Back in the Soul Refining School. On top of a large mountain with black clouds swirling around its top.
A single stone room several meters large in area was constructed at the mountain-top. There were no decorations in this room, but a single person sat inside it.
This person wore robes that were a grayish-black, but not something that was ultimately unordinary. The owner, a man who looked like he was in his forties, had sideburns that were shaved to have an edge as sharp as a blade and eyebrows equally sharp. His facial appearance was staunch, and his calm seated posture gave one the feeling as if he was seated in the center of the world. The only way someone could tell that he was alive was from how he breathed in like he was trying to take in all the air in the room.
At some point during one of his breathing cycles, his eyebrows suddenly shot up on his forehead. As if he was twitching, a strange expression took place on his face. Outside the mountain, the black mist around it started to flow erratically!
The expression on this man’s face only deepened as time went on. He looked like he was in pain. Soon, the twitches that had been apparent on his face had disseminated to the rest of his body before a wave of energy exploded out from his body!
A scream followed suit. Eyes flying wide open at last, the man’s bright eyes could finally be seen. This man was…furious!
The wave of energy quaked the earth and cause parts of the mountain to fall apart like when a volcano erupted. A cloud of dust and stone was kicked up high into the air as the mountain began to crumble!
A black beam shot up from the ruined mountain up into the sky like a shooting star to fly further and further away and out of sight!
The total destruction of the mountain led to all those who were in the vicinity of it to immediately make their way over. Three figures shot up into the air to stand on the same level as where the mountain-top and stared on in shock.
“What happened?! What’s going on?! Where…why has the headmaster stopped his training?!”
“He can’t have! The ‘Thousand Day Refinement’ requires exactly a thousand days of training! There was only just a few dozen weeks left, why…why would the headmaster give up after nine hundred days?!”
“There’s no way! The headmaster was nearly at the end of a thousand days! Three years of work! Why would the headmaster do such a thing?! What in the world has happened?!”
“It has to be something of the utmost importance! Didn’t the headmaster’s avatar go with the first elder to chase down the intruder? Does…does it have to do with that?!”
“Could…could it?! That person was only a Soul King! Even if he has the power to fight against a Half-emperor, that shouldn’t mean he’d be able to win against the headmaster’s avatar? Why would the headmaster go in the flesh?!”
“Whatever the reason, it surely can’t be for a minor reason! We’ll need to ask the headmaster when he gets back…”
In the area where Bai Yunfei fought Nether’s avatar. The battlefield still had clear skies with the fog not yet settling back in.
By the edge of where the fog was stood two figures. They were standing deep within the fog so that they couldn’t be seen.
One of the two wore a dark-purple robe and had a gold mask on his face. It was Yao Tong!
A malnourished elder stood next to him. His white robes were in just as much of a mess as his hair. Matted and sprawled over the back of his neck, this elder looked like he had been stuck in quite a mess for some time. But even despite that, this elder had a powerful air to him that seemed to force even the fog away from him.
The two were standing there with wide-open eyes at what they had just witnessed over the last few minutes. Shock and joy!
“Destroyed?! Nether’s avatar was destroyed?! Haha!! A beautiful sight! Beautiful! How pleasing!!”
The elder roared with laughter in a way that seemed like he was not all there in the head. As if laughing with him, the fog swirled around angrily under the influence of the energy he carried.
Yao Tong glanced around the place in curiosity. “Master…if the first elder is right there, should we take this chance to kill him?”
The one he called ‘master’ stopped laughing to give the faraway Qin Bangjie a brief look. “No. We should take this chance to run away, in fact. We might otherwise be too late if we don’t…”
“What?” Yao Tong wasn’t quite sure what his master was getting at.
“The Asura of the Nether just had his avatar vanquished. What do you think he’d do next?” The elder gave Yao Tong a hard look. “He’ll be here in a moment, and we’d be best not to be when he arrives. Let us be off.”
The one visible pupil in Yao Tong’s eyes dilated at the realization of that. He nodded his head and followed his master deeper into the mist…
“Hehe…you said that person just now was Bai Yunfei of the Crafting School? What a marvelous youngster! What a shame he is dead…his tale simply cannot be laid to rest here. We should help him spread the news! Haha!!! The Soul Refining School suffered major losses by the hand of a single ‘youth’! How hilarious! How utterly refreshing, hahaha!!!”
Only the laughter of the elderly man could be heard as the two walked deeper and deeper into the mist…
Something began to buzz in the area, alerting Qin Bangjie to the presence of someone teleporting in!
When he saw the figure in gray step out from a distortion in space, Qin Bangjie began to tremble. “Hea—headmaster!!” He greeted.
Nether glanced at Qin Bangjie. Seeing nothing in his hands, the man’s eyes snapped up to give Qin Bangjie a heavy glare. “Where is he?!”
He was here for Bai Yunfei’s corpse. Surely, Bai Yunfei had to have died and Qin Bangjie picked it up. But…
“Headmaster…” Qin Bangjie mumbled, unsure of what to say or do.
“Where is Bai Yunfei?!”
Nether blew up with anger. He was done with beating around the bush.
“He…he fell into a spatial crack!!”
“What did you just say?!”
If glares could start fires, then Qin Bangjie would’ve been ashes by now. A wave of soulforce exploded from Nether in his fit of anger, distorting the space around him and leaving behind a path of destruction in its wake.
Nether used his very own avatar in order to use the secret technique, Samsara, so that Bai Yunfei could be killed and his corpse taken. It should’ve been a simple task to take the Soul Sealing Mandate, Core Stone, and the many other soul armaments he had in his space rings. Then another technique would’ve been used to salvage the ‘memories’ gotten from Samsara and obtain all that he wanted to know. In that regard, the Soul Refining School would at least gain something from this disaster and begin to recover from their losses…
Even after breaking out from his nine hundred days of training—and essentially throwing away three years of work—Bai Yunfei was lost in a spatial crack!
All that effort wasted and Nether had nothing to show for it! Not even a single thing!
The blood within Qin Bangjie’s body began to boil from the amount of soulforce Nether was giving out and quickly escaped out from his mouth!
A furious roar exploded forth from Nether to resonate throughout the entire Lost Swamp!
Far far away from the Lost Swamp. In a certain area of the Swallow Province.
Several streaks of light were flying through the air. In one of these streaks was Tang Xinyun. She was flying on top of a flying sword while Long Lan flew besides her. Her quickshade bird was perched on top of her shoulder while Xiao Qi was perched on top of Long Lan’s. Even the permafrost mastiff was out and flying about with them.
Their departure from Swallow City had not been impeded. Not even Yan Tianxing stood up to stop them. None of them were willing to stop in any case so they could return back to Mo City.
As they were flying, Xiao Qi suddenly let out a squawk of panic, drawing the attention of Tang Xinyun and his other companions.
“What’s wrong, Xiao Qi?!” She asked in nervous concern.
“I…” Xiao Qi was looking even more panicked than she was. “I can’t sense him! I…I don’t have any way of knowing where Bai Yunfei is!”
“What?!” All semblance of color drained away from Tang Xinyun’s face. “But how can that be?! It can’t be because he’s too far away, can it? How can he simply just…”
“I don’t know, I don’t know! He just suddenly disappeared! Yunfei should be fine, shouldn’t he? He has to be alright!” Tears were already beginning to form in Xiao Qi’s eyes.
Something popped in Tang Xinyun’s knuckles, her hands had been gripped so tightly that her nails were already close to drawing blood. “He’s fine! He’s definitely fine! We have to go back! The Crafting School has Yunfei’s life slip! We might be able to find where he is! We have to go!!”
And just like that, the group exploded with even greater speed than before to return to the Crafting School!
Half a month later, news of what happened in Swallow City as quickly spreading throughout the entire continent and world!
The strongest family of soul cultivators within the Swallow Province, the Qin….was gone from the world of soul cultivators!
Patriarch Qin had failed to become a Soul Emperor and fought with Jing ‘Reaper’ Wuying. In the end, patriarch Qin used the Soul Sealing Mandate to defeat Jing Wuying and was instead killed in turn! Then the twenty Soul Kings of the Qin were subsequently killed! And the current head of the Qin, Qin Long, was nowhere to be seen!
The reason behind the downfall of the Qin was said to be the patriarch of the number one clan of assassins in the older days, Jing Wuying and another youth! And aside from them two, there was another main culprit, Bai Yunfei of the Crafting School!
Not only had he managed to kill multiple Soul Kings, Bai Yunfei was also rumored to have killed the Half-emperor patriarch Qin himself!
What a battle!
No sooner did news of the battle outside Swallow City began to circulate did the events outside Mo City start to circulate as well. Outside that city, Bai Yunfei had also been a part of a battle that saw to him killing even more Soul Kings!
It was a shocking piece of information. The name ‘Bai Yunfei’ was already something many people were paying close attention to. At first, everyone only saw him as a prestigious figure of the ‘next generation’, meaning that while strong, he wasn’t quite there yet with being a part of the strongest. But now. He was a man capable of killing Soul Kings and even a Half-emperor! He was a man now capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the strongest of the previous generations!
The only thing that confused people was that Bai Yunfei had simply disappeared after his battle in Swallow City. Along with another mysterious person, Bai Yunfei had simply vanished into thin air and was nowhere to be seen after the battle.
It didn’t take much to notice that one of the Five Families, the Tang, was beginning to move. Their entire family was apparently in search of Bai Yunfei, and they weren’t the only ones. The house of Zheng in the Capital was embarking on the same quest to find Bai Yunfei.
Even the Crafting School, the school everyone had long since thought to be content in ‘seclusion’ was starting to mobilize their entire school to find Bai Yunfei!
That’s when everyone realized what was going on. Bai Yunfei had gone missing after his battle outside Swallow City!
Soul cultivators all over the continent began to buzz with activity. Each piece of information they were getting was getting more and more incredulous…
Rumors had it that the one who ‘ambushed’ Bai Yunfei was the junior headmaster of the Soul Refining School. When the two fought one another, the junior headmaster used a transporting soul armament to bring both him and Bai Yunfei to the Soul Refining School!
Rumors also had it that Bai Yunfei unloaded a great disaster onto the entire Soul Refining School. It was said he killed many students, over a dozen Soul Kings, and even a Half-emperor! And…it was said even the Soul Emperor ‘Asura of the Nether’ had his avatar vanquished in his battle with Bai Yunfei!
Those rumors were far too much to believe. Not many people even believed those rumors to be remotely true.
But several soul cultivators who had long since been thought to be dead began to reappear on the continent. They all claimed to have been held captive by the Soul Refining School if they didn’t swear allegiance to them. The soul cultivators said they were able to escape from the Soul Refining School after Bai Yunfei created the opportunity, and according to them…the rumors were, in fact, true!
This wouldn’t have been much to change the minds of the crowd if it was said by any unordinary person, but each of these persons was all very powerful Soul Kings. Their words held more weight in them than most, and so many people began to have second thoughts on whether or not what they heard was true…
With time, the entire world of soul cultivators began to realize something else.
The Soul Refining School used to have many of its members making moves in the continent before. But now, not a single member could be seen or even heard!
More and more people began to collaborate on this. If the Soul Refining School were suddenly inactive when they used to not be, then…
The rumors had to be true! And by extension…
Bai Yunfei had to have done it!
While suddenly the talk of the empire, Bai Yunfei wasn’t the only topic that was talked about. There were a few other things that people were talking about that were astoundingly amazing to hear, but they were overshadowed by Bai Yunfei’s achievements.
For example, it was made known that the ‘vanquished’ house of Qin was in cahoots with the Soul Refining School. The mines in their control had signs of an ancient matrix constructed in it where the Qin wantonly sacrificed hundreds of ordinary soul cultivators to progress their own selfish goals. It was even confirmed when the Tianhun School captured any surviving member and the school declared Qin Long to be a wanted criminal by the entire empire.
As a result, the Tianhun School employed multiple members to go out seeking any Qin member that might’ve escaped. Each one of them met a ‘mysterious death’, however, as if they were being hunted and killed. At one point, the Tianhun School had an Early-stage Soul King in charge of protecting the ones they captured, only to have someone kill those members regardless!
Another astonishing piece of information was the fact that the whereabouts of the Soul Refining School was finally made known. It was said that the Soul Refining School was located within the Lost Swamps. As such, many groups began to employ their strongest to make forays into that swamp, but because of how dangerous and strange the swamp was, none of the people they sent in were able to find anything of value. Some of them didn’t even manage to come back…
Another dozen days went by before the next bombshell dropped upon the continent. This time, the entire continent felt like it seemed a giant storm was coming, and the entire continent was to be the stage!
The Crafting School was beginning to offer rewards for information!
If a person were to have a clue about the Soul Refining School or their whereabouts and have it be verified, that person would be given a low-heaven tier soul armament! And if a person had details on Bai Yunfei’s whereabouts, a mid-heaven tier soul armament! And if they actively assist in the search for Bai Yunfei, a high-heaven tier soul armament!
The rewards of such things got the blood of every soul cultivator going. Everyone knew that the Crafting School—who had been quiet for the past two dozen years or so—was finally breaking their seclusion! They were waking up with a vengeance against the Soul Refining School!
In the beginning, the Crafting School was the first to strike whenever news of the Soul Refining School came out. Not even the Tianhun School were able to react as fast as the Crafting School were before a stronghold of the Soul Refining School was wiped out!
According to eye-witnesses, they said that the Crafting School had the advantage in terms of power. With all their powerful soul armaments at each of their crafter’s disposal, there was no way their enemies could even hope to resist!
The most terrifying thing was Bai Yunfei’s soulbeast partner. It was said that the bird stormed into an enemy formation by itself and managed to destroy the two mountains the enemies were using as a base. Then after interrogating anyone that was alive about Bai Yunfei’s whereabouts, the bird would slaughter them all! Not even the Soul King hiding with them was spared!
There was one particular school that was found out to have connections with the Soul Refining School. That school had almost ten Soul Kings within their ranks; not a small amount of firepower by any means.
And yet, the first elder led the charge into that school and managed to kill them all! The ‘supporting’ members of the Tianhun School hadn’t even had enough time to join the fray before they were left with ‘clean-up’ duty…
Aside from Xiao Qi and Long Lan, the Crafting School had six Soul Kings take part in that battle! Not only were Xiao Binzi and Huangfu Nan there, four other Soul Kings from that had gone into seclusion took part.
This was the proof many people needed. The Crafting School didn’t ‘decline’ at all in the past twenty years, they were still as powerful as ever!
The drums of war were starting to grow louder, and the soul cultivators in the continent were excited to see the next battle take place. Many of them were already suggesting that not a single part of the continent wouldn’t see this war take place and that the evil Soul Refining School would soon be exterminated at last.
Things weren’t as easy as many expected. News of the Soul Refining School started to peter out, and no one else was coming forward with any relevant information about them.
In a way, it had to be expected. The Soul Refining School stood for thousands of years. A few battles here and there wouldn’t be enough to root them out from the continent. They were still holed up in their base in the Lost Swamp, to which no one had found yet…
Bai Yunfei hadn’t shown up to anyone’s knowledge either. Many people were already thinking that it was true he had died in his battle with the headmaster of the Soul Refining School. Bai Yunfei was dead…
In Swallow City, the manor of the lord-mayor.
The door to a particularly dark room was pushed open. A small candle was lit inside the room to reveal a stern-faced Yan Tianxing striding inside.
“How is it? Has the first prince left yet?”
A gravelly voice spoke to Yan Tianxing the moment he strode in. The candle flickered as it was jostled to the side to shed light onto a seated person in the corner of the room.
This person wore black robes and had hair that was a grizzly gray color. The man looked especially haggard. This person was…the missing ‘criminal’ and head of the Qin, Qin Long!
He was actually hiding within the lord-mayor’s manor!
Yan Tianxing nodded. “He has left Swallow City. I believe that…he is already starting to suspect me…”
“What?! You’ve been found out?!”
Yan Tianxing shook his head. “He is suspicious, but nothing more. He will most likely send more people to keep an eye on me in the future, I cannot afford to do anything that might deepen his suspicions.
“Therefore,” He paused to take a deep breath.
“You will need to leave now. Someone will bring you to the Soul Refining School. You…you should reside in there as a visiting elder…”
Qin Long said nothing. The muscles on his face twitched as he considered the reality of his situation.
“Tell me…has that Bai Yunfei really died? Are the rumors true?!”
Yan Tianxing nodded. “He fell into a spatial crack…do you think anyone could survive in there?”
A pleased smile ran across Qin Long’s face, but that moment passed quickly. “But…the Jing still live on, do they not?!”
“It matters little if they do. You shouldn’t focus on revenge in the state you’re in.” Yan Tianxing rebuked, “The Soul Refining School has what you want. Seclude yourself and train. Perhaps you’ll become a Soul Emperor…then you can take revenge on the Jing.”
That got Qin Long’s attention. “Very well! I will go to the Soul Refining School!!”
Within the Soul Refining School.
On top of a small mountain stood a melancholic young man. He surveyed the landscape around him. Though prideful, the face of this person had also a streak of desolation on it.
It was Mo Ni.
A flash of light crossed the corners of his eyes. “You’re finally back, Black Dragon…”
At some point while he was surveying the lands, a figure in black teleported behind him. It was the Black Dragon King.
The Black Dragon King gave Mo Ni a scrutinizing look. “I heard a few rumors while outside…are they true?”
“Rumors? Rumors that Bai Yunfei killed many of our numbers? Or rumors that my father’s avatar took Bai Yunfei down with him?” Mo Ni jeered, “If those are the rumors you mean, then yes, they are true.”
An eyebrow rose up on the Black Dragon King’s face. He had to admit, he was surprised. “Then…Bai Yunfei is truly dead?” He pressed on.
“He is.” Mo Ni laughed. “He’s dead, but…not before leaving us with a humiliating slap in the face…”
He shook his head as if to rid himself of those thoughts. Sucking in a deep breath, he turned to head back down the mountain.
“Let’s go find a place…”
“The Road to the Nether!!”
Within the Crafting School. Also on top of a mountain.
A graceful figure in white floated through the skies. A thousand strands of black hair floated gently in the wind as this person drifted down to the mountain. This person was refined and graceful in motion but looked quite melancholic.
Tang Xinyun looked off into the distance in sadness. In her hand was a small life slip that occasionally pulsated with a soft light. Her fingers closed over it in concern.
“You can’t be dead, Yunfei…I know you won’t die…you said you’d be back. I know you will…”
She muttered to herself. Forcing the tears away from her eyes, she looked back up to the skies with a determined light in them.
“We won’t give up. No matter where you are, we’ll find you…even if you’re at the opposite end of the world!”
She took off into the sky once again. Flying into the horizon, Tang Xinyun quickly disappeared into the horizon…
End of Book Seven