It snowed roughly half a year at a time in Archaion. Even though it should be spring in the third month, during which the south had gotten rather warm, Taiji Peak Lake was still covered in the same snow-white blanket. It was pure white all the way to the horizon.
Having returned to the sect, Tianming no longer had to live so tensely as he had when he was fending for dear life. However, Feiling's recent change brought him new worries.
Currently, he was sitting on the roof of Soulburn Hall with Feiling close by him. They were practically glued together, allowing him to indulge in the faint, yet charming fragrance she exuded.
In the courtyard below, Xian Xian's black roots were buried deep into the earth as it began ravenously gorging itself on roasted wildbeast meat while its spiritform laid in Feiling's embrace, chewing the air as if it was really eating something.
Meow Meow, on the other hand, had spread its body lazily on a large rock, basking in the little spring sunlight they got, while Lan Huang flipped itself over and spun around like a top as it laughed heartily like the purest of children, though it was loud and annoying to say the least. Lastly, Ying Huo was comfortably stretching its body on the roof; its wing was still bandaged up. This was the kind of peaceful life Tianming had dreamed of living while he was in the Kilostar Domain. It was too bad this wouldn't last, for the five divine realms would no doubt come for payback after their horrendous failure. The whole sect still hadn't fully comprehended the terror they had wrought; the sects were still a looming threat.
"Ling'er, didn't Feng and you wipe her out back at the tomb?" Tianming asked. The spring sunlight highlighted the defined lines of his face. Perhaps due to all the slaughter he had engaged in, his current visage seemed far fiercer than before, especially his heterochromatic eyes that seemed terrifying even though he wasn't the slightest bit angry. Other disciples now unconsciously saw him as someone on the level of third-origin tribulation elders.
"That's right. I even saw her vanish into nothingness myself. But...." Feiling bit her luscious red lips.
"Now that I think of it, even though she was eradicated, fragments of her soul seemed to have invaded my own. Even though she's gone and I’m in control, she seemed to show up when I was in danger. It feels really weird, unlike the time before we entered the tomb. Back then, she was controlling me in full and I completely lost consciousness. But this time, I can't even be sure whether it was me or her who killed Fang Qingli. I can't tell who that rage and anger belonged to. It feels like we’re one and the same, with the only difference being she's from a hundred thousand years ago, while I’m the one that came after. Our experiences forged us to have different patterns of thoughts and behaviors, but the foundation of our being still seems identical," she said, leaning against his shoulder.
"That's why even though her divine soul is gone, her being is still somehow around and she's able to subconsciously affect your actions?"
"That could be it, but it's just a guess at the end of the day. Whether she'll rise again to take my place isn’t something I can say for sure." Feiling sighed and continued, "This world is far too complicated. Why can't it be simple and let me live in peace?"
"Great power comes with great responsibility. Thinking back, before we came to Archaion, the two of us were carefree and without worry. But now, the sect has helped me advance by leaps and bounds, Great Emperor Xuanyuan in particular. You also took Xuanyuan Xi's place, so you have to assume her responsibilities as well. You have to be a real goddess."
"Spoken like a reliable person! I have much to learn from you," she said, shooting him a look of admiration.
Tianming had grown so much that he was a completely different person from the time the two had met. Back then, his mind was filled with nothing but revenge, causing him to see the entire world with nothing but hate. But now his worldview factored in many more things, like altruism, justice, and protecting all sentient life. He was cultivating on the most righteous path and was accountable to all sentient life. To repay them for their blessings, he knew what kind of person he had to strive to become.
"We shouldn't forget our origins and who we are. It's important to always be able to trace our way back to them." Feiling pulled his hand into her own and tightly held it, smiling when they met each other's gaze.
"If this is all that life has to offer me, there’s nothing more I could possibly ask for." Tianming felt that no matter what choice he made, Feiling's opinion would always mirror his.
"I don't want to be something you settle on. I want to be something you can't live without," she said mischievously and winked repeatedly.
"Oh, really? You think you're up for the challenge?"
"It doesn't matter. I decided that I'd be anything you need if you were able to return from Kilostar Domain."
"Oh? I didn't think my little girl had grown so much that she knows how to flirt now."
"Oh, no, I'm just an amateur. I'm not nearly as accomplished as you are."
They chuckled and burst out laughing. That was a really familiar phrase.
"Ouch!" Tianming suddenly cried and suddenly drew back his hand.
"What's wrong?" she anxiously asked.
"There was a thorn on your hand!"
"No there isn't!" she said after checking her hand.
"I beg to differ. How could a beautiful rose like you not have a few thorns?"
Feiling blanked out for a moment, then snapped, "Idiot! Where did you learn such cheesy lines?!"
Three days later, Tianming settled down and continued cultivating. His Imperial Will had grown to a new limit.
"I'm finally at the sixth-level life phase." He and his beasts had all broken through again, and the invigorating effects of the life phase once more overwhelmed that of the death phase. His samsara rings had also grown larger again. While he no longer had death tribulation force, he was filled to bursting with far more energy than before. Having returned to the life phase, his body returned to its youthful and powerful state. Those younger than him weren't nearly as powerful, while those on his level were decades older. He was the first in the history of the continent to reach this level of power at his age.
"I believe I can now fight ninth-level life samsarans one-on-one. Coupled with Ling'er's Spiritual Attachment, I can even take on ninth-level death samsarans! Her powers are growing even more powerful now, after all. As for killing people like ghoul kings... I might as well dream on. The Kilostar Domain was but a fleeting dream. I have to wake up from it and return to reality, or I'll die a horrible death."
The path to sovereignhood was paved tile by tile, after all.
"I guess I'll have a harder and harder time breaking through from now on. The path to godhood is filled with countless obstacles, after all."
Even with his talent, it wouldn't be an easy climb now that the Old Deepstar Path no longer did much for him.
"My latest breakthrough was thanks in large part to killing so many tribulation elders and Xue Yi. That old fool loved drinking blood and committed quite a lot of sins as a result. While he couldn’t compare to Ye Bodhi, I still got a lot of good karma from it, which made my Imperial Will grow really quickly."
He turned to look to the south. "If they use dastardly methods that harm the common folk during the war and create opportunities for me to earn good karma, they better not blame me for profiting off the war! If they ignore what’s right in this world for the sake of their own desires, the heavens will send judgment toward them to balance things out."
Tianming believed that the path of godhood definitely wasn't one that opportunistic evildoers would be able to achieve. "Let's wait and see."
This wasn't just his blind confidence in himself. Instead, it was his faith in the fairness of karmic fate.
"As long as Ling'er is with me, the only ones in the sect stronger than me are the fifty third-origin tribulation elders." Even though he wouldn't be as powerful as he had been within the Kilostar Domain, he was the only one after Xuanyuan Xi to achieve this level of power at his age in the history of the continent. As for the nine others who had managed to achieve godhood, they only did so at the ages of a hundred and above.
"Ling'er's mission was to rapidly cultivate and ascend again, but Fang Qingli threw that plan out of whack. She's ten levels weaker now, and the five divine realms are about to launch their all-out attack. There might not be time for her to catch up now."
Though, Tianming didn't mind if it meant she would be able to tag along with him. All she had to do was leave her innate godchild body behind and inform Xuanyuan Dao about it. Xuanyuan Dao was always standing guard outside Soulburn Hall. He didn't even dare to leave to explore the Kilostar Photondragon's uses.
After Feiling used her Spiritual Attachment, he left Soulburn Hall.
"Where are we going, Big Brother?" Feiling asked, hidden within Tianming's body.
"Ever since you came to the Nine Divine Realms, you haven't left Soulburn Hall. I'm going to take you to see the sights in the sect!"
She let out a hearty cry from sheer relief; it was stifling, being cooped up for a whole year. Tianming took her all across Taiji Peak Lake's forests, mountains, and snowy plains. He even went shopping for clothes and accessories for her. Occasionally, Feiling would dispel the Spiritual Attachment to move about on her own, her face full of smiles.
Nowadays, Tianming was a peak figure in the sect and he attracted worshipful looks everywhere he went. His meteoric rise was just like something out of legend!
"Big Brother, I have something to ask you."
As night fell, he gave her a piggyback ride across the snowy plain that looked like it had a slight blue hue. "What is it?"
"When can the goddess and imperial son openly be together with each other?" she asked optimistically. She had spent much time hidden during the day.
"Just wait a little longer. Perhaps not before I'm able to overcome a couple of third-origin tribulation elders." If word of their relationship got out, it would be a huge scandal. He couldn't be sure whether everyone in the sect would be able to accept it. There was no way they would allow someone like him, a disciple, to date the object of their faith. It might even be so shocking that it would deal a huge blow to the sect's morale.
"Don't worry. If anything, I'm even more impatient than you about being able to get intimate."
"I wonder. Weren't you going to give that Muxue an ultimate tribulation manna?" she mouthed with a pout.
"Oh, you're jealous? I won't give it to her then."
"No way. She lost a lifebound beast for your sake. How could you break your promise like that? Trust is fundamental to human relationships, you know."
"Ah. I'll begrudgingly give it to her then! Hahaha!"
"I knew it. You're just messing with me." She grabbed his ears from behind and began pinching.
"Stop, Ling'er! Don't move!" he said with a sudden, stern voice.
"What is it? She hugged him even tighter now."
"Ah, it's really fulfilling! They sure filled up well!"
"What are you talking about?!" Right after she said that, she blushed. "Put me down."
"I didn't say anything. I'm just saying my life now is really fulfilling! Get your mind out of the gutter!"
Feiling was completely speechless.
"You little Li!" Xian Xian's voice came ringing out from his lifebound space. "Don't lie! You're talking about her melons!"
Tianming froze. "Who taught you to say that?!" he asked with a grimace.Previous Chapter Next Chapter