Su Chen was very happy to have captured an Astral alive.
He handed the Astral over, then left, leaving the interrogation to his subordinates.
The interrogation went very smoothly.
The Astrals were not exactly a resilient race. They were sinister, vicious, and tricky, but they were not strong.
They were lonely, cold-blooded creatures with long lifespans who possessed no significant affection for their fellow Astrals.
Perhaps that was one of the reasons why the Astrals lived solitary lives - they only had themselves.
Under these circumstances, the Astral very quickly capitulated.
His name was Leica, which made him a mid-tier Astral.
He was from Tormuncardo.
Gloom Kingdom was a very lax kingdom. There was virtually no societal structure to speak of. Because every Astral preferred to wander around the gloom on their own, there was no such thing as a family structure or non-combatant civilians. Each Astral was considered a unit of combat.
As such, the Astrals had no designated army, for they were all soldiers in the first place.
Whenever a big battle broke out, the Astrals would temporarily group together locally. The Astrals near Tormuncardo would gather at one place, those in the Wanlai Caves at another, those in Terror City elsewhere, etc. Mobilization orders were passed on through consciousness communications. Because they could communicate telepathically, their movements were completely silent no matter how many Astrals were grouped together.
Tormuncardo was one of the cities holding the front line against Owl Country, as well as one of the targets that the Boundless Sect was set on taking down.
After discovering that Leica was from Tormuncardo, the Boundless Sect’s disciples realized that their plan to attack under the cover of night had more than likely already been exposed - the Astrals possessed the ability to communicate over long distances, especially when gathered in one place. With the support of a corresponding Origin Formation, it was entirely possible for the Astrals to communicate right in front of the Boundless Sect without them even realizing it.
In other words, the Astrals were interrogating the Boundless Sect even as the Boundless Sect was interrogating the Astrals.
This was very typical for the Astrals.
As a whole, the Astrals were the strongest Intelligent Race. This was already an unspoken fact.
After getting a grasp on the situation, Jun Moxie, who was responsible for carrying out the interrogation, reported what he had learned to Su Chen and inquired whether they would continue to attack Tormuncardo at night.
After a moment’s thought, Su Chen said, “We will continue the assault. Whether they have prepared for us or not, the only option we have is to steamroll our way through them. But since they know we are coming, there is no need for us to hurry so much. Let’s take breaks when appropriate so that we’ll be prepared to fight when we get there.”
“Understood!” Jun Moxie went and passed down the answer he had gotten.
Following Su Chen’s command, everyone slowed down their advance.
After roughly an hour, Tormuncardo appeared off in the distance.
This city, created by the Astrals, had a very unique aesthetic.
Unlike human cities, which had large walls erected around circular patches of land covered in defensive Origin Formations and were regularly guarded, the Astrals’ cities were quite reflective of their fundamental principles. There was no unified city. Instead, tons of small Astral houses dotted the landscape. If it weren’t for the fact that they had been ordered to do so, they would have chosen to live even further apart from one another.
These houses were constructed out of Gloomrock, which naturally exuded a sinister energy that nourished the Astrals’ bodies. If the space was too great, this effect would be diminished, so the Astrals’ houses were typically quite small and scattered.
The Astrals had no living necessities, and needed no food or water. As such, they had very little production apart from these small houses.
The barren, desolate land, the withered trees, the sinister energy floating everywhere, and the coffin-like houses made it almost seem as if the entire city was a giant cemetery.
The Astrals seemed even more ghost-like as a result.
The only difference that they had from the legendary immortal races were that those immortal races relied on quantity, while the Astrals relied on quality.
Before the Boundless Sect’s armies had even arrived, a formless energy fluctuation had rippled throughout the cemetery.
Very quickly, Astrals began to float out of the small houses.
They gathered in the sky above Tormuncardo silently, maintaining their eerie silence.
An Astral glowing with strange light was the first to speak. “The humans are attacking us. They number in the tens of thousands, but the other details aren’t so clear.”
It was impossible to tell how strong an Astral was just based on outward appearance. The only way to distinguish them was that they would glow once their energy had condensed to a certain degree. However, this could only be used to distinguish high-tier Astrals, not so much the mid- and low-tier ones. Only Su Chen, with his monstrously powerful consciousness, was capable of making such distinctions.
This Astral, whose body was glowing with this characteristic light, was indeed a high-tier Astral.
His name was Tajita, the leader of Tormuncardo and a member of the Astrals’ society of elders.
After Tajita spoke, the cemetery remained silent, but on the consciousness plane the Astrals immediately burst out into a clamor.
Countless discussions and arguments commenced simultaneously.
“The humans think too highly of themselves.”
“We just so happen to be lacking in research subjects.”
“I need a large group of slaves.”
“Kill them all!”
Tajita was forced to quell the “uproar” and said, “This group of humans is not the same as the others. Leica was captured by them, and he informed me that these humans have some kind of ability that allows them to resist consciousness enslavement. If we try to use it on them, they will instead fall into a comatose state.”
“That’s hard to imagine. Aren’t they just courting death then?”
“Not necessarily. If consciousness enslavement becomes no more than a consciousness attack, we won’t be able to stir up chaos amongst their ranks any longer.”
“If we can’t create chaos amongst their ranks, it will be hard to face them head-on. We can’t rely on consciousness enslavement to kill them, can we?”
“Consciousness enslavement consumes a ton of energy. If it’s not going to work at all, I’d rather not use it.”
“No matter how you look at it, not being able to use consciousness enslavement is a big problem. We won’t be able to face them head-on.”
“We were never able to in the first place. A frontal conflict was never the Astrals’ specialty.”
“But this time is different. If we can’t control their comrades, many of our combat techniques will not be usable.”
“But it’s just a portion of them, right? We have a number of other tricks up our sleeves. If they thought that victory was assured just because we can’t use consciousness enslavement on them, they’re wrong.”
“This is a battle that we must fight.”
“Yes, we must fight. Not only for Tormuncardo, but also because of their newfound resistance. We must get to the bottom of this.”
At the very least, all of the Astrals were able to agree that they needed to fight this battle.
Consciousness enslavement was the foundation upon which the Astrals had built their empire. As such, they absolutely needed to figure out how these humans were able to resist consciousness enslavement.
Now that they had made their decision, none of them hesitated. They began to spread out, and an intense howling began to fill the air.
Amidst the howl, many puppet-like creatures walked out of the Astral houses. Some were humans, some were Harpies, some were Ravagers, and some were even Demonic Beasts.
But regardless of their original race, their pallor was dark to the point that it bordered on black, and their movements were incredibly stiff.
These, naturally, were the puppets being controlled by the Astrals.
These Astral puppets weren’t like this before. After they were initially controlled, they would have still been capable of keeping their main attributes.
But after following the Astrals back to the Gloomy Kingdom, and under the influence of the steady stream of sinister energy, their bodies began to gradually grow rigid and their intelligence declined. Eventually, they became nothing more than walking corpses.
If that was the case, then why even bother bringing the puppets back with them? Why not just throw them away?
This touched on the mechanism behind consciousness enslavement.
The Astrals’ consciousness enslavement technique was one of the easiest control techniques to use.
It could be used at long range, it was usually undetectable, it lasted forever, and there were theoretically no limits on the number of targets that could be controlled.
However, there was no such thing as an invincible technique in this universe.
Even such an outstanding consciousness technique had its flaws.
First and foremost, the opponent’s consciousness power was what determined the success or failure of the enslavement. While most other bewitching techniques could be resisted once the target’s consciousness power had reached around a hundred units, the Astrals’ consciousness enslavement technique could only be resisted at around five hundred units. Even so, it could be resisted.
The second was that every use of consciousness enslavement would cause a decrease in their consciousness power.
This decrease would continue until it reached a limit.
In other words, an Astral’s cultivation base would decline for every target that they controlled.
As such, many Astrals who were interested in advancing their cultivation base preferred not to use consciousness enslavement because it would limit their advance.
If an Astral liked controlling others, he would most likely remain a low-tier Astral for the rest of his life, and he would only be capable of controlling the weakest of creatures.
For this reason, many Astrals would stop after acquiring a certain number of slaves, and they would bring their slaves back with them if they returned. Even though the sinister energy caused them to lose their deceptive capacity, it strengthened their bones and made them much more physically powerful.
The reason the Astrals could now fight battles head-on was precisely because of these puppets.
Tormuncardo had roughly five hundred Astrals and three thousand puppets. The numbers themselves were not very high, but they were each powerful in their own right.
Following this howling, even more sinister energy filled the space around Tormuncardo, enveloping the entire city in a dense shroud of sinister fog. At the same time, all of the Astrals disappeared from sight.
By the time the Boundless Sect arrived, the scene was completely empty before them.
“It’s Dark Qi,” Lin Shaoxuan, who was leading the offensive, said.
The humans and Astrals had been fighting for quite some time, and they were both familiar with each others’ tactics. The Astrals’ sinister energy was known as Dark Qi by the humans. In fact, Dark Qi was, in some applications, considered quite a valuable resource.
“Our enemies are indeed prepared for us. Be careful! Don’t enter the range of the Dark Qi,” Lin Shaoxuan called out. “Disperse and surround Tormuncardo first. Don’t let a single Astral escape!”
The soldiers at the very front began to split off in two directions, but their movements were greeted by the sounds of a strange chuckle.
“Did you really think you would be fine if you didn’t enter? If you won’t come in, then we’ll come out!!!”
With a sharp hiss, the sinister energy suddenly expanded like a wave of fog, immediately spreading over the immediate surroundings and enveloping a majority of the Boundless Sect inside.
The Boundless Sect’s disciples suddenly discovered that they seemed to have entered a completely foreign realm.