HSSB890: Rulers of two Territories
Atop the Riding Wind Heavenly Vessel, there were several people all in peak condition. They were all of the lineage of the southern Blazing Heaven Territory's Phoenix Ritual Mountain's Wutong Slope.
At their head was seated a single person who was surrounded by multicoloured light and swirling clouds.
A ring of fiery crimson light was formed around his body.
The light of fire which suffused the surrounding heavens and earth was all emitted from this person.
Seeing this person, the pupils of the Southeastern Swordmistress, Lin Hanhua and the rest all dilated slightly.
This person before them was precisely the ruler of the southern Blazing Heaven Territory and one of the World beyond Worlds' Ten Exalts, the Lord of Phoenix Ritual Mountain's Wutong Slope Zhuang Shen.
This person had lean features that were rather handsome as he appeared around thirty from the outside. However, his hair was white as snow and bundled up in a single bun.
From his appearance, he bore a fifty to sixty percent resemblance to his son, Zhuang Chaohui.
Because he had such a young appearance, he even seemed more like his brother than his father.
However, those terrifying power fluctuations emanating from him that seemed to overwhelm the very heavens was enough to show everyone that his power far exceeded that of Zhuang Chaohui's.
The Southern Exalt Zhuang Shen sat calmly on the chair, looking mildly at those of the southeastern Yang Heaven Territory before him.
Lin Hanhua was expressionless as his sword was being restricted by the phoenix of flame in mid-air.
The sword in his hand shook, the sword-light seemingly suddenly splitting into two.
In the sky, there seemed to be two stars that flickered with light, resembling the twin horns of an azure dragon which possessed the authority of spring and life whilst also destructive tendencies, pressuring down with a baleful air!
The head of the Seven Mansions of the east of the Twenty-Eight Mansions, the Horn Mansion, Horned Scaly Dragon of wood!
The black dragon smashed over with its horns, breaking free of the restrictions of the flames.
Lin Hanhua expanded his sword-light as followed by the Horn Mansion, next came the Neck Dragon of metal, the Root Raccoon of earth, the Room Rabbit of the sun, the Heart Fox of the moon, the Tail Tiger of fire and the Winnowing Basket Leopard of water, these seven Mansions of the eastern azure dragon simultaneously manifesting!
As the piercing sword-light and the majestic starlight converged, they transformed into a massive dragon which resembled a river of stars.
The shocking roar of a heavenly dragon resounded, with the azure dragon of stars counterattacking against that phoenix of fire which resembled a monarch presiding overwhelmingly over its land!
The Southeastern Swordmistress simultaneously formed some sword seals, the seven swords of the Legs Wolf of wood, the Bond Dog of metal, the Stomach Pheasant of earth, the Hairy Head Chicken of the sun, the Net Crow of the moon, the Turtle Beak Monkey of fire and the Three Stars Ape of water coming together as one as the Seven Mansions of the west manifested as the white tiger.
The sword-light and starlight came together to form a ferocious white tiger that overflowed with killing intent.
The other two experts of the southeast of the ninth level of the Martial Saint realm both mustered up their remaining courage as well, unleashing special techniques of their own as they attacked the fiery phoenix.
The Southern Exalt Zhuang Shen did not move from the chair that he was sitting on atop that Riding Wind Heavenly Vessel. He formed a sabre with his right palm and hacked down thrice within the air.
Amidst the all-encompassing sea of flames, another three phoenixes of fire flew outwards, joining up with that original one to defend against the four attackers.
The Southeastern Swordmistress roared towards the heavens, her sword stance suddenly changing as it trembled alongside the fiery phoenix.
The Seven Mansions of the western white tiger were transformed into the Seven Mansions of the northern Xuanwu.
The river of stars in the sky seemed to have transformed into an actual flowing river as it descended from up above, instantly suppressing that fiery phoenix!
Soon, however, yellow smoke arose about that fiery phoenix, emanating an incomparably heavy feeling as it was like the great earth that could bear all things.
As the yellow smoke of earth appeared, it instantly suppressed the true intent of Xuanwu as manifested by the projection of the Southeastern Swordmistress's starlight and sword-intent.
Of the Five Virtues, the true intent of the thick earth of meritorious virtue!
Boundless meritorious virtue, replenishing the heavens and extending the dao.
Used to protect oneself, it flowed in an endless stream as no evil could pervade it.
When externalised, one's body was extremely sturdy as enemies would be hard pressed to disrupt this. Therefore, one would appear indestructible with no attack that they could not stand against.
The other three fiery phoenixes had all vanished now as only this one which was protected by meritorious virtue still remained.
As the fiery phoenix which was protected by the thick earth of meritorious virtue circled within the air, not just that of the Southeastern Swordmistress but the attacks of Lin Hanhua and the other two were dispelled as well!
"You should know when to advance and when to retreat," Atop the Riding Wind Heavenly Vessel, Zhuang Shen pressed down amidst the air, "You should know that if you tread onto the path of death by your own volition, even a saint would be hard pressed to save you."
The fiery phoenix shot downwards, temporarily ignoring Lin Hanhua and the Southeastern Swordmistress as it now attacked towards those two longtime experts of the Southeast.
Now, however, a fissure suddenly opened amidst space as specks of starlight flickered up above.
Each star seemed as dazzling as the sun at this moment, radiance illuminating the world all round.
The heavens and earth here seemed never to have been as close to the actual sky of stars as they were now.
The stars which circulated about their own trajectories seemed just so close to them mortals now.
Atop the Riding Wind Heavenly Vessel, the gaze of the Southern Exalt Zhuang Shen hardened as he finally got serious, "Cao Jie, you actually arrived?"
From above the sky, twenty-eight thick pillars of light descended simultaneously.
The twenty-eight Mansions of the heavens flickered simultaneously, transforming into twenty-eight streaks of sword-light that pierced the heavens and penetrated the earth, descending into the Royal Reed Sea of the World beyond Worlds as they targeted that fiery phoenix together.
Zhuang Shen stood up, standing at the front of the Riding Wind Heavenly Vessel as he substituted sabre with palm, slowly hacking out with a sabre.
That fiery phoenix emitted a clear cry as it forsook Lin Hanhua and the others, flying up into the air.
As it soared upwards, infinite, endless flames agglomerated on the body of the fiery phoenix.
While the phoenix did not expand in size, its power appeared increasingly condensed.
The thick earth of meritorious virtue, the blessed purple light of fortuitous virtue and the white qi of nether virtue were manifested simultaneously.
Apart from that, there were also faint ripples of water which were as though a saint had descended, no arts conceivably being able to stain him.
This was precisely the water ripples of holy virtue.
The fiery phoenix was bolstered by the four virtues besides the dawn mist of moral virtue, brilliantly glowing as it was as if it had achieved nirvana and transcended from this world, inextinguishable and undying.
The majestic sword-lights manifested of the Twenty-Eight Mansions in the sky up above converged, landing on that phoenix together.
Sword-light circulated as a hole seemed about to be ripped apart in the fabric of the World beyond Worlds.
Looking at that sword-light which descended from the skies, the group from the southeastern Yang Heaven Territory finally heaved a sigh of relief.
"Junior apprentice-brother Cao has finally hurried back," The Southeastern Swordmistress sheathed her sword, regaining the appearance of a white-haired old woman.
Lin Hanhua asked, "Was it the Brocade Emperor who intervened?"
The Southeastern Swordmistress slowly nodded, "It seems like the Brocade Emperor has finally returned to the World beyond Worlds from extradimensional space, being in time to stop the Heaven Emperor."
Atop the sky, amidst the sea of stars, a purple-clothed man appeared, his eyes like bright stars whilst also a sharp sword.
The ruler of the southeastern Yang Heaven Territory, the Southeastern Exalt Cao Jie!
The Southern Exalt Zhuang Shen was expressionless as he gazed at Cao Jie in the sky up above. He left the Riding Wind Heavenly Vessel, slowly rising into the air.
That phoenix which was bolstered by the four virtues returned to his side, merging with his figure which instantly became more majestic.
Even the sword-lights of the collective Twenty-Eight Mansions up above were unable to shake it in the least as they descended.
Bolstered by the five virtues, one would be immune to myriad tribulations as they would only ever be extinguished alongside the heavens and earth themselves.
Protected by the four virtues, Zhuang Shen's defensive power had already reached a shocking level.
He looked calmly at Cao Jie, "Throughout my entire life, I have been unceasingly gathering the true intent of the five virtues. Now, I am just that last step away from completion. You clearly know this, yet took in that Tang Yonghao as your disciple. Are you not blatantly making things difficult for me?"
Cao Jie said in an indifferent tone, "Whoever I accept as a disciple in my southeastern Yang Heaven Territory is my own affair."
Now, he guided his sword, pointing towards Zhuang Shen down below.
"Tang Yonghao is my disciple. Asking me to hand him over, Zhuang Shen, who do you think you are?"
Purple light surged within Cao Jie's eyes as where his sword was targeting, the sea of stars in the sky rumbled once more.
Countless stars circulated as several streams of purple qi suffused the heavens and earth, originating from the distant heavenly river as they now came to bolster Cao Jie.
At the tip of Cao Jie's finger, a purple sword-light appeared.
Where the sword-light passed, the four virtues that protected Zhuang Shen's body instantly began to fall apart!