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Tian Guotao looked on in a trance. Even if a gentle crack suddenly rang out at his ear, he wouldn’t hear it.
His thoughts turned to the Clearcloud Realm’s qi industry. Not only did this industry bring longevity, but it moreover staved off Spirit Addiction. So vile was Spirit Addiction that one’s complexion turned color upon hearing of it.
The absorption of qi led to addiction… and qi would create dependency, furthermore causing a kind of undispellable resistance to spiritual force on the Clearcloud Realm’s people. As this resistance to spiritual force reached a boundary, high-level qi products had to be taken. In the same moment a household was finally no longer able to afford qi products, a decades-old Spirit Addiction would dramatically erupt, truly turning one into a qi-crazy addict.
It was never thought… that this cycle would one day collapse.
Crack… As a second noise echoed, Tian Guotao was abruptly startled. With a trace of ecstasy, he then mustered supreme reverence. His legs went soft and he kneeled.
“Respectful greetings in leaving seclusion, Master Xu!!!” He excitedly lowered his head and paid respects. In front of him, the slight creaking just now was from the iron chains on the door that hadn’t opened in eight years. Already, they were starting to clamor wildly!
CRASH!!! Three seconds later, a boom rang out. All of the chains turned into broken links, and an azure qi no less than a hundred meters tall soared to the horizon!
Amidst the qi, a man was sitting cross-legged. Even if he was but a silhouette, Tian Guotao could still make out that this was Xu Yangyi! The Master Xu who he hadn’t seen in eight years!
However… he carefully extended his senses, and shivers overtook his body.
If said, the Master Xu of eight years ago could be likened to the revealed edge of a blade, observed to be like a sharp sword bared naked. Yet now, this sword was sheathed in its scabbard, the polish inside even more resplendent! By merely sensing a bit, Tian Guotao seemed to face a tall mountain, unable to prevent his entire body from growing cold!
Xu Yangyi sat in the sky and sighed with some ruefulness.
He still hadn’t advanced to the middle stage.
The qi was enough, but… for the first time in this realm, he’d sensed the world’s “rules”!
He could clearly advance, yet he couldn’t no matter what! As if someone in the darkness was “rejecting” his “application” to advance.
It was regardless of how he maneuvered his qi to assail the middle-stage barrier. Not to speak of a barrier, he couldn’t even sense the bodily limiter.
He quelled his mind and performed Innersight again. In his meridians, light-azure qi inflated his body with a kind of fullness. His qi was eager to spill out, eager to access that sensation which crossed heaven and man. He’d already arrived at the very summit of initial-stage Foundation Establishment.
“A whole eight years…” he lamented softly. Afterwards, his gaze shifted to his storage ring. The items inside were enough to cause other cultivators’ eyes to turn green with envy!
Three hundred Qi Explosion Pills and ten pill fiends!
In addition, he’d finished cultivating the last two of the Heavenly Opening Six Erosions. What left him suspicious though, was that the divine ability’s name was clearly the “Heavenly Opening Six Erosions”. However, he’d only seen five. Alas, there was a slight defect in this beauty. Due to the Smelting God Art’s limitations, only three moves were able to be contained at best currently. There was no way to unite the Heavenly Opening Six Erosion’s five moves into one.
He sensed carefully; Zhao Ziqi was still sleeping. From the start of the fifth year of his seclusion, his little brother’s sleeping period was ever increasing. He didn’t wake the other.
“Hmm?” He stowed his gaze, and his brows slightly knitted together. He looked all around a little suspiciously.
Something was off…
What had happened in these eight years? The surrounding qi was deathly still. His eyes wandered forth to the distant and vaguely visible Beifeng City. In kind… there wasn’t one wick of light.
“This…” He looked to the sky. To the four reaches and eight bounds, the sky should’ve originally been bluish-white. But at this moment oppressive black clouds circled everywhere, and over yonder seemed to be Baizhai City’s location.
The layer of black clouds were heavy, like concentrated ink. Motes of starry green light were shimmering in the clouds. They surrounded Baizhai City, only leaving behind a patch of blue sky in the city district. It looked incredibly odd.
Xu Yangyi descended to the ground, and Tian Guotao respectfully walked over at once. “Master, congratulations on your spiritual force making great progress.”
“Mhm.” Xu Yangyi casually nodded and said lowly, “What’s up with the sky?”
“Master Xu.” Tian Guotao’s voice carried terrible grief. “A major incident has happened…”
He didn’t speak more. Instead, he turned on his cell phone and switched over to an image. He then passed the device over.
Xu Yangyi took the phone. As soon as he looked, his expression also became grave.
A video was on the screen. It was about ten minutes long.
In the video, at the extremes of the Endless Sea, a triangular thing suddenly cracked open. Afterwards, a black cloud floated out from inside.
“Scene of Clearcloud Satellite No.18: Clearcloud calendar year 1826. This year has been named ‘Year of the Reaper’.” A steady male voice carrying deep pain was voiced over the video. “We can’t find out why this disaster happened. It’s February 13th, 1826. An irregular ocean-curtain breach suddenly appeared at the unapproachable Endless Sea. This was the first time the black cloud that would be known as ‘The Reaper’s Scythe’ in the future floated out.”
The scene changed. The black cloud wasn’t large, perhaps only dozens of meters in size, but… after it intruded into the sky, like an ink drop entering pure water, the sky began to rapidly darken!
The deathly black revealed an ominous, wretched green. This black cloud was like a death god, beginning to slowly drift towards the closest city.
And this place… was shockingly where Xu Yangyi had first arrived!
“The State of Mingyu has become the first casualty of the Reaper’s Scythe…” The scene changed, and a city completely different that Baizhai City appeared. An endless flow of traffic was featured, the noise and clamor at an unusual level.
“May 29th, 1826 is a day that everyone in the Clearcloud Realm should remember. The first Reaper’s Scythe appeared above the sky of western Mingyu’s Yuetai City.”
Xu Yangyi took a deep breath. The following image even shocked him somewhat. It was a ghastly sight.
A black cloud swiftly covered the entire city. Soon… everyone seemed to go crazy! Clutching at their necks, they screamed themselves hoarse! Numerous car accidents happens on the road! Many people even frantically attacked the people beside them!
On their bodies… streaks of white qi rose up and then melded into the black cloud. As the qi of the city’s several hundred thousand people merged in, the black cloud became bigger and bigger! Vast without limit!
“June 7th, Yuetai City became a forbidden region. All living creatures have almost died out. The State of Mingyu passes down an emergency evacuation order. The surrounding three provinces and eighteen cities around Yuetai City, a total of 31 million people, all proceeded to Wugang City.”
“June 21st, the leaders of the entire realm gather. At this time, the Reaper’s Scythe has already quickly spread from 89 meters to 3,120 square kilometers. Wherever it goes, desolace is left.” The speaker became even more sorrowful. “Perhaps to call it a desolace still isn’t appropriate. Within… a few things remain, our past friends… our family…”
The scene switched again. Xu Yangyi’s gaze became terribly grave.
In the video… in these cities, masses of people were raving madly. Without the slightest response, they moved towards all living and deceased organisms and attacked. Moreover, each and everyone of them were bone-thin like addicts. Still… this wasn’t what made Xu Yangyi solemn! These people’s madness was only temporary. Not even needing a few minutes, a sliver of qi bubbled out from their bodies and completely wrapped them up within! They became cocoons that either formed over the ground or hung on roofs!
Such a strange transformation had never even occurred in Earth’s cultivation history!
Xu Yangyi mumbled to himself and handed the cell phone back to Tian Guotao. Afterwards, his figure was like a piercing arrow and rushed to the sky.
This time, he directly surged a thousand meters above! The black clouds were coming closer and closer!
“This is my future treasure bowl… how could I let you get a cut of the action?” He chuckled darkly as he hovered below the black cloud and waved a finger. All of a sudden, ten fire-dragons thundered forth!
BOOM!!! In the sky, a purple sea of fire detonated. Yet after the fire sea passed, the black cloud hadn’t dissipated by a thread!
With his extreme vision, he gazed afar. A distant place ought to have been crystal clear, but it seemed to be covered by a sheet of muslin at this moment. He couldn’t clearly see. The blackness of primal chaos masked everything.
Xu Yangyi set aside his notion of attacking again. He murmured to himself for a few seconds and closed his eyes. His spiritual sense was unleashed with a rumble!
Swoosh! His spiritual sense was like a tide, but he entered the strange monochrome world again!
In the instant he almost entered, he quickly sensed another spiritual sense. It was the entity that was yelling at him to stay last time.
“You came… You came!!! I knew you would come!!!” the voice howled in excitement. “Only you can sense me in the Clearcloud Realm! Don’t go! Listen to me! I don’t have any ill intentions!”
Xu Yangyi didn’t leave and said coldly, “I’ll give you a minute. If you don’t give me a reason, I’m not coming again.”
“Take me with you! Take me with you!!!” the voice nearly screamed itself hoarse. “Down below… I can sense… it has awakened… It’s going to wake up soon! Take me with you down there! Otherwise it’ll be too late! It’ll eat up the entire Clearcloud Realm bite after bite until it’s awakened!
This ordinary word caused Xu Yangyi to inhale deeply.
Bladevessel had once said to him: The entity below, in slumber and wakefulness, is two kinds of creatures.
He’d acted without thinking, absorbing the offered qi originally meant to suppress the entity. Could these black clouds be it?
“Below? Where below?” Cool and collected, he contained his rippling frame of mind and asked.
“You went down there! You’ve been inside! I know it! I can feel it! Nothing in the Clearcloud Realm can escape my eyes!” the voice said shakily, “You went there… You know it… You know that a catastrophic entity is being sealed down there!”
“I don’t know!” The voice began to tremble. “I only know… that it’s terrible… very terrible… but when it sleeps, it is weak… very weak. But as long as it wakes up, the entire Clearcloud Realm won’t exist! Only I can do it! Only I can seal it!”
Xu Yangyi icily surveyed his surroundings. “Why should I believe you?”
“You have no choice but to believe me!” The voice seemed to calm down. “I’m this realm’s Realm Spirit… only I can seal it again… What… what do you hear?”
Xu Yangyi carefully listened for a short period of time. A noise as soft as a whisper, seemingly rapping on the bottom tip of his heart, infinitely looped. It was extremely rhythmic, quietly echoing throughout the monochrome world.
The wind rose and clouds fell, the drizzling pitter-patter of rain soundless.
BANG! Without warning, the inside of his mind exploded, and he sharply gasped.
The first time he entered this monochrome world, he’d heard this noise, but he hadn’t guess what it was. However… with Bladevessel and the Realm Spirit’s words in parallel to each other, he had a hair-raising thought!
“That’s… the sound of snoring…” He looked all around him in astonishment. “Snoring is echoing through the entire Clearcloud Realm…”
“Right now… I’m in that thing’s dream!”
1. From what I can see, this is a modified poem from Tang poet Du Fu (712-770 CE).
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