Up to this point, one third of the explorers from the five major forces in the Realm of a Hundred Battles had died.
The crowd of survivors fell silent as they gazed at the wall of cyan light and the Specters beyond it that used to be their companions.
They realized that returning through the valley was no longer an option.
They could only choke back their grief and turn around. Instead of dwelling on what was happening behind them, they needed to focus on the problems that awaited them.
“Let’s go find out who’s fighting over there!” With these words, Shen Zhong took the initiative to dash off towards the area where the sounds of fighting were coming from.
Seeing Shen Zhong leave, the others sped off after him, as if they were afraid that more mishaps would happen if they stayed.
Having escaped a calamity, Nie Tian didn’t dare to lag behind. Therefore, he rapidly caught up with Dong Mingxuan, who was alongside Dong Li.
Feeling the uncanniness of this place, he believed that the safest way out was to stay with the Worldly realm experts.
Before long, the team came to the area filled with huge rocks, where battles were taking place.
Being the first ones to arrive, Shen Zhong, Dong Mingxuan, and the other Worldly realm experts stood behind a huge rock, where they observed the fierce battle between two groups of human Qi warriors with grim expressions on their faces.
Dong Li approached her martial uncle Dong Mingxuan and asked, “What’s happening here?” Confusion filled her face as her gaze swept across the battlefield.
Nie Tian also seemed rather confused, not having a clue about what was going on.
From the way they were dressed, it seemed that those engaged in battle belonged to different Qi warrior sects.
They could tell that some of them were from the Flame God Sect, and some others were from the Spirit God Sect. The rest were most likely from other smaller, local sects in the Realm of Dark Underworld.
What confused Nie Tian was that the total of several dozen Qi warriors from different sects were currently engaged in indiscriminate battles with one another.
None of them seemed to have clear or fixed targets.
Some Qi warriors from the same sect were even madly attacking each other, seemingly lost in their killing instinct.
Nie Tian observed with rapt attention, and discovered that, for every single one of them, their pupils, which should have been pitch-black, were glittering with a mysterious, cyan light .
Their expressions had also grown twisted. Even though they had the appearances of humans, they seemed to have already lost their intelligence. Their bloodthirsty nature was all they had left now.
The look in their eyes seemed no different from the look in the Specters’ eyes.
Scattered in the vicinity were a number of dead Qi warriors, all of which were riddled with holes and had obviously died miserable deaths.
A powerful expert from the Flame God Sect severed a Spirit God Sect Qi warrior’s head with a sharp blade.
In the next moment, a wisp of misty, gray soul rose from the freshly-killed Spirit God Sect Qi warrior’s head. As it did, it absorbed the pure and rich phantasm Qi in the air, rapidly transforming.
Before it completely turned into a Specter, however, the discarnate soul seemed to be channeled by some mysterious power, and flew towards the area above the lake, where it joined countless other Specters.
Phantasm Qi rose continuously from the rippling, cyan lake water and converged in midair above the lake, where countless densely-packed, gray, misty Specters squirmed about and let out ear-piercing, scalp-numbing screeches.
“These people have been influenced by some sort of evil spell. They’re obsessed with killing, but they can’t distinguish between enemies and friends.” Shen Zhong felt a sense of coldness as he looked at the vague figures that were hiding among the numerous Specters above the lake. “I suppose those Phantasms are behind all this.”
The moment Shen Zhong said those words, a sharp screech, which seemed to carry a bewitching psychic power, rang out from within the crowd of Specters above the lake.
All of a sudden, the Qi warriors who were entangled with each other in fierce battles turned around and focused on the same target.
Dong Mingxuan’s expression flickered as he exclaimed, “They’re coming at us!!
“Those Qi warriors have already lost their senses. The only thing left in them now is their killing nature. They have been bewitched by the Phantasms, and they’re no longer the men they were. So don’t relent everyone! Leave none standing!”
The explorers from the Realm of a Hundred Battles might have been somewhat hesitant when they had faced Specters transformed from their friends.
However, they wouldn’t let themselves be held back by their sympathy for the lost Qi warriors from the Realm of Dark Underworld.
Upon hearing Dong Mingxuan’s order, every survivor from the Realm of a Hundred Battles charged into the battlefield without the slightest hesitation, as if they were soldiers who had heard a bugle call.
Stripped of their senses, many lost Qi warriors no longer had the ability to cast exquisite incantations or stimulate the profound spell formations within their spiritual tools.
Most of them were at the Heaven and Greater Heaven stage; none had entered the Worldly realm.
With that sort of strength, even if they hadn’t lost their senses, they wouldn’t have stood a chance fighting the explorers from the Realm of a Hundred Battles, who had a few Worldly realm experts on their team, much less now.
Under the leadership of Dong Mingxuan, Shen Zhong, and the other Worldly realm experts, Nie Tian fought side by side with Dong Li, cutting the possessed ones down with his Flame Star.
Cao Qiushui from the Cao Clan was the only one who didn’t join the battle.
Protected by a number of powerful Cao Clan members, he gazed into the lake, standing on the lake shore.
Entranced, he slowly bent down to examine the unfathomable, cyan lake water. Then, through the lake water, he vaguely saw the relic, which should have been at the bottom of the lake, gradually rising to the surface.
Cao Qiushui’s expression grew grim.
This wasn’t the first time he had been here.
He had visited this lake five years ago. With the help of a special spiritual tool, he had sunk to the depths of this lake.
Even though the lake didn’t seem very wide, it had turned out to be extremely deep.
Therefore, even with the help of that special spiritual tool, he had failed to reach the bottom of the lake.
As a result, he had returned empty-handed and in low spirits.
Several months ago, relying on a broken map he had obtained by accident, he had found this lake for the second time.
It was said on the map that mysteries were buried at the bottom of this lake.
Therefore, he had once again dived into the depths of the lake with the help of his spiritual tool.
However, he had only sunk a hundred meters into the lake when he had caught sight of the floating relic.
It seemed that he had only been able to discover the relic because it had quietly ascended from the bottom of the lake.
Today was the third time he had been to this lake.
This time, he only stood by the lakeside. He didn’t even need to jump into the lake to be able to see the vague shape of the relic in the lake.
He instantly came to the conclusion that the relic had been slowly floating towards the surface the whole time.
Hence, it hadn’t been his resourcefulness that had allowed him to discover it, but rather the relic’s voluntary movement.
However, everything around this lake had looked normal several months ago.
There hadn’t been any Specters as he passed through the mountain valley, and there hadn’t been any phantasm Qi above the lake.
It seemed that something had happened recently, and triggered these changes.
Two weeks ago, he had seen a faint amount of phantasm Qi and a few Specters appear above the lake. He had sensed that something was wrong, so he had evacuated at the first possible moment, and gone back to the Realm of a Hundred Battles to put together a exploration team.
However, back then, there were far fewer Specters over the lake, and no Specters in the mountain valley.
Only two weeks had passed, and now the relic had ascended significantly; the area above the lake was covered with floating Specters, and even the mountain valley was packed with them.
What shocked him the most was that Phantasms had now appeared over the lake after having disappeared for thousands of years.
“What in the world is in that Phantasm relic? Can it be the reason why those Phantasms have traveled across the starry river to this place in meteors?” The more he thought about it, the more uneasy he became. “The Phantasms must be fully aware that the Domain of the Falling Stars is now dominated by humans, but why would they still come? Are they here to take whatever is in that relic?”