Beastmaster of the Ages

Chapter 1870: Nightfiend Soul

Lingfeng could see the countless souls struggling as they headed for destruction. Countless terrae scattered away in the wind; nobody felt any hint of pain for their loss.

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"Everyone sees their lives as important. In some way, they cherish their vitality more than the earth or the sky. But to the earth and sky, human lives are insignificant, especially in cosmic timescales. The loves and grudges they bear all scatter away after they die, leaving no significant mark on the world. In that sense, wouldn't having their vitae devoured be divine punishment for trampling other lives?"

Lingfeng looked at the countless terrae being swept up by the storm, all of them still bearing the expressions of their bodies in death. But when they were clumped together in masses, the expressions meant nothing. They had been reduced to mere numbers that had no relationships or grudges. They were merely symbols. Lingfeng coldly felt that perhaps that was the true nature of the universe. If it weren’t for Tianming, he would be more than willing to consume vitae, as they were a hundred times more potent than terrae.

What was the point of valuing the vitae of those that didn't value human life itself? The tens of millions of vitae struggled as they unwillingly fizzled away, crying and mourning for the things that tethered them to their mortal coil, their loved ones or descendants that they would be leaving behind. They weren’t unique in that sense, not by any means. All of them had similar woes, and together it was all just noise.

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"What am I going through? Am I growing cold from seeing so much slaughter?" Lingfeng recalled the Soulfiend, who was greedily sucking away at the energy in his body. It was parasitic, in a sense, and its strength depended on Lingfeng's.

It growled as it pointed at the scattering vitae with a look of desire, reminding Lingfeng that those were the true delicacies. For the slightest moment, Lingfeng seemed convinced, but when he recalled Qingyu's forced smile and her helpless tears, he realized that the sun emperor that he hated so much was a power-hungry despot. Lingfeng couldn't let himself become like that. Violence didn't need to be stamped out by greater violence.

Yet how many chances like this one would he have to grow with the Soulfiend? It was a good chance for him to defeat the sun emperor, but he would have to consume a lot of vitae for that, all of which had their own histories and regrets. Would it really matter if he used them for his own purposes? Would the laws of heaven and earth really care about that? Shouldn't the sun emperor bear the brunt of those lost lives, since he was the one that had started the war in the first place?

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By now, Lingfeng no longer had anything holding him back apart from Tianming. Every time Tianming looked at him with those eyes of his, he saw him as his family and even his real brother. That made Lingfeng fear losing himself. He gave up on consuming vitae, not because he was convinced, but because he didn't want to disappoint Tianming.

So far, the battle was at a stalemate even though countless lives were being lost with every passing moment. Once the scales tipped, the casualties would increase even more. The Aeonic Infinidragon Formation seemed to be worth up to a hundred million troops, so the alliance had the equivalent of two hundred million troops. Even so, the Divine Sun Palace wasn't idling. Every hundred breaths' of time, a golden pillar would come smashing down on the formation. Defending against the blast diverted power away from the invading forces, which resulted in even more blood with every blast. While it could take a blast or two just fine, the casualties added up over time. Eventually, the enemy's advantage would mount and lead to the collapse of the defenders' side.

The only troops that could properly face off against the celestial orderians were the thirty million from the Ninedragon Army and the others from the Empyrean Sword Sect and Fushen Clan. Cultivators from second- and third-rate sects were far less coordinated, even if their cultivation levels matched up. That was yet another weakness that the enemy could exploit.

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While having larger numbers certainly helped when things were going smoothly, such as during the battle of Fushen Valley where they were well prepared, the overall strength of the group would plummet once things started turning south, especially against a motivated enemy with high morale.

Even with Tianming fighting at the front, the weakness of the troops from second- and third-rate sects couldn't be avoided. The celestial orderians used a pincer attack on Tianming and his Ninedragon Army before splitting their heavier units to flank them, achieving a rather good result. The Myriaddragon Mountains wasn't Fushen Valley, after all, and the terrain wasn't that narrow, allowing enemies to attack on multiple fronts. It was a common-sense tactic to target weaknesses when appropriate.

"Once their troops go past the hundred million alliance troops behind me, they'll be able to breach the formation and slaughter their way to the main base. When they start taking out the normal gods fueling the formation, it'll greatly affect our defenses and make it that much easier for the Divine Wrath attacks to blast their way through!" If that scenario came to pass, it would spell the end of the Myriad Solar Sects, let alone the Xuanyuan Dragon Sect. Most of the sects had escaped to the Myriaddragon Mountains, after all.

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The battle was proving to be as hard as Tianming had anticipated. The enemy was already giving them a hard time, attacking from all directions. Would they be able to find a turning point? Miracles wouldn't be called miracles if they occurred every single time, and Tianming was all too aware of that fact. It would be difficult for him to repeat the results of the battle at Fushen Valley.

By now, he had killed thirteen of the thirty enemy commanding officers, yet the three hundred million troops didn't seem all that affected. The celestial orderians were no fools and had centralized their command with the sun emperor, who was in a good position to command them.

Not to mention, the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb wouldn't be of much use here. Even with Tianming's lifebound beasts, totems, and divine wonders, he still couldn't stop the enemy from putting pressure on the second- and third-rate forces behind him. In fact, the bulk of the troops of the alliance were made up of low-ranked sect members, some of which had a few hundred members at most. The differences between the many sects made them incomparable to the Ninedragon Army and the Fushen Clan; they were a bad matchup against the unified celestial orderians.

Perhaps that was what the sun emperor had expected in the first place. The only troops that could properly rival the enemies were those from the first- and second-rate sects, such as the swordpupils from the Azuresoul Palace.

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