HSSB981: It's useless whoever comes
While Zhao Zhen wanted to leave, Yan Zhaoge had no intention of letting him go as he immediately shot off in pursuit.
Sword-light arose, resembling a long river of time which blurred the boundaries of time and space.
The Purple Sea Sword Arts of the Purple Tide Sword Sect were majestic and momentous, being proficient in both attack and defence. In the meantime, they were weaker in terms of speed.
Yan Zhaoge's figure combined with the Cloud Circulating Heavenly Light Sword, sword forming a long river as he swiftly caught up with Zhao Zhen.
As the Extreme Yang Seal descended, Zhao Zhen was unable to avoid it as he could only draw his Purple Sea Sword once more to face Yan Zhaoge.
This time, he still remained on the defensive, trying to enter a protracted battle with Yan Zhaoge.
Seeing that Zhao Zhen was doing the same as Yuan Xiancheng, Yan Zhaoge's gaze flickered once more as he asked, "Who are you people waiting for?"
Hearing his words, Zhao Zhen's heart tightened.
The visible panicked, helpless expression on his face gradually faded as he regained his composure.
"Let me guess. The people chasing me from behind should not arrive so quickly," Yan Zhaoge said, "Since that is so, it should be someone who was waiting for me up ahead like you guys originally."
"Could it be that 'Treasured Branch Suppressing Peak' Zhang Shuren has already left Circumference Mountain and is heading here?"
Zhao Zhen did not answer Yan Zhaoge's casual question, his sword just growing stabler and stabler as he bided his time.
Hearing those words, the spirits of the other martial practitioners of the south all rose greatly.
'Treasured Branch Suppressing Peak' Zhang Shuren was a longtime Elder of Wutong Slope and a late Immortal Bridge Martial Saint.
He was one of the most powerful figures of the southern Blazing Heaven Territory beneath the Southern Exalt, Zhuang Shen, being a peak expert who had accomplished his fame for many years in the World beyond Worlds.
He was the strongest martial practitioner currently active in the eastern region of the southern Blazing Heaven Territory, having been sent by Phoenix Ritual Mountain's Wutong Slope to oversee things over here.
Even 'Phoenix Pupils' Yuan Xiancheng had to lower his head in front of him, being inferior be it in terms of seniority or strength.
Yan Zhaoge looked at Zhao Zhen, "Do you want to delay me over here till Zhang Shuren comes?"
"It would have been best if we could take care of you without Zhang Shuren coming," Zhao Zhen finally spoke again, "Still, it seems like that is not doable now."
He had indeed wanted to retreat earlier, having asked Yuan Xiancheng to do so too.
If they could preserve their lives now, there would be infinite possibilities in the future.
Still, Yuan Xiancheng had informed Zhao Zhen of something which had ultimately caused him to change his mind.
Even though there was no proof of his words, Zhao Zhen still chose to trust Yuan Xiancheng.
At this moment, he appraised Yan Zhaoge all over with a strange gaze, "Now, I really believe the rumour that you once pursued and slew a mid Immortal Bridge Martial Saint in the Royal Reed Sea of the southeast."
"There is actually someone like you in this world. Even that Red Lotus born of Ingenious Flying Peak's Brocade Emperor is incomparable to you."
Zhao Zhen sighed in admiration, "You are the number one person of the World beyond Worlds' younger generation who has arisen in recent years."
"Wutong Slope says that you hail from a lower world, once obtaining the Extreme Yang Seal by a stroke of fortune. Now, however, I really suspect that you are of the direct lineage of the Exalted Solar Luminary of the past."
Hearing his words, Yan Zhaoge smiled, "Wutong Slope did not speak falsely. I indeed only obtained the Extreme Yang Seal by a stroke of fortune."
His actions did not cease even as he spoke as his sword descended, cleaving apart the layered purple sea.
"No need to try to delay me with words," Yan Zhaoge said mildly, "If Zhang Shuren wants to come, let him. I have no intention of avoiding him. I shall just wait for him at this Vast Spirit Mountain."
"Still, while I will naturally be able to wait for his arrival, whether you lot can is still an unknown."
A mournful purplish-red sword-glow enveloped the heavens and covered the earth as Zhao Zhen was hard pressed to parry it.
He had no way of avoiding it, only being able to barely withstand its might.
"If is fine even if we cannot wait out his arrival," Zhao Zhen said in a heavy tone, "All that matters is that we leave you behind here."
Looking at Zhao Zhen, Yan Zhaoge understand what he meant.
Zhao Zhen had come to the Announcing Peace Mountain Range to lend his assistance to give face to Wutong Slope on one hand and due to the personal friendship between him and Yuan Xiancheng on the other.
Rightfully speaking, he was just giving Wutong Slope face as he had no need to put his life on the line for them.
It was true that he was the number one expert of the Bright Connection Sea, the Purple Tide Sword Sect being the Bright Connection Sea's number one power.
Still, if he fell along with the Purple Sea Sword here, the strength of the Purple Tide Sword Sect would then plummet greatly.
While they would still be a peak power of the Bright Connection Sea, they would no longer be able to remain its undisputed hegemon.
Other forces of the Bright Connection Sea might even join forces to attack them.
It would be just like the Grand Xuan Dynasty of the southeastern Yang Heaven Territory's Royal Reed Sea that year.
Zhao Zhen's decision to battle to the death here might seem unwise.
Still, if it was Yan Zhaoge, he would make the same choice too.
If Zhao Zhen really died in battle here, Wutong Slope would definitely not turn a blind eye to the situation in the Bright Connection Sea as the Purple Tide Sword Sect would receive Wutong Slope's support, its authority not dropping.
But if Yan Zhaoge fled, even if Zhao Zhen returned to the Bright Connection Sea alive, he would not be at peace in his days ahead.
This was because the current Yan Zhaoge was so powerful that he would feel uneasy living normally!
Despite having yet to ascend the Immortal Bridge, the current Yan Zhaoge was already so terrifying.
If they let the tiger return to the mountain today and Yan Zhaoge returned in the future, how might the Purple Tide Sword Sect stand against him then?
Even Wutong Slope's protection might not be able to guarantee their safety.
His sole hope now was to gather the power of the experts of the eastern region of the southern Blazing Heaven Territory, leaving Yan Zhaoge behind for good here even at the price of his life!
"The rationale is there, but…" Yan Zhaoge's sword descended, the Cloud Circulating Heavenly Light Sword sliding past the blade of the Purple Sea Sword and cleaving down towards Zhao Zhen's finger.
If he did not let go of his sword, his fingers would be sliced off!
When Zhao Zhen seemed silent and innocuous, he was extremely determined when he had made up his mind.
As Yan Zhaoge's sword descended, Zhao Zhen did not release his grip as he instead sent the Purple Sea Sword in his hand forward, slicing towards Yan Zhaoge's fingers as well.
The Cloud Circulating Heavenly Light Sword was faster, blood spraying as the fingers of Zhao Zhen's right hand were directly sliced off.
Zhao Zhen's expression did not change, long since having been prepared for this as his left hand shot over at lightning speed, grasping the hilt of the Purple Sea Sword and continuing to bring it forward.
"Nice!" Yan Zhaoge exclaimed in praise, flicking his wrist.
The purplish-red glow was retracted on the Cloud Circulating Heavenly Light Sword with a subtle force born which caused the Purple Sea Sword to spring slightly away.
The sword missed by mere inches, being unable to touch Yan Zhaoge's fingers.
The next moment, Yan Zhaoge shook the Cloud Circulating Heavenly Light Sword, extreme subtleness transforming into extreme toughness once more as another sharp sword hacked down.
Zhao Zhen was unable to change his movements in time as his sword-wielding left hand was directly hacked off by Yan Zhaoge!
Off to the side, the cry of a phoenix resounded amidst the flames once more.
Yuan Xiancheng had undergone yet another nirvanic rebirth.
Still, his right eye was shut tightly this time as the silhouette of a phoenix only flapped its wings and sought to soar within his left eye.
Even so, it was naturally a joyful thing that he could escape the fate of death and be reborn anew.
However, what should have been a cause for rejoice was instead filled with sorrow at this moment.
The first scene that entered Yuan Xiancheng's eyes after his nirvanic rebirth was that of Yan Zhaoge hacking off Zhao Zhen's wrist with a sword!
Now, however, a joyful look simultaneously appeared on the faces of Yuan Xiancheng and Zhao Zhen who had originally looked gloomy.
A powerful aura suddenly emanated from the distance.
It originated from Circumference Mountain to the east.
That aura belonged to a late Immortal Bridge Martial Saint!