It was one thing to go up against an army of greedy Cultivators, but another thing altogether to go up against an entire legion of indestructible arhats . And to make matters worse, he was running out of time . According to the lama, the ritual had been going on for quite some time now .
Chan'er would die if he didn't hurry .
Li Yundong soared higher above the ground, moving his hands at the same time .
Aim for the pagoda .
He didn't really have to fight the arhats; he just had to land a hit on the pagoda to disrupt the ritual .
"Om mani padme hum!"
The Intelligent Fist Mudra flew out from his hands .
Come on, come on, hit!
The arhats' shifted into a new formation; those guarding the pagoda's lower floors suddenly moved upwards while the one floating near the top floors moved aside to make space for the incoming arhats .
The arhats were closing ranks around the sixth floor .
The mudra rammed into the arhats' new formation, sending dazzling rays everywhere . Li Yundong himself was thrown away slightly by the impact . By the time he regained his balance and opened his eyes, he saw the arhats pushing back against the mudra . A few arhats in the frontline eventually disintegrated, but those behind them quickly moved forward to fill in the gap .
The arhats were literally throwing themselves in front of the mudra .
The mudra waned before it could reach the sixth floor .
The arhats suddenly went into offensive mode, their snarling faces flying towards him at full speed .
Li Yundong slipped sideways and narrowly avoided being head-butted by an angry arhat . Another group of arhats flocked above his head, but instead of attacking, they were just hovering above him . He realized then what these arhats were trying to do: forcing him to the ground where the giant arhat awaited him .
Inference: the giant arhat couldn't fly .
Li Yundong avoided another flurry of attacks, dodging from side to side . The Fan of Seven Treasures remained close to him, covering his six, tearing to shreds any arhat who got too close . A small group of arhats were guarding the pagoda while the rest of them attacked him, trying to force him to the ground .
At one point, it was all he could do to just defend himself; he couldn't even fight back against the arhats .
There were just too many of them .
Every time he tried to form a mudra, the attacking arhats would crowd him from all sides, forcing him to defend himself . If he sacrificed defense in favor of chanting the mantra (required to use the mudras), he would either get punched in the face or have his hands forced apart by those arhats . The Fan of Seven Treasures was there to defend him, of course, but they were still severely outnumbered .
An arhat rammed into his shoulder from behind . He spiraled around a few times before he managed to regain his balance . Two more were coming at him from both sides . He avoided the one on the left, but the other one got him in the leg . The blow sent him tumbling to God knows where .
Even the small guys pack a punch, he thought as he righted himself with Qi control .
More arhats flocked towards him from above .
A dozen of palm-shaped auras rained down upon him, forcing him to zip around to avoid them . At one point he slipped up and actually got hit by one of those auras . The blow nearly made him drop out of the sky .
Great . These arhats could use mudras as well .
The talismans .
He had to take out those talismans . When he was dodging around earlier, he saw a number of arhats absorbing golden strings from those talismans to regenerate the parts on their body that had been hacked off by the Fan of Seven Treasures .
Li Yundong made a series of maneuvers from left to right, feinting and dodging . Eventually, he saw an opening and broke free from the throng of arhats crowding him .
He reoriented himself so that he was facing the metal wires .
No dice .
Another squadron of arhats had cut off his path . The arhats were now swooping down at him from above . Li Yundong was forced to double back .
Damn… So many of them…
He grunted when an arhat (or maybe two, he couldn't even tell) struck him on the back . He swerved to his right, bending at his waist to avoid several mudras aimed at his face . There was a loud crack, like a heavy object being smashed into the ground . Something was obviously happening on the ground, but he honestly didn't have enough mental resources to figure out what it was . At one point he did steal a glance at the ground, but all he saw were arhats flying around .
Something crashed into his left hip . He cartwheeled in the air . The surrounding arhats used his momentary distraction and landed more blows on him . Out of sheer desperation, he raised his arms to guard his face while using Qi Kinesis to defend against any rear attacks .
A gust of wind blew in from his left . He lowered his arms and saw the Fan of Seven Treasures fighting off a large group of arhats on his left . More arhats were flying in, but the fan's arrival had disrupted the arhat's formation enough for him to form a mudra without being attacked .
"Namah samanta vajranam ham!"
The repulsive force blew the surrounding arhats away . Without the arhats blocking his view, he realized that he'd been forced away from the pagoda . Now he would have to fight through a sea of arhats to get close to the pagoda again .
No . He needed something long-range, preferably something big . That way he could attack the pagoda even from afar .
The arhats had regrouped and were now charging at him again . The Fan of Seven Treasures snapped open, ready for the next bout .
"Namah samanta vajranam ham!"
The arhats were blown away .
Li Yundong switched to another mudra .
Amoghasiddhi's Mudra: The Heavenly Drum!
"Namah samanta buddhanam ham hah svaha!"
Ripples formed in the air . The arhats closest to Li Yundong suddenly closed ranks, planting their bodies in the path of the shockwaves .
The shockwaves tore through the arhats' defense and crashed into the pagoda .
Li Yundong stared at the pagoda in shock . The shockwaves were gone; the pagoda had just absorbed them like they were nothing .
But how? He was certain that the pagoda was constructed of wood . So how could it withstand shockwaves of such magnitude?
Was it another spell?
Was the pagoda immune to physical attacks?
The arhats were closing in again .
Li Yundong growled . "Namah samanta vajranam ham!" The repulsive force blew away a large group of arhat, giving him a good view of the ground . He scanned the ground for signs of the lama .
Take out the spell caster, and the spell ends . Makes sense .
Hey buddy, he told the Fan of Seven Treasures telepathically while his eyes continued to scan the ground . Help me look for the lama .
Arhats, arhats, arhats . These things were everywhere .
"Namah samanta vajranam ham!"
Another batch of arhats were flung away .
The Fan of Seven Treasures suddenly shot down in a particular direction .
You found him? he asked the fan . The fan didn't respond, so he took off after it .
There you are…
He saw the lama spinning his prayer beads near the edge of the forest .
The Fan of Seven Treasures swatted away a bunch of arhats who were trying to get in its way . As they began to close in on the lama, Li Yundong thought he saw a smirk on the lama's lips .
Take him out, buddy .
The Fan of Seven Treasures swooped down .
More arhats rose from the ground . A few of them flew upwards to cut off the fan's path; the remaining ones formed a circle around the lama .
No you don't!
Li Yundong quickly formed a mudra . "Om mani—" The rest of the mantra turned into a scream when he felt a hard object ram into his stomach . His body spun around in the air until he eventually lost control of his Zhenqi and crashed into the ground .
He rolled to his side and groaned . What the heck was that? That felt totally different from the arhats' usual attacks .
He blinked his eyes opened and felt his stomach drop .
The big arhat looked even bigger now, so much bigger than he remembered . And it was wielding some kind of long, metal pole . No . It wasn't a pole . It was a staff . A long, golden staff, which may or may not be capable of spells .
The arhats from the pagoda swooped down from the sky, dozens and dozens of them . The golden staff suddenly extended and struck him in the chest . The blow sent him flying . When his back crashed into a tree seconds later, he realized that he'd just been forced back into the forest . Li Yundong flew out of the forest to rejoin the battle, but a mob of smaller arhats were waiting for him near the edge of the forest .
Something struck him in the head, and he fell . The pain from the blow was so great that he didn't even feel the impact when his body crashed into the ground . He coughed and forced his eyes open . He realized then that he was lying on his stomach, and the ground directly under his face was covered in blood . His blood .
Suddenly, his hands were yanked to the sides and then pinned to the ground .
He looked up and saw the large, staff-wielding arhat walking towards him . Behind it stood a legion of smaller arhats with menacing scowls . The Fan of Seven Treasures was putting up a good fight against a large squadron somewhere near the lama, but its efforts appeared as fruitless as his own—the arhats' bodies kept regenerating after the fan tore them to shreds .
He shut his eyes and tried to search his mind for Acalanatha's voice .
Was Acalanatha watching him right now? He must be . He himself had told him so .
Acalanatha was watching, but he wasn't speaking .
Li Yundong opened his eyes, resigned to the fact that he was on his own this time .