There were many Astral elders. As long as an Astral reached the level of a high-tier Astral, they were automatically granted the title of elder.
However, these elders were merely common elders.
The only ones that could actually participate in this war meeting were the “in-office” elders.
Ulric was one such in-office elders. Once the other Astrals had left, Ulric and the other in-office elders entered the discussion hall.
The discussion hall was large and circular, and the floor of the hall was covered in round chairs.
Ulric sat down in the chair that belonged to him. At the front of the hall, Menelaus the Wise had already taken a seat.
After all of the in-office elders were seated, Menelaus said, “Now that everyone is here, we can begin the meeting. First, I will give some more details about our invaders. This time, it’s not Owl Country. It’s the Boundless Sect.”
The Boundless Sect?
The elders began to discuss animatedly amongst each other when they heard this name.
This name had already come up a number of times in the past.
It had been mentioned the most when the Boundless Sect was exploring the Abyss.
“They’re here for the Immortal’s Soul,” one of the Astral elders immediately said.
“That’s right. Now that he’s finished one part of that filthy bargain he made with Eternal Night, he’s extending his claws into Astral territory.”
“But this time he didn’t try to strike a deal with us. Instead, he just chose to attack.
“That’s because they have no reason to cooperate with us this time.”
“Or maybe it’s because they don’t feel like there is any more need to cooperate with us. After all, they were even able to conquer the Abyss.”
“Don’t be such an idiot. They were able to conquer the Abyss not because they were stronger than the Sovereigns there, but rather because they had developed a special medicine that diminished the effects of the Deep Sea Sorrow.”
“And who can say whether or not they have developed a new medicine that is effective against us? Based on the news that I have received, it seems that…… they have already reached this point.”
“No matter what kind of external aid they have, they will not be able to breach our defenses!”
“They’re already starting to break through. We’ve already lost the Ringed Corridor Plains.”
The discussion hall was chaotic and unruly.
“I think that we should immediately send the Trigenders and the Kobalos to the Nightmare Forest and stop them,” one of the elders proposed.
The Trigenders were a subsidiary race to the Astrals.
They had three genders, including male and female.
The Trigenders were a strange race. Their members covered their bodies from head to toe in tattoos, and they liked to copulate publicly. They would even often host public “ceremonies” at dusk, and their promiscuity was a source of shame for all the other Intelligent Races.
The Kobalos were a short-statured race with not much talent for anything. Like a bully, they were both tyrannical and cowardly. When they held the advantage, they would all pile on an opponent, but when they were at a disadvantage, they would immediately scatter. Their reputation was just as horrendous as the reputation of the Trigenders.
Neither the Trigenders nor the Kobalos were well-regarded, but the Astrals didn’t care.
The Astrals had lost the ability to reproduce altogether, so whatever the Trigenders did publicly was of no concern to them. And as for the Kobalos, their cowardice was indeed sufficient to render most people speechless. However, the rate at which they reproduced helped boost the Astrals’ numbers quite substantially. They were the perfect cannon fodder.
As such, hordes of Kobalos would often be thrown onto the battlefield at critical junctures, followed by the elites of the Trigenders before the Astrals even made an appearance.
The status of the three different races was inversely correlated with their population. The fewer they were in number, the higher their status was.
A few Astral elders rallied around this suggestion.
Of course, there were also quite a few who opposed this idea.
“There’s no need to waste the lives of those subordinate races. We should instead group them with our main force, and then wait for the invaders at the Damaged Canyon. That’s the best place to make a stand.”
“Do you think that those humans will be able to storm their way to the Damaged Canyon? What a joke.”
“I think that if we continue to maintain this blind arrogance, then it might even be possible for them to reach Gloom City.”
The discussion once again devolved to meaningless arguments.
Menelaus raised his hand, immediately silencing all of the other Astrals.
He spoke. “Ulric, you have exchanged blows with the Boundless Sect before, and you have delayed their movements in the past. As such, you should have some degree of familiarity with their tactics. Why don’t you tell us a little about their methods?”
Ulric stood. “Venerable elders, Ulric greets you all. Six years ago, when the Boundless Sect first arrived at the Abyss, I just so happened to be searching for a special ingredient there and ran into them by chance. When I learned that they were scheming with the Oceanids to deal with the Deep Sea Sorrow, I immediately realized that Sky City was most likely involved and that us Astrals were likely to be their next target. As such, I decided to try and stir up some problems for them…… I took control of a few of their subordinates……”
Ulric began to explain what he had done on Forever Clear Island.
“By using those servants, I was able to get a firm grasp on the overall strength of the Boundless Sect. This is also where the first news of the Boundless Sect came from in the first place.”
“So you were the one who provided us with that information. Thank you, Ulric. You are the one who has best helped us understand our opponents.”
“No wonder your strength declined so much since then, to the point where you almost fell out of the high-tier ranking. It must have been because you were forced to use the consciousness enslavement technique so many times there.”
“And it’s no wonder our leader insisted that you maintain your spot as an elder. You made an extremely important contribution to the Astrals.”
The in-office elders individually thanked Ulric.
Ulric replied, “This is just my duty. I thought that I could delay them on my own, but I was naive to think so. The Boundless Sect’s Sect Master is an incredibly difficult character to deal with. His strength is not the most frightening aspect about him — rather, it’s his research talent. No matter what his opponent’s strengths are, he is always able to pinpoint their worst weaknesses to exploit and control. The Boundless Sect was originally completely defenseless against me, but they quickly developed a plan to discover my presence. I was only able to avoid them because of sheer luck. Actually, they almost found me a number of times.”
Menelaus said, “But you still succeeded in the end. You struck the Boundless Sect a harsh blow at a critical moment and managed to trap Su Chen within the void.”
Ulric shook his head. “That was also all luck. I managed to find a unique herb that allowed me to bypass the Boundless Sect’s detection methods. Unfortunately, it was a variant herb, so I was only able to find one. I could only use it on the most important disciple I had taken control of, and I will not be able to replicate that success again. More importantly…… Su Chen didn’t die. I don’t understand how he could have survived in the void for a year, but he did. And he has returned, even stronger than before.”
Ulric’s voice was quite serious.
Menelaus said, “That is true, but that is not your fault. Alright, you may sit.”
Ulric returned to his seat.
Menelaus continued the discussion by asking, “So now, everyone should be clear on just what kind of opponent we are facing, right?”
The elders nodded individually.
Now that they understood a bit more about the Boundless Sect’s strength, the elders quickly gave up on trying to hold the Boundless Sect at the Nightmare Forest. Even though the Nightmare Forest was not an easy location to attack, it was obvious that it wouldn’t be able to slow down the Boundless Sect’s advance in the slightest.
One of the elders pointed out, “It will take time for our armies to fully gather, and we probably won’t make it in time for a battle at Nightmare Forest. We should call back any of the Dark Astrals still there.”
The Dark Astrals were the pre-conversion lifeform of the Astrals. As such, they were also considered a part of the Astral family and were scattered throughout Astral territory. Most of them were in Gloom City, but there were some elsewhere as well.
Because Astrals could only be produced from Dark Astrals, the Dark Astrals were treated like children in the Astrals’ eyes and protected as such. Before every important battle, they would be pulled all the way to the back lines for preservation.
There weren’t many Dark Astrals at the moment, which was all the more reason for them to be protected.
To the Astrals, the Dark Astrals were an important strategic resource.
As for that elder’s suggestion, most of the Astrals had no issue with it.
Pulling the Dark Astrals back to the back lines easily reached a consensus amongst the Astrals.
However, the question of where they should station their main force became a point of intense contention.
This time, even Ulric’s information wasn’t enough for them to make a clear decision.
“We should attack our opponent’s at Specter’s Garden.”
“The Damaged Canyon seems much more appropriate.”
“I prefer Reaper’s Temple. That is the best place for us to make our stand.”
“Then we might as well do battle at Gloom City instead.”
Another commotion broke out.
Surprisingly, Menelaus the Wise didn’t say anything to stop the discussion this time.
Within Nightmare Forest.
As its name implied, the forest was capable of inducing nightmares in anyone who stepped foot inside.
The Nightmare Forest was primarily composed of skeleton trees.
These trees seemed old and withered, trom the trunk to the roots. The branches stretched out into the air like claws, and actually this was their natural state.
Rows of skeleton trees stretched into the distance, each one reaching out into the sky with their contorted “arms” as the knots on the bark seemed to smile sinisterly at anyone who got close.
The wind whistled eerily through the tree branches.
Ye Fenghan glanced at the creepy forest and said, “Nightmare Forest is just ahead of us. Everyone, stay careful. These trees can emit a unique fragrance that will cause anyone who smells it to enter a frenzied state. If your will isn’t strong enough, then you will easily be tormented to death.”
“We all already know this,” Chang He replied lazily. “This kind of attack is so low-leveled that even a Blood Boiling Realm cultivator can withstand it.”
“That’s right. As such, what we are looking for is the kind of threat that not even a Light Shaking or Spirit Burning Realm cultivator can handle,” Ye Fenghan said.
“……” Chang He felt a shiver run down his spine when he heard Ye Fenghan’s words, but there was nothing he could say in retort.
As a scouting team, their job was precisely to determine the most lethal dangers awaiting them within this forest.
“Let’s go. No matter what kind of danger is hidden inside, we will only know once we go inside.”
As Ye Fenghan spoke, he stepped into the dark forest.