“Elder Liang! He's not responding! His pulse is becoming extremely faint! The low-grade bone mending dan won't have much of an effect at this point. We need to use a mid-grade revival elixir or else he's done for.” An elder of the Misty Mountain Sect yelled frantically as he found out the extent of damage on Zhang’s body.
“A mid-grade revival elixir? He's but a mere fragmented realm cultivator, his body won't be able to handle the after effects! His channels will burst!” Another elder said with a grave look on his face.
“Give him the elixir and move aside! I will help channel the excess essence within the elixir and prevent it from harming him.” Elder Laing said.
Although her heart was still plagued with worry, Cai Wenji knew that Zhang was in good hands after she heard Elder Liang speak.
“Little Red, I'll take good care of you and when you're strong enough you can go look for him.” Cai Wenji murmured as she patted the brown sack she was carrying.
With Zhang in his current state, even if he life was spared, he would undoubtedly not be able to freely move around for many months, so Cai Wenji though it would be best for her to care for the pups and spare Zhang the trouble, believing that was the least she could do for all of the trouble she had caused him.
“Young miss, let us be on our way.” Elder Cai Long said as he and his subordinates who were levitating in midair began to depart when a shriek suddenly sounded into everyone's ear.
“Ho-how can this be!?” Elder Liang’s frantic voice could be heard, drawing in everyone's attentions toward two figures seated in a crossed legged position.
Seated behind Zhang, Elder Liang could be seen sweating profusely as his veins bulged and brow furrowed.
Moments ago, after giving Zhang the midgrade revival elixir, Elder Liang had channeled his essence into Zhang’s body to help guide and regulate the influx of essence within Zhang’s channels. However, after sending a hint of his essence into Zhang’s body, Elder Liang found himself in a peculiar situation.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the high concentration of essence within the midgrade revival elixir, Elder Liang found that Zhang’s channels were void of essence.
All of the essence from the mid-grade elixir had actually been absorbed at an astonishing rate and surprisingly enough before Elder Laing could figure out what had happened, a powerful auction force began to eat away at the strand of essence he had sent into Zhang’s body.
Like a hungry beast, the suction force continued to grow stronger and stronger and no matter how hard Elder Liang tried to break free, he simply could not.
As Elder Liang felt the essence being drained out of his body, Zhang’s injuries were gradually fading. In most cases, they would be a good thing, however, Elder Liang felt that if he allowed the current situation to continue, Zhang may end up even absorbing his base foundation.
One should know that a cultivator’s base foundation is something that takes many years to build up within one's body and losing it would cause one’s power to drop exponentially, possibly endangering one’s life.
“You two! Help me!” Elder Liang roared as he felt his power waning away.
Seeing the serious look on Elder Liang’s face, the other two elders instantly rushed in and pressed their palms onto Zhang’s back.
“What the… How can a mere fragment realm cultivator’s body absorb so much essence!” One of the elders said in a stern manner as he felt the powerful suction force within Zhang’s body devouring his essence at an alarming rate.
“What kind of monster did the grand elder being back…” Another elder murdered as a pained expression appeared on his face. To be able to render the combined efforts of not one but three core realm cultivators while only being in the fragmented realm was something entirely unheard of and extremely fearful.
While the three elders of the Misty Mountain Sect grew paler and weaker, Zhang’s previously tattered body was restored to its peak and a rosy complexion was present on his face, not only that, but it appeared that Zhang’s power was actually steadily increasing.
“Let go!” Elder Liang roared as his palm smashed into Zhang’s back, causing a torrent of black colored blood to spray into the air and Zhang’s body to tumble forward.
After being released from the heavy suction force, the three elders looked at each other as they breathed heavily.
“It looks like that strike of yours not only released us from that fearful suction force but it also helped expel the accumulated bad blood that had gathered in his body.” One of the elders said as he tried to channel in the essence in the air to replenish his powers.
“If he is allowed to continue his cultivation, I’m sure it won't take long for the name of our Misty Mountain Sect to resound across the heavens once again.” Elder Liang said as a faint smile appeared on his face as he gazed at Zhang.
Unbeknownst to everyone, as Zhang laid unconscious on the ground, dark forces were churning within him.
Deep within Zhang’s mind, within a vaguely familiar looking white marble room, two identical figures stood face to face.
“Yo-you!” One of the figures said in a stutter.
“I'm back! Did you miss me?” The other figure said as a maniacal laughter echoed within the marble room.
One of these figures of course was Zhang and the other was the mysterious fragmented soul that had appeared within Misty Mountain Sect’s forbidden zone, otherwise known as the Graveyard.
“Hey now, don't give me that look!” The fragmented soul said as it saw a frown appeared on Zhang’s face.
“Last time we met, you tried to take over my body and desires my soul… you can’t possibly expect me to greet you with a smile…” Zhang muttered in an unhappy tone as he eyed his lookalike.
“I have a proposition for you.” The fragmented soul said as a crooked grin appeared on its face.
“A proposition? If you want my body, then that's out of the question…” Zhang replied as his eyes narrowed.
“Hahaha, after my last attempt and failure, I don't think the current I is capable enough to try again.” The fragmented soul said.
“Here's my proposition, since taking over your body won't work, I propose that we work together. I'll lend you my power and allow you to cultivate my Heavenly Devouring Technique and you aid me in obtaining a body.” The fragmented soul said.
“Aid you in obtaining a body?” Zhang said in a low tone.
“Not a bad proposition, right? You have nothing to lose and all to gain. You should know that if not for my current predicament, I wouldn't even consider teaching someone the Heavenly Devouring Technique even if they got on their hands and knees and begged me for a hundred years. You can’t possible find a technique as powerful as this one in a lower plane such as this one.” The fragmented soul said as it tried to convince Zhang to cooperate with it.
“Think about it kid, without my Heavenly Devouring Technique, you would have been a goner on more than one occasion. Although I'm not sure if you remember it or not but I must tell you that without this technique you would have gone to greet your ancestors a long time ago.” The fragmented soul added as it waved its hand and made a few square-shaped screens appear along the marble walls showcasing the times that the Heavenly Devouring Technique had saved Zhang’s life.
“While only being able to utilize a tiny portion of the first stage of the technique, you were able to overcome so many life or death situations, imagine would it would be like if you could master such a technique. With my help, you'll be able to contend against those guys in the black robes and possibly save that girl.” The fragmented soul said as Zhang stared at the screens.
“By helping you obtain another body, would I have to end up harming someone innocent? If so then I will have to pass.” Zhang said after contemplating
“Of course, not, with a bit of outside help I can occupy the body or a demonic beast or the corpse of a recently deceased. As long as I can prevent my soul from completely dispersing then that is enough. So how about it?” The fragmented Soul said as it reached out its hand toward Zhang.
“As long as I don't have to harm someone innocent then it should be fine.” Zhang said as he reached and shook hands with the fragmented soul.
“To a lasting partnership!” The fragmented soul said with a laugh.
“Even if you might be that bastard’s descendant.” The fragmented soul murmured in a low inaudible tone as it continued to shake hands with Zhang.
Back in the world outside, from the disciples of the Misty Mountain Sect and their elders, Elder Cai Long and his subordinates dress in black robes, everyone stood in silence while all gazes were focused on Zhang.
Moments after Elder Liang had broken free from the terrifying suction force from within Zhang’s body, something even more terrifying occurred.
As if it came to life, Zhang’s shadow had expanded and snaked about across the upper deck of the airship. Moments after, dozens of honey hands rose out from the darkness and lifted up Zhang’s body in a creepy manner.
Then like a demonic deity, Zhang slowly opened his eyes, revealing glowing blood red colored pupils while columns of black mist swirled around him.
“Let her go.” Zhang said in a slow and menacing voice that caused everyone’s spines to tingle.
“Hmph, instead of counting yourself lucky and not cherish your life, your courting death once again.” The man garbed in black robes named Cai Kang said as he glared at Zhang.
“I said let her go.” Zhang repeated himself as he gazed at Elder Cai Long, disregarding the man named Cai Kang.
“Insolent pest!” Cai Kang roared in rage once he saw that Zhang was actually ignoring him.
“Don't harm him!” Cai Wenji yelled as she saw the furious look on Cai Kang’s face.
“Cripple him, but don't kill him.” Elder Cai Long said in a calm tone. Although the rate at which Zhang’s injuries had healed could be considered monstrous, Elder Cai Long could still sense that Zhang was still at the fragmented realm. Perhaps he had arrived at the peak of the fragmented realm, but he hadn't even broken through to the elementary realm.
Having not experienced what the three elders of the Misty Mountain Sect had experienced, Elder Cai Long still believed that Zhang couldn't possibly amount to much with his current strength.
“You should thank, Elder Cai Long’s good grace!” Cai Kang said as he disappeared in a flash and appeared in front of Zhang with his hand balled up into a fist.
Like a speeding arrow, Cai Kang’s fist shot through the air toward Zhang’s face as a power aura swept across the upper deck of the airship.
“First Art, Devour the Flesh…” Zhang said in a soft and casual tone as Cai Kang’s fist was inches away from his face.
“Wha-what?!” Cai Kang yelled in an astonished tone as he felt something wrap around his body. Looking downward, dozens of white bony hands could be seen rising up from the massive shadow that had expanded from Zhang.
“What kind of trickery is this!?” Cai Kang roar as he tried to break free from the dozen or so bony hands, binding him, but of course, he's attempts would prove to be useless as more and more bony hands grasped onto his body and began dragged him downward into the dark abyss.
“He-help! Help me!” Cai Kang shrieked as he felt an excruciating amount of pain originating from his legs that had now sunk into Zhang’s shadow and out of sight.
Seeing Cai Kang acting contrary to his usual demeanor, his comrades quickly sped through the air, some coming to his aid while others charged directly toward Zhang while releasing a suffocating amount of killing intent.
Of course, before anyone could land a blow, dozens of bony hands reached into the sky and many found themselves in the same unfortunate situation as Cai Kang.
Seeing his subordinates screaming in terror, Elder Cai Long’s brows furrowed and with a wave of his hand, countless ropes shot out from his sleeve and wrapped themselves around all of the men garbed in black robes.
With a light tug from Elder Cai Long, all of the black robes men were pulled out from the abyss and into the air where a sense of true terror began to take grip onto everyone’s heart.
Many of the black robes men found that large chunks of flesh had actually been bitten off of their bodies, with the most horrifying example being Cai Kang, whose legs no longer had any skin or flesh remaining. From his toes, up to his knees, Cai Kang’s legs were made up solely of white bones covered in bite marks.
Seeing the horrific injuries inflicted upon Elder Cai Long’s subordinates, everyone couldn't help but shudder as they imagined themselves suffering the same fate.
“I said let her go!” Zhang repeated as he continued to glare at Elder Cai Long.
Disregarding the injuries on the bodies of the men garbed in black robes, Cai Wenji stared at Zhang with a warm expression on her face.
Although she wasn't exactly sure how he had become strong, she simply did not care, because to her the most important thing was that he was willing to fight and perhaps die for her and there was not much else a woman in her situation could ask for.
“You may be able to handle core realm cultivators, but let's see how long you can hold out against a profound realm cultivator.” Elder Cai Long said as he tossed Cai Wenji into the air where a few of his subordinates were waiting to catch her.