A Martial Odyssey Book 3: The Stellar Sanctuary Chapter 77

The Death Gate of the 90th Floor

It did not take them long to find a passage in the recesses of the mountains. 

This passage was hot and the heat generated was intense. 

A 40m towering black gate with golden runes inscribed on it soon greeted them.

Yi Ping had taken the lead as he looked at the group, “Is everyone alright?”

The majority of the group smiled weakly for they had taken a long walk through this smoldering heat. 

Right now, everyone had been holding their breath for the past thirty minutes and they were feeling wobbly. It was because the smoldering heat was extremely venomous!

Everyone was holding their breath with their best intricate breathing techniques and maintaining their utmost efforts through sheer of will.

Yi Ping had held a mouthful of his vital breath with his Divine Revelation. Because of his mastery, he was able to recirculate the same vital breath within him for a long time. 

Nuwa hummed coldly to Lele, “What a great place that you have brought us! This is actually the Death Gate and this whole place is like the infernal hell!”

Lele giggled softly, “So this is how the infernal hell looks like! Thanks for telling me. I am always wondering what hell looks like. It isn’t as horrible as I have been expecting!”

She batted an eye to the Celestial Liege and to Yi Si, “Why are my brother and daughter so quiet?”

Yi Si giggled but said nothing.

The Celestial Liege growled softly, “I really don’t understand at all.”

Lele asked, “Don’t understand what?”

The Celestial Liege heaved a heavy sigh, “I have trained every single day, four hours daily and my lazy sister actually ascend to the Celestial Realm earlier than me. Not only that, she is an immortal now…”

Lele corrected him immediately, “The Great Joyful Empress Goddess! You are to address me as such. I am making no exception for you even if you are my brother! That is because all immortals will have to bow before me. You don’t have to bow though. That will be my special grace towards you!”

Almost all the Heavenly Kings and Immortals were staring at Lele now; they were bemused, startled or astonished as they all thought. “Do I need to bow before her? Why did I agree to acknowledge her as the Empress Goddess of the Three Realms?”

It seemed that Lele was able to read their minds. She snapped her fingers to say, “That is because I am the Alma of the Great God Pangu. That is the undisputed fact. Only I can approach the Great God Pangu and bring everyone to the 100th level of the Stellar Sanctuary!”

Nuwa cursed softly, “Her boldness and audacity knows no limit…”

The rest of the maidens who had long acquainted with Lele were smiling secretly as they exchanged amused looks. While Yu’Er, Mei’Er and even Lingfeng had changed considerably, the Lele that they had known had never changed and the same went for her luck too!

Lie Qing lamented softly, “I don’t understand how on earth is she able to step on everyone’s toes and get away each time. Not only get away but her luck is simply too unbelievable. She should be the Goddess of Luck instead…”

The Jade Emperor faked a cough to get Lele and everyone else attention, before saying. “The final boss of the 90th floor lies within here. Are we ready?”

Alice flurried to the Jade Emperor, companied by Isa, Asura and Aiel as she said gently. “Respected Jade Emperor, I have something to say. I don’t mean anything else to damper our spirits but I need to warn everyone that this is the 90th floor. We should exercise caution and think twice before we proceed further.”

The Jade Emperor smiled, “Alice, you can disperse with such politeness. I am no longer the Jade Emperor of the Three Realms. But for you to say so, you must have reasons?”

When Yi Ping saw the black obsidian gate, he had all of a sudden had an uneasy feeling. It seemed that something dark was within it!

He began to recount his difficult experiences in obtaining the first Feather Sword Shard. He asked himself, “Why are the Feather Sword Shards only found in the 30th, 60th and 90th floor? And why is it that it is protected by extraordinary celestial formations that are so formidable that it is an almost thing to obtain it?”

He paused briefly before considering, “In these thousands of years and the last six descend of the Stellar Sanctuary, none has ever obtained the Feather Sword Shard on the 30th floor even though most powerful Celestials will be able to reach that level. Did they all miss the 30th floor or the few that had reached the location that the Feather Sword Shard was in, all perished?” 

He did not dare to confide in the others of his fears because he did not want anyone of them to be anxious or panic. Or else he would not be Yi Ping. He had always kept things to himself. If it is a bad thing then he would not say it loud!

But this time, he was forced to think hard. It was because this concerns the life and death of everyone. In such a big group, the celestial formation that was going to be descended was surely going to be extremely formidable!

He stared blankly at the Jade Emperor as he thought, “He had found the Feather Sword Shard on the 60th floor and had given it to Yi Si. The formidable formations on the 60th floor may not be too difficult for a high immortal like the Jade Emperor to handle. For sure he is a top immortal fighter or else he wouldn’t be able to handle so many Heavenly Kings on his own and remained undefeated. No wonder I was defeated by him in a blink of an eye when I first fought with him. Now I know the reason.”

He stared at the gigantic black obsidian gate, “But I don’t want to give it up.” Somehow he felt that he had to obtain the Feather Sword Shard. There was a throbbing urge that was within him…

He sighed softly, “I have thought that with my present attainment in my Great Emptiness Translucence, I will not be tempted by the desires of the heart.”

As he pondered, he looked at the group that was with him as he thought. “But then, we are all here in the Stellar Sanctuary. Aren’t we all bound by the secret desires of the heart?” 

“Yi Ping?”

He was startled by Alice who had called out to him suddenly. He smiled, “Yes?”

Alice nodded to Asura, who immediately stepped forward with the black rod. She whirled it all of a sudden and it became a long staff with two golden hexagon heads.

Asura looked at Yi Ping shyly before saying, “I am sure that all of you are aware that this immortal weapon that is my hand is the Symphony of Destiny.”

The Jade Emperor and the rest of the Heavenly Kings nodded. In the Immortal Realm, the Symphony of Destiny was one of the most powerful immortal weapons in existence. It was also said to be the key to the Stellar Sanctuary!

The Goddess Asura raised the Symphony of Destiny as she lifted her eyes to say unhurriedly, “There is a legend in the Immortal Realm that the Symphony of Destiny is the true key to the Stellar Sanctuary.”

The Jade Emperor nodded slowly, “I have heard of it. Is it true?”

The Western Paradise Heavenly King smiled, “If you didn’t mention it, I would have already forgotten.”

Asura took a hesitant look at Xian’Er, asking. “Can I?” 

Xian’Er nodded gently, “I know that Alice and you have the good meaning to warn every one of the perils that will soon befall us. In that case, do not be afraid to speak.”

Nuwa was curious, “How come no one has ever told me the importance of that staff?”

Mei’Er laughed softly, “Because you have never asked and because if we told you, you would have already seized it!”

Before Nuwa could cast her malevolent eyes on Mei’Er, she had already hid herself behind Xian’Er and Yu’Er! 

Everyone was suppressing the urge not to laugh aloud!

Asura nodded before she said solemnly, “The Great Goddess Fantian has given the Goddess Theocracy the Stellar Sanctuary and the Symphony of Destiny for safekeeping. While the Symphony of Destiny is not exactly a map, it contains inscriptions of the various safe havens of the Stellar Sanctuary. As long as we do not stray from the safe points, we will be able to avoid the formidable formations of the Stellar Sanctuary.”

Yi Ping rubbed his nose to say, “Except that we didn’t really stay on the safe points.”

Lingfeng giggled softly, “If we did then we won’t be able to reach the upper levels! Who is the guy that takes us here and there?”

Youxue smiled mesmerizing, “No pain, no gain!”

Yunzi smiled weakly, “Except that we have nearly lost our lives several times over!”

Yi Ping shrugged his shoulder as he said, “This is not the time for laughs. The fumes here are extremely poisonous. Be careful not to take in any.” 

Lingfeng yawned softly, “I wonder who the one that is commenting the unnecessary first?”

Asura smiled faintly as she continued, “But!” She had raised her pretty voice, “There are no safe haven points from the 90th floor and beyond!…”

Nuwa yawned softly as she snapped her fingers, “We are not looking for a safe haven. We are looking to fight the boss!”

The Western Paradise Heavenly King, who was equally combative as the Great Desolate Goddess Nuwa, applauded her. “Right, right!”

Yu’Er giggled softly, “I say that the Lady Nuwa and the Western Paradise Heavenly King certainly makes a good pair!”

The Western Paradise Heavenly King was startled as he exclaimed panicky, “No, no!”

Nuwa took a lazy glance at the Western Paradise Heavenly King as she answered coldly, “He has to wait a million years first. Even then, I may not even consider him.”

All the maidens were suddenly smiling and Yi Ping was no exception! 

He sighed softly to himself, “I shouldn’t have done that…”

The Western Paradise Heavenly King was smiling weakly as he looked awkwardly at the other Heavenly Kings, “Yes, yes.” 

But he quickly recovered his composure, “Asura, will you please continue.”

Asura nodded and said, “For all we know, the levels between level 90 to 99 may be there to bait us into a trap.“

She waited for it to sink as everyone began to look at each other.

Yunzi was the first to ask, “Didn’t the Dark Chaos Lord succeeded in reaching the very top?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice answered quietly with a tinge of sadness, “But he had perished and had become part of the Stellar Sanctuary now.”

But she smiled faintly as she said quickly, “We have deciphered some of the inscriptions of the Symphony of Destiny. After discussing with Asura, we think that from the 90th floor onward, the difficulties of the trials have a sudden increase of three folds.”

She paused to let it sink for a while for everyone. 

Everyone, including Yi Ping and the Heavenly Kings had a sudden solemn expression. It seems as though the mood of the atmosphere had suddenly become really tense!

The Western Paradise Heavenly King asked solemnly as he took a look at the Jade Emperor, “Are you sure?”

The Jade Emperor was stroking his long beard and his expressions were extremely grave!

It was because a three folds increase was not something that even the Heavenly Kings had the confident to handle, even at their peak! 

Alice nodded slowly, “When the Great Goddess Fantian handed over the Symphony of Destiny to me, she had specified me to decipher the runes that are on it, for it will shed the clues from the 90th floor onward.”

Xian’Er touched the Symphony of Destiny gently before she heaved a soft sigh, “I can only remember that when the Great God Pangu handed the Stellar Sanctuary and the Symphony of Destiny to me, he had warned me not to ascend to the upper floor of the Stellar Sanctuary. And this warning is even engraved in the citadel that I have found myself in.” 

The Jade Emperor added solemnly, “The Stellar Sanctuary is meant to be extremely difficult. This is also to prevent the Desolate Immortals from seizing the ultimate secrets of the Stellar Sanctuary, lest they would revert the Three Realms to its original desolate state.”

Nuwa murmured softly, “Oh, really.”

Yi Ping touched the obsidian gate as he looked up, “Stronger than the strongest Immortals…”

The Great Khan Heavenly King grumbled unhappily, “We should have gone to the 100th floor immediately instead!…” But as he was about to say something more, he noticed that half the group was giving him an unfriendly stare so he did not continue.

Yi Ping turned to Yunzi, “Yunzi what do you think?”

Yunzi smiled serenely, “It has been a long time since you have asked me anything. It isn’t a bad thing because you have already learnt to take charge of things.”

She was actually a praising Yi Ping as she took a dovey look at him. 

Youxue nodded as she heaved a soft sigh, “We have thought that we are the smart ones but you are the one that have led us to safety so far.”

Yi Ping appeared to be a little awkward, “I…I am just following my instinct. I actually didn’t give much thought to anything.”

Lingfeng laughed softly, “That is right. At least he has the guts and awareness to admit that.”

Yi Ping growled, “Lingfeng…”

But Lingfeng smiled as she quickly interrupted him, “I used to think I am smart. But if he is as smart as me then everything will be so different and it will be disastrous in the end.”

Many of the maidens were nodding and heaving soft sighs. If Yi Ping had listened to them then everyone would have died ten times over!

Yunzi chuckled softly, “That is so true!”

Yi Ping was solemn as he said, “Yun, can you tell me what you are thinking?”

Yunzi looked at him for a while before she heaved a soft sigh, “I think that you have already made up your mind on this…”

She paused briefly before continuing, “Even though until now, the trial seems pretty easy but it is actually much more dangerous than it seems.”

She lifted her fingers to point at her surroundings, “Look at these poisonous fumes that are here. Until now, we cannot exchange a fresh intake of vital breath. These fumes may seem insignificant now but it will be a totally different matter once a fight breaks out. This will cause us to be in dire straits if we are not fully able to utilize our strength.”

Everyone nodded. Actually they had already known it but none of them wanted to be the first to say it!

Yunzi emphasized, “If we cannot exchange a fresh intake of vital energy then we cannot muster our martial powers once it have dissipated. Beside, mustering our martial powers will consume our existing vital breath and endanger us too.”

That was the worries that were plaguing Yi Ping, Alice, Asura and Xian’Er!

But what other choices did they have now?

Yunzi looked gently at Yi Ping, “Ping’Er, are you thinking the same as I am thinking? Are you? What will you do?”

Yi Ping looked at her gently, “Yun, you can read my thoughts?”

Yunzi said quietly, “Are you thinking of entering that gate on your own? You want to test the boss behind this gate yourself? So that we won’t be endangered?”

The Western Paradise Heavenly King roared as he slammed his rod onto the ground, “I am a warrior. There are no enemies that I fear and I don’t fear death. If there is anything that I fear then it is running without a single fight!”

The Sacred Embodied Heavenly Goddess laughed softly, “This isn’t the time for brainless bravery.”

She looked at Yi Ping, “And that goes for you too!”

Yi Ping shook his head as he looked solemnly at everyone, “I have to do it alone. Only I am able to face the monster beyond this gate.”

When he had said that, a thunderous rumble beyond the obsidian gate could be heard; judging from the earthshaking tremor that had just been felt, the monster beyond the gate had to be gigantic! 

Yi Ping patted the Western Paradise Heavenly King as he said quietly to him, “Thank you for imparting the Golden Invincible Force to me. But this battle is mine alone. If you really want to help me then be my guardian and prevent the others from after me, lest I will be distracted.”

The Western Paradise Heavenly King was momentarily speechless and did not what to say!

Han Lin, Aiel, Yu’Er and Mei’Er had already scurried next to Yi Ping as they said almost at the same time, “It is too dangerous!”

Yu’Er bit her lips, “Master Yi Ping, your Yu’Er has never begged you for anything before, am I right? Either we battle together or we leave together!”

Mei’Er pursed her lips as she unsheathed her golden divine sword, “My sister is right!”

Yi Ping held her hand as he said gently to her, “I know, Yu’Er and I have always appreciated you for that. But now, I am afraid that only I have the strength to overcome the boss that is inside. If we all enter at the same time, the boss that is beyond the gate will be impossible to beat.”

Han Lin turned around to look at Xian’Er, Nuwa, Alice, Isa, Lingfeng and Asura, “Hey! Aren’t you going to stop him?”

Lingfeng replied, “Ping’Er is right. This is the only way.”

Alice nodded lightly, “Other than Yi Ping, only the Great Goddess Fantian and the Great Desolate Goddess Nuwa are qualified to enter this gate.”

Xian’Er said gently, “Ping’Er, I am joining you. Say no more. You can be rest assured that I won’t be your hindrance.”

Nuwa smiled, “I have never tried to fight with just a single vital breath. This is a new and interesting challenging for me. I am joining in as well.”

Yi Ping turned ashen immediately, “I have the protection of the Golden Invincible Force. As long as I can maintain it, I can protect my vital breath but the rest of you can’t afford to take a single hit…”

Lie Qing said coolly, “Ping’Er, I know the weakness of your Golden Invincible Force. It requires a great deal of effort to muster and maintain it. With just a single vital breath, even if you did not receive a single hit, how long can you maintain it before you use up all your vital breath?”

Yi Ping was solemn and was downcast. He was trembling. He was not a coward. In fact, he would not back off from a fight. There was nothing under the heavens and in the earth that could daunt him. The only thing that he feared the most was that he could not protect his love ones. He did not want to repeat the tragedies of the White Sage, the Dark Chaos Lord or even the Great God Pangu. 

He knew that he was carrying a huge burden on his back. 

So he said aloud, “I am going. If you really hope for my wellbeing then wish me the very best so that I can focus on the fight ahead! If I fail then I want everyone to leave this passage immediately. Lele will bring you to the 100th level…”

Xian’Er said gently, “Ping’Er, don’t forget me and Nuwa.”

She gave him a stern look before saying, “I have never asked you for anything until now. Bring us with you. I don’t want to stop you and I want to fight with you. I don’t intend to sacrifice myself either and I will persist to the last. Otherwise, I do not deserve to be called the Great Goddess Fantian. Only in adversity can our will be stronger.”

Yi Ping looked at her and was helpless. He knew that Xian’Er had already made up her mind so he said, “Xian’Er and Nuwa will join me.”

Nuwa clapped her hands and laughed, “Excellent!”

But Yi Ping quickly said to her, “Stay behind Xian’Er and I. We have our divine swords to protect ourselves but you…”

All of a sudden Nuwa snapped her fingers as she said coldly, “I know what I am doing. Once we pass that ugly dark gate, there is no retreat. It is either we win this battle or perish together. However, I cherish myself too much to die before any of you.”

Yi Ping rubbed his nose to smile, “That is good. That is what I want.”

Lingfeng looked at Nuwa, “You really don’t look like someone that will sacrifice yourself for someone else. Yet you are doing it now. What a cold appearance on the outside but a heart of gold inside!”

Nuwa smiled coldly, “Think what you like.”

The Jade Emperor heaved a soft sigh, “The three of you are Eight Positioning Immortals. If even you can’t overcome the hurdle in front of us, can we survive the 100th level floor? We might as well turn back now!”

The Universal Old Man murmured, “Our original goal in the Stellar Sanctuary is to seek the divine stages of immortal ranks. Now that we have already obtained it, we should turn back instead…”

But Yi Ping, Xian’Er and Nuwa were already in front of the gigantic obsidian gate!

Yunzi called out all of a sudden, “Ping’Er, wait!”

Yi Ping paused in his tracks and turned around, “Yes?”

Yunzi smiled as she said, “You just go in like this without a plan?”

Yi Ping, Xian’Er and Nuwa looked at each other…

Nuwa raised her eyelids, “We need a plan? Or rather, we can plan?”

Yi Ping asked, “Yun, you have a plan?”

Yunzi laughed softly, “If I don’t have a plan, will I ask you to wait?”

Yi Ping smiled, “Indeed not!”

Lingfeng, Yu’Er, Ye Yin, Xingyue, Mei’Er, Han Lin, Isa, Asura, Isa, Lie Qing, Lele, Youxue and all the others were startled as they crowded around Yunzi, “What is the plan? There is a plan?”

Yunzi smiled, “Once this obsidian gate is opened and we have entered it, there is no escape from its sealing formation but it doesn’t mean we cannot influence the outcome of the battle, am I right?”

Yi Ping furrowed, “We can influence the outcome of the battle?”

Yunzi smiled as she pointed at Lele, Lingfeng and Alice at once, “Naturally we can. You can let them stand on the edge of the obsidian gate and let them be your guides!”

Alice was startled as she looked at Lingfeng and Lele who had immediately got what Yunzi was hinting!

Lele said excitedly, “That is right!”

Lingfeng chuckled softly, “I have almost forgotten that the six of us are linked with each other. I like this plan so let’s us proceed with it then!”

Lele nodded, “Then I will be the guide of Yi Ping!…”

Everyone immediately groaned; Lele was being too predictable! 

Yunzi immediately smiled but she was soon solemn, “Lele is the Alma of the Great God Pangu. Naturally, it is best this way.”

Lingfeng smiled, “Then I shall be the guide for Sister Xian’Er.”

Alice nodded, “And I will be eyes and ears for the Great Desolate Goddess Nuwa.”

Yi Ping nodded, “Then let this be the plan then!”

Yunzi nodded as she called out one last time, “Ping’Er, be careful!”

She was soon followed by Lie Qing, Youxue, Yu’Er, Mei’Er, Ye Yin, Xingyue, the other maidens and his sworn brothers who were all urging the same!

The Celestial Liege said solemnly, “You rascal. You have better come back. We still have an unfinished duel with each other!”

Yi Ping beamed as he brandished his two divine swords, “I will…I will…”