"No! Stop him!!"
Qin He cried out at once in sheer horror.
"Qin Shu!!" The purple-robed elder who had called out to him before he let out another cry as well.
That caught Qin Shu's attention! His head snapped back to look at the two, but…the expression in his eyes were completely vacant!!
Qin Shu was speaking now to his father, but his words died in his throat while he spoke. Both hands flew to his heart as pain overtook him. That was the only emotion to show in his eyes now; pain! But the more terrifying thing about him was the crack had suddenly appeared over his body. It looked like something was trying to burst its way out from him!
The pupils in his eyes were dilating rapidly in his eyes now. Something was wrong with him, but Qin Shu didn't know why! All he could do was clutch at his chest and look to his father before he let out one final cry of pain!
"Qin Shu! No!!"
The purple-robed elder wailed in horror. He leaped for Qin Shu, but Qin He grabbed hold of him and prevented the father from going any further!
An explosion erupted the next second. Just moments after Qin Shu had screamed, he had…exploded! It was like his body was turned into a bomb!
The explosion sent forth a wave of energy to flood the surrounding cave. Everything within the blast radius was reduced to ashes and dust, but the small area of black light where the patriarch was inside of was still untouched.
"Qin Shu!!! My son!!! Why!!!" The purple-robed elder howled deeply in grief.
It was a stony-faced Qin He that stood next to him. His eyebrows were furrowed tightly together and his teeth gnashed against one another as he thought about what had just transpired in front of him.
"Someone managed to force enough energy into Qin Shu's body to kill him!! Who else could have done it but Jing Wuying?! When could he possibly…"
A presence within the smoke from the explosion caught Qin He's attention before he finished his thought. "No! There's someone there!!"
Everyone else took notice of the same thing a half-beat slower than he did. The place where the explosion took place was also nearby the entrance, and someone ad leaped into the area from there!
There had been one person who had yet to be thrown into the barrier to be sacrificed. It was the one that Qin Shu had been carrying, the one who tried to ambush the man. He was…still alive!
And now the man was making himself known with a wave of awe-inspiring energy radiating from him!
All blood drained from Qin He's face as the aura of this man hit him. In his terror, Qin He let out a horrified cry!
There wasn't a splotch of blood on this person like there had been before. He wasn't even reeking with the stench of a dying man as he had been when he was first brought in. This man was clean and filled with so much energy that it was horrifying.
Not even his face looked the same. This was by no doubt…Jing Wuying!!
Jing Wuying's plan hadn't been complicated at all. All he had to do was pretend to be a caught soul cultivator in order to 'save' his energy and then allow himself to be captured.
It was simplistic beyond simplistic in theory but practically impossible to be done by anyone else but him. His flawless ability to disguise himself was enough to fool even a Late-stage Soul King like Qin He!! The best thing was that no one would even know what he was up to until the trap was sprung. No one would've known that the one they were on the lookout for would've been the very same person one of their own brought in!
The plan went off without a hitch in the beginning with him allowing himself to be caught by Qin Lang. The only part Jing Wuying hadn't accounted for was meeting Qin Shu on the way. But since the man was there, Jing Wuying added a secondary bit to his plan. He'd use Qin Shu to help make his plan work even better!
That was why he sprung up to attack Qin Shu. By pretending to be a Peak Late-stage Soul Exalt on the verge of death, Jing Wuying was easily able to hide the fact that he was a Peak Late-stage Soul King! And by continuing the act by 'failing' to kill Qin Shu, Jing Wuying was able to forcibly store enough volatile energy in Qin Shu without him knowing it until it was too late!
From there, Jing Wuying's plan went as expected. Qin Shu brought him and the others back to where the patriarch was training. And 'luckily' for him, Qin Shu threw him off to the side of the entrance instead of towards the barrier to be sacrificed. That allowed him to wait for a later moment to detonate the energy in Qin Shu.
It seemed like all of the stars were aligning for Jing Wuying, as not only was he able to get this far without being detected, but the patriarch was also in an extremely precarious situation right now!
The time was ripe. Jing Wuying hadn't the need to wait anymore. As Qin He gave the order to back away and secure the area in fear that they'd disturb the patriarch, Jing Wuying decided to finally set off the energy within Qin Shu!
He became a human bomb with enough force to utterly destroy himself and force all of the Soul Kings there into widespread panic!
The detonation of Qin Shu was also the moment Jing Wuying was waiting for. Everyone else would be too preoccupied with trying to stop or process what was going on for them to not notice Jing Wuying taking action. But his plan wasn't to kill Qin He or the others, but to…charge into the barrier with the patriarch!
A portion of the area around where Qin Shu was detonated had a small barrier of black light erected across it. Any piece of stone that fell from the roof onto the barrier was turned instantaneously into dust when it touched. Not even a Mid-stage Soul King would be able to touch this barrier of Jing Wuying without being reduced to dust.
And now Jing Wuying was at the edge of where the array was. His hands clutched at seemingly the air itself before tearing them apart from one another as if to rip it open. A tear in space opened up to allow Jing Wuying to leap in!
The furious roar of Qin He could be heard a moment after Jing Wuying leaped into the tear. He was unable to do a thing with the barrier Jing Wuying had erected though, and had to leap back. The explosion of Qin Shu's body was far too volatile to allow him to advance!
And in the moments of time he had to think and analyze the situation, the space within the array was already undergoing a drastic change!
The Soul Fusing Array started to tremble as light began to shine out from behind its barrier. The earth around the place started to shake so violently that it felt like the entire cave was splitting apart!
It wasn't limited to just the earth. Even the air itself seemed like it was being torn apart so that red and black light was refracting into every possible angle left and right!
The red light was elemental fire and the black was elemental darkness. As if being summoned into battle, the two lights started to gather and spread throughout the cave with devastating power in a matter of seconds!
Two separate auras burst to life a moment after from the center of the explosion of elemental energy. Then a black ball of light exploded into view!
Qin He and the others were familiar with one of these auras, it was the aura of their patriarch. And the other had to be Jing Wuying!
But the terrifying thing about this situation right now was that the two auras seemed…almost combined!
"This is…" Something about the two auras being so close to one another was disturbing to Qin He. "No!" He cried, "Jing Wuying is trying to steal the energy the patriarch's using to breakthrough!!"
Another explosion rocked the cave as he spoke with enough energy to cause one of the tunnels into the cave to collapse! Red and black light flooded the area in an even larger intensity to cover the entire place!
"Leave this place at once!" Qin He bellowed, "Don't head from the surface here! Pull back and then head up from there! Now!!!"
"But the patriarch…"
"We can't help him! We are only endangering our lives here! Leave now!!"
Qin He immediately retorted. There was no helping this situation, and everyone else knew it. Without anything left to lose, the rest began to fly away from the place!
The stability of the cave was already precarious due to the amount of elemental energy being thrown about. Qin He was reluctant to use teleportation as a result. So instead of that, he and the rest of the Soul Kings flew away as fast as they could down the tunnel.
"Hurry and run! The tunnels are collapsing!!"
"Not that way! Watch out on the right!!"
"Save me!! Ahh!!!"
Panic was spreading throughout the Qin now. The energy had reached further back where the Soul Exalts had been gathered and swallowed the unfortunate ones whole. The others had either been buried alive by the tunnels or were quick enough to make it out from there. Even the Early-stage Soul Kings who moved to try and save the Soul Exalts were struck down by the energy and killed from it!
The hearts of everyone skipped half a beat at the sight of the Early-stage Soul Kings dying. The urge to run away was beating down on them even more now, and many of the Qin started to run this way and that to flee the scene!