“Cough!” Su Chen spat out a little more blood as he crawled back to his feet.
“You truly cannot underestimate any opponent, huh?” Su Chen muttered to himself.
Given Su Chen’s current strength, it was very difficult for him to find anyone that could face him in a duel at this point.
A normal high-tier Astral elder shouldn’t have been able to do anything to him.
Even so, Su Chen had still ended up being seriously wounded. The Astrals truly had quite a solid foundation, to the point that even a common high-tier Astral elder had almost been able to turn the tables on him. This made Su Chen much more careful.
After the hurricane had passed, no Astrals remained in the area. Su Chen picked up the stone tablet and stowed it away. The tablet was a formation treasure, and Jiang Hanfeng would definitely appreciate it later.
Upon stepping outside of that microscopic world, Su Chen stowed the speck of dust away as well. That dust was a spatial treasure, with extremely good concealment properties.
Su Chen descended, with two new treasures in hand.
The small groups had all individually found the hiding spots of the Astrals and were engaged in battle with them.
Su Chen monitored the situation with the transmission boxes before his figure flickered and disappeared. He reappeared next to one of the small teams - with the transmission boxes giving him a location, Su Chen no longer needed to use the clones except to cover long distances.
The group was extremely unlucky and had run into a mid-tier Astral. Just as they were bitterly fighting for their lives, they suddenly saw that someone had arrived on the scene. When they realized who it was, they all cried out with excitement, “Sect Master!”
Su Chen had already floated by like the wind.
He hadn’t seemed to have done anything in particular, other than fly by the Astrals and then leave without even stopping.
The Astrals appeared to be frozen in place for a moment before they suddenly crumbled, disintegrating into dust.
Having dealt with these Astrals, Su Chen teleported to the next small team and quickly dealt with the mid-tier Astrals there as well.
After half a day, almost all of the Astrals scattered across the mountain range had been discovered and killed. With the ambushes effectively dealt with, the danger of the area had been nullified.
The Damaged Canyon had been conquered as well.
That afternoon, the Boundless Sect began to travel through the Sky Magnet Mountains.
After a day’s walking, they passed through the Sky Magnet Mountains and began to advance on Reaper’s Temple.
In comparison to Sky Magnet Mountains, Reaper’s Temple was much more straightforward - the place’s peculiarities were not being kept a secret.
The place was called Reaper’s Temple because it was actually a graveyard that had later been classified as a region.
At the very beginning, however, it was indeed a graveyard.
This nameless graveyard was supposedly incredibly ancient, containing a mysterious power that could create powerful yet strange lifeforms, which were known as Graveyard Spirits.
However, there were two main restrictions on Graveyard Spirits. The first was that they could not leave the graveyard, and the second was that they could only be created by offering an appropriate sacrifice, and the sacrifice needed to do it willingly.
Most people found those conditions unreasonable and paid them no mind. No one would be dumbe enough to sacrifice themselves to become a strange creature that couldn’t even leave the graveyard.
This graveyard was exceptionally useful in the hands of the Astrals, however.
Weren’t they just sacrificing a single life? That was no problem.
After all, the Astrals had been converted from their physical, Dark Astral forms in the past.
And the graveyard’s sacrifices only required physical bodies as a sacrifice.
As such, the Astrals’ consciousness converter instrument had actually been placed in Reaper’s Temple for some time to simultaneously convert and sacrifice.
For this reason, Reaper’s Temple had been Gloom Kingdom’s capital for some time.
That was also when the Astrals were at their peak. Not only did they have many strong individuals amongst their ranks, but they also had countless of these strange lifeforms at their disposal. Even though those lifeforms were confined to the graveyard, they could still be used to fulfill a number of auxiliary functions, such as research assistants or capital guards, etc.
Until the Origin Energy Well’s explosion.
The Origin Energy Well’s explosion had far-reaching implications on the Astrals. The Reproductive Temple had been destroyed, the Brood Mothers had almost gone completely extinct, and even the strange creatures in the graveyard appeared to grow uneasy. Finally, the Astrals were forced to head further north still, moving their capital all the way north to Wanlai Caves.
Afterwards, the Astrals discovered that there were many reasons for the Origin Energy Well’s explosion. One of these was due to the influence of the strange energy present in Reaper’s Temple. As the numbers of these strange creatures had increased, their effect on the Astrals had grown more and more pronounced, draining away their essential resources.
From that moment on, the Astrals had slowly begun to drift away from Reaper’s Temple. Even the conversion process was no longer taking place there any more. At this point, the place was essentially just a strategic defensive location for Wanlai Caves. A small number of Astrals were stationed here prior to conversion in order to maintain the numbers of the Graveyard Spirits.
The endless number of Graveyard Spirits were the most frightening creatures in this territory. Countless powerful experts had been scared away by their sheer numbers in the past. Even though some of them had managed to survive, they had all chosen to seal their own memories so as to forget everything that had happened there. As such, human understanding of Reaper’s Temple was still quite limited.
In some sense, Reaper’s Temple was similar to the Abyss. It was lacking in offensive power, but more than made up for it with its defensive might. In fact, the Astrals were quite proud of this defensive line.
These spirits were their trump cards in this region. There was no need to use anything else.
The Boundless Sect arrived after two days.
They were able to see a vast temple shrouded in fog off in the distance, which obscured their vision and prevented them from peering inside the temple. This was quite common for the Astrals.
That was Reaper’s Temple.
Reaper’s Temple had taken the Astrals eighty years to construct. It occupied quite a large chunk of land, and its design and layout were both quite intricate. It more than qualified to serve as a city.
The Astrals always lived in cemetaries, not in cities, but Reaper’s Temple was obviously the exception. They had abducted many human, Metalskin, Craftsmen, and Harpy architects, as well as Ravager slaves, to construct the palace for them. This offended basically all of the other Intelligent Races.
Naturally, the palace had been built for the sake of the graveyard and the Graveyard Spirits.
At the center of the city was the graveyard, where the Graveyard Spirits lived.
Because the Graveyard Spirits were constantly increasing in number, the city had always been expanding. Only once the Astrals decided that creating these Graveyard Spirits was more of a burden than a blessing to them had they decided to stop production, gradually resulting in the expansion coming to a halt.
From that time on, the city had remained roughly unchanged even until now.
The large number of Graveyard Spirits present here qualified it to be considered as one of the continent’s most well-known no-man’s-lands, and one of the Gloom Kingdom’s as well.
Wind Silence Breach was dangerous because of the giant spatial fissure, Specter’s Garden was dangerous because of the poison there, and Reaper’s Temple was dangerous because of these Graveyard Spirits.
When it came to pure combat prowess, Reaper’s Temple was the strongest.
Neither spatial fissures nor poisons were really a problem to Su Chen, but these Graveyard Spirits meant that an unavoidable battle was sure to break loose.
“When you’re trying to conquer an entire country, fighting some direct battles is unavoidable. It would be too illogical otherwise,” Su Chen murmured as he gazed at the palace from a distance.
“It’s a pity that we aren’t going to be fighting the Astrals directly but a bunch of dead creatures instead,” Lin Shaoxuan sighed.
If he could choose, he would have preferred to fight against other Intelligent Races. That way, they would be competing in terms of strategy and combat skill.
Lin Shaoxuan felt that a battle against these unintelligent creatures would be totally one-sided. No matter how strong their fists were, this was an undeniable fact.
Were they stronger than the Sovereigns in the Abyss? And yet the Abyss had still been destroyed.
“The Astrals probably won’t just sit idly by and watch anyways. They’ll definitely conceal themselves amongst the chaos and attack at the most opportune time,” Li Chongshan said.
Lin Shaoxuan seemed quite happy when he heard that. “That would be for the best. If the enemy Astrals attack, just leave them to me.”
Su Chen nodded. “Fine. You might want to bully these Astrals, but I want to see for myself just what these strange creatures are. I wonder what secrets that graveyard contains that allows it to create such powerful lifeforms.
His life of research led him to be naturally excited about anything he had never seen before.
His research of the Astrals had reached a certain level already, to the point that he was more willing to turn them into resources instead. He had never crossed paths with the Graveyard Spirits before, however, and that made him quite excited.
After some discussion, the Boundless Sect’s higher-ups made their decisions.
The army would rest for a day before resuming the offensive.
The next morning, at early dawn.
The Boundless Sect arrayed themselves in formation against Reaper’s Temple.
“Qingluo, dispel the fog,” Su Chen commanded.
Gu Qingluo was the first to make a move. Her Shining Dragon Bloodline shone brilliantly. As the flaming energy emanated in all directions, the thick fog around the temple began to dissipate.
The concealment tactics that the Astrals had been so proud of were easily brushed aside by Gu Qingluo, and a majestic city came into view.
Because the main forces of the Boundless Sect could fly, they were able to see the situation in the city extremely clearly. The center of the city, however, was exceptionally frightening.
Mountains of corpses had been piled up all throughout the center of the city, which was also populated by quite a few strange creatures. They looked like they had basically been stitched together out of corpses. From time to time, they would grab a nearby corpse and begin to gnaw on it. There were all kinds of corpses there, including human, Ravager, Harpy, Oceanid, Craftsmen, Metalskin, and even Trigender and Kobalo corpses.
The Trigenders in particular had most likely just been thrown in, because they were still alive and shrieking with fear and despair. Those strange creatures, however, didn’t seem to care in the slightest and picked them up without hesitation. The fresh blood that stained their bodies only made them seem fiercer and more frightening.
Upon seeing this scene, everyone was stunned.
The truth hiding behind the fog was exceptionally savage, giving them all quite a shock.
In that moment, it became abundantly clear why other survivors had voluntarily chosen to seal their memories. The reality was simply too shocking, and if it entangled their hearts for a long period of time, it would affect their state of mind and even their cultivation.
“Not enough resources...... So these are the resources they are referring to? No wonder those Astrals are always coming out to kidnap people. They are just trying to meet the needs of those creatures, aren’t they?” Shi Kaihuang said with extreme agitation.
At that point in time, the Astrals had also sensed the dispelling of the fog, and they knew that their opponents had clearly seen everything within the city.
Alarms began to blare throughout the city as a swath of blood-red fog began to surge.
This red fog, however, was not meant for concealment. The Boundless Sect watched as giant hands began to break out of the ground. As the earth trembled and cracked, countless Graveyard Spirits began to crawl out from the ground.
So the amalgams they had seen earlier were merely the tip of the iceberg - there were far more hibernating underground.
“Wake up, my servants. Today is the day that you will eat your fill!!!” A resonant voice echoed through the air.
Following this clear cry, an exceptionally large Graveyard Spirit appeared.
It raised its head to glance at the sky, then raised its hand. The hand, which was as big as a mountain, reached out to claw at the Boundless Sect’s soldiers.