The moment that Wei Yi clearly entered a combat stance, the figure similarly raised her scythe – she looked feminine enough for her to make this conclusion, and so she decided that it would be easier to just deem her a woman and make things easier for herself in terms of guessing the weaknesses and physical attributes of this figure – and prepared, giving her only a moment before her movements suddenly accelerated and she slashed horizontally with the scythe. From the crescent blade of the scythe, a silver light surged out, cutting through the air as quickly as light itself could, and travelled right towards Wei Yi’s chest.
She flashed out of existence with the Mortal World’s Echo ability, finding that it worked about as well as usual, using the innate movement possibility of the physique ability to hasten towards the scythe-wielding figure. With her claws igniting and being covered in ice, as Ire and Obliteration energy surrounded them, she slashed at the figure lit by moonlight.
Although the figure did not stand still after attacking, and quickly moved to perform some other movement, Wei Yi got to her first, her claws cutting through the silver cloth with ease and landing upon the flesh beneath, finding that it was in many ways akin to stone to the touch and in terms of strength. Her claws could still penetrate it, whether she used her killing will ones or the star metal gauntlet, but it meant that she was only able to make a shallow cut in the figure before leaping back to avoid whatever the next attack may be.
The slash had been blocked by the arm of the figure, who continued in her movement without interruption and thrust the scythe into the air, seeming to use it more as a staff than a bladed weapon.
As if it tapped the very moonlight, as it reached its peak, a wave of silver light surged out of the air, falling upon the figure and concentrating around the wounds on her arm, flooding them and causing cloth and stone-like skin alike to recover in moments. It happened as she had already lowered the scythe and spun it in her hand, a strange ashen mist gathering around the blade with each second.
‘Healing ability? At the very least there’s a specific movement that she seems to perform to use it, or else beating her might be a little difficult. Also, the blood that I had clearly felt has vanished, so I cannot steal whatever physique or bloodline this entity might have,’ Wei Yi glanced at one of her claws as she rushed back to the figure as to prevent it from executing this slash as smoothly as she had the last. From the things that she had done so far, it was difficult to judge the realm she was in, or that she was representing, so she didn’t want to risk being struck by something that she might not be able to evade if she is able to help it.
Despite that intention, the figure surprised her yet again when it suddenly interrupted the spinning of the scythe and cut at Wei Yi just as she had gotten into range of the blade of the scythe, a wave of ashes following after the blade and rushing towards her.
It moved quickly enough for Wei Yi to barely be able to react in time, and even when she attempted to use the World’s Echo to remove herself from harm’s way, it turned out that merely phasing in place could do nothing against the ashen strike. A little like how the Ashen Form physique was able to disregard the flow of time within a spatial realm and show the true passage of time within the flame that could be seen by its holder, these ashes ignored her temporary state outside of the world and crashed into her with unbelievable speed.
Every single particle of ash cut deeply into her body, penetrating the bone layer of the killing will form and the air that she had threaded into her clothing alike with little trouble, although it seemed to pass through the latter more so than cut through it. Had it actually been able to trim her hair with just one attack, she might have been afraid.
Still, the ashes and the scythe blade that followed them pierced her flesh deeply, striking bone and failing to proceed only then as she disappeared once again and phased over to the figure’s side, jabbing at her throat with her flame-covered claws. As each particle of ash threatened to freeze her insides despite the constant flow of yin and yang throughout her system, it was clear that this figure was someone whose strength was yin, so it would be foolish to attempt to make use of it in an offensive action against her.
On the topic of strength, that attack alone was able to confirm that this figure was no weaker than the fifth realm, although the exact ceiling of its power was not immediately obvious from that alone.
‘The biggest changes between realms in terms of observable effects occur in the earlier realms, with the introduction of gaseous energy and planar constructs, liquid energy, then solid energy and stable arrays, after which it is possible to observe searing marks and oblivion halos from outside of the body,’ Wei Yi thought as she looked onto the figure mid swing, ‘The issue is that the figure lacks any such defining features. In fact, if not for the fact that this does not resemble any of the other four cultivation routes that I am aware of, I might have even assumed that this was some extreme variance of the Ashen Form physique – might still be, actually…’
Her claws plunged into the neck of the figure, but they did not hit stone as before. Instead, it was ice.
With her strike, the entire figure shattered into small shards of perfectly transparent ice, scattering all over the stone ground of the courtyard, while the figure herself reappeared a few metres back, just out of the range of Wei Yi’s claws, with her scythe lowered and her free hand raised into the air, collecting the rays of moonlight within the confines of her fingers.
Once again, as Wei Yi thought to act against that figure, it suddenly accelerated by an immense degree, the moonlight in her hand instantly filling it and then being shot out as she threw the moonlight at her.
She had learned from the previous attack and instantly phased out of the direction of the beam, getting as far away as possible with the Mortal World’s Echo, but the abilities of this figure surprised her once again as the single moonlight beam suddenly merged with the entirety of the rays from the moon behind then palace, with every single place lit by it being scorched by the strange surging frost of the moon.
It burned right through her clothing, dissolving much of the Crimson Robe of the Third Arrival before it ceased, and her skin and flesh was partially burned with it, although everything was able to recover in moments after that. While the burn was not significant, it did confirm to her that this was actually a force that was somewhat equivalent to the sixth realm in terms of the energy concentration and purity.
One of the key elements of the sixth realm was that the planar energy one wielded became purer and more refined, and if what she was seeing here wasn’t refined energy, then she didn’t know what she was seeing. Each ray of light created by the figure was pure and clean, lacking in any traces of impurities, and the attacks that they were capable of assisting with were also blatantly far more effective and efficient than the vast majority of techniques and methods that could be accessed within the fifth realm and below.
Fortunately, the attacks themselves were only at the level of the fifth realm, meaning that she was able to endure it partially, but it was still something that she did not want to endure over and over again while trying to find some weakness of the strange entity.
‘Fine, you want to do this? I don’t need to treat whatever this stupid thing is nicely, do I?’ Wei Yi thought as her killing intent surged out of her body again, her mind having particular difficulties controlling it as there was still a gap of two realms between it and any other form of energy. While that gap existed, her mind was keen to head towards unnecessary anger, and in this situation, she was not going to hold back.
She flooded her hands with Obliteration energy, conjured the Titanic Conqueror, whose hands she also filled with that same energy. Wei Yi could have gone a little less extreme with her first attempt, but she didn’t really see the point to doing such a thing when there were no explanations provided to her in order to know what kind of goal she was even meant to be pursuing her.
“Burn!” she exclaimed, finding that it was somewhat satisfying to call out certain things, although she would never torment herself with something as abysmal as actually calling out the name of her technique. It did give her a slight boost in strength as she aligned her mind with the technique that she was using even more than simply performing the correct motions could, not that she had any particular motions associated with the techniques that she herself created, so she wouldn’t pass up on an opportunity like that while nobody seemed to be observing her.
All of the Obliteration energy surged out at once and fell upon the figure, instantly causing the sound of exploding ice to ring throughout the courtyard, but that didn’t mean that her beam would end.
Instead, since she knew that the moonlit figure would reappear a few metres away from the place in which she shattered, she increased the concentration of her energy and shifted it accordingly, directing it in a horizontal manner as to be sure to cut through the figure regardless of where it appeared.
Through the thick blackened crimson of the beam, it was difficult to see a single thing, but when the beam was suddenly collapsed and it burst out into nothing, covering the entire courtyard with crimson for a brief while, she knew what had happened, or, rather, that something did indeed change. As the blackened crimson dispersed and faded, it revealed the figure standing within it to have no damage upon it, but the scythe had vanished and it was looking straight at her, with palms and fingers pressed together as if she was about to bow to Wei Yi.
“What is your Path?” a strange voice, emerging seemingly from the figure, suddenly asked her.
It was a voice that did not sound like it would come from a human, fitting well to the seeming stone forms that these figures were. There was no emotion to it, no trace of the typical human elements that one may find within the voice, and it was rather offsetting to hear her.
Nevertheless, Wei Yi already had an answer for her, so long as the question as the one that she thought was being asked of her.
“The Dao of Law.”
In reply, the figure bowed, shattering into moonlight as the figure’s bow got all the way to a full right angle. All of that silver light surged out of the figure’s outline and towards Wei Yi, flooding into her body and most importantly, her head. Just as with the first time that she had attempted to take in the jade slips of the Deadly Martial Colosseum, she felt her head fill to the brim in a single instant.
Within the Ascendant’s Library, it was as if a moon had appeared in the very windows of it, using one of them as a portal from its true position in the sky to flood her mental domain with its silver light. It shone upon the books, the shelves, the various decorative elements and the map in one portion of it, overwhelming all of the dark wood and gold that made up the structure of the library with the distinct silver of the moon.
For a few moments, that was all that could be seen there, until she found a figurative thread to this light and grasped it, realising what it was that she just received.
As it turned out, this was the partial knowledge of a Dao, the Moonlight Dao, and the moment that she understood that, the rest of the light faded at a rapid pace as she was able to take in everything about it and quickly compress it into the form that she recognised best within her mental domain, which was books, pages and scrolls. Everything that was vague and spread out collapsed into words upon pages of mental energy, and the cloud of light that had filled the entirety of her mental library, a significant portion of her mental domain, was quickly compressed into a few hefty tomes, with much of the information mixing with what she already knew of moonlight as a result of the Moonlight Split and Ire.
The Bai District had been calm for the last few days, save for the suspicious activities of the eastern visitors from across the ocean. Most of them were rather suspicious and impolite in their actions, although it was difficult to judge whether this was something they did intentionally due to looking down on the west, or if it was simply some difference of culture and typical conversation. Nevertheless, most weren’t particularly fond of their presence, and even though they did not know what they may seek from the Bai Ancestral Hall, they sought to prevent their intrusion.
It manifested in a kind of blockade being formed wherein one could still pass if they wished to, but the sheer number of people looking impolitely towards the easterners was bound to be a deterrent.
To give them no opportunities to seep in, the attention of the people that had arranged themselves in this manner was divided between the front and back, with most standing vaguely sideways. None of them could be sure if the eastern Daoists might be able to pass them without being seen, but they would certainly not be able to get into the Ancestral Hall.
Due to this particular arrangement, the eyes of many fell upon the statues on the walls of the hall as the eyes of one figure, the one that wielded the scythe, lit up with blinding silver light. It surged out of the figure’s eyes, flooding everything nearby with the same shade of colour, filling each street and nearby home with silver that was only accentuated by the blocked sun above them. Without the sun, nothing could stop the overwhelming moonlight from filling the district.
“What is this? What has happened here?” a figure from the Bai family, a man in the fifth realm, forced his way through the blockade and stared upon the glowing eyes after gazing in suspicion at the rest of the people present.
“We didn’t do anything!” most of them replied, their wording differing but their meaning matching, “It just happened out of nowhere! Is this significant?”
“I am not sure… The Patriarch had been busying himself down there. Keep anyone from entering, and I shall see if I can reach him from here. If anyone disturbs me, you have permission to do what is necessary to keep them away!”
When she was able to free herself from the moonlight, she returned her focus to the outside world, or what appeared to be some kind of world, having processed the knowledge sufficiently to use it and be confident about leaving it for later for further study even if it might need to be used right away.
However, despite only a few moments seeming to pass within her mind and the outside world alike, the scene changed significantly. The moonlight that had covered her and the entire palace was missing, and the moon with it. What rose in its place was a bright crimson sphere, exuding an absolute force that couldn’t be found even in something as astounding and bright as the sun. It was clearly closer, as she could see fluctuations within its surface even without much effort, and it instantly coated the entire realm with its aggressive light.
‘What is even happening here? First a moon, now this… Am I getting someone else to fight, or-’
She did not have the chance to continue that thought as it was answered for her when a figure emerged from the palace, prominently wielding a crimson glove upon its hand. Just as the scythe-wielder before it, this entity lacked obvious human characteristics and had the same red eyes and white hair, with everything else being obscured by a less traditional outfit.
In place of something reminiscent of a dress was a pair of trousers, dark with tinges of red, with boots and a tight shirt above them, covered further by a jacket not unlike the ones worn in the south, except without the enormous quantities of fur that would usually line something like that. An ordinary dark glove covered the figure’s other hand, and a light scarf was placed around the figure’s neck, with one end trailing behind it while the other rested on the side of the entity’s chest, right where one may have found the side of a breast if this was a female figure.
Just as the moonlit figure before it, this entity reached out with her weapon, the glove, with a blatant intention and invitation to combat.
“No, really, explaining yourself would be too much? Fine!” Wei Yi decided that since she was going to be confronted with all kinds of random occurrences after one another just due to touching a door, she might as well not give them the respect or time that they were clearly not intending to provide to her.
If she was going to be bothered by all of these things, she might as well bother them back with a plentiful dose of Obliteration energy directly to one’s entire being until something of use happened to her. She executed it in an instant, having already prepared much of it during the previous fight, thus allowing her to simply regather the blackened crimson within her hands, and launched it directly at the figure before it had a chance to act.
The last time she did this, the beam was forcefully dispersed, and she got to see the figure bow to her. This time, she also felt her Obliteration beam being forcefully weakened and scattered, and what she saw once she decided to save the rest of the energy she had for any future threat also differed. Instead of a defeated enemy, she saw the figure with its hand stretched out, almost grasping a great sphere of Obliteration energy from a distance, adjusting her hand as to aim the sphere directly at Wei Yi while the Ascendant tried to understand just how something like this was done.
Then, with a slight push, a brief beam burst out of the sphere, travelling far more quickly than any of her uses of the energy usually would. It shot towards her, barely giving her enough time to phase out of the area with the Mortal World’s Echo, and even that simply placed her right at the place that the next pulse shot at.
She met this one with the Warlord’s Banner hand of the Titanic Conqueror, which slammed a banner down in the path of the pulse that stalled it for just long enough to allow Wei Yi to use the physique ability again and dodge it as well. As it was clear that there was still more to come, as the great sphere only shrunk a little bit with each shot, the Ascendant didn’t slow down and repeatedly appeared and disappeared from existence.
Had she had the ability to do so here, Wei Yi would have made use of the Conqueror’s Eye to take over the area, learn some more about it, and generally increase her own combat ability, but in the same way that the realm she had been forced into stopped her from using a number of methods, this one also seemed unavailable to her. It might not even have been some specific property of the area, since this place was unlikely to be known to many, and as such the only opinion that would affect the territory would be that of the realm’s creator, who would be unlikely to know of Wei Yi or consider her a capable opponent that could dominate something that they created.
Thus, she could only do her best with the base power of the Mortal World’s Echo physique, which still allowed her to dodge blast after blast of Obliteration energy that raced towards her.
It took almost two dozen shots for the sphere of energy to finally be expended, with the last blast being the most powerful and just barely grazing Wei Yi as it struck the ground, exploding the stone tiles on the ground only for them to fall right back into place without a crack or scratch. Although she wasn’t hurt much, with her hair surviving and her clothing having already gotten used to being repeatedly shredded and remade, it still didn’t feel nice to be scorched by her own technique.
‘If I am guessing this correctly, the power that it wields correlates to the monsters within their equipment, so this would be something to do with devouring and consumption. I have one method that matches that element, which she may be unable to contend with, but…’ even in the instant that it took for Wei Yi to process this, the figure had already begun to act once again, a great quantity of crimson lightning gathering around the entity’s body and the gloved hand in particular, shredding into the ground beneath it.
Just as it took only a moment to appear, the entity only needed a moment to use it, punching up with its gloved hand and causing almost all of that crimson energy to surge into the air, forming a series of miniature storm clouds actively crackling with it. Then, yet again, they did not remain in the air for long before all of them burst out and sent down bolts of red lightning down onto Wei Yi, who barely had an opportunity to begin the preparation for the Black Sun technique.
She placed her hands together to nurture the black star, then shut her eyes and focused purely on evading the crimson lightning, using her comprehension of Law to force the lightning to surge towards clumps of metallic energy that she released after each use of the Mortal World’s Echo.
This method couldn’t fully divert the lightning, as she lacked a full technique to apply the properties of the Dao and didn’t even have the Full Success stage within it, but it worked well enough. A few individual bolts of lightning fell upon her, flooding throughout her body and frying her muscles and organs, but they had endured similar challenges due to her own methods of cultivation, resulting in each strike being and feeling much more mild than they might have otherwise been. Regenerating from them was easy the moment that the lightning passed, and she always had a few moments for it before the next bolt of lightning was unable to be deflected sufficiently.
Each strike did also assist her black sun, as it could be fed just a little foreign energy to encourage it.
While the clouds of lightning were falling upon her, the figure was still not standing still, even if Wei Yi would have much preferred it if she did take a break, and instead gathered more crimson lightning only to blast it out in a single pulse, striking nearly everything within the courtyard and the walls of the palace instantly. The Ascendant was no exception, but just as the lightning came for her, she opened her hands and presented the darkness within to this realm.
As the pulse struck it, the lighting and the darkness seemed to clash in a strange manner, with the crimson almost turning into a sentient entity while the black sun needed to do little more than to increase the force with which it pulled upon the crimson electricity.
For a moment, they were unable to overpower one another, but a stray bolt of lightning from above touched the black sun and gave it a small, almost insignificant quantity of energy as it passed by. It permitted the singular point of darkness to obtain just enough power to latch onto one of the points of the pulse, force it into the radius of full absorption, and consume it. With one small quantity down the black sun’s gullet, for the sun was indeed gluttonous, it could take more and more until the entirety of the energy that had been caught onto it was devoured and filled the darkness to the brim, allowing it to grow further.
Whether this confused the entity, or whether it was preparing for something that needed more than a few brief movements, Wei Yi took advantage of the moment when the clouds above were exhausted and nothing was heading to attack her in order to send a vast wave of her cosmic energy into the black sun, forcefully feeding it even more energy.
The first time that she had used it, her actions were somewhat experimental, seeking to extract a fragment of the power of the Black Sun Blade and separate it from the aspect of a weapon. She was somewhat cautious with her usage of it, and she did not want the entirety of the sandstorm and the fortress that created it to be devoured by accident. Here, however, the world seemed impervious to harm, recovering the instant that it was permitted to do so, and it might very well not be the real world to begin with, since it was able to see past the Mask of Yama.
Thus, whereas the black sun had initially grown slowly on the battlefield outside Paragon, here it surged in size, changing from a small seed to a large ball, then changed to the size of a planar stone, then went further to the height of a person, where it did not stop.
Her application of energy onto it also caused the pull of the black sun to be partially targeted onto a single point, and that was where the wielder of the glove stood, having finally begun to gather more lightning and do something with it once more. When it was grabbed onto by the black sun, the figure’s movements were scattered, the lightning partially fading, and its feet clearly shifted slightly towards the black sun itself.
Besides confirming that the technique worked here, and did so as intended, it also prompted Wei Yi to leap back as far as she could while remaining within the courtyard just in case, where she raised a hand and assembled a blade construct from her energies. Influenced by her comprehension of the Sword Dao, it was far more stable and accurate than usual, and as it was flooded by her physique energy and killing intent, it glowed brightly with silver. To be sure that she got the essence of the Moonlight series of techniques without flaw, she didn’t risk simply using yin-type physique energy, and thus executed the technique exactly as she remembered it.
Her newly acquired Moonlight Dao, or perhaps just a Moon Dao, affected the matters of the cosmos in general, meaning that it did cover the black sun, but she knew that it would be most effective in enhancing her capabilities when made to affect something directly correlated with the concept of the moon.
While she prepared this, the figure tried to stabilise itself on the ground, but as the black sun grew with each moment, it was not unlike the situation Wei Yi had been in not long ago, when the door had attempted to devour her and ultimately succeeded. The entity, silent and featureless as it had been at the start, strove to flee, to evade, to do anything but attack the black sun itself since the entity clearly possessed enough intelligence to understand that feeding a hungry beast that would try to eat her either way was not in its best interests.
Still, no matter what it did, it simply couldn’t stop the ever-growing pull upon it.
The figure slid a few more steps towards it, and then tried to jump away from it, only to find itself being flung towards the black sun, the attraction of which was more than sufficient to overwhelm the lacking momentum and resistance of the jump.
It landed a few steps away, and either in panic or some belief that the black sun could be overwhelmed to the point of forcing it to fade out early, the figure released a vast quantity of crimson lightning directly into the sphere of absolute darkness. Lightning poured out of it, mostly out of the gloved hand, and was all directed towards the black sun, which eagerly devoured more and more of the crimson without any hesitation – not that there was anything within it that could even hesitate.
However, all this meant was that the sphere grew more quickly, and that Wei Yi was forced to complete her technique with a little more haste. The illusory moon had already formed above her, and most of the steps of the Moonlight Split were complete, but she did want to build up as much power within it as she could before unleashing it, just to be sure that the figure couldn’t take the final burst of power of the black sun and simply flip it back around at her, as it had with the Obliteration beam. To ensure this, she waited just a moment longer for the energy of the moon to build up within her planar construct blade, then swung it down.
Boundless moonlight surged from the edge the moment that it moved, crossing the distance between it and the black sun instantly, plunging into its depths. One ray of light was naturally insufficient to damage or alter it significantly, but as the concentrated light of everything that Wei Yi had built up over the past minute constantly pooled into it, especially with the added aid of the crimson lightning, the black sun finally relented.
At the same time, she also willed it to be dispersed, causing the resulting burst of energy to be intensified. The energy that had been stored within pulsed out in its raw form, shredding the figure in an instant, tearing it into naught but dust, but hardly stopped there.
The energy was a mere moment from touching her when the realm acted upon it, forcefully dispelling it and the remnants of the black sun, and reconstructing the figure that was broken moments prior.
‘This place is certainly not simple, whatever it is… Well, at least I won again,’ Wei Yi thought, finding that her energy recovered swiftly all the way to full. That should have been at least slightly encouraging, but considering the fact that there were two more founders of the Bai District, there were likely two more foes, and both of them might be far, far more difficult to contend with.