An endless darkness spread out all over the place. The dreamscape was a simple one; many of the things recorded within the books appeared superficially without any significant essence or taste. Within the dream of Little You, there would often be a blade of green grass in the distance. Every time Little You wanted to approach and give it a sniff, it appeared to move further away into the distance.
The books had mentioned that the smell of the grass was really refreshing, but at present, she didn't even have a grasp of the concept of the word. She had asked her many companions what 'refreshing' felt like, but none could answer that question of hers.
That day, she dreamed about green grass once more. She opened her eyes wide and climbed toward it with all her power, intent on plucking one blade of grass. "Don't run, don't run...."
She quickly scrambled with her hands and just as she was about to catch up to it, the world twisted and the grass disappeared.
"How annoying." She felt like crying. It was a dream she couldn't wake from, one that repeated itself again and again. But this time around, the world seemed to twist far more than before. There was a flash before her eyes and she could hear a familiar voice calling out to her.
"Little You, wake up! Wake up now!"
A little confused, she soon realized who it was. "It's Mother's voice!"
She had been dreaming for so long that she almost couldn't recall the voice of her favorite person. "Mother told me that the day I wake up is the day I'll get to see grass!"
She was filled with endless excitement. The twisted world reformed before her eyes once more. She could finally see clearly. A woman with snow-white skin smiled at her as she lifted her out of a snow-white cocoon.
"I missed you, Mother!" she said, hugging her tightly.
"Do you still remember the day I told you about? It's today!" Her face was covered in warm tears that dripped onto her daughter's face. She was filled with utter adulation.
Then Little You heard a rumbling from the sky. She looked up blankly and saw countless of her own kin attacking the red roof of their domed world. The roof that had kept them trapped for countless years was finally starting to crack.
"Whoa! Mother, is this the legendary day when we return to the light?"
"Yes! Little You, those of our generation are too fortunate! Our descendants will be too!"
"What about our ancestors? What about Grandpa and the rest?"
"They were sacrificed by the demons. They never got a chance to see the light their whole lives!"
"Those demons kept us locked up for two hundred thousand years! They're so cruel. What did we do to deserve such punishment?" Little You's tears began flowing.
"We didn't do anything wrong! They were just cruel and evil! Little You, we’ll leave and get our revenge. We’ll vent the hatred of our ancestors that never got a chance to see the light over these two hundred millennia," the mother said with a furious look.
"But... all I want is to see real grass...."
"After you get your revenge, you'll get all the grass you want for all eternity."
"Okay." Little You still had other thoughts. She looked around at her skinny, hungry kin who were giving it their all, crying out at the top of their lungs as they attacked the roof. "Mother, where’s Big Brother? Before we slumbered, he told me he’d see the grass together with me. Is he awake now?"
"Little You...." The mother hugged her tight as more tears flowed, albeit for a different reason. "Your brother will never wake up ever again."
Soon, night fell. Tianming found the two keys of the Heaven Cauldron and left. Unsurprisingly, the five-colored pillar of light sprouting from the cauldron was no more. The starlit sky now seemed really gloomy. Standing atop the cauldron, Tianming looked up and saw that the five-colored star was no more. There was only a grey star remaining, and cracks had appeared on its surface. At the very least, the Skysource Hellshaker Formation hadn't completely collapsed yet.
"We don't have any more time." It was a full-on disaster. All he knew was that no matter how frantic and panicked every human on the continent was, he had to remain calm no matter what. "Back then, the Grand-Orient Realm was defended by my stepfather and the Divine Capital was defended by my dad. However, I’m the only one who can stand up for everyone on the Flameyellow Continent now."
Usually, the time one undertook heavy responsibilities was also the time of rapid growth. However, there was no time for him to admire the moment. The pressure he felt from his burden would make most people forget to breathe.
"The founding ancestor was able to do this before. I'm no longer young, so it's no excuse. I have to do it as well." If he escaped or cowered in fear in the time of crisis, even if he could escape alive, his dao of cultivation would no doubt collapse. Only when his fate was intertwined with that of all humanity could he truly comprehend the dilemma of a ruler.
"Let's go!" He and Ying Huo immediately made their way toward Xuanyuan Lake.
"Boss!" Meow Meow flew toward them from ahead.
"How's Ling'er?" he asked anxiously.
Meow Meow quickly briefed him on what had happened.
"Great, she's fine for now." Tianming finally breathed a sigh of relief. Even though Feiling had managed to stop the Archaionfiend, he hadn’t managed to stop Jiang Wuxin. The Archaionfiend had slowed down Tianming. Had that not been the case, he would have been able to intercept Jiang Wuxin before he entered the cauldron. "Is she still out cold?"
"Yes. Tortoise Bro and Sis are staying by her side," Meow Meow said.
"What about the Archaionfiend?"
"It's reined in for now."
Since that was the case, he decided to immediately head to the Old Deepstar Path. He took out the moonjade the emperor had given him as he charged toward the place, looking up at the grey star from time to time. He could still hear the booming from the Skysource Hellshaker Formation. The specters were about to return to the human realm!
When he reached Xuanyuan Lake, he noticed that all the elites there hadn’t dared to leave. The situation at the Heaven Cauldron was already a statement as to what would happen to humanity from that moment onward. As samsarans, everyone there knew that this wasn't a matter they could not involve themselves in. Even so, Tianming's return slightly soothed their worries. He had the others wait while he entered the Old Deepstar Path, going all the way to the end to the Deepstar Pool. The Deepstar Formation that Yi Xingyin had laid was still there.
"Great Emperor Xuanyuan said that the Moon Astral Gate was beyond the Deepstar Pool." He circled to the back of the pool, but there didn't seem to be anything there. However, when he took out the moonjade, he noticed that the astral patterns in front of him swirled and formed a star diagram that sparkled brightly. In the middle of the diagram was a depression that just happened to be the right size for the moonjade.
"I wonder if anyone from the Divine Moon Realm will come."
He squatted down and fit the moonjade into the hole. The star diagram slightly shook as it glowed bright with a gentle moonlight. A silver beam rose skyward, piercing through the Old Deepstar Path. Everyone outside could see the silver beam shoot toward the moon before vanishing into the clouds above.
"I wonder if this signal will get all the way to the Divine Moon Realm."
The moonjade was no more. It looked like it was meant to be used only once.
"I guess all we can do now is wait. However, the Ninefold Hell is about to be breached. Even if we do get help, will they make it in time? If there are those on the level of gods among the specters, they'll no doubt dominate us."
Not knowing was the worst kind of torture. When he left the path, he saw many people waiting outside for him. Xuanyuan Dao, Li Caiwei, Lin Yuntian, and the other sect masters, including Heptastar's Changsun Shenqiong, were there. The Sterling House of Fang and Draconis House of Jian hadn’t left, either. Even though Tianming had a bone to pick with the Fangs, this wasn't the time. They were facing the extinction of all humanity.
With Fang Taiqing now dead, those from the two houses could only kneel and beg for forgiveness.
"Human Emperor, please defend humanity!" said the million samsarans as they half-knelt in unison, including even those from Nonahall. This was the conclusion they had come to after a huge discussion—they would pledge their loyalty to him!
Most of them there didn't have any say in the infighting. They had mostly been manipulated by the ghoul kings and Dugu Jin. Bringing up their past mistakes before the threat that was to come was completely pointless.
Even though the title of human emperor was a little extravagant, desperate times call for desperate measures. His authority also came with responsibility to match, and it wasn't something just anyone could take on. That night at Xuanyuan Lake, the million elites pledged themselves to Tianming. Even though they were only a small part of humanity as a whole, it was clear that hard times were coming, even to those who had fled to the wilderness to hide.
"Everyone, now that it’s come to this, there’s no other choice. After a million years of enslavement by them and two hundred millennia of their imprisonment by us, the hatred between humanity and the specters is irreconcilable. There’s only one way to resolve this: a fight to the death. I’ll do my best to find out how powerful the specters are before coming back to reorganize. As long as we stand a chance to fight, I’ll never give up. Not being able to stop Jiang Wuxin was partly my fault. The return of the specters is inevitable now, so the fate of all humanity is tied together! As elites, every one of us here must fight on the frontlines for us to stand a chance at survival. Surrendering or running away will not save us! Our only choice is to fight to our last breath."
He had intended to still their hearts and minds with those words. It was a time of panic, and many were already beginning to lose it.
"He's right. There's no point in being afraid before we know anything. What we need to do now is prepare and scout out our enemies first. This is no longer a petty matter like dividing up the land for our rule. Instead, it's a debt of blood between us and the specters. If we lose, we'll end up as livestock! I'm sure you haven't forgotten how Jiang Wuxin alone consumed fifty million lifebound beasts, right?" Li Caiwei said. She showed her full support to Tianming and calmed many of the others down.
"More importantly, they've been imprisoned for all this time. They might be far from their peak. No doubt, the Ninefold Hell isn't a good place to live in. We might stand a chance of winning after all!" Lin Yuntian said. Many others agreed to that sentiment.
Tianming looked up at the sky once more. Then, a loud rumble echoed throughout as the Skysource Hellshaker Formation fractured into countless shards and rained down on the human realm.Previous Chapter Next Chapter