"For Demise of Heaven, you have to be one with the heavens and understand their intentions. Simplifying this into a source-ranked art was the hardest, since it had the most heavenly wills. As such, the difficulty level is nothing like the previous two Demises. Mastering it at your age is an impossible task, but I trust a little monster like you won’t disappoint me.”
“For Divine-Fury, you are a god, and a god’s wrath is capable of destroying anything and everything in this world! The crux of this move lies in understanding that wrath and reproducing that attendant intention of blotting out the world itself. If Demise of Earth aims to crush opponents with overwhelming force, then with Demise of Heaven aims to destroy with indifference. With your will, call forth an apocalypse to the mortal world and erase all other beings in existence.”
“While this may sound exaggerated, keep this determination in mind when you practise the Demise of Heaven. Even if you can’t destroy a world with the strike, you'll need that level of determination when you are swinging your sword at your opponent.”
Li Tianming committed every single word that Mu Yang had said into his memory. He was definitely a good disciple who processed every single thing he was taught, even trying to think beyond what he was told.
“Divine-Fury... to be a god...” He imagined the almighty creator, who ruled all beneath the azure skies. An overlord that looked down from the heavens. A being, whose single strike would cleave all creation. It was a terrifying prospect... and a tantalising one.
Li Tianming could tell the clear difference between the heavenly-ranked art and the ones that he practised before. The source-ranked arts were orders of magnitude easier than this. For source-ranked arts, he just needed to mimic the movements and understand the technique to use it. But for heavenly-ranked arts, even simplified ones, he needed to understand the heavenly will behind the move before he could cast the art. Only if by understanding the will of a god could he strike like one, and unleash his fury onto his foes.
“Fury of the divines!” Li Tianming thought about it again and again as he swung his sword. He pondered over the art in the day, while spending the night cultivating. In that day alone, he had struck out three thousand times, his muscles now sore to the point that his arms were immobile. And yet, that was nothing compared to the mental fatigue he felt. Trying to be a god, even through thought alone, was a herculean feat.
In Mu Yang's original plan, Li Tianming was to study the first two Demises, leaving Demise of Heaven for when Li Tianming reached Unity. But his talent had surpassed the limits of Mu Yang's imagination, having progressed to Demise of Heaven in no time at all.
The relationship between Divine-Fury and Heavenly-Judgement was like the one between Spectral-Dance and Soul-Extinction, where the former was a build-up for the later. Apocalyptic-Will, however, had the essence of the three demises combined! As Li Tianming brushed up on Spectral-Dance, he realised that it helped him to understand the idea behind Divine-Fury better, which in turn helped in understanding Heavenly-Judgement. The earlier moves were like ladders that set a foundation for Demise of Heaven.
That was in fact one of the key points about learning the three demises, something that Mu Yang had not told him on purpose. But when Mu Yang saw him starting all over from Spectral-Dance again, it was obvious Li Tianming had grasped the most important concept already.
“I chose to not tell him about it, but to think he actually figured it out by himself that quickly. In comparison, it took me an entire year to understand that and master Divine-Fury. This kid really is something special.” Mu Yang sighed. “It makes sense, since he's Wei Jing's son... but that Li Yanfeng? Ugh."
He could feel his head aching as he thought of the past.
Eleven, twelve, thirteen... On the thirteenth day, Li Tianming had mastered Divine-Fury! Unknown to Mu Yang, Li Tianming had taken a shortcut to understand the will of the gods. Instead of the gods, Li Tianming thought of the phoenix flying in the realm of stars, the thunderfiend in the endless sea of lightning, and the black hand. What was it to like to be them?
How would Mu Yang react had he known that Li Tianming had found something even beyond the will of the gods? Like the thunderfiend, capable of cleansing myriad worlds with lightning. Was it a god, or was it something so much more? Mu Yang had never beheld such a sight, which was why Li Tianming’s achievement was also beyond his expectations.
When Li Tianming executed Divine-Fury, Mu Yang couldn't help but rub his eyes. Li Tianming’s rendition was far more destructive, unleashing a hell of flames and lightning with a single blow!
But the surprises didn't end there. On the seventeenth day, he had mastered Heavenly-Judgement too. The stance was yet another level more powerful, supported by a willpower meant to destroy everything in existence.
Now all that was left was the Apocalyptic-Will. It was more difficult than the other six combined, and Li Tianming reckoned he needed another ten days to learn its basics. The willpower required was even more complicated, and he found it hard to grasp that level of understanding. With that said, he had already done incredibly well.
These six stances are sufficient for now. I should take a break and see if I can make another breakthrough in levels. It had been a week since he entered seventh level Spiritsource. But compared to the time at the Abyssal Battlefield, his strength had grown tremendously.
“I overestimated myself when I said I can get you a grade six chain, although I did find a grade seven one. However, you are not at a level where you can use that.” Even with Mu Yang’s position and wealth, it was difficult to find a grade seven chain, considering how rare such weapons were.
“No worries, I don’t mind a grade seven one…” Li Tianming grinned. Grade seven beastial weapons were worth a fortune, mainly used by beastmasters in Heavenly Will.
“Grade seven weapons have purple heavenly patterns and are already infused with the power of Heavenly Will. It's too early for you to use such a weapon, and you can only truly understand it at the later levels of Unity,” Mu Yang explained.
Li Tianming grinned. “Don’t tell me you are too stingy to give it to me.”
“Of course not, I will give it to you when you have the opportunity to leave Vermilion Bird.” Mu Yang patted him on the shoulder.
“Thank you, Uncle Yang!” It sure felt good to have seniors backing him up. However, what Li Tianming cared about was not leaving Vermilion Bird, but how to not let Lin Xiaoting leave Vermilion Bird!
At night, Li Tianming opened the windows on top of the Flameyellow Pagoda as he stared in Lightning Manor’s direction. A gentle breeze caressed his glowing white hair, a bloody mist forming in his eyes.
“Lightning Manor, Yueling Clan, and the vice-inspectors. What are they planning, and why is it taking so long?” Li Tianming frowned.
He held a golden feather in his hand, a feather that belonged to Midas. He had recently made a trip back to the institute, and found this in a corner of his old bedroom. It was the last feather of Midas that he could find.
“Brother, you shall rest in peace soon. Soon...”
There was a bottle in front of him. It was prepared for draining Lin Xiaoting’s blood, to honour Midas.
“Mu Qingqing, I wonder if you are dead yet.” Li Tianming snickered coldly. Even if she was still alive, the torture she went through for the past month probably made death look like a mercy.
That was within Li Tianming’s expectations as well. He wouldn’t let her die that easily, just like how he wouldn’t forgive her. He would never forget the brother that he had lost on that stormy night, along with the hatred in his heart.
Li Tianming picked up the bottle. The sword was ready, and so was the container for Lin Xiaoting’s blood. All he needed now was an opportunity.
On the very same night, that opportunity arrived. Li Tianming received a wedding invitation from the Lightning Manor:
To Li Tianming,
On the fifth of October, a wedding will be held between my grandson Lin Xiaoting and Yueling Ji of the Yueling Clan. A feast will be prepared, and it will be our pleasure to have you join us.
Li Tianming finished reading and his lips curved. Again, that was expected.
“Qingqing, are you happy?” It must have been a memorable month for her. Li Tianming carefully kept the invitation in his pocket.
“Today is the fourth, which means that their wedding is tomorrow.”
“Will you be going?” asked the little chick.
“Of course.” There was no doubt it would be an interesting night, and there was no way Li Tianming would miss it.