"Tsk tsk! How much must they make in a year with such a monopoly?" Miao Yi couldn't help his astonishment.
"I'm not sure exactly how much they make, but anyway, I hear that the Lady Boss has to go to the Great Devil Realm and provide cultivation resources for the imprisoned Feng Xuan year after year. Haa! Feng Xuan is lucky to have such a woman. Even though he's been imprisoned for several tens of thousands of years now, it wouldn't be wrong to call it closed-door cultivation since there's no one to bother him. Who knows? He might even be able to come out and reunite with the Lady Boss one day. On the other hand, the Lady Boss is the one who has to maintain all these connections on her own… Apparently, when the Tempest Tavern just opened, it wasn't entirely smooth-sailing all the way. After all, it was no easy feat to get everyone to acknowledge an establishment like the Tempest Tavern. The Lady Boss must have gone through many difficulties to get the entire cultivation realm to slowly accept the rules set by the Tempest Tavern. As a result, she has earned the respect of a lot of people," Pi Junzi said.
The beginning was always the hardest! Miao Yi nodded, gaining some new insight into the Lady Boss's personality. It was no wonder she and the others didn't want to talk about their past. It turned out they had such a trying period back then.
The way ahead grew more desolate, and there were no longer any houses to be seen around them. Miao Yi and his company had already made it out of the area in Flowing Clouds Dune Sea where people congregated.
Miao Yi scanned his surroundings vigilantly and transmitted his voice over to Pi Junzi and Tao Yongchun, "The two of you shouldn't have come here. There might be danger lurking about. If we encounter any danger, don't bother with anything else. Just remember one thing: Run!"
Tao Yongchun refuted, "What danger could there possibly be? We couldn't be any more wretched than we already are. Most people wouldn't even bother robbing poor folk like us. As long as we comply with the other party's demands obediently, then we can generally get by in Flowing Clouds Dune Sea."
Pi Junzi responded in agreement. It was evident that the two of them had already gotten used to the lifestyle here in Flowing Clouds Dune Sea after so many years.
Miao Yi disagreed. "I'm not joking around with you here. If there really is danger, then even I might have trouble staying alive. I won't be able to spare you two any extra attention."
He didn't mention that someone had put a bounty on him, neither did he talk about the matter with the Netherdragon Ship. This was because once the Netherdragon Ship was found, the two of them would have to die.
Tao Yongchun said, "Don't worry. With Pi Junzi around, we won't be in too much danger."
Miao Yi was a little taken aback by how confident Tao Yongchun seemed. He asked, "How so?"
"Did you forget what Pi Junzi is most skilled at? Digging!" Tao Yongchun smiled. "This desert is pretty much a playground to him. If there's any danger, we can always dig our way underground and escape. We're just two poor bastards. Not to mention, we've hidden our true names and lived under the radar this whole time. Bai Ziliang doesn't know that we escaped all the way here, and it's not like we have any grudges with anyone else. No one will be persistent enough to try and kill us. This is what we've always done whenever we encounter any danger. We've long since grown accustomed to it."
Miao Yi turned to look at Pi Junzi, and the rat spirit responded with a smile.
Perhaps luck was just not on their side. Right as they were talking about danger, something happened. The crowd quickly scanned their surroundings but were unable to find anyone around them. Suddenly, just as they were approaching one of the sand dunes ahead, out came two black-robed men. One wielded dual-swords, while the other wielded dual-deerhorn knives. Both of them stopped in front of Miao Yi and the others.
These two men were none other than the assassins of Peony—Liu Yun and Liu Sha.
The crowd was greatly surprised, and Miao Yi's eyes instantly widened when he noticed that the other party was already staring straight at him. He firmly transmitted his voice over to his subordinates, "Circle around!"
At the same time, he hoped that his judgment was wrong and that these two weren't here for him. He wanted to believe that things would be alright if they just circled around and tried not to get too close to those two.
The second-in-command quickly raised his hand and gave the signal, riding in front and leading the rest of the troops away.
Whoosh! With a swing of his hands, Liu Yun quickly tossed out two flying swords straight towards Miao Yi.
With the two deerhorn knives in his hands, Liu Sha swiftly dashed over, with Liu Yun closely following behind as well.
Judging from the faint blue hue on the transcendent artifact, it was evident that these two both wielded Second Grade Transcendent Artifacts. After all, it wasn't as if anyone could afford to use Third Grade Transcendent Artifacts.
Two Red Lotus experts! The crowd was shocked.
The loose cultivators of Flowing Clouds Dune Sea immediately broke off in different directions, whereas the officials that were hiding in the crowd viciously attacked the ground. Miao Yi did the same as well. With Qilin Spear in hand, he thrust it ferociously at the ground, thinking to dive into the ocean underneath.
"So it's the two assassins from Peony—Liu Yun and Liu Sha. These two also stayed at our tavern back when they just arrived at Flowing Clouds Dune Sea. This is bad! That kid Niu Er is done for. Their cultivation grades aren't even remotely on the same level!" The carpenter sighed.
The Lady Boss, carpenter, and stonemason had suddenly appeared atop one of the sand dunes nearby. The Lady Boss's dress gently fluttered in the wind, accentuating her beauty and her devastatingly enchanting figure. It was truly difficult for one to take their eyes off her.
The three of them couldn't help feeling conflicted as they watched the situation before them play out. They had always taken a neutral stance to things and avoided getting involved in other people's problems. As such, they could do little but stand on the sidelines and watch on.
Much like how Liu Yun and Liu Sha had kept their eyes on Miao Yi, so too did the carpenter keep his eye on the two of them. When Miao Yi and his company had left, and the two of them quickly followed behind, the carpenter and the others quietly tailed them in turn. They wanted to see what these two were planning to do to Miao Yi.
In the end, they quickly realized that Liu Yun and Liu Sha weren't simply following behind Miao Yi and his group. Rather, they determined the direction the latter was headed towards, then circled around and cut them off from the front. Evidently, the two assassins didn't want to make their move in a place with too many people, and risk alarming Miao Yi and his group. And meanwhile, the Lady Boss and the others had followed the two of them from behind.
Within the cloud of dust and sand that billowed from the relentless attacks of over thirty cultivators, Pi Junzi and Tao Yongchun quickly slipped away. They got off their mounts, holding each other's hands as they disappeared into the sand. Just as Tao Yongchun said, Pi Junzi was exceptionally skilled at burrowing into the sand.
Miao Yi noticed something amiss the second his spear struck the ground beneath him; the sand was much too fragile, unlike normal soil. This meant that it had natural impact-dispersing capabilities. Without a high enough cultivation, there was no way one could hope to penetrate through the sand. Not even thirty people working together could hope to break through the sand and dive into the ocean underneath.
They finally understood why those loose cultivators had immediately broken off into different directions earlier on.
The situation wasn't as they assumed it would be, where it would be difficult to outrun a Red Lotus cultivator on a dragon steed on this vast, open desert. That way, they would still have a chance of surviving at least. Rather, it was even harder to make their escape trying to burrow into the sand. This was why those loose cultivators had chosen to split off and escape the second they encountered danger, instead of foolishly trying to dig their way underground like Miao Yi and the others did.
Those cultivators had been living here for quite some time, and were evidently more well-informed as to the circumstances around these parts than Miao Yi and the others were. And it was precisely because of their inexperience that they had immediately plunged themselves into deeper peril.
Just as Miao Yi had alighted from his steed, two flying swords immediately tore through his mount, creating a powerful spurt of blood as his dragon steed neighed in agony.
Liu Yun and Liu Sha had closed the gap almost instantaneously. Anyone that stood in their way to killing Miao Yi were quickly dispatched of. With both deerhorn knives in hand, Liu Sha cleaved through the troops as though he was chopping up tofu. His hands moved deftly, cutting through the crowd and knocking them off their steeds, as he charged straight for Miao Yi with hardly a drop in momentum. No one could stand in his way. And closely following behind him was Liu Yun.
Under Liu Yun's control, the two flying swords quickly changed directions after killing Miao Yi's mount, and started piercing through the bodies of both the cultivators and their dragon steeds who stood in his path, before quickly flying straight back for Miao Yi, who was frantically using the other troops as cover.
Miao Yi was also dodging at impeccable speed. However, against the combined forces of two impossibly strong Red Lotus experts, his efforts could barely make any difference in the outcome.
"Haa!" Atop the sand dune, the Lady Boss sighed as she looked on, finding it a little difficult to watch. After all, Miao Yi could still be considered as one of her acquaintances.
As he made another close dodge, Miao Yi tossed out a set of beads with a flick of the wrist. The eighteen beads glowed with a resplendent blue hue, and abruptly enlarged as they flew out. There was no longer any room for concern for his comrades. As the beads grew to table-sized orbs, they crashed into the other cultivators and their mounts who were beside Miao Yi.
Bang bang! Two of the table-sized orbs were instantly cut down by the two flying swords; they were not capable of withstanding the attack of a Red Lotus cultivator.
Fortunately, this transcendent artifact was a detached-type artifact. As long as the formation core wasn't damaged, it didn't matter if an orb or two was destroyed. Had it been one of those linked-type transcendent artifacts, the whole artifact might have been completely destroyed by now.
The remaining sixteen giant orbs immediately bunched up together and protected Miao Yi in the center.
As Liu Sha rapidly twirled his body, the pair of deerhorn knives in his hands made quick work of the troops around him. Screams of agony resounded as he then tossed out the knives, and they shot powerfully through the air.
Boom boom! Another two orbs exploded in a cloud of black mist.
At that instant, wielding a pair of swords in his hands, Liu Yun quickly dashed forward and attacked through the opening between the orbs. He wanted to charge through and take Miao Yi's life in one fell swoop.
Whoosh! A powerful wave of cold Yin energy abruptly gushed forth from the gap, instantly lowering the temperature in the vicinity.
Liu Yun was startled. With a powerful stomp on the ground, he quickly shot to the skies like a shooting star. However, his legs were still caught in the attack radius of the cold yin energy, and was instantly covered in a layer of frost. That said, it didn't stop him from jumping up to the sky and avoid falling completely to the attack.
Meanwhile, having just retrieved his deerhorn knives, Liu Sha didn't have enough time to dodge. However, he swung his arms across one another, and the sand beneath him exploded upwards, creating a defensive barrier that firmly blocked the Yin energy from reaching him.
The two of them were greatly shocked. The tides were almost turned against their favor. However, it was evident that their experience in battle was not something the likes of Su Jinsong and the others from Suppressing Tenth Hall could compare with.
Within the bundle of orbs, when he noticed that his ambush with the Mystic Yin Mirror had failed, Miao Yi quickly realized that it would no longer be effective against the other two. The effect of the Mystic Yin Mirror was at its greatest only when used in a sneak attack.
That said, using this time when the enemy wasn't attacking, the remaining fourteen orbs quickly tightened and sealed the gap between them back up, once again protecting Miao Yi in the center.
Up in the sky, the frost around Liu Yun's legs quickly erupted. He had already dispersed the cold Yin energy, and to avoid falling for the same attack again, he viciously chopped down with both his flying swords.
Meanwhile, Liu Sha pushed forward with his deerhorn knives, and the wall of sand in front of him immediately erupted towards the bead formation around Miao Yi like a hailstorm. At the same time, he tossed his deerhorn knives back out.
The two of them no longer tried to engage Miao Yi in close-combat. The reason for that was clear; they wanted to first break the transcendent artifact that was protecting Miao Yi.
Boom boom boom boom! Another four orbs erupted into black mist.
Seeing the number of orbs protecting him gradually decreasing, Miao Yi realized that the transcendent artifact wouldn't be able to protect him for much longer. It would only spell death for him to continue turtling himself up like this. With a vicious expression, Miao Yi stepped onto the orb with the formation core hidden inside, then raised his spear and furiously bellowed, "Attack!"
The sound of his fury echoed across the desert! The rage in his voice had even surprised the Lady Boss and the others, and they looked at each other in astonishment.
It was important to note that there was no trace of fear in Miao Yi's shout from being in a perilous situation. Rather, he erupted with a fierce hostility instead!
Vroom! A powerful blaze suddenly erupted from the gap between the bundle of orbs. Following the intense wave of fire, the remaining ten orbs shot out and furiously swept through the surrounding area.
Within the flames, Miao Yi stood like a fire god. Wrapped in his battle armor, he thrust his spear upwards, and a great flame furiously erupted into the clouds above.
The Inferno Qilin Spear that he had always refrained from using was now finally revealing its beastly fangs in the face of absolute danger!