Su Chen immediately pounced forwards and locked the Astral in a spatial realm. Before the Astral could even react, Su Chen sent a powerful strand of his will into his opponent’s mind.
Forcibly wresting control of an opponent’s consciousness was something the Astrals were very familiar with, but Su Chen was giving them a taste of their own medicine.
Only someone like him, whose consciousness power exceeded three thousand units, and had mastered the Dream Beauty Bloodline, could soul-search an Astral.
And in comparison to the Astrals, Su Chen’s methods were far more brutish, resulting in much more pain to the Astral being interrogated.
Su Chen didn’t care in the slightest. Very quickly, he was able to find the answers that he had been looking for.
“So that’s how it is,” Su Chen muttered to himself.
Su Chen’s figure flickered and disappeared for a moment before reappearing.
The Astral from before had disappeared, replaced by a Void Crystal that Su Chen held in his hand.
Su Chen stowed away the Void Crystal, then pulled out his transmission box. “I’ve found one of their concealment points and can confirm now that the Astrals have in fact set up ambushes for us. However, these ambushes are not under the ground, but in the sky.”
“Sect Master is truly wise!” The other disciples were delighted when they heard Su Chen’s words.
“Master, what is with these Astrals exactly?” Iron Cliff asked.
He had kept his habit of referring to Su Chen as Master. As the only person who could do so, Iron Cliff felt quite proud to be distinct from the rest of the Boundless Sect’s disciples.
As Su Chen explained, everyone came to know that the Astrals had managed to nullify the chaotic Origin Energy flows here eight thousand years ago, and were even able to come up with a way to use it themselves.
The Sky Magnet Mountains’ turbulent Origin Energy was due to a unique spatial realm suspended above them known as the Chaos Realm.
The Chaos Realm was filled with violent, unrestrained energy, making it chaotic in and of itself. Unlike the void, chaos was the intrinsic nature of the Chaos Realm. This kind of chaotic essence greatly affected the Origin Energy there, making it chaotic as well.
The reason that chaotic Origin Energy flows would appear throughout the Sky Magnet Mountains was because the Chaos Realm’s ripples had spilled out and were affecting this place as well.
After the Astrals discovered this issue, they began to realize that by controlling the opening and closing of the entrance to the Chaos Realm, as well as by drawing out the chaotic element contained inside, they would be able to harness the disruptive properties of this region.
The crystal ball that the Astral had held was used to open the entrance to the Chaos Realm, allowing him to generate turbulent Origin Energy fluctuations.
It was not strange that the Astrals were able to utilize the Sky Magnet Mountains’ properties to their advantage, but it was atypical that they had kept it so secret from most of the other Astrals.
This was obviously to keep it a secret as much as possible so that it could be used to surprise an invading force, if it ever came down to that.
This was not a bad idea in theory, but unfortunately Su Chen had still managed to see through it.
“So that’s how it is. What should we do next, Master?” Iron Cliff asked.
Su Chen chuckled. “Why, we’re going to be destroying their control, of course. There are two parts to their control of the Chaos Realm. The main element is in the sky, composed of a concealed floating formation. The other component is inside the mountains. Some Astrals have been scattered throughout the mountains and are watching us carefully so that they can use their tools - these crystal balls - at the right time to disrupt our movements. And because they can control the degree of chaos, the chaotic flows of Origin Energy will intensify a hundredfold if we try to defeat them with brute strength. That is strong enough to tear many of us into shreds. Your mission is now to search for these concealed hideouts and seize those crystal balls. With the crystal balls, we will be able to evade the disrupting influence of the torrents of Origin Energy.”
“Understood!” all of the disciples replied in unison.
With Su Chen’s pointers, the other disciples found it much easier to discover the whereabouts of the hidden Astrals.
Very quickly, Iron Cliff found himself near the entrance to one of the hidden caves.
He didn’t have Su Chen’s ability to teleport, but he did have a method unique to himself.
Iron Cliff’s fist slammed into the wall of the mountain, causing it to tremble violently.
Chunks of stone flew everywhere as a cloud of dust appeared out of nowhere.
An Astral flew out from amidst the rubble.
“Stoneskin!” The Astral’s voice was filled with thick disdain.
In the Astrals’ eyes, all other races were inferior, but the degree of inferiority varied amongst races. The Stoneskins, who were servants and who lacked fine control over Origin Energy, were extremely poorly regarded. In their minds, the gap between them and the Stoneskins was night and day.
How could the Astral not feel disdain when a Stoneskin forcibly broke down the entrance to his private lair?
The Astral was not afraid even though his hiding spot had been uncovered.
He let out an enraged shriek. A large group of puppets charged forward and pounced on Iron Cliff as the Astral took advantage of the opportunity to retreat.
“This again.” Iron Cliff was already extremely familiar with this tactic. The Astral would launch deadly attacks from behind the front lines while the puppets charged relentlessly. As such, Iron Cliff gave the Astral no time to conceal himself and charged forwards. The Astral’s puppets were left to his fellow Stoneskins to handle.
“You imbecile!” the Astral harrumphed coldly. “You don’t know who you are fighting!”
As he spoke, a spectral, ethereal claw raked towards Iron Cliff’s heart. At the same time, a frosty glow began to emanate from his body as layers of stained glass began to envelop him. Not only so, but strange skulls began to appear, revolving around him.
The Astral had unleashed a number of powerful Arcana Techniques in the blink of an eye, demonstrating his strength.
Iron Cliff, however, ignored all of this and roared as he continued to charge.
The spectral claw left behind five deep bloody gashes on Iron Cliff’s body, and the wave of frost enveloped him. Despite this, however, Iron Cliff continued to charge forwards valiantly. He smashed head-on into the stained glass screen, causing it to shatter as he continued to charge like a mad ox.
The skulls flew forwards, biting down on Iron Cliff’s muscles and injecting poison into them.
Iron Cliff, however, continued to charge as if he could feel nothing.
Charge, charge, charge!
All he did was charge.
The Astral hurriedly floated backwards as he unleashed a swath of flames, followed by two lightning bolts. Iron Cliff’s body had been charred black.
However, he was still charging, continuing to close the distance between the two of them.
The Astral finally felt a hint of fear, unleashing three fireballs and four wind blades in rapid succession, followed by a patch of brambles that began to grow. At this point, he no longer had time to cast any powerful Arcana Techniques and could only rely on these quicker, lower-strength Arcana Techniques to stop his opponent’s advance.
Bang, bang, bang, bang!
The fireballs splashed off of Iron Cliff’s body but couldn’t slow him down in the slightest, and the wind blades bounced off of him harmlessly. The brambles were quashed underfoot by Iron Cliff before they even had a chance to grow, so they didn’t slow him down in the slightest.
Iron Cliff drew closer and closer until he was mere meters away.
“Die!” Iron Cliff snarled with a ferocious smile as he unleashed a punch.
Just as the punch was about to land, a strange light flickered across the Astral’s eyes. “You will not want to attack me!”
Iron Cliff froze, suddenly motionless before the Astral.
The Astral began to speak in a low, gravelly voice, “You despicable lifeform, lift up your head and see who you are truly up against. You will never be able to reach such heights or achieve such glory. Follow me and be my slave, and you will be blessed by this glory……”
The Astral tapped his finger on Iron Cliff’s forehead.
The Astrals’ consciousness enslavement techniques might have been useless against the Boundless Sect, but this Astral was not using consciousness enslavement but soul invasion. This was another method that the Astrals could use to control a target. It was obviously more complicated than consciousness enslavement, but it would not result in a decrease in strength, and most importantly, it appeared to be able to bypass the Boundless Sect’s defenses.
Hopefully I’ll be able to control this big lunk, the Astral thought to himself as he continued to utter enticing phrases and infusing them into Iron Cliff’s mind.
He could sense that the soul invasion process was proceeding quite smoothly, as if there was no resistance at all.
This made him quite excited.
He was about to succeed!
Wait a minute. What was that?
The Astral, who was quite deep in Iron Cliff’s mind at this point, discovered to his shock that a bright light had suddenly begun to take form within his target’s body.
The Astral took a closer look and found that beneath that glowing light appeared to be some kind of palace.
That was…… Abundant Revolution?
The Astral suddenly realized that the palace was actually Abundant Revolution[1. The first consciousness palace formed when reaching the Spirit Burning Realm.]!
Even though it was not yet complete, the outline of Abundant Revolution was definitely there!
This meant that his opponent was on the cusp of ascending, but was merely lacking something that would allow him to fully form the palace.
The Astral felt a jolt run through his consciousness.
He was stunned not only because of the fact that a Stoneskin had somehow managed to break through their cultivation restrictions but even more because his soul invasion technique was useless against Spirit Burning Realm cultivators.
Even someone a half-step into the Spirit Burning Realm could not be controlled because the opponent’s consciousness would be too powerful for someone like him to subdue.
Then why…… Not good! This was definitely a trap!
The Astral immediately realized the predicament he was in.
He attempted to withdraw his consciousness, but Iron Cliff sprang into action in that moment.
He glanced at the Astral and said with a faint smile, “Now do you understand?”
A moment later, a powerful wave began to form in Iron Cliff’s consciousness.
The half-finished Abundant Revolution began to glow fiercely, forming a giant vortex above it.
The Astral projection in Iron Cliff’s sea of knowledge immediately began to disintegrate into the vortex, reverting to its primal consciousness energy form.
“NO!” the Astral howled frenetically. His consciousness energy was rapidly draining from him, flowing into the vortex and into Iron Cliff’s sea of knowledge. At the same time, Iron Cliff’s Abundant Revolution began to expand and take concrete form.
He was using this opportunity to break into the Spirit Burning Realm.
He was using the Astral’s own power to complete himself!
The Astral felt like he was going to go insane.
Was his opponent really a Stoneskin?
When had the Stoneskins become so deceptive and sinister?
“Anyone would learn a few tricks like this if they had been following my Master for as long as I have. Thanks for your contribution!” Iron Cliff laughed. The blinding light began to break out of his sea of knowledge and shine forth from his body, covering him from head to toe in illuminating light.