The card was made of metal and was not particularly outstanding in any way, save for the fact that it had a significant resistance to her spiritual perception, thus making it rather difficult to perceive anything written upon it with a protruding layer of silver without taking a close and direct look at it. It was that text that astounded her the most.
It was simple, hardly sharing some kind of advanced technique or concept. Rather than that, it was a sort of commandment, an instruction to those whom it concerned.
However, the nature of that instruction had left her so astounded that she immediately put it away and hastened to the upper floor, since she was rather concerned that the world, whatever it was, would change its mind and take it away from her before she had the chance to test its validity on the appropriate person. Her choice to hasten to the top was also informed by the fact that the distance to which her spiritual perception could reach had begun to shrink after a moment of stationary contemplation.
As far as she was able to tell, her mind and mental energy was in a perfectly decent state, so it had to be related to the size of the realm, whether it was due to the space contracting around her or due to the illusion becoming less complex and thus losing unnecessary detail at the edges.
Whatever the truth was, so long as the items on top were real, and something that she could take with her, she would certainly do so.
Amidst everything there, she found pills that were highly helpful for her own cultivation, since they contained the energy of the sixth and seventh realm, various resources that would aid in the quick development of her Arbiters, and a number of artefacts that weren’t particularly good in comparison to the kinds of things that she could produce with some effort, but could be refined to a suitable degree with the Shaper’s Grasp. So long as she got the pills at the very least, and some of the other things if she had the time, she would be able to bring herself to the fifth realm, and she might then be able to reach the half-way point of the sixth realm so long as there was a similar number of items in the Chao and Bai Districts.
Such a boost would be absolutely enormous, since her fourth realm cultivation was able to resist the attacks of the fifth realm Greats, albeit in ideal scenarios when they were either poison or surrounded in her conquered land. With the sixth realm, or even the high fifth realm, she would certainly be a match for the second generation, and might be able to endure a strike from the first, although she suspected that she would need to get to the upper sixth realm to accurately compete with them to any degree.
That was simply what she assumed based on the enormous gaps between realms, as well as the fact that the first generation would have had plenty of time to make the most of their halos and the purified energy of the sixth realm. Due to their connection with Testament, they would also be able to mobilise a certain degree of spatial power originating from that realm, and since it is something that might have stood for countless generations, it couldn’t be anything other than a high-grade, highly refined and extremely reinforced spatial realm.
To ensure her survival in the future, she quickly looted all of the items on the second floor, managing to fit all of them in the House of Gold after an immense degree of effort, and was about to collect more on the next floor when she randomly turned her head and suddenly came face to face with fury.
“Who are you, and what are you doing in our Ancestral Hall?” the figure, an elderly man with a long white beard, red eyes, and a somewhat respectable countenance even as he was screaming at her, exclaimed, his energy radiating out of him. The hints of searing marks were present, same with the linked channels, and there were five faint shadows of halos around him and his dantian at the same time, with neither one being fully real.
His energy was intimidating, nearly causing Wei Yi to take a step back, but she kept her ground and reached into one of her pockets to remove the card, showing it to him.
“You think that some explanation- Eh? T-This… You cannot be! Impossible!”
For what it was worth, she did empathise with his reaction, for she had reacted similarly when she had first read the card. It seemed absurd, but the more that the two of them had thought about it, the more that Wei Yi in particular realised that it might not be that at all.
The place that she had been in was somehow related to the Ancestral Hall, and it was much more developed and advanced than anything she had come across before. It would only make sense for it to be related to one of the ancestors that still had the ancient power of Yi City, perhaps being in the ninth or eighth realm, permitting for the realm’s creation.
Such a figure would naturally possess an immense degree of importance in a district that valued its ancestry as much as the Bai did.
On the card itself, the following was written, ‘The holder of this token is suited to lead the Bai District and the current Patriarch. Any of their instructions and commands for the sake of freeing Yi City from a vile influence must be obeyed without question.’
Naturally, seeing something like that on a random metal card, even if it was somewhat resistant to spiritual perception, was odd – no, completely insane. Any normal person would have to assume that this was some incredibly daring job, or that it was a terrible attempt to take over a district without taking a single action that required any degree of effort. In most cases, someone like that would be right in their assumption.
“The Bai Ancestral Hall was sealed as the ancestral tombs were acting strangely… What did you do to obtain this? Who even are you?” the Bai Patriarch questioned again.
“My name is Wei Yi, and, as the card says, I am acting against a terrible influence that has taken over Yi City. You might have heard of the Great Families, and you might have heard of the battle that had occurred in the north-east, where a sandstorm was cut apart before twenty-four of the Greats fell in one go,” she explained, “I am the one that made that happen.”
“You… The Ascendant’s Arbiters? You are the Ascendant?”
“Indeed. I was pulled into the Ancestral Hall by the four, and I was presented with treasures to take for myself. I might have gotten a little overeager with those,” Wei Yi claimed, feeling confident in her words as she herself barely had any idea of what happened or why, so to present such an assumption would hardly be incorrect from her perspective, “I do not intend to loot any further, but I will need your aid, and that of your district.”
“You think you know of Them-”
“The time for that is over, Patriarch. They shall be known as the Great Families, or they shall be purged from this world. Both would be preferable, in my eyes,” she interrupted him.
“A mere fourth realm brat thinks she knows of Their terror? Your actions are putting a target on all of us! They know when we speak of them, they may even know what we say, and all of Yi City’s districts have likely suffered when They thought to act!” the Bai Patriarch exclaimed, “We knew that there was something near that battlefield, and so you must have made use of that, no? You must have used the power of the northern territory, pushed back some of the Greats, and are now so bold as to continue outside of your territory. You-”
“Bai Patriarch, you are the one that is uninformed. I am someone that possesses all perfected stages and realms that I have cultivated so far. I hold Paragon, a fortress used by Kong Shi Meng, the Master of Yi City, in the past to fight against the threats of the north, but I do not need it to fight with the second generation of the Great Families. On my own, I crippled the Bai, Ping and Luo Great Families in the residence of the Great Ping Family!”
His facial expression was calmer than that of most people, but even the Bai Patriarch couldn’t contain his combined surprise and suspicion. If what he was hearing was true, she would be incredibly capable, and the state of the Great Families would indeed be rather poor.
The rest of the information that she had included could barely be processed by him before Wei Yi continued, “I survived the attack of the third generation while at the third realm, was thrown into the realm that they use to imprison their enemies, the Kong Prison Realm, and then broke out of it with my own strength. I cultivate five paths at once, and I even know much of the nature of the world, the otherworldly demons that often enter it, and have comprehended numerous Dao. If I went up against you, I suspect that I might last for quite some time before you can truly defeat me, Patriarch.”
To prove this, she released her killing will, her physique energy, her bloodline, and empowered all of that with her cosmic energy, causing her entire figure to be surrounded by and coated in radiant light, her eyes in particular surging with white and red, her blood radiating with cosmic colours, her muscles flooding with the unity of dawn light and moonlight.
Around all of that, a faint layer of chains covered her body, tight yet failing to restrict her in the slightest, and a dense veil of the cosmos surrounded them. She kept that energy around herself, not forcing it towards the Bai Patriarch, and yet the pressure that it manifested tore against the inscription in the ground and pushed him back by the width of a needle. Against an opponent in the same realm, such a thing would not be particularly astounding, but still impressive, but with each further stage and realm, such a feat became more and more incredible. When facing someone three realms apart, this was astonishing.
“You… Are you even human? That power… a forbidden skill?”
“Not a single one, Bai Patriarch. None at all. By the way, this is not even the full pressure I can manifest. Want to see what that looks like?”
“… Very well, woman, I shall let you showcase your full might! If you manage to impress me, I will agree to follow the instructions on the token and give you and your Ascendant’s Arbiters whatever you require, but not a single drop more!” the Bai Patriarch said, “But if you fail, I will take that from you and end you right here and now!”
In reply, all Wei Yi did was smirk. Of everything he said, the threat was particularly amusing, since she had the freedom to put on the Mask of Yama this very moment and vanish from the world, or use the Mortal World’s Echo, or any other method of her liking to disappear for long enough to escape.
The fact that he thought that he could go against his ancestors when he wanted to do so was even funnier, since she knew that if the same figures as the ones that she fought went up against the man before her, the Bai Patriarch wouldn’t stand a chance, especially not against their full power. If they had bothered to give her this card, then they would have almost certainly considered what to do if one of their descendants went against their wishes.
For that reason, she couldn’t be intimidated by him any longer.
First, she unleashed the comprehension of the Absolute Dao, causing her presence to suddenly intensify ten-fold, the pressure from her energy finally tearing through several inscriptions and cracking the floor without even needing to touch it. It threw the Bai Patriarch one step back, with him stopping the moment that he sent out a few threads of energy into the ground.
While he quickly attempted to reinforce them, he also tried to figure out how her strength had appeared to leap like that without her utilising any clear techniques or principles. It seemed like her eyes had simply flashed for a moment, and then the very world around her twisted according to her whims. Something like that was entirely contradictory to the nature of cultivation, and the way in which one must use planar energy – or one of the four other types of energy that she was able to call upon – in order to manifest their will in the world around them.
That was even when skipping over such things as energy circulation, movements that would usually need to be performed, and the way in which energy would need to be manipulated to achieve something as precise and immense as the empowerment of everything that Wei Yi seemed to have. He had heard her mention her comprehension of the Dao, but to a world and city where understanding of such things was limited, how could such a phrase possibly relate to something as amazing as this?
After a moment, the moonlight within her body suddenly intensified as well, adding onto that pressure, overlapping with the Absolute Dao and causing its effects to become significantly stronger. It changed slightly, but insufficiently to stand out to the Bai Patriarch.
What might have otherwise simply been pale moonlight without the nature of the Absolute Dao became blinding silver, and might have been even stronger had she been able to refine the Moonlight Dao according to her own comprehension of the moon, rather than needing to rely on what the figure of the past had been able to understand.
She again gave him a moment to behold that combination, noticing that the thickened pillars of energy keeping him on the same spot on the ground were not enduring the moonlight particularly well.
Then, as she raised her left hand in its killing will state, with claws and blackened skin, she also unleashed her Obliteration and Ire energies, allowing them to gather around her fingers and the tips of her claws as to limit their quantity and density as much as possible while also displaying just how powerful the combination of those two could be. Her Ire was enhanced by her united comprehension of Law and Ire, but she did not immediately put the former to use, keeping it under control for a moment.
Even with her holding back, the appearance of the unity of Obliteration and Ire, when further reinforced by her other states of power, instantly threw the Bai Patriarch back by half a dozen steps, with him needing to slam down his anchor behind himself in order to empower his energy to a sufficient degree to keep him on the ground and to pin his feet to it with even more energy.
He also made use of a series of solidified arrays this time as to further reinforce the pillars that would bind him to the ground, manifesting a series of them around himself and stabilising them with his core and anchor so that they weren’t simply blown apart.
In the eyes of the Bai Patriarch, this has to be the end and the peak of her display.
After all, that blackened crimson was localised to her hand, and was only present in a small quantity even then. It was certainly enough to impress him and make him believe that if she had given a few decades to cultivate up to the sixth or seventh realm, she might be able to oppose the Great Families, but he did not expect her to be able to showcase anything other than this. Surely, this much would be enough?
‘The Dao of Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Together, they are part of a single perfect concept, a law of the world. The elements that represent all, and that are all represented. The Dao of the Elements,’ Wei Yi thought, uniting the five disparate concepts that she had realised a long time ago into a single Dao, forcing them to empower one another while they empowered all around them.
At once, everything she controlled became even more powerful, with the Obliteration energy benefitting from this the most as it united every element into a single extreme force. Even though she tried to hold it back, it spread into her arm, causing all of it to glow in such a way that it almost didn’t look to be a solid entity, but instead something forged from raw energy, fabricating the shape of a human’s body while matching none of the usual properties of a human’s skin, fingers, flesh or even blood.
‘Yin and Yang are two halves of the same whole. My body is both yin and yang, my energy is both raging and calm, my mind is fuelled by both and sustained by both.’
The heat and cold of every form of energy grew further, blasting the Bai Patriarch away by yet another step. Everything was, in one way or another, both yin and yang, as she had realised when it came to her killing will. The left, made of killing intent, an active, powerful force, something with an unmistakable yang nature, was, in fact, a force of yin within her. The right, made of spiritual will, a slow, passive energy, which could barely inflict harm without a gap of several realms, acted as yang within her body. There was a blatant oddity about this, especially when yin and yang should so clearly oppose one another, but she had understood it after experiencing the fourth figure’s attacks.
It was not that something could only be yin or yang. In fact, there could be no such thing as only yin, or only yang. Her yang-based True Ascendant physique had been able to endure extreme cold and extreme heat alike, and that should have made it blatant.
Thus, the Yin-Yang Dao was formed within her mind, joining the list.
“You can’t possibly be going further than this, can you? Look at the ground and walls, they are-”
“You think this is something major, Bai Patriarch? I must have underestimated the sheer gap between the potential and current states of the world… It is just another reason why the Great Families must be removed from this continent. They must never again be allowed to hide away another technique, destroy another potential legend… And with them gone, Law shall finally return to this world.”
Law. A force that truly covered all. Something as simple as fire burning wood, or things falling to the ground, to notions as complex as those that permit the spatial realms of the Planar Continents to exist as they do.
One could look at it and see a mess of contradictions and complications, with everything being thrown together by the heavens whenever a hole occurred within the laws, but Wei Yi did not see things this way. Whether or not this was how things had occurred, the current law was comprehensive and complete. It may be confusing to the otherworldly demons, and it may have such oddities as the nature of yin and yang, or, rather, that of yin-yang, but everything from the beginning to the end fell under law.
It was the Dao of Law that was her most powerful, and it was what existed at the core of her Obliteration energy. After all, when everything was thrown together into the most primal matter in the world, how could it not destroy anything that stepped into its path? In fact, that only made sense, for how could something so chaotic not spread the chaos?
It was entropy. It was creation. It was Law.
All was Law.
And yet, it was also not. The chains that bound everything were not the entities that they bound, whether those chains were used to one’s benefit or not. There was something beneath that layer of restrictions, and it was what made up the truth of the world.
She did not have access to it just yet, but she could manipulate all of it through the chains nonetheless. It was one step more than she needed, but she would make do with this much.
‘What in the heavens… That power!’ the Bai Patriarch didn’t need to be knocked back this time, as he stepped back on his own. He could hardly attempt to stand right next to someone who seemed to be having epiphany after epiphany, displaying an immense power one after another. Again and again, her every drop of energy intensified and became more and more immense, with her eyes surging with blackened crimson specks that seemed to overwhelm the very world itself.
Faint black and red chains bound the air, the ground, the walls, the ceiling, the dust around them, and some even tightened around the Patriarch’s body. He was afraid, but he realised that the chains were not something that had appeared anew – they had been there the entire time, always binding him to the point that he had forgotten about them.
He did not know their meaning, and he could hardly focus for long enough to understand.
As Wei Yi’s aura reached its peak, all kinds of shades and colours soaring around her, all of it suddenly calmed. Everything froze, and every chain, every arc of blackened lightning or the moonlight in her body ceased there and then. Despite that, they were no less frightening.
“I do not request control because of the token, Patriarch of the Bai District. I request it due to my own capabilities, and due to what I can promise the world. Yi City will be reborn. Law will surround us all. The legacy of Kong Shi Meng shall be uncovered for all the world to see, and it shall no longer be buried deeper and deeper with each generation!” she declared, suddenly looking at him, “The Planar Continents shall see our past, and they shall watch our future.”
The bright beacon slowly dimmed until it vanished entirely, the four colours of light disappearing into the air as if they had never been there in the first place.
None of the statues and figures on the side of the Bai Ancestral Hall moved back to their original positions, confirming to all that looked that they had not endured some mad illusion, and that it had all happened. Those with powerful spiritual perception were also able to tell that the Ancestral Hall was no longer sealed away, and that there was something occurring within it.
Thus, the westerners and easterners alike looked to the structure, standing some distance away as to not be hit by the light falling through the great gap in the canopy, waiting to see what would happen. Those of the Bai District hoped to see the Bai Patriarch emerge and showcase some newly acquired prowess from the ancestors. On the other hand, those of the east, who had come here with less than scrupulous intentions, naturally hoped that some vile force would emerge, which they could oppose to prove that their wild accusations had been correct, and that there was indeed a force they needed to face within.
For the easterners, it would be the perfect opportunity to loot a few things from the inside.
It took a little while, but their answer finally came as the doors to the structure were finally opened, with two figures emerging from within.
One was easily recognisable by their age, as well as the colour of their skin and eyes, not to mention their outfit being unique amidst all of the traditional family robes. It was obviously the Bai Patriarch, and he appeared to have sweated to some extent while within, although he also had a trace of worry or fear in his eyes that those who had spoken with him more than one could detect.
The figure that exited beside him, however, was unknown to the Bai District. She was tall, wearing crimson robes and had vibrant red hair and silver eyes, making some of the more knowledgeable and aware think of the Yi District’s family, although there were some notable differences. Within her silver eyes, sparks of blackened red could be seen, and all around her, there was a faint field of something that the observers could not identify on their own. It was faint, subtle, nearly unnoticeable, but it was something that nevertheless caught the attention of all that observed it.
A dark gauntlet covered her right hand, with each finger ending with a sharp point that made them resemble claws, while her left hand looked darker than most of her skin, although that was too subtle for most to notice.
“Bai Patriarch, what is this?” one of the easterners called out, but he was promptly ignored.
In fact, the Patriarch didn’t look to any of his people, and instead walked a certain distance out of the Ancestral Hall and looked up into the sky, blocking off the sun with a sheet of planar energy. Then, he reached out a hand and released a vast quantity of planar energy into the ground, all of it surging into the arrays beneath the ground.
Just as in any district, the leader had plenty of methods with which to reach out to the people that they led, and currently, the Bai Patriarch was making use of one of them.
“People of the Bai District, I, Bai Yang, the Patriarch of the Bai District, announce that Wei Yi, the Ascendant, the leader of the Ascendant’s Arbiters, will lead us all in a battle to rebuild Yi City!” his voice boomed all over the district, being projected from numerous points beneath the ground, prompting all to cease in their activity as they attempted to understand just what they had heard, but he had not finished yet, “For this reason, everyone that is loyal must obey her instructions, so long as they pursue this goal, and that of defeating a plague that has brought us down for far too long. She shall speak now.”
The Bai Patriarch severed his connection with the energy threads and allowed Wei Yi to take over, but she didn’t bother using even that. Instead, she reached out with her hand and tapped the air, touching one of the many chains that connected the array to the world around it.
“Good afternoon, everyone. I will only ask two things of you today, and this is the first – listen. This continent has been controlled by a group known as the Great Families. That is the plague that has contributed so much to the decay from the time of the Master of Yi City. They do not wish to be known, so I would encourage you to speak about them as much as possible. The Great Families have three distinct generations, with the first being in the seventh realm, the second being in the fifth, and the third being in the third realm. Each generation of the twenty-three Great Families has two people, one male, and one female. They possess multiple planar anchors, and are able to do so through raising numerous children, allowing them to reach the third realm, then siphoning their anchors into a single pair. There had been one hundred and thirty-eight individual members of the Greats.
“After I have slain some, there are thirty less.”
The voice of the person that replaced the Bai Patriarch began calm and pleasant, but the more she spoke, the more obvious it was that she was anything but that.
“Come on, speak their name. This is no order, but I do think that it would be nice for you to remember what their title is. They have, after all, taken away many of your techniques, and may have killed your friends and family without you having a single clue that it had happened. The districts have been afraid of them, but you shall all no longer be in the dark. Come, say it. All of you.”
The people of the Bai District looked to one another, uncertain enough about everything else, and concluded that they might as well do so.
“They can punish one person, maybe a family, but they cannot kill the entire district. Speak.”
Everyone turned to one another, their mouths opening as they saw no flaw with that logic. It was just two words, after all. The only ones that weren’t listening were the easterners, who barged through the crowd and towards Wei Yi.
“You, was it your actions that have caused that structure to flood the district with light? Are you a demonic practitioner that has controlled the minds of the people? Surrender yourself to-”
She turned to them, and said nothing, simply raising a hand and tapping the air again. A faint clink of metal was all that the eastern Daoists were able to perceive before they suddenly found themselves being restricted and bound by an enormous number of invisible chains, forcing all of them to stop in place and take the shallowest breaths possible, for the chains felt as if they would cut them apart if they went too far.
“Do not sully the reputation of the Eastern Continent in front of the potential Master of Yi City.”