Even from a distance, Li Yundong could feel the eyes of his enemies following his every move. He knew full well that those guys could launch a combined attack on him if they wanted to. Still, he remained unfazed, keeping his strides slow but purposeful. The last thing he wanted was to let the enemy think that he was afraid of them, that they still had the upper hand.
Zi Yuan hadn't spoken to him again, but he knew she was somewhere on high ground, watching his back. And if he was being completely honest, Zi Yuan's presence was the main reason he felt so confident right now. If the Great Six had two spies (neither of whom were available at the moment) within the Fox Zen School, then he had two spies inside the Great Six as well—those fools just didn't know it.
The game plan was simple: defeat one (or a few) enemies (preferably the leader) in the most brutal way imaginable. If he could do that, then the rest of them would probably leave the mountain out of fear.
"Have you come to a decision, zhenren?" Zhang zhenren shouted at him from afar.
Li Yundong ignored the man and kept marching forward. Closing his eyes, Li Yundong performed Neiguan once again, sighing in relief at what he saw.
They were still there, all nine of them.
The nine elixirs.
Nine tiny orbs (or nodes), scattered across various parts of his body. Two of the nodes, the Elixir of Formation and the Elixir of Structure, were located inside his Vital Orb. The Elixir of Fire resided inside his middle Dantian whereas the Elixir of Transcendence found its place inside his upper Dantian, just below his Baihui. The Elixir of Yang formed a node at the midpoint of his spine, along which his Du Meridian ran; the Elixir of Yin was the opposite, forming a node at his navel, which happens to be the midpoint of his Ren Meridian. The Elixir of Flesh was sandwiched between his Liver and his Spleen, whereas the Elixir of Bones sat directly between his Kidneys. And finally, the Elixir of Eleven Transmutations, which was located at his Huagai.
At the moment, only the Elixir of Fire was activated.
Li Yundong opened his eyes and glanced up. The Fan of Seven Treasures was doing exactly what he'd asked of it, patrolling the sky right above the line he'd carved on the ground.
Li Yundong came to a halt when he was about ten feet from the line. His enemies were still watching him like hawks, but he paid them no mind. He raised his right arm and waited for a second or two.
Then, the enemies on the left flank started screaming. Some of them dove for cover when the Fan of Seven Treasures swooped down from the sky.
Li Yundong seized the fan by its rivet the moment it was within reach.
Cracks spread out under his feet when one end of the fan lodged itself into the ground. Zhang Tianhé was probably the only one in the enemy's formation who didn't flinch.
"Leave," Li Yundong said in a harsh tone. "The Fox Zen School is now under my protection."
Whispers and gasps washed over the Great Six's assemblage.
"Is that your final decision?" Zhang Tianhé's voice sounded even colder now. "You would make enemies of us, the Great Six, for the sake of that evil organization?"
Li Yundong crossed his arms in front of his chest. "I would make an enemy of any cold-blooded murderer," he sneered.
"This is folly," Zhang Tianhé huffed, shaking his head.
Li Yundong took a step forward. "Leave!" He paused, letting the echoes of his voice diminish into silence. "Before I remove every one of you from this mountain by force!"
Sounds of feet shuffling drifted to his ears. He hadn't noticed it until now, but the front line seemed to have moved backwards by several feet.
"Good," Zi Yuan whispered. "They're all afraid of you. Keep it up."
The Sword of Seven Stars hummed when Zhang Tianhé flicked his wrist twice. The sword was now vibrating vigorously as though its blade was trying to fly off the hilt. The whole display reminded Li Yundong of how Liuhe had reacted to his touch during the performance.
"You are a Cultivator of considerable strength," Zhang Tianhé said sharply, then levelled the vibrating sword at the temple. "Abandon them and come join us." The sword continued to hum when Zhang Tianhé lowered it back down. "There is a place for you among our ranks."
"Leave," Li Yundong growled. "This is my final warning…"
"Come on," Zhang Tianhé implored. "Be reasonable. Why are—"
"Don't waste your breath on him, Zhang zhenren." Someone leaped over the top of Zhang Tianhé's head and landed in a crouch in front of Li Yundong. It was a large, burly man with a thick patch (about palm-sized) of hair on his chest. "He's obviously one of those men who got bewitched by a fox spirit! He might as well be one of them!"
When the man rose to his full height, Li Yundong noted how tall he was—over 190 centimeters.
"I say we just get rid of him and finish what we came here to do, Zhang zhenren." The man cracked his knuckles a few times.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Kuang zhenren," Zhang Tianhé said in a warning tone. "It would be best if you stand down."
The ground cracked when Kuang zhenren punched it. "Forgive me, Zhang zhenren. But I've run out of patience." Pieces of concrete flew apart when Kuang zhenren yanked his fist out of the dent on the ground. "First there was the barrier, and now this?" He snorted. "Sorry. But I'm not gonna stand around and waste any more of my time. This has dragged on for far too long."
Kuang zhenren glared at Li Yundong. "Prepare yourself, kid," he snarled, pointing his thumb at his hairy chest. "I, Kuang Tianping, the Golden Hammer of the Donghai Sect will make you regret ever showing your face here tonight!"
Li Yundong smirked and uncrossed his arms.
"Kuang zhenren," Zhang Tianhé said sternly. "I highly advise you—"
Kuang Tianping pounced, but Li Yundong had already anticipated the man's attacks with Xianjue.
SWISH! SWISH! SWISH!
Li Yundong bobbed and weaved to avoid a flurry of vicious punches, then launched a spinning hook kick the moment he saw an opening.
Due to their height difference, the kick landed on Kuang Tianping's left deltoid rather than his chin. Still, the blow caused Kuang Tianping to tumble sideways to the ground.
Li Yundong withdrew his leg from the air and got back into a neutral stance.
Laughing, Kuang Tianping climbed to his feet and cracked his neck a few times. "That all you got, kid?"
Li Yundong smirked and glanced down at his own legs. The pants should be fine; it was his shirt that he was worried about.
Kuang Tianping charged again. "Take this—"
Li Yundong ducked low and performed a sweep kick, which sent Kuang Tianping tumbling to the ground a second time. Then, Li Yundong quickly followed up with a sharp kick to the Kuang Tianping's ribcage.
Kuang Tianping flew away with a loud grunt, rolling to a stop at Zhang Tianhé's feet.
"You alright there, Kuang zhenren?" Zhang Tianhé asked in a snide tone, though his calculating eyes were trained on Li Yundong.
"I'm fine," Kuang Tianping growled and spat out a mouthful of blood. "This is nothing."
Screams sounded on Li Yundong's left. He turned slightly and saw the Fan of Seven Treasures fending off a dozen of Cultivators who were attempting to cross the line he'd carved on the ground earlier.
Kuang Tianping rose to his feet once again. "Tch! You're gonna pay for that, kid."
Li Yundong grabbed the hem of his shirt and lifted it over his head.
Time to end this.
"This is on you, Zhang zhenren," Li Yundong said in a loud voice, tossing his shirt aside. "The blood of your men will be spilled tonight because you refuse to call off the assault."
He heard a snort from Zi Yuan. "You're not going to convince him that easily, Li Yundong," she scoffed. "That man has something to prove to his father. To him, those men are nothing but pawns."
"Shut up, kid," Kuang Tianping snarled, lowering his stance. "This ain't over yet."
Li Yundong closed his eyes and pressed his palms together.
A spot on his lower back—between his Kidneys—flared when the Elixir of Bones came alive. A split second later, he felt another sharp throb, this time somewhere to the left of his sternum. Heat rose from his sternum, spreading over his entire torso.
He knew then that the Elixir of Flesh had also been activated.
Li Yundong opened his eyes and willed his muscles to expand and his bones to lengthen.
And they did.
The widening of Zhang Tianhé's eyes was the first thing Li Yundong noticed before his vision shifted upwards due to the sudden change in his height and the broadening of his torso. He heard a yelp, which sounded like it came from Ruan Hongling.
Li Yundong stopped the transformation when he was about the same height as Kuang Tianping.
This should be enough...
Bulking up too much might slow down his movements. Even though he had the Elixir of Yang to compensate for the loss in agility, his body would still feel awkward if he bulked up too much.
"How did he..." came Zi Yuan's surprised whisper. "What in Heaven's name was that?"
Something materialized in Kuang Tianping's hand.
It was a huge melon hammer whose rounded head was about as large as a basketball.
"HYAH!" Kuang Tianping charged forward, bringing the hammer down to his left waist. At first, Li Yundong thought Kuang Tianping would start swinging the hammer at him, but then the guy surprised him by hurling the entire hammer at him instead.
The smug look on Kuang Tianping's face vanished when Li Yundong caught the hammer with one hand.
A wok-sized dent formed on the ground when Li Yundong tossed the hammer away. A smirk formed on Kuang Tianping's lips, which was unusual considering Li Yundong had just disarmed the guy.
Li Yundong narrowed his eyes in suspicion. What the heck is he up to?
"Li Yundong! Watch—" A chorus of feminine shrieks drowned out Zi Yuan's voice.
Li Yundong wheeled around in alarm.
A second melon hammer was plummeting from the sky, heading straight for Grandmaster Liu and Cao Yi.
The Fan of Seven Treasures (bless the thing) got there in time and slapped the hammer away with its leaves.
The hammer was sent flying back into the sky.
The hammer landed somewhere in the middle of the Great Six's formation.
Li Yundong turned back around to face Kuang Tianping.
"You evil son of a bitch," Li Yundong growled. "Have you no shame at all? Is there not a single ounce of humanity in your twisted soul?"
Kuang Tianping's only response was a smug grin.
"Come on!" Kuang Tianping pounced again, throwing a straight punch, which Li Yundong parried with ease.
Kuang Tianping tried to withdraw his arm after the punch, but Li Yundong was much quicker: he grabbed Kuang Tianping's arm and swiveled around until his hip crashed into Kuang Tianping's groin.
Li Yundong flipped Kuang Tianping's bulky frame over his shoulder with a perfectly executed Judo hip throw. You're finished! Li Yundong kept a tight hold on Kuang Tianping's arm to prevent the guy from rolling away, then slammed his foot down on Kuang Tianping's head.
It was a quiet death.
There was no scream of pain, no cry of horror, just the sound of Kuang Tianping's skull turning into pulp beneath Li Yundong's foot.
A second later, Kuang Tianping's Yin Spirit rose from his headless body. A green, semi-transparent face stared back Li Yundong in fear.
Li Yundong stepped over the ruined corpse and slowly approached the Yin Spirit.
"Be gone, evil," Li Yundong growled.
The Yin Spirit screamed in fear and made a hasty retreat towards the legion of Cultivators.
More screams drew Li Yundong's attention to his left. From the corner of his eyes, Li Yundong saw the Fan of Seven Treasures swatting about a dozen men into the air.
The left flank remained unbreached for now.
"Ahhh!!! Li zhenren! Help!!!"
Li Yundong turned around again: potion girl was pointing at something on his right.
About ten men had breached the right flank while the Fan of Seven Treasures was occupied on the left flank.
Li Yundong bridged his Three Gates and flung his arm sideways.
A powerful shockwave sent those men crashing into another group of men trailing behind them.
Li Yundong took a massive leap backwards and planted himself in front of the women. Turning his head left, he looked towards the Fan of Seven Treasures. One of the enemy Cultivators was breathing fire, and the fan was using the wind to push back those flames.
"Pull back!" Li Yundong yelled.
The flames recoiled when the Fan of Seven Treasures performed a powerful sweep.
"Argh!" The fire-breathing man dove aside to avoid his own flames.
The Fan of Seven Treasures flew back towards Li Yundong.
"Guard!" Li Yundong pointed at the spot on the ground. The Fan of Seven Treasures landed on the exact spot before spreading its leaves apart.
"Ladies," Li Yundong said as he turned his head to the front. The Great Six's army flanked Zhang Tianhé on both sides. "No matter what happens, I want you to stay behind the fan. Understand?"
"Good," Li Yundong said in a low voice. "Coz something's about to happen. And it ain't gonna be pretty."
Li Yundong exhaled slowly and formed Amoghasiddhi's Mudra—the Heavenly Drum—with both hands.
"Namah samanta buddhanam ham nah svaha!"