Lu Yun put his compass away to see that increasing numbers of immortals had gathered around him in the meantime.
They all knew who he was, of course. Dusk Province aside, his exploits in the North Sea skydragon tomb had showcased a multitude of methods that not even dao immortals could match. Hed saved quite a few of them from the ghost tree and the terrible formation there as well.
Even now, the immortals hed helped were immensely grateful to him. They did indeed want to repay the favor, but what they could do was quite limited, compared to how strong his enemies were.
“Enough with your deception, Lu Yun!” a snicker cut through the crowd. A shining blade slashed down upon him from the void; impossibly quick, it reached him nearly instantaneously.
“Insolent cur!” Yu Hengluo colored slightly. She adroitly shifted to the side, lightly flicking her bamboo staff upward to parry the attack. Following this, she delivered an overhand smash toward a seemingly empty spot.
The verdant rod shattered the fabric of space, forcing a golden shadow to fall out from midair. Killing intent flashed in Yu Hengluos eyes and she pressed forward for a second blow at the golden immortal.
“Witch!” an aether dao immortal sneered, then repelled her with a flourish of his ivory sleeves. “Die!”
A hail of swords rose into the air in answer to his soft exhortation, ready to fall upon Lu Yun and the others.
“Stop!” came another loud cry. A brilliant sword-sweep cut across the sky, clearing away the gathered swords.
A sleekly dressed youth intervened before Yu Hengluo, broadsword in hand. He was a peerless immortal, and a powerful one at that. He was at his current realms peak, having understood the fundamentals of aether dao. All that remained was for him to seek out his aether dao fruit.
“What do you want, Zhao Zhicheng” Minute changes flickered through expressions when nearby immortals saw the youth dressed in battle gear.
“Zhao Zhicheng of the Exalted Immortal Sect!” the aether dao immortal in ivory robes addressed him coldly. “Isnt Lu Yun a mortal enemy of your sect Why are you protecting an enemy like him”
Zhao Zhicheng spared a glance for Lu Yun before turning back with a smile. “Hes the Exalted Immortal Sects enemy, yes, but hes also my benefactor. I will humbly accept any internal condemnation I might receive.
“Rabble like you, on the other hand—why dont you come forward and try my sword”
The broadsword in his fingers burned with a blinding light. It rippled outward, carrying a trace of heavenly power.
The other immortals gasped.
Zhao Zhicheng wasnt a void realm immortal, nor had he fused a formation of heaven and earth into himself. However, he was one of the hundred and eight peerless immortals that Lu Yun had called upon to enact the Formation of Heavenly Spirits and Earthly Fiends, the prototype for a formation of heaven and earth.
Lu Yun had chosen people based on their nature and character alone, rather than cultivation or potential. Some of them had come from enemy factions—the Exalted Immortal Sect and the Ling and Donglin Clans, for example—but he had taught the entire formation to them regardless.
The immortals in question had benefited a great deal from the experience. In addition to breaking through the barrier to understanding aether dao, they had gained a sliver of heavenly power in their true spirits, enhancing the potency of all their attacks.
These immortals couldnt compare to real void realm immortals, but they were certainly much stronger than their peers. Zhao Zhicheng himself had once dueled an aether dao immortal to a standstill.
If the hundred and eight peerless immortals gathered to deploy the Great Formation of Heavenly Spirits and Earthly Fiends once again, they would be able to advance it into a real formation of heaven and earth, granting every participant strength equal to a void realm immortal.
Even though Zhao Zhicheng was alone, he protected Lu Yun and the two girls behind him with fearless confidence. Drawing more natural energy to him, the immortals approaching them were forced back by the fierce power.
“Ling Jing! I recognize you, Ling Jing of the Ling Clan!” Suddenly, a grin crept over Zhao Zhichengs face. “Theres only two months before the auction in Dusk Province. Why are you trying to kill Lu Yun at a time like this”
The aether dao immortal in ivory turned the color of his robes.
“Hmph!” he sneered. “Why Oh, nothing at all… just that the Ling Clan hasnt received an invitation to this auction.
“Lu Yuns motives for not inviting us are entirely selfish. His murder of our genius, Ling Ruyu, must be repaid by in blood, so I have every right to kill him now.” As he spoke, an aura of aether dao immortality radiated from Ling Jing. His two dao fruits floated out of his body and wove a web of empowering runes all around him.
“If you dont want to die, get out of the way.” Ling Jing stepped forward very slowly. A number of Ling immortals rushed into place behind him, including the golden immortal responsible for the sneak attack earlier. They gathered into a mysterious battle formation, resonating with their leaders aether dao fruit runes.
A muffled explosion rang out as Zhao Zhicheng grunted weakly. He stumbled backward a fair distance with a trickle of blood coming out of his ears.
“Still alive Not bad.” Ling Jing took another step forward.
Zhao Zhicheng limped back another step. This time, blood streamed out of his other orifices as well and he looked like he was going to collapse.
The crowd of bystanders were shocked at the results.
Zhao Zhicheng had come out evenly matched with a one-fruit aether dao immortal upon exchanging a single blow with the other, but here, a two-fruit one had inflicted a devastating injury upon him just by taking two steps!
“How is this possible!” The Exalted youth felt like his body was disintegrating. The sliver of heavenly power he possessed was out of control and beginning to destroy his spirit and consciousness.
“Youre not the only one who has that kind of power of the world. The Ling Clan had a peerless immortal who was the same way.” Ling Jing smiled gently in recollection. “Too bad he was just as stubborn as you are. Since he didnt want to give it up to the clan, we had to dismember his body and crack open his soul to take it from him.”
His expression grew nastier by the second. “If we pluck the power from all hundred and eight of you and put it together, we wont need Lu Yuns formation of heaven and earth to make a void realm immortal…” he murmured inaudibly to himself.
Zhao Zhicheng shivered at the malice in Ling Jings gaze.-