Chapter 830: Stellar Nest, What Lies Beneath; Split in Two
The masked figure turned away, unfurling his Worldly Domain to the maximal extent, and zipped out like lightning as they glided upon the ambient mana. It would be a lie to say Wei Wuyin wasnt taken off-guard by this action, but his reaction wasnt the slightest bit slow.
The nine dragons of elemental origin and himself gave chase, turning into streaks of white lightning encapsulated by chaotic wind currents. The intermixture of wind and lightning allowed the dragons to reach higher speeds with greater flexibility. They clawed ferociously across the chilled surface of the Stellar Nest, maintaining a grounded and low altitude as they shot in pursuit.
It wasnt a surprise that the masked figure would retreat, especially if he fully realized the gravity of Wei Wuyins earlier words. In terms of overwhelming power, that category was reserved for his saber. His Elemental Origin Force revolved around its frightening utility and various properties. The most notable of which was the combination of Permanence and Elemental Heart Intent.
The masked figure had definitely destroyed each dragon individually. In fact, destroying the link that binds the Spirit Units, that which bestowed them great spiritual strength, shouldve nullified their permanence and shattered Wei Wuyins control over them. However, Elemental Heart Intent and Mana Dominance served to eliminate such weakness.
The former allowed the absorption of ambient energies and essence, such as light energies, converting them into genuine Elemental Origin Energies. Those nine dragons of elemental origin grew stronger by fueling themselves with external energies, allowing them to fight in perpetuity unless completely destroyed by a greater power.
The latter allowed the absorption of ambient mana, rapidly refined to reconnect the severed bonds of Spirit Units. After all, Mana was the connective tissue of the world, its innate energy allowed the merging of yin, yang, creation, and worldly interaction. The masked figure hadnt just severed the bindings for Spirit Units, but destroyed the refined mana that gave the nine dragons form, shape, and power.
This was why they exploded into indistinct motes of white light. If it werent for Wei Wuyins two-fold abilities, the motes of light would slowly dissipate until the world assimilated them with time.
The masked figures understanding of the situation was swiftly reached and came to realize the implication almost immediately. While they might not understand the exact principles as to why Wei Wuyin could do such things, they understood the end result. Those powerful elemental origin dragons were essentially immortal, and a battle of attrition against a tank of literal energy that was Wei Wuyin was the same as suicide.
While there were other options to take against such an opponent, and perhaps the masked figure had some counters, they instead chose the simplest solution: Flee!
Unfortunately for the masked figure, since Wei Wuyin dared to speak amidst combat, he had already fully seized the situation to claim his objectives. The Astralis Ultimate Star tethered to the masked figure had a faint coating of white gloss over its multicolored radiance. A rich elemental aura emanated from it.
The masked figure was undoubtedly fast, capable of clashing with Wei Wuyin and surprising him during several exchanges through spontaneous bursts of speed, but in terms of maximum speed at peak acceleration, the masked figure seemed unable to exceed the refined body and forces of Wei Wuyin.
They ran for roughly three miles, an extremely short distance for cultivators at their level, yet Wei Wuyin and his nine dragons hadnt just caught up; they surrounded the masked figure once more. Standing in his way, Wei Wuyin folded his arms across his chest and waited. The white gloss was like an encroaching parasite, enveloping more of the Ultimate Astralis Star with every passing millisecond. At this point, a quarter of it was covered.
The masked figure turned their head around, inspecting the growling dragons that revealed violently mocking expressions. They roared softly, shook the ambient mana with their aggressive movements, and breathed out gushes of raw elemental energies.
“Seems like running isnt the way to go,” the masked figures voice was calm, and their distinctive vocal qualities had regained normalcy. At least, their spiritual voice had returned to their original vocal inflections. Whether this was their authentic voice or not was uncertain. However, the calm didnt escape Wei Wuyins notice.
Clearly, the masked figure wasnt bothered by being surrounded or trapped. But, Wei Wuyin understood their perspective. Neither of them was unleashing all of their abilities, conserving and observing the situation. Furthermore, the environment was marred with questionable details that seemed to contain lingering danger.
For example, the countless Stellar Rain lifeforms hadnt attacked since they began to encircle them in a murderous cage. That wouldve been great if it was out of fear, but the Stellar Rain lifeforms hadnt attacked since they arrived. This didnt seem attributed to just fear. They emanated heavy killing intent, but they restrained themselves from acting.
What was this glass-like ground that emanated an iceless chill? Why did it restrain Spiritual Sense? What was the Stellar Nest? It had no solar star, no spatial limits, and light without origin. Could it really be a colony of insect-like lifeforms that served their queen, the Zenith Stellar Source? Why did the superheated environment feel incompatible with the chilled ground?
While these questions left Wei Wuyin with endless vigilance, the masked figure might already have the answer to them all. His confident and calm demeanor suggested his absolute belief in leaving without harm and even entertained an unnecessary battle. After all, why escape now if not before?
Besieged by so many areas that brought in heavy suspicion, Wei Wuyins actions were strictly restrained. If not, he wouldve long since unleashed the fullest extent of his powers to seize this masked figure. But if genuinely threatening him endangered the Stellar Nest or Astralis Ultimate Star in his possession, then the losses wouldnt outweigh the gains. Especially if, in the end, he was left with nothing.
A single item that exceeded Mortal Limits might cause an unstoppable collapse. He had far too many of those in his Saint Ring; whos to say this mysterious figure of unknown origins didnt?
A calculated, measured step at every turn. First, claim the Astralis Ultimate Star. Second, ensure the Stellar Nests safety. The entire nest, he already claimed it in his heart. To do both, he needed to be an enemy but not be a lethal, inevitable threat to lower the masked figures guard. He played this part perfectly, clearly from the masked figures calm tone.
When operating under numerous unknown variables, it is best to act within the ones you can control. The greatest being none other than yourself.
“I didnt want to do this,” the masked figure stated, justifying himself: “but its the only way without the exit.”
Wei Wuyin furrowed his brows. Was the masked figure trying to locate the exit during their battle? Perhaps his own power was just as restrained. The masked figure didnt give Wei Wuyin time to think, bending their knees without warning and jumping upwards.
Wei Wuyins mind fiercely reacted as he reached out. The white gloss had covered almost half the Ultimate Astralis Star. He didnt know what jumping beyond a certain point would provoke, but considering the masked figures bodily reactions earlier, he knew it wasnt safe. He had no intention of following along with ignorance, forcefully deciding to preemptively take his treasure.
“What?!” The masked figure had already reached roughly ten meters in a split second, no longer tethered to the chill or the surface that emitted it.
Louder than ever before, the Stellar Rain seemed to react with their strange sound. The air, light, and heat distorted by the sound waves alone. The cacophony of hundreds of trillions of Stellar Rain lifeforms was too great, too monstrous.
If Wei Wuyins eyes were opened, his pupils would have contracted at this moment for the entire world to see. A flash of memories and feelings amalgamated into a realization!
When he first arrived, he felt as if the light and the superheated environment was clashing with the ground. But the chill it emanated was too great, causing it to remain cold and untouched. At first, he found it strange, but just that. But now, he realized that, a single fact had gone entirely unnoticed! The Stellar Rain lifeforms had never touched the surface of the ground or neared it! They were all flying in the air.
This was an easily forgettable detail. After all, these were flying creatures. Youd expect them to fly, right?
Then you have to ask, why didnt they attack after gathering up tens of trillions of their own?
Why was the masked figure so calm?
It was said that Stellar Rain was absolutely fast. The energies within their bodies could create a unique pellet, the Ever-Starlight Pellet, that could escape from Ascended beings. Wei Wuyin might be fast and physically powerful, but outrunning an Ascended being, especially an Earthly Saint, wasnt within his means at the moment. Those Stellar Rain lifeforms shouldve been able to overwhelm them instantly!
But they hadnt.
They had only chased after the masked figure, who was moving relatively slower than usual.
There was only one reason: fear!
They were afraid of that chill. This was why being in contact with it forced them away.
Could the Stellar Rain be generating this superheated environment to combat this chill? If so, what was creating the chill? What was this glass-like ground?
What was beneath the surface?
His thoughts, albeit swift, were interrupted by the masked figures actions. Noticing that Wei Wuyin had tainted half the Astralis Ultimate Star, the masked figure reached out and grabbed the star with his hand. Unfortunately, his other hand was performing a strange, half-seal, so he was preoccupied.
A burst of spiritual light erupted from his fingertips, and tried to fight off the white glosss infectious spread.
Wei Wuyin was about to react when he felt the gushing wind of countless Stellar Rain Lifeforms, maybe hundreds of trillions at this moment, shooting towards their location. His entire body was impacted by the far-off surge of wind; even his nine dragons were pressed.
He and his dragons were sent into a whirlwind of sound and wind current. Wei Wuyin was aghast at the sheer power of their movement. It was so frightening fast; it was as if hundreds of trillions of Ascended beings were racing towards an objective. They held nothing back!
Be it his spiritual sense, his body, or his nine dragons, he could barely control them at all. With urgent haste, he clung to the chilled ground with his astral force and hunkered down with everything he could. His nine dragons instinctively surged towards him, swirling around and generating an nigh-impregnable white dome of steel origin force. It fended off the excessive wind surge, giving Wei Wuyin some breathing room.
While Wei Wuyin was restrained, the masked figure cursed. He clearly hadnt noticed Wei Wuyin tainting the Astralis Ultimate Star. It was unknown whether he cursed at his carelessness or Wei Wuyins deviousness. Yet his problem remained.
Half of the Astralis Ultimate Star was resisting his control, trying to come back to the sealed Wei Wuyin and preventing him from bringing it upwards. There wasnt enough time to eradicate the tainted side with the Stellar Rain coming to rip him to shreds and reclaim their treasure.
“Split it!” A voice, an entirely different voice with another vocal tone and slightly feminine, came from the masked figure. It seemed unintentionally leaked, but considering the pressing matter, the shout was necessary.
“Shit,” the masked figures original voice leaked through audibly, not spiritually. If one could see their expression, it might be a little dark and sullen. With a wave of their hand, the golden sword manifested and sliced at the Astralis Ultimate Star, splitting it directly in the middle where the two lights, the white gloss, and multi-color brilliance, were at the heaviest of contentions.
The Ultimate Astralis Star was severed cleanly. With a violent pull, half was drawn to the masked figure as he brought out that textile shuttle from earlier. Its aura bordered both within Mortal Limits and beyond Mortal Limits. The Stellar Nest only reacted with a slight tremble, nothing more.
But then the figure crushed the shuttle into countless bits, generating endless, grey-colored wisps that surrounded the masked figure. Without warning, the masked figure vanished as if they never existed. The other half of the Astralis Ultimate Star similarly glowed with a grey-colored light but of purer fluctuations and disappeared.
The Stellar Rain lifeforms crashed against each other, violently attempting to reclaim their treasure and rip their invader in half. They rumbled for hours in wild fury and heavy frustration. The killing intent alone was lethal to the weak hearted.
Soon, they calmed down. They inspected the world around them for several more hours before scattering away, bringing peace back to the area.
After an extended period, a male figure dressed in black manifested from the ambient wind. On his shoulders were nine tiny dragons that aggressively played around. His spiritual senses were honed onto the area where the masked figure vanished.
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