A figure descended from above, a young man, seemingly seventeen or eighteen years old. It was none other than Yang Qi. After flying for several hundred kilometers out of Yanhaven territory, he dropped to the ground to proceed toward the Demi-Immortal Institute on foot.
There were roads and paths crisscrossing the land in all directions, as well as villages, cities, and rivers. The terrain featured both vast plains and sprawling mountain ranges.
Yang Qi had a map in his robe that he would occasionally check before continuing on his way.
The path to the Demi-Immortal Institute was a long one, and even with the incredible speed he was capable of, was not the type that could be made in only a day or two. This was the longest journey Yang Qi had ever taken in his entire life.
It was all very novel to him. After all, the furthest away he had ever been from home was the Blackcorpse Mountains. He had heard many stories of the world beyond, but had never experienced it for himself.
He took a deep breath of the crisp, autumn air, and looked around in satisfaction.
Suddenly, he sensed an intense sensation of murder coming from the road ahead. Looking off into the distance, he saw an army in the midst of carrying out slaughter. Numerous hamlets in the area were burning, and many locals were being cut down mercilessly as the soldiers marched toward the nearest town.
He was currently in a remote area in the territory controlled by Redleaf City. Both sides of the roads featured enormous trees with red leaves, although, considering winter was coming, the trees were nearly bare.
The soldiers marching on the town wore white armor decorated with a blue sea motif, which enabled Yang Qi to identify them as an army from Yundale-by-the-Sea.
All cities in the lands had unique sigils, which made their forces easy to identify on the battlefield. Because Yang Qi had been close with Yun Hailan, he was familiar with the sigil and armor of her state.
"The State of Yun has fought all the way to here? Doesn't that mean they'll invade Yanhaven soon?"
Obviously, the supreme leader of the State of Yun, Yun Zhonglong, had lofty ambitions. He had formed an alliance with the Seafolk, and was also connected to the Sea God Institute.
Many of the soldiers laughed lasciviously as they stripped the clothing from local women and tossed them onto their horses, taking time to grope them as they did.
The women screamed and wailed, but unfortunately, the soldiers were simply too vicious, and completely impervious to such cries for mercy. In fact, Yang Qi even saw one soldier cruelly cut the tongue out of one woman who had been cursing them particularly loudly.
"Worse than animals!" Yang Qi growled, striding forward.
The soldiers immediately took notice of him.
"Stop right there!" one of them barked, pointing his saber at Yang Qi. "Who are you?" The saber glittered with bright light that almost seemed alive. From the look of it, he could send his true energy flying through the air to kill people a hundred paces away from him.
That, of course, meant that he was in the sixth phase of energy arts, the Energy Weapon level. This was the leader of these soldiers, a man vicious to the core, whose aura seemed tinged with the screams of numerous souls, which was the only surviving remnant of the people he had slaughtered in cold blood.
In fact, this was the very same man who had just cut the woman's tongue out.
"Who am I?" Yang Qi replied. "I'm the guy who's going to kill the whole lot of you."
At that point, the leader of the soldiers chuckled and waved his saber through the air, sending a stream of blade light in Yang Qi's direction. In response, Yang Qi flicked his finger, destroying the blade light and decapitating the leader, all in one move.
"Ambush!" shouted the soldiers further back. Drawing weapons, they rushed forward to surround Yang Qi.
These soldiers had mediocre energy arts, most of them being in the third or fourth phase. They couldn't use their true energy outside of their bodies, and yet, they were still experienced fighters who had killed many opponents in their careers. Furthermore, they were skilled at fighting from a distance using bows and pikes.
It only took moments for dozens of pikes to be stabbing through the air with enough power to impale an ox.
The greatbows the soldiers used shot iron shafts that could pierce armor from a hundred paces.
Normally speaking, even someone in the seventh or eighth phase would have been forced to take a group like this seriously. Unfortunately for the soldiers, they were dealing with Yang Qi.
As he walked forward, he sent a blast of energy out that instantly caused all of the pikes and arrows to suddenly stop in place, unmoving.
Then…. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh! They turned and shot backward, flying with ten times the speed they originally had, making it impossible to dodge them. The soldiers didn't even have time to scream before they were dead.
In the blink of an eye, Yang Qi had just killed roughly forty elite enemy soldiers.
However, their cries of 'ambush' had been loud enough to travel quite a distance.
Thus, it was no surprise that a screaming whistling sound suddenly erupted from the nearby town.
Because of the sound wave, the surrounding buildings trembled, and many roof tiles cracked and fell to the ground. Clearly, this was evidence of some powerful expert.
A figure blurred into motion from atop the town's defensive walls. He was clad in a blue robe, and had two seblue wings at his back, fully nine meters wide. The mere flap of those wings caused tornadoes to spring up in the area; unexpectedly, this was a first-class energy art, something that most people couldn't possibly stand against.
"Master of Energy!" Yang Qi murmured.
Normally speaking, people in the ninth phase were city magistrates, therefore, it was strange to see one here amongst the forces of Yundale-by-the-Sea. He moved with incredible speed, flying off of the city wall, provoking cheers from the soldiers beneath.
Yang Qi simply stood there, waiting to see who he was dealing with.
As far as he remembered, Yundale-by-the-Sea only had one Master of Energy, that being Yun Zhonglong himself.
Moments later, the blue-robed Master of Energy appeared in front of Yang Qi. Surprisingly, he was a young man, probably not even thirty years of age.
'A Master of Energy who isn't even thirty?' Yang Qi thought. 'He has to be more than the typical genius. If such a young Master of Energy appeared in Yanhaven, the news would spread for thousands of kilometers.'
"Did you kill these soldiers?" the young man asked, looking around coldly at the dead bodies. He didn't seem to have any emotional reaction at all, which actually served to make him seem even more chilling.
"I did," Yang Qi replied without the slightest quaver to his voice. "And who are you? I don't remember Yundale-by-the-Sea having a second Master of Energy."
"Yundale-by-the-Sea?" The young man in blue clasped his hands behind his back. Looking down his nose at Yang Qi, he continued, "I'm from the Sea God Institute. An ignoramus like you doesn't need to know my name. Since you killed these soldiers, I'll kill you. In fact, I think I'll torture you to death, which will be quite an honor for you, considering that I never kill worthless nobodies. So tell me your name. That way you can be more than worthless."
'Sea God Institute?' Yang Qi was shaken; obviously, he knew that the Sea God Institute was a colossal monster of an organization.
However, the young man's words caused a grim expression to appear on his face. "These soldiers were murdering, raping and looting. I'd say they hardly qualify to be human. Your Sea God Institute is orthodox and righteous. Don't tell me the soldiers had your approval to do all those things?"
"Quite the blowhard, aren't we?" the young man said. Apparently, he had lost his patience, and didn't think Yang Qi was even worth listening to. "Fine. If you don't want to tell me your name, then I'll take you captive and force it out of you. I know over a hundred different torture arts for you to enjoy. In the end, you'll be screaming your name to me."
The young man thrust his palm out, causing a wave of energy to surge forth. At the same time, a sound like a crashing sea could be heard as his true energy transformed into the image of destructive sea water. Within that sea water was a gigantic floodwyrm with vicious-looking claws.
"Boundless Ocean!" the young man growled, sending out an attack that could level mountains.
To Yang Qi, it almost seemed like the sky had been replaced by a blue sea, surrounding him and crushing down with incredible force. In fact, the ground beneath his feet began to crack; this was a move that far surpassed anything he had faced from Yang Xingshi or Dowager Yan.
The truth was that Dowager Yan and Yang Xingshi were little more than countryside peasants. Although they were Masters of Energy, this young man in blue came from the Sea God Institute, one of the most colossal organizations in the lands. In terms of his true energy abilities, and his techniques, he existed on a completely different level.
In fact, this Boundless Ocean was a royal-class energy art!
And yet, Yang Qi didn't even flinch. Even as the true energy surged toward him, he made his move, unleashing a single punch.
It seemed like nothing more than an ordinary fist strike, and yet, it was also like an ancient beast or god. Black energy swept out from beneath his feet, almost like the aura of hell. He was now the incarnation of an ancient godmammoth, an ancient god-spirit who could suppress millions upon millions of worlds. It almost was as if the word 'power' had been specially created just to describe him.
The Boundless Ocean was completely vanquished, and then Yang Qi's fist landed onto the young man.
An expression of disbelief appeared on his face; this was only one fist strike! One! And yet, he was flung backward, booming sounds echoing out in his body as his meridians were destroyed.