(Southern Region- Xercopolis Empire)
(The Forbidden Desert- Ancient Ruins)
Yeah... it was time to give up.
Xu Lu sat down beneath the shade of one of the buildings and pulled out a blanket from her storage ring.
She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and leaned against the side of the wall.
The sun was slowly setting towards the horizon and in the distance, she could see a flock of birds flying towards an unknown location.
After several long hours tirelessly searching for any clues or hints about the missing disciples' location, Xu Lu had come up emptyhanded.
There was nothing here.
In fact she was beginning to suspect that maybe the desert tribespeople had lied to her about this place.
No... don't think like that...
Xu Lu let out a heavy sigh as the sun continued to fall and long dark shadows appeared.
The desert got extremely cold at night with the temperatures plunging to almost minus twenty degrees.
This was due to the lack of moisture in the air which meant that the air would not be able to hold the heat radiated by the sand.
The saintess did not feel cold but old habits died hard. She still remembered that on snowy winter days she would sit near the fireplace with a blanket around her shoulders.
This was during her later years at the castle with Camilla. When wrinkles had begun to form on her skin but her partner remained as youthful as ever.
Xu Lu smiled softly as she lost herself in those happy memories. A cold wind blew across the desert and gently kicked up some of the sand particles.
Xu Lu closed her eyes to prevent the sand from getting in there. She could hear the sounds of footsteps and hooves coming from the distance.
She spread out her spiritual senses and could detect a large group of people walking towards her at a steady rate.
She did not detect any bloodlust or killing intent but just in case...
Xu Lu's hand moved ever so closer to the sword that was securely attached to her hip.
She did not enjoy killing but in self defense she was more than capable of eliminating any threats.
Xu Lu waited patiently for the brief dust storm to pass and when it did, she reopened her eyes to get a look at the group that was approaching.
The group consisted of ten figures all dressed in dark black robes.
Xu Lu was unable to make out any details about their faces because they all wore plain white masks to hide their appearance.
Occasionally their exposed skin poked out from beneath the heavy robes that they wore and Xu Lu could see horrific dark red markings that glowed slightly.
"A cultivator from the orthodox sects?" the leader of the group jeered mockingly. His voice sounded low and gravelly.
"I am simply resting for the night," Xu Lu calmly responded as she slowly got up from the ground and lightly wrapped her fingers around the hilt of her sword.
"Do you know who we are?" a melodic feminine voice asked with a sickly sweetness to her tone.
Well... they clearly weren't the desert's welcome committee.
Xu Lu stifled the small smile that flashed across her lips and carefully observed the ten people in front of her.
She could sense spiritual energy inside of them which meant that they were cultivators but there was something wrong with their qi.
It felt... unnatural... twisted... wrong...
It bore a striking resemblance to...
Xu Lu closed her eyes and took in several deep breaths as she had to fight down a panic attack.
She recognised this type of energy, it was the same energy that came from the man who had permanently disfigured her face.
These cultivators they... they... belong to the demonic way.
Xu Lu tucked her other hand into her sleeve and curled up her fingers into a tight fist with so much force that her fingernails tug into her flesh.
Blood slowly dripped down from the wounds and the sharp bursts of pain helped Xu Lu to clear her mind.
She could not afford to be affected by the emotions of the original Xu Lu, not when she was in such a dangerous situation.
Xu Lu opened her mouth and talked with a calmness that she did not feel on the inside,
"No. My mission in this place is to discover the whereabout of five missing disciples. If you have any information about them then I would greatly appreciate your assistance."
There was a brief moment of silence and then a roar of laughter came from several of the demon cultivators in the group.
"Oh, she's a bold one..."
"Bold? I think you mean stupid!"
"Maybe we should kill her now? No... wait... save her for later..."
The leader of the group stepped forward and even though his face was covered, Xu Lu could tell that he had a mocking smile on his face.
"And why would we tell you? Perhaps your companions are dead... maybe they were captured by some other cultivators and are now playthings..." the demon cultivator whispered softly.
"Maybe if you want to find them so desperately.... we could send you to them..."
Xu Lu immediately jumped to the side and dodged the dagger that was thrown in her direction by the leader.
The demon cultivator chuckled softly and raised up his right hand. Numerous black daggers appeared around his fingertips which he then launched into the sky.
The daggers began to rain down on Xu Lu's direction which forced the saintess to take quick steps to avoid their sharpened edges.
"Stop running around like a rat!" a feminine voice cried out playfully. Xu Lu tilted her head and narrowly avoided the whip that was flung at her body.
The other demon cultivators did not sit still and soon a variety of weapons and qi techniques were launched in Xu Lu's direction.
The saintess did not have any time to counterattack and could only focus on not getting hurt in order to wait for the right opportunity.
One of the demon cultivator's sword strikes caused a building nearby to be bisected into two pieces.
These ruins which had stood for tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years were now being destroyed by the fight.
Xu Lu noticed the destruction and tried to move away from the ruins since she did not wish to see the ancient historical site be demolished.
She focused on the qi flowing through her dantian and the tiny white unicorn neighed happily.
The temperature around Xu Lu's body plunged rapidly and frost began to appear on her long sword.
She swung the blade at the demon cultivators and a burst of bluish-white energy erupted from the tip of her weapon.
Most the hostile cultivators managed to dodge but one was struck by the energy and his body was encased in a solid chunk of ice.
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