232 Chapter 232
The banquet had moved into the next phase. Every influential member from the large sects that ruled these lands was here. They had teleported onto a large mountain peak. This peak was overlooking a giant labyrinth and some people were already moving into it.
The labyrinth was the main competition that the junior members were able to participate in. The Yinglong Pavilion had hidden various treasures in this area and everything inside was up for the taking. Various high quality pills, weapons, and even cultivation manuals that could raise weak sects into behemoths.
These were all treasures that you could gain in this competition. The winner would even get a large monetary reward that consisted of high tier spirit stones. This was a big opportunity and honor for the junior's that were here. They were all foundation establishment cultivators and even one high tier spirit stone would allow them to live like kings.
They were all motivated greatly and wanted to win this competition at all costs. The treasures wouldn't just be handed over to them though. There were various traps and spirit beasts littered in the many tunnels. The contestants needed to watch their every step as one wrong turn could mean certain death.
Even with all the dangers that the Yinglong Pavilion had prepared in the competitions, this wasn't the thing that the participants were afraid of. The things that they would have to fear the most were each other. Most of the deaths and injuries in this type of competition were delivered by the contestants. Battles for the artifacts broke out constantly and there were no rules against it.
Killing and crippling each other was allowed. The nascent soul cultivators above the labyrinth could look over their juniors but they weren't supposed to interfere. They weren't but they could, there was a certain rule that allowed the guardians to protect their junior members. They would need to either convince the other party's senior to order their juniors to spare theirs. They could do it forcefully but that had some ramifications later. Sometimes even death battles between the nascent soul masters occurred due to this.
Something like this was rare, one of the sides relented most of the time. No nascent soul Patriarch would give their life to defend a foundation establishment junior. So in general both sides ended up bluffing against each other until one side gave up. Only if both sides were bent on fighting each other a battle to the death would take place.
Something like this was starting, on the large peak, the Patriarch of the Divine Fist Sect was staring daggers at another nascent soul elder. He had noticed that a certain golden-haired junior had been forcefully taken inside the labyrinth grounds. He could see her moving through the corridors with a sword in hand.
"What is the meaning of this, I didn't sanction something like this!?"
The man gritted his teeth while looking down, it was clear that he wanted to just fly down there and pluck his sect junior from that labyrinth.
"Fang Heng, what do you mean? Your niece wanted to participate in the competition to bring honor to your sect, my sect juniors just lent her a helping hand."
Another man replied. This person had a peculiar look. His hair was green as jade grass and his large beard looked like thick roots. His skin color was dark and looked like fresh soil that you would use for planting or gardening.
Zhang Dong was at the side and listened with one ear while glancing down at the labyrinth. He noticed who the man was looking at, it was a pretty young lass with blonde hair. It looked like she was being chased by people that had similar robes to this plant looking elder. From what he could tell this sect was called the Yggdrasil Sect.
He was familiar with this name. This sect was also part of the top ten and as the name implied there were cultivators versed in plants. They were wealthy due to producing superior grade pills and spiritual herbs. There were one of the biggest providers of herbs and plants in the empire. It had something to do with how they cultivated, their bodies were similar to plants after they went through some kind of body refining technique.
From his point of view, this tree hugger sect was clearly picking a fight with the other one. Why he didn't know but it might have something to do with the man's low cultivation. He could see the arguing elder backing off, the plant looking cultivator had activated some of his aura. He was at the late stage and was clearly more powerful.
Zhang Dong started moving back, this had nothing to do with him and the woman below wasn't in danger quite yet. He thought to himself that he couldn't risk getting involved in something like this.
While inching away from the commotion, some of the other cultivators moved closer. They seemed to be in cahoots with the Yggdrasil Sect as they started laughing at the old man from the Divine Fist Sect. This looked very suspicious to him; it was as if they had set this whole thing up. He even saw his old friend from the Limitless Sword Society joining in on the chuckling.
'Do they want to coax that Divine Fist elder to fight to save his junior or something? But judging by his level he would surely die.'
He glanced over to the labyrinth, the woman was constantly getting chased by the other juniors. They had smiles on their faces as if this was a fun activity. He could even see some other sects joining in the chase, this was probably no coincidence. This looked more and more like something planned.
"You might not know this ol' chap…"
While Zhang Dong was watching Sebas Tian from the Yinglong Pavilion joined him. For some reason he had come to give him the info about this, probably to gain favor.
"The Divine Fist Sect had tried hiding it but the news had spread, they should have not come here…"
The man was sure to use a special technique to whisper the info right into Zhang Dong's ear. Apparently, this sect was one of the stronger ones, they were bordering with those tree huggers.
There had been some kind of newly evolved beast that moved in on their land. It was a beast king that could control various demonic beasts. There was a large scale battle between the sect and a monster horde.
There was no detailed info yet but it was clear that the Divine Fist Sect had suffered. The appearance of this man instead of the real sect leader was a giveaway. He was either dead or injured.
"So, are they testing him?"
Senior Tian nodded. The information wasn't complete so the sect leader of the Yggdrasil Sect probably decided to prod his opposition. If the Divine Fist Sect was truly just an injured animal he would put it out of its misery.
The beast tide was for now just a rumor. The strange appearance of a middle stage nascent soul elder instead of the old Patriarch was really suspicious. Even if he was alive this sect that was already on bad terms with them wouldn't care. They wouldn't lose much and they were just targeting a little junior member.
Even if they were wrong and the others came to their doorstep asking for face they could just pay them off with some spirit stones. On the other hand, if they didn't show up with their sect leader, this would mean that they couldn't retaliate. It was a low-risk gamble, the junior in question was just a relative of this middle stage elder. No sects would start wars over something like that at most they would need to give up the juniors that did the deed.
"Unfortunately, if the rumors are true then their sect might be done for…"
Zhang Dong looked down at the labyrinth and to the young girl that was fleeing for her life. Then he looked back to the man from her sect. Fang Heng was his name, he was holding onto his own neck while two nascent soul elders were focusing their aura on him.
They were clearly sending him a message. They probably weren't afraid of facing him in a deathmatch either. There was no winning in this situation if the man tried to act.
Maybe he wouldn't have to, nothing was written in stone. If the girl managed to survive through the labyrinth then it would be fine. There was a time limit on this thing and it would at most take two days. Even though the area this was constructed was immense, the juniors were already superhuman. They could get through this in two days, it was a closed-off space so there weren't that many places to go either.
Time passed and the spectacle continued. The golden-haired girl was now running away from her pursuers and she was holding out quite well. She was in the late stage of foundation establishment and was clearly gifted. The problem was that there were far too many people going after her.
Zhang Dong kept glancing between her and the elder from the Divine Fist Sect. He looked defeated and unable to act. He didn't feel good about himself either, he had to watch this obvious bullying from afar.
The other sect elders that were there averted their gazes. They clearly didn't want to have anything to do with this. Rightfully so, at least from this world���s standpoint. There was nothing to gain from a rumored broken down sect.
This didn't sit too well with him. He remembered the old times, his clan was also forced along with him to go to that secret ground. They were brought there as cannon fodder on the whims of a powerful sect. If the rumors were true the fate of these two was sealed, the girl would probably die in the labyrinth and this elder might end in a similar fashion.
He didn't think the powerful sects would let a nascent soul master just waltz out of here in one piece. After he was away from the Rain Dragon City they would probably strike instantly. The only thing that could save them would be if their sect wasn't that damaged or if they had some kind of backup from a different one.
Zhang Dong shook his head as his mind drifted in a certain direction. He quickly tried to remove that thought from his mind. Being the person that he was, he was having trouble just sitting there and not helping. These people were just strangers to him, he didn't really have a reason to lend them a hand.
He was now a sect leader and had to think about his own people. He was also a father with a child and with another that was yet to be born. He couldn't be alienating other sects in his position, not unless his or his family's lives were at stake.
Though the more this charade continued the worse it became. The girl tried her best but there were just too many people after her. With the added traps and beasts in there, she stood no chance. She was now cornered and battered, no way of getting out of it.
Zhang Dong looked to the old man that was more or less out of commission. The other two sect leaders were keeping him quiet with their superior pressure and he was unable to even speak to challenge them. Even if he did, it would probably be a one-sided beat down.
He looked back to the girl, his emotionless face twitching as he had a hard time taking this sight in. The other people here were doing nothing. His own daughter's face started superimposing itself over the blond-haired girl's face and he started getting angry.
He did want to help but there was no good reason. How would he explain an outburst, he and the sect weren't related. Could he just say that he was hired by their leader as a guard? That could make some sense but why would he risk his life for a measly foundation establishment junior.
His system identified her name Fang Meili, she was clearly related to the old man here. He could even see the old man's eyes watering as he had to witness one of his family members getting attacked.
While watching the girl fighting for her life against six people he brought up his system window. Sometimes this thing worked in mysterious ways, maybe he could help her remotely by boosting her cultivation level or something. The problem was that he needed her to be part of his sect to do that, or maybe a disciple.
While going through the windows he noticed something strange. He did a double-take and his eyes went wide.
'No… how could this be possible… how far does his influence reach?'
He was now looking at something peculiar, this would probably give him a good excuse to act. The logistics of this circumstance were mind-boggling though but maybe it would all work out in the end.