Wang Xinchao was one of the Boundless Sect disciples' squad leaders leading the charge. He commanded nine other Origin Qi Scholars who, like him, were all at the Light Shaking Realm. His cultivation base was the highest, with five fully-formed Lotus Platforms.
The reason why he had been able to jump from early Light Shaking to five fully formed Lotus Platforms in the span of merely seven years was because he was a courageous fighter. He had made countless contributions to the sect and had been rewarded appropriately.
In the past, he had participated in hunting Sea Beasts, stood on the front lines during the Sovereign onslaught, and played a potent role in the offensive against Long Sang Country.
But this was his first time fighting against the Astrals. He did not expect that the fight would actually develop in this fashion.
The moment he charged onto the battlefield, a nauseatingly multicolored world appeared before him.
He should have been surrounded by a grey sinister fog, but after he was swallowed up by the fog, he realized that he was actually in a realm filled with dazzling color. It was so bright that he was actually beginning to feel dizzy.
It was as if there were countless rainbow-colored bubbles floating right before his eyes.
And each bubble encompassed an entire world.
Inside those bubbles, Wang Xinchao could see countless scenes being played out. There were bustling cities filled with people walking to and fro, tall mountains, frozen wastelands, wild oceans, and mysterious forests……
What was going on?
As he and his soldiers were trying to regain their bearings, one of the bubbles suddenly began to expand as it floated in their direction.
An instant later, Wang Xinchao and his squad reappeared in the midst of a dark and mysterious forest.
“Welcome to my Kingdom of Loneliness!”
A shady laughter filled the air. It had no clear origin, seemingly coming from all directions, which made it impossible to locate the speaker.
“Hmph. This is nothing more than the cheap tricks of a treacherous conman,” Wang Xinchao harrumphed coldly.
“Be careful. This is an illusion realm,” cautioned one of the soldiers who was familiar with the Astrals.
The Astrals were innately talented with regards to their consciousness power and Origin Energy. Amongst all the Intelligent Races, they were superior in terms of raw potential, making them extremely fearsome in both of these aspects.
And by combining these two innate advantages, the Astrals had developed a unique combat style: one that centered heavily around illusion realms.
Almost every Astral could activate and use illusion realms to their maximum potential. By leveraging their powerful consciousness and skillful control over Origin Energy, they could create a massive illusion realm that both concealed them and helped them do battle against their opponents.
The Astrals were not good in head-on battles. Their physical fragility and their sparse numbers made them much more suited for covert assassinations. They were not fierce warriors, nor would they ever be.
But if someone dared to fight an Astral in its territory, then they would find themselves up against a fearsome and sinister enemy.
An Siyuan, who had been at the Light Shaking Realm, had been rendered incapable of doing anything even against a low-tier Astral precisely because of this reason.
As soon as this squad entered the illusion realm, they were cut off from the rest of the disciples. The only thing they could sense around them was the environment of the illusion realm. It was impossible for them to sense each other even if they were right next to them.
Most frighteningly, the entirety of Tormuncardo had been instantaneously filled with similar illusion realms.
The five hundred Astrals residing here were capable of constructing five hundred distinct illusion realms. And despite these realms being spaced closely together, they did not interfere with each other at all. This was another unique ability that belonged solely to the Astrals.
When the Boundless Sect’s front-line troops charged into the cemetery, they were immediately divided amongst the five hundred illusion realms and separated from each other. Their numerical advantage almost immediately vanished, and there was nothing they could do but bring their full strength to bear in an attempt to resist.
Such was always the case when fighting against Astrals.
If I can’t defeat you directly, then I’ll pull you into a one-on-one battle, then use my abundant experience to defeat you!
Wang Xinchao’s squad had entered one of these illusion realms.
They were trapped within a dense forest, with no signs of animate life nearby.
Wang Xinchao cautiously said, “Everyone, be careful. The Astral is likely somewhere within this illusion realm. He’s hidden himself, so as long as we can find and kill him, the illusion realm will shatter.”
“But how will we find him? It feels like there’s danger lurking around every corner in this forest.”
“Don’t be too anxious. The objects within an illusion realm seem real, but they actually aren’t. Our opponent is just using Origin Energy to trick our senses. Even though this place appears to be filled with fields of grass and trees, you can tell that something is off because if you look closely, each blade of grass and each tree is identical. This is because they are all illusory, and since they are illusory, the creator of this illusion realm must have manually constructed it. The mental expenditure was simply too demanding, and he must not have had enough consciousness power, so our opponent took many shortcuts. For example, he made all the trees and all the blades of grass identical, and turned a droplet of water into a vast sea,” one of the younger cultivators explained. His name was Wen Hai, and his experience with formations was quite formidable.
“So that’s how it is. Then how are we supposed to distinguish between what is real and what is illusory?” someone asked.
“That’s easy. Illusory objects cannot be real, and real objects cannot be illusory. Because we are in an artificially constructed world, real objects cannot be a part of this facade. As such, as long as we carefully observe what we see, we will be able to find traces and clues that lead to the truth. There are exactly three ways to shatter an illusion. The first is to rely on your knowledge and experience. The second is through brute force, either via Origin Energy or consciousness power. And the third is what I am showing you now: closely analyze your surroundings and identify the flaws in the opponent’s illusion realm,” Wen Hai said confidently.
So that’s how it was. Everyone felt enlightened.
“Hehehe, well said.” The Astral couldn’t resist speaking up again. “But the question that you should really be asking yourselves is, ‘Will I have the opportunity to nullify the formation?’”
Wen Hai confidently replied, “I have already neutralized it.”
“What?” Everyone present was stunned.
Wen Hai pointed in front of him and said, “Look at that tree. Its trunk is exceptionally thick, and it is obviously different from the surrounding trees. I can guarantee that someone is hiding behind that tree!”
Upon hearing this, all of the cultivators simultaneously attacked without a second thought.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh! Countless powerful attacks careened towards the tree.
But despite these Origin Skills being unleashed, there was no reaction whatsoever.
Just when all of them were stunned by the outcome, Wang Xinchao suddenly let out a guttural howl as he smashed his hammer at one of his comrades.
That cultivator reacted quite quickly as well. When he saw Wang Xinchao’s sudden strike, he quickly applied a barrier to himself and ran towards Wang Xinchao’s direction.
However, he was just a moment too late.
A fiery-red palm slammed into Wen Hai’s back. Wen Hai roared with pain as he flew through the air, his entire body ablaze with flames.
The rest of the squad saw that a fiery-red figure had appeared behind Wen Hai at some point. It was impossible to see the figure’s appearance, only the red hand that was slowly retracting. However, it was obvious that this figure was exuding an intense killing intent.
“Be careful! It’s an Astral Servant!” someone yelled out.
The figure that had just attacked Wen Hai was a puppet controlled by the Astrals. It had probably cultivated some kind of powerful palm technique in the past, which was why it had been able to easily injure a Light Shaking Realm cultivator.
The rest of the soldiers pounced on the Astral Servant. Since the Astral Servant had revealed itself, it was impossible for it to melt into the illusion realm again. Even so, the Astral Servant clearly did not fear death, and it similarly rushed in the direction of its enemies.
The puppet’s speed was not very great, but after being strengthened by Dark Qi, its body was as tough as iron. Even though the Boundless Sect’s disciples had Light Shaking Realm cultivation bases, they felt like they were attacking a solid rock, as they merely caused sparks to fly off of its body in all directions.
But even metal and stone could be easily shattered by a Light Shaking Realm cultivator.
“Icy Squall Palm!”
“Demon Imprisoning Hammer!”
All the cultivators unleashed their secret techniques at the Astral Servant.
“Aiya, you guys really are quite powerful. But so what? I’ll kill you off one at a time nonetheless!” The Astral’s sinister, eerie voice continued to float towards them as taunts flew out.
As he spoke, ten more Astral Servants stepped out of the forest and charged towards them.
Just when everyone was about to defend themselves, Wen Hai cried out, still in pain, “Don’t fall for his tricks! Those are just illusions.”
But the soldiers unleashed their Origin Skills all the same.
Indeed, these newly emerged figures all rapidly shattered. They were just illusions.
But at the same moment, however, yet another Astral Servant shot out of the ground. Its attack skewered a Boundless Sect’s disciple’s foot before exploding, blasting it clean off and almost causing the disciple to faint from the severe pain.
Even though this Astral Servant was immediately subjected to a barrage of attacks, two members of the squad were now seriously injured.
Immediately afterwards, a large wave of frost began to spread out, enveloping the verdant forest in a layer of white. An icy wind howled through the trees, slowing the squadron’s movements.
Yet another wave of Astral Servants came charging out of the forest.
The Boundless Sect’s disciples assumed that it was an illusion, but just when they were planning on ignoring it, a streak of sword light shot forth from one of them and pierced the chest of yet another Boundless Sect disciple.
The remaining soldiers counterattacked and found that some of the Astral Servants were real and some were fake.
By relying on its illusions, the Astral continued to unleash his servants against his opponents. Even though these servants would be immediately killed every time they revealed themselves, the squadron was still sustaining heavy injuries. And these attacks were different than usual - after being struck, Dark Qi would linger near the wounds. If this Dark Qi was not expelled, it would be impossible for them to regenerate their wounds.
In the blink of an eye, most of the Boundless Sect’s disciples had been incapacitated, and an equivalent number of puppets had died.
In the end, only Wang Xinchao was left unharmed. Even so, he was breathing hard from exertion, and was having a hard time maintaining his footing. A number of small wounds had also opened up on his body.
“Hahaha! So what if you came here with so many Light Shaking Realm cultivators? Once you have entered my Kingdom of Loneliness, the only way out is death. Oh, I forgot to tell you - if your wounds don’t heal soon, they will remain there permanently. And if you wait even longer than that, the Dark Qi will completely infiltrate your body, and you will die!”
The Astral laughed maniacally.
Wang Xinchao glanced at the small wounds on his body. Indeed, under the influence of the Dark Qi, his limbs were beginning to feel heavier and heavier, and the massive hammer was swinging more and more slowly through the air.
Another wave of Astral Servants pounced.
Even though he knew that they were nothing more than illusions, he couldn’t be sure that no real Astral Servants were mixed in amongst their ranks. As such, he could only attack.
And at the same time that he smashed those illusory figures, a shadowy voice spoke from behind him.
“Mystic Ice Shard!”
Ice began to creep up Wang Xinchao’s body and cover him completely.
He lowered his head to find a transparent hand placed on his midsection.
He had finally shown himself.
As soon as he landed his attack, the Astral floated away before Wang Xinchao had any time to react.
He was clearly quite cautious. As he floated in midair, he guffawed, “You humans seemed to have popped out of nowhere. Despite your cultivation bases, your strength is shockingly bad, and you have virtually no combat experience. So what if you have ten people in your squad? You will all still die to my hands.”
At this point, the ten-man squad appeared to be completely incapacitated with their injuries.
Wang Xinchao shot him a cold glance. “So you’ve finally decided to show yourself.”
His tone was cold and detached.
The Astral was stunned.
Wang Xinchao slowly pulled out a vial, which looked somewhat like a flask for holding wine.
He tossed back the medicine, and the ice that had formed around his body retreated at a rate noticeable to the naked eye. In fact, even the sinister energy around his wounds began to retreat.
The other wounded members of his squad also gulped down this “wine.” Immediately afterwards, the Dark Qi that had gathered around their wounds also began to dissipate.
“What? How is this possible?”
Wang Xinchao calmly said, “Sect Master invented quite a few goodies in order to deal with you Astrals. Resisting your consciousness enslavement is but one of them, and the ability to nullify your Dark Qi is another. Otherwise...... Did you really think we would be this easy to wound?”
Even without medicine, the ten of them would have been able to win against a single Astral, but they also likely would have paid a significant price to win. But with this medicine, Wang Xinchao and the others would be able to easily trick the Astral out into the open, making it much easier to fight in the future.
As the Dark Qi was dispelled, the squad’s wounds began to regenerate and they quickly surrounded the Astral.
Wang Xinchao raised his hammer high in the air. “Demon Imprisoning Hammer!”