“Absorb the essence of the world into one’s body, force it to submit to one’s will, giving it shape and purpose before releasing it back into the world. Once one is able to freely make the essence in the air, earth, and area around one’s body bend to one’s will, enemies will tremble as the heavens watch in intrigue. Once one is able to give shape to that which does not have shape, weapons could be forged with a thought and shields could be conjured with a wave of a head.” Zhang read as he tried to understand the first portion of the Demonic Sphere Technique. As easy as it was to absorb essence into one’s body, to shape it and bend it completely to one’s will was another matter.
For those at Zhang’s level, merely absorbing the essence of the world and using it to strengthen their bodies or to add its power to their simple techniques was already something that many could not do, but to shape it into an objection, Zhang could only imagine how difficult that would be.
“As long as I can master the first step and forge strings of essence, I can retrieve the eight Demonic Devil Spheres, forging weapons and shields out of thin air can wait for later.” Zhang said he concentrated all of the essence within his body to the tips of his fingers and tried to sculpt them into tiny invisible strings.
Despite being quite similar to when Zhang ignites essence flames on the tips of his fingers, the process of sculpting essence into something rather than using it as a source of fuel were two entirely different things. Due to this fundamental difference, the art of essence manipulation is many times harder than essence ignition.
As Zhang was fully immersed in training, to the point where he zoned out from his surroundings, the sound of dozens of footsteps made their way into Wenji’s ear.
“The treasure in this chamber has already been claimed, if you know what’s good for you, it is best to leave before I get angry!” Wenji said in an intimidating voice as four long needles slid out from her sleeve and into the gaps between her fingers.
Ignoring Wenji’s warning, the sound of footsteps continued to draw near as the light released from the flickering torch danced about.
“You there! Stop! Or I’ll kill you!” Wenji yelled as a young man slowly walked out from the shadows, half of his face revealed by the light shared by the flickering torch.
Much to Wenji’s horror, as the young man continued to walk toward the light and out of the shadows the other side of his face came into view. With countless bite marks and blood covered bones showing, this young man caused the hairs on Wenji’s arms to stand on end as an eerie cold seemed to drift into the room.
“I warned you!” Wenji yelled in a slightly shaken tone as four long silver streaks shot out from her hand, two embedding themselves in the man’s knee joints and two into his shoulders.
Under normal circumstances, having four needles invade one’s joints would result in an unbearable pain that would cause even the most hardened of war veterans to stumble onto the ground and shriek in pain, however, the young man covered in bite marks continued forward without even showing an ounce of discomfort.
“You’re kidding me…” Wenji mumbled as four more needles slid out from her sleeves while the two pups arrived beside her and began to snarl aggressively, baring their rows of sharp canines for all to see.
“Rip him apart!” Wenji commanded, prompting the two pups to charge forward while releasing another four silver streaks into the air.
With utmost accuracy, Wenji’s four silver needles all pierced through the young man’s chest, in the general area where his heart was supposed to be.
“Hmph…” Wenji snorted as she saw her attack had no effect on the young man, however, none of that mattered because in but a few second the two pups had pounced and knocked their opponent onto the ground.
Using their sharp fangs to latch on tightly to their opponent’s neck and leg, Little Red and Little Blue had the young man pinned to the ground.
Despite already realizing what was currently occurring could not be classified as normal, Wenji was especially surprised when the young man was able to push himself up from the ground and onto his feet.
“How is that possible? When someone’s head, is pinned to the ground, it's not humanly possible for them to get up…” Wenji mumbled in shock.
“Little Blue and Little Red, release him!” Wenji commanded as she arrived in front of the young man and the two pups who instantly unlatched their fangs and jumped away.
Quickly grasping the hilt of her belt sword, Wenji drew a silver arc through the air, cutting off the young man’s head and causing it to fall onto the ground.
“If he still gets up then I don't know what to do…” Wenji said in a low tone as she cautiously locked her eyes on the headless corpse laying on the ground.
Luckily after having his head severed from his torso, the young man did not get up again. That being said, an oddly colored purplish smoke did seep out from his mouth before fading away.
“You two be on high alert, we can't let anyone or anything disturb him before he finishes comprehending the first part of that manual.” Wenji said to the pups after glancing at Zhang who had fallen into a meditative state.
Waving her hand and withdraw a few low-level fire talismans from her interspatial ring, Wenji proceeded to set up a perimeter around Zhang before laying traps in the passageway leading into the chamber.
Just as she finished sticking the last talisman in her hand onto the wall, the sound of footsteps once again drifted into Wenji’s ears. This time instead of a single person, Wenji could deduce that there was at least a group of five heading toward where she and Zhang were.
“Is-is there anyone there!?!” A cry echoed down the passageway.
“The treasure here has already been claimed!” Wenji yelled, although she didn't know what was happening in the other parts of the tomb, she felt the need to give everyone a fair warning in case anyone with bad intentions arrived.
“There’s people here!” Someone cried after hearing Wenji’s voice.
“We come in peace!” A voice echoed back toward Wenji.
“I've warned you, anyone who enters my sight will be slain!” Wenji warned once again.
“Pl-please, we mean you no harm! There's nowhere else to go!” Another voice cries out as Wenji could see seven shadowy figures quickly approaching.
“Stay back! I've rigged this place with traps if you don't want to be burned to char then don't come any closer!” Wenji said as she saw seven faintly familiar looking people emerge from the shadows.
“These people should be from the Jiang Clan…” Wenji thought, recognizing the armor the group of seven were all wearing.
“Pl-please help us, those things are heading this way!” One of the seven cried.
“What things? Why do you think I can help you?” Wenji asked, hoping to obtain more information.
“There's nowhere else to go, most of the other parts of the tomb have been overrun, please let us in. At least in this chamber, we can try to hold those things back.” An older man with a head full of gray hair said frantically.
“Where are the core realm cultivators that had entered the tomb with you?” Wenji asked as a red colored talisman appeared in her hand and ignited.
“We got separated from them and were told to go back to the main chamber to wait, however on our way back we stumbled upon those abominations and lost most of our group.” One of the members of the Jiang Clan said, hoping to persuade Wenji into letting them into the chamber she and Zhang were in.
Without uttering a single word, Wenji raised her hand and to the horror of the members of the Jiang Clan, the fiery talisman previously clasped in between her fingers was released into the air, shooting toward them.
“Ahhhh!” They all yelled in unison as the fire talisman shot past them.
“What are you doing? Come in quickly before I change my mind…” Wenji said as a disfigured middle aged man that had crept up behind the group of seven was set ablaze.
Disregarding the intense flames that had engulfed his body, the middle-aged man tried to grab onto one of the members of the Jiang Clan who were still trying to figure out what had just happened.
“Hmph…” Wenji snorted as she dashed past the group of seven and with a gentle sweep of her sword, decapitated the middle-aged man, or rather the corpse of a middle-aged man.
“What kind of talismans do you have on you? Take them all out and prepare in case more unwanted guests arrive…” Wenji commanded as she gazed down at the burning corpse while cover her nose, trying to shield it from the putrid smell of charred human flesh.
“Ri-right away!” The members of the Jiang Clan quickly responded as they pulled out whatever talismans they had from their robes and began to stick them onto the walls of the passageway just like Wenji had previously done.
Much to Wenji’s surprise, from what the members of the Jiang Clan had witnessed, more than likely half of the people who had entered the tomb in the hopes of finding treasure had joined the undead.
Being attracted to where large groups of people were congregated, most of the undead had ignored the passageway that Zhang and Wenji had taken.
Sadly, that was not the case now, due to the arrival of the group of seven. This, of course, made Wenji a tad unhappy, however, there was not much she could do since killing the members of the Jiang Clan would only increase the load of work she would have to do when more undead arrive.
“What’s done is done I guess…” Wenji thought as she released a long sigh before a sudden thought entered her mind.
“Wait a moment… Soon that poison that everyone is infected with will kick in and the number of undead will swell once again…” Wenji though as she clicked her tongue and frowned.
“Miss is there something wrong?” One of the members of the Jiang Clan, a young boy who looked to be roughly twelve years of age asked in a concerned tone.
“Take these…” Wenji said as she tossed seven brown colored pills at the seven members of the Jiang Clan.
“Wha-what are these for? Miss, we already told you, we mean you no harm, you need to do this.” The young boy protested, thinking Wenji was asking them to consume poison pills to ensure they are not scheming against her.
“If you don't take them, when the poison in your body takes effect you'll all die, not only that but you'll put my life in danger as well. So, you either take these pills or I'll have to kill you…” Wenji said as Little Red and Little Blue began to snarl angrily.
“Poison? We’ve been poisoned?” Someone asked in a confused tone, prompting Wenji to explain that the water sources throughout the mountain had been poisoned.
After hearing a Wenji explanation, the seven members of the Jiang Clan obediently consumed the brown colored pills before proceeding to start a small campfire at the entrance of the chamber and taking up defensive positions in case more undead arrive.
Taking turns, everyone but Zhang began to take on guard duty as they stared into the darkness watchfully.
It was only a matter of time before the poison residing in the bodies of the rest of the adventurers within the tomb took effect and the undead began to head toward the particular chamber they were in.
Some may wonder why Wenji did not wake Zhang from his trance like state and attempt to exit the tomb before the current situation became dire. The answer to this question is actually quite simple, armed with the Heavenly Devouring Technique and a Teleportation Jade, Zhang and Wenji could leave any moment they wished, however obtaining the treasures in this tomb was a one in a lifetime chance for people at their level of cultivation, so there was no way Wenji would be willing to leave within retrieving a few more treasures first. At the very least, she wanted to hold at until Zhang retrieved the right Demonic Devil Spheres.
Like a drifting wave, time continued to flow as Zhang continued his attempts toward molding his essence while Wenji, Little Red, Little Blue and the members of the Jiang Clan stood guard.
“Just a little more.” Zhang thought as he fails his twentieth attempt at forming his essence into invisible strings. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned into hours as His twentieth attempt turned into his fiftieth attempt and so on.
It was not until his hundred attempt did Zhang begin to figure out what he was doing wrong.
“Instead of manipulating all of the essence at once, I should just create a shell and leave the rest unchanged… That way I won't have to exert as much mental of physical energy.” Zhang thought as he tried to change his approach.
Managing to formed invisible flexible tubes instead of wires, Zhang slowly opened his eyes and redirected his gaze toward the eight floating Demonic Devil Spheres.
“Now to test these out.” Zhang mumbled softly as he waved his hands and sent tiny strands of essence shooting out from the tips of his fingers, attempting to link them to the right floating spheres.