Li Yundong jumped backwards and planted himself in front of the fox spirits. "Stay close to me!" he shouted over the clinking of swords. His hands moved quickly to form a mudra.
Acalanatha's 2nd Mudra: The Immovable Mountain of Treasure!
"It's been an honor, Li zhenren!" Du Fei's hand went through a series of quick hand signs. "Too bad you have to die though." Du Fei let out a sad chuckle. "You would've been a great asset to the Great Six."
A fusillade of swords rained down upon Li Yundong and the fox spirits as soon as Du Fei's hand stopped moving.
Li Yundong bridged his Three Gates. "Namah samanta vajranam ham!"
A golden, semi-transparent barrier flashed into existence, forming a dome-like structure above Li Yundong and the fox spirits. A chorus of feminine shrieks broke out when the swords charged at the dome from every direction.
Then, the swords stopped, every single one of them. Their tips couldn't penetrate the barrier. An orange flare lit up the left side of the dome courtesy of the fireball blasting against the dome's surface.
A grim thought occurred to Li Yundong right then.
The other two could attack him as well, and when they did, there was nothing the barrier could do to protect him, since they both had spells that could bypass the barrier by reaching up from under the ground—
Something coiled around Li Yundong's ankles. He glanced down and saw a bunch of vines and roots snaking around his legs.
Behind him, the fox spirits screamed.
Amidst their screams, he also heard the scraping and clinking of metal. He turned his head and saw the women hacking at a bunch of vines with their swords. Li Yundong gritted his teeth and faced the front again. He had to do something quickly before Zhang Hongcheng breached the barrier from under the ground.
He did a quick scan of his surroundings, noting the dome's radius. The swords would probably reach them within a second once he released the barrier. The fireball would take longer, maybe four or five seconds.
"Take cover!" Li Yundong screamed over his shoulder.
The dome vanished when Li Yundong switched to a new mudra.
The swords arrowed down towards him whereas the fireball swept in from the side.
Acalanatha's 10th Mudra: Almighty Push!
"Namah samanta vajranam ham!"
The air stirred.
"No!!!!!" Du Fei screamed.
The swords were flung outward and away from Li Yundong by an omnidirectional repulsive force; the fireball disintegrated, forming tiny balls of flames which scattered into the night sky. Strangely enough, the clinking noise—due to a thousand swords falling to the ground—he'd been anticipating never came. Instead, only one sword fell down from the sky.
The sword lay motionless beside Du Fei's feet.
Li Yundong yanked his leg upwards, freeing his ankle from those annoying vines. When kicked aside, the vines flopped lifelessly to the ground, a clear sign that the spell responsible for them was no longer active.
Li Yundong turned around to check on the fox spirits. He saw a bunch of pale faces staring back at him in shock. Some of the women still had vines and roots wrapped around their limbs.
Li Yundong looked towards the Fan of Seven Treasures and was relieved to find that the fan was now winning in its battle against Du Fei's staff and the wooden sword. The arhats had appeared once again and was now driving those dark wraiths back towards the wooden sword.
"Oww…! That didn't really work, did it?"
Li Yundong tore his gaze away from the fan and saw Dang Qiang climbing to his feet.
"No shit," said Chen Anji, the wood-style user.
Zhang Hongcheng was nowhere to be seen, but knowing his moves, he was probably hiding somewhere underground.
"You failed," Li Yundong said in a clipped tone, glaring at Du Fei.
Du Fei smirked. "It ain't over yet."
Li Yundong leaped backwards when a hand burst through the ground's surface. Zhang Hongcheng's emerged from the ground, revealing his full body.
Zhang Hongcheng moved his hands.
"Earth Element: Human Boulder!"
Zhang Hongcheng's body swelled up and turned into a boulder, which began rolling towards Li Yundong the moment it was formed.
Instead of dodging, Li Yundong cocked his fist back and punched the boulder.
Instead of shattering the boulder, Li Yundong's fist slipped through the boulder's surface. He realized then that the boulder's surface had turned into sand.
"Earth Element: Sand Storm!"
The entire boulder burst apart, tossing sand everywhere. Li Yundong leaped backwards, but it was too late; the sand got him in the eye.
"Hey, Zi Yuan jiějie? What's wrong with him? Why's he holding his face?"
"His eyes, Hongling. The sand went into his eyes."
"Earth Element: Quick Sand!"
Li Yundong gasped when he felt his feet sinking into the ground. Shit! He mobilized his Zhenqi and levitated himself off the ground. He managed to stay levitated for a few seconds before he felt something solid wrap around his ankle. His body lurched downwards, and the next thing he knew, something abrasive was grinding against his face.
He had just fallen face-first into the sand.
"Wood Element: Immortal Shackles!"
The binding around his ankles tightened. The sand shifted under him, pulling him down. He was literally sinking into the ground. Flailing his arms, he tried to grab hold of something, but then realized with horror that even his arms had been rendered immobile by those annoying roots.
Those sneaky bastards wanted to prevent him from using the mudras.
Li Yundong moved his arms with all his might, pulling his wrist in random directions. He could feel the roots snapping every time he pulled, but for some reason, the roots were still able to restrain him.
Li Yundong coughed and spat out a mouthful of sand. His eyes were still stinging, so he couldn't really see.
"What should we do, Zi Yuan jiějie? Should we help him?"
More sand piled on top of Li Yundong's head. He shook his head free, coughing out more sand. Damn it. It seemed like he might have to activate the Jindan's Aura after all despite Zi Yuan's warning.
"We don't have to step in," Zi Yuan said in a calm voice. "He's got this."
No. I don't f*cking got this. I—
All of a sudden, the ground became solid again. A light breeze brushed against his face instead of rough sand, and the wooden shackles around his limbs finally came loose.
Something crackled on his left.
A wave of heat rushed into his left cheek. The fireball, he thought, reaching out tentatively. He sighed in relief when he felt the familiar metallic surface under his palm.
His trusted buddy had saved his ass again.
Li Yundong climbed to his feet, leaning his back against the warm metal, knowing that his trusted partner in crime was currently shielding him from the fireball. He had to take care of his eyes first. Pressing his palms together, he activated the Elixir of Yin. A cooling sensation gushed out from his navel, flowing through his Ren Meridian before spreading out to all parts of his body. The stinging sensation in his eyes was gone a second later.
Li Yundong opened his eyes.
Dang Qiang had stopped breathing fire; the bald dude was now down on his knees, heaving and panting. Further to Li Yundong's left, Zhao Wuji was down on the ground, coughing up a decent amount of blood. The Sword of Nine Yin lay lifelessly beside Du Fei's staff. The Fan of Seven Treasures had defeated the two weapons and immediately come to his aid.
Li Yundong stepped out from behind the Fan of Seven Treasures to face his four remaining opponents, all of whom were looking the worse for wear. Behind the enemy lines, Li Yundong spotted another group of Cultivators sneaking off into the mountains. Zhang Tianhé either didn't know or didn't care that his precious army consisted mostly of cowards.
Those who chose not to run were all whispering to each other.
"S- Strong… S- So damn strong…"
"He went up against five of them, and he's still standing… He was even holding his own!"
"Are you sure you've never heard of this guy, Zhang Tianhé zhenren? Hell… This guy should be on everyone's watch list!"
Li Yundong took a deep breath and then pressed his palms together. Heat coursed through his spine, firing up his Du Meridian. Unless he was very much mistaken, the Elixir of Yang would give him a boost in stamina, speed, agility, and vitality when activated.
Time to put that theory to the test.
Li Yundong extended his arm and launched his Zhenqi towards Zhang Hongcheng, the one with the annoying Earth spells.
"Argh!!!" Zhang Hongcheng's body shot into the air.
"Be careful with Qi Kinesis," Zi Yuan reminded sternly. "You're up against trained Cultivators, not a bunch of random thugs."
Li Yundong had used his Zhenqi to lift Zhang Hongcheng up by the throat. The whole idea was to keep Zhang Hongcheng in the air; no way in hell Li Yundong was going to let the bastard escape into the ground again. Zhang Hongcheng's body's stopped rising once it was twenty feet off the ground. Li Yundong looked away from the hovering body towards his other three opponents. Zhang Hongcheng should be out cold by the time Li Yundong was done with those three.
Li Yundong mobilized the Qis of his Lung and Liver, channeling them into his legs. Du Fei and Dang Qiang scrambled to the side when Li Yundong barreled forward. Not that it mattered; Li Yundong wasn't planning to take out those two first anyway.
Wood shot out from Chen Anji's arms, twisting and turning in the air like a bunch of live snakes. Li Yundong avoided them and went straight for the guy's legs. He'd observed earlier that the wood-style user didn't use his legs much. Li Yundong ducked under bunch of vines and delivered a sweep kick which had Chen Anji tumbling into the ground. A follow-up kick to Chen Anji's ribs sent the man flying back towards the Great Six's formation. Chen Anji's body crashed into the ground, then rolled to a stop.
He didn't get back up again.
Having done away with the annoying Wood and Earth spells, it didn't take Li Yundong long to defeat the remaining two Cultivators. Li Yundong's shockwaves pretty much rendered Dang Qiang's fireballs useless; and Li Yundong's size and speed advantage allowed him to best Du Fei in hand-to-hand combat.
Zhang Hongcheng's unconscious body dropped down from the sky when Li Yundong withdrew his Zhenqi, which he had used to perform a blood choke on Zhang Hongcheng.
"Consider this mercy!" Li Yundong slammed his foot into a spot inches beside Du Fei's head.
"Fine! Fine! You win!" Dang Qiang yelled, climbing to his feet with one hand holding on to his side.
Li Yundong glared at the rest of the Great Six's assemblage, allowing his gaze to linger on Zhang Tianhé for a few seconds longer. "Anyone else care to try?"
Silence washed over the agents of the Great Six.
The coughs behind him reassured Li Yundong that Grandmaster Liu was still alive.
"How's the old man doing?" Li Yundong asked over his shoulder.
A commotion broke out among the Great Six before Li Yundong could get an answer.
"Shīdì! Are you sure about this?"
"Z- Zhang Tianhé zhenren!"
Li Yundong returned his eyes to the front. Zhang Tianhé had stepped away from the rest and was now walking towards him.
"Be careful, Li Yundong," Zi Yuan said. "He seems pretty confident. I don't know what he's got under his sleeves."
"So he's decided to fight after all," Ruan Hongling said.
Zi Yuan released a snort. "I bet this has been his plan all along, Hongling. The previous combatants were just pawns, tools to reveal Li Yundong's moves."
Li Yundong smirked. He had the exact same thought.
The Sword of Seven Stars glowed inside Zhang Tianhé's right hand.
"Prepare yourself, Li Zhenren."
The Fan of Seven Treasures floated to the ground and landed beside Li Yundong. The crowd began to chant Zhang Tianhé's name.
"Remember," Zi Yuan said. "Watch out for the sword."
Li Yundong squared his shoulders and walked towards his opponent, knowing that the real battle had just begun.