The forbidding heavenly maiden continued to count, "…fifty…fifty-one…"
Yi Ping's group had already climbed up to the three thousandth steps but they were all exhausted! It was extremely unlikely that they could reach the very top at the count of hundred!
Those who still had the strength helped to support one another, refusing to abandon anyone of them!
Shen Xingyue had grabbed Yi Ping and Yunzi as she ascended the stairs with startling speed but at the same time she had also slowed down to wait for the rest of the maidens…
When Yi Ping saw the startling speed that Shen Xingyue was able to grab him, he was startled. He asked weakly, "Xingyue, you have recovered from your internal injuries?"
Yi Ping was not the only one who was surprised.
The Stellar Heaven Fairy gasped, "Your injuries…"
The Ascension Goddess inhaled weakly, "That is only because of the effects of her Divine Rejuvenate Force."
The forbidding heavenly maiden that was on the top continued to count resonantly, "…Sixty…Sixty-one…"
Shen Xingyue inhaled softly and her eyes were melancholy, "I have not recovered my strength fully and the last battle had taken a strenuous toll on me. This is still not good enough and we still can't reach the top in time…"
Everyone was quiet as they stared at the top…
How difficult was the concept of climbing ten thousand steps and reaching to the top? Each of the steps was two feet in height. Ten thousand steps meant that they had to ascend twenty thousand feet in height!
Even Shen Xingyue, Lele, Lingfeng, Youxue and Yixian who prided themselves in having the best swiftness and lightness skill were all not confident of reaching the top at the count of hundred!
It was an impossible task!
But yet, they continued to ascend the steps as quickly as they could even though they knew that it was an impossible thing!
Lele said nonchalantly, "Maybe she is just giving an empty threat to frighten us and the Golden Kirins are just a clever deception! I just don't believe that she is an Immortal being. At least, she doesn't look like one to me."
Yi Ping could not resist asking, "What is an Immortal being supposes to look like?"
Lele smiled shyly at him as she winked at him, "Of course he has to look like you! As for her, She is too full of killing malevolent and aloof to be a benevolent immortal being!"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly at her assumption, not sure if he should agree or not.
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But he soon said despondently as he looked at everyone, "Don't wait for me anymore. Without me…some of us may survive to the top…"
He was suddenly startled. It was because he had suddenly noticed that all the maidens were looking at him with affectionate eyes and revealing a thousand sentiments at the same time!
Yixian smiled gently, "Ping'Er, so fast you have forgotten that we are promised to one another?"
The Stellar Heaven Fairy looked at everyone shyly, "And also close sisters now…"
Yunzi was smiling, "I have never been happier."
Youxue took a glance at the Celestial Fairy Yixian as she nodded while saying melancholy, "Knowing everyone is the best thing that has happened to me…"
Yu'Er had a lovely look in her eyes, "Without you, would Mei'Er and I remember who we really are?"
Mei'Er sighed softly, "That's right. It shows our sacrifice isn't in vain…"
She was referring to their sacrifice for the White Sage of course…
The Universal Old Man interrupted with a heavy puffing, "Don't drag me in…" But no one pay any heed at him.
Lie Qing said firmly, "We are not going to die just because she says so. Not without a fight, Kirins or not…"
Shen Xingyue said tenderly, "Ping'Er, we have so many missed chances…"
She looked tenderly at the Eclipse Heaven Goddess Yu'Er , the Axis Heaven Goddess Mei'Er and the Ascension Goddess Ye Yin before sighing regretfully, "I wish we can all be friends much earlier and not in this circumstances."
The Ascension Goddess said softly, "If I am not injured and little protégé sister Xingyue had not expended her internal strength to save me, together with Yu'Er and Mei'Er we may still have a hope…"
Yu'Er asked, "You mean the Four Aggregates Sword Formation?"
Mei'Er inhaled nervously and her eyes shone.
Yu'Er muttered, "The boundless generates the ultimate, the ultimate generates the two complementary forces, the two complementary forces generates the four aggregates forms, the four aggregates determine the myriads of complementary energy changes…"
The Ascension Goddess nodded, "That's right. It is said to be the most powerful sword formation of the Ascension Sect which requires four Supreme Celestials to form. It is created by the the Eclipse Heaven Goddess and the Axis Heaven Goddess…"
Mei'Er smiled weakly, "Unfortunately, this Four Aggregates Sword Formation is an incomplete swordplay."
Shen Xingyue was startled, "What do you mean?"
Yu'Er was a little embarrassed, "There is only Mei'Er and I. It is supposed to be a four person sword formation. Later when we have broken our divine swords, we have also stopped refining the sword formation. The Four Aggregates Sword Formation is given such a high accolade simply because it is created by us. Nothing more."
Lele said with a sudden inspiration as she looked at the Stellar Heaven Fairy, "We still got the Celestial Star Sword Formation!"
The Stellar Heaven Fairy smiled weakly at the suggestion but Lele proceeded to say delightfully, "Yixian, Lie Qing and I will form the first attack formation…"
The Stellar Heaven Fairy said gently, "Lele, the steps here are uneven so that makes the Celestial Star Sword Formation difficult to execute. Moreover, half of us are too tired to even move now and that will leave a vulnerable point for our opponent to break the formation. That will further endanger all of us."
Lele was exasperated as she struggled to take another step, "Surely we can do something?"
All of a sudden, she had noticed that everyone was looking at the forbidding heavenly maiden apprehensively. It was because the counting was about to reach its end!
The forbidding heavenly maiden stopped to appraise their entire group before saying coldly, "Ninety…nine!"
By this time, Yi Ping's group had all stopped in their tracks as they tried to recuperate as much vital breathe as possible for the forthcoming battle.
Youxue asked quietly, "She will kill us?"
Lingfeng nodded solemnly, "If she goes back on her word then it won't be possible for her to reach her state of divinity. The more powerful a celestial practitioner is, the more difficult it is for them not to honor their words. Moreover, if this is indeed her sanctuary, then we are all intruders."
Everyone was quiet.
It was because even in the martial fraternity, intruding on one's sacred ground was an action that was punishable by death. It was the same thing for the celestial fraternity even if the celestials forbid killing.
The Ascension Goddess muttered coldly, "I thought that I am the most difficult to handle celestial in the Celestial Realm. But today, I have met someone even more difficult than I."
The forbidding heavenly maiden trembled lightly as she resonated coldly with her Thousand Mile Resonant Skill, "I don't understand. I don't really understand. He is just a lowly celestial practitioner while the lot of you is the true celestials of the Celestial Realm. Yet, you are willingly to sacrifice your attainment for a lowly celestial practitioner. You do realize that once you have reached the top, it means that you are one step further to the Immortal Realm?"
Lie Qing resonated with her Thousand Mile Resonant Skill in return, "Unfortunately, I am also a lowly celestial practitioner and is away from the Immortal Realm by countless miles!"
Shen Xingyue resonated with her Thousand Mile Resonant Skill too, "I may be a true celestial practitioner but I am content to be with the man that I love. It doesn't matter if he is a lowly celestial practitioner or not. If he is not around, I don't want to live either. And this heart intricacy formula of the immortal practice doesn't even matter to me!"
All the maidens nodded defiantly at the same time!
Shen Xingyue had voiced out their thoughts!
The Universal Old Man murmured with a soft sigh, "What is love that is so self-sacrificing? The immortal practice is so close but yet so far. But if I lose all my friends…"
He glanced at the Heaveness, "I wouldn't have reached so far ahead today. If it is my destiny to die then so be it!"
Yi Ping had stepped forward weakly as he stood straight with the support of the Celestial Alice. He looked at the forbidding heavenly maiden while saying, "I do not know any Thousand Mile Resonant Skill nor do I have any martial strength to shout aloud. But I know that you can hear me clearly."
He paused quietly for just a while to cough weakly before saying, "We don't want to be here and we do not know why the Astronomic Stellar Formation has suddenly descended upon us. Maiden, if we have intruded upon your sanctuary, please forgives us and shows us a merciful way out!"
The forbidding heavenly maiden replied coldly, "You don't have to plead with me. I say I will kill you all at the count of a hundred and I will. Moreover, it is a heartless and unfaithful man like you!"
Yi Ping asked, "I am a heartless and unfaithful man?"
The forbidding heavenly maiden said coldly, "There are many men that are good in deceptions and uses their honeycomb words to trick gullible maidens into their arms. If you are a faithful man and a self-conscious man, then you only have a heart for one and should reject the rest."
Yi Ping could not disagree with her!
It was because he had always felt the same and harbored an extreme guilt towards all the maidens. It was because he did not know what to do anymore…
The forbidding heavenly maiden said coldly, "So you got nothing more to say anymore?"
Yixian stepped forward gracefully as she said gently. She held her gaze at the forbidding heavenly maiden and not once did she falter or shown any signs of hesitating as she said gently, "Firstly, I am not a gullible maiden. Secondly, I am a willing maiden. Thirdly, Ping'Er had saved my life too many times. Fourthly, Ping'Er is not a deceptive and a heartless man!"
All the maidens were nodding!
Lingfeng stole a glance at Yi Ping before saying, "He may be dense sometimes but he is willing to give up his life for all of us!"
Lingfeng turned melancholy and she smiled sweetly to herself when she recalled how she had first Yi Ping and how he had sought her out at the Holy Amalgamate Mountains even though he was aware that almost the entire orthodox martial clans were attacking the Holy Hex Sect.
All the maidens nodded at the same time!
Lie Qing hummed coldly, "I always think that I am the most distrustful…"
She glanced at Yi Ping quietly and her voice was suddenly coarse, "…even after he had saved my life with the Divine Dragon Pill, I still could not bring myself to trust him. I am even denser than him…"
All the other maidens were pursing their lips as they reminisced the good times and bad times with Yi Ping as they looked at him with a thousand affections!
The forbidding heavenly maiden said coldly, "If I only take his life in exchange for the lives of all of you, will he still be willing?"
Yi Ping answered firmly with righteous fire in his eyes, "I am willing! All too willing! You…must…keep your promise!"
The forbidding heavenly maiden looked coldly at him before answering, "I didn't promise you anything. Did I say anything about promising anything to you?"
Yi Ping coughed out blood when he had heard that as he turned wobbly!
Immediately, all the maidens immediately crowded panicky around him, showing him with all kinds of concern!
Even the forbidding heavenly maiden was startled as evidenced by her expressive eyes when Yi Ping had suddenly coughed out blood but she quickly regained her icy composure before anyone had noticed her.
But she was soon as startled as everyone!
It was because the blood that Yi Ping had coughed out was golden instead of red in color!
Yunzi panicked asked, "Ping'Er is poisoned?!"
Yixian and Lingfeng quickly shook their head as they inspected Yi Ping's weak pulses while the Ascension Goddess said, "There is no sign of any poisoning. Ping'Er, you have to calm down and not fall into her deceptive provocations. You have just suffered a dangerous fit due to the raging emotions that have attacked your heart…"
The forbidding heavenly maiden gasped aloud and she was trembling, "The golden blood of the Kirin! You have actually dissolved the blood of the Kirin into your own and have survived?!"
Lingfeng gasped aloud while the Universal Old Man had a look of disbelief on his face!
According to the ancient lore of the Celestial Realm, anyone who had the blood of the Kirin was able to exhibit the might of the Kirin!
The Fire Kirin Divine Pill was one of the rarest divine pills in the Celestial Realm. It was said to be made from the heart of the Kirin. Originally, there was three such Fire Kirin Divine Pills that were concocted. But the Ancient Celestial that had concocted the Fire Kirin Divine Pills successfully, the Encompassing Sage was himself consumed by the madness of the Fire Kirin Divine Pill and had died.
His only protégé, the Mad Conqueror inherited the two remaining Fire Kirin Divine Pills. When he was fatally injured by his enemies, he decided to take a gambit by consuming one of the two Fire Kirin Divine Pills. He had not only survived the dangerous gambit but his martial strength had also improved tremendously. From that day onward, he was to be known as the Mad Conqueror and one of the seven most powerful celestials of their generation!
His current whereabouts were unknown and he was presumed to have perished in the Stellar Sanctuary. A majority of the Ancient Celestials had perished in either the Stellar Sanctuary or the Astronomic Stellar Formation. The surviving Fire Kirin Divine Pill was presumably lost and became a celestial treasure that was eagerly sought by the other celestials!
But how did Yi Ping come to possess the blood of the Kirin?
It was because when he had slashed at the Kirin, he had been splashed by the toxic blood of the Kirin. But because Yi Ping had once taken several Divine Dragon Pills, the Negative Core Divine Pill and the Thousand Year Old Icy Fish. Coupled with the balancing effect of his Absolute Equilibrium Force that was furthered refined by the Forget Affection Wine and with the aid of the Universal Force of the Celestial Alice, the positive deviation blood of the Kirin had no negative effect on Yi Ping other than the initial splashing searing pain.
Therefore Yi Ping had not only resisted the toxic blood of the Kirin, he had also absorbed the blood of the Kirin into his own without the madness and the toxic effects of the blood of the Kirin!
However, all these of course were not known to Lingfeng, the Universal Old Man and Yi Ping!
The Universal Old Man gasped, "Terrible! He has been afflicted by the madness of the Kirin!"
Lele gasped, "Ping'Er will go mad?"
Lingfeng nodded melancholy…
The Universal Old Man nodded solemnly, "When the madness overtakes him, he won't even remember any of you and he won't stop killing until everyone is dead regardless of foes or friends!"
Lie Qing immediately embraced Yi Ping as she murmured softly, "I don't care. I won't leave you…"
Even Yixian was cuddling gently besides Yi Ping as she said gently, "Ping'Er, I won't blame you if you have forgotten about me…"
Shen Xingyue hugged intimately as she muttered, "Ping'Er, it doesn't matter. Today may be our last battle already…"
All of a sudden, everyone was startled when the forbidding heavenly maiden had appeared in their midst out of the blue as she grabbed Yi Ping's wrist and examined his pulses!
She was extremely serene and was not fearful even though she had just come into their midst and had exposed herself to several fatal openings!
Everyone except Yi Ping was thinking immediately, "This is the best opportunity to strike her down…do we strike her now or not?"
The forbidding heavenly maiden heaved a soft sigh, "I don't understand…He is alright. He just needs a little rest…"
The forbidding heavenly maiden was absolute stunning and Yi Ping was flustering shyly, not daring to look at her directly. It was because he had suddenly noticed that her attire was simply too revealing, her skirt was really too short and he was staring directly at her bosoms!
The forbidding heavenly maiden said coolly as if she could hear everyone's hidden thoughts, "You must be thinking if this is the right time to seize the opportunity to attack me now that I am in your midst. If you can defeat me, then the secrets of the Immortal Practice await you inside."
Even though her counsel was soft and gentle but everyone except Lele was already trembling in her presence! This immediately revealed the differences in their martial level as manifested through their innate instinct!
The forbidding heavenly maiden taunted quietly, "If you don't try, how do you know you can't possibly win?"
Because Lele was the only one that had shown no fear and she was also very easily provoked, she immediately reacted by raising her fingers to stab her as she said. "So true! Then don't blame me for trying!"
Yixian panicky called out, "Lele, no!"
But it was already too late. Barely had Lele raised her fingers, the forbidding heavenly maiden had raised her fingers forward and struck Lele on her forehead with a tremendous hit!
That speed, power and reflexes of hers, was simply so astonishing that Lele fell onto the ground without any resistance!
At the same time, everyone was startled and was stunned!
Yi Ping was stunned as he shouted, "Lele!"
He immediately broke free of the forbidding heavenly maiden and raised his hand to slap her. To his astonishment, the forbidding heavenly maiden did not make any attempt to dodge his clumsy attack and she was given a tight slap on her face!
There was a bruise on her lovely porcelain face. As she turned to look at Yi Ping with watery eyes, her bruise disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared!
She asked melancholy, "You…slap me?"
Yi Ping said angrily, "Why shouldn't I? You have just stolen the life of my wife! Do you know how important Lele is to me? If you are a superior immortal being, you can choose to exercise leniency. We may have intruded upon your sacred ground but do you have to be so callous in taking lives?"
Lingfeng quickly grabbed Yi Ping as she said in a low whisper, "Lele is alright…nothing has happened to her…"
Yi Ping was startled as he turned around to look at Lele who had just begun to regain consciousness as she moaned weakly.
Shen Xingyue was astonished as she examined Lele's pulse, "It seems that your cosmos channels had been cleared by her! That will make your future attainment much easier!"
Lele moaned weakly as she looked at the forbidding heavenly maiden with stunned expressions, "You…you have actually sacrificed your precious internal strength to clear my cosmos accupoint…why?!"
Clearing the channels of another martial practitioner was a dangerous undertaking even by the most powerful martial practitioners and it was not something that even close associates would do for each other. It was because the success rate was not only low and whether the attempt was a success or not, the sacrificing cost to one's internal strength was a permanent loss!
The forbidding heavenly maiden said coolly, "You are the first one that has the courage to exchange blow with me in ages. So let that be your reward. If you are still unwilling to concede defeat to me, you should better yourself first."
While Lele was still bewildered, Yi Ping was stammering apologetically, "I…I am sorry…"
But the forbidding heavenly maiden seemed to ignore Yi Ping as she turned around quietly, "What are you all waiting for? Don't you want to know the secrets of the Immortal Practice?"
Everyone looked at one another, not knowing what to say…
Yi Ping was already flustered with guilt but he took up the courage to say, "Maiden, forgive me for my action just now. We didn't know that this is your sacred sanctuary. Now that we know, we won't dare to intrude again. If you can guide us out of the Astronomic Stellar Formation, we will be extremely grateful!"
The Universal Old Man was startled as he secretly thought, "Alas! My ignorant protégé! The Immortal Practice is just inside. Surely we can just take a little peek. I will be content to have a quick look even if it means I will die in there…"
The Ascension Goddess was also secretly startled, "If the secret to the Stellar Sanctuary is in the Astronomic Stellar Formation and it is so difficult even to get into the center, surely it is worth just to take a look at what her sanctuary looks like…"
The forbidding heavenly maiden looked piercingly at Yi Ping, "You are not interested in the Immortal Practice?"
Yi Ping answered honestly, "Maybe in the future but not now!"
The forbidding heavenly maiden looked at everyone in the eyes, "The rest of you are also not interested in the Immortal Practice?"
Yunzi shook her head, "I will follow whatever decision Ping'Er chooses to make. Whether there is an Immortal Practice heart intricacy divine skill that is inside, I am not concerned."
Yixian smiled gently, "The same goes for me as well!"
Everyone nodded as they exclaimed their wishes to abide by whatever Yi Ping had made!
The forbidding heavenly maiden looked at Yi Ping as she said unhurriedly, "Really? You are really not eager to know what is inside?"
She taunted again, "If you all attacked me at the same time, I may not be able to win. After all, my internal strength is now impaired."
Yi Ping replied, "I know my limits. If I am not wrong, then this Astronomic Stellar Formation is a test for the worthy. I cannot even defeat a single Kirin at the perimeter of the Astronomic Stellar Formation. Goodness knows what trials and difficulties that are still waiting inside for us. I rather you let us leave quietly. When I am confident in the future, I will surely pay you a visit!"
He paused for a while before adding, "Even if we can defeat you, there are still two Golden Kirins on top waiting for us. We are destined to lose even before the fight has begun!"
The forbidding heavenly maiden looked at Yi Ping disquietly. She seemed to have many things to tell him but was also reluctant at the same time. She stole a glance at the Ascension Goddess and the Universal Old Man while saying, ""You are honest but some of you may not be entirely honest."
Yi Ping asked, "Maiden, you will show us a way out?"
The forbidding heavenly maiden asked, "What do you think?"
Yi Ping was startled at her reply as he stammered, "I…do not know…why don't maiden tells me?"
The forbidding heavenly maiden said coldly, "You have slapped me so hard. Do you think that I will let the lot of you escape from the Astronomic Stellar Formation this easily? If you have not slapped me, maybe I will consider letting you off."
Yi Ping was stunned as he murmured, "Please forgive me…you can slap me as many times as you want…"
The forbidding heavenly maiden answered coldly, "It is too late for regrets now. Some things once done cannot be undone."
Yi Ping stammered, "I…"
Lingfeng tugged Yi Ping, "Ping'Er, save your breathe. No matter what you do, she will not let us leave!"
Yi Ping asked, "Lingfeng, what do you mean?"
Lingfeng said quietly and her alluring eyes were downcast, "Can't you tell that she is the one that has deliberately visited the Astronomic Stellar Formation upon us?"
Everyone was gasping…
Yi Ping asked weakly, "Why?"
The forbidding heavenly maiden did not acknowledge anything. Instead, she had turned around quietly while saying coldly, "Follow me closely. Don't blame me if you have lost sight of me or else my little dogs will think you are an unwanted visitor and shred you to pieces."
She had actually called these huge and powerful Kirins as little dogs but everyone else was not amused…
As she ascended on the steps, Yi Ping and the Universal Old Man had an eye popping view of her back view. Immediately, Yi Ping and the Universal Old Man had a nose bled as they turned extremely flustered!
It was noticed by the rest of the maidens immediately.
Mei'Er was looking at the Universal Old Man, "Dirty old man, what are you looking at?"
Lele said unhappily to Yi Ping, "What are you so flustered?"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly, "I…I…nothing…"
At the same time, the Heaveness Lingfeng was thinking secretly to herself. "Is she really the Dark Lord of the Chaos Cosmos? That is impossible. That is because…"
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