The 49 layers of walls that were formed from 49 traces of void power were blocking the path in front of him, making him unable to advance or retreat freely.
There was hardly anyone below the Void Fragmentation Realm who could escape being sealed off by 49 Void Refinement Realm experts.
Ning Fan’s eyes flashed with ferocity. If he couldn’t destroy the walls in front of him, he would perish instantly.
He hurriedly performed a hand seal and aggressively channeled his magic power into his Eastern Ocean Bell. The golden bell started to grow and trembled, suddenly emitting a clear ancient bell ring.
Layers of golden sound waves spread toward all directions. When the walls made up of void power came into contact with the sound waves, they immediately shattered and vanished.
Among those 49 puppets, one of them actually made a sound of surprise. It obviously didn’t expect that Ning Fan would be able to break free from the seals.
Almost at the same time when the walls broke, Ning Fan vigorously thumped his chest, coughing out more than ten mouthfuls of blood essence. When he beat his Fu Li Wings again, his movement speed was close to the Mid Void Refining Realm. As he was retreating in a hurry, he managed to avoid the void power attacks from the 49 puppets. It was a narrow escape.
Despite that, a feeling of shock filled his heart.
That light hum of surprise did not escape Ning Fan's ears. He hadn’t expected that one of those 49 puppets was actually… a living creature!
The 343 puppets guarding the eighth floor were definitely puppets without any spiritual intelligence. It couldn’t be wrong! After all, if the Lost World Palace uses puppets with spiritual intelligence, some other changes might happen.
Ning Fan believed his senses… For some reason, one of the puppets was a living being!
This was definitely an encounter that was beyond Ning Fan’s expectations. But still, it didn’t stop him from escaping for his life.
Under the enhancement of one hundred and eighty thousand ‘Speed’ Spirit Seals and a few mouthfuls of his blood essence, his movement speed had already been boosted to its maximum. As long as he holds the group of puppets back for a second, he could then get out of there alive.
While he was flying, he was aggressively forming a series of hand seals while commanding his group of puppets. He placed his three Void Refinement Realm puppets at the frontline and positioned the black puppet and the black dragon corpse behind them as the second line of defense. As for his Divine Transformation Realm puppets, he commanded them to get into a circular defensive formation. Aside from that, he also activated his Inlaid Star Compass and laid out a massive star map. Thirty thousand star lamps emerged and the starlight of their formation lit up at once.
The light of this star formation was laid out by Ning Fan using five hundred million immortal jade. As long as the immortal jade was not exhausted, no one under the Mid Void Refinement Realm would be able to destroy this formation.
Among the 49 Void Refinement Realm puppets, 40 of them were at the Early Void Refinement Realm, 7 of them were at the Mid Void Refinement Realm while two were at the Late Void Refinement Realm.
As for the two Late Void Refinement Realm puppets, one of them was the puppet that made a light gasp of surprise just now.
“Oh? An Immemorial Divine Weapon in the form of a formation…”
That Late Void Refinement Realm puppet uttered a comment again. At the next moment, the other 48 Void Refinement Realm puppets launched countless punches with him on the starlight.
Bang! Bang! BANG!!!
Even though his Inlaid Star Compass had been fully activated which created a heaven-defying defensive formation, it could only withstand for a few breaths under the attacks of the puppets.
When the formation light broke, Ning Fan felt a sharp pain on his chest as if he had just received a heavy blow. There was a heavy backlash. However, he forcibly swallowed the blood in his throat and his eyes widened with ferocity.
The distance between the stone platform and the exit was just ten thousand zhang* (3.33 m per zhang). After breaking through the walls made of void power and defending the attacks of the 49 puppets using his star formation, Ning Fan was now only three thousand zhang* (3.33 m per zhang) away from the exit.
As long as he go through the final three thousand zhang* (3.33 m per zhang), he could then obtain this time crystal. He would then be able to attain the Peak Divine Transformation Realm by combining his three types of power!
“The thief of time shall DIE!”
The group of incoming puppets spoke again with an indifferent tone. After that, they raised their fists which were coiled with void power and got ready to blast them at Ning Fan which were powerful enough to destroy mountains and rivers.
If these punches are blasted at him, he would no longer have any means to defend himself even if he uses all of his puppets as shields.
“Grievance Technique, Life Imprisonment! Spiritual puppets from all worlds, every one of you who don’t follow my command will become my slaves! With one finger, I shall imprison your lives!”
Ning Fan's eyes filled with unprecedented focus. This technique, Life Imprisonment, was his final method to keep himself alive. No matter what, he must create a distraction to the group of puppets and stop their attacks.
His eyes became more and more indifferent as he stared upon the group of puppets. Even True Immortals would not have a pair of eyes like these.
His black hair danced in the air even though there was no wind, his eyes as deep as a bottomless pool. After he pointed his finger, his black hair instantly turned white and his appearance grew older too.
Meanwhile, a cold black moonlight shot out from his finger. At the next moment, a black crescent appeared on the faces of the 49 Void Refinement Realm puppets successively.
All 48 puppets fell into a trance and stopped in their tracks at the moment when the mark of the crescent moon emerged.
Only the puppet with spiritual intelligence’s face was filled with absolute shock as if he had seen something unbelievable and spoke in surprise.
“Grievance Technique! The Grievance Technique of the Ancestral Emperor of the Northern Heaven! It can’t be wrong. This is definitely the Grievance Technique!”
This puppet with spiritual intelligence actually recognized the origin of the technique that Ning Fan used!
Well, it was no surprise that he could recognize this technique. Ning Fan usually wouldn't use this technique to its full potential, much less utter the chant of this technique.
At this critical moment of life and death, all he wanted to do was to maximize the power of this technique and not hide its origin.
With the help of this technique, the puppets seemed to have forgotten their objective and stood there absentmindedly. Ning Fan beat his purple wings again and was now only a thousand zhang* (3.33 m per zhang) away from the exit. With just a few more seconds, he could then escape from the eighth floor!
Since there were a total of 49 Void Refinement Realm puppets, Ning Fan’s Grievance Technique could at most hold them back for a short while. At the next moment, they regained their consciousness and continued swinging their fists.
Ning Fan had cast the technique a few times in the past, but none of them had such a heavy side effect like this time.
His black hair turned white and his face grew older. He finally realized why the technique could restrain puppets.
It was obviously a technique which seals a puppet’s life by sacrificing the caster’s life force in return!
None of the puppets that he used to deal with in the past had a Void Refinement Realm cultivation base. Therefore, he did not suffer such a significant side effect from using that technique.
The change in his hair’s color and his face which had grown old like that of an elderly man were the price of casting this technique. Unless Ning Fan's life force recovers, he could no longer use the same technique or fend off the puppets’ attacks with this technique anymore.
“It’s the last one thousand zhang*(3.33 m per zhang)! I must get out of here!”
Ning Fan’s eyes glinted with resolve. While he was quickly retreating, his ten fingers were moving rapidly, forming patterns upon patterns.
He had 25 Divine Transformation Realm puppets in total with 10 of them at the Early Divine Transformation Realm, 7 at the Mid Divine Transformation Realm, 6 at the Late Divine Transformation Realm, 1 at the Peak Divine Transformation Realm and Half-Step Void Refinement Realm.
At this moment, Ning Fan commanded the 10 Early Divine Transformation Realm puppets to detonate themselves without any hesitation in order to delay the 49 puppets for a second!
The power of the self-detonation of 10 Early Divine Transformation Realm puppets were doubtlessly powerful. Even the fists of the 49 Void Refinement Realm puppets were slowed down for a second.
There are still five hundred zhang*(3.33 m per zhang) more!
Ning Fan’s hand seal changed like lightning. This time, the technique he used was actually the Puppet Sacrificial Technique to fuse his puppets.
The incoming 49 puppets didn’t show any signs of fusing into one which was good news to Ning Fan.
However, he wanted to fuse the puppets under his command into one using the sacrificial technique!
At the moment Ning Fan's hand seals were completed, the bodies of the 7 Mid Divine Transformation Realm puppets suddenly burned with black flames and turned into ashes at the next moment.
Black light covered the body of the Half-Step Void Refinement Realm puppet. All of a sudden, that black puppet’s level rose to the Early Void Refinement Realm.
His eyes were filled with a bit of hesitation, but they immediately returned to their determined look afterwards.
He made a pattern with his fingers and the black puppet which had just attained the Early Void Refinement Realm dauntlessly rushed towards the forty-nine Void Refinement Realm spiritual puppets, confronting their punches and detonated itself with a loud bang!
At the same moment, all of his remaining puppets including those at the Void Refinement Realm threw out their fists at the incoming puppets.
With the help of the self-detonation of a Void Refinement Realm puppet and the combined attacks of another three Void Refinement Realm puppets, the force of the forty-nine Void Refinement Realm punches was offset, dispersing in all directions within the palace.
The power of this force was greatly reduced but when it swept across the area, Ning Fan and his puppets could not avoid being hit by the leftover force which seriously injured them.
The surviving six Late Divine Transformation Realm puppets and the Peak Divine Transformation Realm were all severely damaged.
The three Realm Beast puppets, however, just suffered minor injuries.
As for Ning Fan, his condition was the worst. After being hit by the remnant power of the 49 puppets’ attacks, he took so much damage that he nearly died despite having a physical body which was comparable to the Fourth Level of Jade Life Body Refining Realm.
With the aid of the dispersed power between the clash of fists, Ning Fan led his group of puppets and went through the last five hundred zhang* (3.33m per zhang)!
Finally, he managed to come out alive!
At the moment he got out of the spatial barrier, the forty-eight puppets still desperately chased after him without regard for anything, trying to retrieve the crystal.
That puppet with spiritual intelligence looked at Ning Fan and sighed with emotion. It seemed to be extremely difficult for him to control the body of the puppet. After inflicting damage on himself, only then could he extend his five fingers into the shape of a claw and condense a black jade slip using void power. Then, he shot it towards Ning Fan’s direction with a flick of his finger. The jade slip flew out from the spatial barrier.
Along with the jade slip was a silver token.
Then, the spatial barrier closed!
Ning Fan held a golden crystal in his hand as a voice echoed in his ears. The words it said made him stare at the eighth floor in disbelief.
“This young friend is indeed extraordinary… Even I have failed to steal the crystals and ended up being trapped in the eighth floor. You, on the other hand, have succeeded. Ashamed. I’m truly ashamed of myself! You truly deserve to be regarded with respect...”
These words were no doubt uttered by that puppet with spiritual intelligence.
Now, Ning Fan finally had the time to contemplate the mystery of that puppet.
What he saw earlier should not be wrong. The spiritual puppets truly had no spiritual intelligence. That particular puppet with spiritual intelligence was probably not a pure puppet creature, but a puppet which some kind of expert had attached his primordial spirit into.
Judging from those words, that expert seemed to have also tried to steal the crystals like Ning Fan. But he did not possess those powerful means like the Eastern Ocean Bell and the Grievance Technique that Ning Fan had. Thus, he was trapped to death within that floor…
“Who was that person…?”
Ning Fan reached out his hand and took the black jade slip which was given to him by that mysterious expert.
After making sure that there was no hidden trap in the jade slip, Ning Fan placed his spirit sense into the jade slip. Old and fragmented memories which were imprinted in the jade slip began to flow into his mind.
All of a sudden, Ning Fan’s expression became extremely strange.
It was because the mysterious expert who was trapped in the eighth floor was not just any other person, but was actually the former Rain Sovereign!
In the current Rain Palace, the person with the highest seniority was the Rain Sovereign. After him was Void Fragmentation Realm experts such as Yun Tianjue, Yun Bushu and others.
However, the mysterious expert who was trapped within the eighth floor was a senior being who was three generations older than the current Rain Sovereign.
His title was… ‘Red Cloud Rain Sovereign’!
Since the formation of the Rain World, there had been more than one thousand generations of the Rain Sovereign ruling the world. But only those who had broken through to the Sixth Heavenly Layer of the Void Fragmentation Realm and above would be crowned with this title.
The current Rain Sovereign still had yet to have one. Since that mysterious expert carried the title of ‘Red Cloud Rain Sovereign’, his cultivation realm was certainly at the Sixth Heavenly Layer of Void Fragmentation Realm or above.
Even though Ning Fan did not know the history of the Rain World in detail, he more or less knew some of it after travelling to many places.
He once heard from someone that said that the Red Cloud Rain Sovereign which was the Rain Sovereign three generations ago had once cultivated in the Lost World Tower but he eventually disappeared without leaving a trace. Many people began to speculate that he must have failed to achieve a breakthrough and died inside the tower…
No one would be able to figure out that the dignified Red Cloud Rain Sovereign would actually commit the same crime as Ning Fan which was to steal the crystals in the Lost World Tower.
The Red Cloud Rain Sovereign did not have Ning Fan’s Wind Mist Finger. After staying within the seventh floor of the tower for more than ten thousand years which was roughly one hundred years in the outside world, only then was he able to create a hole on the spatial barrier connected to the eighth floor using his Sovereign Rain.
In practicality, it should not be difficult for Red Cloud Rain Sovereign who had a Sixth Heavenly Layer of Void Fragmentation Realm cultivation base to steal one of the crystals. However, he was much greedier than Ning Fan. He had planned to take all of the seven crystals with him. As a result, he was besieged by three hundred and forty-three Void Refinement Realm puppets due to his carelessness…
In the end, his physical body was completely destroyed. He did not have any choice. As such, he forcibly attached his primordial spirit to a Void Refinement Realm puppet and seized its body. In that manner, he managed to conceal himself from those puppets and escape from their attacks.
It was really a pity that the former Rain Sovereign with a reputable name would die with such an unclear reason. Even though his consciousness still remained, his primordial spirit was now too weak as he could barely control the body of the puppet.
He had mustered all of his strength and energy just to give Ning Fan this jade slip.
Ning Fan had just done something successfully that even the Red Cloud Rain Sovereign failed. It was definitely enough to feel proud of himself.
However, he did not reveal the slightest trace of pride on his face.
Looking at the golden crystal in his hand, he could not help but feel bad for his loss.
As he held the crystal in his hand and felt the massive energy stored within it, he was even certain that it would be enough to help him break through to the Peak Divine Transformation Realm.
However, in order to obtain this crystal, he had sacrificed a lot too.
He had lost eighteen Divine Transformation Realm puppets which also include the Half-Step Void Refinement Realm puppet.
Besides, his remaining puppets suffered varying degrees of damage and the person who suffered the most injuries was himself.
After inflicting damage on himself to perform the self-harming technique, his injuries were already serious. What’s more serious was losing a great portion of his life force after using the Grievance Technique.
Fortunately, he had learned the Black Star Healing Technique. He only needed to rest in the Lost World Tower for around one and a half years and his injuries would heal completely.
There were still three more years before he would exit the tower. However, since the crystal controlling the flow of time on the seventh floor had been taken away, the seventh floor had lost its time distortion effect. Ning Fan had no choice but to return to the sixth floor to rest.
Now, he still had one and a half years since the period of three years was halved.
This period of time was barely enough for him to treat his wounds and refine the crystal.
However, he could only hope that he would be able to refine this massive amount of energy within the crystal before leaving.
Ning Fan created a new abode on the sixth floor. Then, he summoned the black star and began healing himself.
Looking at the black jade slip in his hand, he laughed bitterly.
Well, it was impossible for the Red Cloud Rain Sovereign to just tell Ning Fan a story by giving him this jade slip.
At the end of his message, he had a request… He hoped that Ning Fan could bring the news about his existence in this world to the Rain Palace and request them to save him.
Translated by Tommy, edited by Roel
“Grasping Evil” is being translated on Veratales (Click here) but Liberspark (Click here) is hosting the chapters as well. You are encouraged to read on veratales.com for project updates. :)
Some phrases or expressions of the original are changed for ease of reading.
If a mistake or mistakes were found in this chapter, feel free to comment below.
Some terms are subject to change when better suggestions are selected.
All the internal monologues will be in italic form.