Chapter 371: Mass Invasion **festival feature included**

One beam of frigid cold light after another shot down from above the mountain valley.

As Ling Dong’s eyes were tightly locked onto the high-tier Demon who referred to himself as Auden, a world of ice and snow seemed to be rapidly forming in the depths of his pale-gray pupils.

As Auden sat on his tall steed, clad in heavy armor, strange crackling sounds rang out around him.

It was as if the space around him was being frozen under Ling Dong’s gaze.

However, the beams of frigid cold light that were shooting down from above Auden’s head couldn’t get anywhere close to him.

With a soft voice, Auden asked in impeccable human language, “Is this the full extent of your battle prowess, humans of the Domain of the Falling Stars?”

In the next moment, he raised his black spear.

WHOOSH!

The incomparably pure, blackish-violet demon Qi, which had filled this entire region, swirled down from the sky.

All of a sudden, the spatial rift beside Auden seemed to sink slightly.

RUUUUMBLE!

The surrounding mountain peaks, which Ling Dong had turned into ice prisms using frost magics, began to tremble violently.

Standing in the Golden Chariot, Nie Tian examined his surroundings with his Heaven Eyes and discovered that the region of heaven and earth they were in seemed to be collapsing towards the spatial rift.

Under his Heaven Eyes’ perception, he had a feeling that the frozen mountain peaks, which were dwarfed by the three exceptionally high ones, were becoming less straight.

Therefore, he closed his eyes and observed the vicinity relying solely on his Heaven Eyes.

Then, he discovered that, in the vision acquired via his seven Heaven Eyes, everything in the vicinity seemed to be bending towards the dark, bottomless hole in the ground.

Meanwhile, the black spear that Auden had raised into the air seemed to be extending into the heavens and channeling power from the raging demon Qi.

One after another, complicated, mysterious magical patterns flew out from the tip of the black spear, which morphed into devilishly beautiful, blossoming flowers.

In the next moment, an enormous demonic shadow gradually appeared in the air above the Demon rider.

Floating in midair, the shadow, which was hundreds of meters tall, started to breathe in the demon Qi that was constantly converging from the vicinity.

Ling Dong’s frigid cold spell formation seemed to have turned into a huge cage that was trying to imprison the enormous demonic shadow.

Innumerable talismans appeared on the smooth faces of the prism-like surrounding mountain peaks.

Each and every one of them was silver-white and branded with the profound truths of frigid power.

The enormous demonic shadow threw its head back and roared as it raised its giant arms into the heavens and channeled the torrential demon Qi towards the surrounding mountain peaks.

At the same time, Nie Tian sensed that the lower part of the enormous shadow seemed to be gradually sinking into the spatial rift.

As it did, it seemed to be pulling everything in the vicinity down with it, including the surrounding mountains, huge rocks, frigid-cold lights, whirling gales, and even the raging demon Qi.

While Nie Tian was wrapped up in how the world looked through his Heaven Eyes, Zhao Luofeng, the sectmaster of the Heaven Palace Sect, suddenly exclaimed, “Seventh grade bloodline power!”

Nie Tian’s eyes snapped open.

The first thing he saw was that the surrounding mountain peaks, which Ling Dong had frozen and turned into huge prisms with frost power, exploded one after another.

Huge pieces of hard ice fell from them, restoring their original appearances.

At that moment, Auden’s raised black spear blossomed with bright, purple light, which shone upon the surrounding landscape, destroying the frigid spell formation Ling Dong had deployed.

At the same time, the spatial rift was gradually sucking everything in the vicinity into it, along with the demon Qi it had released.

ROOOAARRRR!!

A thunderous roar suddenly echoed out from within the spatial rift.

In the next moment, a gigantic, black, two-headed python emerged from the spatial rift with slight difficulties, its eyes glittering with dazzling, purple light.

As soon as it surfaced, its two heads started to spew purple and black flames respectively into its surroundings.

Numerous clusters of flames flew towards the Profound realm experts from the Heaven Palace Sect like burning purple and black suns.

“A Demon that possesses seventh grade bloodline power!” Zhao Luofeng said, shock filling his face.

ROOOAARRRR!! ROOOAARRRR!!

Constant, blood-chilling roars echoed out from the depths of the unfathomable spatial rift.

With an increasingly grim expression, Zhao Luofeng turned to look at Huang Fan from afar, and then nodded briefly.

Huang Fan immediately understood and hastily said to Nie Tian, “Alright! It’s time for you to use those three fragmentary star marks to activate the spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace and seal that spatial rift!”

The Golden Chariot shot forward like a flash and arrived on top of one of the three enormous mountain peaks in the blink of an eye, where two Profound realm experts from the Heaven Palace Sect were standing.

Upon seeing that Huang Fan and Nie Tian’s Golden Chariot was descending next to them, they only greeted Huang Fan briefly before refocusing their attention on the battle between Ling Dong and Auden again.

After jumping off the chariot, Huang Fan asked them in a soft voice, “What in the world is going on here?”

“The sectmaster and grand elder intend to take this opportunity to kill some truly powerful Demons and also get a deeper understanding of the Demons’ actual strength, so that we can be better prepared for our future invasion of their realms,” One of them answered.

“Is that all?” Huang Fan asked with a frown.

“Of course, they have other plans.” The man’s eyes flickered as he cast a glance at Nie Tian and stopped talking.

Apparently, he still considered Nie Tian as an outsider, and thus would rather not reveal the Heaven Palace Sect’s confidential plans to him.

Huang Fan soon realized his scruples, so he nodded back and didn’t pursue a clear answer. Rather, he turned to Nie Tian and urged him to get started.

Deeply confused, Nie Tian wondered what the Heaven Palace Sect was up to. However, since he didn’t have the time to solve that mystery right now, he sat down on the mountaintop and activated his fragmentary star marks according to the method he had recently acquired.

One after another, the three fragmentary star marks flew out of his chest.

The first refined fragmentary star mark shot straight down into the mountain peak he was sitting on, while the other two flickered as they shot into the bellies of the other two exceedingly high mountain peaks.

Nie Tian sensed with rapt attention and discovered that those three mountain peaks had the same structure as the ones in the Realm of Flame Heaven; they also had vast hollow spaces inside of them, and their insides were also carved with countless complicated spell formations.

As soon as the fragmentary star marks flew into the pagodas in the mountains’ bellies, the pagodas lit up, and the mysterious spell formations filling their insides started to emanate dazzling starlight.

In a moment, the three enormous mountain peaks seemed to turn into three giant magnets that drew stars towards them.

As the innumerable stars in the sky suddenly became dazzlingly bright, starlight rapidly gathered and formed numerous bright rivers, pouring down from the highest heavens.

“It’s activated!”

Seeing that the grand spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace had started to take effect, Zhao Luofeng felt greatly relieved.

SHEW!

At that very moment, a handful of figures flew out of the spatial rift.

They were Nolante, Caro, and Zelia from the Astarte Clan. Even the Rotspirit Ox, which had recently been injured by Hua Mu, emerged from the spatial rift after them.

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Translator: Alcohol Sword Immortal a.k.a. Beerblade. (Follow me on Twitter)

Editor: GNE, Zach Consulting Editor: Deathblade  LOAR Glossary     LOAR Artworks

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Sorry guys, I senior member of my family passed away yesterday, so I didn't get to touch my computer for almost two days straight. I'll make up for the missed chapter later. Thank you for the support.

Yesterday (April 5th, 2018) was the Qingming Festival. Here's something you might want to know about this important festival.

Qingming Festival

The Qingming or Ching Ming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English,is a traditional Chinese festival on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. This makes it the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, either 4 or 5 April in a given year.

Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in China. In Taiwan, the public holiday was in the past always observed on 5 April to honor the death of Chiang Kai-shek on that day in 1975, but with Chiang's party currently out of power, this convention is not being observed. It became a public holiday in mainland China in 2008.

In the mainland, the holiday is associated with the consumption of qingtuan, green dumplings made of glutinous rice and barley grass. In Taiwan, the similar confection is known as caozaiguo or shuchuguo.

A similar holiday is observed in the Ryukyu Islands.

Origin

The festival originated from the Cold Food or Hanshi Festival which remembered Jie Zhitui, a nobleman of the state of Jin (modern Shanxi) during the Spring and Autumn Period (771 to 476 BC). Amid the Li Ji Unrest, he followed his master Prince Chong'er in 655 bc to exile among the Di tribes and around China. Supposedly, he once even cut meat from his own thigh to provide his lord with soup. In 636 bc, Duke Mu of Qin invaded Jin and enthroned Chong'er as its duke, where he was generous in rewarding those who had helped him in his time of need. Owing either to his own high-mindedness or to the duke's neglect, however, Jie was long passed over. He finally retired to the forest around Mount Mian with his elderly mother. The duke went to the forest in 636 bc but could not find them. He then ordered his men to set fire to the forest in order to force Jie out. When Jie and his mother were killed instead, the duke was overcome with remorse and erected a temple in his honor. The people of Shanxi subsequently revered Jie as an immortal and avoided lighting fires for as long as a month in the depths of winter, a practice so injurious to children and the elderly that the area's rulers unsuccessfully attempted to ban it for centuries. A compromise finally developed where it was restricted to 3 days around the Qingming solar term in mid-spring.

The present importance of the holiday is credited to Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. Wealthy citizens in China were reportedly holding too many extravagant and ostentatiously expensive ceremonies in honor of their ancestors. In ad 732, Xuanzong sought to curb this practice by declaring that such respects could be formally paid only once a year, on Qingming.

Qingming Festival is when Chinese people traditionally visit the tombs to sweep tombstones. This tradition has been legislated by the Emperors who built majestic imperial tombstones for every dynasty. For over 5000 years, the Chinese imperials, nobility, merchants and peasantry alike have gathered together to remember the lives of the departed, to visit their tombstones to perform Confucian filial piety by tombsweeping, to visit burial grounds, graveyards or in modern urban cities, the city columbaria, to perform groundskeeping and maintenance, and to commit to pray for their ancestors in the uniquely Chinese concept of the afterlife and to offer remembrances of their ancestors to living blood relatives, their kith and kin.

Observance

The Qingming Festival is an observance to commemorate the life of the departed in an elaborate set of rituals often mistranslated in the West as ancestral worship. Actually, it is a Confucian form of posthumous respect and filial piety offered to a Chinese person's ancestors and / or departed relative/s and/or parent/s. Not all Chinese persons will pray directly to their ancestors in ancestral spirit but almost all will observe the Qing Ming Rituals.

The young and old alike kneel down to offer prayers before tombstones of the ancestors, offer the burning of joss in both the forms of incense sticks (joss-sticks) and silver-leafed paper (joss-paper), sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, and/or libations in memory of the ancestors. Depending on the religion of the observers, some pray to a higher deity to honour their ancestors while others may pray directly to the ancestral spirit/s.

These rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among the imperialty who has legislated these rituals into a form of national religion. They have been preserved especially by the peasantry and are most popular with farmers today, who believe that continued observances will ensure fruitful harvests ahead by appeasing the spirits in the other world.

Religious symbols of ritual purity, such as pomegranate and willow branches, are popular at this time. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming or stick willow branches on their gates and/or front doors. There are similarities to palm leaves used on Palm Sundays in Christianity; both are religious rituals. Furthermore, the belief is that the willow branches will help ward off the unappeased, troubled and troubling spirits, and/or evil spirits that may be wandering in the earthly realms on Qingming.

After gathering on Qingming to perform Confucian clan and family duties at the tombstones, graveyards or columbaria, celebrants spend the rest of the day in clan or family outings, before they start the spring plowing. They often sing and dance. Qingming is also a time when young couples traditionally start courting. Another popular thing to do is to fly kites in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese opera. Another common practice is to carry flowers instead of burning paper, incense, or firecrackers.

Colored papers placed on a grave during Qingming Festival, Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore

Despite having no official status, the overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asian nations, such as those in Singapore and Malaysia, take this festival seriously and observe its traditions faithfully. Some Qingming rituals and ancestral veneration decorum observed by the overseas Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore can be dated back to Ming and Qing dynasties, as the overseas communities were not affected by the Cultural Revolution in Mainland China. Qingming in Malaysia is an elaborate family function or a clan feast (usually organized by the respective clan association) to commemorate and honour recently deceased relatives at their grave sites and distant ancestors from China at home altars, clan temples or makeshift altars in Buddhist or Taoist temples. For the overseas Chinese community, the Qingming festival is very much a family celebration and, at the same time, a family obligation. They see this festival as a time of reflection for honouring and giving thanks to their forefathers. Overseas Chinese normally visit the graves of their recently deceased relatives on the weekend nearest to the actual date. According to the ancient custom, grave site veneration is only permissible ten days before and after the Qingming Festival. If the visit is not on the actual date, normally veneration before Qingming is encouraged. The Qingming Festival in Malaysia and Singapore normally starts early in the morning by paying respect to distant ancestors from China at home altars. This is followed by visiting the graves of close relatives in the country. Some follow the concept of filial piety to the extent of visiting the graves of their ancestors in mainland China. Traditionally, the family will burn spirit money and paper replicas of material goods such as cars, homes, phones and paper servants. In Chinese culture, it is believed that people still need all of those things in the afterlife. Then family members take turns to kowtow three to nine times (depending on the family adherence to traditional values) before the tomb of the ancestors. The Kowtowing ritual in front of the grave is performed in the order of patriarchal seniority within the family. After the ancestor worship at the grave site, the whole family or the whole clan feast on the food and drink they have brought for the worship either at the site or in nearby gardens in the memorial park, signifying the family's reunion with its ancestors. 

In literature

Qingming was frequently mentioned in Chinese literature. Among these, the most famous one is probably Du Mu's poem (simply titled "Qingming"):

Chinese

清明时节雨纷纷

路上行人欲断魂

借问酒家何处有

牧童遥指杏花村

English translation

During the Festival of Qing Ming drizzling is the rain.

Breaking are the hearts and souls of mourners on the roads, pedestrians in sorrow and pain.

Courteously inquiring where the nearest wine houses are located.

Only a herdsboy waving a finger pointing to a village - the Apricot Flowers Hamlet.


A video of the festival:

https://youtu.be/wTeoWgKc9b4