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Xu Yangyi silently measured the five nails with his eyes and eventually said, “I once read a collection of various notes at Heavens Law.”
“Maybe it wasn’t done accurately… but my professor said that the most terrible thing in the cultivator world isn’t to murder, but rather cripple another’s qi sea. But there was a technique even worse than crippling the qi sea.” He sucked in deeply, “And that… was the Heavenly Demon Severing Punishment.”
His gaze contained a sliver of reminiscence. “This might sound quite normal these days, but in the distant Ancient Cultivation era centuries and thousands of years ago, those who heard this word would tremble in fear. A high-level cultivator would be imprisoned for centuries and the heart devils of over ten thousand cultivators would be instilled into these five nails and nailed into the cultivator’s limbs and head. The qi sea was then crippled, leaving the cultivator without any measure of strength to resist. They would have no choice but to be eternally tormented by all kinds of heart devils, day and night, until death…”
Xu Yangyi’s voice was calm, but Li Zongyuan shivered intensely.
Such an execution method… was dreadful beyond words. Only infinite hatred could drive one to do something like this.
“This corpse… there’s more to it than meets the eye.” Xu Yangyi looked at his hand. The alabaster hand of bone moved no more. With a trace of pity, he directed his gaze towards the corpse. “She… was unable to free herself from the rocks. Below, she was suppressed by Xiaoqing’s five treasures. Only now do I see…”
Xu Yangyi swept his eyes over the five treasures. “The Spirit Ascending Bamboo, the wood, and the scorched wood are indeed already scrapped, but representative of earth. The ancient lamp serves as fire, and the Sun-Opener Armor acts as metal… The area below was a Five Phases array. To suppress this person forever. Until this woman died within the rocks.”
“In addition… her head and limbs were separated. In ancient times, this was known as ‘Human Swine’.”
Li Zongyuan drew a sharp breath and nodded but went into a sudden daze. “M-Master… h-how do you know this skeleton was a woman?”
Xu Yangyi raised his chin towards his hand, now able to pull his hand back. His palm opened, shockingly revealing a hair ornament!
A hair ornament that women wore in ancient times!
“In any case… there’ll always be some traces of those forced to demise…” He looked towards the pulsing stone at the center of the five treasures. “This woman’s will to survive was extremely powerful. Even though she really did end up passing away after so many years, she left behind an incredibly formidable intent. So, just as my hand was grabbed and this hair ornament was given, her intent finally disappeared.”
Thump… Thump… The stone pulsed as before, yet this beating was gradually becoming weaker. Xu Yangyi narrowed his eyes and said, “This… is quite possibly that woman’s heart.”
Li Zongyuan felt icy perspiration assault his body.
Horrific… Extremely horrific… This was a demon king’s method of torture. Limbs severed and made into a human swine, eternally embedded within a wall… tormented in every waking second and moment by a heart-devil illusion while in endless darkness. With her qi sea crippled, this woman basically lacked the ability to protect herself, yet she was chained to such a death, unable commit suicide!
What deep hatred and enmity was there between this woman and Xiaoqing?
However… at this very moment, the woman’s arm unexpectedly radiated white light!
The cave brimming with cerulean color suddenly flashed. Everyone could see. Not waiting for Xu Yangyi to speak, Li Zongyuan carefully extended a ray of qi at once, causing it to touch the bone. Unexpectedly, the skeletal hand fell over upon contact!
Ka-thump… A brittle noise echoed in the cave, and Xu Yangyi took a deep breath. He walked over and scanned briefly. The surface of the hand was covered all over with engravings. Narrowing his eyes, he clearly saw the handwriting.
These characters were frantic and messy. Evidently, this woman was not far from death as she carved them. Nonetheless, having suffered such treatment, she was spurred by the resentment and hatred of her heart to write these words.
“This… This Throne?” Li Zongyuan stood behind Xu Yangyi and furrowed his brows as he read aloud: “Bai… Is this the character? Baisu? Baisu…”
“Bai Suzhen.” Xu Yangyi softly replied.
“Oh, Bai Suzhen… Bai Suzhen?! Bai Suzhen!!!” Li Zongyuan’s eyes suddenly opened wide, and he looked at the bone incredulously. “Bai Suzhen… the white snake?! SHE’S the white snake?!
Xu Yangyi said nothing. He studied the chaotic scrawl of words with rapt attention and whispered, “Fear… I fear… Too dreadful… Xiaoqing… she… terrible… she… is no demon… she… is an immortal… a god…”
The following line wasn’t words, but rather some scratches that Bai Suzhen seemed to have carved to vent her pain and madness. “She… is also the hero of a generation.”
“In such a situation, she actually struggled into this small space. And to add on to that… she wanted revenge, but didn’t know how to achieve it. Perhaps her carvings in the cave had been eliminated by time. She actually went… and engraved them on the bone of her arm.”
Xu Yangyi paid respects to Bai Suzhen’s skeleton. He said nothing whatsoever.
If this was Bai Suzhen, the white snake, then one could explain why Xiaoqing had done such a thing. Several millenniums of imprisonment, her best chance severed. She could not act against Xu Xuan, only able to vent her anger on Madam Bai.
He had no obligation to take vengeance for her, and it was furthermore impossible for him to accomplish such a feat in her stead. Xiaoqing… was said to be an immortal. Perhaps she was not far from it.
With a cultivation of 3,600 years, an azure carp had evolved into a Kun Peng. Even with the assistance of Jiang Ziya’s formation, Fahai was still only level with her realm. Jiang Ziya’s third reincarnation, Zhuge Liang, had also reinforced the array once, and Ming Guangzong had left behind a contingency as well. This suppression hung on Fahai to this day.
Xu Yangyi continued reading.
“Descendants… aid me…” At this point of her writing, the characters began to turn crisp and clear. This was not Bai Suzhen’s hope of shedding her bonds, bur rather the final radiance of her setting sun. “My demon heart… was extracted by her and suffered torment by those five supreme treasures, day and night… The pain penetrates my heart and lungs… and yet… she absolutely could not anticipate… that I also possess a fortune of destiny!”
“The Grand Demonheart Seed Magik… My most supreme secret art. That slut never could’ve imagined that this seed magik rested in my heart, capable of absorbing all qi to reach a critical boundary… then there would be a tenfold-greater eruption… but… all of the holder’s aura would be concealed! Hahaha! I can no longer bear the wait to see that bitch’s look of shock, an explosion! I’ll blow her up to kingdom come! I’ll bring that slut to a fiery end!”
These words revealed the madness that came before death. The demon slayer and the toad-demon shared a glance. Both of them could now imagine the slaughter that brimmed within Bai Suzhen’s heart.
But the next words that followed scratched out a few incomparably distinct hand seals. One didn’t need to know that these were the seals belonging to the Demonheart Seed Magik!
“It’s a pity… that it seems I won’t be able to hang on until that day…”
At this point, the handwriting fell to disarray again. “Descendant… take this demon heart, and if you have the consideration… help me… kill her…”
“Forget it… I realize… that with my thousand years of cultivation… I… am not her opponent… She… is too terrible…”
“If someone reads this… take my bones… and bury them under Greenwall Mountain… and erect a stele… sprinkle a cup of fresh water… I… will tell you a titanic secret… and deliver to you a grand and unimaginable fortune…”
“Hahaha! That slut… never would’ve expected it! The secret you sought out all along… I… already knew about it on the day I achieved the Dao! Even ten thousand years later… you will still die… and return to dust…”
The handwriting ended here.
The duo was silent. After ages, Li Zongyuan lamented, “This really was Madam White Snake… S-She didn’t rank as immortal, huh… how…”
“Nothing but a legend.” Xu Yangyi stood up. “A cultivator shouldn’t believe in a legend in itself.”
“In the depths of Danxia Temple, until now, which legend was true?”
He and Bai Suzhen didn’t have the slightest connection. He sighed wistfully for a few seconds and furrowed his brows. “If she was made into a human swine here, how did she carve characters into her left arm?”
Silence. After several seconds, his eyes lit up. “Her tail!”
“That’s right!” Li Zongyuan seemed to wake up from a dream. “A tail! That’s it! I got it! On that day Ancestress Xiaoqing nailed both of her legs, she waited several years to determine that Xiaoqing’s incarnation wouldn’t come back, and manifested her original form! That way, the nails weren’t able to keep her legs down any longer! She used her tail to write on her arm!”
Xu Yangyi didn’t respond but rather suddenly looked towards the beating demon heart.
Even with such a bitter death, a tale of great romance had still left behind a favorable mark on the world. And while their knowledge concerning “The Legend of the White Snake” was now changed beyond all recognition… Bai Suzhen’s execution of will left him somewhat admiring.
Through a gambit of cosmic misalignment, they had reached this place. Perhaps Xiaoqing never could’ve expected that Bai Suzhen was actually able to survive under her torture, yet the Madam White Snake had left behind a wisp of remnant spiritual sense against all odds. As Xiaoqing’s key opened the boundary of the seal, the seal had shattered. Bai Suzhen had used this spiritual sense to grab onto Xu Yangyi’s hand.
But currently, what he wanted wasn’t this business.
“Demonheart… Seed Magik…” He intensely studied the demon heart that already seemed to have almost petrified. There was nothing else to worry about the Spirit Ascending Bamboo floating in the air. Taking a stride forward, he took the demon heart.
It was still beating… From silence, his gaze turned bright.
He… had thought of a possibility! A possibility to beat back the noble clans and truly anchor his standing in Longsu Province!
But even so, it would be a foundation laid with infinite blood. Nonetheless, he was very willing.
“I just don’t know. So many years have passed. Is it still usable?” Xu Yangyi carefully scrutinized the demon heart in his hand, the stone washed in dark-green. He was moreover uncertain. If this demon heart was useable, was it a one-time-only or repeated-use item?
In other words, he dared not test out the heart according to the hand seals.
Bai Suzhen had already gone mad to such a degree, so deep was her hatred. With only one heart, how could she have even prepared a second? The heart was undoubtedly meant for a one-shot success.
If he could… This struggle over the heavenly paradise was bound to usher in rivers of blood. Yet as for him, he would proudly look down on the struggling heroes on this bloody throne!
If not… He inhaled heavily and stood up. With nothing to say, he took the demon heart and placed it into his storage ring.
At least for him right now… this was his strongest card. Maybe.
“Let’s go.” Xu Yangyi beckoned and the Spirit Ascending Bamboo flew over. He wasn’t planning on using it, before he clearly discerned how to use it. Furthermore, now wasn’t the time.
The time from Longsu Province’s promised day bloomed once more. Barely a month remained.
“Master… where to now?” Li Zongyuan asked fawningly.
“First, we’ll go to Chengdu for a trip…” Xu Yangyi arranged his thoughts and calmly said, “We’ll go to Jinshan Temple afterwards.”
Stepping into the azure qi circle again, he closed his eyes in practice. As he opened them again, his pupils suddenly tightened!
This… was not Tianzi Mountain!
He didn’t move. Following behind him, Li Zongyuan bumped into his back with closed eyes. Just as the toad-demon opened his eyes and was about to apologize, he stared at the sky, his eyes wide and mouth hanging. Not a single word came out from the familiar’s mouth.
Several thousand meters away from them, under the dawn of night, was an expanse of waning light. In the sky… a tremendous white tiger puppet was stationed in mystical clouds!
1.”Human Swine” (人彘 - Ren Zhi). This particular method of torture and name is linked to Consort Qi/Lady Qi. She was the wife of Emperor Gaozu of Han, the founder of the Han dynasty. Died 194 BCE. She was humiliated and murdered due to schemes of imperial politics by her fellow concubine. Her story is… very much gruesome. Through poison, she was made dumb and mute. She was horribly disfigured and blinded, and had her limbs severed. It is said that upon seeing what his mother had done to Lady Qi, the Emperor Xiaohui relinquished his authority and abandoned himself to carnal pleasure for the rest of his days.
2. Specific term for hair ornament is “步摇”. Look this up for a better image.
3. If not obvious, this is the titular character of Legend of the White Snake. This character has been mentioned many times in this story
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