Quiet and tranquil. After a few seconds, the soft laughter of a mocking voice followed, “Is that right? Do you really think your name is worth much?” This voice seemed to echo from everywhere. Where it specifically originated from couldn’t be discerned. “You kill a few lineage disciples by a fluke, then you think yourself to be unrivaled in the world… A cultivator like you should die.”
Xu Yangyi sneered, “You can come try.”
The voice chuckled again, “No rush… Soon… we will meet… This was only a little gift… hehehe… Branchmaster Xu…”
“Some clans in Longsu Province… are looking forward to your esteemed arrival…” The voice gradually ebbed away and vanished.
CRASH! With the voice's decline, the entire space shattered into pieces bit by bit, transforming into falling glass-like fragments. As they fell, they became motes of qi. Xu Yangyi’s gaze motionlessly surveyed the environment. He was less than a kilometer away from the courtyard house.
Yet in front of him, the green blood of the demon who had just died saturated the entire pavement. Using qi that only a cultivator could see, this ichor actually formed large words!
If you go to Nanzhou, you will die!
“Using a life to make a warning. It’s even got some nice calligraphy.” Xu Yangyi coolly brushed over his surroundings. Even Grandmaster Gao Muya hadn’t appeared? He deeply eyed the little courtyard. It seemed… that the greatness of this opponent’s strength was truly abnormal. Granted that an attack had been at the grand master’s door, Gao Muya had weighed the pros and cons, not even defending him.
“But… it just so happens that I’m a little bull-headed. The more I believe in myself, the less I'm inclined to respect you.”
“If someone offers me a foot, I’ll give them ten. If someone wants my life…” Thirsting for blood, he lapped his lips. “That’ll be the time I take his life!”
He walked on the national highway, and a car came and stopped beside him. No one whatsoever seemed to be paying attention to all of this. The pedestrians still came one after another, and an endless stream of traffic flowed ceaselessly as usual.
“Branch Master.” Peony looked somewhat oddly at Xu Yangyi. “What just happened? Why were you at the side of the road for so long?”
“It’s nothing.” Xu Yangyi closed his eyes, cool and collected. He said firmly, his voice chopping nails and cleaving iron, “Return to Mingshui Province at once. Have Jun Man, Qin Xueluan, and Mo Yeyu enter a state of war preparation.”
“Branch Master!” Peony was startled. “What’s going on? War preparation? At the branch?”
“That’s right.” Xu Yangyi’s finger tapped the car window. “I’m afraid there are some lunatics who won’t care where we are at all…”
He finished saying these words and spoke no further. Strength… The current him needed strength more than any other time! This wasn't a wish for strength but a demand!
Xiaoqing’s and Fahai’s treasuries! This was the essential card in his hand!
Six months, merely six months. Just as this affair had started, a strong bloody air had frantically torrented in. Presently, these foes dared to assassinate him in the Capital… If his power still wasn’t enough in six months, he was doomed to become a pile of dried bones in Nanzhou, Longsu’s Capital!
“The treasuries of two greater demon immortals, eh…” He licked his lips. “Really makes a guy look forward…”
“As for the so-called heavenly paradise… I think I’ll find out the truth about you soon…”
The car gradually drove away. Without anyone seeing, a tall and straight figure inside a large building that was facing the street quietly moved away from a window.
It was a rather big room. No one was renting it, and it was exceptionally spacious. But at this moment, sunlight spilled into the room, following this figure’s turn. It was then discovered… that ten people were hanging from the ceiling!
They hadn’t hanged themselves but were instead like bats. Their feet were hooked to the ceiling and their heads faced down. Hidden in the darkness, their faces couldn’t be clearly seen because it was so dark. All that remained were pairs of scarlet-red eyes glimmering. The feeble cry of an insect chirped out.
“Young Master.” At the man’s side, an aged and decrepit voice rang out. “This person is nothing more than an arrow at the end of its flight. Once you dispose of a formidable enemy, this old slave will offer congratulations.”
“Not necessary.” The young master slowly walked to the door and laughed grimly, “He’s… pretty smart… He completely hid what we wanted to see.”
“First, whether or not his left arm was restored, and second, how his current strength stacks up… Yes, we didn’t see him use divine abilities, but not using and incapable of using is a difference of essence.”
The old man’s voice paused. “You suspect that he’s concealing his strength?”
“He’s definitely concealing his strength.” The young master’s voice carried a trace of cold laughter. “But… it doesn’t matter…”
“How many people does a trifling Xingtian Legion have…? Even if he fills the gaps with lives… ten, twenty… a hundred, I’m unconvinced that he won’t be forced to reveal his true colors…” He softly opened the door. “If I were him, I would obediently stay put in Mingshui. The current Longsu Province isn’t a place he can play around in.”
“This time… was just a little insignificant gift of mine… The Nalan Clan’s 534 Dao defenders are the real present…”
The airplane flew quickly. Xu Yangyi’s delegation had landed in Mingshui Province earlier. Just as Xu Yangyi deboarded, Jun Man, Qin Xueluan, and Mo Yeyu were already waiting at the Featherwood Guard branch.
“Respects, Branch Master.” As soon as Xu Yangyi walked in, the trio were quick to deeply bow. They each placed one hand over their heart, making a gesture of loyalty to their commander.
They hadn’t used their familiar approach from before. Instead, they adopted rather respectful bearings. They were expressing their total allegiance.
Between people, there couldn’t be no estrangements. Yes, Xu Yangyi had said so back then and given them a choice. However, they had chosen to give up. Yet the conclusion saw Xu Yangyi forcibly leave Danxia Temple with a majority! One of the Eight Great Deadlands had been overcome!
In these few days, an untold number of their past friends had come to express their congratulations, but they… simply couldn’t bear to be asked! Their faces and ears flushed red with anger, and they shut off their communication devices.
‘Why didn’t I see you guys mentioned?’
‘Didn’t you enter Danxia Temple together with Commander Xu?’
They had chosen to give up, yet the resulting honor was too difficult to bear. But they further understood through this campaign that there was an obvious difference between close and distant partners in the team. Mao Ba’er, Li Zongyuan, Quan Ningyue, Fang Cheng, and Zhan Twelve. These five had gone through life and death with Xu Yangyi. This was the true first echelon. And they… were still at the same startling line on that day, having become the second echelon.
Xu Yangyi’s footsteps stopped, and his gaze slowly brushed over the trio.
“Everyone, we have six months.” He didn’t waste a word. “In six months, there will be a battle as bloody as Danxia Temple. If we survive, the Xingtian Legion will have its own real foundation. If we lose…” His gaze was without the excitement of billowing waves, looking towards everyone. “Not a single bone of our corpses will be left.”
“Likewise, I’ll give you all time to choose.”
He finished speaking. Just as he was about to leave, Mo Yeyu, Jun Man, and Qin Xueluan were almost without any hesitation. They raised their heads without a moment’s delay and all chorused brightly, “I’m ready.”
Xu Yangyi halted and looked at the trio. “Are you all sure?”
“I’m certain.” Mo Yeyu took a step forward and made a long sigh. “To tell the truth, Commander, we’ve been in more of a tough spot than anyone else these past days… Clan criticism, the outside inquiries, our friends’ complaining… Honestly… we’re sitting on pins and needles…”
“I admit…” Qin Xueluan tightly bit her lip and said, “before… we didn’t have total confidence in you, Commander. But I’m ready this time… to trust in Commander in both heart and soul… As long as we have a thread’s chance at survival, I absolutely won’t give up!”
Jun Man’s face was colored by a bitter smile, and he only nodded miserably. “I’m ashamed to return home; I don’t have the guts to go back…”
Xu Yangyi studied the three legionnaires intently. Eventually, he nodded. “Good.”
Yes, between people close and distant, there was a separation of familiarity. The three of them hadn’t followed him back then. In kind, he didn’t completely favor them. What was the future going to be like? They needed to use double their strength to fight! Double or triple to reimburse the mistake of their choice in the past.
Before proving themselves, everything was empty words.
“Everyone, there’s still six months. Cultivate well. Next time will be a test of life and death.”
With these words, he lifted his foot and walked into his cultivation room.
The remaining group looked at each other in dismay.
“I’m not sure, but where are Fellow Daoists Zhan Twelve and Fang Cheng?” Finally, Jun Man sighed and cupped his fist. “What did Commander mean by saying that there’s gonna be a test of life and death six months from now?”
“I don’t know, either…” Peony pursed her lips. “but… we should know soon… As for Zhan Twelve and Fang Cheng, I heard they returned to their clans to cultivate. They’re not together with us.”
Xu Yangyi didn't care whatsoever about the discussion outside. This time, the legionnaires really were divided into all kinds of ranks. Nonetheless, this wasn’t important. What was important… were those clans hiding in the shadows. They were already beginning to sharpen their blades, and he was unaware where these blades were!
“This slave pays respects to Master.” Just as he entered the cultivation room, a flattering voice immediately echoed, “I see that Master’s complexion doesn’t appear to be well?”
Xu Yangyi didn’t spare a word and took off his suit. He pulled at his shirt, and the strong muscles of his upper body were bared to the air. He finally moved his left arm around.
When the spider had attacked, he hadn’t moved his left arm! All in order not to expose a trace of his strength!
“Grandpa Wei.” Xu Yangyi’s gaze was intensely fixed on his freely moving arm. “Have you ever seen this object?”
Wei Zhongxian moved closer and looked for a few seconds, shaking his head. “I haven’t… but it’s bound to be an item from an ancient era. Immortress Yu surely knows.”
Xu Yangyi nodded and put on his shirt. “When are you leaving?”
“At the latest, thirty days from now.” Wei Zhongxian bowed deeply. “I have no choice but to go. I cannot accompany you for long. Please forgive me, Master.”
Xu Yangyi’s gaze faintly darkened. His hidden ace here was being pulled away.
“And if…” He took a deep breath. “I made you stay?”
Wei Zhongxian chuckled, “Master, I am only His Majesty’s dog. What use does a grand figure like you, who is honored as gold and noble like jade, need of me?”
Xu Yangyi’s expression was motionless, and he stared deeply at Wei Zhongxian. After ages, he nodded. “In that case, I won’t see you out.”
If you wanted something done, then you needed to do it yourself!
Xiaoqing’s and Fahai’s treasuries still hadn’t been open! He didn’t believe… that there wasn’t a shadow of an assault treasure there within!
It made no sense if there weren’t. Both of the greater demons would basically be unaware of what the situation was like after leaving. Were their past enemies still alive? Presently, hadn’t there been great changes in the world? And would they encounter the obstruction of a difficult foe once they left? It wasn’t realistic if they didn’t have one single protective item.
As long as there was one… As long as there was one! This was his hope to stand firm in Longsu Province!
Give him reign to start a prairie fire, for I possess the pouring seawaters! No one was any the wiser that he still had two essential, hidden cards in his hand! 
“Lastly, I still have a question that I want to ask your guidance on, Grandpa Wei.” This place was his final garden. He didn’t mask things one bit, and cupped his fist and said, “What is a heavenly paradise?”
“The reason why I haven’t left after so long is because I was waiting for you to ask these words, Master.” Wei Zhongxian respectfully took a knee and bowed. “Master, this time… I’m afraid it really will be a deadly battle…”
“You don’t understand the so-called lineages, and I… do not understand more. For their own foundations and clans, they… are a pack of man-eating war-lunatics…”
“But a heavenly paradise… To clans and apex cultivators, these words… absolutely aren’t a term that can be sketched in light shades and described so simply… In this, there are too many secrets hidden that cannot be recorded in text…”
1. “Give him reign to start a prairie fire, for I possess the pouring seawaters!” This… was pretty hard to translate, and I’m not sure if I did justice. This line originates from a Ming eunuch named Yan Shifan (1480-1567 CE) as he talks about his foe Xu Jie. This phrase is along the lines of countering forces.