Chapter 992 - Last Step Before Ascension

"Sister Yin, should we continue our search?"

"No need. I've had enough fun today. Let's continue next time," Huiye Yin said. She knew what Huiyue Jie was going for. Bullying didn't entail going all out right away. Instead, it intensified without an end in sight, causing more despair than all-out hazing ever could.

"Isn't this a little overboard? Why’re we bullying Huiye Shi? She always stays in her lane," one of them said.

"Shut up! She challenged me!" Huiye Yin growled.

"Alright...."

......

Tianming returned from divine moon hall that night, only to see Huiye Shi in tears and Feiling beside her patting her back. Seeing her bald, he couldn't help but say, "Did you get sick of the mortal coil and decide to become a nun?"

Hearing that, she burst out crying even louder than before.

"Don't tease her. She was just bullied," Feiling said.

"Oh?" Tianming came forward and raised her face, only to see the turtle-shell pattern of the carvings and almost burst out laughing.

"Hey, why’re you laughing?! Do you have a heart?!" Huiye Shi complained.

"What's going on?"

Huiye Shi then explained what she knew.

"Isn't that a little weird? Does it have something to do with me?" Tianming asked.

"Just because you beat up Huiyue Yu? It can't be. Huiye Yin is Granny Yuehe's granddaughter," Huiye Shi said.

"Then why?"

"I don't know! She said she would come again! It's over for me!"

"I'll leave you to cry for a bit." Tianming pulled Feiling inside the courtyard. Huiye Shi burst out crying even louder outside.

"Will she be alright?" Feiling asked, turning back to look a few times.

"It's fine. Let her vent. At least she wasn't harmed in any real way," Tianming said. Looking at Feiling, he asked, "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. There were those at the Dipole Sky level yesterday. I might not be able to fight them off, but running is still not an issue."

"Not bad. But no matter how good you are at running, you can't run from me!" he said, gripping her hand tight.

"Stop boasting. If I want to run, you won't be able to touch anythi—mmmf!" Before she could finish, Tianming closed in with a kiss. Her face immediately flushed red and she punched him many times.

"Damn, do it lighter! You hit hard, you know?" He could still feel his chest pulse.

"You deserved it!"

After messing around for a bit, they sat down in a pavilion.

"So, how are you progressing?" she asked.

"I've trained a little bit more. The divine moon hall really is useful. After absorbing more stellunar source tonight, I'll reach the eleventh-level death phase."

"You're far too fast."

"Of course. I'm a professional."

"If we keep a low profile, you should be able to reach the Ascension stage without a problem."

"Yeah. I plan to do just that, so I'll need you to look out for Huiye Shi."

"If it's just the same lot from today, I'll be able to escape with her. I already told her to stick close to me."

"Then it'll be fine. She's really obedient, there's no way she'll run off too far."

Tianming had to prioritize breaking through to save Ye Lingfeng, so he couldn't afford to mind small matters like this. Thankfully, Feiling was here so he didn't need to worry. Every night, the power of the stellunar source would emerge from the ground and the eye-catching silvery light would automatically flood into people's bodies.

"Ling'er, have you heard anything about the killer lately?" Tianming asked.

"I did. Apparently he went to all of the Eightmoon Skycities apart from Divine Moon Skycity. Now, all of them are sealed and will probably stay that way until he's caught." Feiling had heard that from Huiye Shi.

"For a top elite like him, as long as he doesn't fall for any traps, even Sovereign Xi herself won't be able to capture him," Tianming said with a troubled look.

"That's right. The divine moonrace are in trouble."

"Thinking back to that night when I was cultivating, something weird occured to me. Don't laugh when I tell you this. I have a feeling that the mysterious killer is the specter, Bodhi."

"Him? How could that be possible? Wasn't he only a fourth-level ascendant?"

"That's what he claimed to be, at least."

"But he couldn't even take a strike from Huiyue Yin, right?"

"That's right. It might have to do with the fact that he had just been released from the Ninefold Hell and didn't have any stellunar source to convert into astralforce."

"However, I heard that he is growing stronger according to the attacks on the other cities. Some believe he’s a tenth-level ascendant or above. That's far too high. Given how desolate the Ninefold Hell was, and the bloodmoon caeli of the specters, there hasn't been anyone among their ancestors that was nearly that powerful. The strongest of them were third level, at best. How could someone so powerful exist? Even among the divine moonrace, who have countless caeli, there’s only a handful of tenth-level ascendants. It isn't that easy for anyone to reach that level, anyway," Feiling said.

"I've thought the same myself... but my instincts keep telling me that it's him. I can't really confirm it now, and I worry that if I announce it, the divine moonrace will immediately go down to exterminate all the remaining specters regardless of whether or not it’s true. That won't change anything and the killer is still here to threaten them. If the divine moonrace takes the billion remaining specters as hostages to force him into a trap, assuming the killer is even Bodhi, there's no way they'd bring all those specters to the Divine Moon Realm. In other words, they'll make the Flameyellow Continent their battleground! We'll potentially lose billions of innocents. The divine moonrace doesn't care about us, after all," Tianming said.

"So, whether or not it is Bodhi, it's not something you can say, right?" Feiling now knew what he was thinking; it was a pretty thorough analysis. The humans of the Flameyellow Continent had finally managed to gain a hope of survival, and any more battles would be detrimental.

"Yes. Not to mention, Bodhi hates the divine moonrace. Great Emperor Xuanyuan has been dead for a long time, so the only remaining target for revenge is the divine moonrace. The humans of the Flameyellow Continent aren't worthy of his wrath, given how weak they are. Perhaps he's also afraid of making the presence of the surviving specters known to the Divine Moon Realm, hence why he didn't start anything on the Flameyellow Continent and inadvertently spared them. This is a hard balance to tread. As for the divine moonrace, they have far more elites and there's nothing I can do to help them. The only choice I have is to try gaining some power or standing before the balance crumbles. Ideally, I’ll gain enough power for the divine moonrace to have to be wary of me."

"Big Brother, it sounds like you're certain that it's really Bodhi."

"It's still just a gut feeling," he said helplessly.

The enemy was really careful, and Tianming knew far too little about the astralscape. Perhaps it really could be some random astral pirate.

"I do think you're right, though, at least based on the potential motive Bodhi may have. Do you know what the key is?" Feiling asked.

"What?"

"The first person to die was Liu Yizhao, and the strongest ones in Huiyue City to perish were Huiyue Du and Yusheng Luo. The deaths of the others are just padding to cover the killer's true intentions."

"You're right! Not to mention, he even tried to look for me and Huiye Shi on the night he killed Huiyue Du and had planned to immediately kill me. He changed his mind at the last minute when the city was being sealed. Now, it makes sense. The only question remaining is, how has he become so powerful?"

"I have no idea about that either. This person is terrifying," Feiling said with a shudder.

"Looks like we're in more danger than we thought, then. The fate of all humanity, including my dynasty, will hang by a thin thread if I die. If the Veneramoon Formation is deactivated, I'll be in grave danger. I also killed Bodhi's son, and if he knows that I was the one who also plotted for the extermination of so many specters, he'll definitely be filled with hate for me."

"The only way to overcome this is to be as powerful as him," Feiling said.

"That's right." Tianming held her hand, feeling rather pleasant after having figured it all out. As long as the formation was active, Bodhi wouldn't be able to harm him. Once that was past, they could flee and remain in hiding. As long as Bodhi wanted to keep the remaining specters safe, the Tianming Dynasty would survive, so he only needed to make sure he didn't die.

His weaknesses were the humans in his dynasty and the billion surviving specters. Tianming and Feiling didn't want a battle to be fought on the Flameyellow Continent. They looked each other in the eye and smiled. Despite their upcoming hardship, they were filled with hope.

At that moment, they heard Huiye Shi outside. "My hair's gone, I don't want to live anymore! Waaaah!"

......

Ten days later, Tianming reached the twelfth-level life phase in the divine moon hall. There were only two more steps before Ascension, or one, as far as the divine moonrace was concerned. He was at the crucial point and making as much progress as he could while the killer was still running rampant.

Apart from his cultivation, he also trained in the Hexapath Samsara Sword and even the Godsoul Canon, the latter of which had made great progress. He felt like he was on the cusp of the next level as he paused and headed back to the Shiyu Compound.

......

In the past few days, the 'queen' of Huiyue City had come looking for Huiye Shi thrice, but Feiling managed to keep her safe and slip away. Little did they know that Huiye Yin had devised a new way to keep them there: surrounding the entire compound.

"Sisters, they'll never be able to escape with what we have! We allowed Huiye Shi to escape three times and I've had enough of being humiliated! Do you have the frogs ready? We'll stuff her belly with them and make sure she never wants to eat another meal in her life! As for that lowly servant that doesn't know her place, capture and kill her. Toss her corpse out of the city."

By now, the minions no longer dared to question why Huiye Yin was so obsessed with bullying Huiye Shi. There was nothing good that could come from ruffling an angry tiger's fur.

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