Tang Shiqi caught up to them on the second day since their departure from Bone Spirit Town.
The youth of the Tang Clan aptly displayed his inability to withstand long-distance travel, for his expression was downright miserable and downcast.
He had even made the horrifying choice to purchase a lesser quality carriage with an open-air driver enclosure, as well as… wearing an exquisite set of robes with a large imprint of ‘Tang’.
In the span of a single day, those robes that once displayed the honor and sanctimonious glory of the Tang Clan that ruled over a portion of Bone Spirit Town had been soiled and defiled with the dust of the plains until even the inner threads were suffused with soil from the plains.
Furthermore, the youth’s appearance miraculously transformed from that of a somewhat decent young master to that of a beggar with an unusual penchant for clothing.
“Esteemed Young Lady… about that promise regarding the drop of spirit beast’s blood…” Tang Shiqi’s chapped lips burst out with agonizing difficulty.
He still had the nerve to bring up that encounter combined with that sorry appearance!?
An Fei slammed the window of her carriage shut with a loud bang, startling Shen Haoren who was in the middle of engaging a highly introspective discussion regarding the efficiency of spiritual artifacts with the young girl to the extent that he nearly lost control over the reins.
The middle-aged man looked back to discover the monstrous appearance of the Tang Clan’s Third Young Master, his expression morphing into one of understanding and helplessness.
“Y… Young Lady, we can continue the discussion later!”
Shen Haoren called out with a boisterous voice, nodding his head when he heard an affirmative caw screeching from the inside of An Fei’s exquisite and comforting carriage.
The middle-aged man’s gaze flickered as he glanced towards the road before them, before reaching out with his hands to slow the pace of the horses by a slight amount.
With his remarkably surprising and profound cultivation that was unbecoming of him as a middle-aged man whose primary asset, upon the first inspection, was his excessive potbelly, Shen Haoren had glimpsed at a horrifying nightmare that loomed before them a few kilometers away.
Though nobody could discern whether she could cultivate or not, An Fei could see the same calamity leer at them from afront, even with the suppression imposed on her abilities by the cruel mortal world.
The young girl shivered with fear, ordering for the little raven to slow the horses’ run into a stable trot, as she began to plug the window and door of the cabin and any visible openings shut.
Three kilometers before them lay the den of a severe dust storm – the winds crackled as they scoured the earth, ripping up any loose dirt to assimilate into an enormous tidal current of microparticles of sediment.
The skies had darkened by the sheer collection of mass to the extent that the sun’s rays of light were blocked from piercing through.
The gusts of wind slammed the dust particles against the ground, grass, and any relatively tall existence with a daunting and malicious frenzy, and the boom of thunder shook the skies overhead.
And in the vast plains that lay directly underneath Jiang’an, there existed no tree to cower behind, nor was there any location to flee towards.
The dust storm was moving towards their position with a fervent ardor, and An Fei swore that she felt a playful and sinister gaze peer at the depths of her soul.
The young girl patted the free strips of cloth and leather that sealed the interior of the carriage, her expression glum.
“Xiao Hei, do you think I should leave?”
The little raven croaked in an uncertain voice, its eyes blinking rapidly in confusion. The little creature gazed at the young girl with a hint of warning in its crimson eyes.
“Yes, I know…” the young girl sighed, a tinge of regret on her countenance.
“However… if I use the excuse that men shouldn’t intrude in a female’s carriage… that should probably work?”
The little raven twitched with disagreement, though it deigned not to reply towards the young girl’s whimsical notion of fleeing into the Sanctum whenever she encountered the thinnest shred of danger.
The small fox poked its head from within the leather bag, its dismal three tails tipped with crimson waving around in curiosity.
“Xiao Bai, you shouldn’t be wandering around like… that?” An Fei cautioned as her fingers seized the small animal to stroke its fur.
“There’s a dust storm coming our way through, so don’t try to pry out one of the cloths…”
The young girl leaned against a wall of the carriage and closed her eyes, a faint melancholy expression on her countenance.
Before she could enter into a dreamlike state and avoid witnessing the might of a dust storm housed within an expansive plains, the wooden carriage abruptly jostled as a faint, panicked neigh intruded into the tranquil environment.
The little raven spread its wings to their maximum length, a visible violet aura exploding from its body to encapsulate the interior of the wooden carriage.
An Fei’s fingers moved to clench tightly on her arms, only to relax the next instant.
The horses pulling her carriage seemed to have calmed following the little raven’s cry, though she was not exactly aware of the reason. However, An Fei could tell by the panicked cries emanating from the carriages on either side of her, that the circumstances had hit an all-time low.
Shen Haoren was patting the horses with his hands infused with spiritual essence to sooth their panicked nerves, whilst the beautiful young woman besides him rummaged through a large crate to reveal a small, handheld mirror of plated copper.
Taking the object from his wife, the middle-aged Young Master of the Shen Family raised the mirror to display its reflective surface towards the approaching swirls of dust and harsh wind.
Shen Haoren roared with a hoarse voice, an azure radiance seeping from his bones to envelop the copper mirror in its essence.
The mirror in his hands trembled as it helplessly received the torrential flow of spiritual essence, and an invisible beam shot into the dense plumes of dust.
The little raven cried out for a second time, the violet aura raking across the chaotic plains without a shred of mercy. The grass was ripped from their roots by the violet shockwave, only to be decimated by the swirling currents of mixed air currents.
As for the Third Young Master of the Tang Clan who possessed nothing save for his protagonist-esque aura…
The miserable cry of a youth as he was enveloped in a hell of dust, wind, and shredded grass and sediment echoed across the expansive plains that confined the Bone Spirit Town, prompting his fellow travelers to shiver with dread.
An Fei, along with Shen Haoren and his family, all elected to ignore the plight of the youth, their minds set on the task of plowing through the dust storm.
…all except for a young girl who had already murmured the incantation necessary to enter the Sanctum, her lips pausing at the final syllable. The instant she felt that the carriage was on the verge of jeopardy, she was going t –
The soft squelch of a roughened object striking against the loosened and tortured earth of the plains echoed in everyone’s ears, causing any mental preparation to be terminated in their early phases.
As An Fei shook the disorientation out of her consciousness by shaking her head numerous times, Shen Haoren in the other carriage extended a thin sliver of spiritual essence with his perception attached to its tip, an immense worry seeded in his heart.
Just what had caused such a… a…
“Oh…” the middle-aged man gulped in fear, his eyes bulging in their sockets as his pitiful heart cried for mercy.
“Dear heavens, that… that…”
Massive legs of compacted earth, with boulders easily twice the size of his carriage serving as the joints.
A torso whose size was half of that of the Shen Manor, with two large shadows protruding from either side towards the left and right, with a… an enormous block of mass at the center.
“What did we just run into…”
The copper mirror fell from Shen Haoren’s hands to clatter onto the wooden floor of the carriage as his mouth fell open, his mind frozen into a standstill.
The little raven revealed a light yawn, its crimson eyes flickering with a tinge of violet as the little creature pondered whether to fall asleep at this juncture or not.
An Fei called out, her fingers still indulging themselves on the small bed of silken fur. The young girl closed her eyes and strained her ears, only to discover an absence of wooden wheels plowing through the smooth soil of the plains.
Why… did they stop?