A ways away from the city (Henceforth known as ‘Yao City’).
There laid a vast clearing amongst the sea of trees. Just as many stars were noticeable in the skies above, but the most significant sight within this clearing was the tents adorned all across the clearing. Several tents had small fires in front of them with people either eating or chatting nearby. From the looks of it, this clearing looked almost like the stomping grounds for some kind of tribe.
All seemed normal at first. These people were simply cooking their recently-hunted game over an open fire. But upon a closer like…it wasn’t any ordinary game they were cooking, but…soulbeasts!
The Soulbeast Forest might have soulbeasts more powerful than most soul cultivators could possibly imagine, but the Qimang Mountains had a plethora of dangerous soulbeasts themselves. It was simply mind-blowing that this group of travelers could sit there and cook any caught soulbeast for food!
A soulbeast could often be heard roaring or charging onto the clearing once in a while, but they were quickly disposed of almost as quickly as they came. Most of these soulbeasts were of the class five or six nature. If even those could be killed off quickly, then that meant the soul cultivators here were even stronger than them. The weakest of the group were probably Soul Sprites, a few other Soul Ancestors, and perhaps multiple Soul Exalts.
If one were to count the number of tents, then one would be surprised to see that there was over five hundred of them…
This wasn’t a tribe…this was an army of soul cultivators!
At the center of this gathering of tents stood one tent far greater than the others. Hardly anyone spoke whenever they walked past this particular tent. They all seemed to be careful walking past as if afraid of bringing attention to themselves.
The interior of the tent was illuminated to be as bright as day by a variety of lightstones. Dozens of people sat in attendance inside to listen and await their orders.
Seated at the front of them all was an elderly figure dressed in full black. The sleeves to his left arm were seemingly flat as if there was nothing inside. This man was missing an arm.
Should Bai Yunfei have his memories back, he surely would’ve been surprised to see this man, for he was…an elder of the Soul Refining School, Qin Bangjie!
The man Bai Yunfei stole the King Caging Bell from and cut his arm off!
Compared to before, Qin Bangjie had a more subdued air to him, like the calm before a particularly wild storm. Even under the bright light within the tent, Qin Bangjie’s facial expression could hardly be seen due to the hood he wore. His right hand hung by his side and his eyes were shut tight, ignorant to the silent whispering of those before him…
“An explanation, if you please, elder Xu…Why did your men attack the alchemists?! Hadn’t we agreed on ‘negotiating’ with the Alchemy School first!”
One elder on the far left spoke. He was speaking with another elder in gray robes nearby with a displeased expression. This topic did not seem to be of a happy one to him.
Bai Yunfei knew this person too. They met once before outside Crushed Stone River during the struggle for the Extreme King Pills. Bai Yunfei even saw this person fight.
This person was an important elder to the Beast Taming School, Ma Xucheng!
“There’s no need for any anger, elder Ma. This was merely an accident…” The elder in gray responded with a smile. “A scuffle was quick to break out due to how vigilant the alchemists were. They attacked my men before we could discuss anything, there was nothing we could do about it.”
“Nothing you can do about it?! Do you take me for a three-year-old?!” Ma Xucheng thundered with incredulous rage. “They were merely Soul Ancestors or Soul Sprites, how could your Soul Exalts not diffuse the situation? Your elder Jin was with them as well…and yet he took part in the killings as well?!”
“It may come as a surprise for you, elder Ma, but it was a group of Peak Late-stage Soul Exalt that forced me to partake in the situation.” A gray-haired elder to the side of the first spoke out. “Let us not dwell on such insignificant matters, elder Ma. I am sure the Alchemy School won’t decide to fight us to the end after a small matter like this. They know it would be futile to do so. I presume they’ll come to us soon enough ready to talk things out…”
“If only!” Ma Xucheng harrumphed, “The way I see it, your school is intentionally souring our attempts to contact the Alchemy School. Your school has chased down the Alchemy School for the last two thousand years, I hardly doubt the Soul Refining School would want to ‘talk it out’! You’re most likely waiting for the right time to kill them off for good!”
“Please watch what you say, elder Ma.” Elder Xu spoke, “Our three schools allied together for this matter for a mutual purpose. It is true that the Alchemy School won’t help our school, but do you really think they’d be inclined to help yours? In the end, we’ll have to kill the alchemists for their secrets. Everyone here should be aware of that, so what is the problem of killing a few before the inevitable? I don’t see any talks being necessary at all. We should wait for the preparations to be done before storming their city…”
As infuriated he was by the audacity of this weaker person, Ma Xucheng could do nothing about it. While he was stronger than this one, he wasn’t the strongest person in the room…
He changed targets. “Elder Qin, if I may be so bold to inquire on the next step in the plan?”
As if waking from a dream, Qin Bangjie’s eyes fluttered open to look at everyone gathered there. “We attack their city in three days!”
As usual, Bai Yunfei was seated in the pill repository and waited for someone to come in for whichever pill they wanted. No one would come though, and Bai Yunfei knew it. For three days ago, elder Yu made the decision to have Bai Yunfei distribute as many pills as he could to everyone, and that’d probably be enough to stop anyone else from coming in for a while.
Life within the clan seemed especially tense ever since elder Cheng was injured. Bai Yunfei wasn’t one to walk around the city, but even he could tell from how nervous the Soul Exalts that skywalked through the skies that something was wrong.
He even heard from the other trainees that ‘strong enemies were approaching’, and that the city was under ‘martial law’.
As such, Bai Yunfei was clueless about what else he could do. There was no way he could ask Wang Tong, Kai Wen, or the others, and neither did he even see or know where they were.
It wasn’t until noon when Bai Yunfei heard a strange sound. This was a sound that was extremely out of place!
“What’s going on?!” Bai Yunfei gasped. The sky looked like it was shaking somehow, and everyone was turning their heads up to see what in the world was going on!
And when they looked up…they saw the sky…collapsing!
There was no way the real sky could actually collapse. This was actually just a sky maintained by the illusionary barrier around the city. But now…it was no more!
Bai Yunfei saw a shimmer of light as elder Yu appeared next to him. Looking up, the elder’s face paled drastically before he sped up into the air towards the southern gates!
So rushed was he that he didn’t even tell Bai Yunfei to do anything!
Bai Yunfei could only just stand there by himself as he watched elder Yu fly away. Far away in the distance, he could see a variety of light flying through the skies like shooting stars around the outskirts of the city!
The enemy army was here!