Chapter 508.1: Demise of the Emperor

“Mooooooooo,” lowed Kui. When standing at full height, its five-thousand-kilometer tall body appeared as if an awe-inspiring mountain. It, however, was far from Scarlet Ape’s match in close-quarters combat.

In Scarlet Ape’s eyes, the giant kui was nothing but a standing target. Its enormous iron rod stretched into the sky and rammed hard into Kui, knocking the ox away.

Caught off guard by Scarlet Ape’s speed, Kui didn’t even have the time to summon lightning.

Only when it’d been sent flying did it reveal its entire body. The behemoth bovine was covered in violet-gold fur and surrounded by crackling electric currents of the same color. Protruding out of its giant ox head was a single fifty-kilometer-long horn. It didn’t seem to be a regular horn, but more an immensely powerful immortal treasure.

Scarlet Ape had only managed to keep it in check, but not actually hurt it.

Although the zombie Kui was just a peak origin dao immortal, its physique could rival that of an immortal emperor. Moreover, Scarlet Ape’s rod was damaged to begin with, preventing it from deploying its full power.

The two giants viciously tore into each other in a berserk frenzy, with Azure Province as their battleground. Gradually, Kui began regaining its initiative and entered a stalemate with Scarlet Ape.

……

“Royal uncle!” Zhao Changkong heaved a heavy sigh as he watched the fight play out. “The Ingress Path!”

“You mustn’t, Your Majesty!” the emperor’s uncle stilled and hurriedly interjected. He knew what Zhao Changkong wanted to do.

“I must get these two monsters out of here! If we allow them to keep fighting, Azure Province will be completely destroyed and the seal will break again.”

The province was now barren and almost completely lifeless; Azure City was the only exception. With its fertile land and natural resources, however, the province would recover to its former self if given enough time.

There would be no yin spirit invasions in the future with the ancient tomb sealed by the bronze palace. In fact, the province would be more prosperous than ever. But if the two beasts kept fighting and razed all of the terrain and earthen veins, Azure would be the next Dusk Province.

Dusk Province’s decline hadn’t begun when the Art Saint set up the layout of Enneawyrm Coffinbearers in Dusk City a thousand years ago. Rather, it’d started when the great burial mound fell from the sky five thousand years ago, crushing the main vein of the province and changing its fortunes for the worse.

The governor of the province then had been a peerless immortal, and her immortal cities governed by golden immortals. Yuying, who’d been the Dusk governor twelve hundred years ago, though, had been merely a transformed spirit realm cultivator.

Azure Province was currently going through the same events that Dusk Province had weathered five thousand years before. There was no mountain falling from the sky, but the battle between two behemoth beasts would destroy everything in the province all the same.

Dusk’s downfall had already been a devastating blow to Nephrite Major. If Azure Province was left in shambles as well, Nephrite Major would fall to the bottom among the nine majors, or even be surpassed by the ten lands.

What had befallen Dusk had been a calamity that no one could prevent. Not even the former celestial emperor, Zhao Fengyang, could’ve done anything then.

Meanwhile, events taking place today would have even greater repercussions. If the earthen veins were destroyed, the bronze palace would follow and the crack would be torn open again.

Then the yin spirits would return to the province. All of Nephrite Major might be overwhelmed by the tide, since the barrier around Azure Province was broken.

Zhao Changkong would not tolerate that happening.

“Your Majesty!!” the emperor’s wizened uncle called out with red eyes. “Your cultivation is too low to activate the Ingress Path—”

“I am the Celestial Emperor of Nephrite Major!” roared Zhao Changkong. “Hand it to me!”

A shudder ran down his uncle’s spine. With tears in his eyes, he shakily handed a key to Zhao Changkong, who took it into his body with a wave of his hand.

Rumble!

The expansive Ingress Path shook as piercing dragon howls rang through heaven and earth. A dragon brandishing fangs and claws morphed from the white path, soaring into the sky and becoming one with Zhao Changkong.

“Zhao Shenguang is to be Celestial Emperor of Nephrite Major upon my death… Although he himself is a useless piece of trash, Qing Buyi and Chen Xiao will ensure Nephrite Major remains protected.

“Please continue protecting Nephrite Major for a century as you promised, senior!”

The dragon lunged at Kui and Scarlet Ape.

Thud!

The imperial uncle dropped to his knees and kowtowed resoundingly in the direction Zhao Changkong had left in.

“What just happened?” someone asked in befuddlement. The Ingress Path was the greatest treasure of Nephrite Major, and the greatest weapon wielded by her celestial emperors throughout history.

However, it’d seemed like Zhao Changkong was marching to his death just now.

“Activating the Ingress Path requires the power of Nephrite’s heavenly mandate. Zhao Changkong hasn’t plucked all nine of his origin dao fruits, so he can’t activate the treasure at will.” Crimson light dissipated from Art Saint’s eyes and he sighed with lamentation. “There’s only one way for him to call upon the heavenly mandate—soul sacrifice.

“That was Zhao Changkong sacrificing himself. He’s… dead.”

Art Saint’s body trembled slightly as he stared at the great dragon in the sky.

“I’d thought that Zhao Changkong was a selfish, petty man, but when push came to shove in the face of the greater good, he gave up his life with no hesitation whatsoever...” Zither Saint sighed as well. “Zhao Fengyang didn’t make the wrong choice, nor were Chen Xiao and Qing Buyi wrong in their assessment of him.”

With a wave of his hand, he summoned a black zither and took a seat, drawing forth strains of wistful song from its strings. 

……

In an ancient, nameless land somewhere.

Zhao Fengyang’s eyes shot open, tears streaking down his face.

“My son, you protected the people and stayed true to your duties in the end...”

Rumble!

The dark land bereft of a sun trembled as a scarlet hand shot out from the ground. There seemed to be a giant trying to break out.

Nine peak origin dao immortals rose at the same time, assembling a strange formation to push the giant hand back.

“Kekekeke… How long do you bugs think you can keep me underground? The day this seat breaks out of this seal is the day I tear you nine into pieces.”

…… 

Zhao Changkong was dead. He’d sacrificed his flesh and blood, along with his soul, the moment he entered the Ingress Path.

The Nephrite heavenly mandate had flared with light and activated the Ingress Path, propelling it into Scarlet Ape and Kui with the last of Zhao Changkong’s will.

The two beasts were completely preoccupied by their fight.

Scarlet Ape would spare no effort to protect human territory. In fact, there would be nothing better than if Azure Province was crushed and Nephrite Major greatly weakened. Naturally, it didn’t know that the newly-formed bronze palace would fall apart as soon as the earthen veins of Azure Province were destroyed, either.

Given some time, the palace would stabilize and the interment of heaven and earth would become part of the world. Then the grand influence of the palace would keep the province protected. Not even a resurrected great emperor from the human dao era would be able to damage the earthen veins then.

Meanwhile, Kui’s sole purpose was to kill the ape standing in its way and take the Yi Wood Cleansing Thunder for itself.

Neither of them pulled their punches as they fought on the heavily scarred land.

Bam!

Suddenly, a white path descended from the sky and slammed into the two beasts.

“The Ingress Path!!” Scarlet Ape growled at the same time as the zombie Kui roared.

Under the great might of the Ingress Path, the two beasts didn’t have any time to react before they were knocked straight into the East Sea.

A mushroom cloud arose from over the sea’s horizon after some time.

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etvolare's Thoughts

So it seems he wasn't such an arsehole in the end -- but why couldn't his uncle activate it? He brought the Ingress Path to Azure, after all. Or are there different levels of activation...?