With an eerie calm covering the land, a month quickly sped by as Zhang and his wives continued to make preparations for the arrival of what would most likely be the strongest enemy that they would have to face.
Under a curtain of stairs and in the dead of night, in lands far and wide, some many miles away from the Aurora Empire, across the seas and in lost and forgotten corners of the world, mysterious lights shone brightly in the sky.
As if the sky itself was being torn apart, wide scars appeared in the night sky, stretching for miles on end while releasing a mesmerizing black and white light.
Gazing upward at these scars in the sky were many different groups of people, many of which Zhang and his wives have never come across throughout their adventures. Like faithful servants, these groups of people faithfully awaited as they focused the entirety of their attention upward into the sky.
With fevered expressions of longing and worship, these patiently waited as the mesmerizing lights grew brighter and brighter.
“I wonder who will exit from this rift.” A familiar looking man mumbled to himself as he levitated above a sea of ever shifting waves. This man of course was the one who had nearly effortlessly slayed Long Jieshu. Currently he was located directly under a spatial rift that loomed above the Eastern Sea.
“Probably won't be any of the old fogies that I'm acquainted with anyway. However regardless of whom crosses into this plane, none of them have good intentions.” The mysterious man said with a look full of disdain and contempt.
Waving his hand, the mysterious man instantly caused the temperature within a ten-mile radius to drastically increase, igniting and bribing hundreds of fire ravens and crows to come to life and flutter under the night sky while causing the ocean below to bubble and simmer.
Soaring through the air animatedly as if they were alive, hundreds of fiery crows and ravens fluttered their wings upward as a few dozen silhouettes could be seen exiting the large spatial rift.
Without even an opportunity to voice their objective or catch their breath, this dozen or so silhouettes were instantly smothered in crimson flames.
For a brief, second anguished screams and futile cries for help filled the air before a dozen or so charred bodies fell from the sky and into the sea. As the waves of the Eastern Sea churned and as the howling winds blew, peace was soon restored and all evidence of the arrival of the invaders from another realm was thus erased.
“Hmph, to think they would send a bunch of lowly high saints to search for his inheritance.” The mysterious man muttered in a voice filled with disdain before an emotionless expression was once again plastered on his face.
Staring indifferently into the sky toward the large spatial rift, the mysterious man waved his hand once again, this time conjuring a pair of massive flame serpents. Spiraling upward while coiling with each other the massive flame servants soon arrived in front of the spatial rift where they broke apart into hundreds of goblet sized flames.
“Congeal and bind!” The mysterious man roared as he commanded the hundreds of flickering flames, causing them to glow ever so more brightly before reshaping themselves into strange looking symbols. Before long a semi translucent sphere covered in runes had completely encased the large spatial rift.
“Conceal!” The mysterious man said while making a series of hand signs, causing the semi translucent sphere up above to slowly fade away before disappearing entirely.
Smiling brightly, the mysterious man waved his hands yet again, cloaking himself in flames before disappearing out of sight.
Elsewhere, a few miles off the coast of the Aurora Empire, a different spatial rift could be seen looming in the sky. Contrary to the other spatial rifts, this one was much smaller and less noticeable. On top of opening up in a someway desolate area, this spatial rift was also mostly covered by large blankets of clouds, thus causing it to be quite hard to spot from afar.
From within this somewhat odd spatial rift, roughly a hundred silhouettes could be seen exiting.
“Let’s quickly begin our search for the fallen god’s inheritance.” A man clad in black robes said while surprisingly releasing the aura of a half deity.
“As you wish, senior brother.” The rest of the group of silhouettes all said in unison as they all used their divine senses to survey the surrounding area.
“Who's there!?” The man clad in black robes yelled, causing all those around him to shift their gazes about somewhat frantically, as they themselves were unable to sense the pretense of this person the man clad in black robes was talking to.
“Your highnesses, please pay no heed to me, I’m but a stranger passing by.” An ancient sounding voice sounded into the air as a frail looking man who could only be described as skin and bones came into view. Dressed in long robes embroidered with a blue colored moon insignia, this elderly man of course was a member of the Order of the Blue Moon.
“What is a mere lesser saint such as yourself doing here at this hour? Are you perhaps a spy for one of the other sects?!” The man clad in black robes said in a slightly mocking tone, causing the frail looking man to frown.
“A spy? How can a lowly lesser saint such myself spy you your highness.” The frail looking man said in a subservient ton despite possessing eyes brimming with anger.
“Senior brother, he's right, how can a lowly lesser saint possibly hope to spy on us and escape alive.” A young man with a cocky grin said with a laugh, causing a few more creases to appear on the frail looking man's brow.
“You do have a point. How could such a weakling hope to plot against us.” The man clad in black robes said with a laugh before having his attention captured by a peculiar looking coffin strapped to the frail looking man’s back.
From afar this coffin looked extremely ordinary, however upon closer inspection, one would notice that it was covered from head to toe with countless symbols and markings.
What made this coffin appear more peculiar was the fact that when the man clad in black robes tried to inspect it with his divine sense, he was actually unable to. One must know that the divine sense of the half deity was countless times stronger than that of a high saint’s, allowing them to observe objects and people from hundreds of miles away.
But surprisingly enough, the eerie looking coffin was able to repel the divine sense of a half deity.
“Hand over that odd-looking coffin and scram.” The man clad in black robes said while his eyes glinted greedily.
“B-but my lord, this is an heirloom that has been passed down within my family for tens of generations, I can't possibly give it to you.” The frail looking man said while inwardly sneering.
“I said hand it over and scram or else I'll have your head!” The man clad in black robes said while an oppressive aura swept through and enveloped the surrounding area.
“Pl-please spare me! I-I will give you the coffin…” The frail looking me said in a hurried tone before unstrapping the coffin from himself and tossing it through the air toward the man clad in black robes.
With a pleased look, the man clad in black robes caught the coffin and intently stared at it, failing to notice the crazed smile on the frail looking man’s face.
“Reaper’s Coffin! Open!” The frail looking man roared while performing a series of hand signs, causing the countless tunes etched onto the coffin to glow.
“What sort of trickery are you trying to pull off!?” The man clad in black robes yelled angrily as he glared at the frail looking man, giving up his only opportunity to attack.
“Ahahahaha! I must thank you for gifting me with your divine energy!” The frail looking man said while laughing maniacally as the lid of the Reaper’s Coffin was propelled into the air, revealing a creepy looking jade skeleton.
As anticlimactic as it was, the man clad in black robes soon noticed that the jade skeleton was actually only releasing an aura that was equivalent of a lesser saint’s.
“Haha, and here I thought there would be some kind of heaven defying treasure stored within this strange coffin. To think it was just the remains of another lowly lesser saint.” The man clad in black robes laughed, failing to notice an eerie glow that was faintly being emitted from the empty eye sockets of the jade skeleton.
“Ahahaha.” The frail looking man continued to laugh as his victims failed to notice the subtle glow within the jade skeleton’s eye sockets continued to grow brighter and brighter as tiny bits of the essence in their bodies were being stolen.
Sadly, the moment these powerful warriors realized what was happening, the Jade skeleton had already absorbed enough essence to act.
“Devourer of the heavens, take my offering and destroy those who stand in my way!” The frail looking man said mere moments before the jade skeleton rose up from within the coffin and grasped the black robed man’s neck, at a speed that the opposite party could not keep up with.
“Le-let go of me!” The man clad in black robes roared as a beautifully decorated sword forged entirely out of gold appeared in his hand, swinging it at the Jade skeleton with all of his might. Sadly as the golden blade was mere inches away from the jade skeleton’s skull, the man in black robes went limp.
Much to the horror of his companions, the man garbed in black robes hung lifelessly as the jade skeleton clenched onto his neck. When paired with the maddening laughter of the frail looking man, the sight of the strongest person in their party slowly turning into an empty husk made everyone present shudder in fear.
After absorbing nearly all of the essence contained in the black robed man’s body, the jade skeleton tossed the now empty husk without care, allowing it to plummet toward the cold waves below.
Much like when Long Shijie had been resurrected, the Jade skeleton’s previously bare bones were now covered within a thin layer of flesh.
As for the frail looking man, he had long since dove after the corpse of the black robed man, hoping to scavenge a bit of divine energy from the jade skeleton’s leftover scraps.
“I'll let you have your fill first, however in the future you'll have to learn to share.” The frail looking man snickered while tracing a silver colored ring worn on his left hand as he grabbed hold of the husk like body with his other hand, moments before it sank beneath the waves, quickly expending a little bit of effort and started absorbing whatever amount of essence and divine energy still remaining within.
Despite only being able to absorb a hint of divine energy from the corpse, the frail man's body looked much rounder and somewhat healthier than it had looked before.
“Ev-everyone! Combine our attacks! Avenge Senior Brother Mui!” One of the horrified onlookers screamed as he unleashed a colorful beam of light from the tips of his fingers.
Seeing this as their only chance of survival, the other hundred or so onlookers quickly unleashed their own attacks at the jade skeleton.
Of course, this was all but futile, as every attack that came near the jade skeleton was almost instantly extinguished and absorbed.
As it absorbed more and more essence, from both the air and the many attacks unleashed upon it, the jade skeleton slowly regenerated itself.
“Good, good! Keep up the supply of essence.” The previously frail man said with a cruel laugh.
“Devour the flesh… Devour the bones… Devour the soul…” A hoarse and ancient voice drifted into the ears of all the people present.
Without so as much as lifting a finger, a black colored fog shot out from the jade skeleton’s jaws, enveloping the crowd within, entrapping them and turning them into helpless lambs.
Robbed of their vision and unable to escape, the hundred or so saints soon felt as if every inch of their body was being nibbled away as their consciousness and souls slowly dwindled into nothingness.
“Enough for now.” The previously frail man said n as he made a series of hand signs, causing the Reaper’s Coffin to soar through the air before trapping the jade skeleton within it once again.