Other than the one hundred or so descendants of arcane beast kings, there were only a handful of beasts who were at a titled duke level. Since they couldn’t cultivate and thus lacked the ability to improve their strength in the same manner as cultivators, their development was up to luck.
The black dragon king possessed the strength of a titled duke—a first step king. It was plainly stronger than most of the arcane beasts that’d passed through the gate. Even though the beasts had absorbed the power of creation for seven days, that only put them infinitely close to the titled duke level.
“That black dragon’s starved for who knows how long. It would never go easy on any living beings that appear before it—so what’s happening out there?” The top one hundred of the Dragonling Ranking was mystified.
However, the arcane beasts that’d passed through seemed to have reached an agreement that they wouldn’t speak of what’d occurred. Golden Armor counted as nobility among its kind, so the arcane beasts on the ranking weren’t at liberty to press it for answers.
The uniformly indignant and highly aggrieved expressions on their brethren’s faces filled them with insatiable curiosity.
The dragon gate’s arrival obscured the world from the kings at the peak of Dragonhollow Mountain. With it came full display of the rules underpinning the Dragonling Assembly. The gathering wasn’t hosted by any singular person, but by these rules.
Anything with thoughts and intelligence would form selfish desires. That ran counter to the assembly’s original intent. Hence, everything about the Dragonling Assembly was overseen by unfeeling and uncaring rules.
Though the outside world could no longer see them, cultivators and arcane beasts waiting to pass through the dragon gate stared with dropped jaws, wide eyes, and expressions of incredulity.
Lu Yun was standing in the air over the Hongmeng Sea, tossing down Pills of Creation whenever the black dragon king showed himself. As the dragon king crooned with delight and foraged happily through the giant wave, he ignored whichever arcane beast was attempting to leap over the threshold.
He’d been sealed in this part of the sea for countless eons. Prolonged lack of sustenance had manifested in the slow depletion of his internal force, and what these little not-yet-titled-king creatures possessed weren’t enough to satisfy him at all.
Lu Yun’s pills were precisely what he needed.
Therefore, he only had eyes for Lu Yun and couldn’t be bothered with the puny creatures passing by it.
When the last arcane beast passed through, the black dragon king gave a mighty yawn. “Little fellow, thank you for your gift of creation. I would’ve lost myself in hunger otherwise and become a mindlessly ravening beast.”
“There is no evil in senior’s heart, so how would you be directed by bestial instincts?” Lu Yun chuckled. A thousand pills had finally satisfied the black dragon king enough so that it wasn’t ruled by hunger.
“Dragonhollow Mountain is no place for the kind, I recommend you avoid it,” the black dragon king warned. “Countless numbers of promising talents have participated in the Dragonling Assembly since time immemorial, but none of them received a happy ending…
“Why did the ancestor azure dragon perish? Is it really like how the stories say, he was consumed by the backlash of trying to break through the barrier around the Hongmeng?” sighed the black dragon king.
“Senior, might I…” Dragon Butterfly suddenly spoke up. She sensed that the black dragon bore the same presence as her. Did they share the same origins?
He swept a glance over her and abruptly opened his mouth, huffing out black smoke that enveloped her.
She trembled like a leaf while incredulity flashed through her eyes—the unique combat art ripples of her Shapeshifting Talisman were completely concealed in the next second.
“You should go back,” his voice echoed in her mind. “I came with the same goal as you, but I failed and was instead sealed here to become one of the assembly’s tests.
“You sensed the azure dragon’s ancestral blood and quickly came in search of it. That feeling is artificially induced.”
Dragon Butterfly nodded, then shook her head, transmitting, “I trust the Champion Duke.”
“Another thing—someone is controlling the ancestor dragon’s will. He is no longer who he once was, so you should be careful.” The black dragon king had said all that he wanted to say; it was up to Lu Yun and Dragon Butterfly now whether they listened.
“What should I do to help senior break free?” Lu Yun asked.
“Become a titled king first and fuse your nine dao rules as one, setting foot onto the path of a true king. If you attempt to save me before then, the rules here will recoil and kill us both.
“The waters of Dragonhollow Mountain run deep and even an insignificant character can be a terrifying pawn. You must be careful of everything from the mountain.” The black dragon king nodded at Lu Yun before sinking beneath the waves.
Lu Yun and Dragon Butterfly looked at each other.
“What happened? Why did the black dragon king suddenly go on a rampage?” A fearful Qing Ting came up to Lu Yun.
The black dragon was plainly so strong that he only needed to employ some simple techniques to obstruct everyone’s senses and ensure that they saw different images.
“A true king…” Lu Yun committed the title to memory. Dao rule fusion came after ninth step kinghood, so that should be the path of true kings. “The black dragon king has left, so let us pass.” He turned to the cultivators behind him.
The group adjusted their clothing and walked toward the gate with their heads held high.
“A thousand and six arcane beasts passed through the dragon gate?! So many!” Cultivators on the other side shook with dismay when they counted up the numbers. They’d thought that only one hundred at most would successfully evade the black dragon king!
Half step kings who’d just reached the titled duke level would be hard pressed to fend off the dragon’s attacks. But now there were more than a thousand arcane beasts here!
This was an absolute nightmare for the cultivators. It seemed that grueling battles were to come before anyone proceeded to the final rounds of the Dragonling Assembly.
The arcane beasts would certainly band together and eliminate all of the cultivators first. Though many participants didn’t care about the ranking, being listed on it would bring about great benefits that were superior to the power of creation from before!
“What is this? Have all the cultivators been eliminated and only arcane beasts passed?” scowled Li Yiran, the red-haired youth from Ingress Blood Island, Purpleclad, Bloodclad, the venerated enforcer and others. They looked at Azureclad and Crimsonclad.
“Haven’t you guys realized the truth of the matter by the expressions on the arcane beasts’ faces?” Crimsonclad sighed.
“What truth?” The others blinked.
Omg, I think my backend is stuck on US PST time. That's trippy. Doing a little time traveling myself, a la Lu Yun.