Wang Baole could feel its power despite being hidden in the smoke. The corpse was like a terrifying, huge gaping mouth that could swallow him whole.
It was a feeling he hadn't felt as strongly when he had first passed the corpse, when he hadn't yet reached the Nascent Soul realm. Things were different now. He was hovering above the corpse in mid-air instead of just passing by quickly. His level of cultivation had increased, and his spiritual senses had grown sharper. He could sense everything more clearly now.
*I feel intense danger…* Wang Baole fell silent. He was hesitant about what he was planning to do. Then, he thought about the gains that awaited him in the third palace and gritted his teeth.
"Sometimes, you have to be hard on yourself in order to gain certain rare opportunities. You may even have to risk your own life. Of course, we should always have backup plans in place so that we have a chance to escape unharmed, should the situation call for that," Wang Baole muttered to himself. His eyes shone fiercely, and he suddenly started reciting.
As soon as the first word was uttered, a familiar presence that seemed to come from the deepest parts of the universe descended. The spirit energy emanating from the corpse seemed to freeze momentarily, allowing Wang Baole to release a sigh of relief.
*I thought it didn't work anymore. So it still works…* Wang Baole stared skyward sheepishly, then stopped his incantation. With a series of hand seals, he separated from the flying smoke and shifted away, ready to approach the corpse in the sea of blood. It was then that the corpse suddenly shuddered!
Hair suddenly appeared on the body—on its exposed skin and the skin hidden beneath its tattered clothes. Despite having died, the hair on the body didn't shrivel and fall away. It survived, in some strange and bizarre condition, having undergone some form of evolution. It was as if the hair possessed a mind of its own.
The hair was dark green in color and as thick as a person's arm. It grew swiftly. In the blink of an eye, the ends of the hairs split open, like gaping mouths, transforming the hairs into green snakes attached to the corpse!
There were countless of them, clustered together and swaying in the breeze. It was a terrifying sight to behold. The snakes turned their eyes towards Wang Baole. He could feel an intense danger rushing over him, hear alarm bells blaring loudly in his head, and feel every muscle in his body trembling. Every cell in his body was screaming. Even his Nascent Soul opened its piercing eyes.
The snakes hissed loudly. Then, hundreds of snakes lifted their serpentine bodies and transformed into a massive green blur that charged at Wang Baole, ready to devour him.
They looked like the release of hundreds of arrows. Numerous other hissing snakes followed behind the first wave of snakes. In the distance were several larger green pythons. They tore their way out of a tattered Daoist robe, fearsome-looking and utterly terrifying.
Wang Baole's eyes flashed as danger rushed at him. He raised his right hand, then pressed it against the ground as he roared.
The same powerful presence from space descended once again, enveloping the entire region. The green snakes shrieked and retreated immediately. Their bodies trembled and cowered on the ground. They dared not move a single inch forward.
Wang Baole perked up when he saw how effective the sutra was. Without hesitation, he crossed the skies and appeared above the corpse, right where its identity token was located. To play it safe, he shouted again.
"Prisoner of the Dao of heaven…"
A silent explosion seemed to have erupted inside the minds of the green snakes. Many of them shriveled and died, and a few started foaming at the mouth. Even the larger ones in the distance cowered. As for the ones around Wang Baole, they fled instantly, leaving him standing alone in the area.
He knew how dangerous this place was, so he continued reciting parts of the sutra sheepishly and yet without any hesitation. After shouting out the second line of the sutra, he swiftly knelt down and grabbed the identity token on the corpse.
The corpse was huge, which meant that the identity token was strangely huge as well. However, as soon as Wang Baole touched it, a bright light erupted from the identity token. It seemed to recognize Wang Baole and grant him permission to take the identity token. The bright light shrunk rapidly to the size of a human palm within the blink of an eye. Wang Baole grabbed it and stuffed it into his storage bag without taking a second look.
Everything happened very quickly. Wang Baole's breathing came in quick huffs and pants, and there were still alarm bells ringing in his head. The danger he felt didn't disappear with his chanting of the sutra and the subsequent cowering of the green snakes. Instead, it seemed to have intensified. Wang Baole was about to make his escape when his eyes suddenly landed on the corpse's skin. He clenched his jaw.
*It's a struggle trying to get down here. Since I'm already here… I should get some blood… the identity token alone might not be enough.* He knew that what lay before him was a corpse and that the chances of it having any blood left in it were slim, but based on what he could assess from the color of the corpse's skin, Wang Baole was hopeful. Thoughts churned in his head as he raised both his hands.
With his left, he grabbed at the edge of the sea of blood, while his right formed a series of hand seals. An incomplete Flame Snatch Thearch Armor appeared and, along with it, the Divine Armament arm. The armor's meridians entwined with the arm as the latter unleashed the power of a Divine Armament, which charged towards and drilled into the corpse's skin!
Droplets from the Blood Sea the size of one's fist were caught inside Wang Baole's left hand then put away. Meanwhile, the Divine Armament arm on his right hand landed a blow on the corpse's skin.
Wang Baole might have had a Divine Armament and attained a breakthrough in his cultivation, but the corpse had clearly been extremely powerful in its past life. Its skin remained extremely hard after its death. Despite Wang Baole's efforts, he only managed to inflict minute cracks in the skin. There was no way he was getting blood from those cracks.
He would have to unleash his full cultivation repeatedly and spend some time on this to even have a chance of succeeding. But he didn't have the luxury of time. Ripples appeared in the sea of blood around the corpse. Something under the waters seemed to be approaching rapidly. The sense of danger that Wang Baole had been feeling grew more intense as the unknown entity approached.
Wang Baole began to panic. He looked around him, eyes sweeping across the landscape before he suddenly flashed. He shifted away and reappeared in another spot thousands of feet away. This was the corpse's chest. A huge, gaping wound, clearly fatal and extremely gruesome, appeared before Wang Baole.
He immediately knelt down and pressed his right palm over the wound. His eyes shone intensely, and his Nascent Soul had the same bright look in its eyes. With a series of hand seals, he unleashed the full power of his devouring seed, causing an overpowering suction force to erupt from his arm.
It surged out from Wang Baole's palm, went into the corpse through the wound, and spread throughout the corpse. It didn't take long before Wang Baole sensed tiny slivers of blood gathering into droplets of blood.
It was then that the corpse suddenly shuddered, and the green snakes began to stir again. At the same time, the ripples in the surrounding sea of blood grew into waves. The creature in the waters was angry.
The sea erupted in the next moment. Rising to the heavens were two enormous wings that resembled a cicada's. They sliced through the surface of the sea. Two halves of a pair of huge wings, which looked like sails, were peering out from the water. The patterns on the wings resembled runes as well as an imprisoned demon sealed within. Its face was contorted into a gruesome expression that looked nothing but evil. Two large bulging eyes floated to the surface of the sea, appearing right between the wings.
A sudden sense of danger, indescribable and overwhelming, exploded inside Wang Baole's head as soon as the creature appeared. A fierce light flashed across Wang Baole's eyes. The devouring seed continued churning in his right hand as he raised his left hand and pointed at the sea of blood.
"All sentient beings must endure immeasurable calamities!"
The pressure weighing down from the heavens intensified. Wang Baole's repeated use of the sutra had taught him that the terrifying presence summoned by his sutra would appear more powerful as he continued his incantation. He never went beyond the first two lines since he was fearful of what would happen if he did. This was an emergency, though, which was why he had panicked and spoken the third line.
The suppressive force over them intensified. The creature that had emerged from the sea of blood trembled, as if pinned down by an enormous, invisible hand. It stopped its ascent momentarily.
It was then that the devouring seed was finally done with its work. A drop of dark red blood, encircled by trails of blood, appeared in the middle of Wang Baole's palm!
Its appearance was like a catalyst, and the creature in the water suddenly roared and charged out of the sea. The sea of blood erupted, and something huge appeared above the sea.
It looked like… a dragonfly, except many, many times bigger. It was blood-red all over and a terrifying sight!
Its eyes, filled with violence and madness, stared straight at Wang Baole!