With a tug, the path constructed by light rays traversing the void was forcefully yanked backwards like an actual rope. At the opposite end of the path, an unbelievably heavy object seemed to be dragged along with it. The weight could not be described in words - it could not be compared to another tangible object nor measured with numbers. It was as if an entire portion of the heavens and the earth was being towed.
With this, the faces of the Golden Cicada Master's four avatars became gravely sullen in unison. "I didn't feel that he possessed such formidable Abhijina and mana in the Ying Sea. It's no wonder that he bulldozed through Mount Shu and severed the Celestial Sword. It seemed strange and irrational at first, but I now see how he did it."
Even the gaze of the Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage grew somber as he looked at Lin Feng. He inhaled a breath of cold air, "At least I did not fight until the bitter end when I battled him previously, or else he would really have sent me crashing down from the void."
A cold sneer resounded from the end of the path. "If he wants to fight, then face him head-on, Golden Cicada Master!"
A haunting black region suddenly appeared amidst the void like a separate dimension altogether. A painfully foul and revolting stench drifted from within. Lin Feng only encountered such a pungent smell when he was exposed to the Blood River Primordial Water, but the Blood River Primordial Water was in limited quantities, unlike what he was faced with now - the entire world was utterly rancid.
The Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage looked over and instantly furrowed his brows. "It's the Black Loch World where the Xiangliu lurks!"
It was indeed a slice of the Middle Worlds that Lin Feng pulled over with the golden path! The world was covered in an apocalyptic blanket of soot, entirely barren. Everywhere was pitch-black swamps without any signs of life, and clouds of black smog swirled above the swamps, emitting terribly pungent smells.
To Lin Feng and the Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage, the black smog was nothing but a foul stench, but in actual fact, this was a noxious fog with extremely lethal poisons. If cultivators of lower mastery levels are exposed to this smog, they would be instantly poisoned to death. Even human cultivators who have already reached the Immortal Soul Stage or Demon Grand Sages who have acquired the Undying Demonic Soul have to deal with this smog with utmost caution. A slip of carelessness could easily kill them.
A giant monstrous snake lay coiled on the black swamp. The leviathan had the body of a serpent and the head of a man. He looked quite similar to the Nine Infants Grand Sage, but the latter's nine heads were all resembled the heads of snakes, while the demon sitting in front of them now had nine faces that were no different from normal human faces. Each of these nine faces looked menacingly vicious, incomparably ferocious and frightening, all opening their gaping mouths and spitting out thick clouds of poisonous smog and viscous black liquid.
This was the Xiangliu Grand Sage that invaded a great section of the Middle Worlds and transformed his domain into an endless world of swamps covered in toxic wetlands, where all other forms of life cannot exist.
Lin Feng looked the Xiangliu Grand Sage with great interest as he sensed his way through the Black Loch World using the golden path of light.
"No wonder this fiend is hated by all. Humans loathe him, and even other demons cannot stand his presence, forced to leave the Barren Expanses and seek other places to reside in. This is the reason why. There isn't even a blade of grass left."
Lin Feng scanned the area with his Supernatural Awareness and realized that the Black Loch World occupied by the Xiangliu Grand Sage was already drained of most of its spiritual energy, turning into a complete wasteland where even the Interworld Powers have become so brittle. This was probably the result of the Xiangliu Grand Sage corroding the place day after day, year after year.
His Abhijina and mana cannot be mentioned in the same breath as the Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage, but the Xiangliu Grand Sage managed to melt the Black Loch World temporarily, proving that his strength should not be underestimated.
However, once Lin Feng took a sweeping glance across the Xiangliu Grand Sage and determined the opponent's true abilities, he directed his attention towards the figure in the void beside the Xiangliu Grand Sage. It was a handsome young monk dressed in grey, smiling at Lin Feng. If he wasn't the Golden Cicada Master, who else would he be?
He stood silently on the void among clouds of heavy black smog. He did not possess a holy light cloak nor demonic energy waves, and yet he was completely unaffected by the blanket of poisonous smog that flooded the Black Loch World.
A ferocious White Tiger crouched beside the Golden Cicada Master, its eyes glowing with an icy cold and otherworldly shimmer, void of emotion. Its entire body emitted a faint, wavering light like the shine of a metallic coat. It was akin to the stars in the night sky, mysterious and unpredictable yet exuding a frigid chill that sent shivers down people's spines. This demon was also unfazed by the Xiangliu Grand Sage's toxic fog, albeit less at ease than the Golden Cicada Master.
Upon noticing this tiger demon, Lin Feng and the Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage was slightly taken aback. "It's actually a pure-blood White Tiger?"
Shi Tianhao, Wang Lin, Yang Qing, and the others all glanced over in shock. Even the usually apathetic Xu Anda and the downcast Nine Netherworld Grand Sage was drawn to the spectacle. The tiger demon's appearance was even more dumbfounding that the Fengxi that fled.
White Tigers are much rarer compared to the Fengxi. Even though there are mixed-blood descendants like the Gengjin Tiger Tribe, pure-blood White Tigers have always followed a single line of ancestry, which included both the continuation of the bloodline and the passing down of their powers.
Every generation consists of a single cub, male or female, which bears the next pure-blood White Tiger cub after mating with another demon breed, regardless of which tribe the mate is from. Subsequent births after the pure-blood firstborn would only produce mix-blood offspring. Only if the pure-blood firstborn dies before the parent, would the older generation have a second chance of bearing another pure-blood cub, and all births after this second pure-blood cub would again produce mix-blood offspring.
Tribes that share this unique trait include the equally renowned Blood Red Sparrow Tribe and the Xuanwu Tribe, while the Great Dragon Tribe of the Immemorial Celestial Dragon Tribe have different characteristics.
According to legend, a star would fall when a White Tiger roars. Pure-blood White Tigers are born with immense levels of Demonic Abhijina.
For most demon tribes that already possess such formidable strength from birth, advancing in cultivation would become a more arduous task. The higher the starting point, the harder it is to raise one's mastery level. They would have to persevere until they attain the Undying Demonic Soul before they experience the same growth rate as other demon tribes. Those in the Taotie Tribe like Tun Tun are burdened by these circumstances. She was born with a mastery level at the Beginner Demonic Lord Stage, but further cultivation proved to be an uphill task.
However, those in the White Tiger Tribe are different. They seemed to have been blessed with riches like beloved pets specially moulded by the heavens. They are born with great amounts of power yet, unlike Tun Tun, they can cultivate however they wish and even advance at a faster rate than other demon tribes.
There was a period of time hidden in the long Primordial Age, when the three tribes - the White Tiger, the Blood Red Sparrow, and the Xuanwu Tribes - were secondary in power only to the Immemorial Celestial Dragons, and they surpassed all others like the Immemorial Ape Demons, the Fire Beast Fengxi, and the Thunder Beast Angmao.
However, the complications of a pure-blood lineage troubled these three tribes and cursed them to small populations that were unable to grow and prosper. The pure-blood Xuanwu Tribe even became completely extinct by the end of the Primordial Age.
Pure-blood White Tigers had not appeared on the Barren Expanses for a very long time, hence even Lin Feng's interest was considerably piqued when one finally resurfaced before him. At the same mastery level without any special treasures or additional boosts, the White Tiger boasts one of the most formidable combat abilities of all the major demon tribes.
Lin Feng glanced at the White Tiger Grand Sage and realized that this White Tiger's mastery level was at the Cardinal Tribulations Beginning Stage, but just like the Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage, he was not far from completing the Beginning Stage for good. He seemed to be left with just one or two Decay Tribulations.
The Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage looked at the White Tiger with an incredibly serious gaze. Despite having never crossed swords with him in real life, with everyone at the same mastery level, he certainly would not stand at an advantage against the White Tiger Grand Sage in battle.
The White Tiger Grand Sage gazed at Lin Feng with piercingly cold eyes. He met Lin Feng's eyes with no intention of backing down. He was the one who uttered that sentence to instigate a duel between Lin Feng and the Golden Cicada Master.
Lin Feng turned to the Golden Cicada Master in curiosity and asked, "Are all of them the allies that you recruited to support you in battle?"
The Golden Cicada Master grinned. "You've crashed down the gates of Mount Shu, severed the Celestial Sword, and even scared the Great Void Sect into retreating. With such formidable strength, I obviously need to gather a few friends to help me out. The Nine Infants Grand Sage and the Fengxi Grand Sage may have already attained the Syncretic Star Soul, but they can only try their moves on your disciples. Asking them to lend me their strength against you would really put them in a terrible position."
Ever since Lin Feng returned to the Greater Worlds, all of his battles - regardless whether it was the Battle of Mount Yujing, the Battle of Mount Shu, the capture of the Nine Infants Grand Sage after he arrived in the Barren Expanses, the defeat of the Crimson Gorilla Grand Sage, or forcing the Azure Sky Dragon King back with a single sword - made the Golden Cicada Master realize that those worthy of participating in his battle against Lin Feng must be great demons minimally in the Cardinal Tribulations Beginning Stage.
However, such powerful demons are short in numbers even in the Barren Expanses. The Golden Cicada Master paid a huge price just to convince the White Tiger Grand Sage and Xiangliu Grand Sage to come to his aid. And in spite of this, according to his estimations, he still did not have a confident chance of winning Lin Feng.
After the Battle of Mount Shu, Lin Feng used the Bell of Destiny and the Heaven-Destroying Sword Formation to seal the Heaven-Destroying Sword away in front of everyone, but he still possessed Mount Yujing and the Two Elements of Creation Formation Spell.
Mount Yujing was concealed in the turbulent flow amidst the void, with no one knowing its precise location. If it was still resting in the Kunlun Mountain Ranges in the Divine Lands, then it would be difficult to summon it at will. But if it was teleported to the Barren Expanses along with Lin Feng, it can descend down anytime.
Even though there was nothing above Lin Feng's head, who could ascertain that Mount Yujing was not right beside him? Furthermore, even if it did remain in the Divine Lands, Lin Feng could still unseal the Heaven-Destroying Sword if he was cornered into a life-threatening situation.
Hence, the Golden Cicada Master arranged his chess pieces in such a formation, planting an ambush in the void using the Xiangliu Grand Sage's Black Loch World. If he did not want Lin Feng to see through his schemes, his ambush attack had to be changed to a head-on assault.
Lin Feng sized the Golden Cicada Master up and the corners of his lips curved up into a light smirk. He thought to himself, "I have no intention of activating the Celestial Sword, and I left Mount Yujing back in the Divine Lands, but you would have no way of knowing this. You would have to accommodate these possibilities in your plans when facing me. However, this lineup you prepared here seems a little flimsy even for an ambush. Does this mean that you've prepared other tricks up your sleeve?"