The Exalted Immortal Reaper was a sword that severed the soul without harming the body. Exalted Celestial Emperor Zhao Luo possessed a powerful soul protected by the heavenly mandate, so the soul seed wouldn’t be able to take root in his nascent spirit unless his soul was first cut down by the Exalted Immortal Reaper.
The jade-colored blade ran fifteen meters long, its scintillating finish making for an impressive weapon. Imbued with a unique killing intent, it shone painfully bright as Zhao Qin made a decisive swing, swinging at the celestial emperor’s head with the sword’s energy.
Emerald fire flared to life on the celestial emperor—the Exalted Immortal Reaper’s soul fire. It was a flame that would scatter the soul of even an origin dao immortal.
“Wait, what is this?!” Zhao Qin jumped back with the weapon in hand, his smugness fading away and shock creeping into his eyes.
His quarry was completely unfazed and remained staring fixedly at Zhao Qin and the others with a death glare. Slowly, the celestial emperor rose menacingly to his feet. The soul fire enveloping him dissipated, as did the critical injuries he’d suffered earlier.
A ripped and tattered humanoid-shaped talisman slipped out of his clothes and hit the ground in pieces.
“A Substitute Talisman Puppet… That’s a legendary talisman that was long lost even in the primordial world of immortals!” blurted Qi Hai, who’d been watching the scene play out from the sidelines.
As its name indicated, a Substitute Talisman Puppet took the place of its owner and suffered all damage in their stead, effectively granting them another life. It did have its limits, however. The talisman puppet would cease functioning once the damage it’d taken exceeded the capacity of the puppet.
It hadn’t been damaged beyond its capacity until the Exalted Immortal Reaper’s attack, which would’ve killed the celestial emperor. The invaluable treasure was thus destroyed, and there was no need for the celestial emperor to further keep up the pretense.
A dull Exalted Chart came back to life and soared through the air to hover over Zhao Luo’s head, throwing out bright radiance.
“Zhao Luo… You!” Color drained from Zhao Qin’s face to see the celestial emperor return to peak condition.
“You planned this… you planned all of this! You allowed yourself to be injured during Zhao Wushuang’s tribulation to lure us out!” Luo Ying’s complexion matched his co-conspirator’s.
With the Substitute Talisman Puppet, Zhao Luo hadn’t actually been injured by the tribulation beast, but he’d used the Exalted Chart to paint the appearance of a gravely wounded celestial emperor.
These usurpers wouldn’t have dared make their move if the celestial emperor hadn’t been heavily injured during Zhao Wushuang’s tribulation. Now, it turned out that all of them had fallen straight into his trap.
“It was just a gamble, one made with considerable risk. Simple bait for the ill-intentioned.” Zhao Luo considered the ten immortals with a frosty expression. “I’d always considered you my confidants, but it seems all of you betrayed me a long time ago.”
The Exalted Chart above his head shone with increasing brilliance as it revolved around him, imparting a uniquely imposing and sacred air to the man.
“Your Majesty!” Luo Ying dropped to his knees and kowtowed furiously into the floor, dull thuds echoing throughout the cavern. “Mercy, Your Majesty! This lowly one was swayed by Zhao Qin’s lies and almost committed a grave mistake. Please show mercy, Your Majesty!”
Lip curled, Zhao Luo turned to Zhao Qin.
“You truly are the greatest disciple the sect has fostered, Zhao Luo. Your shrewdness exceeds mine, this old man admits defeat!” Zhao Qin narrowed his eyes and tightened his jaw.
His head exploded violently, reducing both his nascent spirit and damaged origin dao fruit to powder.
“What about the rest of you?” Zhao Chong turned to the eight remaining immortals. “Do you wish to follow that old man in death?”
The eight dao immortals fell to their knees and begged, “We swear fealty to Your Majesty!”
Other than the two immortals from the Exalted Immortal Sect, the rest were elites from various peak factions in Exalted Major. Their fate was not only theirs, but also tied to the survival of their factions.
“Good.” The celestial emperor nodded and sent nine talismans into Luo Ying and the other eight dao immortals.
“Puppet talismans...” The would-be rebels despaired as the talismans melded with the depths of their nascent spirits. They dared not show any resistance, lest they, their bloodlines, and even their clans be erased by their liege.
The man had only just taken the throne and ascended to origin dao realm. He hadn’t had the opportunity to establish his authority yet and was undoubtedly looking for prime opportunities to do so.
“You’ve been awfully calm during this time.” The Exalted celestial emperor turned to Lu Yun. “Weren’t you worried that We would’ve stood by and done nothing?”
Lu Yun spread out his hands and shrugged. “I wouldn’t have come to your Exalted Major if I was scared.”
The celestial emperor smiled in lieu of a response. There was certainly a reason for Lu Yun’s confidence. Someone who could emerge intact from the cursed manor wouldn’t have fallen for these men’s plot.
A numbing chill spread through Donglin Taihuang and Ge Yanxia’s limbs. All this time, they’d been oblivious that the traitors of Exalted Major were using them!
The two of them were simply after Lu Yun, and wanted no part in the unrest of Exalted Major. The celestial emperor knew that well. Besides, they both belonged to powerful factions, so punishing them wouldn’t be worth the trouble.
“Since things are settled now, would you like to discuss the second matter?” Lu Yun carried on like nothing had happened.
Those who’d fallen under the celestial emperor’s control via the puppet talismans hadn’t lost their sense of self or autonomy. They almost leapt into killing strikes at Lu Yun when they heard his question.
“You traitors will receive your full punishment later,” scoffed the Exalted celestial emperor. “Mark Our words, a reckoning will be forthcoming.”
Although it’d been the ten immortals present who’d attempted to plant a soul seed in him, the implications of this plan were much greater than that. The Exalted Immortal Sect couldn’t possibly have been the only faction involved. In fact, all of the peak clans and lower tier factions in the major must have had a hand in this scheme as well.
To the celestial emperor, however, what he wished to bring up next was the important matter at hand.
“Allow me to explain,” said Zhao Wushuang. Her injuries were slowly healing with the pill she’d taken. “It has to do with the tomb of the gods under Mount Exalted—the divine tomb of the ancient divine court that once destroyed the immortal dao!”
She paused. Other than Ge Yanxia, no one reacted with any trace of surprise. The rest must have already plumbed the depths of the court and sect’s secrets.
“What about it?” Donglin Taihuang asked with a frown, having recovered from the shock of the earlier attempted coup. “Did you invite us here to enter the tomb and unearth whatever treasures were left behind by the primordial court?”
“Our court would’ve done so long ago if that were possible,” snorted the celestial emperor. “To speak candidly, the Profile of Harmony, Portrait of Emptiness, and Panorama of Clarity are the keys to opening the divine tomb… In fact, they can awaken the bloodline of the Exalted Divine Tribe within the tomb.”
Ge Yanxia and Donglin Taihuang turned to Lu Yun in shock.
The Panorama of Clarity had belonged to Pill Fairy Yu Ying twelve hundred years ago. But she was now Lu Yun’s follower, and the painting was in Lu Yun’s possession. No wonder the Exalted Immortal Sect had always been at odds with Lu Yun.
As for the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals… that secret was known to very few outside the senior council of the Exalted Immortal Sect. Holy Lord Ashu was an exception, of course; there seemed to be nothing in this world that he didn’t know.
Lu Yun nodded in tacit acknowledgement.
“So what?” Qi Hai spoke up in a hoarse voice, breaking his prolonged silence. “The power of the divine tomb can awaken the Exalted Divine bloodline. We will not help if that’s what you want.”
The Exalted Divines were too terrifying. Beings with human heads and snake bodies that moved in enlightenment of dao, the tribe had led the divines to topple the immortal dao and etch the race’s own dao into the Dao Flower.
If their bloodline was awakened, the world of immortals would once again be theirs to claim. Humans, monster spirits, and all other races would not be their match. The divine race at large would also return from outside the realm to rule over the world of immortals.
“I wouldn’t have invited you here if it was for this matter.” The change in self-reference suggested an attitude shift. He turned to Qi Hai. “I believe you must be Master Qi Hai, the greatest pill master of the Primordial Era?”
Qi Hai nodded in response. That was what he’d allowed to circulate about himself. After all, his legends still made the rounds in the current world of immortals, so the identity would benefit him greatly in modern times. In fact, he’d already taken many disciples under the name of Pill Master Qi Hai, cultivating his own force with Destiny City as his headquarters.
Donglin Taihuang and the other immortals gaped, deeply shocked by the quiet man’s identity. It was common knowledge now that some primordial immortals had awakened and come back to life through possessing new bodies. Upon assuming different identities, they gradually rose to power in the contemporary world of immortals. However, those assembled had never expected Qi Hai to be one of them!
“There exists a demon fetus within the tomb under Mount Exalted,” the celestial emperor declared gravely. “It will soon be delivered. Once it arrives in this world, it will bring about a great calamity that not even the former nine celestial emperors would’ve been able to subdue.”
Slowing his speech to punctuate his points, he said, “We have invited you here to kill it.”
“A demon fetus?” Lu Yun scanned Mount Exalted with the Spectral Eye. Unfortunately, the tomb under the mountain belonged to a vast, separate space beyond the death art’s reach.
“That is correct.” The Exalted celestial emperor nodded and waved.
The abode suddenly turned transparent, revealing several great tombs around them, all of them blanketed by a layer of black smoke. Where the smoke was densest rang out a constant din of demonic shrieks and howls. A ball of black energy pulsed at the innermost reaches of the tombs, and a steady heartbeat could be heard from the images.
“There is indeed a demon fetus there,” Qi Hai said with a serious expression. “A fetus of a demon god. It’s already fostered the three ethereal souls and seven corporal souls. Once its true spirit forms, the fetus will descend upon this world.”
He shifted his gaze to the Exalted Immortal Reaper on the ground. The demon fetus was incredibly resilient and possessed great defensive capabilities. They would have to go after its soul, which was where the Exalted Immortal Reaper came into play.
"Tell the world that Sword Divine’s true identity is Dongfang Hao!”
Outside World: "Hao can it be?"
Credit to Daoist_Badguy lol!