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Upon seeing the twisting and twitching on Xu Yangyi’s lips, Wei Zhongxian quickly flattered and laughed, “This slave has overstepped himself… but you must remember by all means, Master, that your body has been reformed by Immortress Yu.”
“Who’s this?” Quan Ningyue faintly knitted her brows. She felt… that this person… was quite familiar. Where had she seen him? Her impression of him even seemed to be quite deep? Nonetheless, she still couldn’t remember him in her memories.
“I’ll talk about it later,” Xu Yangyi laughed, “Fellow Daoist… Wei, you can continue.”
Quan Ningyue glanced at Wei Zhongxian suspiciously. She felt him to be above the Great Circle of Qi Condensation… Who was this person?
“Yes. When I was in the palace, His Majesty was obsessed with cultivation. But it wasn’t that he’d never met a so-called Foundation Establishment cultivator. Even if Master finds it ridiculous, there were a total of thirty Foundation Establishment Seniors in the palace during His Majesty Guangzong’s reign. Yet even all together, they would be no more than a ten-thousandth of Immortress Yu in power.”
“I fear that Immortress Yu has indeed long since neared the omnipotent realm of the demon immortals in legend… On that day, I accepted His Majesty Guangzong’s secret imperial decree to enter this place. Apart from requesting the two celestials to unravel the secret, there was another secret order…” He narrowed his eyes. “His Majesty was infatuated with cultivation… How could he possibly relinquish such an opportunity? The secret imperial decree he gave me was: ‘if possible… do your utmost to trade for the two celestials’ cultivation methods’!”
Xu Yangyi and Quan Ningyue grew solemn. The prime arcane effort of a true demon king. Merely its name was a secret of unparalleled importance!
Wei Zhongxian also tactfully lowered his voice. “Although this deal didn’t go through, I do indeed know the arcane effort that Immortress Yu cultivates. Her arcane effort…” he took a deep breath, “is known as… the Azure Emperor Demonification Art!”
“However, Immortress Yu seems not to have obtained the complete edition. She changed the name to the ‘Azure Lotus Demonic Art’. In this art, there is a move… called ‘Azure Lotus Reincarnation’.” He finished speaking and bowed respectfully towards Xu Yangyi.
Azure Lotus Reincarnation? In a twinkling, Xu Yangyi’s eidetic memory gained from the pill spirit found the source of this name. His gaze flashed. “This Azure Lotus Reincarnation… is the arcane effort that Senior Xiaoqing used on my body?”
“If my guess is not incorrect, this was the move used on Master’s body.” Wei Zhongxian said solemnly, “It just so happens that on that day, Immortress Yu once spoke to this slave about the Lotus Reincarnation in order to lure me into undoing the seal… This arcane effort is the Azure Emperor Forbidden Art. It can reverse Yin and Yang, regrowing a severed limb!”
Xu Yangyi didn’t speak. Wei Zhongxian’s intention was obvious. If he could completely read the Azure Lotus Demonic Art once, perhaps… he would truly be capable of regrowing his left arm!
“Lotus Reincarnation, huh…” The fingers of his right hand unconsciously stroked the wound left by the lost of his left arm, yet in this moment an idea suddenly took root in his heart. It germinated and swiftly bloomed, bearing fruit. Growing tall to touch the heavens, a great tree was born.
“The Azure Lotus Demonic Art… Lotus Reincarnation…” He took an extended drag of his cigarette and shut his eyes. Far too many people had died this time. Those who should’ve died and those who shouldn’t have. In Danxia Temple, all living things were equal. Only those two supreme greater demons were the true kings. The adventuring cultivators held the will to persevere and the dream of cultivation, yet in order to seek destiny they had been buried here.
From among a thousand people, less than ten remained. Was this not miserable? Xu Yangyi cared not for others, but although he hadn’t been acquainted with Zhou Tingting, Cheng Jianfeng, Yang Xueqing, Gao Wuguo, Yao Xintan, and the others for long—and even if his feelings towards them couldn’t be said to be deep—he had a responsibility.
Being tall, handsome, or having stubble wasn’t enough to be called a man. On the contrary, only through this responsibility and execution of duty could one be labeled such. Otherwise, it was only a shallow varnish.
Since the Lotus Reincarnation was able to save he who was dying on that day… then couldn’t it bring the others back to life? Once this thought emerged, it bloomed madly like a weed.
After ages, Xu Yangyi opened his eyes. They were a tranquil expanse, yet this tranquility concealed a wisp of lamentation that was hidden to the utmost depth. Quietly, he gazed at the abyssal tunnel that led towards the Yellow Springs Path.
Never mind… These matters were still too distant from him. Too far away… Now wasn’t the time to seek Xiaoqing and ask for the Lotus Reincarnation…
For the time being… I’ll just bury everything here… This blood-drenched path, this period of mortal combat, and this dangerous Danxia Temple journey to seek destiny, bury all of it here…
Regardless of Zhou Tingting, Yang Xueqing, and no matter what concerning Cheng Jianfeng and Yao Xintan… or perhaps those two supreme greater demons, just let the secrets of this place and the bitter blood-dyed memories of the great clans exist here forever…
The day that I, Xu Yangyi, assail this place, is the day that I’ll have the true qualifications to face Xiaoqing—the day that she’ll propose looking over the Lotus Reincarnation!
“Wait for me.” He formed a fist and bowed lowly to the floor, facing the deep and quiet cavern. He remained bowing for a very long time.
Over nine hundred lives… The lives of over nine hundred cultivators, at the mere selfish desire of two eternal demons, they would accompany Danxia Temple’s greatest secret, sealed here for all eternity.
Everything was slowly undone. Xiaoqing had been imprisoned here and discovered the reincarnation of Jiang Shang who was Xu Xuan. In his recklessness and haste, Fahai had acted to seek a breakthrough for his realm. The monk had sought this place yet played an “unhappy couple” with Xiaoqing. Along with Ming Guangzong’s emergence and Wei Zhongxian staying behind to settle business, all these events had crafted today’s calamity of Danxia Temple.
In the midst of these designs, a complete network of arteries and veins was already on full display, down to the finest hair, even if there were some aspects that were unclear.
“I hope your valiant spirits don’t scatter. Wait until I come back…” Xu Yangyi paused for several seconds. His voice seemed gentle to the ear, yet it was incomparably resolute. “By my banner, I will raise a hundred thousand and slay King Yama. We will return victorious.”
Finished speaking, he used his lone arm to mobilize his spiritual force. A crash rang out, and countless brownish-yellow stones fell down like feathers in its wake. These stones tightly sealed off the infernal entrance of the Yellow Springs Path.
“Go.” Xu Yangyi took one last glance at the entrance leading to the Nine Nethers. He turned around without the slightest reluctance. “Let’s go back to the Featherwood Guard. Fellow Daoist Quan, help me contact Grandmaster Gao Muya. I will pay respects to the Senior myself.”
“Of course.” Quan Ningyue laughed, “A suitable candidate for the Ketu-Rahu Sword has never been found. If there’s a chance that Commander can handle it… I want to see what it looks like. The appearance of a schematic that Master’s never forged.”
They headed towards the original location where they’d slain the livyatan. The giant whale corpse was still floating in the water as before. Xu Yangyi suddenly halted, turned his head, and said, “After we leave, what path will Grandpa Wei take later on?”
Wasn’t the implication of these words asking Wei Zhongxian whether he could hurry up and leave if there were no other pressing matters?
Wei Zhongxian looked at Xu Yangyi in surprise. “Master, y-you don’t want me?”
“...” Ever so discreet, Xu Yangyi and Quan Ningyue didn’t reply.
“Master…” Prompt in action, Wei Zhongxian kneeled deferentially on the ground. “His Majesty said… after I meet my new master, we must immediately leave for the Thirteen Tombs. To respectfully welcome Master’s esteemed arrival.”
“Oh?” Xu Yangyi smiled faintly. “How does he know that I’ll go?”
“That is something that this slave is unaware of.”
Cool and collected, Xu Yangyi swept his gaze over the kneeling Wei Zhongxian.
The Thirteen Ming Tombs… If his theory was true… No, it could be said now that only this explanation fit the most concerning Ming Guangzong’s attitude back then! In that case… amidst his unwittingness, the emperor had possibly long since touched upon the entire cultivation world, an entity that no man had discovered despite searching for over a millennium!
And that… was an illusory legend! As for the clue to this legend, there was a chance that it lay within the Thirteen Ming Tombs!
All of a sudden, Xu Yangyi felt that everything in his surroundings seemed to come about by accident. In this moment, in his mind, this thought occupied his entire spirit.
This train of thought unconsciously surfaced as if it was alive. He pondered much… His cultivation was for the sake of vengeance, against the foe he’d yet to encounter to this day. The Featherwood Guard possessed its own merit system. Upon returning this time, his achievements were sure to be qualified to examine the SSS-rank demons database. So long as that crow appeared… he would soon know who It was!
And yet… what came after vengeance?
Through cultivating to this very day, his cultivation had already become his breathing. Inhaling and exhaling had become habit, ages ago. After his vengeance, could it be that he would assume the guise of an ordinary mortal?
“No…” His gaze glimmered. “I’m already standing on the mountain top. Why walk down?”
“Besides…” He smiled and gently waved his hand. The wall across from him thudded as a hand-sized fist imprint appeared on it. The surroundings were ready to come rumbling down at any time. He calmly looked and gently shook his head. “This society can’t contain a true dragon…”
He quietly murmured to himself. Quan Ningyue and Wei Zhongxian didn’t speak. This was a minor moment of enlightenment. They understood rather well that they couldn’t disturb Xu Yangyi now.
Xu Yangyi crouched down and picked up a stone off the ground, casually squeezing it in his palm. “And I don’t want to return to my original path and continue… I’m gonna keep on climbing up and cross through the dangerous peak that many call ‘realm’. If there’s even a billionth of a chance that it’s real in my imagination… then I have a solid target! A true goal!”
He felt the sharp nooks and corners of the rock in his hand. “As a cultivator, it’s a goal worth struggling an entire lifetime for.”
Let’s take a look… at cultivation’s end, at that vague legend, if a man is allowed true immortality! Whether or not it truly transcends the Earth, the immortal realm enshrined in legend!
If immortals truly existed why hadn’t there been a single confirmation across several thousand years?
If immortals didn’t exist, then what could Xiaoqing be considered? Zhang Daoling, Xuanzang, Wei Boyang, and Sixth Patriarch Huineng… These figures had certainly existed in history. Great cultivators who were fully capable of welcoming the modern age with their lifespans, where had they gone?
“Eternal life.” He opened his hand. The stone had already become fine powder. He gazed at it, somewhat spellbound, and burst into sudden laughter. “Really… I’m still just a regular guy. Something that can move an emperor’s heart… That’s right… I’m tempted too…”
Maybe it was due to the effect of the bodhi seed that Xiaoqing had buried in his mind or this desperate journey, but his heart of cultivation was rather touched. In this instant, he almost wasn’t aware of those surrounding him. He had entered a realm of his own.
As the final word of his innermost being was completed, his brows moved. He then seemed to notice that Wei Zhongxian and Quan Ningyue looking at him with a kind of bewildered gaze. He laughed, “What’s up?”
“Noth… ing…” For a brief moment, Wei Zhongxian studied Xu Yangyi with full attention. In the end, he bowed reverently. “This slave congratulates Master for finding enlightenment in a few things.”
“Enlightenment, huh…” Xu Yangyi clapped his hands. “You can think of it like that.”
1. “By my banner, I will raise a hundred thousand and slay King Yama.” This phrase is part of a larger poem by Chen Yi (1901-1972 CE), a politician of the PRC. The original intent is to strike against the nationalist (Kuomintang), but in general, it is an idea of “going to hell to rally the spirits of the deceased to fight” A rallying cry.
2. Zhang Daoling and Wei Boyang should be familiar figures. Zhang Daoling is also generally titled as Celestial Master Zhang. Wei Boyang is the creator of the Eternal Alchemy Canon. Xuanzang (602-664 CE) is a Buddhist monk famously known for going to India to collect the original Buddhist texts and translating them into Chinese. Sixth Patriarch Huineng (638-713 CE) is considered the Sixth Ancestor of Chan Buddhism. A mummy of him (allegedly) is placed in Nanha Temple in Shaoguan.
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