Chapter 162: Power

Bit of a transition chapter

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Interesting!” Yuying said as she withdrew her hand from the forehead of one of the captured Golden Wing Army soldiers.

“Sis, what is so interesting?” Ai asked with a curious expression on her face.

“The chant that all of these men have been endlessly repeating seem to be some sort of mind fortifying incantation. Which means if I try to forcefully read their minds it would shatter and not only would they go insane, we wouldn’t be able to extract any information either.” Yuying explained.

“If only my cultivation is at the level that it was at before…” She said with a sigh.

In almost an instant later, Yuying had a sudden spark of inspiration and walked out of the cell that the soldiers were then headed toward a cage were one of the Golden Winged Eagles were being held.

Since this particular eagle was wrapped in spider webbing and couldn’t even move an inch of its body, Yuying quickly moved in and placed her hand on its forehead. In no time at all countless runes began to appear on the eagle’s body.

Minutes later after extracting the information she needed from the eagle, Yuying withdrew her hand and a slight smile appeared on her face.

“Sis, did you find anything?” Ai asked, with a curious expression still on her face.

“Unlike the minds of the soldiers, the minds of this bird wasn’t able to repel me.” Yuying said with a grin as she began to share the information she had extracted with the others.

“Although I couldn’t father much, there was one set of memories that seemed very important to the eagle. A depiction carved within a massive altar room.” She also said.

Thus, Yuying began to interpret the carving that was in the eagle’s memories.

From what she could gather, many hundreds of years ago when the first groups of settlers were still exploring what would today be called the Southern Region, long after the fall of the Sai Empire, one of these many groups stumbled upon a massive cavern filled with gold and jewels. Mixed in with the sea treasure was also an unusual egg that appeared to be made solid gold covered in strange black colored symbols placed high up on a golden altar.

Much to the horror of the settlers, before they even tried to transport their newly found riches terrifying screeches echoed into the cavern causing them to quake in their boots. When it came time to investigate what was happening outside of the cavern, the settlers found that the skies were pitch black and filled with hundreds of thousands of birds.

Seeing the sheer number of predatory birds in the sky, the settlers knew there was no way for them to transport the entire hoard of treasure so it was decided that each of them would be allowed one sack of treasure. While most of the settlers stuffed as much gold as they could into their sack, there was one who had his eyes on the golden egg.
Scrambling across a sea of gold and jewels the young man made his way toward the golden egg. The moment he made it to the top of the altar and touched the golden egg, the young man’s mind was flooded with dozen images and a message.

“By the will of the divine ruler of all that reside in the south, the chosen who guard the sacred land that rises above the sea will be blessed upon the lord’s rebirth.”

The young man was also gifted with a mark of fire on his hand from where he touched the egg. From the images that flooded into his mind, the young man knew that the mark of fire would allow him to work alongside the guardians of the mountain, the golden-winged eagles. He also knew that he and his descendants were destined to watch over and nourish the egg until the day it hatched. Thus marked the beginning of the Golden Peak Province.

“An egg that is guarded by an entire province and an army of demonic beasts.” Zhang said as his eyes glinted.

“No wonder despite having such terrifying military capabilities, the lords of the Golden Peak Province never leave their borders.” Ling said.

“Although we know why they won’t leave the province, we still don’t know of a way to beat them.” Lingqi said, snapping everyone back into reality.

“My lord, if we were somehow able to destroy that golden egg then wouldn’t the eagles stop working with the soldiers of the Golden Wing Army? Since they would no longer have a common objective to defend.” Guan Yu suggested.

“Or better yet if we steal the egg then maybe we can gain control over those birds.” Zhang Fei added.

“I forgot to mention but from what I could make out of the eagle’s memories, I think there is a saint level expert who resides in the Golden Peak Province.” Yuying said.

“Saint!?” Guan Yu and Zhang Fei both said asked in unison.

“There shouldn’t be any saints here in the Warring States Region…” Guan Yu said.

“If there is a saint then we must strengthen our forces so we can deal with them since the fortress is only able to defend us from saints and does not possess enough power to defeats saints with the size of its current essence core.” Zhang said.

“Follow me.” Zhang said softly as he headed back toward the platform that took them to the lower levels of the fortress.

“I was going to have us do this after we finished the invasion but since we are fairly ahead of the other armies of Aurora and are in need of power we might as well do it now.” He said as everyone followed him onto the platform.

“Brother, what are we doing?” Ai asked curiously.

“I’ll show you in a bit.” Zhang replied with a grin.

Soon after the platform brought them back to the base level of the Azure Tower and after they arrived in a room with a large table in the center, with a wave of his hand Zhang laid out a map weaved out of golden silk.

This was the map that had the ability to sense the Dragon’s Vein that appeared on the earth’s surface.

“Now that we have a fast mode of transportation, we can arrive at these veins before they disperse.” Zhang said with a smile as the map displayed a few active veins.

With the sky fortress at their control, Zhang and the beauties could do something that perhaps no one has been able to do before and absorb the essence of multiple pockets of the dragon’s vein.

Soon after Zhang had a look at the golden map the sky fortress changed its course and headed toward the nearest active dragon’s vein. Which only took but a day’s travel by air to reach.

Much like the first active dragon’s vein, the one that Zhang and the beauties arrived at this time was also located on the face of a steep cliff and also had hundreds of essence stones to be harvested. But sadly unlike the previous trip, this time only Ai experienced a break through in her cultivation.

So after two days of absorbing the dragon’s vein, Zhang, and the beauties disembarked on the Sky Fortress once more toward another location on the golden map, then, of course, another and another.

It was not until locating and absorbing a total of seven pockets of essence from the dragon’s vein did Zhang and the beauties reach the ninth level of cultivation where they all felt an unworldly change occur within their bodies. The essence stored within their bodies began to crystallize and condense into something that resembled an essence stone. Perhaps there had already been crystallized essence within their bodies, however, it was only after reaching the ninth level of cultivation did they since it.

Despite having been at different levels before due to the amount of essence needed to break into the tenth level Lingqi and Ai were able to catch up to Zhang, Yuying, and Ling.

But of course just because they broke through to the ninth level of cultivation it did not mean that Zhang and the beauties would cease looking for more dragon’s veins to absorb.

Realizing that the higher level cultivators they had on their side the easier it would be for them to overcome their enemies, Zhang eventually allowed Little White, Silky and their horde of Wraith Spiders to also have an opportunity to absorb essence from the dragon’s vein. Soon enough Zhang’s generals and the elite guard were also included.

But since they were still pressed on time and it was impractical to have hundreds of thousands of people absorbing a single vein at a time, Zhang’s normal soldiers were not permitted to take part. That is not to say that they will not be given opportunities to do so in the future.

So as the days turned into weeks, and as a few dragon’s veins turned into a couple dozen, Zhang and the beauties managed to reach the tenth level of cultivation while Little White and Silky reached the nine. Zhang’s generals, many of the elite guard and all of the Wraith Spiders were all at the seventh and eighth level.

Once they reached the tenth level of cultivation, Zhang, and his wives began to undergo yet another change. The crystallized piece of essence within their bodies were steadily growing larger and larger.

Although Zhang already had the ability to sense things in the area around him, upon reaching the tenth level he found that the area in which he could sense doubled, allowing him to scan an area with the radius of a few miles away from him. The beauties also developed the ability to sense their surroundings but not to the degree that could be compared to Zhang’s.

“This is usually referred to as divine sense.” Yuying explained.

Sadly, before they could step into sainthood, the golden map stopped picking up dragon’s veins.  Perhaps it was because they had been abusing the map’s ability a tad too much or perhaps it’s because there were no more veins within the area that could currently be picked up by the map, but Zhang and the beauties had exhausted all of the cultivable veins in the area.

So without any more veins to absorb, they began to cultivate using the massive amount of essence stones that they had managed to collect. But alas even after using up all of their essence stones, none of them were able to break through into saints.

“As we are now we won’t be able to last even a second in front of that saint that resides in the Golden Peak Province…” Zhang said with a sigh.

Although Zhang did not really have to deal with the Golden Peak Province since they are dead set on guarding the golden egg and probably will not interfere in the war nor leave their borders, he felt that if he left them alone and allowed them more time they would become a bigger issue to deal with later.

“I guess I’ll have to use it…” Zhang thought as he proceeded to head for his private chambers and bolt the door after giving out orders for no one to disturb him for the next few days.

“It’s better for one of us to break through then none of us.” He said as he took off the Dragon Heart Necklace that had hung from his neck. With a single thought, Zhang unleashed the massive store of essence that he had been painstakingly collecting for a long time.

As a mass of essence that was comprised out of thousands if not tens of thousands of souls swirled around Zhang, he slowly began to cultivate. While his mind purely focused on absorbing and refining this mass of essence Zhang slowly began to lose track of time as minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days.

Unlike the natural essence given off by the Dragon’s Veins, the essence within Zhang’s necklace mainly comprised of the essence gathered from the souls of those burned by the black dragon’s flame or that of those who died in battle. This meant that it would take much longer to refine into one’s body.

It only after ten days did Zhang manage to absorb all of the that he had stored away in the Dragon Heart Necklace.

As Zhang took in the last bits of essence floating in the air something strange began to occur. Outside of the Sky Fortress, a sea of black clouds had formed and thunder crackled down from above. At the same time, Zhang’s body began to undergo a miraculous change.

Zhang felt the crystalized essence that had formed in his body break apart and disperse throughout his body causing him unbelievable pain. It was as if his entire body was breaking down and being rebuilt at the same time.

Once a few hours passed a ray of light pierced through the sea of black clouds outside and magically pierced through the walls of the Azure Tower and shone directly on Zhang. It was as if the heavens itself was bestowing Zhang with power.

Sensing an undescribed energy filling the room, Zhang tried to absorb as much as he could as he remembered Yuying’s words.

“When you’re undergoing your breakthrough to sainthood and when the heavenly light descends be sure to absorb as much of the heavenly energy as you can. The more you manage to absorb the stronger you’ll be when compared to other saints. Since the heavenly energy will meld with your body and further enhance your ability to connect to the great flow of essence.” Yuying’s words repeated in Zhang’s mind.

Unlike regular cultivators, saints no longer stored essence within their bodies and solely relied on essence in the air and apart of nature. So the more heavenly energy one managed to absorb and the more connected one is connected to the great flow of essence, the stronger one will be as a saint.

“No wonder! No wonder the difference between a saint and a level ten practitioner is so large.” Zhang laughed as he felt his body rebuilding itself and connecting with the great flow as he took in as much heavenly energy as he could.

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