Frightful, fearful, confused and sluggish whispers traveled into every monster's ears in the quiet environment. Their hearts beat fast and their mouths became dry as horrifying images popped up in their heads.
The ruins of the Southern Heavenly Door lay in front of them. Coupled with the timid demeanor and the words of the monsters and the mysteriously tumbling mist far away, one would easily be afraid of the ancient Celestial Court that had been abandoned for decades. It was the primal instinct of everyone to avoid danger.
"What did the snakes encounter behind the Southern Heavenly Door? Why would they be so scared it's as if they are out of their minds?"
The masterful Black-robed Monster King was much more composed. He morphed his right hand into a claw, pulling the two monsters toward him.
Suddenly, his mouth became elongated and pointed. It poked the mid-brows of the monsters, absorbing their memories.
Inexplicable death, inexplicable death again. Black-robed Monster King frowned slightly at what he saw. He was unable to decipher what they had encountered.
"How did they escape?" As the two monsters had completely broken down since the fall of Vanguard Python, their memories were a chaotic mess, and Black-robed Monster King could no longer absorb any useful information.
He remained silent for a long time before ordering the rest of the monsters. "Wait here and don't enter. Wait for me to come back."
Black-robed Monster King initially wanted to bring his followers inside to speed up the process of treasure hunting. However, this horrifying and mysterious event that killed even Vanguard Python made him more cautious. He had to reduce unnecessary loss of manpower.
The followers nodded quickly, secretly thanking their king. If it were other Monster Kings, they would have forced the followers to venture ahead and use themselves to test for traps and lure out hidden enemies inside the ruins of Celestial Court.
Two long wings suddenly grew out of the Black-robed Monster King's back. His feathers were like golden daggers and a single flap of his wings brought him over the Southern Heavenly Door.
However, even he was bound to the "floor", making him unable to utilize those wings.
Recalling the words left by the ancestors, he figured out why and walked forward instead.
Enemies seemed to surround him in the tumbling mist. The encounters of the two monsters made him immensely wary and he ventured forward with extreme caution. He did not flap his wings but instead glided to the string of palaces ahead.
He spent a long time traveling a distance he would usually spend two to three seconds traversing. The solidified silence amid the ruins of the palaces made them seem more mysterious. The blood of the monster king flowed faster as he became suspicious of the surroundings, wary of any potential danger.
How could he afford to be careless in the past Celestial Court and the current City of Death? Especially since the monsters before him had encountered strange and mysterious events.
He walked slowly to the garden where Bluish Snake Monster and Black Snake Monster had hidden. He wanted to examine the corpses to determine their cause of death and judge the level of danger of the situation, or the standard of his enemies.
He looked ahead and saw only dead wood and broken walls. There was not even a speck of dust around. All the corpses had disappeared.
"The corpses are gone?" Black-robed Monster King gasped in shock as he felt increasingly terrified. He slowed down and sensed his surroundings more carefully.
"If I am not mistaken, they would be cautious with every step and dare not increase their speed so as to avoid entering formations or encountering strong foes." Meng Qi turned back to look at the string of palaces without slowing down.
The group hid their breaths and used the soundless music and dark lightning—a few of their more creepy and mysterious moves—to kill Vanguard Python and to scare theblue and black snakes. They then purposefully let them go to let them convey the scary and mysterious nature of the interior to the monster king, slowing down their progress.
They then searched the palaces speedily but noticed no items, especially not the core item. They then passed by the place and moved along the sole solid road. Clouds were all around them, and stepping on these clouds would cause them to fall.
"Even our search was careful. They should be more cautious than we were now that they are scared." Zhao Heng smiled, satisfied with their plan.
Jiang Zhiwei reminded them. "If the Monster King is brainless and reckless, he might not fall into our trap."
The Journey to the West world of today had fewer big monsters than her own world. Any monster who reigned over a mountain dared to call himself a Monster King.
Ruan Yushu pursed her lips. "A Monster King that can threaten us would be grandmaster level at most. No matter how brainless or reckless he is, he would be sly and smart after so many years of cultivation."
Meng Qi was about to agree when he remembered that many Monster Kings of Journey to the West were foolish and naive and were often fooled by Monkey King. Thus, he remained silent.
Qi Zhengyan said boringly, "We are not fast either. The Dominator only mentioned the core object but never described its appearance or where to find it. We will need to search inch by inch so as not to miss it."
They all nodded and agreed that this was the key challenge to the mission. Otherwise, they could have immediately sought out the core object and evaded the monsters, easily accomplishing the mission.
At this moment, they heard the sound of water splashing in front of them. It didn't sound normal—it had an illusory feel.
"Water of the Celestial River..." Meng Qi naturally thought of that as he heard water sounds in the Celestial Court.
"The Celestial River that Marshal Canopy once commanded?"
They all looked at each other and quickened their pace. They passed by the mist and saw a quietly flowing river. The water in it seemed to be an illusion as it shimmered like fish scales. Beyond it, one could not see the bottom of the river.
Suddenly, Meng Qi raised his hand to stop Jiang Zhiwei and the rest. He stopped as well.
It was because a majestic soldier in silver armor stood on the long and narrow cloud bridge across the Celestial River!
"Heavenly Soldier?" Meng Qi was stunned.
"How can one dress like this in the Celestial Court if he is not a Heavenly Soldier?"
"Could there still be a Heavenly Army or Officials remaining in the shard?"
Meng Qi pondered and discovered something amiss. The "Heavenly Soldier" neither stopped them nor asked them questions. He merely stood there like a statue, eternally protecting the place.
"Not a statue but its vitality is strangely solidified." Jiang Zhiwei relayed her voice to the rest.
As she spoke, Meng Qi realized what was amiss. The Silver-armored Heavenly Soldier was eight feet tall and full of vitality. Great strength lay in his physical body and his skin seemed undecayed. It was as if he was still alive.
However, he was not breathing and did not interact with the sea of Vital Qi. His blood was not flowing and it seemed like time had stopped for him.
"I can't comprehend the cause of death..." Meng Qi frowned.
Zhao Heng was even more puzzled. "His body is not only undecayed after thousands of years, but it also retained vitality and strength. Was he a Dharmakaya?"
Even Exterior masters can remain undecayed after death but they would be unable to retain their strength and vitality.
"The bridge guard should be a Heavenly Soldier." Ruan Yushu whispered.
"If all Heavenly Soldiers are Dharmakayas, swallowing 10,000 of them would be ridiculous!" Meng Qi took a deep breath.
"I have seen the metamorphosis of an Earth Immortal. It was similar to this Heavenly Soldier and yet entirely different as it didn't retain its vitality."
"Heavenly Soldiers should only be Exterior masters. His death must be unique to himself or the condition of Celestial Court."
With such a unique being "blocking" their path, they dared not be careless and ventured forward with caution.
Meng Qi walked forward step by step and the Heavenly Soldier still didn't react.
A gust of demonic wind blew down dark clouds as six monsters appeared near the shard of Celestial Court.
Three of them were burly figures wearing armor. One had patterns on its face that formed the word "King." It had fierce eyes and protruding teeth and had demonic ghosts surrounding itself. One had dark skin and long messy hair. He was plump with fists the size of clay pots. The last looked honest and had a muscular body, it was holding a rake.
Their breaths were all slightly decayed as they seemed to have lived for thousands of years.
"Shard of Celestial Court! Shard of Celestial Court!" Tiger Monster, who had the "king" word on his forehead, shouted delightedly.
The black Bear Monster licked its lips and said, "I was worried about a decreasing lifespan as I ran out of elixirs. Ha, such a fortunate encounter!"
"Fortunate! Fortunate!" Wild Ox Monster was bad with words.
Tiger Monster breathed out and exclaimed. "I was ignorant when I was young and thus missed the opportunity to eat the meat of Xuanzang. Otherwise, I would have become immortal long ago and wouldn't be reduced to such a state."
He turned around and wanted to thank Silver Python King. It was his followers who sent back the story and he was the one who shared the news with them, allowing them to get here at once.
Silver Python King stuck out his tongue. He was wearing a silver armor and holding a long spear, standing majestically in front of smaller monsters. A man draped in a black cloak stood next to him, and Tiger Monster could only feel the rotten breath.
"This is?" He asked curiously and the Monster Kings glanced to look at the mysterious figure.
Silver Python King replied respectfully, "My ancestor, Snake Dang."
"Snake Dang?" Tiger Monster repeated the name in his head. He had never heard the name before but he was sure that Silver Python King's ancestor would be extraordinary.
Snake Dang looked around and said in a hoarse voice.
As they approached the Heavenly Soldier, Meng Qi became more vigilant, ready to attack at any moment. However, the soldier did not move at all—it was as if he was completely dead.
Meng Qi was only slightly relieved as he passed the Heavenly Soldier and left the bridge. He seemed to be scaring himself.
However, one must always be cautious in such a situation and not take life as a joke.
The rest followed him as Meng Qi sensed the flowing river.
Suddenly, a buzz screamed in his mind as he fell into a dreamland. He could only feel the flowing river and the shining lights. The river seemed to flow into the endless void where many bright and fiery stars shone like a Grand Sun. Meng Qi felt as if he would never complete the entire journey of the river.
He stopped sensing immediately and ground his teeth. "Was that the Milky Way?"
"As expected of Celestial Court of the Immortal Realm!"
He was about to step off the bridge when he felt Qi Zhengyan's breath. He was striking a place in the void with his sword.
The strike passed through the purple river of stars and the airflow. It did not hit anything.
"What's wrong?" Meng Qi remained guarded.
Qi Zhengyan frowned. "I felt people following us before we entered the shard. Now, there are more of them."
"We're being Watched?" Meng Qi sensed his surroundings and looked around.
In the absence of danger, how can Senior Brother Qi be more sensitive than himself?
Suddenly, Meng Qi's heart tightened as he stared at the Heavenly Soldier.
The eyes of Heavenly Soldier slowly opened. The solidified vitality broke free and became strong once more. It was as if the Soldier had returned from ages ago!