"Qin Shu, what happened to you?!"
A white-robed elder called out to the incoming Qin Shu. Surprised by the tone of voice of this elder, everyone else looked over to see what was wrong.
Qin Shu looked a little worse for wear. There was a clear palm print on his chest and his robes around the area were in tatters to reveal the golden armor he wore underneath it. There was also a small remainder of blood trickling down his lips.
"It's nothing, just a moment's mistake when this person ambushed me."
Qin Shu shook his head loathingly to look at the bloody male being dragged in his right hand. He tossed the man onto the ground with spite.
"Ambushed?" The first elder to speak was surprised to hear it. "What happened? This person ambushed you?"
"He did. This person pretended to be unconscious when he was brought over and ambushed me when I wasn't expecting it. I just barely avoided being severely hurt."
A flash of annoyance crossed Qin Shu's eyes as he remembered the events. The fact that he had been ambushed by a Peak Late-stage Soul Exalt of all people was humiliating. Were it not for the patriarch, QIn Shu would've had this person killed right then and there. He couldn't kill the man, but that didn't stop him from inflicting multiple wounds onto the man at the very least.
Everyone was relieved to hear his words. Most of them had been worried that Qin Shu might've come across Jing Wuying, but when they thought more about it, the more they realized that Qin Shu would've have come back if he really did meet him.
Qin He hadn't the time to think about how Qin Shu was injured. He spared a single glance at the people he had brought back with him, "Be silent and bring up the sacrifices! The patriarch is at a very crucial moment!"
Hearing that the patriarch was close to a breakthrough elicited a spark of joy from Qin Shu's eyes. With a wave of his hand, the many people he was carrying were floated over through the entrance and into the cave.
Like fuel for the fire, the thirty-something people were thrown across the barrier of black light and watched set on fire by Qin He and the others.
The first signs of undulations started to rise after the first ten people were thrown in. The energy emanating from the barrier had suddenly spiked in intensity large enough for the Soul Exalts from the Qin to shrink back in abject fear.
"Is…is he going to succeed?!"
Qin He's eyes flashed with joy at the spike in energy. Turning around, he began to give everyone an order. "The patriarch is close to a breakthrough! Have everyone spread out around the area. Don't let anyone get close! Kill anyone that dares to come!!"
The end was near, and all the Soul Kings gathered there couldn't be happier. Nodding in response to Qin He's command, they all set out to do as they were told.
None of them had ever seen a Soul Emperor before, but they didn't have to in order to know how powerful one was. The explosive phenomena that'd occur when someone broke through to become a Soul Emperor were multiple times more powerful than the King's Phenomena. The gathering of elemental energy would be too much for anyone to stand close, even for Soul Kings like them.
But there was one person, in particular, that wasn't falling back from the cave. Noticing the person, an elder called out to him in panic, "Qin Shu! What are you doing?! Hurry up and get away from there!!"
Everyone turned their heads in astonishment. The last of the sacrifices were being burned up during this time and the process to becoming a Soul Emperor was at its climax now, but there was still a single person standing in close proximity to the outside boundaries of the array!
It was…Qin Shu!!
Qin Shu was just standing there as if he was a statue. He didn't even look like he was even listening to the elder!
A suspicious glint entered Qin He's eyes. Studying Qin Shu for a moment, the light in his eyes deepened in horror as he realized something off about the man!
The Jing, known in the soul cultivator world as being the number one family of assassins, had two special arts they excelled in. The first was the Face Chance Technique that allowed them to disguise themselves excellently. The other was the Soul Concealment Art that gave them an unparalleled ability to conceal themselves.
Many soul cultivators knew that about the Jing. But only a few knew about the two even more powerful soul skills. Jing Wuying, the patriarch of the Jing, had used both skills sixty years before to carve a name for himself in the legends.
The strange thing about this was that Jing Wuying had gone missing as soon as he made a name for himself. It was rumored by many that he had managed to annoy a Soul Emperor and was subsequently killed. Others said he managed to reach the limits of what a Soul King could do and hide away to train in peace.
Jing Wuying appeared a decade later when there was a struggle for a medicine that could help one become a Soul Emperor. Jing Wuying had killed a Peak Late-stage Soul King during that time and grabbed hold of the medicine. The struggle led to him being seriously hurt and had to hide for several more years in seclusion.
It was rumored then that Jing Wuying had tried and failed to become a Soul Emperor. This rumor held some credence since there would've been signs of his success if he did. But since no one could feel a thing, and there were no new Soul Emperors that could be him in disguise. After so much time had passed, everyone was convinced that he had died somewhere in his attempt to breakthrough.
And the death of Jing Wuying meant the two uninherited skills of his would fade away into obscurity as well…
Those two techniques were called Void Concealment and Soul Imitation!!
Void Concealment was a technique that was as its name implied, a soul skill that allowed one to hide within the void itself! One could become like the air around them to become immaterial as if hiding in a different dimension. No one would be able to see or sense them! This was a soul skill that terrified countless people when it first appeared and why Qin He thought of Jing Wuying when he first heard Qin Shu talked about how Qin Tian had been killed.
Soul Imitation was something that was even more incredulous to explain. As its name implies, this soul skill gave one the ability to 'imitate' the aura of another!!
The aura of a person was a unique identifier akin to that of a fingerprint. One soul cultivator would be able to tell another just by their auras alone, no matter how their physical appearance might change. Alterations to one's aura might be possible to a certain extent, but not to a completely different level. That was what was known and accepted to all soul cultivators.
But Soul Imitation challenged that 'theory'. It not only allowed one to completely change their auras but to also imitate the aura of another!
No one knew just how many times Jing Wuying had annoyed a foe before and then killed them by pretending to be someone they knew…
Not even Qin He or anyone from his generation had seen Jing Wuying before. All they heard were rumors of those two techniques and so they always doubted the truth behind the two soul skills. The Qin thought it was just a rumor after they annihilated the Jing since no one they interrogated from the Jing knew about the skills. Qin He himself had even used Soul Scanning to try and find any clues but found none.
So he found himself afraid. The patriarch might be saying there wouldn't be anything to worry about once he succeeded, but Qin He was still deathly afraid of something going wrong. That there'd be an ambush before the patriarch could succeed.
He was so paranoid about that possibility that he even scanned the auras of every single person that drew near just in case it was Jing Wuying. He and the others just had to guard the cave and entrance until the patriarch was done. But not even he would be able to realize the one he had to be on the lookout for would be one of the people looking with him!
It all made sense to Qin He when he saw Qin Shu standing motionlessly there. Horror dawned upon his person as the dots connected in his head…was Qin Shu really Jing Wuying in disguise?!
Qin He could feel his soul tremble violently at the thought. He desperately wanted something to just pop out here and say he was wrong. To say that this Qin Shu was 'real'!!
He hadn't sensed anything off with Qin Shu! Was…was Jing Wuying's Soul Imitation really so terrifyingly powerful as the rumors once said?!
And then the proof hit Qin He. An unordinary pulse of soulforce was bursting out from Qin Shu!!
"No!! Stop him!!"