“We shall discuss the second matter after Wushuang’s tribulation.” The celestial emperor remained guarded on the subject.
The Wushuang he spoke of was the previous emperor’s only son, Zhao Wushuang, and his deflection seemed to Lu Yun that the second matter was likely related to Zhao Wushuang as well.
On this moonlit evening, moonbeams scattered down upon Mount Exalted from a clear sky, lending an atmosphere of incomparable holiness to this greatest mountain in Exalted Major.
Inside the Exalted Immortal Sect, a faint black shadow stood motionlessly in the middle of Lu Yun’s small courtyard, gradually melding with the dirt.
Having been thrust into the Exalted Immortal Sect’s lifepoint, the Death Spike’s effects would manifest after forty-nine days and destroy the sect’s foundation, leading it to its inevitable decline.
Once hammered into the ground, not even Lu Yun would be able to counteract its activation. This was why the founder of his sect had labeled it a forbidden art, to be used only as an absolute last resort.
Under the moonlit sky, the sect was quiet and peaceful. Now and then, the chirping of crickets interrupted the silence, further adorning this haven of serenity.
Immortals could do without sleep, but they still meditated at night to rest, practice methods, and consolidate their cultivation. Lin Yu, Lin Xuan, and Li Youcai were already deep in meditation, and the little fox had dozed off in Qing Yu’s embrace.
Left to themselves, Qing Yu and Lu Yun sat at the stone table inside the courtyard and drank tea while discussing what was to come.
In visiting Mount Exalted, Lu Yun’s goal was the tomb located underneath and the treasure within it which could make Dusk Province as impregnable as Mount Tai, according to Ge Long.
However, the mountain was deep within the Exalted domain. To slip underground unnoticed was pure wishful thinking. What he needed now was an excuse to get inside the divine tomb.
A breeze suddenly blew by, the cool air tousling the pair’s long hair. Narrowing his eyes, Lu Yun rose from his position and looked warily at the sky. Bathed in moonlight, a vaguely discernible figure in azure walked down from the air, a longsword on his back.
“Sword Divine.” Lu Yun took a deep breath, his gaze suddenly razor sharp. “Dongfang Hao.” Dongfang Hao!
The man had died inside the Firmament Prison Tomb, his corpse obliterated. Now he’d reappeared in this locale and as it turned out, was Sword Divine himself.
Lu Yun had long suspected the truth, but hadn’t been able to confirm his hypothesis until now. This time, Dongfang Hao had come wearing his true features, the Sword of Chaos strapped to his back.
“So you haven't reached immortality yet, after all.” Lu Yun saw through Dongfang Hao the moment he laid his eyes on the man.
Dongfang Hao was a peak returned void cultivator, not yet a void-ascended immortal. It wasn’t the first time Lu Yun had run into Sword Divine after leaving the celestial master tomb. Every time he’d met the man, Lu Yun had sensed the power of a void-ascended immortal from him. But after reverting to his true appearance, the cultivation level he now revealed was peak returned void realm.
Even so, Lu Yun had the slight feeling that he was… perhaps not Dongfang Hao’s match.
Dongfang Hao’s appearance was ever the same, a young man around eighteen years old with eyes bright as the stars and eyebrows straight as swords. He was as uncommonly handsome as before, but gone were his spirited temperament and sunny exuberance.
Instead, there seemed to be an invisible burden weighing down on him.
“Yes, I’m not an immortal yet.” Upon landing, Dongfang Hao made himself at home and dragged a stone stool over to the table, then took a seat beside Lu Yun and Qing Yu.
“You must have faked your death inside the Firmament Prison and escaped afterward, correct?” Qing Yu looked at the newcomer, her voice warm like she was greeting a close friend.
Together, the three of them had broken into the Firmament Prison, explored the ancient tomb, and excavated the Dao Flower buried inside. Although Dongfang Hao hadn’t accompanied them to the end, his contribution was nevertheless recorded in the immortal dao.
Dongfang Hao shook his head. “I really did die in that tomb.”
Lu Yun remained silent. Nothing of life or death could hide from his Spectral Eye and back then, Dongfang Hao had indeed died.
However, some kind of miraculous power had brought him back to life again. At a guess, it must have been the power of the Sword of Chaos. As for why the sword had chosen a human instead of a divine...
Dongfang Hao’s sword intent was so sharp that it could cleave the sky in twain. Indomitable in spirit, eternally unyielding, he would never bow his head to the heavens. His temperament agreed with the sword’s own, hence why the sword had chosen him.
“Should I call you Dongfang Hao or Sword Divine?” Lifting his teacup, Lu Yun brought it close to his nose and savored the smell, but didn’t drink from it. He peered at Dongfang Hao instead.
Ringing silence answered his question.
“Are you truly going to help Zhao Wushuang face his tribulation?” he asked, skirting around Lu Yun’s question.
Dongfang Hao was a friend, Sword Divine was an enemy.
“Is this why you came to find me?” Lu Yun looked at him with a smile that wasn’t one.
Dongfang Hao nodded. “Zhao Wushuang is a pureblood Exalted Divine. Once he becomes a void-ascended immortal, he’ll certainly be the progenitor of a new generation of divines, and the primeval divine dao will rise again in his wake.”
He knew that as long as Zhao Wushuang gained Lu Yun’s help, a successful ascension was inevitable. But without said help, Zhao Wushuang’s tribulation was doomed to be a daunting one, the most fearsome of lightning tribulations between heaven and earth. The challenge would be far too great for him to face alone.
“I’ve already given my word to the Exalted emperor and I’m not the sort to go back on it.” Lu Yu nodded, indicating that he was aware of the situation. “As for you… you’ve obtained the ancient divine court’s Sword of Chaos. Logically speaking, you should’ve inherited the will of the sword to revive the divine race as well, so why—”
“What I wish to revive is my own divine race.” Dongfang Hao shook his head. “Zhao Wushuang… and the Exalted Divines, in their current state, are tumors for the divines as a whole.
“Therefore, I’m going to keep you here for three days, until Zhao Wushuang dies from his tribulation. As for you…” Dongfang Hao turned toward Qing Yu. “I already have three master swordsmen under my command. I lack only you…”
Space shook as a giant illusory sword split the sky and sealed off the surrounding area. In an instant, the small courtyard had vanished into thin air, but no one in the Exalted Immortal Sect had sensed anything amiss.
“The Scroll of Shepherding Immortals has been sealed.” Qing Yu frowned slightly. Empress Myrtlestar was still inside the scroll, so the seal had severed the connection between them.
“Dongfang Hao, do you really think you can stop me just because you’ve obtained the ancient divine court’s final hope?” Lu Yun stood up with a frosty smile.
“Lu Yun, I know that you’ve inherited the human dao from the primeval humans, but human dao has long been phased out of this world. This era belongs to immortal dao, to which I am connected through the Sword of Chaos.
“The small world that we are presently in is born from a fragment of the immortal dao and belongs to me alone. Even the arts of the immortal dao’s founders have no effect in this place!”
The Sword of Chaos flew out of its sheath.
“I’m still waiting for the sacred land of immortal dao to take form, so I won’t kill you yet.” The Sword of Chaos transformed into a dusky current of air that bore down on Qing Yu.
“A fragment of the immortal dao? Good, very good!” A dangerous smile played on Lu Yun’s lips. “Then let me help you experience for yourself the extent of the immortal dao!”
A tricolor blaze erupted from him.
Is Sword Divine a divine supremacist much like Qi Hai is a human supremacist? Let's kick some ass, I think Lu Yun's strong enough now to really smash face.