After Su Chen gained a basic understanding of the consciousness seed’s principles, it became much easier for him to find a way to neutralize it.
With the power of his consciousness crystal, Su Chen was able to quickly develop a method to counteract the consciousness seed’s sinister influence.
Actually, his method utilized a similar theory, creating another consciousness seed. However, this consciousness seed would protect the user instead — a child-will that was borne from the user’s own will.
As soon as a foreign will attempted to invade the user’s sea of knowledge, this child-will would automatically counterattack at full force.
Because this child-will was a fragment of the user’s original will, living in the user’s sea of knowledge would nourish it, and with the defender’s advantage, it would be incredibly difficult to defeat the child-will as long as the invader was not exceptionally more powerful than the user.
Su Chen decided to name this technique the Consciousness Refinement Art.
Right now, Su Chen’s only goal with the Consciousness Refinement Art was to use it to defend against the Astrals. He had no idea that both it and the Flying Immortal Cultivation Techniques would become the two great pillars of human cultivation in the future.
Two days after Su Chen put the finishing touch on this new technique, the Boundless Sect finally managed to consolidate their control over almost all of the Ringed Corridor Plains.
Two days after that, Ye Fenghan returned from Nightmare Forest.
He brought the fruits of his investigation back with him — there was no shockingly powerful formation like the one in the Ringed Corridor Plains. There was only an average Five Elements Origin Formation present, and the area primarily belonged to the Trigenders.
The Trigenders were lascivious by nature, but they did have some special tricks up their sleeves. For example, their illusion techniques were quite powerful. As such, Su Chen immediately realized that the Nightmare Forest’s defenses would be primarily illusory in nature.
Since Su Chen had just finished creating the Consciousness Refinement Art, he was eager to give it a try. As such, he gave the command for the Boundless Sect to move out.
That day, the entire army arrived at Nightmare Forest. By this point, the Astrals were well prepared for their arrival. Even though Nightmare Forest seemed just as quiet as usual, Su Chen could sense that there was quite a bit of power lurking within the darkness.
A low cry shattered the gloomy silence.
A thousand Boundless Sect disciples first entered Nightmare Forest.
These disciples were all at the Light Shaking Realm. In any other army, they would have been considered a group of powerful experts; here, however, they were nothing more than common soldiers.
Even so, if they attacked all at once, their low status didn’t diminish the power of their attacks in the slightest.
The sky was filled with magnificent sword light, which shortly descended from the sky.
At the same time, the withered tree branches ubiquitous in the Nightmare Forest appeared to suddenly bud, sprouting forth leaves that criss-crossed in an uneven pattern. The trees’ foliage rapidly formed a network of leaves that completely concealed the ground from the sky.
As the streaks of Sword Qi descended down on the forest, sinister green streaks of light shot out of the forest in response.
At the same time, globs of fire bubbled up from the ground and shot off towards the sky.
Like the Harpies, the Astrals were quite proficient in Arcana Techniques. As such, they used Arcana Techniques almost as much as they used consciousness techniques.
Humans, in comparison, had developed their own cultivation system and thus freed themselves from the classic dependence on Arcana Techniques. They pursued the ability to attack rapidly in order to enhance adaptability in combat.
The sword streaks collided with the droplets of liquid fire, filling the sky with a shockingly brilliant flash of scintillating light.
However, when the light show ended, the fireballs had been completely destroyed while the sword light was still shining brightly.
Just as the streaks of sword light were about to penetrate through the foliage, the leaves opened up and giant, stone-like figures stepped forth, leaping into the air. They punched out with their bare fists, the frightening momentum carrying a violent torrent of energy that met the sword strikes, stopping them in their tracks.
Even so, the streaks of sword light continued their descent just a moment later, their movement ebbing and flowing like the tide. The violent energy slammed into the stone figures, smashing them to bits and pieces.
Amidst the chaotic storm of energy, a flooding river suddenly emerged from the ground with a deep rumble. It gushed towards the sky, thrashing and roaring at them like a dragon.
But the Boundless Sect’s disciples didn’t panic. Instead, they focused their attacks together, simultaneously shoving their palms out in front of them.
These multitudes of palm strikes merged to form an even stronger, more powerful tornado that scattered the torrential river. The Astrals below were badly startled when they saw the results of this exchange.
This was due not only to the gap in strength between the two parties, but also to the fundamental difference between cultivation techniques and Arcana Techniques.
Arcana Techniques were purely related to the application of Origin Energy. Thus, it merely borrowed strength from the environment; it never fully possessed it. So, it was much easier to disperse and dispel.
Cultivation techniques, on the other hand, focused on utilizing the energy of nature to strengthen oneself and advance one’s biological status, obtaining great power as a result.
The key difference between the two was that practitioners of the former obtained their power by mastering powerful Arcana Techniques, while the latter did so by consolidating their own strength.
For this reason, Arcana Techniques were often slightly inferior in group battles.
And with a genius like Su Chen influencing the field, the Boundless Sect’s ability to fight in a fixed formation was enhanced even further. This helped prevent chaotic flows of Origin Energy from forming and also increased their efficiency and power output when attacking.
As such, this group of a thousand cultivators was easily able to suppress the Astrals’ Five Elements Formation.
Even though this formation was by no means a trump card, the Five Elements Formation should not have been overcome this easily. The Astrals responsible for maintaining the formation trembled in despair when they saw how easily their opponents overpowered it.
The Nightmare Forest’s defenses began to collapse one after another under this barrage of endless attacks.
Once the first layer fell, it became clear that this battle was about to come to an end.
As expected, the enemy’s front line rapidly crumbled away.
Any resistance quickly disappeared. By the time the thousand soldiers of the Boundless Sect slashed their way through the canopy, they discovered that there were no opponents waiting on the other side — the Astrals had all fled, not even leaving their puppet servants behind.
“That was pretty easy,” everyone laughed as they descended.
They then split up to search the area but couldn’t find even a trace of the enemy.
One of the disciples soon returned to report their findings to Su Chen. “Sect Master, the enemies ahead of us have already retreated. Shall we continue and advance?”
Su Chen’s eyebrow jumped up in interest. “So they ran away already? As expected…… If that’s the case, then let’s see what exactly they have in store for us. Shaoxuan, you go scout ahead. Take ten thousand with you.”
“Yes, sir.” Lin Shaoxuan flew off into the distance.
Soon afterwards, ten thousand Boundless Sect disciples entered the forest as a vanguard, while the rest continued to wait outside.
Very soon, the report came back: no signs of anything suspicious.
Su Chen harrumphed. “Tell them to continue advancing until they’ve cleared Nightmare Forest. We’ll follow behind after that.
The command was quickly passed down.
Not long after, large clouds of pink smoke suddenly appeared from nowhere. They rapidly engulfed the entirety of Nightmare Forest as a sinister laugh echoed throughout the forest.
“So they’re still trying to play these paltry illusion games,” Su Chen said disdainfully.
The Astrals held an absolute advantage when it came to consciousness power, so illusion techniques and formations were naturally a cornerstone of their fighting style.
This was the Nightmare Forest’s true killing formation.
In that sense, it was not that different from the formations that protected the cemeteries from foreign attackers. The only difference was its strength.
The Nightmare Forest’s formation mixed its potent illusory potential with the Trigenders’ innate illusion techniques. As such, the illusion appeared particularly realistic, as if it were capable of giving illusory objects tangible substance. In particular, some of the illusions could do real, physical damage.
Even though most of the injuries it inflicted were on the consciousness level, these physical injuries could still kill.
The Astrals had once relied on this illusion formation and three hundred Astrals to wipe out a fifty-thousand-strong army of the Illustrious Divine Dynasty, as well as an entire Ravager tribe. Even though this illusion formation was not necessarily one of the Astrals’ trump cards, it was still one of the most powerful formations on the continent.
Even with the aid of such a powerful formation, however, the Astrals had still chosen to retreat.
They had not chosen to fight the Boundless Sect inside Nightmare Forest. Instead, they had left behind a mere few Astrals who would utilize the formation to observe their opponent’s strength.
They placed no hope in the formation stopping the Boundless Sect’s advance at all.
And this indeed turned out to be the correct decision.
After the formation was activated, they quickly discovered that their illusion techniques were completely useless against the Boundless Sect’s disciples.
They advanced cheerfully no matter how they were threatened or enticed. Even the most convincing illusions, which were capable of dredging up old and dear memories from a person’s heart, were rendered completely useless against the Boundless Sect’s disciples as they could see right through any illusion. It was as if they were mercilessly cutting down their own “parents,” “brothers,” and “spouses.”
The substantiated illusions that could deal physical damage were also ineffective. Most of them were almost immediately destroyed, and the few that managed to slip through the cracks of the Boundless Sect’s attacks bounced off harmlessly — the illusion formation’s attacks still primarily targeted the consciousness. As a result, their effectiveness was also quite limited.
The Boundless Sect’s disciples had only just planted their personal consciousness seeds, so they were still not yet capable of withstanding extremely powerful consciousness attacks. But against these weak illusions, the seed proved to be exceptionally effective and easily repelled them.
This completely stunned the Astrals watching the battle unfold, causing them to lose any remaining desire to fight.
Su Chen, on the other hand, was quite happy to see that the Consciousness-Refinement Art was as effective as he had imagined.
“Congratulations, Sect Master. You’ve invented yet another incredible cultivation technique,” Li Chongshan said as he gazed at Su Chen, his eyes filled with veneration.
Even though the person before him was quite young in age, he had already created countless miracles.
All kinds of incredible cultivation techniques were devised by his hands, with profound implications for the rest of humanity.
The human race was finally going to rise to prominence!
That grand thought flashed through Li Chongshan’s mind.
The same thought surfaced in Su Chen’s mind as well.
He smiled slightly and glanced at the battlefield before him. “Yes, I agree. This technique has far surpassed my expectations. Perhaps I will be able to improve it even further in the future. The human race’s rise to prominence has truly begun.”
“Congratulations, Sect Master! You have created a limitless future for the entire human race!” The people around him began to cheer as well.
Su Chen gladly accepted the “flattery,” and then said, “It seems like nothing is going to surprise us today. Go and give the order for the rest of the troops to move out. I want to claim the entire Nightmare Forest for ourselves before nightfall.”
Half an hour later, Nightmare Forest’s illusion formation was completely destroyed.
An hour after that, Nightmare Forest was completely devoid of all Astrals and Trigenders.
By the next day, the Boundless Sect had conquered all of Nightmare Forest and the surrounding territory.
Unfortunately, the Astrals didn’t leave behind any soldiers or spoils of war. They had all retreated a long time ago.