Both Juxian and Nie reacted to what could be interpreted as a silent, threatening roar coming from the depths of the canyon.
None of the cultivators could hear it, at least none of the ones present - the few Transcendents on the continent all shortly paused whatever they were doing and looked around but could not find the source of the weird noise that they weren’t even sure they had heard.
The flowers certainly did not like the large groups of people approaching, smelling of gunpowder.
The Demonic Sect had, not unexpectedly, reacted to the large movement of cultivators and, when realizing their destination, rushed out with weapons drawn.
Every single cultivator knew that they had one main objective. Burn down everything without entering the canyon itself.
The bombs they held were similar to timed weapons that would only explode after a certain amount of time had passed once the trigger was activated. It would be enough for the bombs to fall to the ground of the canyon.
The knowledge everyone had about what was blooming down in the canyon was limited, but it was enough - a highly poisonous type of flower that the Demonic Sect was cultivating. No one wanted that, at least. Whatever the Demonic Sect wanted was what they didn’t want.
The weaker cultivators were those that carried the bombs. They’d constantly stay on the inner side and rotate to use their spiritual energy to throw them while the stronger cultivators would form a wall around them to hold the Demonic Sect off.
No one doubted they’d be able to burn a patch.
The issue was when they’d have to start moving further along the canyon and would have to push the Demonic Sect back.
… The howling of beasts could be heard from every direction, echoing through the night and creepily being reflected by the walls of the canyon as if there were monsters lurking below the fog.
The younger cultivators shivered and gathered together.
In the deep of the night, the shining metal of weapons was beginning to glow all around them.
Like animals, the demonic cultivators and their bestial partners were ready to pounce on the unwanted visitors.
The fight wasn’t pretty.
It didn’t have the rules the spiritual cultivators were used to. It had no honour. It was fighting with teeth and claws, using every ugly method possible to destroy your enemy quickly.
The Demonic Sect was like on drugs. They attacked without regard for their own health, and many Masters were relieved at their decision to come along when they saw how many Masters the opposite side had brought.
If there was someone you would have heard about from the Demonic Sect, then they were there at that moment, faces distorted in anger and ready to fight.
“I am so tired”, a younger cultivator whispered as he lay on the uneven floor and stared up at the sky. Were Master Li and Senior Xie Yi close to their destination already? Would they reach there quickly and be able to destroy a lot?
Was he going to survive to find out?
Everyone had expected the wasteland around the canyon to reek of blood, but the stench they were surrounded by was instead the stench of rot and smoke.
Whatever was down in the chasm did not burn too well. It basically didn’t burn at all. They had to blow it up bit by bit, and the smoke that would rise would soon go out again. Right now, there was none at all.
They knew they had to get through the center, the part with the thickest fog, the middle of the area at the very least - they had tried to reach it first, but the Demonic Sect had caught them too early.
They had to burn that area. That was where the greatest danger lurked, was what they had been told.
“Sleep”, someone murmured from next to the younger man. It was followed by deep breathing.
It had begun to thunder in the early evening, the lightning strikes so close to their fight that their side had withdrawn and their enemies not followed.
A highly uncomfortable stalemate that had stayed throughout the dryer part of the night - the last two hours - in which most people had sat or lied down to rest, ignoring the wetness of the ground under themselves.
With the first rays of sunshine, the fight would resume for certain, if not earlier.
The cultivator closed his eyes, hoping it would not be earlier.
Rain mixed with blood dripped down the edges of the canyon, falling into the partially charred areas of burned flowers and bodies.
Where the flowers were still intact they turned themselves away, leaning their stems into the other direction as if disgusted. The wind made them sway softly, their leaves whispering like voices, tense and frightful.
It almost looked as if they were about to stand up and run towards the center of the canyon.
… The silence did not last long. Over an hour before the sun would rise, the first cultivators were screaming and alerting others about the slithering black shadows that were sneaking into their camp.
People shrieked when they realized the snake-like creatures had gotten too close, some even getting bitten.
Those that had the beasts sink their teeth into them would struggle to tear them off, only to realize it was near impossible. The black colour spread from the things into their bodies, their veins beginning to bulge and darkening.
The snakes would fall off by themselves, twitching on the floor.
A couple of younger cultivators hadn’t been able to run quickly enough. With pale faces, they looked at their arms and felt the numbness spread through them.
One of them began to cry.
Another laughed - not a happy sound, desperate. She didn’t dare hug her companions, but she waved her hands at them with tears in her eyes and ran.
So what if the Demonic Sect was ready to give their lives?
...So were they.
If they were going to go down anyway-
They’d take down as many of their enemies as possible.
The first bombs exploded not inside the canyon, but up the battleground.
Amidst the screams and the pitch-black smoke, the second day of the fight began.
And it would last much, much longer.