This roar was Miao Yi's final display of spite, made to frustrate the other party on purpose. After being on the receiving end of such a long and arduous pursuit, he would not let the enemy have his way even as he took his last breath.
Although Bai Ziliang had been the one to push Miao Yi to such dire straits in the end, this parting bellow really managed to tick him off.
The Tempest Beast jumped and landed by the mouth of the volcano. The golden-hooved white deer also leaped forward at almost the same time.
Everyone peeked over the edge and looked down. Unwilling to let Miao Yi go so easily, Bai Ziliang readied his giant black seal to send Miao Yi on his way even sooner. However, he stopped his hand when he saw the situation down below.
The swirling mass of orange flames was a captivating sight. Everyone watched as Miao Yi slowly sank under, his clothes and hair instantly catching fire as he submerged deeper into the flaming whirlpool.
"Ughh…" Despite the extreme pain, Miao Yi muffled his cries. However, it was still a bone-chilling sound for everyone present.
Ashes and sparks flew up as the hot air ascended. It was all that remained of Miao Yi's hair and clothes.
The heat right above the mouth of the volcano was simply too extreme, so much so that everyone there was barely able to endure it with their cultivation. Bai Ziliang's Tempest Beast seemed unperturbed by this heat, whereas the golden-hooved white deer bleated in agony. Clearly, the heat had exceeded its level of tolerance.
The two spiritual beasts leaped back, away from the mountaintop. Bai Ziliang and the others all looked at one another. It was a heat that none of them could even tolerate. How had Miao Yi managed to act so composed and talk to them when he was already in such a terrible state? It was utterly inconceivable.
"The mouth of this volcano is a little strange. It doesn't seem like that of the average volcano. The flame within is also no ordinary fire; the way it burns is quite different. Clearly, this is a fire array that someone intentionally set up. To be able to set up a fire array at this spot, that person should be none other than Supreme Yao Lord Lie Huan himself. It seems like his personal residence is truly underneath this place. This fire array is probably used to guard the entrance from trespassers," said Ba Jie, clicking his tongue.
Lan Susu asked, "If Supreme Yao Lord Lie Huan's personal residence is truly below this place, couldn't that guy have escaped by jumping down?"
Bai Ziliang answered flatly, "He is definitely dead! Maybe he could have survived if the fire array wasn't here. After all, could just anyone break through a fire array set up by that Supreme Yao Lord? He's dead, without a doubt!"
Ba Jie shook his head. "That bastard was quite the character. His other traits aside, the fact that he was willing to risk his own life to lure the enemy away from his friends was not something anyone could do. It's a shame that he died." As though remembering something, Ba Jie extended his hand towards Bai Ziliang and continued, "What about the items you promised us?"
Bai Ziliang was stunned. "What are you talking about?"
"Don't play dumb with me. That's my thing." Pointing to the mouth of the volcano, Ba Jie continued, "Just now, you clearly said that all you wanted was his life and that you'd hand over everything else to us."
Bai Ziliang was caught in a daze, but then plainly replied, "He already jumped down. How could I possibly hand anything over to you? If you want it so badly, then go jump down there and look for it yourself."
Ba Jie chuckled and said, "Regardless of whether or not he jumped down, the fact that he was ultimately forced down by you means that you were the one who landed the killing blow. Are you trying to go back on your promise now that you've achieved your objective? If I hadn't agreed to your offer, I would have taken him and his treasure away with me by now. I wouldn't have lost either of them. But now you want me to jump down myself to take it back? I'm warning you, you'd better jump down right now and bring back everything I want. Otherwise, don't blame me for tossing you both down with him!"
"How arrogant. Who do you think you are? As if you're fit to speak to me!" Bai Ziliang scoffed, then turned to Kong Zhi, "Kong Zhi, you saw it for yourself. That bastard jumped down willingly. I couldn't do anything about it. So what's done is done—this matter is settled!"
Bai Ziliang's attitude made it very clear that as a representative from the Realm of Ten Thousand Demons, he would only speak to the representative of the Realm of High Paradise, who was equal to him in status. There was no room for Ba Jie to cut in.
Kong Zhi kept quiet. He knew a certain someone would not let this matter end just like that, so he naturally allowed him to play his part.
Ba Jie was overjoyed. He jumped down the golden-hooved white deer, then revealed a wooden fish drum in his hand. The drum was black and carried an amber-like translucence. Ba Jie began to beat the wooden fish drum, the steady sound echoing across the mountaintop, its sheer volume capable of making one's eardrums go numb. With a cold smile, Ba Jie said, "Trying to leave without handing over anything?"
Right as he was leaving, Bai Ziliang turned back and stared at the transcendent artifact in Ba Jie's hands. With a cautious gaze, he said, "What are you trying to do?"
"Do you really think I'm some kind of pushover?" Ba Jie pointed at Bai Ziliang with the stick of the wooden fish drum and said, "Surnamed Bai, we clearly came to an agreement after discussing the terms just now. You even made a promise to us. Yet once the matter is over, you wish to let bygones be bygones? I've seen shameless people before, but I've never met one as unscrupulous as you." He turned to Kong Zhi and asked, "Kong Zhi, this bastard has just forced a person to end his own life. If we allow him to roam free, he will surely sow more bloodshed along his path. As Buddhist monks, we have an obligation to eliminate such a savage brute and exorcise the evil!"
"Amitabha!" Kong Zhi sighed, and with a wave of his hand, draped the Blood Kasaya over his shoulders. At the same time, he brandished a monk's staff, which was similarly black in color with an amber-like hue. As he shook the staff, the hoops hanging from it immediately started spinning, giving others the impression that they might fly out at any moment.
It was a terrible feeling to be bullied to such an extent. Lan Susu bit her lips and Bai Ziliang said gravely, "I strongly advise you two to think it over. There is still no telling who'll have the last laugh once we start fighting!"
Ba Jie chuckled, "Spare me the excuses. If you were really confident in yourself, you wouldn't have agreed to our proposition so easily back then. You want to try to weasel your way out of this now? Sorry, but it's too late! Either you hand over a thousand Geotranscendence Bangles now or give us your mount as collateral for the time being. After that, we'll let you go. Otherwise, don't blame us for exorcising the evil by taking them from your cold, dead bodies!"
Bai Ziliang hated the fact that his Demon Refining Gourd had been broken. Otherwise, he wouldn't have to be intimidated by these two at all. Grinding his teeth, he said, "You two had better think this through. Our movements are clearly displayed on the astrolabe in the Western Constellations Palace. Regardless of what happens to either of us, there will be no escaping the consequences!"
"Don't worry. The only one who should be afraid of anything happening to him is you, not us!" Ba Jie told Kong Zhi, "Give it your all. No one else is here to see who started the fight anyway. If the higher-ups really do start an investigation, just push all the blame onto me. You can simply say that I was the one who exterminated these two vile creatures. Worst comes to worst, all they're going to do is kick me out of the school!"
Kong Zhi was dumbfounded. 'As if you're afraid of being exiled from the sect. You can't wait to be exiled is more like it.' However, this was not a bad situation as it meant that he could freely make his move now!
Truth be told, Kong Zhi greatly admired Ba Jie deep down, mostly because the latter was never afraid of the consequences.
Bai Ziliang snarled, "Don't overstep yourselves!"
"Cut the crap and stop testing my patience!" Ba Jie gently knocked on the drum and asked, "I'll ask you one more time, are you going to hand it over or not?!"
Eventually, Bai Ziliang had no choice but to hand over a thousand Geotranscendence Bangles, before leaving in resignation. There was no way he could hand them the Tempest Beast. Yao Sage Ji Huan had loaned the creature to his mother—he would still need to give it back when he returned.
"You be on your way now. Sorry we can't send you off!" Ba Jie shouted with glee as he knocked on his drum. Afterward, he pointed to the pile of Geotranscendence Bangles on the ground and said to Kong Zhi, "Take a look. All we did was scare them a little, and we managed to get a thousand Geotranscendence Bangles. Every single one of these is equivalent to a person's life. It's great that we didn't have to shed any blood to obtain them."
One thousand Geotranscendence Bangles! With a wave, Kong Zhi tucked them all into his storage bangle. His heart was filled with a fervent excitement.
"Kong Zhi, I'm sure you're secretly feeling overjoyed inside right now. I play the villain while you reap the rewards."
Kong Zhi couldn't deny he really was feeling that way right now. However, he still said, "I'll split half of them with you then!"
"We've been together since we were kids. Whether it's drinking alcohol, eating meat, or even peeping on girls bathing, we've done it all together. Do you think I don't know how you are? You don't have to put up an act in front of me. We all came here to help you get a high rank in the first place. Why would we need these things? It's fine as long as you remember to charge ahead of us whenever we make our move!" Ba Jie sighed. Looking around, he caught sight of the other four monks who had just reached the foot of the mountain. He leaped onto Kong Zhi's mount and steadied himself, then said, "Let's go! We've stayed long enough in this damn place already. Any more and our transcendence energy reserves will soon run dry! If I didn't have the old baldy's Ice Soul Beads on me, I wouldn't be able to endure this at all!"
Kong Zhi immediately urged his steed down the mountain...
Meanwhile within the volcano, as the mysterious, whirling flames engulfed Miao Yi's body, he knew that this would be his end. The heat was nothing like what he'd imagined; there was an immensely powerful destructive force behind it.
This was a result of his lack of knowledge and inexperience when it came to arrays. Take Ba Jie and the others for example; they could tell that this was a flame array with a single glance. This was the gap in knowledge between them.
If he had known that it would be like this down here, he would've never jumped down. He would have tried to coax those two monks into helping him escape his predicament instead. At the very least, he wouldn't have jumped down so rashly. The reason why he'd dared to do so was because he thought he could use his heat-manipulating arts to escape Bai Ziliang's pursuit within the sea of flames. Then, once Bai Ziliang left, he would make his escape. Little did he know that he had forfeited his own chances of survival instead.
As soon as Miao Yi came into contact with the flames, he could immediately feel an intense force pulling him down. And with his level of cultivation, there was no way he could put up any resistance. Furthermore, he wasn't that proficient in his heat-manipulating arts. To put it bluntly, he had barely even learned how to walk; he hadn't even trained properly. He was simply using it on the fly.
The moment the flames touched him, it instantly broke past his defenses and reduced all his hair and clothes into cinders. The burning pain made him feel as though he had fallen into the depths of hell, and he almost lost consciousness. There was but a single thought racing through his mind. As he desperately used his heat-manipulating arts to protect himself, he constantly repeated in his head—I want to live! I want to live!
It was a scream from the deepest parts of his soul.
And the moment Miao Yi was enveloped in the sea of flames, the black pearl around his neck started shining with a dull glow, and an angelic silhouette garbed in a light blue robe appeared within the flames, its long white sleeves and silvery locks down the sides of its face fluttering wildly about.
This person was none other than Lao Bai!
With one hand, Lao Bai grabbed onto the grotesque figure that was Miao Yi, then instantly dove down into the depths of the flames.
The whirling flames swiveled with an intense pulling force, but Lao Bai was not fazed in the least. He waved his arm and pointed to a single spot, and the whirling flames were instantly reversed with an even stronger momentum. Boom! The encroaching flames were instantly sent backward.
As soon as Lao Bai dove past the whirlpool of flames, he was met with a countless number of flaming swords. Lao Bai's light blue robes fluttered violently, forming just as many illusory bodies to protect him.
Amidst the constant explosions, not a single one of the flaming swords were able to come close to Lao Bai and Miao Yi; they were all dispersed by Lao Bai's robes.
Right past the sea of flaming swords, hordes of fire dragons soon arrived, all baring their fangs viciously as they charged towards Lao Bai.
As he dragged Miao Yi's body along, Lao Bai's eyes shone with a cold glint and he quickly formed a claw with his hand. As though the entire realm was within his grasp, the fire dragons were instantly broken apart, and a spatial tunnel was created across the sea of flames. The unleashed force was absolutely astounding.