Fierce fighting raged throughout the ancient city of Krorän.
An army of students from the Demi-Immortal Institute had breached the city walls, and were cutting down countless vampire brigands.
In numerous locations, it was possible to see people fusing their energy with the clouds as they reached the ninth phase and became Masters of Energy.
As for the vampires, they were meeting defeat left and right.
The forces from the Demi-Immortal Institute were simply too numerous. Furthermore, as a whole, they were not fighting chaotically; they were organized into ranks and teams, all of whom worked together, joining their true energy, making it as easy for them to kill the vampires as it would be to chop melons.
After all, the vampire brigands were essentially an unruly mob; how could they possibly deal with the best of the best from the Demi-Immortal Institute, the top organization in the lands, whose mere freshman students were in the eighth phase, and whose inner campus students were ninth phase experts?
Amongst the vampire brigands, Masters of Energy were rather rare.
"More and more students from our institute are arriving by the moment. Look guys! That's the Five Lightnings Society, and the Divine Ability Society…. Everybody's showing up. I wonder how Yang Qi is doing."
Li He and the others had just finished killing their one hundredth vampire, and were now taking a rest.
"I dunno," Liang Dong replied. "I saw some powerful energy fluctuations coming from the city center just now. I wonder if Chu Tiange is fighting with Jing Wuxue. Hua Yinhu, He Jili, Li He. How long is it going to take you to reach the Master of Energy level?"
"My energy is pulsing," Li He replied. "I'd say that after this fight is over, and we get back to the institute, I should have enough merit points to buy the spirit pills I need to achieve my breakthrough. Then we can all become outer campus students, and start recruiting people to join us. We can really start to make a name for ourselves."
"There are tons of societies, though," Hua Yinhu said, sighing. "Standing out from the crowd will be easier said than done. The struggles within the institute can be even more fierce and deadly than those in the Sage Ancestor Dynasty as a whole. There, certain rules have to be followed, so enemies usually don't actually kill each other. But if you make the slightest mistake in the institute, you can end up dead. The Crown Prince Society, Divine Ability Society, Five Lightnings Society and Gentlemen's Society… they don't ever show mercy."
"We're fine. Just keep a low profile and don't let anyone on to what we're doing. As long as we don't make a big fuss, no one will know. After all, there are just too many students in the institute for people to keep an eye on everyone."
As they discussed the matter, they suddenly heard a voice behind them. "It wouldn't be good to reveal ourselves now. Just keep improving yourselves, and do your best to bring in talented people to join us naturally. Once I reach the Lifeseizing level, we can officially announce the founding of the Sage Monarch Society."
"Brother Yang Qi!"
Everyone turned to see Yang Qi standing there with two huge bottle gourds in his hands, both of which radiated a strong medicinal aroma.
Then, he produced three medicinal pills that shone with golden light. The group recognized them immediately. "Golden Nine Transformations Pills?!"
"That's right. I wasn't able to bring much loot from the treasure-houses with me, so I tried to choose only the best things. This gourd is full them, plus some sort of violet pill that I'm unfamiliar with. You guys take a look. In any case, one Golden Nine Transformations Pill should be all the three of you need to become Masters of Energy."
Next, Yang Qi pulled out a violet-gold pill the size of a longan fruit.
"Violet-Golden Meridian-Strengthening Pill!" Li He exclaimed. "Those are even more valuable than Golden Nine Transformations Pills. They're made by combining ten-thousand-year-old violet-gold with thousand-year-old violet magical mushrooms, plus a whole bunch of other spirit medicines. It takes fully twenty years of concocting time to finish them. Even one of those pills is as valuable as an entire city! Eat it, and you can strengthen your foundation and consolidate your vitality. It will add a bit of preheaven essence into your sea of energy, which if you cultivate, will significantly improve the state of your meridians. That's why they're called Violet-Golden Meridian-Strengthening Pills. If you sold them at market, they would fetch an astronomical price. Brother Yang Qi, it looks to me like there must be hundreds of pills in that bottle gourd. We're rich! Terrifyingly rich!"
"You got that right," Yang Qi said. Of course, he didn't reveal that in his thumb-ring of holding, he had dozens upon dozens of collections of other pills just like those.
Unfortunately, he didn't quite know what all the pills were. They were obviously beyond the level that mere Demi-Immortal Institute freshman students would know about.
"Let's find a quiet place where I can help you use the Golden Nine Transformations Pills, and then the Violet-Golden Meridian-Strengthening Pills. Let's strengthen your meridians, and get you into the Master of Energy level. Then we can all become outer campus students."
With that, he handed out the pills. As for Liang Dong, he was already a Master of Energy, but Yang Qi gave him a pill anyway as a reward.
Taking one last look at the flames of war flickering within Krorän, they turned and left. Eventually, they found a distant mountain valley that was perfect for their needs. Sitting down cross-legged, they circulated their true energy and then consumed the pills.
The process took six hours. By that point, it was day again, and had stopped snowing, ensuring that bright sunlight filled the lands.
Yang Qi opened his eyes, to be followed moments later by Li He, He Jili and finally, Hua Yinhu. Energy soared into the sky from the latter three, accompanied by intense rumbling sounds. Nearby snow fowl, snow rabbits, snow foxes, snow apes, as well as powerful demonlings, all recognized the Master of Energy auras, and fled.
They were now all Masters of Energy, and not ordinary ones by any means.
"Excellent," He Jili said. "We can hold our heads high now as Masters of Energy, and our positions in our clans will now improve significantly."
All three of them had eyes brimming with tears of excitement. They came from powerful and important clans, but up to this point, their cultivation bases had been insufficient. But now that they were Masters of Energy, they would become outer campus students of the Demi-Immortal Institute, and would have completely different positions within their clans, with access to many more resources than before.
And of course, they all knew that it was because of their good brother Yang Qi. Without him, it would likely have taken another ten years for them to get their breakthrough.
And how many decades did one have to work with in life?
"Brother Yang," Hua Yinhu said, "we won't waste time with words of thanks. You're the leader of the Sage Monarch Society, so we'll climb mountains of daggers and swim through seas of flames to follow your orders, and not even bat an eye while doing so. Our place in our clans will be different now, so if you need help for your own clan, just say the word. Once I join the outer campus, I'll send word back to my family. Soon, I'll be able to call upon ten Masters of Energy to help me with whatever I need."
"What? They'll send you ten Masters of Energy?" Although Yang Qi was shocked, he quickly smoothed out his face. "Well, let's get out of this land of ice and snow. Once we're back at the institute, we can turn in our blood demon cores for merit points, and then get those promotions to outer campus student."
Continuing to chat, they sped away through the snow.
Yang Qi was in a wonderful mood.
But in sharp contrast was Chu Tiange, who was in another part of the northwest, fuming with anger.
'Who would have thought that that punk would mess up my plan to kill Jing Wuxue….'
Currently, he was sending sword energy out as if to connect with the winter sun itself. Gradually, the sunlight gathered together and then descended as golden rays into him.
Earlier, his sword had exploded, and now he was forming it back together.
His Cosmic Sunflare Sword was similar to the Infernal Deity Spear in that it was a manifestation of the technique he cultivated. It collected the quintessence of the sun and the spirit energy of the cosmos to fuse with true energy and create a divine weapon.
Off to the side, Yun Hailan said, "There's no need to be so angry, Elder Brother. Although, I was hoping you would kill him and reveal his identity. What energy art does he cultivate? It seems to surpass the royal-class, so I'd say that, at the very least, it's an imperial-class art. There was something very familiar about him. With enough time in his presence, I could probably deduce his identity."
"What? He seemed familiar to you?" Chu Tiange looked over his shoulder at her. "Don't tell me he's some expert from the Sea God Institute."
"I have no idea," she said thoughtfully. "However, it won't be too long before the truth comes to light. Whoever he was, he seemed to have something against me. After all, he attacked me first, and with killing intent. Seems he hates me and wants me dead. And since he failed, he'll surely try again."
"Well, he's terrifying, I can tell you that," Chu Tiange replied. "He's definitely not a Lifeseizer, and yet, is as powerful as one. If word got out about that, it would cause a huge stir." He smiled viciously. "However, considering he picked a fight with me, he's signed his own death warrant. You're right, Hailan. His incredible strength must come from whatever energy art he cultivates, probably an imperial-class. In fact, it could even be a fabled saintly-class art."
"Saintly-class energy art?!" Yun Hailan was visibly shocked.
"That's right. An energy art that can surpass the mortal and enter the saintly, a consummate discipline passed down from a Great Sage of ancient times. If I could get my hands on it…."
"Well, that shouldn't be hard," Yun Hailan said, her eyes flashing. "He wants to kill me, so he'll show up again eventually. How about this, Elder Brother Tiange: You find some top experts and then set up an inescapable trap to capture him and force him to reveal the details of that energy art. This is the perfect opportunity for us. If it works, then we might have a chance to surpass the mortal and enter the saintly."