It was a skirmish that happened as fast as fire in the chaotic border between the Great Qian Dynasty and the Dark Cloud Prairies.
However, the roles of the attacker and the defender had been swapped.
Over the years, the court’s army of the Great Qian Dynasty had mostly played a defensive role by holding their fortresses and bastions, whereas the Wolf Knights of Ghost Qin, with their advantage in speed, attacked and harassed aggressively. The previous year, the harassment had even upgraded into a real assault, and the vanguard of their enemy had almost reached the city wall of the Divine Capital. The court’s army of the Great Qian Dynasty had suffered a crushing and humiliating defeat.
After that battle, the border of the Great Qian Dynasty had grown more perilous than ever. All the soldiers were staying behind the defense lines timidly, allowing the Wolf Knights of Ghost Qin to gallop and demonstrate their power however they saw fit.
However, that day, the side that was marching forward unstoppably was actually a troop of the Great Qian Dynasty. It was the Divine Edge Legion, one of the best troops of the court on par with the Thunder Striking Legion that had been protecting the Divine Capital for hundreds of years!
It appeared that they were there for a head-on battle with the Ghost Qin for real without caring about the cost!
What was even more uncanny was that many Cultivators under the banners of various sects were flying to the sky from the flanks of the Divine Edge Legion. Like a swarm of locusts, they lunged at the soldiers of the Ghost Qin, who were running away!
The few Ghost Qin Cultivators deployed at the rear of the knights hurried to fly into the sky for resistance, only to discover that the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty were not bluffing as they had done in the past. Instead, they were fighting the battle aggressively and fearlessly at the risk of their lives!
“What’s going on?”
“Didn’t the army of the Great Qian Dynasty just suffer a great failure last year? How can they be reorganized so quickly and even take the initiative to attack in a way that implies that they are going to die with us?”
“And those Cultivators! Don’t the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty cherish their own lives most? Why are they as ferocious as tigers today?”
Before they fell one after another like raindrops, many Cultivators of Ghost Qin bulged their eyes and stared at the warriors of the Great Qian Dynasty who were entirely different from the past in shock, not having the faintest clue what had gotten into their enemy.
Similar things were happening on almost every side of the Great Qian Dynasty.
The army and the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty seemed to have been awakened overnight. They launched the most overwhelming attacks in the southeast, northwest, and north simultaneously.
Not only were Qi Changsheng’s Heaven Battering Army and Wan Mingzhu’s White Lotus Cult so terribly beaten that they could barely walk on the street, a lot of soldiers and Cultivators of Ghost Qin were successfully stalled, too. They were not able to be mobilized to the north to set up the supply line to the Land of Eternal Night.
The cause of everything, on the other hand, had now established a fleet of airships and flown to the Land of Eternal Night after bypassing the Dark Cloud Prairies with the help of a warm wind north to the equator in a long curve.
Li Yao was on the deck of one of the airships.
As far as his eyes could see, there was nothing but a white ocean. The outline of the continent was already invisible. The sea wind that was blowing against his face was gradually mixed with gloomy coldness, too.
The airship was more than a hundred meters long, driven by both the sails and the wind manipulating rune arrays.
Because the airship was cruising in the sky, it was possible to establish sails on and beneath the vehicle, which looked like a round shuttle that had been adorned with all kinds of colorful flags.
The sails were connected with ropes that were more complicated than the strokes of a rune. Many bold sailors were crawling on the ropes like spiders in the sky hundreds of meters off the ground.
The head of the airship had been carved into a roaring dragon. Four giant anchors that looked like dragon claws extended out of the deck. They could hold the vehicle to the ground in case of a strong wind, but more importantly, they could bind the airship to any prey during a battle.
Although the flying boats in this era could manage to cruise in the air, and certain remote magical equipment such as the Gold Crow Fiery Ballista or Divine Magnificence Cannon were accommodated, it was difficult for them to hit the target from thousands of meters away because of the underdeveloped probing and aiming technologies.
A radius of thousands of meters, on the other hand, was the perfect attack range of a Cultivator.
Therefore, the ‘air fights’ in the Ancient Sages Sector were mostly boarding battles. The seemingly dominating airships were nothing more than an airborne platform of transportation and supplies. The combat ability of the airship depended not on the airship per se but the Cultivators aboard it.
The dragon head of this particular airship had been dyed gold.
There were five talons on each of the four claws, suggesting that it was a Five-Talon Gold Dragon.
The unique characteristics indicated that this was a royal battleship of the imperial guards!
The mobilization of such a royal battleship, which could almost be called the best of the Ancient Sages Sector, and the stormy attacks of the Great Qian Dynasty in various directions over the past month were naturally the results of the ‘communication’ between Qi Zhongdao and the incumbent emperor.
After the five super Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators reached a consensus and formed an alliance on the desolate island, Qi Zhongdao had gone straight north to the Divine Capital to discuss the issue with Emperor Phoenix.
Qi Zhongdao did not disappoint anyone. Emperor Phoenix’s head was also clear enough for him to believe Qi Zhongdao’s words instantly and make the judgement that the most critical factor about the issue was time. They had to seize every second in order to beat the Four Rapscallions to the Divine Palace!
In the one short month that followed, troops were mobilized to launch attacks in every part of the Great Qian Dynasty, especially at the border of the Great Qian Dynasty and Ghost Qin. Tremendous soldiers and Cultivators on the enemy’s side had been stalled. Also, a rather enormous expedition fleet had been established, and all the usable and necessary items for the trip deep into the snow field were prepared. All the thunderous approaches indicated a stronger leadership than the previous emperor and the ambitions of the young Emperor Phoenix who was not bragging but really had the capabilities to revive the Great Qian Dynasty!
Li Yao glanced at an airship next to the one that he was standing on. Other than the bright yellow dragon flag of the Great Qian Dynasty, the banners of the Grand Mystery Sect, the Purple Pole Sword Sect, and other major sects were also flying. He slightly frowned.
The hyenas had sensed the smell and followed up anyway!
But it could not be helped.
Although Li Yao did not wish for the guys who could only be counted as saboteurs but not contributors to join the operation team, the facts that the five Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators went missing simultaneously, the obvious aggressions of the court in multiple battle lines, and the dozens of missing flying boats in the Divine Capital could not escape everyone’s attention.
None of the leaders who had defeated thousands of competitors to reach their position were simple-headed fools.
Mother White Lotus’ hasty uprising and her operation to blindly attack East Peace County had been weird in the first place.
Even if the leaders of the main sects did not realize it at that time, they would have figured out that something was wrong afterward.
Therefore, rumors had already been spreading among the Cultivators three days after the battle in East Peace County.
Although the ‘Divine Palace’ was not explicitly pointed out, the ‘Land of Eternal Night’ was clearly mentioned!
With everything reaching that point, it was difficult to hide everything from the other Cultivators.
At the very least, Yan Liren, who belonged to the Purple Pole Sword Sect, and Qi Zhongdao, as the grand leader of the Grand Mystery Sect, could not keep their complete silence under the inquiry of their respective sects.
Besides, Han Baling’s Ghost Qin, Qi Changsheng’s Heaven Battering Army, Wan Mingzhu’s White Lotus Cult, and Wang Xi’s Ghost Character certainly had experts in the Core Formation Stage and Nascent Soul Stage.
The five top warriors and the imperial guards loyal to the emperor together were still relatively insufficient. The middle-level and high-level warriors in the Core Formation Stage and Nascent Soul Stage had to be filled in to fight the enemy in the snowy Land of Eternal Night where there were absolutely no reinforcements.
Therefore, the expedition fleet eventually became a combination of the five super Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, the imperial guards, and the six major sects.
The Cloud Qin Gold Statues, the path to the deities’ realm, and the mysterious Divine Palace… the temptation riled up everybody in the six major sects. Even the elders who had been training in seclusion earlier had gone outside again without caring about anything.
The six major sects would gain tremendous profits from the operation to explore the Divine Palace.
In return, they were responsible for suppressing the riots of the other smaller sects in the world of Cultivators and dispatching enough low-level disciples in cooperation with the court’s army during the stalling battles.
That was why the Great Qian Cultivators had launched attacks fearlessly on the Dark Cloud Prairies.
Although Qi Zhongdao did not like the selfish, disobedient fellows in the six major sects, he had been respected as a common leader, even if just a nominal one, for many years. Since their participation was unavoidable, he could only further contact Li Yao and the rest of them. He also specifically reminded Li Yao not to release information on the secret tunnels in the Divine Palace to public so that the five of them could still hold the initiative during the operation.
Li Yao agreed without any hesitation.
He was not the real ‘Master Spiritual Vulture’. His real purpose to participate in the operation to explore the Divine Palace was to evaluate all the forces of the Ancient Sages Sector and the endorsers behind them!
The greater a fuss the ‘Divine Palace’ caused and the more forces were involved, the more convenient it would be for him to observe and analyze.
The Three Saints, Four Rapscallions, One Monk, and One Emperor, as well as the mysterious Grand Master of Great Zhou, were all involved in the issue. If the spies of the Imperium of True Human Beings, or some even more terrifying existences, were lurking in the Ancient Sages Sector, they would still visit the Divine Palace, would they not?
During the past month, Li Yao had been away from the Purple Pole Sword Sect for a while under the excuse of ‘training in seclusion’. He had flown to the satellite where Spark was hidden beyond the atmosphere of the Ancient Sages Sector. Then, with the components that he had crafted in the Purple Pole Sword Sect in the prior months, he had finished repairing and building up the ‘star beacons’ and set them to a state that could be activated at any time.
Li Yao had made up his mind that, as long as the operation to explore the Divine Palace proved that there were no spies of the Imperium of True Human Beings in the Ancient Sages Sector and that there was an intact manufacturing base for the Colossi in the Divine Palace, he would risk sending a message to the federation and summon a fleet.
In any case, a factory for Colossi was of great strategic significance to the federation. It was definitely worth the risk!