Seizing the moment, Zhang Dong unleashed his concealed power. The façade of Elder Jing slipped away, baring his genuine identity. The chamber erupted into a mesmerizing display that would remain etched in the memories of these nascent soul masters. A fusion of diverse hues illuminated the space, with golden lightning reigning supreme while other shades intertwined. An unparalleled tempest of lightning, woven from myriad elemental Daos, was now upon them.
“What is this power? How can he generate this much spiritual energy?”
One of the nascent soul masters, struggling to contain the tumultuous energy, turned to his fellow cultivators. The chamber housed dozens of them, and even the least experienced among them was a late-stage realm master. Theoretically, no single individual should possess the capability to subdue such a large group of cultivators at this level. The sheer numbers present seemed insurmountable; not even their leader, the Azure Emperor, should have been able to handle the situation so adeptly.
"Keep the pressure on! We must detain that traitor at all costs! Initiate the formation quickly."
"General... the formation has already been activated, but something seems amiss..."
"What's the issue?"
"The energy isn't being suppressed. The formation was designed to confine his spiritual energy and draw it away, but instead, it's gathering it throughout the entire chamber and spreading it out... General, we must evacuate immediately!"
An elder who stood near Long Shen shouted urgently. The situation was rapidly spiraling out of control. They had discerned the imposter's identity the moment he had set foot on the ship. Forced to act with minimal preparation, they had summoned the Azure Emperor and isolated him from his companions in an attempt to concentrate on the leader. However, it had become apparent that something was awry. The containment formation in place couldn't control the imposter and was on the brink of detonation.
Zhang Dong continued to pour his power into the chamber, his lightning-infused energy was wreaking havoc on the formation and the nascent soul masters. The room trembled as cracks spread across the walls, and the energy pulsated in chaotic waves. His strategy was clear: create enough chaos to provide a distraction for Zhi and Liena, giving them the opportunity to destroy the signal device and escape the fortress.
Amidst the turmoil, Long Shen's authority wavered. His attempts to command his subordinates to take action were met with confusion and panic. The nascent soul masters struggled to maintain their composure as the oppressive energy within the chamber mounted, rendering them incapable of forming a coherent response.
"Cease this at once!"
Long Shen's commanding voice echoed through the chamber, but his orders were disregarded. The figure within the formation stood unwavering, his stature exuding confidence, just as the fragile barrier burst open. In an instant, the room was engulfed in a cascade of his unbridled energy, leaving the nascent soul masters helpless in its wake. Reacting swiftly, they instinctively leaped backward to shield themselves. Long Shen found shelter amidst the protection of at least five elders. His expression bore a blend of animosity and wounded pride, fueled by his incapacity to bring the situation under control until his father's arrival.
The guards surrounding their general swiftly began to withdraw. Long Shen's status as the clan's future weighed heavily on their minds, urging them to shield him from harm. More than twenty nascent soul masters dispersed throughout the chamber, grappling with the surging chaotic energy as the room trembled with impending explosion. They intended to confront the rogue infiltrator while simultaneously escorting their leader to a safer zone.
"How could this have occurred? Father entrusted me with this mission. We must return and vanquish that demon!"
Long Shen's voice held a mixture of frustration and determination. But before he could push himself into the deathly zone filled with chaotic energies, one of the bodyguards quickly interjected.
"Please reconsider, Young Lord. The Emperor will soon arrive to deal with the traitor. Our best course is to retreat and rendezvous with him."
Though a scowl formed on Long Shen's face, he recognized the wisdom in his bodyguard’s counsel. Even if he and his six companions charged back in, their potential impact seemed limited. The ongoing battle within their own vessel amplified the risk of collateral damage. Explosions echoed in the distance, shedding light on Zhang Dong's ulterior motive for infiltrating their ranks.
"They aim to destroy the main mast! This diversion is intentional. We must redirect our efforts there!"
While Long Shen couldn't match the sheer power of his uncle, Zhang Dong, he understood that not all was lost. Other infiltrators lurked aboard, intent on igniting their signal tower. This tower served as the linchpin of their control over the region, and its deactivation would expose them to swift and relentless assault from the local beasts. The flagship, as imposing as it was, would act as a beacon, attracting an overwhelming horde. This was clearly their plan that could not bear fruit.𝗯𝐞𝗱𝐧𝗼𝐯𝐞𝗹.𝗰𝗼𝗺
With his decision made, Long Shen signaled to his bodyguards, instructing them to guide him towards the main mast. They moved with urgency, their steps punctuated by the constant jarring of the fortress as it was battered by the ongoing clashes of power. The situation was escalating rapidly, and Long Shen's emotions swirled between fury at the attack and anxiety for the potential fallout of their mission's failure.
As they approached the area housing the main mast, chaos reigned. Zhang Zhi and Liena, having taken advantage of the diversion, had managed to reach their destination and were engaging in a fierce battle with the guards stationed there. Their surroundings were a battleground of spiritual energies clashing and explosive discharges. Zhang Dong's diversion had drawn the attention of several guards away from the mast, allowing the couple to engage the remaining defenders in a desperate attempt to halt the mast's destruction.
Long Shen and his bodyguards waded into the fray, unleashing their own formidable powers upon the attackers. The bodyguards moved with precision, their teamwork reflecting years of coordination and training. Long Shen himself unleashed bursts of energy, his nascent soul cultivation evident in the intensity of his attacks. However, the confusion and discord that had spread throughout the fortress had taken its toll on the guards, and their combined efforts were proving to be less effective than they had hoped.
Zhang Dong continued to manipulate the energy within the main chamber, his control over the chaotic currents growing stronger. The very walls seemed to pulse with his power, cracking under the pressure. He knew that he couldn't maintain this level of intensity for long, but his goal was not to defeat all the guards; it was to buy enough time for Zhi and Liena to complete their task.
‘The prince went for Zhi and Liena, I need to trust that they will complete the mission…’
While his power had grown it wasn’t that easy to compete with these many nascent soul masters working with each other. Another issue was that he wanted to conserve his power, his true enemy was on his way here. If he arrived before this was over then it would be up to him to stop him.
“Shit, his here…”
Before him appeared a colossal warning screen, broadcasting the imminent threat. Just as he had foreseen, Long Qing had arrived. His distinctive spiritual energy signature materialized seemingly from thin air, implying his reliance on a form of teleportation technique. This development confirmed the notion that their adversary was restricted from unhindered teleportation within this domain. Had that not been the case, Long Qing would have teleported directly aboard the vessel, not outside of it.
It seemed plausible that breaching the confines of the containment formation was a prerequisite for enabling teleportation. This mirrored Zhang Dong's predicament; while he could create portals to the Golden Palace, he remained unable to traverse back to locations outside the trapping formation. Time was quickly running out but not all was lost.
Tapping into his reserves, he channeled his energy to explosively break free from the confines of the containment chamber. His radiant figure, aglow with a symphony of crackling lightning energies, erupted from the metallic shell that had encased him. The efforts of half the masters striving to subdue him proved futile; drained and overpowered, they succumbed to exhaustion against an adversary of his caliber.
"Long Qing, your presence doesn't go unnoticed! However, this isn't the arena for our showdown. Here, have a little taste of what is to come instead!"
His resounding proclamation resonated throughout the vessel, audible to all on board. His outstretched palm surged forth toward an imposing azure dragon hurtling their way. This technique harnessed a mixture of his diverse Daos, an onslaught that even the Emperor's soul beast struggled to counteract. Faced with the brunt of this assault, the quasi-immortal weapon was called into action once more. Long Qing responded with a forceful thrust, creating a gaping aperture through which his formidable soul beast could traverse.
Aided by the Emperor's swordsmanship, the struggling soul beast managed to force its way through the colossal palm strike, although not unscathed. Nevertheless, the impact had taken its toll. The mast, the pivotal source of the unceasing signal, lay in ruins. The once-sturdy pylons started to collapse, further ravaging the flagship's exterior. In a climactic detonation, the two culprits emerged from the aftermath. One astride a gargantuan watery dragon, the other perched atop an emerald-hued bird that conjured tempestuous storms.
"What held you up?"
Zhang Dong's voice rang out as he fell back, regrouping in the vicinity of Liena and Zhi.
"We had a pesky insect hovering around, trying to be a nuisance."
Liena replied in a slightly annoyed tone.
"I see... Great job. Now, let's make our exit!"
Amidst the debris, Zhang Dong's gaze settled on the bedraggled and wounded figure of Long Shen. The young master was far from deceased, yet the outcome of this clash was evident, he had been soundly defeated. His face was filled with spite and anger but he could do nothing to stop the portal from appearing and the three cultivators from stepping through it.
"You won't escape!"
The Azure Emperor's cry resounded as he hurtled from the horizon like a colossal arrow. Employing his quasi-immortal weapon, he executed another thrust aimed at the teleportation gate. Yet, in a perplexing twist, instead of impaling the white-haired man who had disappeared within it, the weapon shot forth into the expanse, failing to intercept anything. Soon the three were gone and nothing remained but the sounds of strange screams in the distance, with the tower being destroyed the grip on the formation had finally been lost….