"Song Chun Gui, now that you have a smooth and prosperous immortal path, and will soon be in charge of the number one sect in the world, do you still remember that you were just a cripple living on the streets with little food to eat?"
Song Chun Gui's face was blue and white* for a while.
"You have no parents, no home, and have a broken arm. Even the orphans who were also living in the street looked down on you. You begged everywhere, robbed food with wild dogs, and collected scraps to satisfy your hunger. If my father hadn't just passed by, saved you, brought you back to Wuliang Sect, and taught you to read, write, cultivate and practice the sword, you would have starved to death long ago. Would you still be here today?"
Song Chun Gui gasped. His eyes were slightly red: "Senior brother is right. Without master, I would not be here today. I can never finish repaying master's life-saving grace and protection."
"Is this how you repay him?" Li Zhi Qing's face was grim, "By competing with his only son for the family’s property?!"
"Senior brother, how many times do you want me to say that I will never have my hands in the Li family’s property, but you can't shoulder the huge responsibilities of the Wuliang Sect."
Li Zhi Qing sneered: "How grateful you are, Song Chun Gui. Unfortunately, no matter how many more dignified excuses you make, we all have a clear mirror in our hearts. Everything you have was given to you by my Li family. Now you want me to give you the leader position of the Wuliang Sect? Fine, but you have to return what my Li family gave you."
"What the hell do you want?"
Li Zhi Qing drew his sword, pointed the blade’s tip at Song Chun Gui's dantian, and said grimly, "Return your cultivation to my Li family."
There was a commotion all around. This Li Zhi Qing was too vicious. He actually wanted Song Chun Gui's golden core?
Song Chun Gui's body stood upright, so the rise and fall of his chest was particularly obvious. His face was tense, but several deep breaths had revealed his anger.
"What's wrong? Don't you want to repay my father for his kindness? You’ve got so much from my Li family. All I want is your cultivation. It's not too much, right? Besides, this was also my father's intention."
Song Chun Gui's pupils contracted and stared straight at Li Zhi Qing. His hand was cracking from gripping the hilt.
Someone from Song Chun Gui's faction finally couldn't take it anymore: "Senior brother Li, do you know what you're saying? You want senior brother Song's golden core? Do you want to be a core stealing demonic cultivator just like master?
"Do not disrespect master." Song Chun Gui gently shouted at that person to stop.
"Senior Brother Song, he wants your golden core!"
"What’s the point of respecting him?" Someone in the crowd snickered, "Is there anyone who doesn't know that Li Bu Yu was a core stealing demonic cultivator? What, if he dares to do it, why can't others say it? If the upper beam is not straight, the lower ones will go aslant*. Does this Lord Li also want to rely on human cores to transform?" "No, I'm just asking him to return the thing that belongs to my Li family. Song Chun Gui has become what he is today because our Li family took pity on him and saved his life. Now, he wants to rob my Li family's property. I acknowledge I am not his rival, but I want him to return his cultivation to my Li family!" Li Zhi Qing seemed to be too lazy to disguise it. Although he’s denying it on the surface, there was no doubt about what he wanted to do.
There were constant criticisms in the crowd. One after another were lamenting that the unrest of the human and ghost worlds had led to the degeneration of public morals with each passing day. The only son of the number one immortal family wanted to eat human cores openly. Since Li Bu Yu’s notoriety, had he also smashed a pot to pieces just because it’s cracked*?
Xie Bi An could not hide his disgusted expression: "Indeed like father like son."
Fan Wu She snorted coldly: "What's the use of wagging his tongue? He is still no match for Song Chun Gui."
"Not necessarily. Song Chun Gui is a person who values sentiments and righteousness. The more such a person is, the easier it is to be burdened by morality and justice."
"Is he really going to give his core away with just a few words?"
Xie Bi An frowned. He was looking at Song Chun Gui's ghastly pale face and was momentarily worried.
Song Chun Gui lowered his eyes without saying anything. After a moment, he raised his eyes to look at Li Zhi Qing: "Senior brother, you said that this is also master’s intention?"
"Yes. My father trained you all to support me in the future, but you, you take over the nest*. If my father’s spirit knew what you did today, how would he tolerate you?!” Song Chun Gui's eyes flashed with hidden pain. He said with a trembling voice: "Senior brother Meng, our senior brother died from core theft. If. master was alive, would I have also followed in their footsteps?"
Li Zhi Qing said sternly: "You dare to slander my father? My father ate Song Ming He's core out of revenge. Song Ming He was malicious and duplicitous. He deserved to be punished. I guess you have something to do with Meng Ke Fei and senior brother’s deaths. Especially senior brother. No one can compete with you when he’s dead."
But Song Chun Gui seemed to turn a deaf ear. His eyes were hollow, and he muttered, "Did master raise me just for my core?"
Xie Bi An clenched his fist suddenly. He looked at the pain on Song Chun Gui's face, as if he saw himself a hundred years ago. When he learned that his own father wanted to dig up his core, he was in despair with all hopes turned into dust. He remembered that he once had the idea of cutting his core out for Song Ming He, not out of foolish filial piety, but to satisfy both parties in this way and completely cut off their relationship between father and son.
He stood up subconsciously. He was holding onto the window lattice with both hands, watching Song Chun Gui nervously. Suddenly, a big hand covered his hand and held it gently.
Fan Wu She lowered his voice: "Big brother, I know what you're thinking, Song Ming He is not worth your sorrow. It's all in the past. No one can touch your golden core now."
"He indeed doesn't deserve my sorrow, but he's my father." Xie Bi An said softly, "I cultivated so diligently when I was young just wanting to get a word of appreciation from him."
Fan Wu She remembered that scene he saw in his big brother's memory. He only felt heartbroken. His big brother is so nice, yet he was repeatedly hurt. If there was no Song Ming He, they wouldn’t have any problems between them that couldn’t be solved because of so many misunderstandings. At this time, Song Chun Gui’s state of mind was comparable to Song Zi Heng at the beginning. In fact, all kinds of facts had been laid out in front of him, but he was not willing to believe them and had to wait until Li Zhi Qing said it personally, before completely tearing apart his own whitewashed excuses.
"My father raised you in order for you to assist me." Li Zhi Qing snorted coldly and approached Song Chun Gui step by step, "You betrayed and took over the nest. You had a mouth full of humanity, justice and morality, but in fact, you’re disloyal and unfilial. If you really want to repay my father, then return the cultivation that my Li family bestowed upon you!"
"Senior Brother Song, don't listen to his nonsense!" A disciple shouted, "Forcing someone to dig out his core, is our Wuliang Sect still a famous and upright sect?"
Li Zhi Qing pointed at that person and cursed, "You son of a bitch who lives off one person while secretly helping another. You are favored by my Li family, yet you support foreign surnames. You have no right to speak here."
"Li Zhi Qing, y-you are crazy. You don't even think about whether you have the ability to be Wuliang Sect’s leader and let our sect fall into meaningless internal strife for your own selfish desire. If virtue is not worthy of your position, there will be a disaster."
Li Zhi Qing let out an evil laugh and walked towards Song Chun Gui with a few steps. The distance between them was only a sword away: "How about it, junior brother? You are going to take away my Li family's Wuliang Sect. I also want one thing from you, so that you can taste this acute pain. It’s not too much, right?"
Song Chun Gui looked quietly at Li Zhi Qing. His pupils were black, reticent, and flowing with unspeakable emotions. After a long time, he said, "Okay."
"Senior Brother Song!" "Song Zhen Ren, don't do it."
"Song Zhen Ren, do not be enticed by him!"
"I promise you. I will return the cultivation that my master gave me to you." Song Chun Gui seemed to be downhearted and said calmly word by word, "But not now. Peace has not yet been restored to the human and ghost worlds. I, Song Chun Gui, can still do my part. I swear, after I get rid of the Red Ghost King, I will return my golden core and the position of Wuliang Sect’s leader to senior brother. I will live in seclusion in the mountains and never go out again."
This remark was so extraordinary that no one doubted the authenticity of his oath, which was even more lamentable.
Li Zhi Qing let out a series of chuckles: "Junior brother is really impressive, but it's a pity you can't wait for that day, because I, want, your, core, now."
Song Chun Gui's eyes flashed with a trace of surprise. That pair of black eyes reflected the evil, charming, and dangerous Li Zhi Qing. A huge spiritual pressure burst on the spot without warning. He felt terrified and instinctively wanted to defend against it.
As a top swordsman on earth, his movement was quick, but he was too close to Li Zhi Qing, and the change came too suddenly. He only felt a numbness in his abdomen, and then it was as if an immobilization spell was cast on his body, it was difficult for him to move.
With a cry of surprise and a spurt of blood, he lowered his head and saw a rough ghost hand penetrating his stomach and digging away the golden core that he had cultivated all his life.
Xie Bi An was extremely angry: "Jiang Qu Lian "
"Li Zhi Qing’s" body instantly shattered into pieces. That was just a puppet, and the evil ghost king in red appeared in front of the public again. Jiang Qu Lian's bloody ghost claws were holding the golden core soaked in flesh and blood. He looked askance at the dumbfounded Song Chun Gui and smiled disdainfully: "Stupid."
Xie Bi An and Fan Wu She simultaneously flipped out of the window and rushed towards the arena.
Jiang Qu Lian looked up at the two of them. Without any surprise, he raised his foot and stomped on the arena fiercely. The whole arena fell apart. The wooden boards, wooden frame, and drapery all broke apart. It revealed its original appearance.
Blue and white* [⻘⼀阵⽩⼀阵] --- The color of the face changes due to the ups and downs of emotions such as anger and fear.
If the upper beam is not straight,
the lower ones will go aslant*[上梁不正下梁歪]--- If a leader sets a bad example,
it will be followed by his subordinates smashed a pot to pieces just because
it’s cracked*[破罐⼦]--- write oneself off as hopeless and act recklessly
take over the nest*[鸠占鹊巢]--- The turtledove occupies the
magpie's nest. —seize another person's home, etc. for oneself; appropriate for oneself;
Under the arena, there was actually a deep pit. There was a pool of golden oil in the pit. A green flame was floating and burning quietly on it.
Song Chun Gui looked like he was about to fall into the pit.
The two men rushed forward. The disciples of Wuliang Sect also wanted to save him, but they were all blocked by a boundary that appeared unexpectedly. Just as Song Chun Gui was about to fall into the oil pool, in the nick of time, a copper-colored chain flew over, wrapped around his waist instantly, and pulled him out of the boundary.
After Fan Wu She rescued Song Chun Gui, he handed him over to a Chunyang Sect’s disciple. Blood was pouring out of Song Chun Gui's abdomen, and his face was as white as a piece of paper. Everyone hurriedly injected spiritual energy into him.
Xie Bi An looked at the "arena" with a grave expression. The fire in the deep pit was 5 Chinese feet high and burned right up to the arena, but it was neither hot nor did it burn anything in this world, because it was a ghost fire made from corpse oil.
Above the deep pit was surrounded by a circle of bronze walls connecting the four bronze beasts, which were engraved with talismans and totems. When the drapery and wooden boards were still in place, it was disguised as an arena, but without the cover, it clearly looked......like a miniature Shen Nong Ding.
And the boundary laid by Jiang Qu Lian was so powerful that no living things could enter. Only soul weapons could penetrate it.
"What is this thing!?" Xie Bi An said with a trembling voice.
Jiang Qu Lian stepped onto the void. His red clothes were fluttering enchantingly. He let go of his hand and Song Chun Gui's golden core fell into the corpse oil pool.
"This is an Yin furnace." Fan Wu She said with a cold voice, "Although it is also a core furnace, it is quenched with corpse oil. The refined core is much more powerful and faster than an ordinary core furnace. This furnace imitates Shen Nong Ding. I guess there are also fragments of Shen Nong Ding and all the base materials needed to refine a human core inside.”
"He imitated the Shen Nong Ding here?!"
Jiang Qu Lian laughed, "Do you think that only the Supreme Demon could study the ‘Yin Fu Scripture’ in the entire world?"
"Jiang Qu Lian, what do you want to do!?"
"Do you still need to ask? I’m performing alchemy." Jiang Qu Lian was looking at the bubbling corpse oil pool, "Xu Zhi Nan couldn't get your core, so he could only look for an alternative by finding the one who had already formed a core and had an imperial destiny. Coincidentally, Song Chun Gui was one of them, but he was born with a disability. His destiny was much worse than yours, plus this Yin furnace is far worse than Shen Nong Ding, so this human core won't turn into the Absolute Emperor, but it will be the best immortal pill in the world. It is enough to bring Xu Zhi Nan back to life."
"You are doing it for the Golden Trunk Jade Policy."
"Of course. It's the only bargaining chip left in his hands." Jiang Qu Lian glared sinisterly at Xie Bi An, "I was negligent for a moment and let you save Lan Chui Han, but as soon as I get the Jade Policy, I will be able to master the laws of karma and reincarnation. By then, hehe."
"Do you think you can get away with this?" Fan Wu She said in a gloomy voice.
"Do you want to use the Heavenly Secret Talisman here?" Jiang Qu Lian laughed unrestrainedly, "There are more than a hundred thousand people in Lanxi Town. Are you going to use the Yin soldiers and fight with me here?"
Until now, everyone understood that Li Zhi Qing invited cultivators to witness the match between him and Song Chun Gui, which was clearly a Hongmen feast* he colluded with Jiang Qu Lian and Xu Zhi Nan. Only Li Zhi Qing could hoodwink the public and build such a Yin furnace without being noticed, and only Li Zhi Qing knew how to break Song Chun Gui's wariness with just a few words. He invited cultivators from various immortal sects to witness that he, Li Zhi Qing, was the only candidate for the leader of Wuliang Sect. Otherwise, he would probably not go out of Mount Shu’s boundary.
Simply insidious to the extreme.
Xu Zhi Nan wanted the human core, and Jiang Qu Lian wanted the Jade Policy, so they naturally clicked together. If they got their way, the human and ghost worlds would fall into the enemies’ hands at the same time.
In the pool of corpse oil, the ghost fire suddenly detonated. A brown immortal core rose from the flame. That was the top immortal pill that was formed from the condensed lifelong cultivation of Song Chun Gui.
Jiang Qu Lian stretched out his hand in the air, but the human core did not fly into his ghost claws. He only saw the entire pool of corpse oil suddenly shake violently, and the human core also followed suit and flew out.
Fan Wu She held the Shanhe Sheji Map and controlled all of the Yin furnace. The human core also flew towards Fan Wu She.
Jiang Qu Lian's body turned into a red mist and disappeared on the spot. He turned into a splash of scarlet that spiraled towards the human core.
Xie Bi An leaped and stabbed out with his sharp sword. The strong spiritual pressure forced Jiang Qu Lian back.
When Fan Wu She was about to grab the human core, there was a sound of breaking air. An arrow whooshed past as fast as a bolt of meteor lightning and brushed past the human core. The surrounding airflow suddenly changed dramatically, and the buoyant immortal core also followed suit and flew out.
That mass of red mist drifted rapidly toward the immortal core. When Jiang Qu Lian transformed into his real form, his ghost claw had already firmly grasped the human core.
"Hua Xiang Rong!" Xie Bi An looked at Hua Xiang Rong who was not far away. Her eyes were sharp and cold. Despite the slight change in appearance, her aura was very different from before. He said in a deep voice, "You are Xu Zhi Nan."
The corners of Xu Zhi Nan's mouth tugged lightly, and he smiled coldly.
Jiang Qu Lian transformed once again, encircling Hua Xiang Rong's body in the red mist, and flew far away.
Xie Bi An and Fan Wu She rose with their swords and flew after them. There were many other cultivators catching up in a single file, but Xu Zhi Nan summoned the snow owl in mid-air. Its speed was unmatched by anyone in the world, and they could only watch as Xu Zhi Nan escaped from them once again.
Xie Bi An growled in anger. His eyes were red, and veins were bulging on his forehead.
Fan Wu She looked in the direction where the snow owl had disappeared. His whole face was malicious and insidious.
"How could we not detect so much corpse oil?" Xie Bi An said through gritted teeth.
"It's not human corpse oil. It's from animals."
"And Jiang Qu Lian, he actually managed to completely hide his Yin energy." Xie Bi An was so angry that he whirled in place, "And the Yin furnace, the four bronze beasts are exactly the same as the ones on the Shen Nong Ding. How could we not have thought of that, I ......"
Fan Wu She pacified him with a deep voice, "Most of the world's core furnaces have four divine beasts. Li Zhi Qing made a big fanfare and drew all our attention to Song Chun Gui. It was inevitable for us to overlook it."
Xie Bi An slowly hung his head. His eyes were still covered with remorse.
"Big brother." Fan Wu She gently squeezed Xie Bi An's shoulder, "I secretly left my spiritual sense on Hua Xiang Rong."
"On the way here." Fan Wu She said, "Ever since I saw her again, I felt something was wrong."
"You mean, she has been Xu Zhi Nan on the inside since long ago?"
"No, Xu Zhi Nan didn't dare to use her body to meet us. He knew we would be able to expose him, but Hua Xiang Rong tracked Xu Zhi Nan all the way here. I didn’t believe Xu Zhi Nan didn't find out. Then why didn't he get rid of Hua Xiang Rong?"
"He had no confidence to control Hua Xiang Rong with his body."
"This is just one of the reasons."
Xie Bi An pondered for a moment and said abruptly, "Could it be that he wants to reserve Hua Xiang Rong’s body for Qi Meng Sheng?!"
Fan Wu She nodded: "Since he could not protect himself, he intentionally let Hua Xiang Rong follow him, but he didn't give her the chance to sneak attack. The reason is that when the time is right, he can abandon Qi Meng Sheng's aging body and change himself into Cheng Yan Zhi's body. But what about Qi Meng Sheng's soul? He needs a female body. Who else is more suitable than Hua Xiang Rong?"
Xie Bi An only felt a chill down his back, "Isn't he worried about Qi Meng Sheng taking revenge on him?"
"He’s worried, but ......" Fan Wu She said expressionlessly, "he did have feelings for Qi Meng Sheng before, and he’s not willing to die peacefully*."
To must get something that one can’t. He knew this obsession better than anyone else.
The two returned to Lanxi Town first. Song Chun Gui's faction and Li Zhi Qing's faction were facing each other, but Li Zhi Qing was very cunning and did not appear from the beginning to end as he was most likely hiding in Yunding. Therefore, even if everyone knew he did it, he could find a far-fetched excuse and put it all on the Red Ghost King's head. Most people didn’t dare to question him because he was about to be the leader of the Wuliang Sect.
What he was afraid of was Xie Bi An and Fan Wu She.
As soon as Xie Bi An and Fan Wu She returned, the Li family retreated. They took Song Chun Gui out of town and temporarily settled him in a farmyard.
It was easy to go to Yunding and kill Li Zhi Qing, but Song Chun Gui was in this kind of state. If Li Zhi Qing died, the Wuliang Sect would be in chaos. With several thousands of cultivators living here, the situation had to be stabilized first. Otherwise, the people around would suffer.
Xie Bi An planned to deal with Li Zhi Qing at the end.
"How’s Song Zhen Ren’s injury?" Xie Bi An stood by the bedside. He looked at Song Chun Gui, whose face was as white as paper, then looked at the grave expressions of the Chunyang Sect’s elders and asked worriedly.
Song Chun Gui's injury had been treated to the greatest extent, but his core had been dug out after all. Even some of his internal organs had been taken out by Jiang Qu Lian’s ghost claws, so it was not easy to save his life.
"His life is fine, it’s just that..." The elder retracted his hand which was taking his pulse and shook his head with a sigh.
For a cultivator, especially one who is extremely talented and young enough to reach the patriarchal level, losing one’s golden core is fatal.
If Song Chun Gui woke up, how could he face the cruel fact that his whole life's hard work had been reduced to nothing?
Xie Bi An sighed, "It’s not safe for Song Zhen Ren to be here. Li Zhi Qing will definitely want to get rid of him. Why don't we send him to Xianyue Pavilion for the time being? He is good friends with Lord Lan, and they can recuperate together. Xianyue Pavilion will definitely protect and take care of him."
A disciple of the Wuilang Sect came over and arched his hand towards Xie Bi An and said with tears in his eyes, "Thank you for your help, White Immortal. Even if Senior Brother Song loses his cultivation, we are willing to follow him forever, and we will definitely send him to Xianyue Pavilion safely."
An elder of the Wuliang Sect asked, "I wonder what White Immortal’s next plan is? Xu Zhi Nan has obtained the human core and will definitely be able to transform his body. Moreover, he is in cahoots with the Red Ghost King. Won’t the mortal and ghost realms suffer?”
Xie Bi An looked at Fan Wu She: "Where did he go?"
"The northwest. He’s probably going out of the Pass."
"Chidi City? He wants to lead the Cangyu Sect?"
"Now that he has a young and healthy body, the Cangyu Sect's magic treasure, and Hua Xiang Rong who’s the heir to the sect, he will certainly not let go of this power. Even if there are a few people obejecting in the Cangyu Sect, they will be silenced by him."
Xie Bi An knitted his brows deeply.
"Not only that." Fan Wu She eyes condensed into ice, "He still has the most precious treasure of the Chunyang Sect in his hand. He was originally the leader of Chunyang Sect."
Xie Bi An was shocked. Beside him, several elders and disciples of Chunyang Sect were also flustered: "You..." They were always afraid of Fan Wu She, so after they said “you”, they did not dare to talk to Fan Wu She directly.
"We have to rush to Chunyang Sect. Otherwise, Zhao Wen and the others will be in danger!" After Xie Bi An finished talking, he hung his head in silence for a long time before finally whispering, "No, the crisis in Jiuyou is far greater than that on earth."
"That's right, Jiang Qu Lian has already obtained the Book of Life and Death and the Golden Trunk Jade Policy. He will return to the Underworld and force Official Lord Cui to help him grasp the secret of the six paths of reincarnation. Once he gets his way, no one knows what will happen."
Xie Bi An clenched his fist and said word for word, "I must stop him." He understood that this time would be the last battle. He looked at the crowd, "Everyone, I believe all of you have understood the situation today. If we fail, the human and ghost worlds will definitely be doomed eternally. We are going to defeat Jiang Qu Lian. I hope you guys can gather the last strength of the immortal cultivation world to stop Xu Zhi Nan from monopolizing the earth."
The crowd looked at each other. With the current gloomy scene of the immortal cultivation world, how were they going to fight against the reborn Xu Zhi Nan?
Xie Bi An was disappointed, but he could also understand the fear of these people. Taking a broad view of the immortal cultivation world, who else has the ability to turn the tide and take charge of the overall situation?
"If Xu Zhi Nan becomes the leader of the Immortal Alliance, the immortal cultivation world will turn into a shura battlefield where people eat each other's cores." Fan Wu She swept his gaze sharply over the crowd and threatened, "This is a time of life or death."
"Your Holiness has a point, but just depending on us ..."
"If senior brother Song had not…had not become like this, he would have led us to fight against that evil monster, but now..." A group of Wuliang Sect cultivators were overwhelmed with grief.
A frail voice suddenly sounded.
The crowd turned their heads in surprise and saw that Song Chun Gui had somehow woken up.
"Senior Brother Song!"
"Senior brother, senior brother is awake!"
The crowd was at a loss and looked nervous as if they were too anxious to hide something. They were afraid that Song Chun Gui would find out that he had lost something important. Although it seemed amusing, it was really heart-rending.
But Song Chun Gui was surprisingly calm. He looked at Xie Bi An and blinked his eyes weakly.
Xie Bi An hurriedly went to the window: "Zhen Ren, now..." What should he say? Asking "are you okay?" is clearly nonsense.
Song Chun Gui's lips were pale. His eyes were lax, yet they tried very hard to gather light. He said with a weak breath: "You...rest assured...I, have a heavy responsibility…I, don’t dare to forget."
Xie Bi An looked at Song Chun Gui blankly and was shocked momentarily. The man in front of him has lost the very important golden core of an immortal cultivator, but his heart of Dao had long since grown into his flesh and bone marrow. Cultivation cultivated the heart, who could say that he lost his “cultivation”?
Xie Bi An gently held Song Chun Gui's hand and said solemnly, "Zhen Ren, the earth is entrusted to you." He got up and bowed to Song Chun Gui with his hands folded in front, then turned around and left.
Fan Wu She was chasing after Xie Bi An out of the door. Seeing his shoulders were undulating with force, he silently accompanied him by his side.
After a long time, Xie Bi An turned his face. His gaze was firm and clear: "Wu She, return the Shanhe Sheji Map to me."
Fan Wu She gazed at him quietly.
"It’s my Zong Clan’s heirloom. I can control it."
"Big brother, I won't give it to you not because I covet this magic treasure, but because I'm afraid you'll use up all your spiritual power for it and put yourself in danger instead. The ancient divine treasure's demand for spiritual energy is not something our mortal bodies can withstand. I also rely on the Yin energy injected by the Heavenly Secret Talisman to maintain such a high consumption."
"I know the consequences. I've tried it before, but I need it." Xie Bi An looked straight into Fan Wu She's eyes, "I need the power to fight them." He aggravated his tone, "Give it to me."
Fan Wu She sighed softly. He took a few steps closer and put the Shanhe Sheji Map into Xie Bi An's hand, but did not let it go, "Promise me one thing."
Fan Wu She teased: "This time I’m not asking you to give your heart to me. Don’t make this expression."
Xie Bi An said with shame and anger: "This is not the time. Cut to the chase."
"Big brother, promise me that you won't leave me alone again."
Xie Bi An was stunned, and then he felt sad.
"I promise you."
Fan Wu She let go of his hand. Xie Bi An looked down at the ancient scroll in his hand. That unremarkable appearance didn’t look like a divine object that could transform nature at all.
"Big brother, I'm going to take you to a place to meet someone."
"Who? We don’t even have time now. We must go back to Fengdu as soon as possible."
"You must meet this person. I did not want to tell you now, but..." Fan Wu She swept a glance at the Shanhe Sheji Map, "Although you promised me, I still don’t feel at ease. I want you to have more reasons not to gamble with death."
Xie Bi An looked at him suspiciously, "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Come with me. It's important."
Fan Wu She rose into the air on his sword. Xie Bi An hesitated for a moment, but he still followed.
Before dark, the two of them arrived at a small village, which was far from the town, quiet and simple. There were only a few families in the village.
Xie Bi An was even more puzzled: "Why did you bring me here?" It's not like there were any important people in this place.
Fan Wu She went straight to a house at the end of the village. Xie Bi An could only follow him.
In front of them was a common farmhouse. The chimney on the roof was smoking, and the fragrance of rice wafted into their noses. In the yard, several children were playing, and an old man was sitting in a deck chair watching them.
That old man most likely had poor eyesight and did not notice them, but the children saw them. They had never seen two such people who were noble and beautiful like immortals. They all froze with fright.
The old man sensed that something was wrong and shouted a few times.
Xie Bi An's gaze swept over the children, and there was something inexplicably strange in his heart.
A peasant woman ran out quickly. She was still carrying a spatula dripping with oil in her hand: "What's going on here? This..." She looked at the two men with wide eyes and was at a loss for a moment. These two people were obviously immortals. In such a remote and desolate place, they would not see a few cultivators in their entire life, let alone with appearances like celestial beings.
"Wu She, who exactly did you bring me here to see?" Xie Bi An's voice trembled slightly. He had a hunch of something.
Fan Wu She pointed to a little boy who was still wearing split pants* and asked that peasant woman, "What is this child's name?"
The peasant woman froze for a long time before she came back to her senses. She said hurriedly: "R-replying back to Immortal Lord, this child follows the name of the Heaven Master. His name is Zheng Nan."
Xie Bi An's heart ached.
After Zhong Kui's death, the people were so overwhelmed with grief that they consciously observed mourning for him for seven days, and many of the boys born in the following years were named Zheng Nan.
Xie Bi An looked at that boy with big bright eyes and red cheeks. Zheng Nan, this child was also named Zheng Nan. He looked at Fan Wu She and asked with his eyes, but his eyes were slightly blurred.
Fan Wu She nodded and said softly, "It's him."
Xie Bi An took a deep breath, "Why do you want to find him?"
"I knew you wanted to find him. You just didn’t dare to ask Official Lord Cui."
"Two Immortal Lords, I don't know what you two came to my humble home for. Is there anything…" The peasant woman rubbed her apron nervously.
Fan Wu She pointed to Zheng Nan: "This child has immortal bones. I want to take him as a disciple."
"Wu She!" Xie Bi An said angrily, "Don’t be so hasty."
"What, doesn’t big brother want to?"
Yet that peasant woman's eyes glowed as if a golden mountain had fallen from the sky. She knelt excitedly: "I-Is this true? Immortal Lord, o-our family has never produced immortals. Does my youngest child really have immortal bones?" For ordinary people, even if they could enter the immortal sects as disciples, it was enough to bring glory to their ancestors. If they succeeded in small things and formed a core, that would mean the “ascension” of the whole family.
The peasant woman hurriedly kowtowed, and dragged Zheng Nan over, "Quick, kowtow to the Immortal Lord."
Zheng Nan was ignorantly dragged and knelt to the ground by his mother.
Xie Bi An rushed up with vigorous strides and picked Zheng Nan up: "No."
Zheng Nan was not afraid of strangers at all. He grabbed Xie Bi An's hair with his dirty little hands. He grinned and started to laugh.
Xie Bi An's eyes were hot, and he lightly called in his heart. Master.
Xie Bi An left a bag of gold for the peasant woman, told her not to disclose anything, and to take good care of Zheng Nan. When they finished their work, they would come back to fetch him.
The peasant woman was grinning from ear to ear. After thanking them profusely, she carried Zheng Nan and waved his little hand at Xie Bi An, who was reluctant to part with him. She coaxed: "Come and call him master."
Zheng Nan cluelessly squelched his small mouth, and his black eyes were full of innocence and curiosity.
"No need." Xie Bi An looked at Zheng Nan carefully again, left with the phrase "take care", and turned to leave resolutely.
That peasant woman was still coaxing her child. When they were about to step out of the courtyard, Xie Bi An heard a tender "mastaa*".
Xie Bi An was shocked, and there was a sudden surge of sadness. He forced down the impulse to take Zheng Nan away and strode out of the courtyard.
If he could come back alive, he would ......
"Big brother." Fan Wu She followed him throughout the journey. Seeing that Xie Bi An was walking faster and faster, he finally could not help but call out.
Xie Bi An suddenly stopped walking, then spun around and glared at Fan Wu She with his red eyes: "Who let you make your own decisions?!"
Fan Wu She smiled faintly: "I have made my own decisions more than once. It's not worth it for you to be angry at me and even at yourself.”
"Bastard!" Xie Bi An said angrily, "You should have told me earlier. Y-You shouldn't just casually go out and find master’s reincarnated form. Who knows what will happen if you randomly create karma!"
"Don't you think that this is the destined karma? Master raised you to adulthood. Conversely, you raise him now. Isn't this a happy karmic reincarnation for everyone?"
"That’s sophistry. No one knows what kind of cause bears what kind of effect. The future is unknown."
"It is because the future is unknown that you have to do what is right now. Big brother really wanted to see master again, right?"
Xie Bi An said gloomily, "Not in this way."
"Big brother, it's true that I can't bring master back from the dead, but in this life, I will protect you guys well."
Xie Bi An took a deep breath and was silent for a long time before adding, "Is there anyone else who knows about this?”
"No. Don't worry, I have left a spiritual sense on him, so ordinary ghosts and monsters don't dare to come near him. He’s safe here."
"That's good. If we can’t come back, that bag of gold is enough to feed him for the rest of his life."
"We will definitely come back." Fan Wu She said with certainty, "Big brother, when everything is over, we will come and pick him up."
Fan Wu She’s words were a promise that couldn’t be refuted or rejected by Xie Bi An, because it included his master and Fan Wu She. Such a statement was really cunning. If he agreed, it would be like agreeing that the two of them would be "together".
He glanced at Fan Wu She with anger in his eyes, but he couldn’t do anything about it: "Let's pretend this never happened for now. Let's delay any longer and go to Fengdu."
"You can't pretend it didn't happen." Fan Wu She looked towards the wisp of smoke from the kitchen chimney in the distance, "You know someone is waiting for you to pick him up. Now, you have one more reason to be safe."
Xie Bi An took a long breath and nodded solemnly.
When the two returned to Mount Luofeng, they first saw a line winding like a snake from the sky. It was the people leaving Fengdu with their families.
"They're fleeing Fengdu......"
The people of Fengdu City had been living in this ghost city for generations because they could coexist peacefully with the dead and did not offend each other. This was a tradition for thousands of years, but Jiang Qu Lian has broken the balance. If not for the difficulty of maintaining a livelihood, no one would be willing to leave the land they depended on for survival. One could imagine how bad the situation was in Fengdu.
The sky above Fengdu City was covered by huge dark clouds, and the dense Yin energy could be felt from miles away. It made people’s hair stand on one end as if there was something real coming head-on with its teeth and claws. As they got closer, they saw that the city was full of lonely souls and wild ghosts. Fengdu City has become a real ghost city.
A mysterious black fog floated in the center of the city, as if there was a bottomless hole inside, connecting to another unimaginable time and space. Xie Bi An guessed at a glance that it was the original Yin Yang Monument----Jiang Qu Lian opened the Yin Yang Monument so that people and ghosts can freely enter and leave the two realms. If the human and ghost realms were no longer separated, wouldn’t Jiuzhou become a hunting ground for evil spirits?!
Xie Bi An's face was ghastly pale. Thinking how painful it would be for Zhong Kui to see this scene, his heart also seized up fiercely.
The two of them went straight into the city. Jiang Qu Lian must be waiting for them.
When they saw the two, all the ghosts consciously avoided them. Putting their past lives’ identities aside, they were still the Impermanence Immortals with soul weapons in their hands.
The two of them came to the Yin Yang Monument, Xie Bi An looked at the dense fog in front of them, and really wanted to split the chaos with a sword, so that the two realms would return to their former balance and peace.
The sound of chuckles came from the dense fog, and a scarlet figure flashed quietly. Jiang Qu Lian's sinister and beautiful phoenix eyes swept over: "What, just the two of you?"
"Who else do you want to see?" Fan Wu She said coldly, "Lan Chui Han?"
At the mention of this name, Jiang Qu Lian slightly narrowed his eyes, and his tone unwittingly raised, "Him? He’s probably crippled."
Xie Bi An said coldly, "Jiang Qu Lian, you've already got the Book of Life and Death and the Golden Trunk Jade Policy, what do you want to do now?"
Jiang Qu Lian laughed and said, "You’re asking the obvious. I've been planning this for so long and I'm about to succeed, but I still need Official Lord Cui to help me. Unfortunately, he's not very cooperative."
"What have you done to Official Lord Cui?"
"I have always treated Official Lord Cui with courtesy, so I won't do anything to him." Jiang Qu Lian said in a cold voice, "However, if he delays my business, I won't let him off."
"Official Lord Cui won’t help you. Even if you scatter his soul, he won’t help the enemy."
"Yeah. Official Lord Cui is firm and unyielding. I really can't do anything to him, but he is the one who is most familiar with the Book of Life and Death in the world. Only he knows how to combine the Jade Policy with the Book of Life and Death, and only he knows how to use the Judge’s Brush. So, he must be made to obey." Jiang Qu Lian played with his long hair with his coarse ghost claw, which was totally different from his pale but gorgeous face, "So I thought, there is one thing that can make him obey."
Fan Wu She sneered, "You want me to use the Heavenly Secret Talisman to manipulate Cui Jue."
"Hehe. After all, ghost immortals are also ghosts."
"You're a ghost too." Fan Wu She’s pupils were deep, and his restless spiritual pressure was like the turbulent sea. No one knew what kind of waves were brewing under the repressed water surface.
"......" Jiang Qu Lian's smile disappeared. He clenched his ghost claw in the air several times, "Yeah, but you want to use the Heavenly Secret Talisman against me? I'm curious, will you manipulate me first, or will the Heavenly Secret Talisman manipulate you first?"
"No need to be curious. You will taste it soon."
Jiang Qu Lian snorted coldly, "Unfortunately, I still have hostages that your big brother cares about in my hand. You guys still have to listen to me."
"Dream on!" Xie Bi An said angrily.
"I never dream at all. I once had a dream, but I was doomed eternally......" Jiang Qu Lian said coolly, "After that, being reborn in the Hungry Ghost Path was a nightmare. Why should I dream?”
"You must have done some outrageous acts to be reborn in the Hungry Ghost Path. You deserved it.”
"I deserved it?" Jiang Qu Lian's expression was hideous, "Then why can a perfidious person be reborn as a human being?"
Xie Bi An said sternly, "This is your past life grudge with Lan Chui Han. You two can end it by yourselves. Why do you want to bring such disaster to the human and ghost realms?"
"Because the existence of the Six Paths of Reincarnation is the dictatorship and control of the three realms by the gods. Why can't we be immortal and are unworthy of associating with the gods unless we are born in the Heaven Path?!” Jiang Qu Lian bared his teeth, “I refuse to accept it. I want to break it.”
"Jiang Qu Lian, I've heard enough of your crazy talk. Every cause will lead to every effect. You know what you’ve done to fall into the Hungry Ghost Path. The existence of the Six Paths of Reincarnation is to uphold virtue and condemn evil. You only have yourself to blame. Even if someone has let you down, it is not the Heaven Path!" Xie Bi An shouted angrily.
Jiang Qu Lian laughed loudly: "That's not unreasonable, but I not only want Lan Chui Han to pay the price, but also want the Heaven Path to repay me. If not, I will pull you along to be buried with them, so you won’t be too lonely on the way to Hell.”
"What you have done cannot be tolerated by the three realms. Let me see Official Lord Cui!"
"Hehe, sure. Official Lord Cui wanted to see you too." Jiang Qu Lian flung his red sleeve, turned around, and wormed his way into a mist.
The two followed closely behind, passed through the Yin Yang Monument, and returned to the Underworld once again.
After passing by Huangquan Road, the familiar Ghost Willow appeared in front of them again. There was no wind, but the thin willow branches swayed gently, like silk, hair, satin, and catkins. Wisps of ghosts seemed to live in each twig. The sad cries of ghosts came from the forest from time to time, undulating among the willow leaves like butterflies carelessly bumping into the dense forest and could not find their way out. Any intruders would be lost in the dark Ghost Willow Forest, which was nourished by the blood-colored fertile soil, and become its nutrients in the end.
At this moment, Cui Jue, Bo Zhu, Day Patrol, and Night Patrol were suspended in mid-air with their torsos and limbs tightly bound by the catkins of the ghost willow. There were countless ghost generals standing in a row in the forest. They were as silent as one, and would turn into ferocious weapons at the command of their king.
Jiang Qu Lian sat on a thumb-thick branch. His red clothes were fluttering, and he was smiling forcefully. He was nimble like a raven passing by to rest.
"Little White Master." Bo Zhu was looking at Xie Bi An with teary eyes. "Don't be scared, Bo Zhu. I came to save you." Xie Bi An said insincere
words of reassurance, but in reality, he had no confidence at all.
Fan Wu She quietly squeezed Xie Bi An's hand: "Jiang Qu Lian, what you want is only Official Lord Cui. Why not let the others go? He's enough for you to blackmail us.”
"They are still useful. When I understand the secret of the six paths of reincarnation, I will try it on them first." Jiang Qu Lian said with a chuckle, "Maybe they will reincarnate well, and you'll have to thank me instead."
"Stop having delusions." Cui Jue said coldly, "I will never help the evil. Whether you want to kill me, cut me, scatter my soul, or make me go to the infernal hell, just go ahead."
"Official Lord Cui, do you think you are still controlling other people's destiny?"
"I have never controlled other people's destiny. I just use the Book of Life and Death as a tool to act on behalf of the Heaven Path. There are laws governing life and death, prosperity and decline, and the ups and downs of all things in the world. Even the gods cannot comprehend this law. If I abuse the Book of Life and Death, I will be punished." "Stop prattling, I'm sick of hearing these stereotypes. Look at me." Jiang Qu Lian spread his arms and laughed wildly, "Do you think I'm still afraid of retribution?"
Cui Jue shook his head, "It’s never too late to make amends." He looked at Xie Bi An and said calmly, "You don't need to save us. You need to know which is more important."
Xie Bi An clenched his sword fiercely.
"It's admirable that Official Lord Cui would rather die than submit. In the past, I thought you were a hypocrite and that it’s impossible for you to abide by the law in everything when you’re holding the power of rewards and punishments for life and death, but I didn't expect that you have never used the Book of Life and Death for personal gain for hundreds of years. You and Heaven Master Zhong are the people I truly admire, even though both of you are always in my way." Jiang Qu Lian said mockingly, "You and Heaven Master Zhong were born in the Human Path. Although both of you had mortal bodies, you two were much more noble than those gods who are high above, treating all things like nothing. In order to stabilize their positions as gods and keep their vast spiritual power away from others, they disconnected the path between heaven and earth and used the six paths of reincarnation to wantonly toy with all things on earth. Only by following their Dao can we become one of them. What right do they have to decide what is the 'Dao'?! You talk about ‘helping the evil’. That’s equivalent to you helping them.”
“Jiang Qu Lian, no one decides what the 'Dao' is. There is more than one way to cultivate the Dao. The Dao that everyone wants to cultivate is only in one’s own heart. It will only be clear when you truly understand it one day." Cui Jue said in a deep voice, "How wrong do you have to be before you let go of your obsession? What you hate is not the Heaven Path, but that one God."
Jiang Qu Lian's pupils shrank, and his eyes condensed with a trace of fury: "You saw it." "Why couldn’t I see it? I'm not as timid as you who don’t even dare to look."
Fan Wu She raised his eyebrows with interest: "You saw his and Lan Chui Han’s past lives on the Jade Policy?" But what's more interesting is that after listening to their conversation, Jiang Qu Lian didn't look at it?
"Timid?" Jiang Qu Lian's gaze became more vicious, "How am I timid? I'm just worried that I'll kill him in a fit of rage. Wouldn’t that be letting him off lightly?"
"You are afraid to relive everything that happened in your previous life, afraid to see that humble, awkward, and helpless self. You looked up to a god, but that god turned a blind eye on......uhhhh......" The ghost willow tightened suddenly, and Cui Jue let out a cry of pain.
Jiang Qu Lian said sorrowfully, "Was it nice to look at? You have witnessed the lives of so many people. Is this story particularly interesting?"
Cui Jue gritted his teeth and continued, "Now that the tables have turned, the god has become a mortal and you have become the Ghost King. Finally, he will no longer ignore or defeat you so easily. If you deliberately approach him, you can address each other as brothers, spend a good night with him, and throw him into the infernal hell to be tortured by every means possible."
Jiang Qu Lian laughed hideously, "Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? He never 'saw' me, but now he must 'see' me. It’s delightful, it’s so delightful."
"Then have you ever wondered why a god, who has long since transcended reincarnation, would fall into mortality?"
"Naturally, he came to experience a tribulation." Jiang Qu Lian sneered, "What else can make a god condescend to reincarnate as a human? Unfortunately, no matter what kind of tribulation he experiences, he will not succeed because I will drag him into hell." Cui Jue said sternly, "Why don't you see with your own eyes what kind of tribulation he is experiencing?"
Jiang Qu Lian was stunned, and then he revealed a strange smile: "He must have remembered everything in the Chamber of Nightmares. I will ask him personally what he saw there, whether he still remembers how he treated me at the beginning, what kind of tribulation he came to the human realm to experience, and whether he expected that one day, a condescending god would be trampled under my feet."
Cui Jue shook his head and laughed contemptuously, "Jiang Qu Lian, you are so stupid and timid. You don't dare to see Lan Chui Han's life with your own eyes. Are you so afraid to see your lowly and insignificant self from his perspective?!"
Jiang Qu Lian stretched his hand, and the ghost willow binding Cui Jue was delivered in front of him. Those slender white jade fingers instantly transformed into a coarse ghost claw and fiercely clasped Cui Jue's neck.
"Jiang Qu Lian!" Xie Bi An growled, "If you kill Official Lord Cui, you'll waste all your previous efforts."
Cui Jue looked straight at Jiang Qu Lian. His gaze was indifferent, yet it seemed to have the power to penetrate everything.
"What do you know?" Jiang Qu Lian murmured as he lifted his other hand and gently traced a circle with his fingertips over Official Lord Cui's heart, "What do you know?"
"Jiang Qu Lian, calm down. Don't you want to know the secret of the six paths of reincarnation? Only Official Lord Cui can help you." Xie Bi An's heart was beating extremely fast, but his voice was deliberately suppressed to be calm because he knew that Jiang Qu Lian got angry. Jiang Qu Lian was a hungry ghost, even though he had cultivated to the point where he no longer felt hunger and became the king of all ghosts. However, his irritable and bloodthirsty nature as a ghost had been engraved into his soul. Once he’s enraged, he would lose his mind and only have the instinct of swallowing and destroying. Fan Wu She held the Heavenly Secret Talisman in his hand and muttered incantations, waiting for the opportunity to strike.
"Do you have a heart?" Jiang Qu Lian pointed at Cui Jue's heart and let out a forced smile, "You do, but the god doesn’t. Now that he's become a mortal, he has a heart too. I really want to pull it out and taste it again to see how different it is from everyone else's."
"It's not different, it's just that you don't dare to see it." Cui Jue mocked, "Coward, no wonder he ignores you and never paid attention to you."
Jiang Qu Lian's eyes were red. His ghost claw was tightening little by little. His fluttering dark hair was like a war flag, showing his anger.
The jade talisman in Fan Wu She's hand suddenly glowed, and the entire Ghost Willow Forest was swept by an invisible force, and the willow leaves that bound them suddenly loosen and fell softly.
A harsh sword energy came straight at Jiang Qu Lian's head. It came from the Junlan sword.
Jiang Qu Lian was startled and instantly regained his composure before realizing that Cui Jue was deliberately provoking him to give Fan Wu She the time to silently manipulate the Ghost Willows!
Bo Zhu and the Patrol couple fell to the ground. Jiang Qu Lian was still lifting Cui Jue in mid-air by the neck, but the sword energy that came forced Jiang Qu Lian to let go of his hand and retreat.
That sword sliced off pieces of tree trunks. The depth could reach more than ten feet and its power could be seen.
Fan Wu She flew up and caught Cui Jue.
Jiang Qu Lian's face was hideous as he gave the order. Countless Yin soldiers and ghost generals came towards them to kill like puppets that were instantly awakened. "Supreme Demon, allow me to understand your Heavenly Secret Talisman. There are countless Yin soldiers here for you and me to dispatch, however they are my people who are willing to obey my orders, and you......" Jiang Qu Lian laughed loudly, "you can only exchange for the Heavenly Secret Talisman’s great power at your own cost. Will I be defeated by you, or will you repeat your previous life’s mistake and be counterattacked by the Heavenly Secret Talisman?!"
Fan Wu She scorned, "You say so much nonsense."
The Ghost Willow Forest, which was obediently trained like Jiang Qu Lian's cat just now, suddenly turned its spearhead and attacked Jiang Qu Lian's army. For a moment, the willow branches danced wildly like enchanted devils. The shouts of the ghost generals and Yin soldiers resounded through the forest, shaking all of the Underworld.
Six hundred years ago
Since the disconnection between heaven and earth, the three realms were separated and governed individually. The position of the god was the most revered. They not only enjoyed the inexhaustible spiritual aura of refining the essence of the sun and moon, but also transcended the six paths of reincarnation and got to live forever and never grow old.
But what was rarely known was that the heaven realm was not exclusive to the gods, nor was it only the gods who were free from the suffering of reincarnation. In Jiutian’s wild land, there was a group of "gods" who did not have a divine position. They were belligerent. Some were good and some were evil. Their original form might be humans, ghosts, evil spirits, demons, or beasts. They were earth deities who had the power to compete with the gods, and they were also the main cause of the disconnection between heaven and earth. The human realm couldn’t contain them, and the heaven realm couldn’t tolerate them. For the peace of the three realms, Emperor Haotian had to "offer amnesty and enlistment" and share Jiutian with them. They were called Asuras.
Although Asuras have divine power, they were impulsive compared to the orthodox gods. The gods disdained being with the Asuras, and the Asuras detested the sanctity of the gods. There were often fights between the two parties, but as long as there is no large-scale conflict which affects the human realm, they can settle their resentments freely.
One day, a herd of demonic beasts suddenly appeared on Mount Zheluo, which led the gods and Asuras to go hunting.
There was an Asura youth with red hair who was proudly betting with his companions on who would get the prey first. He sped through the boundless snow. His hair was fiery red like a blazing sun.
Just as he was about to hunt down the first demonic beast of the day, he watched someone snatch it first.
That was a god. He was wearing gorgeous lake blue clothes, with a handsome face that was difficult to describe. Even his fluttering hair was shining with a faint golden light, so holy and pure that people didn't dare to look directly at it.
He brought the demonic beast under control easily.
"What are you doing!?" The red-haired youth came back to his senses and cursed angrily, "How dare you steal my prey!"
The god turned a deaf ear to him. He made a finger gesture, muttered an incantation, and enlightened the beast from purgatory*.
The red-haired youth ran over, "Do you hear me? This is my prey. Do you want to compete with me too?"
The god still did not look at him. He merely said calmly: "They will cause disaster. They are not your hunting game."
After enlightening the beast from purgatory, the god turned around and left.
"Stay right there. You snatched my prey and are going to leave just like this?" The red-haired youth turned into a shadow and stopped in front of the god. He looked up and down wantonly. "Tsk tsk, you look*dead without any joy or sorrow. It's so depressing to look at.”
The god ignored him, passed by him, and floated away.
The red-haired youth was furious. He condensed his spiritual energy in his palm. In the next instant, a fireball struck towards the god’s back.
The god didn't even turn his head back. Only the fingertips behind his back moved slightly, which made the fireball deviate from its direction and burned the snow black.
"Scram and don't let me see you again!" The youth scolded.
Several of the youth’s companions came rushing at the sound.
"Ah Yun*, did you get it? Hmph, you got it first again."
"Not me." Ah Yun said with a puff of anger, "I met a god. He stole my prey and said that it's not our game. Bah, bad luck."
"Which god was it? You guys didn't fight, right? The elders warned us......"
"I don't care what those old men say. It's a good thing he ran fast, or I would have beaten him." Ah Yun tossed his fiery red hair, "He was…um…dressed in blue, pretty good-looking, but probably blind. He didn’t even look at me."
"Blue clothes? Could it be Lan Jiang? I just saw him too. He seemed to be here specifically to hunt demons."
"Who is that?"
"It is said that he’s very powerful. We’re too lazy to ask about the gods’ affairs. Anyways, he should be very powerful.”
"Powerful my ass. He snatched my prey which I chased tiredly."
"Ah Yun, since he snatched your prey, you can go and snatch his too. You can't disgrace us Asuras." His companion said angrily.
"Yes, we encountered this interesting thing with great difficulty. We must not let them come and cause trouble.”
Ah Yun gave a heavy "hmph", thinking that he must find a chance to retrieve his face.
But he didn't expect this opportunity to come so early. On that same day, when he tracked down another demonic beast, it was snatched by Lan Jiang again.
Ah Yun was flying into a rage. Most Asuras had a short fuse and were easily angered. A ‘more’ had to be added to him*. He growled once and pounced towards him: "You are looking for death!"
Lan Jiang finally glanced at that red-haired youth and flung his wide sleeves. His spiritual pressure was surging like a sea, knocking him away.
Ah Yun fell into the snow, coughed two mouthfuls of blood, and immediately got up. His eyes were red, and he was already completely enraged: "I, will, kill, you." He pounced towards him once again.
Ah Yun was born in the Asura’s Path. He was not that group of earth deities during the disconnection between heaven and earth, but their descendants. Although he was young, his cultivation was the best among his peers. He had rarely been defeated since he was a child, but he didn't want to be here. He couldn't even get close to Lan Jiang, and he was utterly defeated.
Seeing that Ah Yun was knocked down naturally and helplessly, Lan Jiang ignored him and went to enlighten the demonic beast from purgatory again.
Ah Yun was so angry that he was going to vomit blood ---- actually, he did vomit blood from the injuries. He got up from the ground with difficulty and said fiercely: "You bastard.....your name is Lan Jiang, isn't it? Listen carefully, you better kill me now, otherwise one day, I will make you regret what you did today!"
Lan Jiang continued to enlighten the demonic beast from purgatory.
"D-don’t think that you’re very powerful. I have been hunting all day and I'm already very tired. If we fight again in the future, I will beat you to a pulp!"
"Are you blind or deaf? Do you hear me?"
"Listen to me carefully. My name is Ah Yun, the clouds of volcanic ash*. I am an Asura who will kill you one day. You better remember it!"
Lan Jiang turned a deaf ear, finished enlightening the demonic beast from purgatory, and turned around and left.
Ah Yun was so angry that smoke was coming out of his head: "Son of a bitch, slut, evil beast, idiot, do you hear me!? Can't you hear me scolding you? Won't you be angry? Did you cultivate immortality until you became a fool? My name is Ah Yun. Remember my fucking name clearly. Ah Yun, Ah Yun, Ah Yun!"
My name is Ah Yun. You must remember. My name is Ah Yun.
Lan Jiang did not turn his head, but a fiery red shadow seemed to flash before his eyes.
Since then, this youth with fiery red hair had become a regular visitor in front of Lan Jiang. He challenged him tirelessly and was defeated repeatedly. Sometimes, he would shed tears because of losing, but he would never admit that he was crying. He would only scold more fiercely and harshly.
Gradually, Ah Yun found that what he hated most was not being defeated, but being ignored. Every time they duel---Ah Yun’s unilateral insistence on dueling, Lan Jiang rarely looked at him, as if he was no different from the weeds on the roadside, a bird passing by, the varying floating clouds in the sky, the fading skylight on the ground, or a stumbling stone on the road. With a wave of the god’s hand, he was nothing.
Naturally, he would not know that in the process of becoming a god, the seven emotions and six sensory pleasures had been eliminated one by one through cultivation. There were no intense things around Lan Jiang, such as the color red. Red is really a dazzling thing that is hard to forget.
PS: Lmao Xiaohong is so funny HAHA Kinda remind me of Qirong (from TGCF) and his craziness
PS from Emzie: Omg he is XD They're practically siblings lol
All of the Heaven Palace knew that Lan Jiang was being pestered by a small red-haired Asura. The duels and fights between the gods and Asuras occurred from time to time, but such a unilateral challenge with such a great difference in power was unheard of. It was neither smart nor meaningful. At least the gods didn’t understand what he wanted to do.
Ah Yun didn’t want to do anything. He’s just bored. Of course, he had to find something to do with his endless life. He’s stubborn and has a fiery temper. He completely set himself against Lan Jiang. He wanted to defeat Lan Jiang. He wanted the superior and mighty god to look at him with his eyes no longer empty, but with turbulent emotions.
So, pestering Lan Jiang became a pleasure for Ah Yun.
When Lan Jiang was meditating under a tree coated with hoar frost* and listening to the ethereal and graceful birds singing in the quiet valley, Ah Yun jumped onto a tree, shook the silvery white snow off it, and sprinkled it all over Lan Jiang's body.
When Lan Jiang was fishing at the lake, Ah Yun took off his clothes, jumped into the water, stirred up the waves, yelled, and scared all the fish away.
When Lan Jiang was cultivating and discussing with his companions, Ah Yun sang and drank at the side to make trouble. He peed not far away in front of everyone.
Lan Jiang's companions were on the verge of being unable to tolerate such chaos anymore. Lan Jiang wasn’t swayed, but when Ah Yun started to fight again, his action was more ruthless than before, beating Ah Yun until he cried and yelled.
However, Ah Yun's cultivation had advanced swiftly and vigorously in such combat exchanges. Gradually, he was able to exchange a few blows with Lan Jiang.
Seeing that he took the attack from Lan Jiang, Ah Yun was very excited: "I've already memorized this move. It doesn't work on me anymore. Do you still want to attack?"
Before he finished speaking, Ah Yun was sent flying from a blow. He tumbled on the sand and ate a mouthful of soil. His face and body were covered with dust, which looked really wretched. He turned over, sat up, and scolded: "You actually used a sneaky move. Why hasn't this been used before?”
Lan Jiang flicked his sleeve: "Do you think this is child's play again?"
Ah Yun's eyes lit up. He jumped up from the ground and patted the sand off his clothes: "Yo, you’re talking to me again today? This is the fourth sentence you've said to me."
Lan Jiang turned to leave.
Ah Yun looked at his still indifferent back and could not hide his disappointment. He shouted loudly, "Aren’t you just looking down on me as an Asura!? You guys boast about being noble, but how much better are you guys than us? We all have what you have! At the beginning, in order to stop the war, Emperor Haotian took the initiative to share Jiutian’s holy land with us. What right do you have to despise me!?"
After Lan Jiang disappeared, Ah Yun destroyed half a mu* of woods in a fit of rage. He swore in his heart that he would make Lan Jiang "see" and look at him just like he always looked at Lan Jiang uncontrollably.
If one looked at someone for a long time and concentrated one’s attention on them, one was bound to see something was wrong.
Ah Yun knew that Lan Jiang was very good-looking. That noble, untarnished aura belonged only to the gods who were looked up to. It seemed that even his hair was glowing with holy light. Sometimes, Ah Yun just stayed beside Lan Jiang. He didn’t cause trouble or make a fuss. He was just absorbed in looking at Lan Jiang. Although it seemed to outsiders that he was just thinking about how to be up to no good, only he knew. He looked at Lan Jiang like this because Lan Jiang was really beautiful.
The red-haired Asura youth had a simple big brain. He always thought of things and did what he thought. He looked at that good-looking god and didn’t want to make trouble today, or rather, he wanted to make trouble in another way. He wanted to get closer and closer, and then...touch that white and tender face.
Lan Jiang thought it was another one of his usual sneak attacks and threw him out.
Ah Yun fell to the ground on all fours and was cursing Lan Jiang, but he became gradually unreconciled to his weakness.
Not long after, good news came from Jiutian. The immortal peaches planted by Deity Lord Xingyao had a once-in-a-century harvest. He invited all gods and Asuras to come to Peach Valley for a banquet and taste the immortal peaches.
This Deity Lord Xingyao was originally a peach blossom demon. His family background was not as noble as the human race, so he didn’t exclude the Asuras like the other gods. He liked to make many friends and his divine position was quite high. This invitation had an en masse* response, and many people went upon hearing the news.
Ah Yun wouldn’t miss a good thing such as eating immortal peaches. He came swaggering with his companions. As soon as he arrived at the Peach Valley, he began to look for Lan Jiang everywhere.
"Ah Yun, what are you looking for?"
"What else could he be looking for? He must be looking for his celestial being."
"Oh, it's that Lan Jiang again. Why do you want to pester him all day long?"
"It’s none of your business." Ah Yun replied distractedly and continued to look around.
"Although it's none of our business, it's our Asura's face that's being lost." Another Asura youth said sarcastically, "Now, nobody doesn’t know that you're clinging to a god obstinately and losing repeatedly. You’ve utterly thrown our Asuras' face."
Ah Yun slowly turned his face and glared at the other party with a fierce gaze, "Say that again?"
"Ah Yun, forget it."
"I said, you’ve thrown our Asuras’ face. Since you’re running after a god's ass like that, could it be that you want to dual-cultivate* with him?"
As soon as he said this, several people couldn't help laughing.
Ah Yun slapped that youth’s face. He bared his fangs while laughing: "I'll strip you naked and hang you on the peach tree today. Let's see who threw the Asuras’ face." He lunged at the youth abruptly, who also attacked him in anger and curses.
The companions were in the middle blocking the two to persuade them to stop. It was a mess for a moment.
A hundred gods and Asuras had already come to Peach Valley, and they were giving them sideways glances.
"Okay, okay, don't fight anymore. Don't make us unable to eat the peaches!"
"Go back and fight if you two want to. Don't let us be scolded together by the elders."
Just as they were clashing around, Ah Yun's movements suddenly stopped as that familiar sky blue appeared in his vision, along with that usual emotionless and lustless face.
Lan Jiang saw them, but he only saw them. His gaze did not even linger on Ah Yun for a moment longer, and he went straight towards the Peach Valley.
"See, he won't even look at you. He treated you like a nobody!"
Ah Yun was hit where it hurt the most. Suddenly, he became angry and fought with him again. This time, his action became ruthless.
At this moment, there was a violent shout like thunder. It came from one of the Asura elders, stunning several youths.
"Get out and fight if you want to. Don't disturb the Deity Lord Xingyao’s banquet." The elder scolded.
Ah Yun let out a “bah’ and said: "Who cares about those damn peaches."
"Then you shall not eat them. Hurry up and scram."
"I'll eat it if I want to, and I'll leave if I want to." Originally, Ah Yun really wanted to leave, but he was provoked by these words, so he turned around and walked inside.
When he arrived at the banquet hall, Ah Yun saw Lan Jiang at a glance. He cursed "damn it" in his heart and swaggered in front of Lan Jiang. Looking at that posture, he still wanted to sit next to Lan Jiang, but unfortunately, there was no more room.
"It's you again." One of Lan Jiang's god friends said disdainfully, "You’re like a crazy monkey."
"How about you offer your seat to me, a fucking monkey." Ah Yun kicked his cushion.
That god became furious: "I don't see eye to eye with a child, but don't you get ahead of yourself."
Ah Yun grunted disdainfully and looked at Lan Jiang. He was disappointed to find that Lan Jiang still ignored him.
"I'm curious, a little Asura like you can't defeat Lan Jiang, but you keep pestering him all day. What exactly do you want to do?" Another god asked with interest.
"I want to......" Ah Yun looked at Lan Jiang's expressionless face and was burning with suppressed anger. He was holding an evil thought that even if it provoked him, it was better than his indifference, and said loudly, "I want to dual-cultivate with him."
As soon as he said this, everyone was shocked. They had doubtful expressions and have probably never seen or heard such shameless nonsense.
Although the gods and Asuras shared the same Jiutian, the difference between them was like an orthodox royal family offering amnesty to revolting bandits. Giving them a corner of shelter was already a gift. The two parties could never truly merge.
Whether it was the previous obstinate clinging with the god or the shameless boast at this moment, they couldn’t help sneering at this Asura youth who did not know the immensity of heaven and earth*.
However, Ah Yun didn't care about the gaze of others. He was used to being laid-back. He raised his chin provocatively at those who watched him with strange gazes, but when he looked at Lan Jiang, he was stunned.
Lan Jiang finally looked at him. His eyes were not as indifferent or wandering as in the former days, but he’s really staring at him. Those pupils were so deep and dark that light couldn’t penetrate them. Therefore, his emotions also seemed to be dark and difficult to understand.
Ah Yun couldn’t understand that look and expression, because Lan Jiang was always like a glittering and dignified statue. He never gave him anything except indifference, but this time it was obviously different. He felt that Lan Jiang was angry.
Even if he was angry, it was different from the former days. Ah Yun was proud of himself for provoking Lan Jiang, but then he wondered if Lan Jiang's anger, like the others, came from the disdain for his status as an Asura. He thought that his shameless two words "dual-cultivate" were simply a toad trying to eat swan meat*.
In fact, he did not even know exactly what to do to dual-cultivate, but he knew that it represented a very intimate relationship. As a god, he would not be willing to be intimate with an Asura. When Ah Yun thought about this, he inexplicably felt unpleasant and awful in his heart. He attributed this to anger too and was angry at Lan Jiang's anger.
He glared viciously at Lan Jiang. His eyes were like copper bells, his nostrils were flaring, and his fists were clenched as if ready to strike, but he’s more like an arrogant little beast defending its territory and dignity.
Lan Jiang looked at Ah Yun. His face was wildly beautiful, and his red hair was as passionate as a fire. His eyes were shining with a light that Lan Jiang had never seen before, like a thick dark cloud was split from it, and a wisp of skylight was shining a bright mark on the dull and invariable earth, making people not help but wonder what kind of treasures were hidden here that could summon the arrival of the divine glow ---- Lan Jiang was that illuminated place, but only he knew that there was nothing here ---- except emptiness and nothingness.
His cultivation is a process of washing away human feelings and returning to divinity, leaving behind the seven emotions, six sensory pleasures, joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness, stripping his soul of its burden, and then going into battle with a light pack*. He became free, understanding, enlightened, and finally attained immortality. Therefore, he did not understand what Ah Yun wandering around him all day was for, and he couldn’t respond to anything. His heart was a deathly still lake. Despite the storm outside, he was as calm as ever.
But Ah Yun had just clearly stated his purpose: to dual-cultivate with him.
He tried to recall the things that had happened since his acquaintance with this little Asura. That red hair was really dazzling, and that pair of eyes were really bright. A small stone fell into his heart's lake, stirring up layers of ripples. It's much smaller than the waves when Ah Yun jumped into the water that day.
But why? Why did this little Asura want to explore such an empty and uninteresting lake? There were no lush aquatic plants nor fat fishes here. After putting in so much effort, he only created circles of small ripples.
He had no contact with Asuras before. He only knew that they were hot-tempered, aggressive, and always causing trouble. So was Ah Yun, but Ah Yun......Ah Yun was very different from him. He could not respond to such a straightforward and enthusiastic vitality.
A string of mocking laughter came into his ears. A god slapped the table and leaned back, and said with exaggeration: "You? You want to dual-cultivate with Lan Jiang? You, an Asura? Hahahahaha----"
As if the Asuras were something foul and filthy, they couldn’t avoid that mean and worthless taste in time, even though they were very unlucky to be mentioned together with him.
Ah Yun was already unhappy with Lan Jiang's attitude. At this time, the fire rose from his internal organs and finally found the vent. He pointed at the god and shouted: "Who I want to dual-cultivate with is none of your business. Anyway, no one is interested in a god like you who has a fat head, big ears, and has no divine position!"
"Outrageous, how dare you be so presumptuous!" That god indeed did not have a divine position and was hit where it hurt the most. He was so angry that the flesh on his face trembled three times, "A lowly Asura who’s dreaming of dual-cultivating with a god who has a divine position. In your dreams! Shameless!”
Ah Yun kicked the table upside down. His red hair was moving without wind, and his eyes were full of a murderous aura: "I can do whatever I want. I will kill you now to liven things up for everyone." With a growl, he pounced on him.
Several of the Asuras present could not stand the humiliation and attacked that fat god together.
A dogfight started at this point, and before the crowd could regain their senses, the banquet hall was already half destroyed in an instant.
Several gods and Asuras came to stop them at the same time, but both sides had accumulated resentment for a long time. Once they entered the battlefield, they inexplicably changed from dissuasion to taking action themselves, so the battle gradually expanded, and a good banquet of immortal peaches was completely ruined.
It wasn't until the Deity Lord Xingyao, who was welcoming guests outside, arrived at the news and made a great effort to stop the melee.
Ah Yun was being stepped on the ground by the elders and was rebuking angrily. The weight of a million pounds of boulders were pressing on his back to his chest, but he turned a deaf ear to the curses above his head, it's just that he was looking for the god, who was sitting still on the cushion, noble, quiet, dark blue, like lake water, but there were no waves. No one could make any waves in his heart. He was aching all over, but his eyes were particularly painful and swollen as if they were about to explode.
Would this man always be indifferent to him no matter what he did? Did he have nothing better to do that he had to get a look or a response? Even he didn't know what he was doing, but he knew he had done something stupid, very stupid.
Ah Yun was tied back home by the elders and put in confinement. But before long, he was released again. It was not that he regained his freedom, but that Deity Lord Xingyao reported this matter to the Heavenly Palace out of anger. He was already fuming with anger at the 72 destroyed peaches, which could only be harvested once every 100 years.
The Heavenly Palace wanted to interrogate Ah Yun. The elders knew that it was Ah Yun's fault in the first place, and it was Ah Yun who caused trouble from the beginning to the end of this farce, so they had to send him to the Heavenly Palace.
The celestial chief executioner invited many of the gods who were present at that time to question them together. Ah Yun stood among them and listened to the complaints of the gods against him one by one. He only looked coldly at the silent Lan Jiang.
"Lan Jiang, please say something. He has been pestering and harassing you. He caused trouble at this immortal peach banquet because of you.”
Everyone's eyes turned to Lan Jiang.
Lan Jiang's eyelashes trembled slightly. After a long silence, he said, "It has nothing to do with me."
Although he had expected it, upon hearing those cold words, Ah Yun still felt pain in his heart. During his days and nights in confinement, he pondered repeatedly, trying to figure out what was up with him, and he guessed vaguely that it was probably something he didn't understand and had never been taught. He was too lazy to use his brain. It didn’t matter whether he understood or not. Maybe he had already figured it out and said that phrase "dual-cultivation". He wanted to be close to Lan Jiang, the kind of close that’s very close.
But to Lan Jiang, all of this ‘has nothing to do with me’. From beginning to end, he was always the one pestering, looking up, and advancing him. All these had nothing to do with Lan Jiang.
He was really stupid. He only knew how to stubbornly behave unscrupulously and cause mischief, letting Lan Jiang hate, despise, and shun him like those other gods.
No matter how many accusations and criticisms, they were just chattering nonsense in Ah Yun's ears, but Lan Jiang’s "it has nothing to do with me" was equivalent to convicting him.
He was indeed convicted. He ruined the Deity Lord Xingyao’s immortal peach banquet, so he must be caned a hundred times, and then imprisoned in the heavenly prison for a hundred years.
Upon hearing his sentence, Ah Yun cursed, but no one paid any attention to him. Not knowing if it was out of habit or instinct, he actually looked at Lan Jiang again. He knew that Lan Jiang would only ignore him, but they had frequent contact over the years after all ---- even if it was his wishful thinking, would Lan Jiang get stung by his conscience and say a word to him no matter what?
But he didn’t. He did nothing at all. What Lan Jiang had finally shown him was still indifference. In fact, he had long expected it, and he still had not given up?
He gave up.
Those hundred canes made his flesh lacerated and dripping with blood. Like a dead dog, he was thrown into a cell in the heavenly prison and didn't move for a long time.
It hurt so much. It had never hurt so much...... That whip was taken from the branch of a divine vine and was specially used to deal with immortals. Although it’s not fatal, it could make people suffer terribly from the pain. He was in an empty and silent cell, enduring the erosion of his will from the severe pain, but what agonized him even more was the hundred-year sentence. A hundred years was not long, but for an Asura who advocated freedom, it was the greatest torture.
He knew he was wrong. He shouldn't have ruined the Deity Lord Xingyao’s immortal peaches banquet, but wasn’t that just some peaches? Was it necessary to whip him so painfully and imprison him for a hundred years? He knew he was wrong. He shouldn't have pestered a god who never paid attention to him and regarded him as nothing. It was his wishful thinking. He misbehaved*. He was delusional.
He knows he was wrong. It hurt so much. It's so quiet here. He wanted to go home so badly.
There was a light sound of hands and feet beside him, and then something rolled to his side. He struggled to lift his head and saw a prison guard, who made a "shhh" gesture with one hand and pointed to his side with the other.
He struggled to look down again and saw a small porcelain jar. He endured the pain, picked up the porcelain jar, and opened it. The cool aroma wafted into his nose. It’s the smell of the best medicine. The elders must have managed to bribe the prison guard to send it to him.
He got up with much difficulty and slowly rubbed the medicine on himself. The immortal medicine immediately relieved the burning pain wherever it went, and he stopped crying.
He wanted to escape. He could never stay here for a hundred years. As long as he escaped back to the wildlands of the Asuras, the people of the Heavenly Palace would not be able to catch him. He didn't commit any heinous crimes, so in the course of time, the Heavenly Palace would have forgotten about it.
He must escape.
A day passed as if it was a year in the heavenly prison. There were a few convicted Asuras in the heavenly prison, but most of them were evil demons and demonic beasts that were suppressed here. Although it was called the heavenly prison, no celestial beings were imprisoned here. He had heard that there was a hell in the underworld, which was the most sinister and terrifying place in the three realms, and this place was probably hell in the heavens.
Because he had offended a god, Ah Yun naturally had a hard time in the heavenly prison. He was locked up in the darkest and dampest cell and was blamed for whatever he did. He lacked water and food and was often dragged to the beast fighting arena to fight against demonic beasts for the prison guards’ entertainment. He would be put into the water prison* or suffer punishment if he had the slightest resistance, and he suffered a lot.
His spiritual power was sealed. No matter how angry and humiliated he was, he could not revolt. He grew up to be laid-back and unruly, so he had never suffered such a crime. He regretted and suffered every day. He often thought of Lan Jiang. In fact, he did not want to think of that person at all, but he could not control it. He wondered whether all that he had suffered would leave no trace in Lan Jiang's heart, just like he said, "It has nothing to do with me."
The more pain he experienced, the more numb his heart became. His obsession with Lan Jiang, which used to burn fiercely, had already cooled down a lot.
He met a few fellow Asuras in the heavenly prison, who roughly had the same experience as his. For a hot-tempered race like the Asuras, those who couldn’t tolerate the humiliation had already scattered their own souls, while the remaining ones could only endure strenuously. These prison guards were celestial beings in the Heavenly Palace that already had the lowest positions. They had no divine positions except for the prison wardens. The more they bullied the Asuras, the more pleasure they took in their humiliation. After all, only in this way could they compare their superiority to the Asuras.
Of course, not all of these prison guards deserved to die. He Mian, the prison guard who was bribed by an elder and gave him immortal medicine on the first day, helped him several times in secret. Unfortunately, He Mian had limited authority and could not let him have an easy time. What made him endure the humiliation and survive was the desire to escape from here and taking revenge on those prison guards. He wanted to live, at least longer than those prison guards.
He began to plan his escape, and He Mian helped him in every way he could. He gradually felt that He Mian was much more capable than he thought. He could always do something that Ah Yun felt was extremely difficult or smuggled in some incredible things for him. If it wasn't He Mian's contribution, then it should be from the elders'. It seemed that the elders had never given up on him.
There was one time, Ah Yun was testing him, saying that he wanted to eat snowberries from the snow mountains, and they must be pure white without red spots and with the burrs plucked clean. It turned out that He Mian really brought them to him. At that time, he thought that other than He Mian’s lightweight words due to his humble position and being unable to stop the other prison guards from torturing Ah Yun, he almost became his servant who granted all of his requests.
When he joked brazenly like this, He Mian became silent. Ah Yun thought he was angry and teased him again, "I’m just joking, why are you angry? You can say I'm your servant too. We Asuras never cared about titles or statuses."
"We are......friends, right?" After the silence, He Mian said seriously.
"Hmm." Ah Yun tilted his head to think. He thought that this word was very new. New in the sense that Asuras and celestial beings could actually be called "friends", but they were really companions standing together now. Ah Yun smiled. "You are the only good celestial being I know. We are friends now."
After more than a hundred days of planning, Ah Yun deployed his big plan to escape from prison. He Mian would get him the immortal pills that could help him break through the spiritual power’s seal and a set of clothes that could be used to disguise as a prison guard, then help him set a small fire to create some chaos so that he could escape while he had the chance.
The plan went really well. He took the immortal pill a day in advance and spent 16 hours to break through his spiritual veins, and He Mian, who received the secret signal, used the heavenly fire to ignite the woodshed, of course, faking it as an accidental fire. The prison guards were shouting to put out the fire, but the heavenly fire was not an ordinary fire. Instead of being extinguished when it met water, it would burn more and more intensely. It could only be blocked with spiritual power and extinguished slowly.
After recovering his cultivation, Ah Yun easily broke open the cell, wearing the prison guard's uniform, and swaggered out. But after he regained his freedom, he didn't escape immediately. Because he had escaped, he wanted to let his fellow Asuras out as well. Those Asuras would only be treated more harshly if they stayed here, and he really couldn't just walk away.
After thinking about it, he sneaked back and saw that the fire in the woodshed was about to be extinguished. He must create a larger chaos before he could get all the prison guards out of their cells. So, he secretly took a little heavenly fire and went to the water prison.
During his time in the heavenly prison, he was repeatedly thrown into the water prison and tortured. He hated this place to the core. Wouldn't burning it be a great way to dispel his hatred? Moreover, the heavenly fire would burn more vigorously when it encountered water. Those prison guards would surely get busy.
After setting fire in the water prison, the fire instantly raged. He ran out of the water prison and shouted. When he drew all the prison guards here, he went back to the cell alone to save his Asura companions.
Several Asuras were released from their cells one by one and fled towards the outside of the heavenly prison in groups.
At this moment, there was a boom and a column of fire. Something exploded in place. Amid the huge fire and loud noise, half of the heavenly prison was turned into ruins in an instant.
The water prison exploded!
Ah Yun stared blankly at the blazing fire and rolling smoke with only one thought left in his mind ---- he was in big trouble.
He heard the prison guards’ screams, which seemed so weak in the deflagration fire. He saw countless evil demons and demonic beasts break out of their cages and fled in all directions.
"Ah Yun, let’s go." An Asura tugged on him and said urgently, "Let’s escape quickly!"
"I......" Ah Yun suddenly thought of something, "I have to go find He Mian. What if he also went to put out the fire?!" His heart was tightly squeezed. If He Mian was also in the water prison, he would probably have a difficult time escaping alive at this moment.
"You are crazy. If he didn’t go, he’ll naturally be fine. If he went, it won't help if you go back. Run!" The Asura looked at the ruined heavenly prison with a pale face and thought of the prison guards that were burned to death and the evil demons and demonic beasts that were released. This was a great disaster. If they were caught again, it would not be as simple as being caned and serving a hundred years' imprisonment. What was waiting for them must be the cruelest consequence.
Ah Yun stared at the overpowering fire. His brows were tightly knitted, and his red hair had lost its luster under the torture of those days, but it was whitewashed with a layer of false vitality against the raging flames, just like the fragile freedom he had now.
Everything was irreversible. No matter what he had done and regretted, if he had a choice, he wished he had never met that god called Lan Jiang on that boundless white snow, for whom he was amazed at first glance and fell in love at first sight. After all those foolish deeds since then, he deceived himself into not facing the truth that had been undisguised since long ago.
Now, he was forced to face his own heart, but other than the growing pain, it was no longer meaningful. All the evil consequences he bore from planting the causes would be borne by him alone.
At that time, although he was prepared to face the disaster he had caused, he could not imagine what agonizing price he would pay for all this, and how this price would distort the fate of all.
The ghost willows controlled by Fan Wu She and Jiang Qu Lian’s army started a ferocious and huge war on Huangquan Road. Billions of willow branches turned into blood-sworn* spiritual snakes, whipping and entangling the enemies in the forest. Thick roots stretched out from the bloody fertile soil, dragging them mercilessly into the ground and becoming their own nutrients.
For a time, the shrill ghost cries rang through the underworld and pierced the eardrums like needles, which was absolutely terrifying.
Jiang Qu Lian and Xie Bi An had already exchanged more than a hundred blows. Cui Jue's words not only angered him just now, but also disrupted his mind, forcing him to recall the memory he was most reluctant to revisit.
He couldn't face his own stupidity, and he couldn't even accept that he'd exhausted everything and gotten nothing. Instead, he ended up being thrown into the Hungry Ghost Path.
He would always remember the moment when he ate thousands of fierce ghosts and finally became a ghost king. The moment he became a ghost king, the first thing he did was to sneak into Yanluo Hall and look for his trial scrolls. He wanted to know what he had done in his previous life to suffer such a punishment. He had eaten his own mother, companions, and followers. When he felt hungry, his intellect was defeated by appetite and instinct repeatedly. For hundreds of years, he was like an animal that went mad at any time, and countless times after he became clear-headed, he found that he stuffed his mouth full of rotten meat, or he chewed the people he cared about until only limbs and bones were left.
When he saw a few pages of records on the scroll, under that great trigger, he remembered everything in his past life. It turned out that everything he had suffered, from an Asura who transcended reincarnation and could live forever and never get old, to degenerating into a hungry ghost worse than a beast, was just because he fell in love with an eminent and unapproachable god who had never looked at him. It turned out that the greatest evil he did deliberately was merely smashing 72 immortal peaches.
At that moment, he felt more sadder and ridiculous than hate. There was no doubt he was stupid, but it was not up to others to manipulate his fate. What should really be smashed was the perfect status of the gods and the means of life, death, rewards, and punishments used by the heavenly palace to rule the three realms ----- the six paths of reincarnation. Why could celestial beings enjoy the privilege? Why should he be a hungry ghost? Why should the six paths of reincarnation assign ranks, advantages, and disadvantages to all living creatures? Why could Lan Jiang not even look at him just because he was an Asura?
The seed of hatred he planted at that time finally became a towering tree after watering it with blood and tears for two lifetimes. Its root system was deeply rooted in the poison of the soul. Only blood, killing, and revenge could alleviate the piercing pain of the poison.
When he saw Lan Chui Han in Chidi City, despite him being only a sixteen or seventeen year old boy, outstanding, confident, cheerful, friendly, caring, and only a mortal rumored to be weak and sick at a young age and nearly died, he was certain at just a glance that Lan Chui Han was the reincarnation of Lan Jiang. He would never forget that face.
It was difficult to describe the raging emotions at that moment. He still remembered the feeling of trembling all over. He, who originally came to see the excitement, possessed a person without thinking. That person was Cangyu Sect leader Qi Meng Sheng's second disciple, who was responsible for receiving the Lan family who came to Chidi City to forge a sword using Shen Nong Ding. There was also the word ‘Yun’ in the name ---- Yun Zhong Jun. Just for the sake of Lan Chui Han smiling at him, to cup his fist in the other hand, to gaze at him, and call him "brother Yun".
What he thought and pursued in his previous life was just so that condescending god could seriously look at him and call out his name. Such a humble and pitiful wish had been annihilated with countless pain and suffering and had long since distorted its true form.
Despite the current reincarnated Lan Jiang having no memory of anything and was a mortal, he neither dared to ignore him, nor was he his opponent. Lan Chui Han was even younger than him, but he still wanted something from this person to make up for what he did not get. So, his identity in the human realm had completely become Yun Zhong Jun. During those ten years, he deployed his master plan while deliberately getting close to Lan Chui Han.
He finally got what he wished for, and saw many emotions appear in those eyes because of him: joy, admiration, concentration, fascination, and love. Facing Lan Chui Han, whose eyes were filled with him, his soul had split into two. Half of it was indulgence, and the other half was anger.
He was angry at the fact that Lan Chui Han was not the real Lan Jiang, and what he got was not him. He was angry at the fact that he could not part with this substitute. He was angry at the fact that after 600 years, he still could not let go.
A thought arose in his mind. He wanted to make Lan Chui Han remember it. He did not know why Lan Chui Han was demoted to a mortal, but this person must remember it. He wanted that arrogant god from back then to remember how he treated him in his previous life, and then see how he subverted the three realms and six paths, reversed the ranks, the advantages and disadvantages between them, and avenged his shame with his own eyes.
Lan Chui Han must remember it, so he threw him into the Chamber of Nightmares. As long as the strongest and most painful memories were repeated constantly, Lan Chui Han would recover the memories of his previous life under the great trigger. He would let Lan Chui Han see how he ruled the Underworld and how he controlled the six paths of reincarnation with his own eyes.
Although his plan had obstacles, everything was developing in the direction of his plan. No one could stop him, no one!
When Jiang Qu Lian was distracted several times, he was wounded three times by Xie Bi An. He tried to calm his mind, but the trigger from Cui Jue's words was so destructive that he was already on the edge of going insane. Although he had made great achievements in cultivating the Hungry Ghost Path, he couldn’t change his nature as a hungry ghost if he didn’t become an immortal. He had already escaped from the control of the lowly sense of hunger. After becoming the ghost king, he had not been out of control for 200 years. Once he lost control, he would return to the most primitive instinctive desire ---- eating. So, he must not lose control.
He swayed and turned into a strange red fog that spread around Xie Bi An, who vigilantly spun around to defend himself in it. In that moment of sensing the fluctuation of the murderous aura, he swung his sword in that area. Indeed, there was a huge ghost claw in the direction of the sword.
The two missed and passed each other. The ghost claw brushed past Xie Bi An's shoulder, and it was hot and painful. He hurriedly gestured a detoxification enchantment, but he still saw the wound was rapidly blackening and stinking under the effect of the corpse poison.
Jiang Qu Lian stretched out his tongue and gently licked his blood-stained fingertips: "Your blood is sweet and tastes not bad. I'm sure your heart and core must be delicious too."
"Come and get it if you have the ability." Xie Bi An crossed his sword in front of him and sneered, "I think you only know how to bluff. In fact, you are timid and weak. You have been entangled with Lan Chui Han for two lifetimes, yet you don’t even dare to look at his previous life. So pathetic."
Xie Bi An had also discovered that constantly triggering Jiang Qu Lian could disrupt his mind, and the one who could trigger this red-clothed ghost king the most was Lan Chui Han.
Jiang Qu Lian's eyes became increasingly red: "Then how about you? How much courage did you have to face the past after you found out that your past self was helpless, incompetent, useless, and a failure?"
"I didn't want to face it, but I did anyway." Xie Bi An asked in reply using the same tone, "What about you?"
"If you hadn't saved Lan Chui Han, I would have heard about his past life from him personally. Would he have explained, quibbled, or repented? In any case, he would have paid for his past life."
"He won't, because after he came out of the Chamber of Nightmares, the nightmare was still in his heart. Now, he’s like a walking corpse." Xie Bi An said coldly, "Is this what you wanted to see?"
Jiang Qu Lian’s expression moved slightly, and he gave a mocking laugh, "That's what he deserved."
Xie Bi An stopped talking nonsense with him. Seeing that there were more Yin soldiers and ghost generals coming, Fan Wu She controlled the ghost willow alone to resist the powerful army. This battle must be resolved quickly. Dragging on would be most detrimental to them. He took out the Shanhe Sheji Map from his qiankun bag: "Jiang Qu Lian, go and die."