"She isn’t here?" Bai Qi was genuinely surprised. The first thing she had done was contact Mu Shang, and then Qiao Er soon after. Bai Qi would have never led Lu Yin to the first array base without the minimum due diligence. She had only gone to look for Lu Yin after learning that Qiao Er had lost the key. The former general had not even known that Qiao Er was not at the array base.
Lu Yin’s expression remained as calm as ever.
Bai Qi had called over a Lockbreaker and asked them to inform her of Qiao Er’s whereabouts. The man was one of Qiao Er’s followers, and he was just a Discerning Elementary Lockbreaker. He respectfully answered, "Grandmaster Mu’s birthday is fast approaching, so Miss Qiao Er has gone to help prepare the birthday celebration. She is not here right now."
Just as Bai Qi was about to ask another question, Lu Yin spoke up, "When did she leave?"
The Lockbreaker did not recognize Lu Yin, and given the man’s cultivation, it was impossible for him to have seen what had just recently happened at the fourth array base. "A month ago."
Lu Yin’s eyes grew cold. The woman had left before Lu Yin had even arrived on the rear battlefield, but this matter had never been mentioned to him. He asked in a casual tone, "I heard that the key to the Coiling Knot down below was lost, right?"
The Lockbreaker replied, "That’s right. Miss Qiao Er accidentally lost it."
"Then what’s the plan to open the sourcebox array?" Lu Yin continued.
The Lockbreaker was completely unbothered. "Open it? We can think about that later. Miss Qiao Er is completely occupied with the preparations for Grandmaster Mu’s birthday, so how can she have time to deal with such a minor matter?"
Bai Qi’s expression grew ugly.
On the other hand, Lu Yin smiled. "True. It’s better to just forget about the whole thing. It doesn’t matter anyway, as the people in New City are already condemned, so they might as well just die."
"Miss Qiao Er said the same thing," the Lockbreaker replied with a laugh, "Everyone down there was condemned to that place by the four ruling powers. Since they’re all criminals, it doesn’t matter if they die. In fact, if they lay down their lives on the rear battlefield, it can be considered compensation for their crimes, so they should really thank Miss Qiao Er."
"Enough! Shut up!" Bai Qi sternly shouted.
The Lockbreakers was badly startled, but he did not dare to say another word. He felt that something was wrong, which made him a bit nervous, but certainly not afraid. He followed Qiao Er, and Qiao Er was Grandmaster Mu Shang’s apprentice. Given the Lockbreaker’s connections, a mere Semi-Progenitor would not dare to risk offending Qiao Er’s master.
Lu Yin let out another laugh and then looked at the Lockbreaker. "Does Grandmaster Mu know that the key was lost?"
The Lockbreaker considered the question but gave no answer.
"So apparently, he doesn’t know about it. If Grandmaster Mu finds out that Qiao Er is hiding things from him, he will definitely get upset. Do you want to be the one to tell him?" Lu Yin murmured.
The Lockbreaker instantly spoke up. "Of course Grandmaster Mu knows that the key was lost, but his birthday takes priority. He said that everything will be dealt with after his birthday."
Lu Yin smiled and nodded. "It looks like those people down in New City will just have to wait until after Grandmaster Mu’s birthday to be let out."
Before the Lockbreaker could respond, Bai Qi frowned and ordered, "Bring Qiao Er here."
The Lockbreaker felt quite confused. "Miss Qiao Er is preparing for Grandmaster Mu’s birthday right now, so she’s unavailable."
"It’s fine, don’t worry about it. Grandmaster Mu’s birthday is definitely important, so she can return after she’s done working on that," Lu Yin said. He then dismissed the Lockbreaker with a wave of his hand. "You can go now. I’m certain that you would like to prepare a present to send for Grandmaster Mu’s birthday, right?"
"Thank you, Senior! This junior will leave now." The Lockbreaker was thrilled to be let go, and he quickly left without even asking Bai Qi for permission. All the man’s nervousness disappeared. The Lockbreaker felt that Lu Yin was an easy person to talk to, and the Lockbreaker was very eager to speak with Grandmaster Mu and establish a good relationship. If he was lucky, he might even be able to exchange a few words with the Array Grandmaster.
After the Lockbreaker left, Bai Qi wanted to say something, but Lu Yin suddenly smiled and asked, "Do you believe that the key is actually lost?"
Bai Qi’s attitude shifted, and she grew quite hesitant. She was well aware that, even with the key, it would take a decent amount of time to open the Coiling Knot. At the very least, the process would require five days. With Mu Shang’s birthday fast approaching, Qiao Er was completely occupied with preparations, and she was entirely focused on that matter. After considering the situation, Bai Qi felt that Qiao Er might have actually lost the key, but it was also possible that Qiao Er simply did not want to spend the required five days. Thus, the most likely possibility was that the key had simply been tossed away so that Qiao Er did not have to waste her time before the birthday celebration.
Bai Qi hoped that Qiao Er was not simply avoiding her responsibilities. If the woman was found, and she was able to open the sourcebox array because the key had not truly been lost, then things would become far more difficult to resolve.
Just as Bai Qi was about to discuss the matter with Lu Yin, the jiao was called over. Then, Lu Yin said, "It’s not that difficult to just open the Coiling Knot."
At that moment, the jiao let out a terrifying roar that shook the entire first array base, startling countless people on it. Both the humans and the corpse kings were caught off guard, and Bai Chi was almost blown away by the sound.
She glared into the distance but did not dare to object. After all, the beast had the strength of a Progenitor.
There was a hideous expression on Xia De’s face. The jiao belonged to Shenwu’s Sky, but it had been reduced to merely acting as Lu Xiaoxuan’s mount. It was disgusting to see.
The jiao’s sudden approach shocked Bai Qi. "Lu Xiaoxuan, what are you going to do?"
Something as magnificent as a Progenitor-level beast would draw everyone’s attention, including that of Bai Wangyuan in the Dominion Realm.
Lu Yin answered, "Don’t worry, I don’t plan on doing anything. However, that sourcebox array needs to be destroyed, or else I’ll never be able to get my people out of there."
He looked over at Bai Qi. "Or do you want me to continue to wait for Qiao Er and the key?"
Bai Qi said nothing. Make Lu Xiaoxuan wait? That was something that only a Progenitor would dare to do, given the young man’s current status. Mu Shang had gone too far, and so had Qiao Er. The young woman was very cute and thought herself to be quite clever. Was it possible that she had some sort of grudge against the Lu family?
Even if that were the case, this was neither the time nor place to try to get revenge.
The jiao arrived, and it instantly tried to threaten Bai Qi with its fangs and claws.
The Semi-Progenitor became nervous and was put on edge by the display. She had risked death many times during her years on the rear battlefield, but she had never been so blatantly threatened by a Progenitor.
Lu Yin stepped onto the jiao’s back. "Let’s go."
There was no need to open the Coiling Knot, as it could also be torn open. The jiao had the strength to rip the entire thing apart.
As for any potential threats from the New World, there was essentially no difference between the five array bases and the New World for a creature with the strength of a Progenitor. If anything from Aeternus could threaten the jiao in the New World, then it could also threaten the beast above the array bases.
As Bai Qi watched Lu Yin race towards the New World without any hesitation, she felt a burst of envy. The Progenitor realm was so distant for her. Countless people pushed themselves to reach that realm of cultivation with everything they had, but just how many Progenitors had appeared throughout all of history? While there might seem to be a lot, given the total human population, the number of Progenitors was almost impossibly low. It was not even close to being a proportion as simple as one in a billion.
In truth, it was quite impressive to have even one Progenitor rise up from a hundred people who were qualified to reach that level. Such qualified people were those with the abilities to receive titles like Junior Progenitor, gatemaster of the Twelve Heavenly Gates, and so on. It was already nearly impossible for such talented people to appear. So, the fact that, at best, only one in a hundred of them could actually become a Progenitor meant that the odds of reaching that highest realm were practically incalculable.
Throughout the entire Fifth Mainland, only a few people with the talent of the Ten Arbiters had appeared, but not all of the Ten Arbiters were talented enough to even qualify to challenge the Progenitor realm. Of those who did possess the requisite talent, how many had opened all three of their meridian points? That was one of the requirements for one to be given the title of Junior Progenitor. And after all of that, what were the actual chances of a Junior Progenitor becoming a Progenitor? No, the chances of becoming a Progenitor were far, far too low.
But despite those impossible odds, Lu Xiaoxuan had subdued a beast with that level of strength, and he had done so as nothing more than a three-tribulation Envoy. Bai Qi really could not understand just how such a thing had been accomplished.
Lu Yin did not even consider what Bai Qi might be thinking. Not to mention Bai Qi—even Bai Wangyuan and the other Progenitors could not comprehend how Lu Yin had managed to tame the jiao. The most frustrated person of all was Xia Shenji. If he had known that the jiao could be tamed, the Progenitor would have tried to do so long, long ago.
Given people’s understanding of the Progenitor realm, how could any such expert accept being used as a mount? It was something that was simply not even considered. Xia Shenji had only ever considered trapping the jiao in Shenwu’s Sky and then extracting a promise where the jiao would attack for him a given number of times. Each attack that helped Shenwu’s Sky would go towards reducing the amount of time before the jiao was released.
This was the only possible use that Xia Shenji had been able to imagine for the jiao. Taming the beast had quite literally never crossed the Progenitor’s mind. Given a choice, the jiao would have much preferred being tamed by Xia Shenji, if it had to be tamed. At least that way, the creature would have been able to continue to threaten others by flashing its fangs and claws.
One Progenitor had not thought of the possibility, while the Progenitor-level beast was an idiot. The combination had ultimately benefited Lu Yin.
Lu Yin stood on the jiao’s head as the beast rushed down to the New World. How much time had passed since Lu Yin had fallen from the second array base to the New World? It had only been a few decades. He was returning to the New World after just a few decades, but during that time, everything had changed. Lu Yin already possessed the qualifications to rescue the people whom he wished to save.
When he left, he had promised the people left behind that he would return to take them away, and that day had finally arrived.
The closer he moved to the Coiling Knot, the more impressed Lu Yin was by Mu Shang’s ability. The knotted sourcebox array had no offensive or defensive capabilities, but it was interlocked and intertwined in such a way that not even a Semi-Progenitor could escape from the tangled danger zones that formed the Coiling Knot.
Lu Yin started thinking as he studied the sourcebox array. This array appeared to consist of multiple layers, which meant that, provided he got his hands on the right kinds of sourceboxes, there was theoretically no limit to how many layers could be created. Lu Yin could see the potential, but he had no idea if this possibility had been deliberately introduced by Mu Shang or not. If this was a self-created sourcebox array designed by Mu Shang, then the man absolutely deserved his title as the youngest Array Grandmaster in human history.
Lu Yin had intended to simply destroy the Coiling Knot, but doing so would be a waste. Lu Yin could instead gain an understanding of the sourcebox array itself, and given his lockbreaking ability, he could then learn to create or use it himself.
The reason why Mu Shang had agreed to go to Virtue Archives and open the academy’s defensive sourcebox array was so that he could understand and even learn the sourcebox array left behind by Progenitor Wen that incorporated the powers of the Undying Bird and the Dark Undying Bird. Any Array Master would seize the opportunity to learn a new sourcebox array, though none would try to do so on the rear battlefield.
But upon seeing the Coiling Knot, Lu Yin had an urge to learn it.
However, it was important to first rescue the people trapped within the sourcebox array. Zhou Tang and the rest had been trapped within New City for far too long, and they should have been released long ago.
Since he had decided not to destroy the sourcebox array, Lu Yin ordered the jiao to shrink down, and they both entered the Coiling Knot. It allowed entry, but not exit, so there was nothing stopping Lu Yin and the jiao from reaching New City.
In fact, given Lu Yin’s mastery and understanding of sourcebox arrays, he was able to pass through most arrays. It was extremely difficult for any sourcebox array to trap an Array Grandmaster, and even if Lu Yin was not yet at that level himself, he had obtained at least as much experience as an Array Grandmaster.
He observed the knotted danger fields on both sides as he passed through the array. It was not a difficult arrangement, but it was very time-consuming. Untangling one or two knots would be easy, but as Lu Yin looked around, he saw tens of thousands of knots, each of which was formed by a sourcebox array’s danger zone. Opening this Coiling Knot was thousands of times more complicated than unlocking a sourcebox. In fact, it would be difficult for anyone other than an Array Grandmaster to unlock this sourcebox array.
Lu Yin did not spend much time studying the array. After entering it, he was able to see New City down below.
New City was silent, and from high above, Lu Yin could see that the ground was a dark red.
He frowned. With the Coiling Knot covering New City, not only were Zhou Tang and the others unable to escape, but all the corpse kings that entered the sourcebox array were also trapped inside. This meant that any and all fighting that broke out around New City would be to the death.
There was no escape for the corpse kings or for the humans. Even the Semi-Progenitor level experts on both sides were trapped. This had created a battlefield far crueler than any Lu Yin had ever seen before.
The final result was countless deaths on both sides of the conflict. Just how many humans were still alive within New City?
Lu Yin told the jiao to suppress its aura, and the beast slowly landed on the ground within New City. Lu Yin had finally returned.