Aspiring to the Immortal Path - Chapter 532
Chapter 532: Puppet Beast
Everyone followed He Changan, and as they ventured deeper in, they encountered more golden warriors and puppet beasts.
While the golden warriors weren’t powerful, they were annoyingly difficult to kill. And when they were coupled with the various puppet beasts constantly coming in, even Godhead and Beast Refining found themselves with quite the headache.
But in the end, they managed to make it to the great hall.
This hall stood nearly a thousand feet tall, occupying a vast area. Even the front courtyard was huge, as if it was built for giants.
Flanking the hall doors were two giant beast statues. One was a Taowu, and the other was a Xiezhi, both of which were legendary mythical beasts of High Antiquity.
(TN: The Taowu is described as a beast with the head of a human, the feet of a tiger, and the fangs of a boar. The Xiezhi is described as being like a bull or goat, with a body covered in dark scales and a single horn. It has the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and is said to be extremely intelligent.)
A faint aura of energy enveloped the hall, indicating that it was protected by some barrier.
Ao Chihu grabbed a Beast Morpher and threw him over, and the man howled as he flew at the barrier. There was a hiss as violet lightning appeared above the hall and struck the Beast Morpher. The Beast Morpher didn’t even have time to scream before he was turned to ash.
He Changan said, “It’s the Violet Astral Net Formation, a protective formation with formidable counterattack abilities.”
Tang Jie glanced at He Changan in shock. “So the Godking even understands formations.”
He Changan was right on the mark. This truly was the Violet Astral Net Formation, a formation from High Antiquity. He hadn’t expected He Changan to be this sharp.
He Changan indifferently replied, “You can’t call it ‘understanding’. It’s just that if you live long enough, you see a lot more. When it comes to breaking the formation, I need someone renowned in the field.”
He turned to Xu Mingyue.
With Ling Tianqi’s death, Xu Mingyue had once again become the formation master here.
Xu Mingyue did not dare to put up an attitude in front of He Changan. She replied, “The Violet Astral Net Formation is extremely fierce, and it is also a formation from High Antiquity. This one’s understanding of it is limited. Fortunately, the shattering of the Myriad Court and ten thousand years of erosion have had a rather severe effect on the Violet Astral Net Formation. When the formation activated just now, it showed signs of damage in many locations. So long as we can find the key node, one strike will take it down. But I will need everyone to work with me on this.”
“You will manage the breaking of the formation, and everyone beneath me will obey your commands,” He Changan indifferently said.
“Yes.” Xu Mingyue immediately began to order people around. Her method for breaking the formation was very simple. She would have people attack the formaton in shifts, triggering counterattacks, and she would use this chance to observe the formation to seek out its weak point, which could then be attacked to bring down the entire formation.
This method couldn’t be considered the best, but it was the safest.
As she was making arrangements, a shout came from the distance. “Hey! Wait for me!”
Everyone turned their heads and saw Jin Yutang running over as if he had wings, and behind him were that old steward and his servants. Somehow, they had managed to group back together.
Jin Yutang excitedly rushed over upon seeing He Changan’s group, and while he was happy, He Changan and Nan Ningjiang had their own very interesting expressions.
In truth, they had already come upon Jin Yutang’s group once, but none of them wanted to be together with this good-for-nothing scion, so they had avoided him. Even Ao Chihu had silently turned around upon noticing Jin Yutang.
But in the end, they had failed to avoid him. This bastard had run over to the central hall himself. Although he himself was incompetent, the subordinates his father had left him were truly formidable. They had easily killed their way through the garden and found their young master.
Upon seeing Jin Yutang, He Changan grunted and said, “Stand to the side and don’t make any noise.”
Jin Yutang froze.
He was still a little afraid of He Changan, so these words put a damper on his excitement. He became much quieter as he made his way into the crowd, greeting everyone as he passed by them.
As he came up to Tang Jie, he put a hand around his shoulder and said, “Did you find any nice treasures?”
Tang Jie shook his head. “It’s nothing but ghosts and puppet beasts. There weren’t any treasures at all.”
Jin Yutang mysteriously smiled. “I happened to get a treasure.”
He took out an item from his Mustard Seed Bag: a puppet beast core.
But this puppet beast core was much bigger than the ones Tang Jie had gotten. It had a glossy silver glow to it, and he could tell at a glance that it was an extraordinary item, probably something that only a boss-level puppet beast could give.
Jin Yutang definitely couldn’t beat such a thing, so it was probably that old steward who had done it.
Tang Jie nodded. “It really is a treasure.”
The puppet technology of High Antiquity was different from the present, and crystal cores rather than formations were the main component. A crystal core like this could probably be used to make a Grade 5 puppet, so it wasn’t wrong to call it a treasure.
Jin Yutang smugly smiled.
As he was about to say more, he suddenly spotted the two statues in front of the hall.
His eyes lit up. “Do you see those two? They also seem to be puppet beasts.”
Tang Jie whispered, “Mm, but they seem to be broken. Don’t go and touch them, or you might disturb all those important people.”
He Changan and Master Xuan Zhong were already organizing attack shifts on the hall under Xu Mingyue’s command, and as the violet lightning came down, they were constantly dodging. At the same time, Xu Mingyue was throwing out formation lines, affecting the operation of the formation while searching for its weakness.
Jin Yutang was bored, so he said, “I’m just going over to look.”
He walked over to the statue of the Taowu. He sized it up and then touched it. No matter how he looked at it, this was a puppet beast, but for some reason, it wasn’t moving.
Jin Yutang suddenly had an idea. While this puppet beast might have been in disrepair for many years, the crystal core inside might still be intact. Wouldn’t he be rich if he could find it?
He immediately set to work, reaching into the mouth of the Taowu with his hand while muttering, “Where is it? Where?”
As he searched more strenuously, his hand extended deeper and deeper into the mouth, and he completely failed to notice that the Taowu’s eyes had lit up.
He was so vigorously searching that he had stuck almost his whole head in there.
The Taowu’s eyes moved again, and this time, they moved more, and everyone started to sense that something wasn’t right.
An energy was starting to spread through the Taowu, like a gathering storm.
The Taowu’s face moved, and its eyes looked down and saw some bastard searching around its mouth. A growl came from its mouth.
Jin Yutang finally noticed that something was wrong.
He took out his head and looked up, his eyes meeting the Taowu’s.
At that moment, he saw the Taowu’s eyes flashing a dangerous red.
Jin Yutang swallowed. “Mother… fuck.”
His hand was still in the Taowu’s mouth.
The Taowu opened its mouth wide, and just as it was about to close it, the old steward lunged forward and grabbed Jin Yutang, whisking him out of harm’s way.
At the same time, the Taowu’s mouth slammed shut with a mighty boom.
The Taowu raised its head and let out a deafening roar.
As it roared, the Xiezhi on the other side shifted, its eyes glowing.
As these two beasts started moving, the central hall rumbled, and the Violet Astral Net Formation grew even stronger, radiating a brilliant light. Countless bolts of lightning shot out, forcing He Changan and the others to repeatedly dodge.
“Jin Yutang! What the fuck are you doing?” Ao Chihu was about to go crazy.
Not even in his dreams he had imagined that something like this would happen.
This idiot had awakened those two strongest puppet beasts that should have already been broken.
These two puppet beasts weren’t like the others. They were not entirely puppets, also containing the souls of fiends.
Although the puppet beasts with fiend souls were powerful, this also meant that they were more affected by time. Ten thousand years had caused the fiend souls to fall into a deep hibernation, and it was very difficult to rouse them from their sleep.
This was why He Changan and the others had ignored them, instead choosing to open the hall up first. If they could find the means to control these two puppet beasts, they could both save themselves a fight and gain two powerful puppet beasts.
But Jin Yutang had ruined everything.
The moment these puppet beasts awoke, they immediately caused a great stir. From their roars alone, one could tell that they were extraordinary existences.
The Taowu stomped its four feet down, and flames spread out from under it, sweeping toward everyone. At the same time, the Xiezhi lowered its head, and lightning erupted from its horn at everyone.
These two beasts used powerful spell arts the moment they could, surpassing what puppet beasts should have been capable of. It was as if they were facing not two puppet beasts, but two great fiends of High Antiquity.
“Watch out!” Tang Jie shouted as he fell back.
He could immediately tell that these two puppet beasts were powerful. While they weren’t true mythical beasts, they could not be underestimated.
Ao Chihu rushed up and swung his heavy sword at the Taowu. The sword was wreathed in a crimson light as Ao Chihu used his best move, the Nine Slaying Sword.
After becoming a disciple to the Sanguine True Lord, Ao Chihu had added his own insights into this sword art, and it was often said that with this strike, he could cleave apart the heavens. But the Taowu didn’t try to evade the blow, raising its head and spitting out a gout of flame.
The flame seemed to have physical mass, turning into a blazing saber and meeting Ao Chihu’s sword.
The saber clashed with the sword, and Ao Chihu found that he couldn’t break through. On the contrary, the saber of flame suddenly erupted, blasting Ao Chihu back.
Ao Chihu drew his sword back and swung it twelve times in a row, and only then did he manage to block the torrent of flame. Alarmed, he shouted, “Grade 6! It’s a peak Grade 6 puppet!”
A peak Grade 6 puppet was equivalent to the Soul Transformation Tier, so it was no wonder Ao Chihu had been knocked away.
As Ao Chihu was thrown back, the Taowu and Xiezhi lunged forward. Not only that, under their control, the Violet Astral Net Formation began attacking on its own, so even if He Changan and the others stopped provoking it, they wouldn’t be safe from it.
“Ah!” Xu Mingyue shouted in alarm.
At least four violet lightning bolts were aimed at her.
Just when the lightning bolts were about to make contact, a palm flew out and blasted the lightning bolts apart.
He Changan had intervened.
He Changan was currently furious. “Hurry up and deal with those two puppet beasts! I will hold off the formation!”
He thrust out his palm multiple times, creating numerous energy palms that fended off the lightning from the Violet Astral Net Formation.
Everyone was stunned. This was a Grade 6 Formation!
Formations were always more powerful than cultivators of the same tier, or else there would be no point to them. A Grade 6 Violet Astral Net Formation could kill those at Soul Transformation and below, which was why everyone had been dodging rather than resisting. Nobody had expected He Changan to be able to take on a Grade 6 formation when he got serious.
“What are you standing around for!?” He Changan roared.
A moment later, two figures shot out to deal with the Taowu and Xiezhi: Master Xuan Zhong and the old steward.
The old steward had finally shown his true strength. As expected, he was at Soul Transformation. Not only that, he was even stronger than Master Xuan Zhong.
He charged at the lightning-casting Xiezhi, simply raised his hands, without any weapons, and he instantly created numerous phantom claws. Bang! Bang! Bang! Countless collisions rang out.
These sounds were like a woodpecker pecking at a tree. This Xiezhi had been made from the lumber of a ten-thousand-year Violet Wutong Tree. Though it was wood, it was harder than essence metal, but the old steward’s claw strikes were pecking away at it, piece by piece.
The Xiezhi knew that it would be bored through if this continued, and the fiend soul controlling the puppet howled. A massive amount of lightning gathered on the horn, and all of it was unleashed at the old steward.
The old steward didn’t dodge, simply chuckling.
As that pillar of lightning smashed down, his body dissipated into smoke, and that lightning bolt went right through him. The smoke gathered back together into the old steward, who thrust out a clawed hand, punching five holes in the Xiezhi puppet’s body. He chuckled, “Dumb creatures will remain dumb. How could they compete against humans?”
As he spoke, he put power into his fingers, unleashing five sharp rays of light that pierced through the Xiezhi.
Tang Jie almost shouted when he saw this.
The Jade Shattering Finger!
The old steward had clearly used the Jade Shattering Finger!
But rather than one finger, he could unleash a Jade Shattering Finger from every one of his fingers, making it a claw art rather than a finger art.
Because of this, this Jade Shattering Claw became extremely sharp and powerful.
Tang Jie was dumbfounded by this sight.
He had never imagined that the Jade Shattering Finger could be used in this way, in such a beautiful and formidable fashion.
Suddenly, he realized who this old steward was.
This man’s name was Zhu Yun. Just like Cang Qingfeng, he was a traitor of the Basking Moon Sect.
(TN: No relation to the Zhu Yun who appeared in Chapter 121 as one of Gu Changqing’s subordinates.)
In his early years, he had been considered a talent of the Basking Moon Sect, and he had been most famous for his Jade Shattering Finger. If he had focused on the Dao, he would have had a bright future, but he was greedy and lecherous, and he secretly committed countless crimes. When the Basking Moon Sect found out, it planned to punish him, but this cunning scoundrel realized what was going on and fled before that could happen.
Nobody knew where he had run off to, but ever since then, the Basking Moon Sect had found no trace of him. Many people even thought that he was dead.
Tang Jie hadn’t expected that this man would have run off to the Beast Refining Gate and become a subordinate of the Sanguine True Lord, the steward and bodyguard for his son.
But when he thought about it, it made sense. Only the Beast Refining Gate would so casually accept a traitor of the Basking Moon Sect.
The old steward’s claw had restrained the Xiezhi. It howled and suddenly broke free, charging at the others.
As a puppet beast with a fiend soul, it wasn’t some inflexible creature. It had intelligence, and since it knew that it was no match, it chose to change targets and kill whoever it could.
The old steward hadn’t expected the Xiezhi to make this choice. As the Xiezhi charged out, its horn gathered lightning, taking aim at a group of people, Jin Yutang among them.
The Xiezhi’s attack this time was many times stronger than before.
As that lightning approached Jin Yutang, the old steward felt his soul leave his body. No matter how much of a good-for-nothing Jin Yutang was, he was still the son of the Sanguine True Lord. If something happened to him, his bodyguard would also be done for.
At this moment, a figure flew out, grabbed Jin Yutang, and pressed him to the ground, taking the lightning for him. It was none other than Tang Jie.
He had a Heavenly Spirit Law Body, and his body also had an extremely strong resistance to lightning. Thus, the lightning couldn’t kill him, though it did leave him feeling numb all over and blasted apart his backside.
But the others were even worse off.
Those below Celestial Heart had basically died on the spot, so only a few in this region had managed to survive the lightning.
The Celestial Heart True Persons also hadn’t all been that capable. The seventh Hawk had died on the spot, Ao Chihu had lost yet another one of his True Persons, and while Ming Yezhen had escaped using his spatial arts, he had still suffered light injuries from the lightning. As for He Changan, Master Xuan Zhong, and the old steward, Zhu Yun, they were all carrying injuries of some sort. The only one who was completely fine was Jin Yutang, covered by Tang Jie.
But after making that attack, the Xiezhi had clearly reached its end. The old steward’s claw had torn out its core. On the other end, the Taowu also knew that it was reaching its limits. Letting out a mournful howl, it prepared to do the same as its comrade.
As a roaring flame gathered around it, everyone grew alarmed. If this flame were unleashed, they would lose another few Celestial Heart True Persons.
Tang Jie pulled Jin Yutang behind him and backed off.
At this moment, He Changan suddenly fell back.
He had been fending off the Violet Astral Net Formation all by himself, his front toward the hall and his back toward the group. He was falling back, yet he seemed to have eyes on the back of his head, retreating straight toward the group and brushing right past the Taowu. As he thrust out that barrage of energy palms to block the lightning, he also lightly thrust out his right palm to the side.
His palm was aimed right at the Taowu’s head.
He even had some strength to help.
A moment later, that roaring flame was forced back into the Taowu.
Everyone naturally seized this opportunity. Master Xuan Zhong used his Heavenly Stele Palm, the old steward used his Jade Shattering Claw, Ao Chihu used his Nine Slaying Sword, and Nan Ningjiang used his Golden Eagle Talon. All of these attacks slammed into the Taowu.
With a tremendous boom, the Taowu was blasted to pieces.
A crystal core carrying a fiend soul flew into the air, and Ao Chihu snatched it.
Now that the two puppet beasts had been taken care of, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
But if entering the hall was this difficult, what was going to happen inside?
Without the puppet beasts to obstruct them, everyone started to break the Violet Astral Net Formation again, reducing the pressure on He Changan.
But in the process, everyone coldly glared at Jin Yutang, thinking that they wouldn’t have suffered so many losses if not for this bastard.
It had to be understood that these two puppet beasts had killed quite a few people.
While the cannon fodder didn’t have much combat power, they were an important tool for testing traps. Without them to test the nature of various attacks, the path ahead would be much more difficult. And that wasn’t even considering the Celestial Heart losses.
Everyone was deeply pained by these losses, and they also complained that Tang Jie shouldn’t have saved this scoundrel.
The only grateful ones were the old steward and Ao Chihu.
The old steward, Zhu Yun, personally came over and bowed to Tang Jie. “Young Master Qian, thank you for saving my young master. I will not forget this kindness.”
Tang Jie smiled. “If you really want to thank me, give me that crystal core in your hand.”
“Huh?” Zhu Yun was dumbfounded. He didn’t think that this guy would be so shameless as to immediately ask for treasure.
But since he had already spoken, he couldn’t take back his words, and he handed Tang Jie the core of the Xiezhi.
Tang Jie took the crystal core and then looked at Ao Chihu. Ao Chihu had also intended to thank him, but after seeing this, he felt that it was better not to.