Mu Qingqing looked up, and with a jolt, realised that one of Li Tianming’s eyes was shining like the sun, while the other was a pitch-black sea of clouds. It was like staring into the face of a deity!
“Qingqing, do you need a mirror to see how ugly you are right now?” Li Tianming’s lips curved.
Three long years. It had taken him three years to get to this point. To see her begging and crawling at his feet was like a dream came true! Trampling her body and spirit like this was nothing short of exhilarating.
But that was just the first step. He had known for a long time that Mu Qingqing wasn’t his match, ever since he defeated Wei Guohao. She put up a good fight, but that was all. Now, Li Tianming’s target had shifted to Lin Xiaoting, and only with his death would Midas rest in peace.
As for Mu Qingqing, she was entirely at his mercy now. A single finger would end her, and under his burning stare, Mu Qingqing began to shake violently, to the point that even her eyes were having trouble focusing.
“Are you showing me mercy when you said you don’t want me to die?” She squeezed the words out of her lips.
“For someone who called me naive just now, you yourself are quite naive too.” Li Tianming laughed, knowing that mercy was never an option. “I’m just wondering how I should end you! I’ll be a beast if I show you even a tinge of pity.”
Li Tianming lightly patted her cheeks, a cold smile on his face. “Now that I think about it, killing you with a stab or two is letting you off too lightly.”
Mu Qingqing trembled. “What for? Have you forgotten the time we spent together, and how you treated me back then?”
“Of course I didn’t, and you called me naive for that. But you’re right. And now, I’ll never be that fool again.” Li Tianming detached the Blazing Dragon Fang from his Blazing Dragon Chainblade. “Congratulations. I now know how I should handle you. Let this be my last sincere promise to you: you will not die an easy death, or else I’ll never be able to face Midas.”
His Blazing Dragon Fang pierced straight through Mu Qingqing’s body, and she shrieked, curling up like a puppy a moment later. He hadn’t stabbed her randomly either; he’d perforated one of her spirit sources with that strike.
Mu Qingqing now looked like a complete wretch, her fingers drawing five bloody marks across the rock. Was it a pitiful sight? Li Tianming didn’t think so. Who was there to pity him on the night he carried Midas’ corpse with him for miles in the rain?
“The positions of your five spiritsources… I remember them very well. Since Blueshine evolved, you should have two more. Those you can keep, Qingqing.” It was a given that he knew those things, with all the time they spent together. He still remembered their happiest moment together, back when they first attained Spiritsource. A Saintbeast War-Soul, however, was enough to make her betray him utterly.
He stabbed out four more times, each of them piercing a spiritsource, scattering her beast ki to the winds. She was already handicapped when her beast died, but Li Tianming had accelerated that process by crushing most of her spirit sources. She now had two left; returning to Lightning Manor without dying was still within her.
“I beg you, kill me! I know I’ve sinned! Just kill me!” She knelt down, half-sobbing, half-shrieking. Was she still that white lotus flower that people admired and envied, with her hair scattered across her face and her body covered in blood?
The answer was obvious. She was now facing the music, and the man she’d wronged was playing for her.
Li Tianming grabbed her head and forced her to look in his eyes. “You and I both know that’s not going to happen. Qingqing, do you know why I’m not going to kill you today?”
“You’re going to live and feel how the past three years treated me. No, not three years. You’ll just need to endure until I turn Lin Xiaoting into bloody strips of flesh, and burn that sight into your eyes. Hold on until then, and I’ll forgive you. How about it?” A demonic smile danced on Li Tianming’s face — but who was the one who had turned a once-sincere smile into the now-devilish leer?
“Aah…” Mu Qingqing opened her mouth, but her trembling had reduced her words into an incoherent mess.
“I... am sorry…” She forced the words out of her lips as tears rolled across her face.
“No, no. Admitting defeat now is just too early. Save it for the day when I kill Lin Xiaoting.” Li Tianming rose to his feet, and Mu Qingqing fell to the floor. With only two spiritsources supporting her body, she was close to death. In fact, she had already fainted.
For Li Tianming, that was the first step of his revenge. Killing her was pointless; her being alive would add on to her suffering. He was not intending to let her off easily. What he wanted was for her to return to the Lightning Manor, to experience what he had felt for the past three years. It wouldn’t take long, and everything would end once Lin Xiaoting died at his hand.
For now, he was going to let her ruminate on something he knew the answer to. Was physical pain the greatest suffering? Or would it be the hurtful words of others and the mental trauma she would be going through? Li Tianming would leave her to find out in the Lightning Manor.
Apologising now was simply too premature. After all, Li Tianming’s vengeance had just started. True, it was cruel, but this cruelty was a necessity if he was to ever walk out from the shadow of his past. Once everything ended, he could return to being the optimistic, cheerful, fun-loving boy he was, praying that he would never meet someone like her again.
What was over was over. For now, he needed to claim his victory for the Abyssal Trials to save his mother’s life. Anything else could wait.
The little chick had brought Jiang Qingluan and the Bluefire Vermilion Bird to one of the islands while the two were exchanging words. The Heavenly Pattern Barrier had shrunk to cover a fifth of the lake now — the trials were going to end in a moment or two. Li Tianming headed over to check Jiang Qingluan’s injuries. She was still alive but unconscious, and even in her sleep, she seemed to be in pain.
“Li Tianming, even with such a storm, you didn’t die?!” Three teenagers approached from a distance, with two of them looking somewhat reluctant. Of course, the reluctant fellows — the Xing and Chen brothers — were obviously disappointed at Li Tianming’s stellar performance, and to drive home the point, Xing Que was the one who had asked that question.
“You killed Mu Qingqing? Are you not afraid of the Lightning Manor, or even Lin Xiaoting?” Chen Hao sounded shocked.
“Nah, she’s still alive. I just crippled her,” Li Tianming replied with a smile.
“Even then, you are done for.” Xing Que frowned. He could tell that Mu Qingqing was in a really bad state.
“Mind your own business, or I don’t mind teaching you a lesson too.” Li Tianming's smile widened.
The two fellows clammed up immediately. They hadn’t gotten over their phobia of him yet.
“How is Princess Qing doing?” Mo Lin ignored the twins and joined Li Tianming.
“She’s poisoned, but I don’t have any antidote. Do you?” Li Tianming asked.
“I do. I’m a medic, so I’m quite familiar with the uses of various spirit herbs.” He reached for his pocket, showing off his ample preparations for the Abyssal Trials.
Mo Lin took a look at Jiang Qingluan. “Black-Devil Poison. Fortunately, I have the appropriate antidote.”
“Will she be fine?” Li Tianming asked nervously.
“Don’t you worry. She might need to rest for a few weeks after this, but she should be fine.” Mo Lin answered. Li Tianming heaved a sigh of relief, and so did Jiang Feiling. Mo Lin was a medic, so naturally they could trust his words.
As for the Bluefire Vermilion Bird, it was also affected by the same poison. While Mo Lin did not have enough spirit herbs to cure it, it was hardy enough to resist it, until they returned home.
Mo Lin started to heal Jiang Qingluan. About ten minutes later, the sickly-green hue on her skin began to recede.
“Apprentice brother Mo Lin, do you mind helping me to check whether she can stay alive for about a month?” Li Tianming pointed at Mu Qingqing.
“She’s in a bad state now. Her spiritsources are broken, and she overused the Purple Blood-Imprint. She can definitely make it back to the Lightning Manor, but she’s thoroughly crippled,” Mo Lin sighed.
“Do you find what I did cruel?” Li Tianming asked.
“Not really. I heard my master say that the events three years ago had another side to it.” Mo Lin’s mentor was Mu Yang’s apprentice brother.
“And does brother Mo Lin believe that?”
“I do.” Mo Lin looked at him in the eyes and said without hesitation. Surprisingly, he believed that it was Lin Xiaoting and Mu Qingqing’s fault. That was enough for Li Tianming to be grateful about, and he was glad that he saved Mo Lin from Yueling Ji the other day.
“‘Another side’? Are you suggesting that Mu Qingqing and Lin Xiaoting framed you and that the Saintbeast War-Soul was yours to begin with?” Chen Hao questioned.
Xing Que breathed in sharply. “Chen Hao, what did you just say?!”
“My father mentioned that before, but I didn’t believe it at first. You see…” Chen Hao threw a complicated look at Li Tianming. So he really wasn’t the filthy criminal depicted by those rumours, and was actually the victim? And yet, under these circumstances, with your lifebound beast killed and your Saintbeast War-Soul robbed, you still returned for revenge?
His opinion of Li Tianming did an about-turn as he processed the shocking twist.
“Uncle Chen said that?!” Xing Que glared at Li Tianming. He wasn’t dumb, and if so many seniors had claimed that, then it seemed likely that what they said really was real. Now that the basis of their discrimination looked like a lie, he was beginning to feel a delightfully indescribable emotion.
The subject of their discussion, however, was rather indifferent to their opinions. He simply stood beside Jiang Qingluan, silently waiting for her to wake up.
Once the Heavenly Pattern Barrier was a thousand metres wide, it shattered. And with that, the Abyssal Trials were over.
Any moment now, representatives from Heaven’s Elysium would be appearing.
End of Volume 1: The Eggstraordinary Duo
Next, Volume 2: Bane of Life