“We can’t hold on for that much longer. There are too many of them!” Big Beard’s anxious voice was heard as he continued to fire on his mecha. The endless waves of suicidal ghost attacks were relentless and slowly overpowering the guardian’s defense lines.
“What are the sages doing?” Qing Qiaoqiao was already worn out by the endless combat.
“They can’t risk making their move with the demons still watching.” Qing Linglong replied.
The demons were the sage-level ghosts, which outnumbered the sages in the guardian camp at this point, with four flying high and two still waiting for their opportunity deep beneath the surface of the sea.
Fang Shui’er suddenly took flight, shooting four arrows toward the four demons in the air.
“Get rid of the two below!” Fang Shui’er’s shout came just as she unleashed her attack. Just like Big Beard, she understood the predicament they were in. She decided to risk the offensive against the four demons in the sky in the hopes that Li Huaibei and Sai Gao would be able to finish the two remaining ones quickly enough to reinforce her.
“Give us fifteen minutes!” Li Huaibei yelled before disappearing beneath the surging waves of the ocean, followed by Sai Gao’s beast form. He had no time to waste, especially when Fang Shui’er was alone against four opponents of her level.
Bai Ze calmly looked at the front. She did not want to intervene just yet, not when she could feel an even more menacing presence lurking within the black smog.
“There’s nothing we can do.” Tian Yan put her arm on Fu Bo’s shoulder, just as he turned around.
“...for now.” Tian Yan said with a gentle voice and wrapped her arm around Fu Bo’s.
“Come on, you bastards!” Pan Junwei was now fighting in the frontlines. He cursed as he smashed the ground with both of his hands, erecting a giant platform on which hundreds of cannons were ready to fire.
“Die!” Pan Junwei roared as he unleashed a barrage of cannon fire, momentarily creating a vacuum in the area in front of him.
“Is there nothing else we can do?” Qian Mian exchanged a worried glance with Bai Ze. Despite its effectiveness, Pan Junwei’s counterattack could only last so long.
Bai Ze shook her head. If Li Huaibei was able to finish off the demons, then she would consider seeking for an opportunity to strike, but until then, waiting was her best course of action.
‘Maybe… Maybe there’s a way to turn the tide… If he comes back…’ Bai Ze knew that Li Yiming was not only safe and sound, but had somehow grown stronger as well. ‘If he comes back…’
“What?” Bai Ze turned around and looked behind.
“What is it?” Qian Mian asked.
“Shangbei…” Bai Ze was interrupted by the sound of many buildings breaking down and shredding into pieces as a giant tornado formed at the heart of the city, ripping it into shreds.
“The domain is overlapping itself on reality, it’s coming out!” Bai Ze yelled.
“What is coming out?”
“The demonic spirit within the city! This is what happened to all the evil accumulated over a thousand years!”
“Is that why the ghosts are here?”
Bai Ze remained silent and stared at the newly-formed portal and the shadow which slowly began to emerge from it.
Fang Shui’er was still trying her best to keep the four demons she fought occupied, while Li Huaibei and Sai Gao had isolated the two remaining ones with their Boundaries to finish them off.
“Shit!” Bai Ze suddenly spat out and dashed toward the silhouette that appeared from the portal. She transformed from a fragile little girl to a roaring beast with snow-white wings and a horn and opened her mouth, preparing to launch her strongest attack when her foe was the least prepared for it.
An orb of light shot out of her mouth. There was no better opportunity to gain an upper hand in battle when the enemy was in their weakened state after coming out of an interdimensional portal.
The spirit that had just emerged was in no position to dodge Bai Ze’s attack. However, against her expectations, the shadowing figure simple reached out and caught her attack, leaving Bai Ze scrambling for a retreat.
“Is this how you welcome me?” Li Yiming’s voice was heard as he casually deflected the orb away.
“You…” Bai Ze was forced to bow her head down with her wings extended. She could not believe what she was seeing — it was Li Yiming with his full-clad dark armor that projected the so menacing demonic aura. Only his eyes, which projected a red glow through the helmet, were visible.
All of the guardians paused in their tracks upon noticing the newly-arrived threat. Even the ghosts had stopped attacking momentarily, retreating back to their curtain of tenebrousness.
Fang Shui’er turned back with her bow fully drawn. Despite the relief of no longer having to face the four demons, she felt more pressure than ever.
“What happened?” Li Huaibei and Sai Gao emerged from the surface of the ocean and instantly noticed the being standing at the center of Shangbei. It was as if death itself had materialized in the mortal world, ready to assume its rightful throne.
“You’ve got quite a party here. What did I miss?” Li Yiming asked.
“Li Yiming…” Fang Shui’er could not believe her eyes. With the link she shared with the person standing in front of her, it was undoubtedly Li Yiming.
“How…?” Sai Gao arrived in his human form.
“This is the true me.” Li Yiming said and turned toward the black mist in the distance. He suddenly vanished, leaving behind a trail of the same black mist, before reappearing on the ocean side. As he did so, the giant ball of black mist which loomed over the city sank down, as if it was bowing in submission.
The guardians’ countenance shifted from fear to reassurance, as not only was the newcomer an ally, but it seemed like even the substance that was spawning the ghosts was obeying Li Yiming’s will.
“It’s over?” A voice was heard.
“Shit!” Pan Junwei spat out as he fell to the ground, supporting himself with trembling arms.
Joy spread throughout the ranks of the guardians as they celebrated their victory. Despite most of them never having met Li Yiming in person, they had all heard of his name as the leader of Pure Water Herb Hall. What was sure was that from today on, Li Yiming would assume many more titles, as he would be remembered as the one who turned the tides of the battle of Shangbei.
While some guardians shouted cries of delight, some were weeping for their fallen comrades. Some were still letting out roars of victory to relieve their stress. All in all, they were all relieved and happy that managed to protect what was most precious to them: home.
However, one person remained completely silent, staring at Li Yiming with a severe countenance.
“What exactly are you up to?” Bai Ze asked as she remained in her beast form, flapping her wings and ready to strike.
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