A Martial Odyssey Book 2: The Celestial Realm – Chapter 72

The Guardian of the Tenth Floor

The curtains were made from the outer garment of the maidens and were fastened together by their weapons.

It was not the weird make shift curtains that got Yang Min’s attention nor was she attentive to the others that were at the other side of the curtains.

It was Yi Ping!

And now Yang Min was looking shyly at Yi Ping as she gathered her clothing close to her, “Thank you…”

Yi Ping was flustered, “I…sorry…”

Yang Min and Yi Ping immediately said at the same time, “You don’t have to…say sorry (Yang Min)…say thank you (Yi Ping)…”

Both immediately became flustered as they looked down hastily!

Yi Ping said hastily, “I will teach you the Absolute Spirits Intricate Formula so that the effects of the Peacock Heresy will not happen again…”

Yang Min nodded quietly, “And…?”

Yi Ping stammered, “And…?”

Yang Min looked dolefully at him, “Nothing else?”

Her eyes were extremely woeful that it caused Yi Ping to be extremely startled.

Yi Ping asked, “Maiden Yang, what is wrong?”

Yang Min said ruefully, “Why are you being still so polite to me?”

“Because he is dumb!” It was Lele who had said aloud from behind the curtains!

Yang Min and Yi Ping became flustered again. They had forgotten that the others are behind the curtains!

It seemed that time had stopped for them…

Yang Min quickly said, “You can address me as Min’Er. That is what my sisters Shi Shi and Jing’Er have always addressed me…”

Yi Ping murmured, “Min’Er…”

Yang Min gave a gentle smile, “Good. That is right.”

She soon turned to look at the curtains as she said firmly, “But you don’t have to feel responsible for anything. I am…no longer chaste a long time ago. After all, you are only trying to help me. What we just experienced was only a physical exchange and not a spiritual exchange…”

“What a callous remark!” It was Lie Qing and she had interrupted coldly from behind the curtains!

“It is really is!” It was Lele!

The Goddess Isa blurted out too, “Only a physical exchange? Hmph!”

“Poor Yi Ping. Fancy he is just a tool that just got made use of.” It was Lingfeng and she was equally sarcastic!

Youxue was also remarking coldly, “Or maybe she is secretly wishing otherwise but pretending to be likewise!”

The sharp remarks from these maidens caused Yang Min and Yi Ping to be completely quiet as they looked shyly to the ground…

“Yi Ping, you must take care of Min’Er.” It was Jing’Er and her voice was trembling…

Shi Shi said melancholy, “Ping’Er, you have no idea what you are missing…”

Yi Ping really did not dare to look at Yang Min for she was too heavenly to behold that Yi Ping was secretly reciting the Absolute Spirits Intricate Formula to calm himself down…

Yang Min said quietly, “Thank you. We should get ready to storm the sealed gate now, am I right?”

Yi Ping nodded as he replied, “That is right…”

Yang Min said, “Good! Let’s get ready! I am dying to know what is on the other side already!”

Yi Ping nodded as he said, “Let go then!”

Lingfeng interrupted, “Not so easy!”

Yi Ping was startled, “Huh?!”

Lingfeng said nonchalantly, “Wait for another hour or so. We still need the time to recuperate our lost vital strength. But not too long because the longer we stay here, the more tired we are.”

It was true. It did not matter how good their mediation techniques were; if they had stayed here far longer than necessary, their strength would eventually be sapped by the relentless martial winds that were ever present here!

In short, they were all taking short burst of rest and tried to focus all their martial strength as much as possible within this crucial hour for the forthcoming fight!

Yi Ping was solemn as he asked quietly, “Lingfeng, please tell me what we will encounter inside?”

Lele asked, “I am curious too. Why can’t we just barge into the gate instead of suffering from the nerve racking martial windforce that is here?”

There was a soft laughter from Lingfeng from behind the curtains as she said, “It may be nothing.”

Yi Ping was startled, “Nothing?”

Lingfeng explained, “On every floor of the Stellar Sanctuary, there are eight different entrances to the next level.”

The Goddess Aiel gasped, “Eight? I didn’t know about it…”

The Universal Old Man laughed jovially, “The Heaveness has been researching the Stellar Sanctuary for a long time and is more attentive than most.”

Han Lin laughed softly, “What kind of an immortal practitioner are you? You didn’t know anything…”

The Goddess Isa said quietly, “I didn’t know either.”

There was silent from behind the curtains. It was obvious that Han Lin did not dare to poke fun at the Goddess Isa!

Lingfeng continued, “The entire Stellar Sanctuary is organized according to the principle of the eight trigrams and the nine palace hall diagram. Naturally when it is organized in this way, there is a life and a death gate…”

Lie Qing was startled as she interrupted, “If this is the life gate then there won’t be anything inside and we can go directly to the next level? But what if it is a death gate?”

Lingfeng said quietly, “Then be prepared for the worst.”

Lele said unhappily, “What is it? You are saying that the Stellar Sanctuary is a place that depends entirely on luck? There are a hundred levels to this place and what are the odds of not encountering the death gate?”

Han Lin laughed jovially, “So that is why the Lord Supreme divides everyone for the gates. But those who are ignorant choose not to listen and band together in numbers!”

Jing’Er was startled, “And if they choose the death gate at the same time, they will perish together?”

The Goddess Aiel said, “Also, at all times, there are divine beasts roaming the different levels of the Stellar Sanctuary. With so many people, they are easy targets for the divine beasts…”

Shi Shi asked anxiously, “Is there any way for us to know where the death gate is?”

She was asking the obvious!

But Lingfeng replied, “It is hard but not impossible.”

Everyone was startled that the Heaveness had a way of knowing! What an astonishing surprise!

The Goddess Aiel was startled, “So how?”

Lingfeng replied, “We need to find the other seven gates first before the entire floor shifts itself. Once we can map out all the gates location it will be possible to divine the death gate or at least very least avoid the gate which seems the most likely.”

It was as good as not saying!

The difficulties in finding the other seven gates were not only fraught with dangers but also extremely time consuming!

And they have only got three months left!

Yi Ping waited for Yang Min to be modesty dressed before he stepped through the curtain as he said, “Then it may be a risk that we have to take. One hour then, so be it…”

But as he stepped forth through the curtains he was startled to see all the maidens were flushing red and looking sheepishly while the Universal Old Man was sitting with his back facing him.

The Universal Old Man turned around to meet Yi Ping’s glaze and startling him further; his face was badly bruised!

The Universal Old Man smiled bitterly as he said with some difficulty, “I just have a fall. That’s all. You don’t need to be surprised. At least I am not a eunuch…”

Yi Ping could only smile bitterly as he looked at all the maidens who were all looking shyly at him and that included Yixian!

One hour later…

Yi Ping and his group were looking quietly at the bronze sealed gate with intricate gold patterns…

Yi Ping raised his voice, “Let’s go in!”

Yi Ping took the led even as Lingfeng and the Universal Old Man stepped forward at the same time.

He said, “Allow me.”

He looked at the towering gate as he tried to push the gate open but failed.

He growled.

Lingfeng giggled and it was followed by the Goddess Aiel and Han Lin.

Yi Ping asked, “We need a key to open this gate?”

Lingfeng laughed softly, “This gate needs ninety years of martial power to force it open. That is why.”

Yi Ping had a sudden realization.

All the trials of the Stellar Sanctuary seemed to be aimed at draining the practitioner’s strength!

The Goddess Isa said quietly, “Let me have a go then.”

Yi Ping said weakly as he insisted, “Let me…”

Without waiting for the Goddess Isa to reply him, Yi Ping had mustered his entire martial power as he pushed against the gate with a great martial shout. “Ultrapowerful Force!”

A powerful burst of martial force struck the sealed gate with a shattering impact and forcing it to swing open as it revealed a long towering passage!

Lingfeng immediately urged everyone, “Hurry, once the gate has fully swung open it will swung itself shut again!”

With that, everyone hastily entered the towering passage!

Immediately, they could feel a sense of relief!

It was because they had finally broken freed of the martial windforce which was sapping their strength!

Among them, Jing’Er and Yang Min were walking with half their eyes closed. It was because they were simply too tired!

Shi Shi said to them, “Unless it is absolute necessary, stay at the back first.”

Jing’Er and Yang Min nodded weakly.

The passage itself was imposing and it soon led to another imposing chamber.

At the end of the chamber were a gigantic bronze statue of a humanoid with a bull head and a shimmering light behind it!

Lingfeng gasped, “Demon Bull King!”

Even the Goddess Aiel had turned ashen as she muttered, “Everyone, I think we have found the death gate…”

Han Lin muttered out, “I know I shouldn’t have followed you…”

They were referring to the bronze humanoid statue with the bull head and in its massive hand was an equally massive long axe!

It was thrice as tall as them and its eyes were a deep glowing red!

Yi Ping was startled when he saw the red glowing eyes. It was because it looked like the statue was alive!

Scattered around the chamber was messy debris of an earlier fight!

The Goddess Aiel scanned the chamber quickly and immediately noticed there were aftermaths of sword energies scattered around the chamber, “Sword energies! The Immortal Saint of Swords has been here?”

The Universal Old Man muttered, “The guardian statue is still here. The Immortal Saint of Swords has lost…”

Lingfeng immediately said, “Rubbish. He isn’t that weak and is like a cockroach. I wish though!”

Yi Ping smiled bitterly as he looked around, “Don’t be so mean…”

Lingfeng smiled coldly to Yi Ping, “Alright. Then I wish he is dead. You are happy now?”

Yi Ping smiled weakly, “That is not what I mean.”

But they had no time to contemplate any of this!

It was because the statue appeared to be cracking and moving!

It was only then that Yi Ping realized that it was not a bronze statue but a living entity and its entire body seemed to be made of bronze!

Indeed a burst of martial force had just erupted from around it as it howled furiously!

Lingfeng said panicky, “Get ready! This monster is not easy to defeat and be on your alert. We are unlikely to survive one hit from it!”

As soon as Lingfeng had warned them, the Demon Bull King had raised its gigantic axe and swung it at them!

Immediately a burst of powerful martial force exploded towards them!

Yixian immediately stepped forth as she raised her fingers to display the Divine Emerald Skill to meet the incoming force!

Youxue called out panicky, “No wait!”

But as soon as Yixian had used her martial power to display the Divine Emerald Force, she was struck by a tremendous force that sent her sliding ten steps backward!

Youxue immediately stepped in as she displayed the Divine Emerald Force with her right hand and the Dominating Force with her left hand!

Immediately there was a shattering burst of incredulous martial explosion that flung Youxue and Yixian backward at the same time!

Youxue and Yixian had immediately coughed out blood but they were quickly caught by Lingfeng and the Goddess Aiel!

Yi Ping was panicky, “Xian’Er, Xue’Er!”

The Goddess Aiel had displayed her Inverting Universe Divine Force as she neutralized the weakened offensive martial force before she said weakly, “This monster is impervious to most martial forces. Only divine weapons and superior sword techniques are able to defeat it. Hurry!”

But halfway through her warnings, Yi Ping had already raised the Celestial Alice as he intercepted the Demon Bull King when he saw it preparing a charge at them!

There was several resounding furious sparkling as sword and axe struck at the same time!

Yi Ping gasped as he was forced back three steps, “So strong!”

But the Demon Bull King was also forced back one step back!

Lingfeng gasped as she raised her palm to catch Yi Ping from behind him with her Divine Invigorate Force, “You…can actually knock it back?!”

At the same time the Celeste Wind Maiden had raised her Celeste Wind as she unleashed flurries of sword strokes on the Demon Bull King as she seized the opportunity to attack it when it was off-guarded!

Her windy sword techniques exploded furiously on the body of the Demon Bull King with loud thunderous explosive forces that were so powerful that everyone was forced to raise their defenses up or take backward steps!

But her sword strokes seemed to have no effect as the Demon Bull King made quick recovery as it swung its axe against her!

Before the axe had reached her, the imploding wind force had already struck the Celeste Wind Maiden and sent her flying backward!

Yi Ping raised the Celestial Alice to shield himself from the furious martial windforce as he shouted panicky even as he took forceful steps forward, “Xiao Qian!”

But because he had not recovered from his previous exchange with the Demon Bull King, he coughed out a bout of blood!

The Goddess Isa had raised her Divine Constellation Sword as she turned aside the daunting martial windforce with her own martial windforce as she intercepted the Demon Bull King thus saving the Celeste Wind Maiden from the worst!

Lie Qing was not slow to react either as she hit the Demon Bull King hard with seven bursts of lethal sword energies, “Pandora Merciless Strike!”

This time the Demon Bull King staggered one step backward!

Lele quickly seized the opportunity to slash the Demon Bull King on its kneecap with the Divine Echo and causing the Demon Bull King to become even more enraged as its eyes turned a deep crimson!

Immediately bursts of martial windforce erupted around it and pushing everyone backward!

The Demon Bull King seemed to be glowing red and the air around them was suffocating hot!

It was so hot that steams of vapors were condensing all around them!

The Universal Old Man warned, “Raised your martial power to its highest level and step back. In no time, we will all be boiled alive by the heat. Alas, why am I so unlucky today…”

Lingfeng had raised her Divine Invigorate Force to calm the temperature around her as she smiled bitterly, “Fried alive you mean.”

The Goddess Isa warned quietly, “It is really upset now. Oh well, guess we hit it hard enough.”

Lingfeng smiled bitterly at the humor of the Goddess Isa.

Lele gasped breathlessly to the Goddess Isa, “You still have the humor to joke. Our martial strength is almost drained…”

She stopped. It was because Yi Ping, Yixian, the Goddess Isa and Lie Qing were standing in front of them and suddenly the furious heatwave had calmed down.

She was not the only one who was startled. The Universal Old Man, the Heaveness, the Celeste Wind Maiden, Shi Shi, Jing’Er, Yang Min, Youxue, the Goddess Aiel and Han Lin were startled as well!

Yi Ping was holding the Celestial Antonym Alice and the Celestial Synonym Alice. There was lit of burning sparks around him but otherwise the furious heatwave did not have any effect on Yi Ping!

Yi Ping himself was also surprised that he could stand straight in the face of the superheated air. He would learn later that the blood of the Kirin that was his veins would cause him to have a latent resistance against heat.

But at his moment as he grasped the two Celestial Alices, he would feel life force energies coursing through to him and filling him with strength as his vigor recovered.

Even the slight movement of the two Celestial Alices would cause small fluttering martial windforce to occur!

Somehow when he had awakened his Heaven Eyes, his Boundless Force also appeared to have grown in strength too!

Yixian had suppressed the fiery heat with her epitome Eternal Heavenly Tears as she drawn out the Heavenly Earth Sword while Lie Qing was shielded from the fiery heat by nine hovering protective martial force!

There was a faint golden aura around the Goddess Isa as she touched her forehead gently as she muttered, “How wonderful is this feeling. I have finally got my divine strength back…”

The Demon Bull King bellowed with a mighty terrifying scream that shook the entire place as it charged forward at them!

Lingfeng panicky called out, “Yi Ping! Don’t engage its charge…”

But it was too late!

Yi Ping had already swung the Celestial Antonym Alice and the Celestial Synonym Alice as he met its charge headlong with a smashing crash!

“The Heavens Encompassing Stroke!”

Yi Ping had executed the Heavens Encompassing Stroke with both Celestial Alices at the same time!

There was a thunderous explosive burst of martial impact as the Celestial Antonym Alice and the Celestial Synonym Alice shimmered and released incredulous amount of force that knocked the Demon Bull King backward!

But the Demon Bull King was quick to recover as it slashed furiously at Yi Ping, Yixian, Lie Qing and the Goddess Isa at the same time!

Even though the Demon Bull King was large, its attacks were not slow at all. In fact it was raining hacking blows one after another with such incredulous force that the air and ground around it was exploding thunderously!

A bursting martial cloud of debris and dust were soon mushrooming around them!

The rest of the group could only see Yi Ping, Yixian, Lie Qing and the Goddess Isa turned into shade of shadows as they retaliated against the Demon Bull King with dozens of attacks in a blink of an eye!

What they could only see were their shadowy movements and the beaming light of their swords!

The shadowy figure of the Demon Bull King was towering over them as it swung its axe to and forth with incredulous speed as it exploded the ground continuous with its gruesome ear-piercing impact!

Indeed lesser mortals would never have dared to approach it!

But Yi Ping, Yixian, Lie Qing and the Goddess Isa were hitting it with dozens of attacks in all directions!

Lingfeng was incredulous as she gasped, “They didn’t flinch at all. They can actually withstand the might of the Demon Bull King…”

The Universal Old Man was gasping, “So that is the strength of the practitioners of the Greater Heaven Position and above…”

Lele muttered, “Lie Qing didn’t have any wound marks at all…”

The Universal Old Man smiled weakly, “True but do you know that her Invincible Divine Force is renowned throughout the Celestial Realm as well?”

Lele asked, “Is it?”

The Universal Old Man nodded, “And your Celestial Force…”

Lingfeng shot the Universal Old Man a sharp look, “You talk too much.”

Lele muttered unhappily, “Secrets again? Lingfeng, do we still have secrets among us? Do you still remember how I risk my life to help you save Yi Ping?”

Lingfeng smiled coldly, “And you end up taking him for good.”

Lele laughed softly as she muttered shyly, “Alas! That is an accident!”

All of a sudden everyone had frozen on the spot!

It was because the fighting had suddenly stopped!

It was because Yi Ping had suddenly caught the full blunt of the onslaught of the Demon Bull King with the Celestial Antonym Alice and the Celestial Synonym Alice!

An implosion so loud that the entire chamber was shaking violently!

It was so violent that the Goddess Isa, the Celestial Fairy and the Heavenly Temptress were flung aside!

Lele cried out panicky, “Sister Xian’Er, Lie Qing!”

The Goddess Isa quickly swung her divine sword backward to stabilize herself before hitting the wall with a loud impact!

She muttered weakly but it was audible in everyone’s ears due to her superior internal strength, “Curse it. I am too careless. I didn’t think that it still have such a powerful secret killing technique…”

But the same could not be said for Lie Qing as she coughed out blood as she landed with a tremendous impact on the wall and all her hovering energy spheres were dissipated in a single instant!

As for the Celestial Fairy, she had displayed the Absolute Defense Stance of the Divine Emerald Skill as she lifted her left hand to cushion the slinging force. But she too crushed into the wall with a thunderous explosive impact!

But both the Demon Bull King and Yi Ping appeared to be not moving!

The towering Demon Bull King soon emerged from the thick dust. Even though it was covered with multiple cuts and slashes but it did not appeared to have any effect on its bronze body!

Yi Ping had caught hold of the gigantic axe with the Celestial Antonym Alice and the Celestial Synonym Alice as he crossed the divine swords over his head!

All of a sudden the Demon Bull King began to move!

However the movements of the Demon Bull King were incredulous slow as it staggered backward before it fell on its knees with a loud impact!

Then it tried to get up clumsily but it soon staggered backward again before falling with a loud crashing impact!

It was only when the Demon Bull King had released its heavy weight upon Yi Ping did he recovered his sense as he said trembling, “I…I have won?”

As he collapsed onto his knees while holding the Celestial Alices for support, everyone could see that his arms were shaking uncontrollably!

Lingfeng was startled as she covered her mouth tearfully…

The Goddess Aiel too was gasping as she covered her mouth, “He kills the Demon Bull King?! But how?”

Han Lin collapsed weakly beside the Goddess Aiel as she stared in disbelief, “This is the death gate…we have actually pulled through the death gate!”

The Goddess Isa hurried to Yi Ping as she smiled at him gently, “Yes silly, you have won! You are indeed the Dark Chaos Lord! But first…”

She turned towards the Demon Bull King as she raised her Divine Constellation Sword toward it.

Yi Ping gasped aloud, “What are you doing?”

Immediately there was an implosion as the Demon Bull King shattered into thousands of pieces and there were three silvery lights!

Immediately the Goddess Isa had a smile as she caught hold of the three silvery lights!

The Goddess Isa said wryly, “Don’t worry. This immortal monster is not real at all. It is only part of the Stellar Sanctuary. If we don’t shatter its body, the next party that comes along will be in for a nasty treat.”

Lingfeng said coldly, “For someone who says that she has never been to the Stellar Sanctuary, you sure know a lot. Surrender it now.”

The Goddess Isa asked coldly, “Surrender what?”

Lingfeng said coldly, “The three Heavenly Relics!”

The Heavenly Relics were the most divine of all metals and one of the reasons why so many celestial practitioners were risking their lives in the Stellar Sanctuary!

It was the divine metal that divine weapons were made of!

The Goddess Aiel muttered, “Isa, we are in it together but you have seized all the Heavenly Relics. Is that fair?”

The Goddess Isa said coolly, “We have so many of us here and not all play an equal role. Moreover I am the one that have found the Heavenly Relics first. According to the first rule for the Stellar Sanctuary, finder is keeper! Unless of course, you want to fight with me for it. That is fine with me.”

Lie Qing cursed softly under her breath, “She sure learns fast for someone that sleeps for thousands of years…”

Han Lin moaned, “If I have my Heaven Eyes back, I will surely teach you a lesson…”

The Goddess Isa had heard her as she said coldly, “But I remember how you have lost to me.”

Han Lin smiled weakly, “That is because you have a divine sword in your hands. Dare you not to use your divine sword!”

Yi Ping said weakly, “Isa, give me the other two Heavenly Relics. Keep the other one for yourself. I know that you need one for your armor.”

To the surprise of everyone, the Goddess Isa quietly handed over the other two Heavenly Relics to Yi Ping without a word!

Yi Ping said, “Thank you.”

As Yi Ping clasped the two Heavenly Relics, he immediately noticed how heavy it was!

But he quickly said, “Later, we will think of the best way to distribute all the loots that we have found in the Stellar Sanctuary. I will try to be as fair as possible to everyone…”

Yang Min smiled, “Anything. I believe in you.”

Jing’Er looked at Yang Min with a quiet soft sigh…

Han Lin looked at Yi Ping shyly, “I put my faith in you.”

The Goddess Aiel was smiling shyly as well, “Anything…”

The Goddess Isa said gently, “I am good with it too.”

Yi Ping turned to look at the group especially Lie Qing and Yixian as he asked weakly, “Xian’Er, Qing’Er, you are both alright?”

Lie Qing winked at Yi Ping, “I am alright. I just got a little careless only.”

Yixian nodded gently, “I am alright!”

She walked to him and held him, “Ping’Er, are you alright too?”

Yi Ping nodded, “I am alright too.”

He looked at the shimmering portal at the end of the chamber, “Is that the entrance of the next floor? Let’s go…”

Yi Ping had suddenly noticed that Lingfeng was silent so he asked, “Lingfeng, what is wrong?”

Lingfeng said quietly, “Nothing. I am wondering who else has been here other than us? Or someone else is luring us here intentional?”

The Universal Old Man laughed, “It doesn’t matter anymore. We have pulled through now. Let us be on our way first. We can always ponder along the way!”