“All of you, return to our airship before you exhaust too much of your strength and can't maintain a flight.” Elder Cai Long said after handing Cai Wenji over to his subordinates and freeing them from the ropes he used to pull everyone out from Zhang’s shadow.
Although core realm cultivators were considered true cultivators and were granted the ability to soar through the sky, their ability to keep in the air was still slightly limited by the amount of essence they could store within their bodies.
Since flying consumes a massive amount of essence, core realm cultivators could only fly short distances, hence the reason for Elder Cai Long’s reminder.
In no time at all, all of the men garbed in black robes headed toward the Cai Clan's airship while carrying Cai Wenji and the heavily injuries Cai Kang as Elder Cai Long retrieved a gleaming sword from his interspatial ring and pointed it toward Zhang.
“Prepare yourself, just because you’re a mere fragmented realm cultivator won't mean that I will go easy on you.” Elder Cai Long said as launched himself through the air toward Zhang.
Seeing Elder Cai Long spring into action, a serious expression surfaced on Zhang’s face. Although all of the men in black robes were core realm cultivators, they were far from the peak of the core realm, at most they were either low-level or mid-level core realm cultivators, coupled with the fact that they were caught by surprise by Zhang’s technique, these men could hardly offer up a threat. While on the other hand, Elder Cai was a Profound Realm cultivator who has obviously would not be caught in the same trick as his men.
Thus, even though both Cai Kang and Cai Long possessed a much higher cultivation then Zhang, the two could hardly be compared with one another.
In a flash, Elder Cai Long appeared midair beside Zhang with his gleaming sword ready to slice apart whatever was in its way.
With a wave of his hand, Zhang conjured a wall of bones from within his shadows to black Elder Cai Long while a dozen bony hands were used to pull his body backward and away it away to safety.
So regardless of whether or not the wall of bones was successful in defending against Elder Cai Long or not, Zhang would not come into harm's way.
Like slicing through paper, Elder Cai Long’s sword split apart the wall of bones with little to no resistance at all, moments before he charged forth at Zhang once again.
“Bone Shard!” Zhang commanded as his hand balled into a fist and the countless fragments of broken bone scattered into by Elder Cai shot pierced through the air, hoping to embed themselves into skin and flesh.
“Hmph!” Elder Cai Long snorted as a power wave of essence was released from his body, making the shards of bones under Zhang’s control scatter and become useless once more.
“Fist of the Mad Lion!” Elder Cai Long roared as his fist shot forward while be wrapped within what appeared to be a lion head made of essence.
“Damn…” Zhang cursed as he clicked his tongue, it was obvious that the despairing between him and Elder Cai along was too wide and if he were to be hit by the Fist of the Mad Lion, he would be done for.
“Second Art, Devour the Bones!” Zhang roared as he performed a strange looking hand sign causing the shadows underneath his feet to swirl and what appeared to be skeleton beasts to charge out from the abyss.
Unlike the slow and feeble skeletal hands, these two skeleton beasts moved at high speeds and were filled with strength.
With their sharp fangs bared and talons in full view, a pair of skeleton beasts pounced toward Elder Cai Long.
“Begone!” Elder Cai Long roared as his fist smashed into one of the beasts, causing a part of its skull to shatter.
Ignoring the damage dealt to it, the skeleton beast proceeded to bit into Elder Cai Long’s hand while its compatriot but into his leg, piercing all the way into his bones. All the while, Zhang could be seen panting heavily as streams of sweat flowed down his brow.
At Zhang’s current level of cultivation, using the second art of the Heavenly Devouring Technique simply took too much of a toll on his body and not move that could be used repeatedly.
“Pierce!” Zhang roared as he made a lone skeleton hand rise from out from his shadow while gripping a glittering black colored blade in hand.
With his attention focused on the two skeletal beasts, Elder Cai Long failed to detect Zhang’s sneak attack until the profound grade flying sword was mere inches away from impaling him.
“Tsk!” Elder Cai Long clicked his tongue as rotated his body in an attempt to dodge Zhang’s sword. Although he was unable to completely dodge Zhang’s sneak attack, resulting in a long gash across his shoulder, it could be said that Elder Cai Long had avoided the worst possible outcome that could have occurred.
“Brat! I will skin you alive!” Elder Cai Long roared angrily as he saw the streams of blood gushing out from his arm, however, when he looked toward where Zhang had originally been, not a soul could be seen.
From start to end, Zhang actually did not ever have the intention of fighting Elder Cai Long seriously, his true goal had always been to distract the latter and find a perfect opportunity to rescue Cai Wenji. So, using the two skeletal beasts and his sneak attack both as distractions, Zhang made dozens of bony hands erupt from his shadow, lifting him into the sky and over into the Cai Clan’s airship.
Once Zhang arrived on the Cai Clan’s airship, the massive shadow that had covered the upper deck of the Misty Mountain Sect’s airship disappeared without leaving a single trace of its existence as a new shadow was deployed.
“Stop him...” Cai Kang, muttered in a weak manner. Despite having stopped the blood flowing out from what had once been his legs, the current Cai Long was basically a lamb waiting to be slaughtered, without the ability to muster any strength.
Without uttering a single word, Zhang waved his hand and made a sea of skeletal hands shot up from the shadows and gripped onto everyone’s feet, before charging toward Cai Wenji who was gazing at him teary-eyed and with a vibrant smile on her face.
“Let’s go!” Zhang yelled as he could see Elder Cai Long speeding toward him from behind. After using the Heavenly Devouring Technique’s second move, Zhang was utterly exhausted and was in no way to face a profound realm cultivator, so the only option left to him was to obviously run.
Running like a madman, Zhang quickly arrived in front of Cai Wenji and without a moment’s hesitation scooped her up from her feet and continued running.
“You old fogey, you best not attack me again or else you may end up injuring Wenji!” Zhang yelled as he could sense that Cai Long was quickly closing in on him.
“From the way, your body is moving I can tell that after putting on that little display earlier, you’re on your last leg. Sooner or later you’ll have exhausted yourself and become a fish on a platter! So, let’s stop this farce, head over the young miss and cut off one of your arms and I’ll leave you with your life.” Elder Cai Long said while a crooked grin appeared on his face.
“Cutting off one of my arms? Are you crazy? Also, the future has yet to be written, how should I know whether or not you're capable of catching us.” Zhang retorted as he continued full speed ahead.
“There’s nowhere for you to run, so just give up. Without any core realm or higher cultivators to aid you, the only thing you can do is fall to your deaths or into my grasp.” Elder Cai Long said as he stopped chasing after Zhang and levitated in midair.
“I don’t know where we may end up, but as long as we get away from here I doubt you would complain.” Zhang said with a cheerful laugh as he arrived at the edge of the airship with Cai Wenji in his arms, moments before propelling himself into the air and off the side of the ship.
“You old fogey! It seems you forgot about something!” Zhang laughed mockingly as an ordinary looking piece of jade that just so happened to be hanging from his waist began to release a blinding light.
“Shit! The teleportation jade!” Elder Cai Long cursed inwardly as he recalled a tiny piece of information that he had inadvertently forgotten.
“Tell the clan head I’ll return home once grandfather finishes his secluded training! That is of course if you are able to walk all the way back to the clan headquarters!” Cai Wenji said as a black talisman with golden letters stuck to the side of the Cai Clan’s airship began to glow profusely.
These of course were none other than lightning talismans, the same type that had caused a great stir at the Red Cloud Sect’s tournament.
As Zhang and Cai Wenji plummeted toward the ground, a thunderous explosion that could be heard from many miles away roared in the sky as the Cai Clan’s airship was turned into a ball of lightning and fire.
“I’ll kill you!” Cai Long roared as he could be seen piercing through the air with murderous-looking eyes filled with killing intent. Without a doubt, if Zhang fell into his hands, death would only serve as an easy way out.
“If pray that we do not ever meet again.” Zhang said with a laugh as the shining ray of light released by his teleportation jade flashed and both Zhang and Wenji disappeared into thin air.
Seeing what had occurred, and fearful of being implicated, the elders of the Misty Mountain Sect hastily departed, effectively leaving Cai Long and what remained of his forces, stranded in what could only be called a vast wilderness.
“Serves that haughty bastard right.” Elder Liang laughed as he saw the fiery remnants of the Cai Clan’s airship raining down upon the forest below, igniting the sea of trees into a blazing inferno and creating a natural death trap…
Elsewhere, many many many countless miles away, Zhang and Wenji found themselves in a strange and new place. No longer were they soaring through a vast sky, nor were they looking down upon an endless forest, they duo were actually dropped into a crystal-clear lake.
“I wonder where we are…” Zhang mumbled while he and Wenji swam toward the shore while surveying their surroundings as two furry balls of fire could be seen waddling through the water beside them.
In spite of being able to sleep through what could be described as an epic battle, Little Red and Little Blue’s nap was cut short once they fell into the lake along with Zhang and Wenji.
“We can figure that out after we get to shore. But just like you had said, regardless of where we are I won’t be the one complaining.” Wenji said in a cheerful tone as the previously morbid and dreadful atmosphere she was extruding was replaced by an uplifting and happy one.
“So, shall I continue to call you Brother Cai Cao?” Zhang said in a joking manner while a slightly pained expression appeared on his face.
“Is now a good time to be cracking jokes? Save your breathe for when we reach the shore, I don’t want to have to drag you all the way there like when we first met.” Wenji retorted with a giggle as she tried to mask her concern for Zhang.
Without needing to question, Wenji knew that Zhang must be extremely tired after accomplishing the impossible and did not want him to tire himself as he tried to put up a front in front of her.
“Fine, I’ll make fun of you once we get to shore.” Zhang chuckled as he swam beside Little Red.
Before long the group of four made their way onto a sandy shore where they sprawled out on a bed of clean white sand.
“You really should take an essence supplement pill to replenish yourself or I might really have to drag your unconscious body around again.” Wenji said in a slightly concerned tone as she waved her hand and made a small pill appear in her palm.
“If you say so.” Zhang replied as he took the small pill from Wenji and placed it into his mouth. Soon after a soothing sensation gushed throughout his body as a steady influx of essence seeped into his channels.
“I feel much better.” Zhang said as he gave a long sigh of relief.
“Hey you two what are you doing over there? My mother said it’s not good too lazy about in this neck of the woods because a lot of bandits live around here.” A voice belonging to what sounded like a small child could be heard, causing Zhang, Wenji and the pups to jolt and look into the distance where a young boy who looked to be roughly eight years in age could be seen.
“Little brother, might I ask what your name is?” Zhang said as he pushed himself up from the ground and looked at the young boy with a vibrant smile on his face.
“My name is Li Ming, what are your names, big brother and big sister? Why did you swim in the lake with your clothes on?” The boy asked with a curious look on his face.
“We were rowing a boat in the lake and accidentally fell in.” Wenji said in a calm tone moments before a dozen or so voices sounded out in the distance.
“Young Master Li Ming, where are you? It’s time to go!” A mixture of voices belonging to people of all ages and genders could be heard as a group of six men and six women dressed in uniform, followed by a pair of middle aged women dressed in fairly expensive silk robes could be seen from afar.