Tang Yunhe and Wen Jiu had studied underneath the same Master since they were no more than a pair of seven-year-old brats upholding the honor of their respective clans.
Other than their respective martial arts techniques and orientation in the cultivation paths, the two’s lives were practically of the same mold.
Same lifestyle that was successfully imparted by the Master, the same taste in their female companion, and the same – ahem – taste in weaponry for their spiritual artifact.
The last one was forced onto them by their Master; the shame after the publicity of their new spiritual artifact was sufficient to thoroughly curb the two practitioner’s pride and dignity.
For the next few years after they had received the sword from their Master as a ‘graduation’ gift, the two had transformed into a pair of cold-hearted geniuses of the jianghu.
Before anyone could laugh at the bizarre design of the feather-edged jian with a mithril hilt, a tang forged from the shiniest article of lapis lazuli, and a blade of adamantium, they would discover that their heads had wished their shoulders an eternal farewell.
In an extraordinarily short amount of time, Tang Yunhe and Wen Jiu had risen from a pair of brats belonging to the younger generation of the Hundred Clan Coalition to the extent that even those of the Core Formation Stages would hesitate provoking their ire.
Laughable appearances aside, the effectiveness of the weapon personally forged by their Master could never be underestimated at any cost.
Cutting through the tempered bluesteel that was prided by Bei Tang as their national treasure as though it were a block of tofu;, slashing apart any projectile-based martial arts technique with ease; the multicolored jian belonging to Tang Yunhe and Wen Jiu was of an excellent quality that even the Three Great Sects drooled at the idea of owning one.
They attacked at the same time, they struck towards the same location on this goddamned earth creature, but his was the only blade that was deflected from its trajectory by that f*cking illegitimate child of a sword!
As they fled with their tail coiled around their legs, Wen Jiu’s heart bled with an eternal sadness.
The handsome man’s countenance struggled to recreate the dazzling, warm smile that was to be used to sway the heart of that plain but surprisingly adorable young girl he had just met…
Alas, the psychological trauma he had received in the span of five minutes was a little too much for his heart to handle.
Wen Jiu had charged towards the Earth Giant with the desire to challenge his limits, just as Yang Jian and Tang Yunhe had done so besides him.
With the exhilarating and mind-numbing sensation of contesting a peak Core Formation Realm expert without any holds barred.
Since it was a fierce creature as his adversary, the danger and potential he could extract from his physique was bound to be enhanced to an unprecedented margin.
If possible, Wen Jiu was planning to meditate on the scraps of insight obtained from the battle to charge through the Spirit Building Realm to become a Core Formation Realm practitioner himself.
The handsome man had left the sweet adobe of his private and comfortable life of luxury to seek death for the sole reward of advancement in his cultivation, but alas…
He had encountered a malicious prankster at the last obstacle.
Each attack he dared to launch against the Earth Giant, the odd longsword of steel with a bone handle would swoop in to swat his blade away from its target, or blow his body into the trajectory of an incoming attack from the fierce creature.
Furthermore, the timing of its intervention was increasingly aggravating to the pitiful man with tensed nerves.
The spiritual essence within his body flowed at a natural pace completely under his control, and permeated the meridians and the jian without any hinderance.
Just as he readied his stance and charged head-long after a divine opportunity, just as the edge of his blade was about to dance along the surface of the Earth Giant’s skin, the formerly handle-less sword swooped in to strike it away!
Not only that, it would chase him back into the path of a dangerous attack, forcing him to expend all of the spiritual essence invested into the attack simply to secure his wellbeing!
Hence, the minimal danger for Yang Jiang and Tang Yunhe simply became a miserable hell for the flirtatious Wen Jiu.
As he nursed his grievances in his festering heart, the three had returned to the makeshift gathering lead by Shen Haoren.
“Oh, Old Yang, you’re back!”
Shen Haoren raised his head to direct an appraising glance towards the three stragglers, his eyes widening at the striking difference between their entrance and exit.
The middle-aged man’s mouth dropped open for a while, unable to squeeze out the words stuck in his throat without expending a tremendous amount of effort.
“You… what happened to you all?”
The middle-aged man muttered, the hands gently caressing his potbelly freezing without a sound. The three handsome men equally appeared flustered, their confident auras nowhere to be found.
“What do you think happened to us fools who dared fight a battle against an entire full realm of cultivation at close range?”
Yang Jian finally replied, his countenance tinged with a hue of scarlet.
The broadsword underneath his feet flashed with a discontented gleam as the handsome man leaped onto the ground, his tattered robes threatening to give way to the gentle breeze that rustled in the plains.
“We managed to cripple its vision, as well as remove the joint that you spent a long time preparing. However… just as you see…”
As Yang Jian’s voice trailed off, Shen Haoren nodded in understanding, his countenance tinged with sympathy. The middle-aged man rested his head on his wife’s lap, his eyes downcast as he fell into contemplation.
As long as an Earth Giant remained on land, their regenerative ability and physical attributes were enhanced by mind-boggling margins.
However, since they had removed the left kneecap instead of smashing it apart…
“Old Yang, how long do you think we’ll have to escape this dismal place?”
The four cultivators renowned amongst the Hundred Clan Coalition equally sank into their thoughts, their expressions grim and hesitant.
After the time of a full cup of tea had passed, Tang Yunhe raised his gaze, a concerned light flashing across his eyes.
The confirmation practically validated their own assumptions, causing the atmosphere of the gathering to become even more dismal.
Shen Haoren and Tang Shiqi glanced at their hands, a deep seated worry flickering through their hearts.
Three days to escape from an expansive plains devoid of any cover from the vigil of the Earth Giant, as well as trek a distance exceeding several dozen kilometers. Furthermore, they were on foot, and all of their supplies had been ruined by the slaughter of the dust storm.
From a logistical perspective, it was theoretically impossible for Shen Haoren’s group to depart from the plains whilst leaving their members completely intact.
The young woman sitting besides the middle-aged man parted her lips, her voice trembling from the accumulated stress.
“How… how many people can your flying swords accommodate?”
Yang Jian, Tang Yunhe, and Wen Jiu fell into a pensive mood, their eyes flickering over their respective swords. Surprisingly, regardless of how much time had passed, it was the unusually aggrieved Wen Jiu who replied first, his voice tinged with regret.
“If I can recover all of my spiritual essence over the next two days, I think that I can transport two other people on the jian without much issue,” the handsome man scratched at his roughened chin in thought.
“Brother Tang is the same as me, and for Brother Yang… perhaps five at the most?”
Yang Jian nodded in reply; though Shen Haoren’s wife’s countenance had bloomed as though she saw the glimpse of hope, his expression was still gloomy.
The gathering fell into an awkward silence for a brief moment, before all three men opened their mouths to sigh in regret.
“Aigh, ever since Brother Shen gained so much weight… now none of us can carry him on our swords, ah.”
Shen Haoren’s lips bristled at the words, but could do nothing but flush in silent embarrassment. The middle-aged man swore at the three brothers in his heart, his lips flapping with an exhausted sigh.
“You’re right, none of you are strong enough to carry this Fatty, ah,” the middle-aged man slapped his potbelly in exaggerated anger.
“Looks like this Young Master has to pry into Master’s storage ring once again – ah? Young lass, what are you doing over there, so far from us?”
In an instant, eight pairs of eyes simultaneously raked across the sanctimonious atmosphere of the empty plains to rest onto the figure of a young girl standing with her back to them.