Xuan Fang quickly became blurry, as if the Time around him were distorting. Gradually, it was as if tens upon tens of thousands of years flitted by, countless eons, and countless… images of Xuan Fang!
This was a consummate life-saving magic that Xuan Fang had acquired after becoming a Paragon and mastering the Essence of Time. It represented all of the sixty-year cycles through the tens upon tens of thousands of years of his existence.
A magical technique like this could only be described as terrifying, and with it, he could even escape unharmed from 8-Essences Paragons!
Only by destroying all of the souls which he had left in the stream of time, could he be fully destroyed. As long as one of those souls remained, he would be able to immediately and fully recover. Unfortunately for him, a consummate magic such as this was something that he could only use once in his entire life.
If he abused it, the backlash caused by the great Dao of Time would transform him into an aspect of Time itself. His consciousness would fade away, and he would become an Essence slave!
By this point, sixty percent of the quarter hour had passed. It was already impressive enough that Meng Hao had been able to fight against the battle prowess of the 7-Essences level for so long. Even more impressive was that Meng Hao had forced Xuan Fang to unleash a consummate magic like this. Even if Meng Hao lost in the end… he had fought in epic fashion!
Paragon Xuan Fang threw his head back and roared, completely unleashing the full power of his consummate magic. He could not evade the chaotic, soul-locking sphere of light, so he faced it directly, stretching his arms out in front of him and viciously jabbing forward with his fingers.
Massive booms rang out as everything in the space around Xuan Fang twisted and distorted in the direction of the sphere, then slammed into it, instantly crushing it.
“I’m betting on the fact that this magic is incomplete. I’m betting… that such an incomplete magic is insufficient to destroy all of my souls throughout Time.” Xuan Fang threw his head back and roared as his Essence of Time made contact with the turbid light sphere, resulting in a blinding explosion!
Strangely, light did not shine pass the 300-meter border of the sphere. However, the area inside of it became like another sun, filled with scintillating, dazzling light.
Within that 300-meter area, Paragon Xuan Fang’s expression twisted ferociously. The turbid sphere of light vanished, and became six streams of smoke that bored into the Essence of Time. Within those tens upon tens of thousands of years of Time, the six streams of smoke began to eradicate Paragon Xuan Fang’s souls.
No sound could be heard, and yet within the twisting Time that surrounded Paragon Xuan Fang, numerous flashes of extermination could be seen as more than ten percent of his souls were wiped out!
The loss of ten percent of his souls caused an unsightly expression to appear on Paragon Xuan Fang’s face. However, that number quickly increased to twenty percent, than thirty, forty, and even fifty….
When the destruction passed fifty percent, Paragon Xuan Fang’s eyes shone with intense terror, astonishment, and even disbelief. He refused to believe that he would perish this day, and refused to believe that he had miscalculated. Furthermore, he refused to believe that his most powerful life-saving magic, which could only be used once in a lifetime, was incapable of standing up to an incomplete Daoist magic!
“Impossible!!” he roared. Instantly, his blood surged in his body, causing the qi and blood of the souls within the rippling Time to erupt with intense soul power.
At the same time, the six strands of smoke were beginning to run out of power after having exterminated fifty percent of Xuan Fang’s souls. However, they still managed to spread out, increasing the destruction to sixty percent. Only then did they begin to show signs that they would fade away.
Soon, seventy percent of the souls had been eradicated, and the six streams of smoke were now fading away. They pushed hard, but in the end, couldn’t quite exterminate eighty percent of Xuan Fang’s souls before… completely vanishing.
When that happened, Meng Hao coughed up a huge mouthful of blood, then sagged in exhaustion. His face was completely drained of blood, and the backlash from what had just occurred shattered his internal organs and left his entire body vibrating. His cultivation base was teetering, and his consciousness was fading.
He had lost…. He didn’t even have the energy to chuckle bitterly. He knew that he had been completely and utterly defeated.
He had never failed in such bitter fashion before. Even his desperate fight with Lord White of the Seventh Mountain and Sea had ended in victory. However, on this day, despite having done everything in his power, he was left without the slightest hope of victory. Meng Hao’s heart swelled with bitterness and pain.
The Green Emperor’s Eternal Incantation was still working, but without sufficient time, he wouldn’t recover enough to even lift his hand and unleash a divine ability.
Besides, as of this moment… time was like a sharp blade hanging over Meng Hao’s neck. Only about seventy percent of the quarter hour had passed, and to hang on for any longer would be extremely difficult.
Because the battlefield on the outside was obscured by the covering of mist, and because Meng Hao could not allow distractions during his battle with Paragon Xuan Fang, he could only get a general sense that the situation on the outside… was equally discouraging.
Xuan Fang was some distance away from the sun’s spell formation itself, trembling. The 300 meters of light around him was quickly fading away, along with Meng Hao’s Daoist magic that was the combined six Hexes. Soon, Paragon Xuan Fang himself was revealed.
He was in extremely bad condition, his hair disheveled, his body soaked with sweat. A complicated expression could be seen on his face, as if he had just experienced a near-death catastrophe. Then, he turned to look toward the spell formation, and Meng Hao sitting there, completely drained of energy.
“In the 33 Heavens, the only people who could force me into a situation like this would be the two 8-Essences Paragons. But now, another person like that exists… you.” Xuan Fang gave Meng Hao a profound look, then clasped hands and bowed.
“This bow is a bow of respect to you. I have no choice but to kill you, but at the same time, you have my admiration.
“Different mindsets have led to this war, and have thus our battle here. I understand you had no choice in the matter. However, despite being a Paragon, I’m only at the 7-Essences level, so I had little choice myself.
“Meng Hao… I will remember your name. And now the time has come… for you to leave this world forever.” Xuan Fang took a deep breath. Of all his souls that existed within the stream of time, nearly eighty percent had been destroyed. However, as long as even a single one remained, he could not be truly killed.
The main thing he regretted was it was a magical technique… that he could never again unleash. If Meng Hao somehow managed to unleash that incomplete Daoist magic a second time, then… he would die beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Meng Hao sat there silently, sighing inwardly. It was a critical moment of life or death, and yet, he felt no fear. Instead, he thought about his life after his parents went missing, about being a scholar in Yunjie County, about the Imperial examinations, and about the events on Mount Daqing which had led to him entering the world of cultivation and the Dao.
His life flashed before his eyes, images of his family, his wife, his friends….
Rumbling sounds echoed out as Xuan Fang took a step forward to enter the spell formation itself. Just when he was about to reach out and exterminate Meng Hao, an enraged roar echoed out, from none other than the 100,000 cultivators that Xuan Fang had completely disregarded this entire time.
No words were spoken, no explanations were given. There was only… a furious cry that echoed out from the depths of their souls.
100,000 cultivators’ eyes were all completely bloodshot as they unleashed the power of their cultivation bases, and even their life force, to fight back against Paragon Xuan Fang. They would not allow him to enter the spell formation, and they would not allow him to harm Meng Hao!
Xuan Fang’s eyes flickered, and he snorted coldly, stomping his foot down viciously. The entire sun shuddered as a massive wave of power shot out toward the spell formation and Meng Hao!
Meng Hao had not received numerous injuries, but the injuries he did receive had been extremely grievous. Therefore, it was the 100,000 cultivators who absorbed the powerful attack.
Blood sprayed out of their mouths, and there were some whose bodies withered to the point of collapse.
This sudden development wrenched Meng Hao out of his reverie regarding past memories. To see 100,000 people refusing to yield, determined to give up their own lives rather than allow him to be killed, caused his entire body to tremble.
Xuan Fang was also moved. Inwardly, he sighed, unsure of what to say at this point. However… he continued to press the attack as viciously as ever. His killing intent rocketed up as he took eight steps forward, forcing his way through the spell formation toward Meng Hao. With each step he took, the spell formation trembled violently.
The 100,000 cultivators coughed up more blood, and some even withered away into death, allowing the spell formation to draw upon them until they were killed, all for the purpose of… protecting Meng Hao!
Perhaps it would be most accurate to say that what they were protecting was, not just Meng Hao, but their home!
For some groups of people, the destruction of their homeland will lead, not to a thirst for revenge, but to hopelessness and confusion. However… there are some people whose spirits cannot be exterminated. For a people like that, when the critical moment arrives in which the survival of their homeland is on the line, then the only choice will be sacrifice! Those were the type of people whose vengeance would live for all eternity even after their homeland was destroyed.
Sacrifice oneself to defend one’s home!
Wars are never truly fought over resources. Or perhaps it is most accurate to say that when wars are fought over resources, then regardless of how many casualties are suffered, they are relatively tame…. The true brutality of war comes when the goal is to crush the spirit and will of an entire people!
Only by wiping out the spirit and the will of a people… can that people be truly exterminated!
When exterminating a people, what is exterminated is not just life, but the heart and soul of the entire people!
In the opening stages of the war between the Mountain and Sea Realm and the 33 Heavens, Meng Hao had ignited a fire. He had burned the land mass that was the 1st Heaven to illuminate the eyes of the cultivators of the Mountain and Sea Realm. He had awakened… the spirit and the soul of the people.
When that happened, the war changed. Perhaps the 33 Heavens could exterminate the people of the Mountain and Sea Realm, but… they could not exterminate the souls of its cultivators!
As of this moment, every step Paragon Xuan Fang took resulted in one cultivator after another making the ultimate sacrifice. Blood flowed, and bodies withered. They used their deaths… to buy time!
“You… don’t need to do this….” Meng Hao said through bleary eyes, his body trembling. He looked around at the group of cultivators around him. They were people he had never even seen before the war started. They were strangers. They had their own families, sects, loved ones, even children. But now… it was without hesitation that they gave up their own lives to slow Xuan Fang’s steps.
Bodies withered, and souls faded away. They were like candles in the wind, sputtering on the verge of being snuffed out. Finally, a desperate howl echoed out from Meng Hao’s mouth.
A blood-colored flicker appeared in his eyes, and a flame suddenly burned within him as he looked up at Xuan Fang. As of this moment, Meng Hao… had played all of his cards! There was only one thing left to do.
He waved his hand, drawing fully upon the power of his life force to summon all of his 33 Soul Lamps.