Wang Baole's pupils contracted the moment the blood-colored dragonfly revealed itself. Without hesitation, he grabbed the drop of dark red blood and disappeared.
Two crimson blades of wind slashed through the air where Wang Baole had been from opposing directions, tearing up the air itself. It formed a huge bloody cross in the sky.
Wang Baole's scalp prickled when he saw that the next time he reappeared a distance away. He could feel the power emanating from the dragonfly. It was greater than that of a Nascent Soul realm cultivator and might be at the Soul Conduit realm, or even higher.
*What a huge beast!* The thought flashed across his mind. The dragonfly had risen, thundering, from the sea of blood the second it had attacked. Wang Baole had no idea where the deafening sound resonating in the air was coming from—its mouth or its gigantic flapping wings. The beast charged straight at Wang Baole.
It reappeared almost right before Wang Baole's eyes in the next instant, prepared to rip Wang Baole apart and devour him. Wang Baole would never have been able to avoid the attack prior to his reaching the Nascent Soul realm. He wouldn't even have been able to see the dragonfly move. It would've been instant death for him. He had his Stellar Nascent Soul now, though. The sun, which was in the vicinity, might not be a planet and hence was unable to provide him any boost in power, but he had still just received a considerable boost to his cultivation through his breakthrough. He shifted immediately and managed to dodge the incoming charge.
Regardless, the dragonfly was still much more powerful than he was. During his successful evasion, a lock of Wang Baole's hair somehow still got caught in the attack. The stray locks of hair were sliced off and went drifting in the wind.
Wang Baole's heart raced. He raised his right hand then quickly muttered the sutra in his head again.
*It only takes a thought to leave the deep prison!*
That was the fourth line of the sutra!
And this was what he shouted to the beast.
The heavens and earth rumbled as the mysterious consciousness descended upon them once again, thundering. The power it was displaying had grown. It was like an enormous, invisible hand, exerting immense pressure over everything as it surged down from the heavens and pressed heavily on the dragonfly that was charging towards Wang Baole.
It had no physical form. Nevertheless, the dragonfly released a scream of terror and immediately retreated, cowering in fear. Wang Baole saw how well the sutra had worked and knew this was his chance, his narrow window of opportunity to escape death. He moved quickly away again, reappearing somewhere considerably further away. He then unleashed his full speed with the intention to leave the sea of blood.
The dragonfly appeared to be furious upon sensing Wang Baole's attempt to escape. Violence colored its eyes, and its wings flapped furiously. Wang Baole had no idea what was going through its head. It howled again, then, with another fierce flap of its wings, fought back against the immense terror gripping its mind and went after Wang Baole again.
*What a stubborn creature!* Wang Baole panicked. There was no time to think. He turned around and yelled out loud, no longer in the mood to maintain appearances—thinking the sutra in his head while saying something else out loud.
This was the beginning of the last line that he had been taught. It was comprised of five words. Wang Baole uttered only the first. He was of the mind to utter the remaining four… but something stopped him from doing so at the last moment. He didn't dare do it.
The mysterious power exploded when he said that one word, reaching heights previously unscaled. It was like a tsunami, pulling everything under and holding them down. The entire region began to quake violently.
The dragonfly was gripped by sheer terror. It shrieked and retreated desperately, transforming into a blur of red shadow that sent waves splashing as it fled back into the sea.
It trembled violently underwater, stirring waves across the surface of the sea. Its bulging eyes remained above water, staring fearfully at Wang Baole.
It was a reassuring sight. With no one else in the area, Wang Baole didn't feel the need to maintain the appearance of being some extremely powerful cultivator any longer. He unleashed his full speed and dashed away into the distance.
The dragonfly seemed torn. It couldn't free itself from its terror though. It watched Wang Baole fade into the distance and abandoned all thoughts of pursuit.
After a long while, when peace and calm finally settled in the area again, the dragonfly flew out of the sea. It circled the corpse once, then howled as it flapped its wings wildly, as if voicing its anger. The space around it was torn apart immediately. The green snakes on the corpse trembled fearfully. It wasn't done yet. With another flap of its wings, the sea of blood started rippling violently. Blood rose to the sky, twisting and contorting, turning into the shape of a person.
It was red in color and looked exactly like Wang Baole.
The dragonfly roared at the sight. It charged forward and sliced off an arm and a leg with its wing. Then, it opened its mouth and sank its teeth into half of the body formed from blood. The assault continued until the body was maimed and mutilated beyond recognition. That was when the dragonfly snorted, finally appeased. It replicated a couple more of those bodies that looked exactly like Wang Baole and repeated the process. Having vented its anger and become satisfied, it returned to the sea of blood and disappeared without a trace.
Wang Baole couldn't bear witness to the scene. If he could, he would feel a chill over his entire body. There was no way he would try to anger the dragonfly again. It was clearly petty and the sort to hold grudges.
Wang Baole had teleported multiple times by this point and found himself an Immortal Platform. He used the traveling smoke and got himself back to the sword tip.
This might have been a challenge to others, but Wang Baole possessed the knowledge to operate the Immortal Platform and had just come from the sword tip—he knew which parts were safe for travel. It didn't take him long to return to the spot where the three palaces were located.
Wang Baole stood before the third palace and stared at the thick sheet of ice encasing it with anticipation. He didn't have to guess. It was obvious that whatever reward was laying within it was greater than what he had gained from the last two palaces. He didn't wait. He took a deep breath and raised his right hand. Then, he pulled out the identity token and shouted.
"I said, unlock!"
As his voice echoed in the air, the third palace began to rumble. An invisible power seemed to have permeated the air, one which resonated with the identity token in Wang Baole's hand. The ice encasing the palace started to shake and seemed on the verge of shattering.
Wang Baole grew excited. He waited with anticipation. As time passed, he realized that apart from the shaking and quaking, nothing else was happening. The ice shook, but it didn't shatter. It was as if… something was still missing.
Wang Baole narrowed his eyes. His left hand formed a series of hand seals, and his Flame Snatch Thearch Armor began to churn with power. He had self-destructed his first armor and had only managed to restore it to its first level.
That was enough.
Illusory meridians danced in the air and spread from Wang Baole's left hand to his entire body. Wang Baole's entire body was soon encased in the red Flame Snatch Thearch Armor. He took a deep breath and took out the drop of dark red blood.
The tremors of the third palace intensified instantly. Wang Baole's eyes shone brightly as he infused the blood into his armor. He unleashed his full power, and the aura of the blood's owner erupted suddenly. Wang Baole raised his right hand, thrust the identity token into the air, and shouted again.
"I said, unlock!"
As his words resonated in the air, a thundering explosion erupted from the third palace. The ice sealing it shattered and fell to the ground, and an immense power surged from the palace and enveloped Wang Baole and the area around him. It seemed to voice its permission. As Wang Baole took a few nervous breaths, a voice rang out.
"As an elder, you are qualified to shoulder the responsibility of defending the Dao Palace. You may access the third Spiritual Palace for a chance to achieve phenomenal breakthroughs in your cultivation!"
It was a voice like thunder that filled the skies. The doors of the third palace slid open, revealing a sliver of the mysterious and unfathomable sight that lay beyond those doors!
Wang Baole was beside himself with excitement. After the first and second palaces, he already knew what to do. He dashed straight into the palace with a single step.
He entered the palace instantly!