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The closest ones of such abodes, those belonging to the powerhouses that usually fought as spearheads to the formation in the frontlines, were just a couple hundred miles away from the entrance to the first Mesial duct. This distance could be covered fairly quickly for when the time came to charge in, but it was just far enough away to easily respond in the case the enemy were to suddenly attack.
As these outstanding warriors rested their tired bodies, peak existences and legends from countless planes of existence, they also couldn't help but look forward to the rising of the war flags: at that time, they'd be taking part in the most heated conflict of the current era.
Xu Ling looked down from the ruins of a tall building with a pained smile.
Below, were spirit beasts of all shapes and colors, most opting to switch to their anthropomorphic bodies to move around within the encampment more comfortably. Mixed therein were both mesmerizing beings talked about in old legends, as well as monstrous beings that may as well be straight out of a family's "go to bed now, or else x will come for you". By them, were eccentric humans that wielded the most disparate magical objects as weapons, and donned pieces of clothing from a million different cultures.
In this chaos of countless figures, people from countless distant worlds coexisted in harmony.
Everyone spoke, laughed, ate, and drank with everyone else, independently of appearance or customs: the battlefield had united them all.
Or at least, everyone except for a man in his late forties. This outlier wore black, scaly armor that accentuated his muscular physique, and his only company was a red-haired young boy in his late teens, that teased him nonstop. The middle-aged man had a prominent chin, thick eyebrows, and beneath them a tall nose, and piercing white eyes. His big mouth was adorned by a trimmed mustache and an impressive goatee, same tint as his braided black hair. He looked heroic, dignified, even.
If only it weren't for those stupid gla.s.ses…
The young boy suddenly jumped on his back and pulled the other's ears "C'mon, Blacky! Why the long face? I told you, people will eventually warm up to anyone if they look this stupid!"
"And what's more," The youth's golden draconic eyes narrowed in bliss as he went on to poke and pull the cheeks of the scale-armored man, "These two monocles are just so bad you find yourself unable to look away even after a third, or even fourth glance! This way, at least people will get over their fear of those eyes and get used to looking at you at eye-level!"
Though he might have looked young and naive, the ones who knew the golden-eyed youth's real ident.i.ty unconsciously treated him as well as they could. Even the fearsome Blacky could only keep to himself where he'd stuff those two monocles if he ever found a chance, and did not dare say it out loud: the fearsome jailer of World's End, the high-security prison of the Lower Heavens, could only endure as the teenager hara.s.sed him nonstop.
It was only after a while that he noticed the other has stopped, his draconic eyes peering in the distance. The middle-aged plaything of the redhead boy followed the direction of his gaze but found nothing. It was only when the golden-eyed youth muttered a "No way… It really is him? Why would that old exile come here, of all places?" that he understood something wasn't right.
Far away, atop a tall hill from atop which one could just barely see the Mesial duct, Xu Ling raised his head at once, his blue eyes also trailing that which was not there, yet took up an empty spot of the sky.
"To think that, of all places, I'd be meeting one of the Four here…"
Before him, a small group of people had gathered to come up with ways to maximize their advantages in the battle to come. Among them, was a young man that exuded a scholarly aura. Unbecoming of a scholar, on the other hand, was the sword over a hundred meters long that lay behind him. Seeing as how Xu Ling had looked up, spoken those words, and then was not paying attention, he grabbed his weapon and easily lifted the hunk of celestial metal with a single hand. At his whim, its size reduced dramatically, until it was barely as big as a small kitchen knife.
He then proceeded to nonchalantly poke the side of the blue-eyed youth, as everyone just looked on, not surprised in the least.
To his confusion, the edge actually cut into the skin, and a drop of golden blood slid down the blade. In that instant, invisible strings that had been binding the cultivator as a result of a contract with the Evil Saint all burst, as the condition for freedom had been met.
The other generals, Xiao Lan even more so than others, had eyes as wide as tennis b.a.l.l.s: after eighty of the hundred years had pa.s.sed experiencing failure after failure, Jianpu had succeeded like this, of all ways?
"Uh… I just… Did I just win our hundred-year bet? Am I free, just like that?" The scholar swordsman was just as elated as he was lost: had Boss, or rather, that crazed b.a.s.t.a.r.d actually gone mad? In the past, no matter if the other was meditating or even in the midst of battle, his sword had never found its mark!
He set the shapeshifting blade beside him again, and it grew a few thousand meters long just like that. Cries of shock and angry shrieks rang out from those camping below the hill as their cabins were crushed underneath the ma.s.sive sword. In his shock, Jianpu didn't even bother to explain himself to the people yelling below.
Oblivious to the chaos surrounding, Xu Ling was as still as a statue. Eventually, the blue eyes lost in a faraway land shone in delight.
"Everybody, move aside, I need some s.p.a.ce!" He jumped to his feet. Meanwhile, his whole aura changed as the strict laws recorded in the Qi around his body grew looser and looser to accommodate and second his Immortal will…
The red-haired boy with draconic golden eyes felt the descending of a familiar Dao, so he turned his head. At that point, even he, with his experience, was stunned beyond words.
"This blasphemous brat... Is he seriously thinking of catching himself an Emperor?" the youth came to this jaw-dropping conclusion.
"Everyone, move aside this instant!" Blacky bellowed from across the encampment: if by that point Blacky hadn't pieced together the clues, he wouldn't be worth Xu Ling's efforts to enslave him.
Similarly, Xiao Lan was dumbfounded as he finally understood the intentions of his dear Boss. In a daze, he somehow managed to motion for everyone to back off. Everyone was just as taken by surprise but still did as the two, slave and close brother, had ordered.
Alas, reality wavered, and the Dao of the Evil Saint descended, bending the world and rewriting the Qi at the Immortal's whim.
"Huuuu…" Xu Ling inspired, and then raised his left hand. The world came to a still, as not a single rebel dared utter a sound.
A faint breeze blew past…
And the Evil Saint disappeared along with it!
"W-Where did boss go?" Jianpu asked, shivering from shock after shock.
Right then, Blindlight descended from the sky. On his gargantuan body, every single scale was larger than a mountain range had been dyed gold in its entirety, courtesy of the Immortal blood of those immortals that had perished under his fangs. Only his luscious scarlet mane, this extravagant and vain dragon had made sure to clean thoroughly after every feast.
Everyone respectfully bowed to the Dragon King, and he coiled in the air soundlessly. He kept on for a long while before stopping.
When he saw that his little stunt had those people below him, desperate for answers, on the verge of tears, so worried they were for their boss, he finally felt compelled to explain.
Goldy chuckled. He turned towards the crowd of confused beasts, monsters, and men and rea.s.sured them, "No need to worry. That poor excuse of a h.e.l.lish Nightmare Dragon is too slow for the great Evil Saint to ride, so he decided to find someone else. Remember kids, don't take his example, as cheating is really bad! A relationship is a commitment of trust from both sides. Even if the other person is as ugly as Blacky here, you still should not-"
"Blacky, don't interrupt my plan to make you look foolish and have people stop dreading you!"
"YOU! ME! HERE! NOW!"
"Ah, kids these days…"
Xiao Lan, meanwhile had his gaze lost in the distance, muttering absent-mindedly to himself, uncaring for the majestic clash between dragons taking place above him.
"So, it was him…"
The glistening emeralds lit up in disbelief as it followed the trail of wind left behind by a primordial G.o.d, and the two-hundred-something-year-old youth that had caught up to him…
Meanwhile, already far away and getting even farther, Xu Ling's peculiar Dao kept him tightly rooted to the fierce wind that sped through the lands. And fortunately so, as to fall at such high speeds, even Xu Ling would be hurt quite a bit! Though he definitely wouldn't die, it wouldn't bode well for him either. Even in his current state, his body was battered nonstop by the winds, as he struggled to stabilize himself.
In its formlessness, this wind was uncaring for anything that might be in its path, as it could pa.s.s through any material, so long as it could find a single hole on its structure. At times, it would even pa.s.s straight through living, breathing beings, but they wouldn't feel a thing. At most, those sensitive enough would feel as if a sudden breeze had caressed their bodies just then.
The only reason Xu Ling hadn't smashed his head into a thousand different mountains yet was that having connected himself on an existential scale to the speeding wind, he had also indirectly acquired its formlessness. In this state, where he could go anywhere and not be bothered by anything, he experienced a degree of freedom like nothing before. He had to admit, even, that the first instant of that bliss had been enough to thoroughly intoxicate him, and only through sheer willpower did he maintain his rationale. Even those last few barriers, however, were on the verge of falling, as waves of pleasure flowed through him…
Fortunately, the level of existence of the other side was indescribably potent. At some point, the Evil Saint felt himself rapidly lose control over his Dao with each following moment. Eventually, the blue-eyed youth could only forcefully set aside the heavenly sensation and desperately call out,
"Senior! Could you please slow down?" The young man asked, and although the wind was going by incredibly fast, it was unable to dissipate or carry away his words, for the conversations between Immortals happened through a higher, existential medium.
Suddenly, it was as if Xu Ling had been slammed into the side of a mountain as the wind came to a sudden halt. The force of deceleration was incomparable to any attack the Evil Saint had ever carried out or had to bare before. Then, followed a hurricane so strong, everything in that Plane of Existence unlucky enough to not have been traversed by the "Wind" yet, disappeared just like that. Before the Evil Saint could notice, the Plane of Existence beneath him had lost all color, as there was nothing left there. The winds had ravaged everything to an existential level, slashing the Qi that it met in its path into countless, irreparable pieces.
At that moment, had Xu Ling not pushed the attributes of his Dao to its limits and truly become one with that being and its sudden halt, he might as well not have had a cultivation base at all, so unimaginably high the Spiritual Energy requirement would have been to keep himself in place before the horror that had acted out before his eyes.
As for right below him, there was the sight of an era, shrouded in swirling steam and cloud vapor, wrapped in a cloak of howling winds…
A pristine body of finely engraved heavenly white metal, akin to a living suit of armor the size of a great castle, in a pointy shape like that of an ice pick: a featureless gigantic beak that could hold a candle to the h.e.l.lish Nightmare Dragon in length, as it also was almost a dozen miles long.
Though, in all fairness, the main body of this beast was like a grain of rice when placed beside the far more gigantic, twelve pairs of increasingly bigger pairs of wings that hovered by it…
Just the smallest of those wings was so huge, Blindlight couldn't amount to the width of a single feather. As for the biggest pair, it was so indescribably t.i.tanic that just one of those millions of feathers would outcla.s.s some of the bigger Planes of Existence in sheer size.
Each wing was composed of a single, sharp blade that extended for whole worlds, splitting into millions of metallic, also ice-pick-like feathers, that were arranged in a very meticulous fashion so as to push the aerodynamics of the whole to its absolute limits. The length of a feather was on the same scale of a whole wing's span, roughly a thirteenth of it, and extremely thin. Naturally, that so-called "thinness" was merely in comparison: in reality, it was taller than any mountain.
The pristine metals of the wings were all engraved with incomprehensible designs that glowed an ethereal azure: eventually, they would become the color of molten metal if they kept on running for a few hundred million years too many, and would need a few millions of years of their own to cool back down.
Finally, at the tip of each feather was a gigantic formation, powered by the azure runes that ran throughout the body of the feather. There, they acted as countless propellers, working together to output enough power to level worlds, yet "barely pa.s.sable" to reach the speed that that being sought to achieve.
A suit of pristine armor covered from head to toe with runes and magical engravings, coupled with twelve pairs of wings larger than millions of Planes of Existence put together: those two together, perfected piece after piece throughout the eras, made up the single greatest metallic life form, one of Four, true G.o.ds among Primordial Beasts.
Primordial Emperor of the Skies.
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