Waves crashed onto the shores of the beach as a hundred and ten riders approached on wooden rafts. Before they had even reached the shore, they were already leaping up from their wooden rafts to land on the beach.
Under the blazing sun, their leader could be seen wearing a silver mask with only two holes, his nose completely hidden from sight. Behind the holes of his mask, a frightening pair of eyes scanned the surroundings.
The troops behind him wore steel masks as well. Not a single one of them exposed the slightest bit of skin. They were even wearing gloves on their hands.
As soon as these riders came ashore, it was clear that a ghastly aura surrounded their bodies.
The strangest part about them was their dragon steeds. At first glance, they looked almost the same as a normal dragon steed, only much thinner.
However, if one looked closely enough, one would notice that the biggest difference between these dragon steeds and normal ones were their eyes, which were a grayish-white, with no visible pupils.
All one hundred and ten of these dragon steeds had white eyes. They also lacked the vigor that a normal dragon steed possessed. When they stood still, they resembled statues.
"According to the indicator on the jade archive, this should be the island. I wonder if they're still here?" mused the silver-masked person, giggling. He looked around, then turned back and said, "Regardless, we should still be careful. I want two riders to go scout the path ahead."
Two riders immediately shot out from behind him and dived into the forest before them.
From far away, hidden in the dark, Miao Yi creased his brows when he saw the other party acting so cautiously. It would likely be difficult to ambush them.
To boost morale, he'd personally led twenty troops over to lure in the enemy. But by the looks of things, they were the ones who needed to make the first move.
Raising his hand, Miao Yi said, "Get rid of those two scouts first. Attack!"
Twenty riders immediately charged out of the mountain to kill the two scouts. They could not afford to let the other party know of their ambush.
By the seaside, the silver-masked man narrowed his eyes at the troops that suddenly appeared in the distance. "Woo!!" He abruptly pulled back his head and howled.
The two scouts immediately backed away and swiftly rushed back to their main forces. Then, all one hundred and ten riders immediately shifted into an attack formation.
After Miao Yi and his troops had charged all the way to the edge of the forest, they were able to see the formation of the troops by the beach. They were instantly taken aback by this scene. Miao Yi swiftly raised his spear and had everyone stop by the edge of the forest.
"Undead dragon steeds!" Behind Miao Yi, someone gasped in surprise.
Miao Yi was no longer the greenhorn he once was when he first entered the cultivation realm; he obviously knew what an undead dragon steed was at this point.
Undead dragon steeds were made by transforming normal dragon steeds into zombies and usually ridden by Ghost Cultivators. It didn't mean that the average Ghost Cultivator was unable to ride a normal dragon steed—the Yin energy on a Ghost Cultivator's body was simply too heavy, and not even a spirit beast with tremendous amounts of stamina like a dragon steed could withstand it for long. It would be fine for a Ghost Cultivator to ride a normal dragon steed for a few days, but any longer than that and the Yin energy would start to corrode the dragon steed's body, gradually decreasing its speed. It would surely die within half a month.
Meanwhile, zombified dragon steeds were stronger than normal dragon steeds as well. These undead dragon steeds were not afraid of pain. Even if someone made thousands of cuts on their bodies, it was pointless. Unless you pierced their hearts or chopped off their heads, they could not be killed.
Another unique trait of theirs was that other cultivators could not ride them. Only Ghost Cultivators could ride on undead dragon steeds.
Needless to say, the troops before Miao Yi were all Ghost Cultivators.
Miao Yi had fought only once against a Ghost Cultivator back then in the Mystic Arts Temple. He hadn't encountered another Ghost Cultivator since then. It was his first time seeing so many of them. The Ghost Cultivators nominated to participate in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade were obviously not something the ghost woman in the Mystic Arts Temple could compare to.
What Miao Yi found even more astonishing was that almost all one hundred and ten of these Ghost Cultivators had fully equipped themselves with Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts—only some of them still carried First Grade Transcendent Artifacts.
For a group of people who'd taken the initiative to go around hunting for prey and survived this long, they'd obviously taken quite a number of powerful treasures from their enemies to replace their inferior ones.
"State your identities, Ghost Cultivators! Why have you come to my territory!?" Miao Yi raised his spear and shouted.
"What a joke. Since when did the Western Star Sea become your domain? So what if we're in your territory?" the silver-masked man scoffed. "I am Kuang Lianqiu of the Yin Congregate Sect. If you and your troops dismount and submit to us, I shall spare your lives."
No one believed his words. Someone who could go around the Sea of Constellations looking for trouble was definitely not one for kindness! Miao Yi quickly turned around and with a wave of his spear, shouted, "The enemy's forces outnumber us. We cannot defeat them. Retreat!"
"Since I'm already here, do you think you can run?" Kuang Lianqiu gave an odd laugh; then with a wave of his hand, he took out a black-colored bronze mirror. The front of the mirror displayed its reflective surface; engraved on the sides and the back were depictions of hundreds of skeletons. It was a rather horrific sight to behold.
The bronze mirror in his hand began to glow with a blue light and emitted hissing sounds. Then, a cloud of black smoke abruptly shot out from the mirror. In mere moments, it extended beyond a hundred meters and enveloped the forest in front of it, covering a surface area of several dozen feet.
Miao Yi and his troops had barely turned around to retreat when they suddenly felt a cold piercing chill. The black smoke immediately enveloped them. They couldn't even defend against it because of the smoke's formless substance.
Miao Yi tried to defend himself by invoking his arts and waving his spear around, but he soon felt his consciousness fading as his body quickly began to freeze. This ghastly Yin energy was astonishingly powerful.
With the last of his consciousness, Miao Yi cursed. As the Alliance Master, it was dangerous for him to be charging in front all the time. The problem was that his cultivation was not up to par, yet he couldn't just sit in the back the whole time. How would his fellow alliance members look at him then? He initially believed that it wouldn't be risky to lure the enemy, and since he wouldn't need to clash head-on with the enemy, he figured he could lead the troops on this mission as their Alliance Master. Even if he didn't fight after that, it wouldn't look too bad for him.
Little did he expect that he'd bump into someone so vicious right from the start. With just a single transcendent artifact, the opponent had defeated them all. He'd been too careless this time, and now he was paying the price.
After the cold, black smoke gushed out in its entirety, it quickly retracted back into the bronze mirror with a whoosh.
Under the shade of the forest, Miao Yi and his troops sat utterly paralyzed on their mounts. Even their dragon steeds stood fixed in their positions. Their bodies were covered in white frost and completely frozen in place.
The forest around them was also covered in snow. In places where the sun shone, the snow turned to black mist and disappeared. A trail of snow extended across the forest. Wherever the cold Yin aura touched, so long as it was not under the sun, it would be covered in white snow.
Holding the bronze mirror in his hand, Kuang Lianqiu burst out laughing, "Do you honestly think a bunch of vermin like yourselves can escape my Mystic Yin Mirror? Go! Turn them into the undead and retrieve their Yin Cores!"
To help ensure fairness in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade, the usage of Third Grade Transcendent Artifacts were not permitted. Otherwise, the majority of participants wouldn't be able to compete as few could afford a Third Grade Transcendent Artifact in the first place.
This Mystic Yin Mirror of his was already at a relatively high-tier even among Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts. A normal Second Grade Transcendent Artifact, which had little else besides killing potential, couldn't compare at all. Even though it was still within the boundaries of a Second Grade Transcendent Artifact, after taking into account its special effects, it could be considered a pseudo-Third Grade Transcendent Artifact. The mirror had a large amount of Yin aura stored within.
The rules of the game were fixed, but that didn't mean the participants had to adhere to them. They could exploit loopholes if there were any to be found. If the usage of Third Grade Transcendent Artifacts were permitted, his Yin Congregate Sect had an even more powerful transcendent artifact at hand.
While he laughed, full of conceit, he failed to notice the immediate repulsion of the Yin aura as soon as it approached the art source within Miao Yi's body. Inside his art source, specks of starlight glimmered and soon spread outwards. It emitted a beautiful radiance as it swiftly circulated throughout Miao Yi's body like a typhoon, repelling the Yin aura that corroded him. It carried an indomitable blaze of holiness, as though it had come from a divine presence from across the vast galaxy.
"What!?" Kuang Lianqiu suddenly gasped when he saw that the frost on Miao Yi's body had almost instantaneously vanished.
Regaining consciousness, Miao Yi immediately realized that earlier attack bore similarities to the effects carried by the tiny mantids. He thanked his good fortune and hastily invoked his arts to save Charcoal.
He couldn't save the rest in time as the enemy was already charging over from behind. Charcoal was still in a daze when Miao Yi urged him into a full gallop, and they made a hasty retreat.
"He was able to dispel the Yin aura of my Mystic Yin Mirror. Is it possible he holds some kind of treasure?" Kuang Lianqiu clicked his tongue in wonder, then raised his hand and shouted, "After him!"
All one hundred and ten steeds, himself included, immediately rushed after Miao Yi, disregarding the other twenty riders still frozen in place.
The jade archive sent by the Western Constellations Palace didn't highlight how many were hiding in this place. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been so daring in their pursuit.
As he ran for his life, Miao Yi would occasionally turn back to look at the enemy and felt both depressed and happy at the same time. He was happy because, at this rate, he would lure the enemy into the ambush without fail. But he also felt troubled from knowing that the opposing transcendent artifact was too powerful. That single transcendent artifact could fight against an entire group of cultivators in one go. Even if the hidden troops launched a joint attack, they might not even be able to win against it.
After considering his options, Miao Yi steeled himself and came to a decision. He was the only one who could counter the Yin aura of that mirror artifact. If he didn't step up and fight, this small group of cultivators might just force his entire army to retreat in shame. It seemed like he had to put his life on the line this time.
As he charged in front and led the enemy into the ambush, Miao Yi turned his head for one last look. Then, he brought Charcoal to a sudden halt and turned to face the enemy.
"Kill!" Miao Yi raised his spear and shouted out the signal to begin the attack.
A large number of riders immediately charged out from behind him. Another large group of troops appeared along both sides of the mountain as well.
Taken aback, Kuang Lianqiu and his troops hastily came to a stop. They didn't expect to find such a large force hiding out here.
However, Kuang Lianqiu immediately readied the Mystic Yin Mirror in his hands, and a mocking grin could be seen in his eyes. He hadn't expected there to be this many cultivators hiding out here. Once he took care of them all and robbed them of their golden bangles, his position among the top one hundred was all but assured.
"I want you all to take on those on the side. Leave this area to me!" Kuang Lianqiu commanded arrogantly.
His fellow disciples acknowledged the order because they knew he had the qualifications to be arrogant. It was precisely due to the Mystic Yin Mirror in his hands. He could handle one, even two thousand men single-handedly, much less two hundred.
With a spear in hand, Miao Yi brought Charcoal to a full gallop and charged in front of the troops as he shouted for blood. With two teams beside him, they charged together in an arrowhead formation.
"Alliance Master, you don't need to fight personally. Just leave this to me and Lu Siping!" Sikong Wuwei laughed as he rode by Miao Yi's side with Lu Siping. Their enemies had practically equipped themselves from head to toe with Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts. If he managed to steal them, he would strike gold yet again.
This bastard was such a kleptomaniac that Miao Yi wondered if he'd originally come from the same place as Luo Shuangfei.
"The both of you won't be able to handle it!" Miao Yi remarked, charging in front with a spear at the ready. He was headed straight for Kuang Lianqiu.
"Alliance Master, don't you think you're underestimating me a bit—" Before Sikong Wuwei could finish, he was left dumbfounded.
He watched as the silver-masked man raised a bronze mirror glowing with a blue light. Then, a cold, piercing black mist erupted from the glass and enveloped his surroundings. Before it even hit him, the chill already caused him to tremble and instantly shut him up mid-brag, replacing his previously boastful expression with that of surprise.