Chapter 19: First Contact (1)
That day, the fleet officially entered the Abyss.
They advanced extremely slowly — they essentially allowed the natural motion of the waves to carry them into the Abyss, all while they made preparations to retreat at any time.
Dark clouds loomed oppressively over their heads in the sky, the pressure making it hard to breathe.
The wind had whipped the sea into a violent frenzy.
After entering the Abyss, the number of Sea Beasts in the waters obviously increased dramatically, and they would even approach the fleet and challenge it from time to time.
However, the fleet didn’t attempt to counterattack. Instead, they bolstered the fleet’s defenses and attempted to quietly protect themselves.
This stirred all the nearby Sea Beasts into a frenzy.
A massive wave suddenly surged as a gigantic killer whale slammed its head into one of the fleet’s boats, forcing it backwards.
“Damn, it’s a Demonic Lord!” the boatman cursed.
All the surrounding boats activated their defenses to resist the beast’s attacks. In the face of these massive sea beasts’ attacks, these grandiose-appearing combat frigates could only do this much.
The killer whale attempted to headbutt the boat a few more times, but after receiving no reaction even after that, it became bored and dived back down beneath the water’s surface.
Everyone let out a sigh of relief.
However, they very quickly realized that there were even greater difficulties ahead.
Soon after, another massive Sea Beast appeared in front of them.
It appeared to be roughly seven hundred feet long, and its indistinct round body bulged out of the water like the tip of an iceberg. Its entire body radiated a strange iridescent glow.
It was a jellyfish.
To be more exact, a Sea King Jellyfish.
Sea King Jellyfishes were one of the most powerful Sea Beasts ever sighted. From birth, they were already strong enough to be considered high-tier Demonic Beasts. As they grew, they would quickly reach the strength of a Demonic King.
This Sea King Jellyfish appeared to have already matured — in other words, it was already at least as powerful as a Demonic King. If they were unlucky, it could even be as powerful as a Demonic Emperor. Even if it hadn’t reached the level of a Beast Sovereign just yet, it definitely wasn’t far from that level.
It was obvious how many frighteningly powerful Sea Beasts were in this area given that they had run into a Demonic King immediately upon entering.
And even then, this Demonic King Jellyfish was considered a lower-class Sea Beast amongst the plethora of Sea Beasts living here.
Demonic Lords were basically treated as cannon fodder.
Any Beast below that level was considered food.
But to this mighty fleet, it was obvious that this kind of opponent was not really worth much consideration.
Jiang Xishui glanced at the Sea King Jellyfish and said, “Activate the Radiance Formation!”
The ten or so boats at the very front of the fleet turned to face the jellyfish as a massive sphere of light began to form on each of them before it shot from the body of the boats towards the jellyfish.
The jellyfish seemed to sense the impending attack and began to churn up violent, roaring waves to disrupt it.
However, wherever this light shone, the sea would calm down.
Unhindered, the light enveloped the jellyfish like a formless hand, before firmly tightening its grip no matter how much the jellyfish squirmed or thrashed. The jellyfish’s massive, billowing figure began to be slowly compressed under the light’s pressure. Eventually, the jellyfish was constricted so tightly that it could no longer move.
And just like that, a Demonic King had been easily dealt with.
Even so, this was the strength of fighting in a group.
After years of experience of fighting on the seas, the Subdued Sea Navy had ample combat experience. Dealing with a single Demonic King was no issue for them whatsoever. A veteran was always capable of easily dispatching a new recruit without expending much energy in the process.
The now restricted Sea King Jellyfish silently sank under the waves. Before the energy from this ball of light dissipated, it could only quietly wait at the bottom of the ocean.
The fleet continued to slowly advance. A massive vortex gradually began to materialize in front of them.
This was the Abyss itself.
It was as if some monstrous creature had taken a humongous bite out of the sea.
If Su Chen wanted to study the Deep Sea Sorrow, then entering this forbidden land was an absolute necessity.
But when to enter and how to enter were still questions that needed to be considered.
Before then, he needed to first make his preparations.
Just as Zhong Zhenjun had said, capturing a Beast Sovereign and researching it was the most important task at hand.
Without a way to naturally entice a Sea Beast Sovereign out, the only alternative was to force one out by further accelerating their growth.
This meant that they needed to wait for the right opportunity.
The fleet stopped their approach not long after entering the region. They were still at the border, which meant that they could still escape if any younger Sea Beast Sovereigns attempted to chase after them.
Actually, most of the Sea Beast Sovereigns rarely left the Abyss itself, let alone the outskirts of the region.
But Su Chen’s target was not actually any of these Beast Sovereigns.
Rather, he was aiming for a Demonic Emperor.
Specifically, a powerful Demonic Emperor on the cusp of becoming a Sovereign.
It wasn’t easy to find a target like this. The best method was simply to wait.
Su Chen didn’t expect, however, that this waiting period would actually last for three days.
During these three days, Sea Beasts would surface next to their fleet from time to time. A significant number of them were quite strong, and they would usually swim over to the fleet out of curiosity. Most of them were merely testing the waters and investigating the fleet; only some of the beasts that had developed a little intelligence actually directly attacked the fleet. But no matter what they did, they were unable to even dent the numbers of the fleet.
Three days wasn’t particularly long or short, but because the fleet was constantly under the threat of attack from the Sea Beasts, all the crewmembers were growing quite frustrated.
Even though this was not a Beast Wave, the constant and immense pressure of the Beasts caused a schism amongst the ranks of the fleet.
One group wanted to immediately leave the region and rest for a little before returning. Zhong Zhenjun was the main champion for this idea.
The other group wanted to remain in the Abyss region and continue searching for an appropriate target. Frostpoint and Westminster were the ones championing that idea.
The two groups that had originally held the same attitude towards the Deep Sea Sorrow were beginning to walk down two different extremes.
Thankfully, this didn’t last for very long.
A Demonic Emperor appeared.
A massive splash could be heard as a gigantic beast surfaced from the water.
As water splashed everywhere, a blotchy Sea Beast appeared before everyone’s eyes.
This Beast looked like a large sea turtle. Its skin was covered in triangular patches of discolored skin, on its back was an iron-like shell, and behind it flickered a massive, hefty tail that looked like a long chain. The only way that this Beast differed from a turtle’s appearance was its shell’s composition. Rather than being a continuous whole, it was formed from thirteen large chunks of iron.
This was the Iron-Shelled Dragon, also known as the Iron-Shelled Turtle. It was both like a turtle and not, but in terms of its bloodline, it was closer to that of a dragon.
The Iron-Shelled Dragon was not exceptionally large for a Demonic Emperor. It was only about forty feet wide. Compared to many of the other Sea Beasts, this was incredibly small.
However, it was also possible to say as a result that its strength was extremely concentrated. The Iron-Shelled Dragon was very powerful, and the smaller they were, the stronger they were. Their growth actually went counter to typical growth patterns for most Beasts.
During their maturation period, they would grow larger in size, but after reaching maturity, they would begin to shrink in size, and their strength would also become more and more fearsome.
This Iron-Shelled Dragon’s size clearly indicated that it was at the peak of the Demonic Emperor level. It probably wasn’t far from reaching the level of a Beast Sovereign.
It was merely a dot floating on the ocean ahead of them, but the pressure that the members of the fleet could sense was already immense.
“So it’s finally appeared,” Su Chen said with a slight smile.
“ROAR!” The Iron-Shelled Dragon howled in their direction. Shadowy waves gathered and rolled through the air towards the fleet.
The Iron-Shelled Dragon wasn’t known for its howling ability, but the power behind this howl was still impressive nonetheless, and the soldiers couldn’t help but tremble instinctively.
No wonder it was a Demonic Emperor.
“What a pity. It’s still an idiot without any intelligence,” Su Chen said faintly.
Demonic Beasts would only develop intelligence by chance. Not every kind of Demonic Beast would have their intelligence increase along with their strength. However, it did hold true that typically the more powerful a Demonic Beast was, the greater their intelligence was.
But to the Sea Beasts, this rule was far less likely to be true. The Sea Beasts grew rapidly, but their intelligence would take time to mature. As such, they were much dumber than the Demonic Beasts that lived on the land.
This gap became even more pronounced due to the effects of the Deep Sea Sorrow.
In order to control the Sea Beasts, Corniga had weakened the Sea Beasts intelligence at the same time that he increased their strength. As such, they typically acted instinctually, and their instincts were shaped by the Deep Sea Sorrow.
For this reason, any Sea Beast that grew up around the Deep Sea Sorrow was basically guaranteed to be lacking in intelligence. On the other hand, Sea Beasts that had grown up naturally in further locations were more likely to possess such intelligence.
The Iron-Shelled Dragon was no exception. Having grown up in the Abyss, there was no way it could escape from the influence of the Deep Sea Sorrow. Even though it was incredibly powerful, its consciousness was nothing but chaotic and reckless. Its eyes were filled with a violent bloodthirst.
This was why it completely ignored the strength of its opponent. Its heart was filled with the desire to do battle!
That howl had been its “battle cry.”
The soldiers began to make their preparations for battle.
This was the first actual fight the fleet would have experienced since arriving at the Abyss. They definitely needed to do a good job, so all of the soldiers tightened their focus.
The sound of conch shells being blown could be heard rumbling through the air. The Oceanids were beginning to gather. They swam back and forth under the surface of the water, relying on their natural aptitude for swimming to get into formation. Even though it appeared that all their efforts were silent, they were in fact preparing to unleash great power.
The Subdued Sea branch and the Blackwater Corps split to flank the Iron-Shelled Dragon.
Zhong Zhenjun glanced at Su Chen and chuckled, “We’ll leave the center route to the Boundless Sect, while the two branches will pincer from the side. What do you think, Sir Su?”
Leaving the center route to the Boundless Sect and taking the pincer role was a clear demonstration of his disdain for the Boundless Sect.
The old thing really knew how to irk other people. Even if he was the leader of Black Flame, it seemed that he derived some kind of sadistic pleasure out of offending others.
Su Chen didn’t get mad. Instead, he calmly said, “There’s no need. It’s just a Demonic Emperor, after all. You guys just sit tight.”
Everyone present narrowed their eyes.
Even though a Demonic Emperor was not worth much consideration in their eyes, and it would definitely be possible to deal with one, it wasn’t like the Boundless Sect alone would have an easy time fighting against it.
After all, the Boundless Sect only had a single Thought Manifestation Realm cultivator.
The differences in strength between the later cultivation realms was more and more pronounced. Under most circumstances, an Ultimate Emperor Realm cultivator could defeat ten Thought Manifestation Realm cultivators, and likewise for Thought Manifestation Realm cultivators.
Because of this, everyone believed that the Boundless Sect would probably need to mobilize all of their troops in order to resist the Iron-Shelled Dragon’s attacks.
What grounds did Su Chen have to boast so ostentatiously?
A moment later, Su Chen said, “We’ll take the middle route.”
As he spoke, a shocking sight unfolded before their very eyes.
A stream of cultivators began to pour out of the palace and the dragon boats and into the sky.