The Skies
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Blood seemed to endlessly drip from Ryu’s body. Anyone else would have likely bled out by now, but the vitality of Ryu’s various bloodlines could hardly be matched. Unfortunately, no matter how high his vitality was, there was little he could do about his organs shutting down.

Even the greenery of the Mortal Qi Small Realm which were used to growing back as quickly as they were cut down couldn’t fight against the aura of Ryu’s Qi Blade, and they had only been affected by its domain rather than by it directly. Ryu, however, had been directly struck by his own blade. His situation was far worse than the sliced forest remnants around him.

With what seemed like the last of his strength, he summoned every corpse puppet he had out from his spatial ring. Since his meridians were barren of qi, and his body was far too injured to even think of making use of his Body Realm to fight, the only option he had left was his Mental Realm.

Unfortunately, even that felt drained. He had used so much Focus Qi, both to enter the Breath of World Meditation State and to control his one fifty meter tall Qi Blade. Even if he still had more than enough Spiritual Qi left, he found it hard to stop even his own vision from blurring, let alone finely controlling corpse puppets.

The three geniuses who had been debating on how to split Ryu’s belongings sneered at this sight. Sure, it was impressive that Ryu actually had so many Fourth Order puppets, and even had two Peak Fifth Order corpse puppets, but they were Connecting Heaven Realm experts. This display meant nothing to them.

However, when an ancient tree suddenly appeared above Ryu, their sneers turned to narrowed eyes. They didn’t know what this technique was… But the oppressive aura of the Immortal Sakura, and its fluttering petals falling like snowflakes, made them serious.

No matter what they said, in the end, a Throne was still a Throne. There was no such thing as a useless Throne. The fact Ryu had such an oppressive Qi Blade but ultimately failed in the end only pointed toward one thing: his Meridian Grade was higher than they could imagine. Even if that Meridian Grade was now useless after his failure, it didn’t change this fundamental fact.

Ryu was completely expressionless, but the anxiousness in his heart was slowly becoming more and more murderous.

The Immortal Sakura continuously grew in size. Ryu could theoretically expand it to the range of his Spiritual Sense, which was twenty kilometers, but this would be a foolish waste of his Spiritual Qi. In the end, its short, sturdy trunk blossomed into a canopy with a range of just over ten meters.

It was a sight that captured a beauty beyond words. How many people of the martial world would believe that a Necromancer could be synonymous with such a gorgeous display?

However, beauty was only one aspect of the sight before them. The moment they got caught up in the gently falling blossom petals, they almost completely missed the oppressive crackling lightning.

The tribulation clouds that had yet to disperse above seemed to grow agitated, stirring the Spiritual Lightning Qi of Ryu’s Immortal Sakura to a new height.

Everything before them seemed like a gentle winter storm, yet was filled with danger nonetheless. Though Ryu didn’t speak, his gloomy demeanor made one hesitant. A cornered animal was always at its most dangerous, but a genius who had lost everything was even a level above that.

A black bow appeared in Ryu’s hand. Though he had yet to draw it, his aura gained a sudden sharpness.

Flames erupted all around him, searing his wounds shut so violently that the three geniuses before him cringed. The smell of burnt flesh and organs completely overwhelmed their senses, but what was even more shocking was the abrupt change in Ryu’s soft armor.

The robes sown by a Spiritual Seamstress were burnt to ash, but the Diamond Back Ape soft armor suddenly clanged with a metallic fervor. The fur it was woven of hardened in an instant, the tear that was formed by Ryu’s Qi Blade lunging forward to mend itself as the once soft armor became a crystalline royal blue that shimmered like a pale sapphire.

Ryu’s flames only seemed to grow more oppressive. As his emotions sunk into a deeper gloominess, his Rage Fire only seemed to grow hotter, whipping across his once soft armor with a blood red fire.

The combination made Ryu seem as though he was wrapped in violet armament, his back finally managing to straighten out to his full height as he readied to pull the string of his bow.

“What an impressively pitiful sight.” Lucien spoke with a small hint of admiration, but he was overall unperturbed. Even if Ryu had succeeded in entering the Spiritual Severing Realm, he would have failed to be a match for him. Let alone now that he had lost his Spiritual Foundation.

“Those flames are no joke.” Vygil said emotionlessly. “They’re very likely in the Impose Realm. But somehow it feels even greater than that. I almost feel bad that he fell here.”

Even the three of them who were the second most outstanding geniuses of their Sixth Order Clans, at least of their generation, anyway, had only comprehended an Inheritance to the first Heir Realm. It was simply far too difficult to take steps forward within the Natural Order.

Ryu’s corpse puppets suddenly surged forward. All over thirty of them, with the exception of his two Peak Fifth Order corpse puppets began an assault with naked abandon.

Never in their wildest dreams did they believe that Ryu would attack first, but that didn’t mean they were caught off guard. To them, those of the Fourth Order were simply lambs to the slaughter. However, after dealing with their coordination for a few moments, their expressions grew more serious once again.

“Annbar, you were talking all that nonsense, so why are you now slinking in the back.” Lucien carelessly jeered toward the Ofera Clan genius.

Annbar laughed. “You know close combat isn’t my strong suit.”

He casually glided backward, easily dodging the strikes of the numerous spears aimed toward him.

Lucien disdained to answer. Even if he was a long ranged specialist, against an enemy so weak, was it necessary to cling to that ideal?

A sword appeared in Lucien’s hand. With a casual flick of his wrist, three corpse puppets fell, unable to move any longer. He had easily pierced Ryu’s Death Seal, effectively cutting off the connection between Ryu and his corpse puppets.

Vygil’s fists were even more direct, obliterating the Fourth Order corpse puppets into a rain of bone dust and dried out flesh.

“You two are doing great.” Annbar commented without hiding his amusement. “But I guess if I continue to do nothing, you two might use this as an excuse to freeze me out.”

A laugh left his lips as the flaps of his robes opened, revealing numerous rows of needles. Each glistened with a murderous silver-red light, being about eight inches long each.

Annbar’s hands moved faster than an untrained eye could follow. While every sweep of Lucien’s sword destroyed three corpse puppets, and every fist of Vygil’s decimated another, so too did Annbar’s rain of needles

“What a waste of time.” Annbar said with disdain.

The reality of the matter was that they were all attacking casually, reserving strength to stop Ryu from running away. But it seemed Ryu was aware of this as well, or else he wouldn’t be standing completely still from start to finish.

Of course, there was also the possibility that he currently only had the strength to stand still. Judging by the smell of burnt flesh that still hung in the air, his outward appearance was nothing like the pain he was withstanding.

Ryu knew his only chance to survive was to remove that blade Essence from his body. But the issue was that his Rebirth Flames made him immune to fire of equivalent strength. As a result, he had no choice but to rely on his emotions to strengthen his Rage Flame and suppress his Rebirth Flame’s ability, thus allowing him to burn the Essence out of his body similar to expunging a poison.

Unfortunately, because his Rage Flame and Rebirth Flames were of the same grade, the Rage Flame only had minimal effectiveness, forcing Ryu to endure the burning of his inner organs for a far longer period of time. Even if he wanted to run under his own strength, it would be too difficult!

“What kind of Necromancer is this? His Death Seals are too easily to find and shatter. It’s clear he’s received no formal training. What kind of Necromancer can’t hide his own Achilles Heel?” Annbar said.

“This is a waste of time. Clearly he can’t run even if he wanted to. Let’s just kill him and call it a day before those others manage to find their way here. If we suddenly get more rivals, all of our shares will plummet.”

“Agreed.” Annbar and Vygil responded to Lucien’s words simultaneously.

Almost as soon as these words fell, a red qi arrow shot through the skies. It was completely weightless, but this only made its speed far more troubling.

Lucien snorted, his sword snaking forward and shattering the qi arrow.

“Don’t you think it’s already too late for that?” Lucien’s sword didn’t pause, effectively slaughtering the last Fourth Order corpse puppet with ease.

Ryu’s jaw clenched. He had never experienced such pain in his life, even when he forcibly pushed his speed past his limits when he ran from Leopold.

Still, he stretched his body once more, pulling back his bowstring again.

The Glove of Natural Order responded in kind. Fueled by his comprehension of Rage Fire, arrow after arrow was formed one after another. They streaked across the skies, and though they were unable to threaten the three geniuses, it slowed their steps forward.

“Go. I’ll cover your two.” Annbar said casually, his eyes flashing with interest. “Also, I agree. You two can have whatever other treasures may lie here… But that glove… I want it!”

With a wave of his hand, the needles he had thrown forward were suddenly snatched back through the air. Like a god descending, he rose through the skies, his every needle shattering Ryu’s arrows with ease. It was clear that he practiced a technique not a single bit inferior to [Demonic Strings].

Lucien and Vygil shot forward, not even bothering with the qi arrows streaking toward them. They didn’t bother with Annbar’s words either. A glove capable of forming qi arrows was indeed an outstanding treasure. One only needs to ask various bowmen just how much they spent on their arrows to understand why. But, it was useless to them who didn’t follow the path of long ranged attackers.

The moment the two entered Ryu’s range, the remaining two Peak Fifth Order puppets could no longer remain silent. They pushed forward to meet Lucien and Vigil, but how could they match their strength?

The two were instantly blown backward, suffering a resounding defeat. But at the very least, they weren’t stricken down in one blow like the others had been. Reason being, they were protected by Ryu’s [Immortal Sakura]!

The four figured clashed continuously within Ryu’s ten-meter range. Every time Vygil or Lucien seemed to gain the upper hand, a gentle falling petal that seemed as delicate as a snowflake would impede their attack, deviating their strike by just a few degrees and for just a few split moments, allowing the two corpse puppets to continue to survive.

Suddenly, Ryu’s qi arrows doubled in strength. What once was a singular oppressive heat became combined with a sharp deceitful aura.

“Spear qi?!” Annbar’s expression was filled with shock. How could one form an arrow with spear qi? He had never heard something so ridiculous.

Though he still casually shattered them, it most definitely wasn’t as easy as before.

Blood dripped from Ryu’s lips as he continuously loosed arrows. The pressure on his mind was inconceivable. He was currently walking a tightrope… any one mistake would mean the end of his life.

It seemed that he was holding his own, but the reality was that he was simply using minor tricks. To top this off, the three geniuses were all wary of each other and as such had yet to bring out their full strengths. Even still, they easily dealt with everything Ryu threw at them.

Gritting his teeth, Ryu’s qi arrows increased in strength once more.

Annbar’s expression morphed between shock and greed. He suddenly understood something. This glove was actually able to convert comprehension into the form of qi!

But at the same time, he was growing more and more apprehensive. How could a single person comprehend so many paths? Fire Qi, Spear Qi, Glaive Qi, and now Wind Qi?! Even he could no longer shatter the arrows as easily as before. He had no choice but to use over forty percent of his strength.

‘He’s not a bowman either.’ Annbar thought with a shocked expression. ‘He lacks the foresight and comprehension a true long ranged specialist has, yet his arrows are actually so dangerous…

‘He’s not a Necromancer… He’s not a bowman… I have a feeling he’s not a Mental Realm Master either despite that impressive Visualization! Just what is he?!’

Not just Annbar was thinking these things, but so too were Vygil and Lucien. At that moment, they all glanced at one another and came to a conclusion. They absolutely could not allow Ryu to leave here alive! Even if he had become a cripple, they wouldn’t feel comfortable allowing such a genius to live on as their enemy. Absolutely not!

“[Bloody Rain]!” Annbar no longer held back.

“[Lao Swordsmanship: Third Form]!”

“[Sky Fall]!”

The three of them unleashed their true strength. Ryu didn’t stand a chance.

With his Focus Qi drained, Ryu’s ability to communicate with the Glove of Order was severely hampered. Even after fusing four qis as one, their strength was less than half of their usual ability. To make matters worse, even forming one such arrow drained his Spiritual Qi almost completely as well, further weakening his ability to control his two remaining corpse puppets and causing his [Immortal Sakura] Visualization to waver.

It was then the attacks fell.

Annbar’s needles rose into the sky, shimmering with a bloody light as they fell like a torrential rain.

Lucien’s sword almost became ethereal, forming three after images with every stroke.

Vygil’s fist made Ryu feel as though the very skies and clouds themselves were collapsing. Under his might, even something so lofty wouldn’t survive.

Needles pelted Ryu’s cherry blossoms. Every time they shattered, a new injury would appear in his Mental Realm, causing his consciousness to be filled with an endless black.

Lucien’s sword was unimpeded. Ryu lacked the focus to comprehend which of his sword images were real and which were fake, causing his male corpse puppet to suffer a sever slash. It bounded through the air, ripping through the space by his side and landing several hundred meters behind him, unable to move.

Vygil’s fist collided with the female corpse puppet, tearing a hole over a half a meter in diameter through its shoulder and torso. The hole reverberated like a black hole, seemingly willing to engulf everything in its path.

Ryu’s Immortal Sakura trembled and collapsed into motes of light. The soft crackling of lightning was all that was left behind other than a beaten and bloodied Ryu, struggling to pull his bowstring once more.

Looking at his pitiful state, Ryu couldn’t help but think of his Grandpa Kukan. All those times he faced the Tribulation Shrine with nothing but his bow and his arrows, was he this drained as well?

‘I’m sorry grandpa… your grandson is useless… I can’t do your bow proud…’

Ryu coughed. But shockingly, blood didn’t fly from his mouth this time. Instead, an eerie black smoke did.

Vygil, Annbar, and Lucien all experienced a severe change of expression. That black smoke… Could it be he had burned through his own organs completely?!

A screaming, burning pain ravaged Ryu’s body. But, he still solemnly put his bow away, taking out a halberd with a dark violet body that stood two heads taller than himself.

He couldn’t do his grandfather proud with his bow like he had wanted to. But even if he would die today, his back would be straight enough to pierce through the skies.

He hated those skies with every fiber of his being. It was those skies that gifted him such otherworldly talent, yet sealed his ability to use them with a False Spiritual Foundation. It was those skies that gifted him his Chaotic Silk Meridians, yet didn’t allow him to reach even the mere Fourth Order. It was those skies that beat him down again and again, ripping his family, his dignity, and now even his hope from him.

If he was going to die today, he would make sure those skies felt his rage.

“Don’t hide it.” Ryu seemed to be speaking nonsensical words to himself, but the person they were meant for understood just fine. “I want it to see this… I want it to see my last stand.”

Ryu’s second hand made it to the shaft of his halberd, brandishing it forward with a menacing sheen.

His aura changed completely, the image of a man in robes soaked in blood rising to his back.

This shouldn’t have been the projection that appeared. The Dragon God was man who oozed nobility. He wasn’t supposed to look like this…

Ghastly screams filled the air. No one knew where they came from, but they dripped with resentment that could drown even the Heavens themselves.

“Birthed… Phenomena…” The three geniuses looked at the manifestation above Ryu’s head, shaken to their core.  

But, they didn’t get the time to think. Ryu, with what remained of his strength, had already surged forward. The thought of escaping never entered his mind.

It was then that the tribulation clouds above that had still yet to disperse began to slowly turn crimson.