Chapter 212: Escape
This type of pure sword essence that was devoid of the marks of the former owners was like the best type of supplement that existed for flying swords, being both extremely nutritious and very easy to digest.
In the blink of an eye, the majority of the sword essence had been absorbed by the 72 Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords.
All of the flying swords began to vibrate violently while screeching in unison, as if they were crying out in elation.
At this point, the sword array that had been completely reversed by the Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords had also completely spiraled out of control, and the remaining flying swords that were yet to have their marks erased seemed to have been encouraged as they began struggling frantically once again.
Xiong Shan was barely able to contain his fury upon seeing this, and he roared in an enraged voice, "Restrain those flying swords, you fools! What are you all waiting for?"
Aside from the elders that were still overseeing the remaining areas, all of the other elders immediately unleashed their abilities in unison, trying to stop the wave of swords that was surging incessantly toward the vortex.
However, these arrays had only been designed to counteract resistance from a small number of flying swords at a time, yet at this point, virtually all of the flying swords on the grassland had gone on a collective rampage, and it was impossible to stop them all.
"Please assist me, Fellow Daoist Mo Xie. I'll be sure to reward you handsomely after the event!" Xiong Shan yelled, then gritted his teeth as he made a hand seal before raising his palms to the heavens.
A loud clang rang out as the golden longsword that was plunged into the altar rose up from the ground while radiating bright golden light, then immediately sped toward him.
As soon as the sword left the sword offering platform, the entire array ceased to function any longer, and the sword array in the sky also vanished as a result.
After a brief moment of hesitation, Mo Xie reached out with both hands, and a string of buzzing rang out as around a dozen black longswords flew out of his sleeves.
All of the swords had black lightning flashing around them, and they began to fly into the wave of swords.
At this point, the Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords were already lapping up the final bits of sword essence in the air.
All of a sudden, a resounding boom rang out as a massive golden pillar of lightning that was over 100 feet thick and in excess of 10,000 feet in height rose up from the azure vortex, piercing straight into the heavens like the spear of a lightning god.
A burst of earth-shattering rumbling rang out up above, and the layers of restrictions encompassing the entire grassland were torn apart one after another to produce an enormous hole in the sky.
Meanwhile, the lightning spear only appeared for an instant before disintegrating into countless specks of golden light.
Lightning continued to flash over the Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords as countless arcs of golden lightning connected together, intertwining to form a massive azure sword that was over 100 feet in length.
As soon as the giant sword took shape, it immediately aimed its own tip as the enormous hole in the sky, and azure light flashed over its blade as it prepared to fly toward the hole while a burst of spatial ripples proliferated outward around it.
Right at this moment, an extremely sharp screeching sound suddenly rang out, striking sharp pain into everyone's eardrums, and some of the Body Integration Stage disciples instantly fell unconscious on the spot with blood seeping out of their ears.
"Come back!" Xiong Shan roared, and in the next instant, a massive golden sword projection abruptly appeared out of thin air before slashing down upon the giant azure sword.
A resounding clang rang out as the sword projection clashed against the azure sword, sending powerful shockwaves erupting in all directions.
A golden halo surged through the air from the point where the two swords clashed, spreading in all directions.
Everyone felt a burst of shockwaves sweep through the air overhead, and as they looked up, they were greeted by the sight of a clear chasm in the sky. It wasn't that the space itself had been torn apart. Instead, the shreds of clouds and sword qi in the sky, and even the dust particles in the air, had been sliced apart by the golden halo.
Immediately following Xiong Shan's bonded flying swords were the dozen or so black lightning longswords unleashed by Mo Xie. Unfortunately, they were struck by the expanding golden halo along the way, and all of them were sent flying back with tremendous force.
As the owner of the swords, Mo Xie was naturally dealt a heavy blow as well, and he hurriedly made a beckoning motion to withdraw the flying swords, following he took no further action and began to watch from the sidelines.
Right at this moment, an extremely clear crack rang out in everyone's ears.
The golden sword projection was abruptly split down the middle before shattering into countless pieces, and two halves of a golden flying sword came falling out of the sky, having been completely robbed of its former luster.
At the same time, the giant azure sword plunged straight through the hole in the sky before flying away, vanishing in the blink of an eye.
Xiong Shan threw up a large mouthful of blood as he caught the two halves of his bonded flying swords, and he was livid with fury.
All of the elders and disciples immediately converged around him, but no one dared to say anything, and even Mo Xie remained silent with his brows slightly furrowed.
Han Li was standing slightly back from the crowd, stabilizing his own churning aura in secret. That golden sword projection just now had been an extremely mighty attack, and although most of its force had been nullified by the enormous amount of sword essence absorbed by the Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords, Han Li was still inevitably somewhat impacted by the attack.
"The swords have gone in the northeastern direction! Hurry up and get them back!" Xiong Shan spat through gritted teeth with a furious look on his face.
Having sustained such severe damage to his bonded flying sword, he had to go into seclusion to address his own injuries as soon as possible. Otherwise, there was a very good chance that he would suffer a severe decline in his cultivation base.
Everyone immediately set off to give chase upon hearing this, only for Xiong Shan to stop them. "Hold on, they're in the northwest now... Wait, no, the southwest..."
"What's going on, Fellow Daoist Xiong?" Mo Xie asked, and the other elders were also looking on with perplexed expressions.
"I've lost track of the swords. My final connection with them has been completely severed," Xiong Shan said in a cold voice.
He then turned to look at the severely ravaged sword tomb, as well as the remaining flying swords on the grassland, of which there were fewer than 300, and his eyes were burning with fury.
He raised an arm, and his sleeve was billowing audibly despite the lack of wind as he swung his arm down in a forceful motion.
All of the remaining flying swords were instantly struck by a burst of tremendous force that sent them plunging straight into the ground.
A string of loud thumps rang out as all of the flying swords landed on the ground, plunging so deep into the earth that only their hilts were visible above the surface.
Everyone could clearly sense Xiong Shan's fury, and no one dared to do or say anything without further instructions.
Zhu Feng was the one that had been assigned to oversee the Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords,and his face had turned deathly pale, while his body was trembling uncontrollably from fear.
He was nothing more than an inner sect elder, so if Xiong Shan were to turn on him in a fit of rage, then his death would've been sealed. Even if the sect were going to punish Xiong Shan after the event, that would hardly matter to Zhu Feng when he was already dead.
Xiong Shan slowly swept his gaze over everyone's faces, and despite his fury, he still hadn't lost his rationality.
He knew that there was no way that such a reversal would've taken place in the Thousand Edge Spirit Gathering Sword Array for no reason. Someone had to have tampered with it, and there was a very good chance that the culprit was one of the 10 elders standing before him.
As the one overseeing the 72 Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords, Zhu Feng was the most suspicious one, but he wasn't the one that Xiong Shan viewed as the primary suspect.
Instead, in his eyes, the most suspicious one was Mo Xie, who had requested to be present.
Such a complex sword array was impossible to completely control, even for Xiong Shan himself, and if anyone present had the ability to reverse the array, then it could've only been Mo Xie, whose cultivation base was extremely close to his own.
Mo Xie seemed to have noticed the hint of suspicion in Xiong Shan's eyes, and he immediately protested, "You're not suspecting me, are you, Deputy Dao Lord Xiong? I didn't do a single thing aside from when you asked for my help at the end, and I didn't even release my aura at all. If I had tampered with the array, how is it possible that I managed to do so while completely bypassing your detection?"
"There's no need to get so worked up, Fellow Daoist Mo. I haven't said anything," XIONG Shan harrumphed coldly.
Despite his suspicions, he had no proof, so he couldn't pursue the matter. He wasn't a rash person. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to reach his current position.
"It looks like you still have many things to take care of today, so I won't keep you any longer. I'll come back some other time to take back what you borrowed from me. Farewell!" Mo Xie said.
Xiong Shan offered no response as he raised a hand to cast a few incantation seals in a certain direction, and the space there rippled as a ball of white light that was several dozen feet in size appeared.
Mo Xie cupped his fist in a parting salute toward Xiong Shan, then flew into the ball of white light in a flash.
Xiong Shan watched as Mo Xie departed from the sword tomb, then withdrew his gaze and began to inspect the faces of the 10 elders standing before him with a frosty look on his face.
It was as if the atmosphere had completely congealed, and no one dared to utter even a single sound.
Just like everyone else, Han Li's head was slightly lowered to avoid Xiong Shan's gaze.
After a long silence, Xiong Shan's gaze ultimately settled on Zhu Feng. "Do you not have anything to say, Elder Zhu Feng?"
Zhu Feng's heart jolted violently upon hearing this, and he began stuttering in a fearful manner. "No... I... But..."
Xiong Shan scoured the entire sword tomb with his spiritual sense in secret once again, but was still unable to find any clues, and he continued, "I already warned all of you earlier. Anyone who drops the ball will not be granted mercy! You were the one who made this grave error, so I can't just let you get away with this without some form of compensation."
"H, how do you want me to compensate you, Deputy Dao Lord Xiong?" Zhu Feng asked as cold sweat poured profusely down his face.
"Given the massive losses I've incurred, you wouldn't be able to cover everything even if you sold everything in your possession. I'm not a cruel and heartless person, so I'll only ask for 6,000 merit points and 300 Immortal Origin Stones as compensation," Xiong Shan declared in a cold and implacable voice.
Zhu Feng almost slumped down onto the ground upon hearing this.
This was more than everything that he currently owned, and forcing him to fork out such enormous compensation hurt worse than killing him.
However, he had no choice but to accept this outcome.
Everyone else present was grimacing internally, denouncing Xiong Shan for his cruel demands while also celebrating the fact that they weren't in Zhu Feng's shoes.