“Make sure to kill them before you touch any of their belongings or else you might trigger some binding spells. Not only will you get yourself killed, you’ll get the rest of us in danger also.” Ning Hao said as he plunged his sword into an unconscious disciple of the Misty Mountain Sect.
Besides roughly ten people, the rest of the group was scheduled to be killed one by one by Ning Hao’s inner circle. Had it not been for the poisoned wine that everyone drank then even with ten elementary realm cultivators, Ning Hao’s group would definitely not be able to kill the other ninety people in the group so casually.
Members of the same sect or not, everyone was being killed and had their belongings plundered afterward until it was finally time for Zhang to meet his untimely end. Of all the people present it is simply to say that Wenji’s fate would be far worse than everyone else’s if the plans in store for her came to fruition.
“To think besides the things that the elders gave out, you would also bring to me another gift.” Ning Hao said with a laugh as he stood in front of Zhang after glancing toward Wenji who was now tied up.
As Ning Hao raised his sword into the air, blood from the dozens of lives that had been taken not too long ago dripped onto the ground. With a savage smile on his face Ning Hao plunged his sword into Zhang’s back.
It could be said that those with the kindest smiles and the friendliest words are often the ones that we have to keep our eyes on, and without a doubt, Ning Hao is one of these people.
While Ning Hao’s sword plunged into Zhang blood began to ooze out and flow onto the ground, adding to the sea of blood that was already present.
After stabbing Zhang through with a sword, Ning Hao flipped Zhang’s body over to search for the lightning talismans and essence supplement pills that were distributed before the tournament. Since most cultivators often travel and did not really stay in one place for too long, it is common knowledge that all of their valuables are kept on their person.
“Damn, where are the talismans and pills! There’s no way you could have used them all already…” Ning Hao yelled as he wasn’t able to find anything on Zhang’s body, that was of course until he noticed the black ring on Zhang’s finger that his expression brightened and a smile appeared on his face.
“An interspatial ring.” Ning Hao muttered as he lifted Zhang’s hand and began to pull off the black ring on Zhang’s finger.
As the ring slid off Zhang’s finger, Zhang’s hand balled up into a fist and his body rose up from the ground. In a flash, Zhang’s fist had buried itself in Ning Hao’s face and sent him flying into a row of neatly pitched tents.
Seconds passed as black mist exploded out from underneath Zhang’s clothes and shrouded the floor of the cave.
“Wha-what's happening?!” Ning Hao’s followers yelled as the sea of blood underneath their feet was replaced by a sea of fog that rose as up to their knees.
Before long, countless bony hands extended from the sea mist and began to drag down the corpses of those who were slain and the bodies of those who had done the slaying. Of course, Ning Hao’s followers did not stand still and allow themselves to be dragged down into the abyss, so with swords drawn they began to hack and slash at the bony skeletal hands that latched onto them. The ground had become like mud and one would slowly sink if one stayed in one place for too long, that is to say, if the bony white hands did not have their way first.
But since the swords they were using were made of iron while bone is roughly five times stronger than steel, there was little to no damage delivered toward the bones at all.
“Strike the joints! Strike the joints!” One of Ning Hao’s followers yelled as he was successfully able to break free of the bony hands that latched onto to him after performing a few skillful strikes.
“Kill him!” Ning Hao roared as he snapped out of the daze that had overcome him after being punched by Zhang. With blood dripped out of one of his nostrils and a cut lip, Ning Hao produced a silver-colored talisman in his hand.
After a bit of Ning Hao’s essence was injected into the silver talisman it was shot toward Zhang. While in midair the silver talisman began to morph into a white lightning bolt that caused the air to reverberate.
In a flash the bolt of lightning had shot through the air as was able to impale Zhang but just as quickly as the lightning bolt moved, a wall of bones shot up from the black mist and took the blunt damaged that would have turned Zhang’s body to ashes.
Once struck by the lightning bolt, countless pieces of broken bones shot through the air and even embedded themselves into a few of Ning Hao’s men, showing the power that the lightning bolt carried.
With a click of his tongue after seeing the lightning bolt being blocked by the bone wall, Ning Hao produced yet another lightning talisman, however, moments before he could use it, Zhang had risen up from the ground and with a flick of the wrist sent dozens of sharp bones piercing through the air.
“You think someone in the fragment realm can beat me!?” Ning Hao roared as he shot not one but two lightning talismans into the air.
Unlike the first time when there was only a single bolt of lightning, the two lightning talismans seemed to elevate each other’s powers and soon not one, not two but four bolts of lightning crackled through the air.
“Manipulation!” Ning Hao yelled as he performed a hand sign and clasped his hands to together. The four bolts of lightning were soon bent to Ning Hao’s will through his manipulation of essence and combined together to form the shape of a dragon.
“The Lightning Dragon technique!? Isn’t that a core realm technique!?” One of Ning Hao’s followers yelled out in amazement as he watched the dragon comprised of lightning dance through the air within the cave.
“Fools! Stop watching like an idiot and keep an eye out for the hands!” Someone yelled, reminding everyone that they were still in immediate danger due to the black mist and skeletal hands.
Of the remaining people within the cave, Wenji could be considered safe because the black mist avoided her and no skeletal hands tried to drag her down into the abyss. Ning Hao was fairly safe also because all of the skeletal hands that had latched onto him were turned to ashes by the lightning talismans that he had used. Besides Zhang, Wenji and Ning Hao the others were being constantly assaulted and under great peril.
Once Ning Hao’s dragon comprised of lightning, neared where Zhang was standing, the black mist with a mind of its own receded and condensed into a sphere that enveloped Zhang’s entire body and the area around him. As the black sphere kept him out of sight, walls of bones began to form a protective layer around the sphere.
The bones surrounding the black sphere began to meld with one another until they formed what looked like a human skull, with mix-matched fang-like teeth and glowing red orbs in what seemed like eye sockets.
With black mist flowing out of the gaps of its fangs, the huge demonic looking skull widened its jaws. The moment the lightning dragon closed in, the hinged on skull's mouth widened even further before clamping shut after the lightning dragon has flown into its jaws.
Upon consuming the lightning dragon, the skull’s white bony surface acquired a glossy sheen. It’s glowing blood red eyes became brighter, and its fangs seemed to have become sharper than before.
Soon enough while Ning Hao and his followers were set in an awestruck daze, the huge skull began to deform back into individual bones as the black sphere turned back into the mist. Once the black mist covered the ground and rose upward and shrouded everyone’s knees once more, countless bony arms began to raise up and latch onto their victims once again.
However unlike before, the situation for Ning Hao and his followers were not entirely different because now Zhang was playing a more active role in the fight. After reaching his hand into the dark abyss beneath the black mist Zhang pulled up a terrifying looking long sword made entirely out of bones. With the eerie looking sword in hand, he made a mad dash toward one of Ning Hao’s men as his eyes shone in a crimson red color.
Moving at speeds that no fragment realm cultivator is able to, Zhang arrived in front of a chubby looking young man who by now had eyes filled with fear. Not too long ago this chubby young man had been mercilessly killing one unconscious person after the other, however after witnessing the strange and eerie black mist at work he had just about reach the point where he would soil his pants.
“Get the fuck away from me!” The chubby young man shrieked as he wildly swung his sword as panic filled his mind and dulled his judgement because anyone who had a clear state of mind would toss down their weapons and try their best to escape.
Like a deathly specter Zhang extended his hand and grabbed onto the chubby young man’s head while miraculously not being hit by any of the wild sword swings that the chubby young man had preferred.
With abnormal strength that he did not possess when he was conscious, Zhang lifted the chubby young men off the ground with one hand as the black mist coiled around his body.
“Le-let go! Let go of me!” The chubby young man yelled as the black mist snaked from Zhang’s body onto his own and entered into his nose, eyes, mouth and ears. Before long an empty husk that was once a person was casually tossed onto the ground before Zhang moved onto his next victim. Once the corpse landed on the ground beneath the black mist, it sank into the black abyss and did not leave a single trace behind.
Although many words were used, only a few minutes had actually passed and there was not enough time for Ning Hao or anyone else to try to stop Zhang nor try to flee. Only when Zhang reached his second victim did Ning Hao and the other people present begin to act.
“Retreat! Everyone Retreat!” Someone screamed.
“Fool! You think you can run away!? Don’t you see how fast he’s become!? Our best bet is to try to kill him. Use the talismans that we just got.” A tall man with a broad forehead and freckled cheeks said as a red colored talisman appeared in his hand.
Soon enough the rest of Ning Hao’s followers, with Ning Hao included shot talismans out of their hands. Bolts of lightning accompanied by a mix other talismans shot through the air toward Zhang who was lifting yet another person into the air with one hand.
Just like the first lightning talisman that Ning Hao used, all of the talismans that were shot toward Zhang were all intercepted by walls of bones or remarkably sharp looking shards of bone while a few talismans were casually struck away by Zhang with the sword made of bones in his hand.
“If we had higher realm talismans…” Ning Hao clicked his tongue because he and everyone else present only had fragment realm level talismans in hand.
“Everyone let’s get out of here!” Ning Hao yelled to his followers.
“How!? Do you not see how fast he is!?” One of Ning Hao’s followers, a man with a rat like face said with a panic stricken expression on his face.
“Simple…” Ning Hao said as he raised his sword and slashed across the rat faced man’s legs.
“Once I return to the sect I’ll be sure to tell the elders of your bravery and self-sacrifice.” Ning Hao said as he kicked the rat-faced man to the ground and sped for the cave’s exit.
Without a moment's hesitation, three other people followed Ning Hao’s example and disabled the person nearest to them and began to flee from the cave believing that in Zhang’s current state of mind as long as he has someone to kill he would be preoccupied.
However, there was a miscalculation in their plan because unknown to them, the black mist had slowly begun to dissipate after the bone walls sheltered Zhang from the barrage of talismans. Meaning if they had continued to stand their ground and barrage Zhang with attacks there was a chance that the black mist would entirely dissipate.
But now that they had basically offered living sacrifices for the black mist to replenish itself with, the hope of escape is slim to none.
By the time Ning Hao and his last three followers made it out of the cave, the black mist had already dragged the disabled sacrifices to their untimely end and used their flesh and essence to strengthen itself.
With a deafening howl that did not belong to anything human, Zhang bolted outside of the cave in pursuit of Ning Hao and Ning Hao’s followers.
“Split up! If anything at least a few of us will get away!” Ning Hao yelled back toward his men as he splintered off from the group. After nodding in agreement, Ning Hao’s three followers also separated into separate directions.
But for the unluckiest of followers, a bulky young man with a grim expression on his face, happened to find himself in the worst possible situation possible. In the rush of trying to flee, he had accidentally stumbled over a tree root that was sticking out of the ground and sprain his ankle.
“Damn it!” He cursed as the burning pain in his ankle sealed his fate.
Before he could even help himself off from the ground, dozens of long sharp bones appeared from nowhere and pierced through his body, impaling him and pinning him to a nearby tree.
With enough time Ning Hao’s other two remaining followers would too meet the same fate, leaving only Ning Hao in the vast forest filled with dangers.
“I can feel it, he’s around here somewhere…” Ning Hao thought as he ran through the forest. Suddenly Ning Hao’s eyes glinted and a broad smile appeared on his face.
“The heavens have truly helped me this time.” He mumbled as he caught sight of a group of cultivators not too far away from where he was through the twisting trees and vines. These cultivators were of course in the middle of fighting a demonic beast and would have no way of truly escaping if Ning Hao led Zhang to where they were.
With a glimmer of hope ahead of him, Ning Hao quickened his pace.
“Once I run through here I’ll be safe!” He thought as he faces was now filled with glee. Despite the dragging others into his own mess at the chance of possibly able to get away, Ning Hao was delighted.
But when Ning Hao was only a few steps away from entering the clearing where the group of cultivators was fighting the demonic beast, dozens of sharp bones embedded themselves into his back while bony white arms latched onto his clothes and body, dragging him back into the woods.