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According to legend, the human soul was a trinity of caelum, terra, and vita, the essences of sky, earth, and life themselves. Among the three, only vita exists within the body itself, while caelum and terra were external.
Caelum, as its name suggested, existed in the sky or heavens. It was the connection between man and the world, allowing them to intuit and comprehend heavenly will. Terra, on the other hand, was centered around the body and spread out across s.p.a.ce and time. It could sense what would happen days into the future, and even cross spatial boundaries. Deja vu was commonly explained as the terra part of the soul having been to that place and time beforehand.
Caelum and terra weren't things that could be detected by normal folk. In fact, what was widely considered the spirit of the body, the white mist within the sea of consciousness, was actually vita. In fact, vita was the foundation of the human body and what controlled it. As such, Tianming was really curious as to how it could be stolen in the first place.
The moment he conceived of that thought, the red dots on the outer circle of the Plundering Eye suddenly entered the inner circle of the Taiji Eye. At that moment, the whole Plundering Eye was no longer separated by inner and outer circles and had turned entirely red. A huge wave of soul power blasted out of his arm, covering the entire battlefield in an instant.
"This is...." While others couldn't see it, Tianming could see it perfectly. When he stretched out his black arm, millions of formless hands extended from it, all of them covered in hexagonal scales. What was more terrifying was that n.o.body else on the battlefield was aware of the presence of these hands. When Tianming stretched his hands out more, the millions of hands spread all over, landing on the heads of every Nonahall warrior and their lifebound beasts. Through the third eyes on those hands he could see their sea of consciousness, within which lay the white misty vita!
He grasped with his left hand, causing the countless formless hands to enter the seas of consciousness and grabbing the vita within. At that moment, he heard a jumble of sounds in his mind as he saw the memories of the countless people. It was too much, and he felt like his mind was about to explode. The sensation felt a little like absorbing Astral Will; however, Astral Will felt more like a gift he was free to take, while all this was forced into him.
"Is this what Vitasteal is like?"
He immediately saw the enemies that were about to charge toward the city stop with a blank look on their faces, then they felt a sudden pain and collapsed on the ground. All these people and lifebound beasts felt like mere puppets in his hands. He came to realize that those with higher cultivations had stronger souls. Basically, samsarans weren't affected by Vitasteal at all, but as most of those fighting on the battlefield weren’t samsarans, quite a lot of people actually fell prey to it.
Tianming gave it a pull, extracting millions of vitae from their seas of consciousness. The moment their vitae left the body, the terra that was spread out around their bodies would congregate and rush into the sea of consciousness to temporarily gain control, allowing them to recover a few moments of consciousness. However, terra wasn’t nearly as proficient in manipulating the body, causing them to act even worse than if they had fallen to the Evernight Curse. They couldn't even tell what direction they were heading in, stumbling around like drunks and unable to fight.
"What’re you all blanking out for? Kill them!" Tianming yelled.
The others couldn't believe their eyes at all. However, this was no doubt their chance to gain the upper hand on the b.l.o.o.d.y battlefield
The few remaining warriors of the city charged in and began their slaughter. The sight was something that deeply moved Tianming. He had grasped the vitae of a million people at once, witnessing their entire lives in the process, and forcibly separating them from their bodies. It was akin to astral projection, something Ye Lingfeng had been capable of doing. He didn't know that those of the sky plunderer race could force that state on other people!
"It’d be even better if I could just crush their vitae outright." He looked at his left arm, still shaken as mult.i.tudes of emotions overwhelmed him. His singlehanded domination of a million enemies at once gave the defenders and the Sun-Moon-Star Formation a huge opportunity. The formation easily dealt with the absentminded enemies with the many Infinite Starnets, causing corpses to rain down.
Tianming had tipped the scales alone. While others didn't see how he did it, they could at least tell that it was no doubt him.
"Yes, Imperial Son!"
"The reincarnation of the founding ancestor is here to save us!"
Nothing was more exhilarating than bathing in blood after escaping a desperate situation. The formation channeled the wrath of the ten million citizens in the city as it slaughtered the stunned enemies. When they finally turned the tide around in the south, the formation would be able to help alleviate the stress on the other three fronts.
One after another, Nonahall warriors fell after being pierced through by beams of starlight, causing their forces at the south to rapidly lose momentum. Never would Tianming have dreamed that he would have even more effect on the battlefield than Xian Xian's Evernight Curse. While the latter could affect even samsarans, it had a limited range. Tianming's Vitasteal, on the other hand, could only work against saints, but then again, most of the partic.i.p.ants in the battle were saints. With a simple pull, he could remove a million vitae from their bodies and indirectly cause them to be killed.
"My dad keeps telling me how humble and normal the sky plunderer race is, but we actually possess such incredible powers like breaching formations and Vitasteal.... We even dared to steal the Primordial Chaos Beasts... by what metric can we ever be considered normal?"
Though, there was no point in pondering his way out of this mystery, especially not here and now. To those within Tianming City, this was do or die; they wouldn't have another chance to give it their best shot. Even though the enemy had many more forces to expend, they weren't faring that badly either. Right now, the elites on the enemy side didn't understand what was happening, but they believed Tianming was behind it all.
"Kill him! Ignore his lifebound beasts!" Si Ling cried with rage. Even as her forces were just about to scale the walls, Tianming had ruined their plans yet again! These occurrences were far too commonplace to be a coincidence. It almost felt like destiny, something she felt truly afraid of.
"Phoenix, go deal with him too! I'll take on that sun!" she instructed her beast. The phoenix cried before leaving Jian Wuyi's sword formation and charged toward Tianming along with the freed skyscorch bloodfiend. Once more, Tianming was in danger. The moment Vitasteal was interrupted, the advantage he had created for his side would be rendered useless and Tianming City would be crushed. There was no way he could rely on Ying Huo, Lan Huang, and Meow Meow alone to take on the necrostyx phoenix and the skyscorch bloodfiend.
"d.a.m.n, I have no choice! I'll go for it!" He had one final trick up his sleeve: Fatesteal. However, his subconscious seemed to suggest that he shouldn't use it no matter what, lest he face terrifying consequences. The white dot on the Plundering Eye seemed ever so cold, making him feel rather fearful of it.
However, no fear could possibly compare to that of the prospect of death. He released Vitasteal; within that short span of time, six hundred thousand of the million people he’d grasped had perished. He didn't have time to take a breather, but immediately fused the white dot on the outer circle into the taiji diagram in the inner circle.
Suddenly, the taiji diagram turned pure white, painting the entire Plundering Eye white as well. Tianming heard a high-pitched hum coming from within his head and felt his body explode completely. There was nothing of him remaining apart from that eye, which was the essence of his entire being. The whole world before him was embroiled into a storm. Countless visions flashed across his eyes amidst that storm, the phoenix and bloodfiend long having gone from his sight.
All of a sudden, his gaze suddenly settled on a fixed frame. He looked closely and saw some mountains, upon which a gigantic black beast walked about. On top of the beast was a woman in a black robe. Tianming could see Tianming City through her eyes.
"Xiaoxiao? The Archaionfiend?" The fact that she could see the city meant that she and the Archaionfiend were nearby. When Tianming saw the two of them, they seemed to turn to him, seemingly a little confused.
"Why can I see her?"
The next moment, the scene changed once more.
"What in the world is Fatesteal?"
The strong sound of blowing wind was heard as the world turned itself over and about once more. All of a sudden, Tianming's vision fixed itself to a different frame. He now saw a huge b.l.o.o.d.y cauldron, within which hundreds of thousands of corpses lay alongside a black-haired youth. There were complicated patterns littered all over his body, all of them giving off terrifying vibes. He seemed more malefic eldritch abomination than human.
All of a sudden, Jiang Wuxin opened his eyes and looked to the skies.
"Why would he be in this cauldron?" Tianming wondered.
Then the scenes changed once more and Tianming felt like he was being rocketed above the clouds. Almost instantly, he reached the five-colored star and saw a black-robed old man and a white-robed young girl. They had deployed a black and white formation near the star, at the center of which were two pale white eyeb.a.l.l.s.
"Who’re these two? Are those eyes Ye Bodhi's?" Tianming widened his eyes. "They seem to be saying something... Guiding? Return? I have to get closer! I want to know what they're saying!"
As he thought that, he found his vision approaching the two of them. Right as he was about to eavesdrop, billions of stars gathered above his head, forming a boundless realm of stars that seemed to morph into a single galactic eye that angrily looked at Tianming.
Countless roars crossed the span of s.p.a.ce and time into his mind. "Who dares to reveal the cryptic fates of the heavens?! You have violated all that is sacred! I sentence you to the eradication of the body and soul!"
That instant, Tianming's mind felt like it was cracking apart. He had wanted to see if using Fatesteal would help him defeat his opponents. Little did he know that he would get visions about Lin Xiaoxiao, Jiang Wuxin and even Ye Bodhi's eyes. Before he could react, the threat to his life descended.
"Come back!" his heart seemed to yell. The world started blurring once more as he regained bodily sensation. It was as if nothing had happened. However, when he looked up, he saw nine-colored light shining down from the grand aerial firmament, descending toward his head through the Sun-Moon-Star Formation. It was the aforementioned punishment for his transgressions!
"What kind of power is this?" It was the first time he had felt so humbled and insignificant in the grand scale of the universe, despite having stood at the peak of the Flameyellow Continent. Right before the moment of his death, he didn't know what he should do.
Laughably, the skyscorch bloodfiend and necrostyx phoenix were right above his head at that moment. The nine-colored light immediately vaporized the phoenix, followed that by turning the bloodfiend into a b.l.o.o.d.y mist, then finally struck his head. The beasts had died in an instant, and Tianming felt like there was no way he would survive after violating the laws of the heavens.
The visions he’d had through Fatesteal probably didn't take place in the present, but rather the future. It was a taboo that should never have been attempted. There was far too little time to use the Prime Tower now.
But all of a sudden, he felt his surroundings suddenly calm. The starlight from before had completely dissipated and he had survived. All that remained was a fine black powder that wafted down from above. Tianming reached out to hold it, only to notice that Archfiend was now no more.
"Dad.... You knew that I’d attempt to use this ability, so you prepared this in advance to save my life, huh...."
Archfiend was no more, and Tianming would no longer have a chance to steal a glimpse at the workings of fate. However, he had no time to continue pondering everything that he and Li Muyang would have to face. He was still on the battlefield, and Tianming City was still struggling for survival.
The key was that the two beasts that had almost killed him were now dead. Looking around, it did seem to be the case. Not only that, the terrifying nine-colored light had sent everyone on the battlefield into a stupor. Millions of people and beasts stopped and looked blankly at Tianming.
Si Ling herself was completely stupefied. n.o.body could give her an answer as to what had happened. She glared at Tianming and ordered, "Bring your men here!"
The two million troops guarding their rear immediately charged into the Sun-Moon-Star Formation. But the moment they did, Fang Shenyu and Jian Qingyuan's legions appeared behind them and mounted a charge. At the same time, the Nonahall warriors near the north, east and west gates managed to defeat the defenders and scaled the walls. They launched toward the civilians within!
The war still hadn't ended, and it might take until daybreak to know who the true victor was. Si Ling, Jian Wuyi, the three ghoul kings, and their matches still hadn't settled the score yet. However, Tianming was no longer afraid. Currently, Vitasteal and Fatesteal were still echoing in his mind, causing countless visions to manifest.
He abruptly opened his eyes and charged into the battlefield with Grand-Orient Sword in hand. Far away behind him, Xuanyuan Muxue weakly got back up and followed in his tracks with her weapons, ready to kill as many enemies as she could.