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Chapter 333 - Ten Thousand Swords Form an Army
As the Soul Wood in Nanke's hand glowed once more, that monster tide which had been somewhat pacified by the shocking appearance of those innumerable swords once again flew into a frenzy.
Yet that enormous figure standing in the depths of the monster tide remained as stable as a mountain.
It was a Monster Bull, the legendary Monster Bull.
The reason it was called 'legendary' was because, as recorded in the Daoist scriptures, tens of thousands of years ago, the humans and demons had paid an enormous price to render these monsters extinct. It was also because these monsters possessed an extraordinary strength, which had become its own sort of legend.
The Monster Bull possessed a fighting power similar to that of the upper level of Star Condensation. Although their souls had not been enlightened and they did not possess true intelligence, thus falling short of a human upper level Star Condensation expert, in the mountains and wastelands in which they lived, they were absolutely on par with those human upper level Star Condensation experts, and perhaps even more powerful than them in terms of destructive power. The reason for this was that the Monster Bull was the rarely seen type of monster that was skilled at long-range attacks.
The Monster Bull's body was as massive as a mountain, its surface covered with a natural layer of solid armor. The tip of its solitary horn could pierce through rock.
Its most special characteristic was also the one which spawned the most fear and unease. It was that slender tail on its behind, covered in black hair. When it was sitting down, its slender tail would curl up in a pile. When it encountered an enemy, or prey, the slender tail would straighten itself and then wrap itself around the horn at the top of the head. The final result was that the tail became a bowstring while its body turned into an enormous bow.
This was a truly mystical matter, but what was even more incomprehensible was that the arrows used by this massive mountainous bow were actually those fine hairs on its tail. What those black hairs were made of was a mystery. On the Monster Bull's body, they were as soft as silk, yet when they were launched from the tailstring, they became as firm as iron, as fast as lightning, and impossible to avoid!
With the strength of the upper level of Star Condensation coupled with such a strange and unstoppable method of attack, this terrifying monster slew many experts even as the humans and demons conquered the continent. The tales of the Monster Bull's might spread far and wide to the extent that some people even suspected it to possess the bloodline of the Unicorn. Of course, this sort of conjecture was not very widely accepted. Who knew how many single-horned monsters existed in the misty mountains and abysses of the continent? The Unicorn was such a pure divine beast—how could it leave behind such murderous descendants?
Seeing that massive figure in the monster tide that was slowly straightening itself, that Monster Bull like a mountain peak rising from the ground, Chen Changsheng felt that the hand holding the Demon Commander's Banner Sword was somewhat cold. Even separated by several dozen li, he felt like he could see its eyes. They were two tiny eyes, as small as a grain of rice, emitting a dull dusky light. They were a pair of abnormally frightening eyes.
It was just a feeling, but he firmly believed that this monster could see into his own eyes—else how could he feel threatened from so far away?
Chen Changsheng knew that this horrifying monster would soon launch an unending stream of long-distance attacks at him, but before he could respond to those arrows of hair filled with boundless power, he had many other problems to resolve—for instance, the grumbling that he could faintly hear rising up from the front of the divine path, or those thunderous earth-shattering booms coming from the middle of the monster tide.
That grumbling sound was very weak. If he did not know how terrifying the owner of that sound was, he might have even thought it was somewhat cute.
Chen Changsheng clearly remembered that in the Four Seas Scroll of the Daoist Canon, there was a monster recorded that called out just like this.
That monster was called the Earth Monkey. It had a thin and small body and its fur was the color of yellow earth. Its fierce teeth and neck were both extremely long. It could stand up like a human, but it would run on all fours. It was incomparably swift, and moreover, its claws and teeth were both very sharp, such that it could be said that there was nothing it could not break through. Its temperament was cruel and bloodthirsty, and its favorite meal was human flesh. The most frightening thing was that this monster was highly skilled at traveling stealthily, its movements so miraculous that it seemed to travel underground. It was incredibly difficult to track it down. Even an opponent that was many times stronger than it would often be caught off guard. They would be ambushed and then be eaten alive and thus die. It was an extremely horrifying picture.
Yet what made him the most wary was that thundering coming from the ocean that was the monster tide.
The thunder was the sound of the ground cracking apart. This was not caused by sword intent rising upwards but by some monster with boundless strength tearing apart the earth as it angrily roared.
He saw the dreadful figure which was like a mountain amidst the monster tide, and he knew that it had not completely stood up. Rather, it was bending its waist as it searched for a weapon. This weapon could be a mountain, or it could also be those solid rocks that lay underneath the soft mud. The bigger and heavier the rock, the easier it would be to use.
This monster was called the Mountain-toppling Fiend. It had a long mouth and coiled horns, and possessed an unimaginably brutish strength. Its strength was such that it could push down mountains, then use the hills as weapons and throw crushed stones that they seemed like stars. The gales that were its roars were like knives. It was fearless beyond compare, and the Pavilion of Divination had ranked it third on its ranking of monsters.
The Monster Bull, the Earth Monkey, and the Mountain-toppling Fiend—they were all monsters that had the qualifications for their names to be entered in the Daoist Canon, and they were terrifyingly strong. They had become legends, or perhaps been forgotten, but who would think that in this day and age in which humans and demons had long reigned over the continent, their figures would be found in these plains of the Garden of Zhou?
The restrictive rules of the Garden of Zhou that governed what level of cultivation humans needed to be to enter seemed to have no effect on these monsters. It was no wonder that over these past few centuries, all the human cultivators and demons that had entered these Plains of the Unsetting Sun had never come out. It seemed that they had already become food for these horrifying monsters.
A black hair soared across from the horizon, almost causing Chen Changsheng to lose his grip on the Demon Commander's Banner Sword. The grumbling sound nearing the mausoleum and the thunderous noises from the distant plains entered his ear and made his face go deathly pale. For an instant, he had felt the shadow of death upon him.
Previously, because of that massive shadow, these high-ranked monsters had remained silent. Now that the ten thousand swords had ascended to the sky and Nanke danced amidst the remnants of the rain, they no longer remained silent. Thus, three unimaginably powerful Qis began to spread out in front of the mausoleum, then they began to grow increasingly berserk.
Chen Changsheng was only at the upper level of Ethereal Opening. Even with these countless swords by his side, he could not change this fact. These three upper level Star Condensation monsters, whether it was in cultivation or strength, were capable of crushing him. He even found it hard to resist the pressure of these three monsters, so what could he do?
Suddenly he recalled that on their way to the Mausoleum of Zhou, Nanke had wanted to shadow them and thus used the Soul Wood to forbid those monsters from attacking. If she had not, then perhaps they would have already died. As for why Nanke did not have those monsters lead the way, they had their speculations.
"These monsters don't necessarily listen to your orders."
Chen Changsheng gazed upwards at that colossal shadow in the sky and thought about the legendary monster, half a step into the Saint realm, that lay behind that shadow. After a moment of silence, he turned to Nanke and said those words.
The remnants of rain fell from those scattered clouds in the sky: drip drop drip drop. Nanke's eyes were closed while her black hair madly danced behind her small body. The Soul Wood floated in front of her, growing ever brighter, like it was about to turn transparent. She paid no attention to his words, or perhaps she did not even hear them.
The monster tide continued to sweep towards the mausoleum. The nearby plains that had just been dyed blood-red were quickly covered up by the black ocean.
The sinister grumbling sound was growing weaker and weaker, but this did not mean that the terrifying Earth Monkey was leaving. On the contrary, it signified that it was preparing to launch its attack!
The Mountain-toppling Fiend was in the waters of the plain. It had finally found a several zhang long stone beam and stood straight up. Thus, a hill appeared in the middle of the monster tide.
Behind the black ocean, the Monster Bull silently gazed at the mausoleum. Its eyes the size of grains of rice emitted a dusky light as they rested on Chen Changsheng's body. Its slender tail curled around the horn on its head, and then stretched tight, with several thousand black hairs densely arranged on its surface.
It was impossible for Chen Changsheng to defeat these three high-ranked monsters, but he did not fear them. His eyes were still bright, just like the brightest lights of those countless damaged swords that surrounded the mausoleum.
Around the mausoleum, the cold wind gently blew and the ten thousand swords softly cried.
The distant monster tide was like an ocean, the great monsters like mountains.
The Mountain Sea Sword flew back in front of him, slightly trembling.
To move and to not move were two incompatible actions. The swords and the monsters would inevitably clash in battle.
If these damaged swords were to go off on their own and battle with the monster tide, then in their disorganized action, they would most likely fall one by one and thus perish.
But now, he was here.
The ten thousand swords were an army. Perhaps some would be soldiers, or perhaps the vanguard, or perhaps the center of the army, but he was the general.
How should he command these countless swords in this battle?
He did not know. Even though he had studied the Daoist Canon since he was a child, even though he had completely memorized every book the Orthodox Academy had on cultivation, he still could not have not learned all these ten thousand sword styles. No one could do this. Then how could he command these innumerable swords so that they could express their full might?
He grasped the Yellow Paper Umbrella and sensed the message transmitted by that sword intent.
Entering the plains, finding the Mausoleum of Zhou, and the appearance of the Sword Pool—all of these things had to do with this strand of sword intent.
Perhaps that was the answer.
He sensed that sword intent's pride and calmness.
Pride and calmness were two entirely different emotions, even slightly contradictory. For the most part, they would not appear together at the same time, whether it was with a sword intent or a person.
Strangely, Chen Changsheng felt this mixture of pride and steadiness to be very familiar. It was not the sort of familiarity he had with the Daoist Canon which he could memorize back to front, but a true familiarity. It was the sort of familiarity he had seen with his eyes, sensed with his soul, and even battled with.
The answer came very simply. This was the sword intent of Mount Li. He had once felt it on the bodies of those young geniuses from Mount Li— Guan Feibai was arrogant and conceited, thus cold; Gou Hanshi was calm and warm, thus kind; Liang Banhu was silent and taciturn, thus trustworthy; and Qi Jian possessed all three of their traits.
Originally this sword intent had come from Mount Li. He observed the Yellow Paper Umbrella in silence.
At this moment, he still did not know that this strand of sword intent belonged to the legendary Heaven Shrouding Sword, but he knew what he should do now.
Even if Zhou Dufu was reborn, he would not be able to use ten thousand sword intents to command ten thousand damaged swords to display ten thousand sword styles, so there was no hope for him to do so. Yet he could use this sword intent from Mount Li to command the ten thousand swords to use the ten thousand sword styles of Mount Li. The only question he had to address was how to simultaneously control a legion of spiritual senses.
When there is only one problem to solve, that question would often be the most difficult to resolve. Even the philosopher of metaphysics in the Li Palace which thought of strange things every day would not believe that there was someone who could split their spiritual sense into countless strands. There was not even a need to try, but Chen Changsheng wanted to attempt it.
His left hand gripped the handle of the Yellow Paper Umbrella. His spiritual sense swiftly moved, commanding the sword intent in the umbrella to scatter around the mausoleum. In an instant, it made contact with those damaged swords. He clearly sensed the remnants of sword intent within those damaged swords. Those sword intents were already exhausted and weak, and some of them were so faint that he could barely sense them.
He respectfully and firmly requested those sword intents to yield and hand over their control.
The tyrannical Mountain Sea Sword agreed.
The aloof temple sword agreed.
The ten thousand swords floating in the air around the mausoleum all agreed.