The man in black rolled against the ground, making the flying blade miss. He had already shoved a pill into his mouth. The flying blade turned around and pressed towards him again.
He let out a beast-like growl as his legs erupted with alarming power, rushing towards Hua Chenglu with speed that completely surpassed what Qi Practitioners could possess.
He had consumed a pill that could unleash the potential of his body. It was unavoidable that pills like these came with side effects, but he was forced to use it now that he faced a life-or-death situation. If Hua Chenglu took out another scarlet talisman, his life would be in danger. Meanwhile, he primarily practised the wood element, which specialised in healing and nourishment. He could take his time and recover after this.
Hua Chenglu’s mouth opened slightly, taken aback. She no longer wanted to kill the cultivator in black anymore. She kicked off the ground with her slender legs, and she had already rushed into the air. A pair of beautiful wings unfolded on her back as she climbed higher and higher.
The wings were made from overlapping metal plates, a crystallisation of the mechanical arts of mohism. Then she painted them according to her tastes, which made them seem like a pair of real wings.
Regular Qi Practitioners all lacked methods to fly high in the sky. As long as she reached a certain altitude, he could not touch her. However, it went without saying that the pair of wings had come at a lofty price.
The moment she was about to fly out of the sea of trees, her ankle suddenly tightened. A verdant vine had wrapped around it, the spiritual artifact that belonged to the man in black. He tugged hard. “Get down here!”
“Ahh!” Hua Chenglu screamed and fell out of the sky. A thick, powerful hand gripped her slender neck firmly.
“Why don’t you keep running!?” The man in black smiled viciously. His face was bulging with veins, which made him seem terrifying. A great difference existed in their cultivation and experience in the first place. After consuming the pill that unleashed the potential of his body, the man in black possessed a crushing advantage.
“If you kill me… my elder brother won’t spare you!” A sliver of pain appeared on Hua Chenglu’s beautiful face, but her gaze was as stubborn as ever.
“Kill you? Don’t worry, I can’t bring myself to part with you just yet! I’ll find a secretive location and process you slowly. We still have ten days! By the time your elder brother finds you, you’ll already be a corpse and completely bare!”
Hua Chenglu could not help but become afraid. If that was the fate awaiting her, she would much rather die right now. Was he really a cultivator?
“Big brother, where are you?”
“Cough cough, your actual brother isn’t here, but there is a big brother Li!”
At this moment, the man in black heard a voice from behind. Hua Chenglu’s eyes suddenly lit up. “Big brother Li!”
The man in black suddenly turned around and saw the speaker. He was a large, tall, young man, who currently stared at him like he was a corpse. His face immediately changed. “L- Li Qingshan… don’t come over, if you come over, I’ll…”
Before he could finish, he saw a flash, and Li Qingshan had already arrived before him. He casually smacked the man in black’s shoulder, and he immediately collapsed on the ground like his bones had vanished from his body.
Hua Chenglu also fell down with him, almost hitting the ground, but Li Qingshan managed to catch her by the waist. He asked in concern, “Are you alright?”
Although her protective talisman protected her, the blow from the boulder earlier still caused her some injury. However, amidst a nerve-wracking battle, she was in no shape to tend to them. Now that the threat was eliminated and her mind eased up, her body began to ache all over again.
Only when water spiritual qi channeled out from Li Qingshan’s hand did she feel much better. She coughed dryly and rubbed her neck. “I was almost in trouble. Fortunately, you made it in time, big br- commander Li!”
“How’d I become commander so quickly?” Li Qingshan smiled. He had become acquainted with her very early on. Although they did not have much contact back then, he did have a very good impression of her. Now that the young girl of the past had become a great beauty, he could not help but sigh over the passage of time.
“If you don’t mind my cultivation being too weak, I’ll just continue calling you that then!”
Hua Chenglu stuck out her tongue, a little embarrassed. The current Li Qingshan could no longer be compared to the past. An invisible chasm existed between their cultivations, while their identities and statues were already worlds apart. Seeing how he still remembered their old relationship and did not look down on her, she was delighted. She asked in confusion, “Big brother Li, how did you know I was here?”
It was not a coincidence that Li Qingshan had shown up here. In order to recover his spiritual qi as fast as possible, he had specially come looking for the great banyan tree, planning on collecting some tree sap to drink like the dwarf. He happened to hear Hua Chenglu’s cries, so he rushed over.
“So it’s here. Fortunately, you came, or who knew what would have happened,” Hua Chenglu said, still badly shaken. Then she became furious and sent her flying blade towards the man in black who had collapsed on the ground.
“Hold on! I still have a use for him!” Li Qingshan grabbed her flying blade and removed the hundred treasures pouch from the man in black, as well as two medals. He tossed them to Hua Chenglu. “Compensation for the mental harm this bastard has caused you.”
With a wave of his hand, a white cloud descended slowly. It was filled with people, and from how they were dressed, they were all Si Qing’s subordinates. There were a dozen or two of them. Although none of them moved, they were all still alive.
These were the prisoners Li Qingshan had captured along the way. He casually tossed the man in black into the pile and said in thought, “This should be enough!”
Hua Chenglu asked in surprise, “Big brother Li, what are you doing?”
“Feeding the tree!”
“Feeding the tree?”
“I should say feeding the vines to be more accurate. It’s quite a long story, so I’m not going to bother with explaining myself. I’m going to go, so you better go and converge with everyone else!” Li Qingshan stepped onto the cloud. Hua Chenglu grabbed him by the sleeve. “Big brother Li, can I come with you?”
“Hmm? There might be danger if you come with me!” Li Qingshan said. Who knew when those people would rush over to kill him.
“I’m not afraid. I’m begging you!” Hua Chenglu brought her palms together and pleaded.
“Fine then. Get on!”
Li Qingshan thought about it and felt it was rather unsuitable for Hua Chenglu to cross through so many battlefields alone. He had seen along the way that the battles between the cultivators had suddenly become extremely intense. He had to collect the tree sap as quickly as possible before sending her over to Liu Zhangqing.
He let Hua Chenglu onto the cloud and flew over to the great banyan tree. Collecting tree sap was anything but easy. He had to pass through the crazy sun vines first.
However, as a cultivator, he was not exactly faster than the dwarf in terms of speed. He was much larger and taller too, which only made it even more difficult to maneuver between the sun vines. Moreover, he did not have a good understanding of the attack patterns of the sun vines yet, so he refused to make an attempt rashly, just in case he accidentally used his powers as a daemon and gave himself away.
As a result, he came up with this idea. He would use these people as bait to draw away the attacks of the sun vines, and then he would strike while they covered him.
Hua Chenglu gasped. “So big!”
“Throw this guy over and see what happens!” Li Qingshan picked up the man in black and handed him to Hua Chenglu. He wanted to test out how responsive the sun vines would be, and this would basically be letting her kill her enemy with her own hands!
The man was immobilised, but his eyes were filled with fright. He obviously understood the terror of the sun vines.
“Is this feeding the tree?” Hua Chenglu lifted up the man in black happily before lowering him again. “Can you climb a little higher with the cloud?”
“There are trees underneath to soften his fall. I’m afraid he won’t fall to his death!”
“Haha, don’t worry. He’s guaranteed to die. If he survives, you can just toss him again!”
Hua Chenglu adjusted the man in black’s position so that he faced the tree. With a yelp, she tossed him towards the great banyan tree as hard as she could. After all, she was also a cultivator. Even though she was only a Qi Practitioner, tossing out something that weighed a few dozen kilograms was still very easy. The man in black hurtled towards the tree.
Swish! A sun vine as thick as an arm pierced him immediately, wrapping around him a few times and reducing him to a dried corpse in the blink of an eye.
Hua Chenglu covered her mouth. Never did she expect the vines to be so powerful, and it had only been a relatively thinner sun vine that had responded earlier. The huge sun vines that wrapped around the tree trunk like dragons did not even move. It was as if they could not be bothered with such small prey.
“That’s a little unideal!”
Li Qingshan rubbed his chin in thought. Suddenly, he came up with an idea and picked up a prisoner, tossing him out. He threw out the person even slower than Hua Chenglu. The prisoner in the air let out a roar of despair and circulated his true qi desperately, wanting to escape in the opposite direction.
When Li Qingshan threw him out, he released the seal on him as well.
Immediately, over a dozen sun vines responded. One of them was as thick as Hua Chenglu’s waist—of course, it was only so thick, but it was still an improvement.
“I see!” Li Qingshan smiled and kicked the cloud, springing all the people into the air. He struck out several times, sending them off in different directions while releasing their seals. They knew they were probably done for, but all of them put up a fervent struggle before impending death, circulating their true qi at full strength.
Several hundred sun vines began to dance about madly. Li Qingshan was about to charge in when he heard a bellow from behind, “Li Qingshan!” When the first syllable had been yelled out, the voice was still far away, but it had already pressed to five kilometers away by the last.
Li Qingshan looked back. The Foundation Establishment cultivators from the marquis’ estate had arrived. Seeing how Li Qingshan was using their subordinates and disciples as live bait to feed the golden vines, they were all furious.
The dwarf used a movement talisman and shot off towards Li Qingshan as a streak of light. He could tell what Li Qingshan was planning at first glance. He could not allow him to collect the tree sap and recover his spiritual qi.
As long as he kept him busy for a moment, he could stop him right before the great banyan tree and cut off all of his escape routes. If he tried barging in recklessly, then all the dwarf had to do was interfere with the movement patterns of the sun vines a little, and he would not be emerging again. This was a move he had learnt from the duel last time.
Li Qingshan never expected them to arrive at such an inconvenient time either. He frowned slightly, grabbing Hua Chenglu and rushed towards the great banyan tree.
The dwarf lit up with delight and cursed, “Idiot!” He was about to interfere with the sun vines a little, only to see a strange sword suddenly appearing in Li Qingshan’s hand, being swung at him from afar.
The sword qi that absorbed half of Li Qingshan’s spiritual qi flowed from his dantian to his arm. Then it headed to the Traitorous Demon sword, becoming even sharper before whistling towards the dwarf.
“Do you think a move like that is effective against me?” He was about to dodge when he felt a terrifying sword intent directly enter his sea of consciousness, making him seize up for a moment. He experienced life-threatening danger. He activated his protective arcane artifact instinctively and brought his dagger before him to block.