in on him with raging madness and terrifying energy. Just before they reached him, Gu Tianjun gritted his teeth, fell over, and retracted his aura. He had also chosen to feign death….
Sadly, his attempt to feign death didn't work. The sand giants apparently weren’t fooled, and before long, Gu Tianjun was screaming in agony. Blood sprayed out of his mouth as he was knocked back and forth across the battlefield, his heart filled with bitterness.
“Dammit. This isn’t fair! Look, Sima Yunhua isn’t really dead! Why don’t you go after him!?!?” Gu Tianjun was already hovering on the brink of madness.
When Bai Xiaochun heard Gu Tianjun’s words, he realized that they made sense. Therefore, he sent some of the sand giants charging back toward Sima Yunhua.
Sima Yunhua’s eyes nearly fell out of his skull, and he began to curse like mad. What was happening seemed completely beyond reason. The giants had never seemed very intelligent, but now it was almost as if they were toying with them!
It wasn’t that he didn’t suspect Bai Xiaochun had something to do with it, but rather… it never occurred to him that Bai Xiaochun could possibly already be the owner of the damaged fan!