Chapter 543 – The Ease and Difficulty of Living and Dying
“I can’t stand it anymore!”
A cultivator clutched his head and let out a wail. With a bang, his sea of qi exploded, turning into a ball of bloody mist.
“Retreat! Retreat!” Liu Zhangqing ordered loudly.
A battle on such a level had already become something they could no longer partake in. The aftermath of the battle alone was enough to kill them.
Li Qingshan retreated as well, but he intentionally maintained his distance from the rest of the cultivators. He frowned and gazed at the depths of the black mist.
Why hasn’t Xiao An retreated?
The atmospheric winds whistled, forcing the Corpse Commander in mourning attire to halt with his crying. He bent his knees forward and suddenly leapt up. The mourning stick whistled towards Han Anguo in an overhead swing like the miserable wails of ghosts.
Hearing the sound was already enough to cause splitting pain to the mind and aches to the body for a regular cultivator. However, Han Anguo’s heart was as tough as steel. Completely unfazed, he brandished his spear and received it in a battle. Immediately, sand and stone was thrown into the air as blasts of air rocketed the region.
Just like that, a corpse and a person became entangled. Only an aura of death and murderousness was on a constant rise.
After unleashing the strand of atmospheric winds, Gu Yanying became entangled with the winged corpse beast. The two of them constantly maneuvered and chased after one another in the air. Apart from when they changed directions, it was impossible to make out their figures. Only two different sharp sounds of wind could be made out, constantly climbing higher and entangling together.
The corpse beast was powerful, but Gu Yanying was confident enough to kill it within a few strikes under normal conditions. The powerful talismans in her sumeru ring were sufficient to reduce the corpse beast to pieces.
As they were above the Gate of Hungry Ghosts, she could still use the atmospheric winds freely, but it was unavoidable for other techniques and talismans to be affected. On the contrary, the corpse beast had its might redoubled, growing fiercer as it fought.
However, Gu Yanying’s speed was superior, making her almost untouchable. As long as she had some time, the corpse beast would end up dead anyway, but time happened to be tight right now.
The Marquis of Ruyi could no longer worry about whether the Seal of Mountains and Rivers would be damaged anymore. If this continued, he would probably end up losing the entire Commandery of Ruyi. Pointing down, the Seal of Mountains and Rivers rose up and expanded.
Together with it was a strange howl, like thousands of voices murmuring at the same time, merging into a wish that echoed through the heavens.
“Zi’er” gazed at the Dark Queen in the distance vigilantly. She had already clearly sensed she was the most dangerous enemy present. She did not even glance at the Seal of Mountains and Rivers above.
A huge figure brushed past her. It was a one-eyed, one-horned giant, or more accurately, a Daemon Commander transformed from the corpse of a giant. He stood over a hundred meters tall, rippling with muscles. He was colossal and robust, and his legs were short and stocky like two huge pillars.
He lifted his huge hands and pushed upwards.
With a great rumble, the giant Corpse Commander was crushed into the ground. He was pressed down all the way to his waist as his entire body crackled with bone fractures. His corpse qi constantly surged, on the verge of collapse, but he did stop the Seal of Mountains and Rivers forcefully.
“Zi’er” still did not raise her head or glance above. She only stared at the Dark Queen, as well as the colossal figure that faded in and out behind her.
The Gate of Hungry Ghosts spewed out beings furiously. In a short while, another several hundred thousand Corpse Soldiers under the lead of a few Corpse Generals charged out. The Corpse Generals raised their hands and their corpse qi all gushed into the giant Corpse Commander’s body.
The giant Corpse Commander riled up in vigour and slowly lifted the Seal of Mountains and Rivers, actually defeating the seal in a trial of strength. This was a feat that even the current Li Qingshan could not achieve.
Over a dozen more streaks of golden light flew over from the horizon. Under the urgent summoning of the Marquis of Ruyi, most of the Golden Core cultivators in the Ruyi commandery had rushed over.
As for the masters and elders of sects, the Marquis of Ruyi could not order them around, but they were all members of the Daemon Suppression alliance. The Sword Collection received the news and immediately ordered them to come and provide support.
The power of the human cultivators swelled drastically.
However, the Dark Queen’s heart sank because powerful auras leapt out of the Gate of Hungry Ghosts one by one too. They varied in shape and size such that half of them were not even humanoid, belonging to the various races of the living creatures among the six realms, but all of them had now joined the ranks of the dead. When they were still living, they were separated from one another by their races, but after death, they could instead fight alongside one another. It was quite ironic.
Any single one of them would only be stronger than the reinforcing Golden Cultivators, not weaker. There were no undead produced by the limitless fighting and devouring of the Hungry Ghost realm that were not skilled in battle.
As for the Golden Core cultivators, no matter how capable they were, they would all be limited in this aspect. The fruits of several millennia of peace were obtained upon reaching Golden Core, so even the opportunity to fight against others became very scarce. Only large sects like the three sects of the Green province could use various means to maintain an intense level of struggle to train their disciples.
And, these Corpse Commanders could even gather the power of other Corpse Soldiers and Corpse Generals, which made them terrifyingly powerful.
The Gate of Hungry Ghosts was equivalent to a portal. If one Corpse Commander could pass through, then that meant even more Corpse Commanders could pass through. Golden Core cultivators might have been extremely precious and scarce in the World of the Nine Provinces, but there were countless Corpse Commanders in the Hungry Ghost realm.
The nine provinces might have been vast, but compared to any one realm of the six realms of saṃsāra, it would be like a pond to the ocean.
Once the two were linked, any old ripple from the ocean could completely flood the pond. If they could not seal off the Gate of Hungry Ghosts in time, the consequences would be unfathomable.
A great war was on the verge of breaking out, but to everyone’s surprise, it was not between humans and daemons, but the living and the dead.
The Dark Queen hesitated. If all these Golden Core cultivators worked together, she would have some confidence in succeeding if she tried sealing off the Gate of Hungry Ghosts right now.
However, the well-off dared not take even a single risk that would endanger their lives. With her identity, there was no need for her to take this risk at all. The Umbral Yin sect had never been an upright sect that burdened itself over the fate of the world. She had not come to the Clear River prefecture for this either.
As a result, she no longer hesitated anymore. She merely signaled to Gu Yanying, turned around and took off into the distance, expressing she had completely given up on sealing the Gate of Hungry Ghosts.
The other Golden Core cultivators who had just arrived all stopped as well. For a moment, they had no idea what to do.
Gu Yanying let out a gentle sigh, also planning to retreat. Having achieved so much whilst opposing a Corpse King from the Hungry Ghost realm, she had already reached the limit of what she could do. All that was left was her to see how the “kings” of the Green province would respond.
It’s not like I own this world.
Their thoughts were exactly the same as Li Qingshan’s.
Han Anjun also began to pull back while fighting. On the other hand, the Marquis of Ruyi recalled the Seal of Mountains and Rivers only to discover that the Seal of Mountains and Rivers had dimmed drastically, and a lot of its power of belief had been consumed. It had sustained many hidden traces of damage from the corrosion of corpse qi, which filled him with anguish.
At the same time, the colossal Corpse Commander corpse beast crouched before the Gate of Hungry Ghosts like a hill.
“Zi’er” stood on its head, gazing ahead proudly like a king overlooking his domain. His Corpse Commander guards had already surpassed ten in the blink of an eye.
Gu Yanying and the others were unable to pose any threat to her anymore, and if the other Golden Core cultivators were bold enough to approach her, all that awaited them would be death.
Beneath her, Corpse Soldiers gushed out like the tide, assembling into various military formations under the directions of Corpse Generals before forming great arrays under the Corpse Commanders’ commands.
In the blink of an eye, another million Corpse Soldiers had gathered again, possessing even sturdier and grander military might.
Her command seemed to possess a transformative power. The million-strong army began to move, changing their formations as corpse qi filled the air. They were like a vicious beast that devoured everything.
The power of the Corpse Soldiers gathered on the Corpse Generals and the power of the Corpse Generals gathered on the Corpse Commanders.
In the end, all of the power gathered on her. As a Corpse King, organising battles like this in the Hungry Ghost realm had already become as common as dirt, and their opponent this time was pitifully weak.
However, he did know that the truly powerful members of this world had yet to take action. Perhaps they were currently on their way, or perhaps they were still observing, but without a doubt, this was his best opportunity.
“Zi’er” unfurled her arms and opened her vermillion lips slightly. She said in a hoarse, dry voice, “All of you better stay behind!”
She lifted her hands into the air, cupping a glaze-like eye with both hands. It did not glow at all, but space began to ripple like water.
“Is that a space-devouring beast’s eye!? Even I’ve only ever heard about it! How can he possess one? No wonder he’s so bold!”
The Dark Queen’s face changed and immediately accelerated. She refused to remain for a second longer.
The other Golden Core cultivators did not react slowly either. Two of them had even taken out Escape talismans that could take them five hundred kilometers away.
However, all of this was already too late.
The speed of the ripples could not be described with words. In comparison, the actions of the cultivators made them seem like they had come to a standstill.
The Gate of Hungry Ghosts twisted and suddenly expanded, like a huge mouth taking a vicious chunk out of the World of the Nine Provinces.
By the time everyone returned to their senses, they discovered the world had already changed.
The sky had completely turned into the deathly grey of the Hungry Ghost realm. The chilly winds whistled as heavy clouds hung gloomily.
The ground had become piled with white bones while the rivers flowed with black blood.
Centred around Burial Mound mountain, a radius of several hundred kilometers had begun to “overlap” with the Hungry Ghost realm. Although it had not been completely “digested” yet, it was only a matter of time.
No matter how powerful the Escape talismans were, they could not directly pierce the boundary between worlds.
“Zi’er” finally could not help but laugh madly. Just like that, even if figures who had undergone the three heavenly tribulations of this world arrived, there was nothing they could do to him.
He shut his eyes again, and her face became filled with great comfort and delight. The ever-present suppression and restraint from the world had completely vanished.
At the same time, all of his actions had gained the recognition of the “will” of the Hungry Ghost realm. He could sense the surging aura of death gather towards him.
The cultivation of his original body that remained in the Hungry Ghost realm became even stronger. If he could completely devour this world and kill all of its living creatures, he would be able to go from a Corpse King to a Corpse Emperor, or to an even higher cultivation realm. None of it was impossible.
Sure enough, he had not wasted the eye of a space-devouring beast that he had only obtained through luck, and the efforts he spent searching for a viable “world” would all pay off.
Now, all he had to do was wait for the Hungry Ghost realm to completely digest this space so that he could use it as a foundation and constantly expand into the surroundings.
Before that, he had to kill these cultivators first. Apart from devouring other worlds, killing powerful members of the living was the greatest offering to the Hungry Ghost realm.
A black, semi-transparent barrier blocked his way, drawing a clear boundary. One side was life and the other death. Li Qingshan made his way toward the side of death without the slightest hesitation.
“Qingshan!” Hua Chengzan grabbed him firmly. “Dying is easy, but coming back alive is not!”