Huo Poyun was clad in flaming red clothes, and he wasn’t alone. Following behind him were the three sect masters who once ruled the Flame God Realm before pushing Huo Poyun to become the Flame God Realm King, the Vermillion Bird Sect Master Yan Wancang, the Phoenix Sect Master Yan Juehai, and the Golden Crow Sect Master Huo Rulie.
The arrival of the four strongest profound practitioners of the Flame God Realm brought a wave of violent heat to the snow region.
Mu Huanzhi had been waiting for them, and the moment they arrived he immediately walked up to them and swept a glance at their faces. Then, he asked a question everyone knew the answer to, “Welcome, Flame God Realm King, sect masters. Why have you come to the Snow Song Realm today?”
No one answered his question.
Huo Poyun was staring forward with calm eyes, his face devoid of any expression. The three Flame God Realm sect masters wore complicated expressions on their faces, and Huo Rulie stepped forward to speak to Huo Poyun in a low tone, “Poyun, listen to me, this is the last time I’m—”
“Save it. I’ve already made up my mind!” Huo Poyun cut him off curtly.
“You!” Huo Rulie nearly crushed his own teeth right there and then.
Huo Rulie was a fierce and stubborn man. Once he made up his mind on something, he would never back down. It was a trait every man and woman in the Flame God Realm and the Snow Song Realm were aware of.
Huo Poyun wasn’t as fierce as Huo Rulie was, but he definitely outdid his master in the stubbornness department.
Mu Huanzhi frowned a little before saying, “I’ll inform the sect master right away.”
“No need,” Huo Poyun said seriously while looking up a little. “Here is fine.”
The snow suddenly stopped, and an invisible, soundless pressure pressed down from above. The three sect masters lost their breath as their vision darkened.
A pitch-black figure slowly appeared before Huo Poyun’s eyes.
No one knew when he appeared in the sky. His eyes were as black as the night, as his gaze was devoid of any affectionate emotions such as longing or friendliness. There was only coldness and indifference.
His face looked the same as ever, but his gaze and aura had changed completely.
All three Flame God Realm sect masters shrank into themselves unconsciously. Even Huo Rulie, the sect master closest to Yun Che, the one who laughed all day and called him “little brother Yun” had withdrawn his fiery aura almost instinctively.
The Yun Che in the projection was scary enough, but it was far, far worse to meet him in person. It went beyond simple humility and felt more like their throats were being clutched by a devil. All it took was one thought, and he could and would kill them no matter the kind of relationship they shared in the past.
Huo Poyun was the only one looking up at Yun Che and smiling a little. “Long time no see, Yun Che. You look much better than I expected.”
On the other side, the Witch Chanyi had just arrived. She frowned immediately when she heard his greeting.
It was incredibly rude for a mere higher realm king to address Yun Che so directly.
She was about to step out and teach the man a lesson when Chi Wuyao held an arm in front of her and stopped her. After that, she turned her neck and looked at a patch of snow on the other side of the meeting. There, Mu Feixue was standing and watching everything in silence.
Mu Huanzhi wisely took his leave from the meeting he had no part in.
Without changing his posture or behavior in the slightest, Yun Che said, “I’m glad you showed up yourself and saved me some time, Flame God Realm King. As a reward, I promise to make your death swift.”
“De… Devil Master!” Huo Rulie hurriedly rushed forward and said, “We have come to apologize to you. Poyun wasn’t trying to disobey you on purpose, he was just on the verge of a breakthrough and couldn’t leave his secluded cultivation in time to meet you. I beg you to recall your friendship and give Poyun… the Flame God Realm a chance to vow their loyalty and devotion to you.
He was hoping to address Yun Che as “little brother Yun” and shorten the gap that had appeared between them, but he quickly discovered that he lacked the courage to say it when he was actually facing the man himself.
“Friendship?” Yun Che said indifferently, “Whatever friendship the Flame God Realm King and I shared in the past has been completely buried by his own actions. So pray tell, what friendship are you talking about?”
“...” Huo Rulie’s entire body tensed as bitterness welled in his heart. He had only learned of Huo Poyun’s decision to leak Yun Che’s whereabouts to the Holy Eaves Realm after the fact, and to this day he couldn’t understand why his former disciple had committed such a senseless act.
One thing was sure, Yun Che was no longer Huo Poyun’s friend. The fact that Yun Che hadn’t taken revenge on Huo Poyun was the most anyone could expect from him.
Huo Poyun smiled without fear despite Yun Che’s death threat. He opened his palm and summoned a golden flame, the snow around him melting swiftly because of the heat. “Back then, you and I promised to duel each other after we entered the Eternal Heaven Divine Realm. In the end you didn’t enter the Eternal Heaven Divine Realm, but this looks like as good a time as any to fulfill that promise.”
“Promise?” A scornful smile spread across Yun Che’s lips. “I don’t remember such a thing.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Huo Poyun still looked completely calm. The golden flames in his hand grew thicker and thicker. “I remember, and that’s enough.”
His entire body burst into flames as he leaped into the air. The golden crow flames in his hand condensing into a flaming sword, he swung the weapon straight at Yun Che.
All three sect masters turned pale in shock. It was because there was no turning back the second Huo Poyun attacked Yun Che.
All three of them attacked at once… but there was nothing they could do to the current Huo Poyun. Huo Poyun easily sent them flying away from him before closing the distance between Yun Che and himself rapidly.
The Divine Master’s fiery might caused the usually chilled air of the Snow Song Realm to distort unnaturally. Yun Che waited until Huo Poyun’s flames had gotten close to him before he casually raised his hand and made a gripping motion.
The fiery light that dazzled the sky dimmed suddenly. Then, the flames surrounding Huo Poyun’s body and even the flaming sword he created started extinguishing on their own.
By the time Huo Poyun came to a stop in front of Yun Che, the fire had died away completely. Even the golden crow flame in his eyes had grown unnaturally dim.
As Yun Che’s realm and his understanding of the Law of Nothingness grew, so did his mastery over the power of fire. At the very least, it was absolutely far beyond anything Huo Poyun could ever imagine.
Huo Poyun’s pupils shrank a little when almost all of his Golden Crow flames suddenly died without warning. He also found himself frozen just in front of Yun Che, unable to move even another millimeter forward. Somehow, Yun Che’s dark powers had devoured his fiery powers.
He was defeated before their powers even clashed against one another.
Yun Che was right in front of him. He wasn’t sneering, he wasn’t looking down on him, he wasn’t even taking pity at his shameful display. There was only infinite darkness and indifference.
It was as if he didn’t even deserve to be pitied or scorned.
“I have crushed the pride and planted a seed of eternal darkness in all those who bent their knees and swore fealty to me,” Yun Che said indifferently. “However, their families, clans, sects, and all the living beings in their star realms got to live as a result.”
“These people chose wisely, for a higher realm king who doesn’t even know how to be flexible doesn’t deserve their title. As for those who thought themselves holier-than-thou, it is my natural duty to fulfill their death wishes, don’t you agree?”
Yun Che finally showed a bit of expression. He let out a cold chuckle before saying, “Well, in any case, you are much luckier than either one of those people. We were friends, so I will kill you myself!”
“Wait, wait!” Huo Rulie, Yan Juehai, and Yan Wancang rushed forward at the same time and shouted panickedly, “Please have mercy, Devil Master! He definitely—”
“Heh.” One chuckle was all it took to silence the three sect masters and freeze their bodies. “I haven’t forgotten what the Phoenix Spirit did for me back at the Ancient God Burying Inferno Prison. Therefore, I promise not to harm the Flame God Realm.”
“But if I hear another word of pleading from you three… then you will all die with him!”
His frosty words left no room for rebuke.
As for Huo Poyun himself… the man only stared at Yun Che without any anger or struggle. In fact, he was withdrawing his power as if he knew this would happen from the very beginning.
It was at this moment Chi Wuyao appeared next to him in a black flash. She said quietly, “Watch this before you decide whether to kill him or not.”
Chi Wuyao poked the air with her finger, and a soulful light entered Yun Che’s glabella.
It was a memory from Luo Changsheng. In the memory, Huo Poyun knocked Luo Changsheng away before grabbing Yun Che. Then, he escaped with him with all his might...
“...” Yun Che’s eyebrows sank as he stared at the unyielding Huo Poyun. “You were the one who sent me to Glazed Light Realm?!”
Everyone looked surprised, especially the three Flame God Realm sect masters. It would seem that they had no idea about this.
Not only that, for the first time since his arrival at Snow Song Realm, Huo Poyun lost his composure and let slip a flash of… panic?
“I see.” Yun Che narrowed his eyes in realization. “You wanted me to know that you saved my life after you had died in my hands. You wanted me to regret my mistake for the rest of my life, didn’t you?”
Huo Poyun gritted his teeth. His calm had crumbled, and his pupils and palms were shaking at the same time.
“Poyun, you…” Huo Rulie abruptly looked at his former disciple and held up a crimson soul crystal. “This thing you told me to give the Devil Master after you died… is this the memory of that event?”
“Heh… hehehe.” Yun Che started chuckling. “How much more laughable can your pride be?”
“Aiya.” Chi Wuyao let out a quiet and complicated sigh.
Huo Poyun suddenly let out a shout and reignited his Golden Crow flames. The Flame God Devil Destroying Sword appeared out of nowhere and flew toward Yun Che.
There was a loud clang as Yun Che caught the Flame God Devil Destroying Sword between his fingers. The fire on the sword also died swiftly.
Yun Che watched Huo Poyun’s savage expression coldly before smiling. “You want me to kill you that badly? Then I’ll do the exact opposite of what you wish. You did save my life after all, and my life is far more valuable than yours. It’s only right that I return this ‘favor’, don’t you agree?”
Huo Poyun was sent flying toward the ground with the flick of a finger.
Huo Poyun stopped his downward momentum and tried to attack Yun Che again, but the moment he turned around, he accidentally caught Chi Wuyao’s eyes.
His vision abruptly darkened, and his head reverberated like a million bells were ringing inside it. In that moment, he felt like his heart and soul were ravaged by countless violent devils...
Whatever power he just mustered disappeared instantly. This time, he fell in a straight line and hit the snow like a rock.
The three Flame God Realm sect masters hurriedly rushed over and lifted him to his feet. His vision was flashing, and a drowsiness like nothing he ever felt before threatened to sink his mind into oblivion, but Huo Poyun somehow managed to resist the sensation and raise his unfocused eyes to meet Yun Che’s figure. “Kill me… if you… dare…”
“...” His willpower surprised even Chi Wuyao a little.
Still floating in the sky, Yun Che declared coldly, “Anyone I want dead in the Eastern Divine Region must die. Equally, anyone I want alive in the Eastern Divine Region must live!”
“Yan Wancang, Yan Juehai, Huo Rulie,” he continued, “take him back to Flame God Realm and keep him alive no matter what. If he dies… I promise you I’ll wipe Flame God Realm from the face of the Eastern Divine Region!”
The feedback was too much for him to bear, and Huo Poyun’s vision turned black one last time before he fainted completely.
Despite being unconscious, his teeth were clenched so tightly that blood was dripping down from his gums.
Not only did Yun Che didn’t kill Huo Poyun, he even gave the devilish order to keep him alive at all cost. The three Flame God Realm sect masters didn’t know if they should rejoice or feel sorrow about this.
They picked Huo Poyun and gave Yun Che a simple salute. After that, they flew away without saying another word. Words couldn’t describe their feelings right now.
Yun Che stared into the distance without moving for a very long time.
The Ice Phoenix elders and disciples had left soundlessly while he was in deep thought. No one dared to get close to him.
“What are you thinking?” Chi Wuyao approached Yun Che and asked a seemingly casual question.
Yun Che exhaled slightly before asking, “Devil Queen, you’ve met countless people in your life, am I right? In that case, can you explain to me who Huo Poyun is?”
“Oh?” Chi Wuyao smiled a little as she watched him.
Yun Che continued, “The Flame God Realm has done everything in their power to raise Huo Poyun, and Huo Poyun had always thought it was his natural responsibility to repay their kindness and carry the weight of the Flame God Realm on his shoulders. Although he was burdened too young too soon, his unyieldingness has always been one of his shining qualities.”
“Now that he is the Flame God Realm King, he should value his responsibility and the safety of the Flame God Realm more than ever before, am I right? So why is he acting like this? Where is this hatred, insanity, and obsession coming from?” Yun Che frowned. “Is Mu Feixue really that important to him? Does he really love her more than the Flame God Realm he spent his whole life dedicating himself to?”
The corner of Chi Wuyao’s lips curled a little. “Feixue came after you came, and there’s no way Huo Poyun hadn’t noticed her. However, he only glanced at her direction once before placing the rest of his focus… on you.”
Yun Che’s brow crinkled. “What do you mean?”
“Allow me to ask an interesting question.” Chi Wuyao smiled. “Do you think Huo Poyun is obsessed with Mu Feixue, or do you think he’s obsessed with the fact that you are the person she likes?”
Yun Che: “...?”
“The two of you used to be very good friends, am I right?” Chi Wuyao asked suddenly.
“...yes.” Yun Che nodded. Once upon a time, he had thought of Huo Poyun as his only friend in the God Realm.
“In that case, do you know what’s the most important factor that drives two people to become friends?” Chi Wuyao asked again.
Yun Che couldn’t answer her question this time.
Chi Wuyao shot him a glance before bringing him back to the day he met Huo Poyun for the first time. “Back then, you were the direct disciple of the Snow Song Realm King, and he was the direct disciple of the Golden Crow Sect Master. You were similar in age and status, and you were both the brightest stars of your respective star realms.”
“The two of you fought, and he lost to you. Your mastery of the elements far exceeded his, and his cultivation far exceeded yours. When you spoke to him as you lifted him to his feet, everyone could, hear, and even feel the appreciation you had for each other.”
“All geniuses are destined to be lonely, so you were probably the first true friend Huo Poyun had ever made in his life. Moreover, he was a passionate person, so he valued his friendship with you very, very deeply.”
“The two of you were ‘equals’ at the time. That’s why the two of you were able to become friends and support each other without any reservations.”
Chi Wuyao paused for a moment before staring at Yun Che’s profile. “So, when do you think this ‘balance’ was broken, and who do you think the culprit behind it was?”
“...” Yun Che’s pupils narrowed a little.
Chi Wuyao continued, “Jun Xilei defeated him in one strike at the Profound God Convention, and you heavily wounded Jun Xilei in one strike in turn. From your perspective, you were taking revenge for him, when in reality you made him realize the huge gap between you two… and that’s without mentioning the fact that you were the one who showed the might of the Golden Crow flames to the world on the Conferred God Stage, even though he was the true disciple of the Golden Crow Sect.”
“The ‘balance’ between the two of you was completely shredded. You were completely unaware of this because you were at the top, but he, the one who was left in the dust… for a young man who was only twenty years old or so, especially one who valued his friendship with you to the extent he did, I am sure it was a psychological blow like none other.”
“At first, all he felt was a sense of loss and frustration, and I’m sure he tried to overcome it. But then, he learned that the woman he fell in love with at first sight… was in love with you.”
Chi Wuyao sighed and shook her head. “Disappointment, reluctance, jealousy, indignance, desire, self-pity, and more… all these emotions eventually mingled into something that no one, not even the man tormented by it could say.”
“You would know this yourself had you thought about it carefully. Huo Poyun and Feixue have barely met each other their whole lives, much less shared any unforgettable or special memories with each other. So how could he possibly be this obsessed with her?”
“While it is true that he has frequently visited Snow Song Realm to see Mu Feixue after you ‘died’, he has only ever watched her from a distance. Not once has he overstepped his boundaries during this time. Moreover, from my observation of him back when I was still in Snow Song Realm, I knew that he was infatuated with Feixue, but he was nowhere close to being madly in love with her, much less obsessed.”
“However, he immediately lost control of himself when he saw you alive.”
Chi Wuyao’s voice became stretched out and soft. “When he saw you and Mu Feixue whispering sweet nothings to each other, he hated that moment so much that he tried to kill you through Luo Guxie. But when he realized that you were about to die in Luo Changsheng’s hands, he risked even his own life to save you.”
“Your earlier hunch was correct. Huo Poyun was hoping that you would kill him and learn that he was your savior later. He wanted you to feel a terrible regret that might even accompany you for eternity… and finally beat you for once in his life. But you extinguished his hopes cruelly.”
That was what she said, but Chi Wuyao was the real reason Huo Poyun had failed. Had she not shown Yun Che Luo Changsheng’s memories, the Flame God Realm King would’ve already gotten his wish.
“It is true that he is mindful of Feixue, but he is at least ten times more mindful of you.”
Chi Wuyao shot Yun Che one last glance before walking away.
Yun Che didn’t move for a very long time as the world snowed around him. In the distance, Chanyi’s thoughts were a complete mess as her mouth remained agape for a very long time.
As of this chapter we are currently caught up to the author.