Achilles the Immortal was the Astral who had originally proposed the Ascension plan.
As the first leader of the Astrals, Achilles the Immortal had naturally been a genius cultivator. After obtaining his spirit body, he had made breakthrough after breakthrough, quickly reaching the peak of Astral strength.
Afterwards, however, he had failed to advance even a single centimeter forward.
Achilles very quickly realized that he had most likely already reached the power limit of his spirit body and thus would never take another step forward.
To overcome the limits of his spirit body, he had come up with the Ascension plan.
The Ascension plan, in essence, sought to elevate the Astrals, and it was very similar in theory to what the humans had done to upgrade their cultivation system. However, while Achilles had been in the process of developing this Ascension plan, it had changed somewhat.
Diomedes had left too early to know what had happened afterwards, but he could still tell that Achilles was well and truly dead. However, his current strange state of existence gave him some unique properties.
These unique properties included the illusion Method Power that had surrounded and protected the “Desolate Beasts.”
In other words, the Ascension plan had ultimately been unable to remove the cultivation limits of a spirit body. However, it did allow the Astrals to produce an individual who could use Method Power.
“How fascinating. There was no actual breakthrough, but with some Method Power and some unique resources, such a strange creature was born,” Su Chen muttered to himself. “So what was the Vitality Tunnel plan?”
“It was a Desolate Beast,” Diomedes replied bluntly.
“A Desolate Beast?” Su Chen and the others were taken aback.
Diomedes blandly said, “Did you really think that the atmosphere is what’s dampening the Boundless Sect’s barrage of attacks? There actually is a Desolate Beast living underneath Gloom City. However, it’s not under the Astrals’ control.”
So, the Astrals had chosen this location as their capital not only because of the unique properties of the ground, but also because there was a Desolate Beast living right underneath them.
The Astrals clearly hoped that they would be able to use it as their last line of defense.
However, Desolate Beasts were not easy to control. The Intelligent Races had only ever managed to tame a single Desolate Beast, and that was the Harpies’ Chaos Tower. Even so, that Desolate Beast had completely lost its ability to attack, so it was nothing more than a glorified camel.
If the Astrals actually awakened the Desolate Beast, then they would be the ones suffering a calamity.
Their powerful consciousnesses were not enough to control a Desolate Beast.
After countless experiments, they had concluded that they would never be able to control the Desolate Beast. Naturally, the next step was to look into other possibilities for them to use this hibernating Desolate Beast.
The Vitality Tunnel plan came about as a result of this initiative.
The Astrals had given up on trying to control the hibernating Desolate Beast and instead began looking into extracting its powerful vitality while it remained asleep.
“The greatest challenge when working with vitality is extracting it from the Desolate Beast without waking it up. This process requires extremely powerful consciousness techniques. Just the Astrals themselves are not strong enough to do it, unless they breach the realm of Method Power,” Diomedes explained calmly.
Su Chen muttered under his breath, “So this Method Power is not only used to deceive us, but also to deceive that hibernating Desolate Beast?”
Diomedes heard him and replied, “Yes. If my prediction is correct, then Achilles and Kapius most likely sacrificed themselves at a critical moment to produce Method Power. This allowed them to pilfer vitality from the Desolate Beast. In other words, they essentially became vitality extractors that operate at all times by way of the Vitality Tunnel and other various Arcana Techniques. The illusion Method Power, naturally, serves to deceive both you all and that Desolate Beast, ultimately causing it to die without ever awakening.”
“What a brilliant plan,” Su Chen murmured in appreciation.
They had actually intelligently harnessed the strength of a Desolate Beast in this manner. Of course, although they were able to borrow the Desolate Beast’s powerful vitality, its offensive capacity was wasted.
Even though this seemed like a terrible tradeoff on the surface, this gave them more control over the power than awakening the Desolate Beast would.
Unfortunately, they had still failed in the end. If the Astrals had known that this would be the outcome, then they might have chosen to just awaken the Desolate Beast from the beginning.
But now, the Desolate Beast had already died in its sleep at the combined hands of the humans and Ravagers. Their attacks against those strange “Desolate Beasts” had simultaneously damaged the Desolate Beast. After all, only a creature like that could withstand so many attacks before falling.
As it died, the Astrals’ final ace in the hole had died along with it.
They really and truly had no trump cards left.
After the joint army took a short break to reorganize themselves, they once again resumed their siege on Gloom City.
As bright flashes of light lit up the sky, Gloom City was rapidly enveloped in a wave of flames.
“Elder Gilga has fallen in battle.”
“Elder Bracken has fallen in battle.
“Elder Amailah has fallen in battle.”
Report after report of fallen elders arrived before Menelaus. As the battle continued to rage on, the dying Astrals’ social tiers gradually became higher and higher. At this point, even in-office elders were beginning to die.
“Menelaus the Wise, the great Astral race is dying. Please, think of something,” one of the Astral elders pleaded.
“We Astrals have never been alive,” Menelaus said gently, “We died a long time ago when we gave up on those fragile bodies of ours.”
“But our consciousnesses are still present, and our will is still firm. Our enemies are now destroying our resolute will,” one of the elders cried out in anguish.
“There is no such thing as true immortality in the first place,” Menelaus gently muttered to himself.
The Astrals had lived for far too long, so long that they viewed themselves as supernatural entities, with no further need to advance.
Yes, no need to advance!
Even though everyone knew that the Astrals loved to conduct research, and that they were a highly intelligent race, the truth was that their thought processes had started stagnating a long time ago.
Their research had always been limited by their narrow-mindedness and their unwillingness to accept any form of external aid. In fact, flow of information even between the Astrals themselves was exceptionally limited.
This was why the Astrals, despite having so many incredible researchers, were incapable of producing results to match their prowess.
Some races tended to produce results rather than talented individuals.
Others were more likely to produce talented individuals than results.
The Astrals were of the latter group.
They were known for possessing individual researchers with incredible talent, but they had never created any earth-shaking results to show for it.
The humans, on the other hand, had made countless achievements. Their cultivation techniques, which had been written specifically for humans to use, had become the human race’s future while also exposing the weaknesses of the Astrals.
The day the Astrals’ pre-existing foundation was surpassed by someone else was the day that they would die.
Menelaus had seen this coming a long time ago, and in the past, he had attempted to reform their culture. The number of Astrals who had responded to his pleas, however, were pitifully few in number.
As such, he was not at all surprised that this day had come.
The Astrals could not change their aloof and divided temperament. As such, it was no surprise that they were unable to defeat a foe who was both powerful and united.
When his thoughts reached this point, Menelaus sighed with regret. “I knew that this day would come sooner or later, but I never expected it to come so quickly, or for it to happen on my watch. If at all possible, then I would have preferred to sacrifice myself like the two who came before me in order to protect the city.”
The two former elder “guardian spirits” had already been defeated. The Astrals had lost their last trump card.
When the remaining elders heard Menelaus’s laments, they all tacitly recognized the truth in his words. Sorrow and regret filled their hearts as well.
“But the Astrals are still the Astrals. Even if they defeat us here, they must pay the price,” Menelaus stated uncompromisingly. “Even if we die, we will drag them down with us.”
“We no longer have any methods that can decimate their army,” an elder said.
“No, we still have one thing left,” Menelaus said. “The consciousness extraction instrument.”
The consciousness converter?
Everyone was stunned.
This instrument was used to convert Dark Astrals with physical bodies to Astrals with consciousness bodies. It was not meant to be used in battle.
What was it good for?
Menelaus slowly clenched his fist. “I’m going to give them a taste of conversion.”
The consciousness extraction instrument was only effective on the Dark Astrals. If it were used on any other lifeform, they would have their vitality unconditionally drained away without gaining a consciousness body. As such, it was possible to use the instrument as a weapon. The prerequisite, however, was for the lifeform to be within its area of effect.
And the consciousness extraction instrument’s area of effect was extremely small.
An elder spoke up. “The consciousness extraction instrument can only be used against a single target at once, and not against a group of enemies.”
“I know that. But if there are Astrals who are willing to sacrifice themselves, then the consciousness extraction instrument’s area of effect can expand temporarily,” Menelaus explained.
“How large can it get?”
“That depends on how many lives we are willing to sacrifice.”
The Astrals all glanced at each other. Suddenly, they realized that this was the last decision they would ever make.
Menelaus proudly declared, “I, the last leader of the Astrals, Menelaus, am willing to give my life for the glory of my race!”
The other Astrals present all glanced at each other for a moment before simultaneously roaring out, “We are willing to die for our race’s glory!”
The ever cold-blooded Astrals had finally felt their blood boil in their final moment. They were willing to burn their lives away as long as it meant that they could drag their opponents to hell with them.
The attacks coming from the remaining Arcane Towers were growing noticeably weaker by this point.
The battle had begun to wind down and the inevitable conclusion was drawing closer.
Sword light rained down from the sky, slamming mercilessly into Gloom City’s forest of towers without end.
Su Chen floated in the air, observing the scene of destruction below him.
“It seems that they are truly out of options,” Gu Qingluo said softly.
Su Chen, however, remained silent.
“What’s wrong?” Gu Qingluo asked when she saw that Su Chen’s expression was cloudy instead of joyous.
“Back in Sky Country, I had Eternal Night’s back against the wall. However, even from that position, he managed to strike back against me. Every long-lived ruler has their own prestige and aura. They will never easily admit defeat or give up, and they are all willing to die...... as long as it gives them an opportunity to bite back. Menelaus the Wise is not a single iota less intelligent than Eternal Night. If we don’t want to carelessly suffer disastrous losses, we cannot underestimate our opponent in any way.”
Gu Qingluo said with some surprise, “Husband, you mean......”
Su Chen calmly replied, “Tell all of our soldiers to slow their advance and start attacking in thousand-man platoons...... We cannot give our enemies an opportunity to attack all of our men no matter what.”
As Su Chen spoke, he began to fly downwards. “Let me go take a look myself.”
The closer they were to the conclusion, the more cautious Su Chen grew.
Menelaus, who was standing at the head of Gloom City, sighed in admiration when he saw the change in the joint army’s troop movements.
Their foe was truly quite cunning and prudent. So they refused to give him any opportunity at all? It seemed that he would only be able to swallow up these thousand or so soldiers with his last move.
But then, he suddenly saw Su Chen fly over.