That one heartless kick clearly proved who his allies were.
With a miserable expression, the old man scrambled to his feet and brandished a mace. Boom! He immediately knocked down the ceiling above him.
He swung his mace around, causing the dirt and rocks overhead to crumble down and kick up clouds of dust behind him as he chased after Miao Yi and the others.
The shield blocking the underground passage was already covered in layers of frost. Gu Sanzheng and Tan Lao had finally witnessed the might of the Mystic Yin Mirror. They were freezing from the cold despite hiding behind the shield.
When they heard the sound of the passage caving in, they knew that something was wrong. Tan Lao carefully retracted a piece of the shield, and after confirming there was no one hiding behind it, he called all of them back. It was like an icy world before them. White frost covered the entire path, and around the corner, the frost was completely hidden under rubble.
Tan Lao picked up the black fox on the ground. It had been caught in the Mystic Yin Mirror's attack and was already frozen stiff. At the time, Tan Lao had his hands tied. He was barely able to save Gu Sanzheng and himself, how could he possibly have the time to be worried about the black fox in front of them?
Gu Sanzheng was furious knowing that they had almost fallen into Miao Yi's trap. It didn't matter if the black fox could no longer lead the way. The trail of rubble was a clear indicator of the path they should take. Gu Sanzheng turned around the corner and then sent out his Thunderclap Flying Swords, kicking up clouds of dust as they drilled through the rubble.
Plowing through the newly caved-in passageway was easy. Furthermore, the white-haired old man was too busy escaping to focus on his task. There were many places which were only partly covered in rubble. As such, it was not difficult for the two to continue their pursuit as they drilled their way through the dirt.
Miao Yi and the others quickly entered Pi Junzi's cave. The white-haired old man followed them in as well with a mace in hand.
Miao Yi turned around to look at him and asked suspiciously, "I asked you to cut them off. Why did you run so fast? Are you sure you fully destroyed the path behind us?"
'Would I still be alive if I didn't run any faster?' The white-haired old man repeatedly nodded, "I destroyed it all."
Miao Yi had no way to confirm it either way. His expression changed when he vaguely heard a crashing sound approaching them. He thought, 'Those bastards are persistent indeed. Even after all of that, they still won't let us go and are coming after us.'
There was no choice but to continue running. The group passed through Pi Junzi's cave and into a secret room. Pi Junzi broke a section of the wall, revealing another secret tunnel behind it. Everyone jumped in and continued running like mad through the secret tunnel.
After a while, they reached the end of the underground passage. The path was cut off by a body of water. Pi Junzi led the way and plunged in.
After swimming for several dozen meters, a ray of light appeared before them. Everyone realized they had reached the ocean floor. As they opened their transcendence vision and scanned their surroundings, they saw schools of fish of various colors swimming about; the sight of the world on the ocean depths lay before them.
Miao Yi pointed to a certain direction, and everyone quickly swam towards it.
Once they broke past the path of rubble, Gu Sanzheng and Tan Lao made their way to Pi Junzi's cave as well. However, they found out that it was a dead end.
"They can't just disappear like that. There is definitely another path somewhere."
Just as the words left Tan Lao's lips, Gu Sanzheng's Thunderclap Flying Swords were already shooting randomly across the room. Bang! It immediately revealed the entrance to the secret passage. Tan Lao instantly readied his shield and entered the path. The both of them then entered the secret room and found the secret passage that Miao Yi and the others had escaped through.
They continued their pursuit into the passage and soon came across a body of water at the end of the path. The Thunderclap Flying Swords shot into the water and flurried about. Then, Gu Sanzheng took the lead and jumped in.
When the both of them resurfaced on the ocean, they could no longer catch sight of Miao Yi's group. The sky was dark, and with the vast ocean concealing their tracks, Gu Sanzheng and Tan Lao wouldn't be able to see which way they ran off to even with their transcendence vision.
The Thunderclap Flying Swords returned to their sheath as Gu Sanzheng cursed, "What a cunning bastard. He still managed to run away."
"Do you think he intentionally made it seem like he escaped just to hide back on the island?" Tan Lao asked.
"That's very likely!" Gu Sanzheng nodded.
They were both unwilling to give up. They went straight ashore and continued looking for traces of Miao Yi's group. After losing the black fox, Tan Lao released several more red-nosed rats. The rats scurried about looking for a scent. However, they were unable to find anything even after searching across the immediate vicinity of the shore. This was clear proof that Miao Yi's group had not gone ashore and had truly escaped through the open sea.
After a whole night of searching, Tan Lao narrowed his eyes as the sun peeked over the horizon and said, "Fortunately, it's already dawn. I doubt they can hide in the ocean forever."
With a flip of his hand, a bronze flute suddenly appeared. He placed it by his lips and started blowing on it, and the woeful melody resounded across the area.
Soon, a large group of flying animals resembling seagulls flew towards them under the light of dawn and landed next to them.
Tan Lao held a silver needle and quickly pierced it into the heads of the several thousand flying beasts. Then, he held the flute by his lips again and began playing a sharp screeching tune. As though they had just woken up from sleep, the birds spread their wings and flew off towards various directions under the sound of the flute.
Gu Sanzheng understood his intentions and praised inwardly, 'He has so many tricks. As expected of the School of Imperial Beasts.' However, he remarked somberly, "Although, with the speed of these average birds, by the time they find Miao Yi and the others and return, who knows how much time would have passed already?"
Tan Lao replied, "At least we will be able to confirm which way that bastard ran off to. It's still better than us searching blindly across the vast ocean. If we were to go off in the wrong way, with how big the Western Star Sea is, it would be difficult to find them again. Furthermore, we can use this opportunity to recuperate our expended transcendence energy and sort out the spoils of our battle. I believe it should be quite a sum this time. Now that I think about it, it doesn't seem like such a waste of time to be following that bastard after all. Nowadays, it's extremely difficult to find so many participants gathered together for us to attack!"
Gu Sanzheng nodded in agreement. They both turned around and summoned their Crystal-Armored Hurricane Beasts. They then charged up the peak of a mountain and saw the entire island wrapped in humongous flames. At the center of the island, aside from the still-burning blaze resins they had tossed out, the trees within the area were all reduced to ash, and the fire had died down. However, the flames outside of that area continued to spread across the entire island…
Western Constellations Palace.
Standing before the astrolabe with a devious grin, Hei Yun pointed to a certain spot and said, "It's been awhile since I've seen so many participants dying in one go. Seven to eight hundred have perished, and that group with the largest number of troops have been reduced to almost half their original numbers. What a pity indeed."
Yun Guang nodded and said, "It seems there are about five hundred of them left. It looks like they bumped into a strong foe!"
Behind him, Zuo Nanchun remained silent, but his eyes were shining with a glint.
A trace of worry fleeted past Fairy Hong Chen's eyes as she believed that the chances of that person surviving were slim. If it truly was the same person as the one in her memory, maybe it was a good thing for him to perish like this, for the sake of her Junior Sister and his own…
Upon the vast ocean, the sun was already high in the sky when Miao Yi's group finally resurfaced after swimming tirelessly under the sea. They were already far away from the island they were on last night and proceeded to escape while running atop the waves.
"We can't keep running like this. We've barely stopped at all these past two days. We need to recover some of our transcendence energy. Otherwise, we'll be in trouble if we bump into a strong opponent later on," Zhao Fei suddenly remarked.
Everyone then looked towards the direction he pointed in and saw a small island in the distance. Zhao Fei was indicating that they should head to the island and rest for a while.
Sikong Wuwei nodded in agreement. But then, Miao Yi signaled the white-haired old man to come over.
The white-haired old man was anxious as he wondered what this guy was going to ask him now. He slowly approached Miao Yi.
Unexpectedly, Miao Yi smiled and asked, "May I know what's your name and your cultivation?"
"This subordinate is called Tao Ruchun. I'm embarrassed to say that even after cultivating for eight thousand years, my cultivation is just at the Blue Lotus Seventh Grade," the old man cautiously replied.
Miao Yi turned to look at Pi Junzi and saw the latter gently nodding. After making sure that the old man wasn't lying, he asked, "If I remember correctly, you are a Peach Blossom Treant?"
"That is correct." Tao Ruchun nodded.
Miao Yi chuckled and asked, "You've seen what happened last night. That group of people is truly powerful. Naturally, we need to run as far as we can to ensure our safety. I wonder if Brother Tao is planning to go off on his own or coming along with us?"
Tao Ruchun carefully replied, "Although this subordinate is not very powerful, I can still offer some assistance. It's much better to stick together and look out for one another." To put it bluntly, he simply felt much safer being with a group instead of on his own. Most of the participants in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade shared this mentality.
"I feel the same way as well." Miao Yi suddenly sighed, "But alas, my brothers and I have expended most of our transcendence energy after such a major battle. If this keeps up, it will be troublesome if we bump into a strong foe. That is why we wish to find a place to rest and recover some of our transcendence energy."
' Go and rest if you want to rest. Do you even need to tell me?' With a smile and a curious expression on his face, Tao Ruchun replied, "But of course."
Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei were also a little puzzled as to what Miao Yi was trying to say. Was there a need to ask for this demon's opinion?
As soon as the treant agreed, Miao Yi said, "Aren't you a Peach Blossom Treant? It's easy for trees to float on the ocean. Hurry up and change into your true form so that we can rest on your body. This way you can also bring us along as you drift through the ocean. Neither task will be neglected."
"Ah! This…" Tao Ruchun instantly widened his eyes in shock.
Pi Junzi felt pity for the treant whereas Zhao Fei lifted his head to look at the sky. He refrained from commenting and acted like it was none of his business.
Sikong Wuwei clapped his hands and laughed, "That's a great idea! Old monster, didn't you say you'd us offer some assistance? Now is the time to live up to your words. Why are you still hesitating? Whether you wish to be our friend or foe, it all depends on a single word!" The Mountain Suppressing Hammer appeared in his hands. This was already a threat of force.
Tao Ruchun's expression contorted. Yet alas, he was outnumbered, and there was clearly no room for negotiation.
He cast a sideways glance at the hammer in Sikong Wuwei's hands. In the end, he laughed dryly and nodded. His body shone with a blue radiance and transformed into a giant peach blossom tree which was almost ten thousand years old. His leaves and roots retracted as the tree fell onto the ocean.
Miao Yi was the first to jump on, followed by the rest of them. To the Peach Blossom Treant, he then pointed out the direction they needed to move towards.
The branches on the Peach Blossom Treant, both long and short, immediately swayed in the water like countless rotors of different sizes. With so many branches paddling together, the speed in which the tree drifted across the ocean was fast and wasn't much slower than the speed of them traveling by foot.
Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei looked at each other. Judging from the direction, Miao Yi must be planning to look for Qi Xiuhong.
They were correct. He was planning to look for Qi Xiuhong indeed. At first, Miao Yi had planned to look for a place to wait for Charcoal. However, he was afraid that something might happen to Qi Xiuhong if he left her alone for too long. After all, they could not notify Qi Xiuhong of their whereabouts, whereas Charcoal had an inborn aptitude for finding Miao Yi.
The group sat cross-legged on the Peach Blossom Treant's body. Miao Yi had Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei recover their transcendence energy first. He still needed to rely on them if something were to happen after all. And it wouldn't be wise to have everyone lower their guards. As such, Miao Yi decided to stand guard himself while talking to the giant mouth that appeared on the bark of the tree, asking about the events of the Sea of Constellations...