Lan Susu and the others soon caught up to Bai Ziliang and were shocked to see the Tempest Beast thrashing about and ignoring its master's orders.
Lan Susu turned to look at where the melody was coming from, and shouted, "Young Master! It's because of that flute. Quick, store away your spiritual beast."
Bai Ziliang was already aware that the flute was behind this. However, he wanted to see if the Tempest Beast could overcome its melody. How could the mighty Tempest Beast lose its composure over a mere flute?!
However, when he saw how difficult it was to calm the Tempest Beast down, Bai Ziliang had no choice but to store it away in his beast sack.
"After them!" Bai Ziliang was a little angered from this setback. He gave up the speed advantage of being on a mount and led his forces after Gu Sanzheng's group across the waves.
Occasionally turning their heads back to look, Gu Sanzheng and the other two were pleasantly surprised. Needless to say, Tan Lao's Great Art: Mystical Voice of Myriad Beasts must have been effective.
Even Tan Lao himself was in shock. The beast-controlling art of the School of Imperial Beasts was actually effective against Yao Sage Ji Huan's mount. How was this possible?
Out of all the cultivators participating in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade, the Blue Lotus Ninth Grade was the highest cultivation level. Gu Sanzheng, Tan Lao, and Ye Xin were already among the highest tier of participants. Now that Bai Ziliang had lost the speed of his Tempest Beast, the three of them were not afraid that he'd catch up to them at all.
Since the other party had stored away his spiritual beast, Tan Lao stopped playing the flute, and the trio continued to dash across the ocean.
Ye Xin praised, "Tan Lao! That was impressive! You can even tame spiritual beasts from the Realm of Ten Thousand Demons."
"I didn't tame it at all. You two saw it too. There was no way I could tame it. All I did was interfere with it a little. But I keep feeling like there's something wrong with this. I have only cultivated the Great Art: Mystical Voice of Myriad Beasts to the second stage. There's no way I could cause interference to such a spiritual beast. Only those weak-minded infants would—" Tan Lao suddenly stopped and repeatedly turned his head back to look.
Gu Sanzheng asked, "What's wrong? Don't think too hard about it. As long as it's effective, it'll be useful to us."
Tan Lao suddenly tapped on his forehead and exclaimed, "I see now!"
Ye Xin asked curiously, "What is it?"
Tan Lao laughed and said, "I see now. This isn't Yao Sage Ji Huan's mount at all. It's an infant Tempest Beast and not a fully matured adult. It hasn't reached the stage where it can tread clouds and mist yet. And here I wondered—since the Six Sages banned the use of transcendent artifacts above the Second Grade as well as flying mounts in the Subjugation Crusade, why would the Yao Sage break his own rules so blatantly? So it was an infant beast. No wonder my great art affected it."
"So that's why!" Gu Sanzheng and Ye Xin smiled at each other. The latter revealed a rare smile and said, "It seems like our luck is pretty good. What are the chances?"
"I'm afraid this is not something to celebrate." Tan Lao shook his head and smiled bitterly.
Gu Sanzheng asked, "How so?"
Tan Lao sighed. "Each of the Six Sages has sent someone from their newest generation to participate in the Sea of Constellation Subjugation Crusade to battle over which side is stronger. Now that I've found a weakness in the guy coming after us, I have effectively become a liability in his battle with the other five representatives. With that in mind, he will surely want to kill me. Gu Sanzheng, I think the number one person on their hit list right now is no longer you, but me. There is a high chance they won't let us go so easily!"
Gu Sanzheng and Ye Xin looked at each other. When he put it that way, there was indeed a high chance of that happening.
Still a little resentful, Ye Xin huffed and said, "It's just that his gourd is too powerful. Otherwise, we might not have to fear him!"
"He would obviously have a powerful transcendent artifact to rely on since he is representing the Realm of Ten Thousand Demons. Otherwise, how could he possibly fight for the top spot?!" Gu Sanzheng shot a glance back and couldn't help but sigh. "Miao Yi was also a capable man. I never imagined he would lose to that person in a single confrontation. But maybe it's better this way. Now that he's dead, we can answer to our sects once we make it back alive. This saves us quite a bit of trouble. All we need to do now is focus on getting away."
Inside a gray, enclosed space. The scene that unfolded before Miao Yi and the others as soon as they opened their eyes was that of countless iron chains of different sizes intertwining around them.
The demonic aura in their surroundings was as dense as fog. Miao Yi opened his transcendence vision and soon realized he was trapped inside a giant gourd-shaped space. Given the situation before this, it was easy to figure out where they were currently. Clearly, that guy's tiny gourd artifact could act like a storage ring. Despite its small appearance, it carried a pocket dimension within itself.
Miao Yi tried to move but soon discovered that his limbs and waist were bound tightly. He couldn't budge an inch. He invoked his transcendence arts throughout his body and struggled for a bit, but still couldn't budge an inch, let alone break free. All he could hear was the sound of the chains rattling.
"There's no use. We can't break free." The sound of Zhao Fei sighing came from behind Miao Yi. He had clearly tried to do the same thing as well. Since even he couldn't break free with his cultivation level, Miao Yi obviously didn't have a chance.
Miao Yi couldn't move his body, so he struggled to turn his head back to look. Indeed, Zhao Fei was tied up in chains behind him with his limbs spread out.
Miao Yi asked loudly, "Is everyone alright? Xiuhong, where are you?" His voice echoed throughout the gourd.
"I'm right above you." Qi Xiuhong's voice called out. Miao Yi lifted his head to look and found not only Qi Xiuhong bound above him, but her mount was caught and tied up beside her as well, still in Charcoal's armor.
"We're here too." Pi Junzi and Tao Ruchun's voice came from under Miao Yi.
Miao Yi looked down and found the two of them tied up not far away from his feet.
"Damn it! My Mountain Suppressing Hammer!"
Miao Yi turned to look at the source of the sound and saw Sikong Wuwei in his eight o'clock position. He was struggling to reach the tiny hammer chained up not far away from him. It was none other than his Mountain Suppressing Hammer. Although it was within arm's reach, he couldn't grab it no matter how much he struggled.
"That son of a bitch! If I get my hands on the Mountain Suppressing Hammer, I'll crush this rotten gourd of his into pieces." After a round of useless struggling, Sikong Wuwei ultimately gave up and relaxed his body.
Top-tier Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts like the Mountain Suppressing Hammer had extremely elaborate designs and were not as simple as their appearance seemed. In order for them to have a transformation ability, it was inevitable that the inner structure would be complex. As such, they could not transform into mist and be easily stored like one would normal Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts. If they were able to casually shapeshift into mist and restructure themselves back, their internal structure could go haywire with just a single error.
There was also another reason. Even though the Mountain Suppressing Hammer might seem small, once enlarged and its true form revealed, it was easy to tell how much Crystalline Obsidian had gone into the process of refining it. If it were to form mist, it would be enough to envelop an entire ocean. Then it would be a problem of whether or not it was possible to store it all away.
Therefore when it came to refining transcendent artifacts of this level, the internal structure had to be clearly defined in order to avoid a mishap. They couldn't be like Miao Yi's Inversed-Scales Spear, capable of forming into a mist to be stored away at any time. The internal structure of those types of transcendent artifacts was simple and vastly different from those of top-tier Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts like the Mountain Suppressing Hammer.
When he saw how Sikong Wuwei was acting, Miao Yi couldn't help laughing aloud. "It seems like everyone is just fine."
"Fine, my ass!" Sikong Wuwei blew at his mustache and shot Miao Yi a glare. "Why don't you take a look at what's exactly going in and out of our bodies as we're breathing right now? It's demonic aura!"
After his reminder, Miao Yi finally realized that he was actually breathing in the demonic aura and was shocked. Furthermore, the demonic aura was capable of slowly invading the insides of his body through the pores of his skin. He couldn't stop breathing in the demonic aura even if he wanted to since it completely filled the air. Unless he was somehow able to hold his breath for an eternity, that is.
Miao Yi couldn't help gasping, "What is the meaning of this? Why go this far just to kill us?"
Behind him, Zhao Fei sighed, "Don't you understand yet? They're trying to reanimate us into fiends! In just a few days, we will all die from an overdose of demonic aura. When we wake up, we will no longer be ourselves. We will either have to surrender to someone else's control or be killed for our Yao Cores. Out of all of us, the only ones truly not affected by this are the two down below, since they're Yao cultivators to begin with."
Miao Yi could feel his skin crawl from hearing Zhao Fei's words. As he thought about how he would be reanimated into a fiend and how he would either be killed for his Yao Core or become someone else's mindless tool, he couldn't help trembling. Out of instinct, he struggled against the chains once more, but it was still useless.
"Aii!" Sikong Wuwei suddenly made a long sigh, then said in a resigned tone, "After so many years of cultivation, I never thought that my path would come to an end in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade!" Then his voice suddenly became agitated as he cursed, "If I had known earlier, I wouldn't have saved that son of a bitch, Hei Langjun! I should have just let Gu Sanzheng kill him. That bastard better hope I don't get out, or else I'll rip him to shreds! And Miao Yi, damn it, kid, what sort of messed-up plan is this? Not only did we fail to sabotage our target, we ended up falling into a trap ourselves."
"How was I supposed to know they could still catch up to us even with so many people on their tail?" Miao Yi retorted, then struggled against the chains again. Still unwilling to give up so soon, he looked downwards and shouted, "Pi Junzi! Tao Ruchun! You're both Yao cultivators. Is there any way to negate the threat from this demonic aura?"
Tao Ruchun sighed. "None, unless you can make it out."
Suddenly, Pi Junzi shouted, "Miao Yi, you damn rascal! Meeting you in this life is equivalent to having eight lifetimes' worth of misfortune! Every time I meet you, I experience such terrible luck and I can't even run away from it. This time, I even have to forfeit my life. Aren't you arrogant? Let me see how arrogant you can be now. I am going to watch as you die. This is karma…"
This was such a satisfying scolding indeed. All the things he didn't dare say before, he was blurting them all out now.
"Wow!" Sikong Wuwei was immediately amused and laughed aloud. "This rat demon has finally become bold. He's finally saying all the things he didn't dare say before. This is what you call speaking your true thoughts. Keep on scolding. We're all ears!"
Miao Yi glared downwards and bellowed, "Pi Junzi, just you wait! Once I get out of here, I'll show you who's boss!"
"Get out? You still think you can get out? Dream on!" Pi Junzi laughed arrogantly, "If you can get out of here, I'll bow before you and call you granddaddy!"
"Son of a bitch!" Miao Yi cursed, "Just you wait!"
"Pui!" Pi Junzi said disdainfully, "Your granddaddy is right here. What can you possibly do to me? Come, come. Your granddaddy is just sitting still here and waiting for you!"
Miao Yi was seething with rage. He shouted, "You've got some guts, Pi Junzi! You'll come to regret this!"
"You scolded him well!" Tao Ruchun suddenly began scolding as well, "Pi Junzi, I have long thought this brat deserved a painful death. Back in the underground tunnel, he forced me to stay behind to cut off his path. Then on the ocean, he treated me like some kind of boat. And even here, he forced me to the mountaintop—"
The two of them suddenly went silent, wide-eyed as they looked upwards. They were stricken with terror.
"Keep on scolding! You two bastards can continue scolding to your hearts' content! Did you think I had no way to deal with you just because I'm tied up? Let me tell you, I can take care of trash like you anytime and anywhere I want!" Miao Yi revealed a vicious grin and spread his palm open, brandishing the Mystic Yin Mirror and pointing it straight down at the two people under him.