The leader spoke as he side-stepped a distortion that just appeared where his right foot had been: "How about you let us go or we kill her here and now"
The elder chuckled as he told them: "You need her alive or she would be dead already. On the other hand, I don't need you alive"
One of the nine men, the one who had the girl over his shoulder, put her in front of him and placed a hand on her throat. He didn't speak. He didn't need to. The action was clear. A threat to kill the girl. But the elder did not flinch for a second. Instead, he moved forward as a distortion appeared behind him and from his sleeve, something shot into said distortion.
All nine cultivators expected him to be absorbed and die in a gruesome way like their comrade. But that's not what happened. Instead, one more distortion appeared next to the man holding the girl, behind him. And from there, some sort of hook phased through and went on to pierce his chest. He looked down to see a hole in there from which some kind of silver hook tied to a chain exited.
The hook kept moving as it began to circle the dying cultivator and the girl. Once done, as if being pulled backward, both the hook and the prey it caught went back through the distortion. Only to reappear through the distortion behind Seo-Jun. The chain had come from his sleeve and that was his personal weapon. The Spatial Fisher. It was nothing more than a silver chain that could extend or retract with a pointy two-bladed hook at its end.
As for the reason he managed to pull that off, it was simple. This wasn't a natural distortion. It was man-made. By him. He was a space cultivator who specialized in distortion. He used his mind to retract the hook back in his sleeve as he threw away the now-dead body of the cultivator away and grabbed the girl.
Still smiling, a new distortion opened on his right side and threw her in it.
The eight remaining men, even though they were incredibly powerful, had not been able to react. Because they did not expect it and also because that man was as strong and quick as they were. A surprise attack from an opponent of their level was deadly.
The leader warned his remaining men: "Let us quickly eliminate this space-element cultivator and get the girl back"
He wasn't a specialized space element user but the leader, like his comrades, still knew some about it. After all, they were experienced cultivators and veterans. They all began to circulate their spiritual energy and the surroundings began to change once more. It became hotter, then oppressive.
They all had different specialties. The leader, who specialized in the poison element, was the first to make a move as he rushed forward as one of his comrades disappeared as if falling inside his own shadow. The other men also made their move, either from a distance or trying to move forward.
But the Ryu elder only laughed lightly as he began to emit spiritual energy indiscriminately around himself. And then, the natural distortions became much more chaotic. There was one thing that made this seemingly unfair fight remain unfair though bending towards the other side of the balance. The location.
It wasn't the lonely cultivator from the Ryu clan that was at a disadvantage here. It was his opponents. Not that it would be an easy battle.
Distortions began to pop up extremely quickly and randomly all over the place. Sometimes in the air, sometimes in the earth turning the ground in a mess. The cultivators were dodging the distortions as they either ran or flew around sending techniques after the elder.
They destroyed the land as they moved all over the place. Some cultivators used particularly powerful techniques, melting small hills or exploding them. One conjured an eruption while another summoned the thunder to rain down. But every time, the elder only opened a few distortions to send the move back to its owner who was forced to dodge.
After a moment, one of the eight men was hit by friendly fire that had been redirected through a spatial distortion. The elder grabbed the opportunity to send in his hook that impaled the shoulder of the man. After that, he retracted the chain and cut off the distortion as the cultivator was halfway through it. The spatial fisher was cut. And the cultivator was separated in two parts.
He was dead of course with no possibility to reconnect both parts and resuscitate. However, the spatial fisher grew back its lost part. With spiritual energy pumped into it, what could stop such a treasure, a grade 5 weapon, to regenerate itself? They were treasures for a reason.
The remaining seven men saw everything happen as they kept sending out their moves towards the elder. He remained unaffected as the space itself seemed to crack to protect him. It didn't protect the surroundings as everything was being flattened and dug up.
After witnessing one of his men die again, the leader changed plan: "We need to attack him from up close!"
They were right. The further they were attacking from, the better it was from Seo-Jun. After all, what was distance to a spatial element cultivator? It was the best teammate. Due to him facing multiple opponents, he never lacked techniques to send out since he could send back their own moves to the enemy. As for precision and distances? He only had to create a distortion next to them!
However, if they all surrounded him up close, he would be in a very different situation. Because he might be the one lacking space at that moment. Fortunately, spatial cultivators were rather good at movement. From here on out began a game of chase between incredibly strong cultivators. Seven men rushed after a single one while bombarding him with spiritual-energy-filled long range techniques.