There were too many enemy elites around Tianming, eyeing him like predators eyed prey in a playful manner. Their age averaged around a hundred and he seemed like a harmless bunny to them. Apart from beastmasters, there were also many lifebound beasts all over the area, all of them with six to seven hundred stars and sporting humongous sizes. They had basically sealed off any and all places Tianming could escape to; he wouldn't be able to slip away even if he was as small as a mosquito.
The five ghoul kings were dressed in large robes and covered in an aura of death, while the Hexapath Swordfiend, Feng Qingyu; Solar Master, Qin Fengyang; master of the Heptastar Aerial Sect, Changsun Shenqiong; and many other peak figures, all had their attention focused on Li Caiwei, who had managed to abduct him alone. They looked at her bloodied and injured form with respect and awe.
"As expected of the most beautiful and powerful lunar master in the past ten thousand years. Even while injured, your beauty still shines through. The blood on your face makes you even more charming," said the red-robed ghoul king, Xue Yi.
"Stop flattering me with empty words. No matter how beautiful a girl is, those of you from Nonahall only see us as material to make your zombie puppets. Now, I brought you the key, so you’d better hand over the starmap," she said with a smile.
She had risked everything, and even got hurt, though she would be able to recover from most of her injuries. Only Fang Taiqing's divine flame, that was still burning on her arm, would be harder to deal with. However, getting a starmap would make it all worth it, and it was Nonahall's turn to fulfill their promise. Naturally, there was little they could do but what they had promised, for she could still kill Tianming at a moment's notice.
"But of course. Lunar Master, you’ve contributed much and are our ally, so we’ll naturally give your sect the starmap of the Kilostar Domain," Xue Yi said. He took out a sparkling parchment and handed it to Li Caiwei as Long Cangyuan and Changsun Shenqiong watched enviously.
Tianming witnessed it all and finally understood what was going on. Not only had Nonahall not given up on the Kilostar Domain, they also had a starmap that seemed like it would be of great use within it. That must mean that Yi Xingyin had also been captured without anyone else in the sect noticing the first time he had come to scout the domain out. The question was, what had happened to him in the end? Tianming didn't see him among the crowd, so there was a good chance that he was already done for, gone just like that without so much as a whimper. Such was the cruelty of a world at war.
There were many precious resources in the world that were sought after by everyone, and the more one controlled, the more power they could project over others. Ambitions and fervent desires ran deep in everyone's blood. To obtain the treasures within the Kilostar Domain, Nonahall would be able to resort to any method.
Li Caiwei had no doubt rendered them a huge service by bringing Tianming, to the point that she was awarded the starmap, which just showed how big an impact Tianming defeating Yama had on the Nonahall Ghost Sect. Thanks to Li Caiwei, however, they had managed to turn things around again. It appeared that he would be killed soon after he opened the Kilostar Domain.
I wonder what I can do to survive now.... Tianming closed his eyes, knowing there was a good chance that this was the end of the road for him. He turned back and saw the Kilostar Domain right before him. There was a starry mist that looked a little like a veil. It was none other than the Kilostar Formation, which had been constructed by the nine divine realms.
Beyond the veil of mist were countless shining stars that were so blinding it was an impressive sight to behold. Tianming felt a little dizzy just looking at it; it was far more impressive and ancient than he had imagined.
Ever since he had obtained the Dragonhide, his Ancient Deepstar Godbody had improved at a much faster rate. In the past half month, he had absorbed almost four thousand astralsources into his body, strengthening it to the point that it was tougher than many seniors' own. His tough body was a huge asset in combat. The main point, however, was that it was also able to absorb and utilize the power of the stars. Here, he was like a star himself.
I wonder what’s hidden within the domain.... As he was thinking, Li Caiwei and the Nonahall Ghost Sect had finished their transaction. Now, he would be handled by Nonahall. Everyone watched as Ghoul King Xue Yi approached Tianming. He wore a long red robe with a red hood that covered much of his head, so all Tianming could see was part of his face, which was surrounded by a bloody mist. His mouth seemed larger than most people's by some measure. When he smiled, the corners of his lips seemed to stretch all the way to his ears. His mouth seemed wide enough to fit two fists within it.
"Oh honored Imperial Son, how does it feel now that you're about to die?" Xue Yi said as he gave his shoulder a pat.
"It isn’t as bad as I expected."
"Haha, you guys heard that?" The ghoul king's laughter spurred the rest to laugh with him, including Tianming. He was already helpless and in their captivity, and had had his agency completely stripped from him, so he no longer cared about anything like dignity or respect.
"I was expecting an oath from you instead. Something along the lines of 'if I survive, I'll make sure all of you die in the most horrible way imaginable' or 'I'll raze your divine realms to the ground'."
The others laughed heartily once more.
"You sure like to tease me, Senior, though I must say it's pointless. I already lost, so I've accepted my fate."
"You have a point. I didn't think a little fellow like you would be able to cause us so much trouble to be honest. For you to be able to even do this much is a testament to your talent. For that, you have my respect. I suppose it's time for you to fulfill your purpose before you die, so I won't keep messing with you. Get to work!"
A hole opened up in Xue Yi's palm as a bloody, wriggling worm burrowed out from it. It looked a little like a leech and its head had a ring of sharp, gruesome teeth. It seemed like the child of a broodmother lifebound beast.
"What is this?" Tianming asked, his eyes twitching as he began to panic.
"It's a heartscourge worm. Its favorite food is live hearts, and it takes one slow bite after another. It can take up to ten days and nights for it to finish a meal, causing its host to die a most painful death. During those ten days, you'll start harboring tens of thousands of thoughts of regret. You'll even regret being born. Unfortunately for you, you'll die either way at the end of the tenth day."
"Isn't that rather pointless? You already said you'd stop messing with me," Tianming said.
"That's what I would've done, but Yama was my disciple, after all. I have to exact justice on his behalf, don't I? As you were born in the sticks of the Flameyellow Continent, you might not be aware of the Nonahall Ghost Sect's motto, right? Our policy is to pay others back ten times what we owe them. However, you killed so many of our disciples. I'm actually letting you off easy by using the heartscourge worm on you, got it, my little friend?"
"Amazing, truly amazing."
"I know you're already panicking and are just putting up a front. No matter. Just pray that you reincarnate into a better life next time, perhaps even into our sect! If you stand on the winning side, you won't be as unlucky as you are now, eh?" Xue Yi said as he smacked the back of his head twice.
"Got it. Thank you for your lecture, Senior. I'll make sure to remember it," he said, a little dizzy from the harsh smacks.
The others burst into another round of laughter, ecstatic at seeing the so-called imperial son in such a pathetic state. That was how Nonahall usually operated. The word 'cruel' simply didn't exist in their dictionary; this was just another normal day for them.
As they mocked and laughed at him, Xue Yi choked Tianming and fed the worm into his mouth. All he felt was searing pain coming from his throat before he lost all sensation. The parasite had wormed its way into his body, but now he couldn't tell where it was. It was over!
"Does that feel good?" Xue Yi asked while squeezing his mouth.
"It does," Tianming mumbled. He hadn't felt so humiliated in a long time. He would never forget the voice of someone who put him through so much shame.
The ghoul king chuckled at Tianming's unyielding spirit. "You, oh you, so young and foolish. I truly envy your naivete. I know you feel fine now, but that's just because the worm hasn't started working, you see. The real show's still about to come."
"So? What would you have me do?"
"Simple. Look over there. That's the Kilostar Formation."
"I see it alright." Though Tianming sounded like he was having a normal conversation, he was filled with so much killing intent he found it hard to control.
"Go inside and locate the formation core. Use your formation heart to deactivate the formation, and your mission is over. If you're obedient, I'll shorten the ten days of torture to one. When the pain finally starts, it'll dawn on you how much of a difference there is between ten days and one. It's different on a conceptual level. I must say, you truly are lucky to have an opportunity like that to atone for your sins."
"Can't you all go inside with me?" Tianming asked.Previous Chapter Next Chapter