The Exalted celestial emperor’s junior brother! He’d come under Zhao Qing’s control a few days ago and entered the Exalted Divine Tombs at her command. But judging from his present tone, that general version of events couldn’t be further from the truth!
Zhao Chong must have been a ghost from this tomb from the very beginning! Or perhaps… the current Zhao Chong was no longer himself, but possessed by something else?
From Lu Yun’s perspective, the second possibility was the more likely one.
“Liu Chen, is the princess still here?” Qi Hai asked apprehensively after a long pause of hesitation.
“Hehehe.” Liu Chen was the name of the hellfire-nurturing ghost king that’d previously been destroyed by Princess Zhao Qing. But here he was again, wearing Zhao Chong’s appearance and a smile on his lips.
“Great lord of the first capital, you are a noble human and we are lowly divines. Since when did you ever care about the princess’ well-being?” He stared into Qi Hai’s eyes, his gaze cold and malevolent.
The latter sighed, “Back then, I tried to transform the princess into a human…”
“Silence!” Liu Chen’s eyes took on a ferocious slant. “Her Highness is the daughter of the emperor, bearer of his bloodline! How dare you blaspheme against the great emperor with your deranged attempt to alter her bloodline?!”
“The emperor’s bloodline?” Mockery spread across Qi Hai’s lips. “At that time, the Exalted Divine Emperor had already been dead for years untold.” An expression of heartless indifference flashed across his face. “Just answer my question: is Zhao Qing here or not?”
“Alas!” a sigh spread through the air. A black dragon head slowly extended out of the void, and the gates to the palace coffin opened on a spotlessly white skeleton sitting quietly upon the throne.
All of the color drained from Qi Hai’s face. He stumbled backward, tears of blood trickling out of his eyes.
“How… how can this be? How? Qing’er ate the fruit of longevity and possessed a life as long as the heavens themselves… Why did things come to this? Why?!”
He toppled heavily to the ground, vomiting blood by the mouthful.
Liu Chen stood quietly in the air, looking down with detached indifference at the man who’d once been so close to becoming the Exalted Divine Emperor’s son-in-law.
“What is the point of acting this way?” His chuckle was frosty. “When you rejected the princess, did you ever think about the consequences of your actions?”
Qi Hai looked up with a vacant gaze, his eyes glued to Zhao Qing’s skeleton and the scar from a sword at the top of her skull. It had been that very sword strike that ended her life. In life, Zhao Qing had been a divine king without equal, one of the greatest powerhouses in the multiverse. To kill her was a feat few could have achieved.
“Who was it, who did it…” Qi Hai was as pale as death itself. His eons-long resolve, his eras-long conviction… nothing mattered anymore, and everything crumbled into nothingness. If he somehow had a chance to start over, to make his decisions all over again, he would choose to live in seclusion with Zhao Qing, somewhere far removed from the struggles of the world.
Perhaps, through all his endless reincarnations, he hadn’t been of any help to mankind at all.
“What? Do you wish to... avenge her?” Liu Chen chuckled darkly. “In your current state, you’re nothing but trash. Her murderer could kill you by blowing in your direction. Moreover, who are you to avenge the princess?!
“If not for you, would she have gone against her entire race?
“If not for you, would she have been forsaken by kith and kin?!
“If not for you, would she have ended up like this?!” Liu Chen screamed word after word, venting millenia worth of pent-up rage.
“I…” Qi Hai’s lips vibrated, but he didn’t have the faintest idea of what to say.
In the final years of human dao, the divines, monster spirits, demons, and all other races of the world betrayed mankind. However, Zhao Qing, great leader of the Exalted Divines, remained loyal to the end. She’d held the divines at bay with her strength alone so that humanity would have a chance to survive, no matter how slim.
Alas, Qi Hai had already died by that point, returned to the wheel of reincarnation. He’d always been certain that she lived on inside the divine race’s Last Repose. After all, here remained the last of the divine force left behind by the Exalted Divine Emperor. But as it turned out, she’d also died in the end.
“Hahahaha!” Shrill laughter suddenly echoed in the sky, followed by a large group of fur seals centered around an obese humanoid figure: Ge Yanxia approached from the distance, as well as the fur seals under her command.
“The Exalted Divine Emperor was an idiot, easily fooled by a few simple tricks from the demon lord.” Smugness writ large on her face, Ge Yanxia looked down at the figure of Qi Hai on the ground, then at Liu Chen floating in the air. “Sure enough, the legendary princess is here… Her body will be the lord’s new body!”
As a black ripple wavered in front of the fur seal, her power shot from aether dao immortal realm all the way to origin dao realm!
A primordial origin dao immortal!
The clothes she wore ripped to pieces, but instead of revealing undulating layers of blubber in all their naked glory, there was a black film on her skin that resembled grease—a set of liquid armor. When Lu Yun had shot Ge Yanxia with a crystal cannon, it’d been this very liquid armor that’d saved the fur seal’s life.
“Fur seals? Demon Lord?” Liu Chen’s heart pounded as a terrible possibility formed in his mind. Almost all of Princess Zhao Qing’s power was being used to suppress the demonized true spirit of the divine emperor. But perhaps… the true spirit hadn’t been demonized to begin with. Could... it have been possessed by something else, much like his current host?
A true spirit was the core of a living creature, the origin of its thoughts and awareness. To be possessed meant that the original being was forever gone from the world, never to reincarnate again, everything that signified their existence landing in someone else’s lap.
As for a method to wrest away control of a true spirit… Lu Yun had already thought of one—soul seeds.
“Children of mine, the time to prove your worth has come! Offer everything to the magnificent demon lord!” Floating in the air, Ge Yanxia shrieked with laughter. “The two of you can stay and witness the birth of the demon lord with your own eyes!”
“It’s going to sacrifice the group of fur seals and feed their flesh and souls to the demon fetus… Stop it!” Liu Chen screamed at the top of his lungs. He wanted to act himself, but a terrifying power emanating from Ge Yanxia kept him frozen in place. It was as though space itself had become an enormous pool of amber, turning everything not a fur seal into trapped insects.
Suddenly, no fewer than ten thick pillars of white light fired through the air and vaporized the group of fur seals with devastating power. Nothing was left in the wake of the terrifying blast of energy—no blood, no flesh, no souls.
Ge Yanxia looked vacantly at the empty patch of ground, so staggered she couldn’t collect her wits.
A smoking crystal cannon in his hands, Lu Yun walked out of the emptiness.
Another white column of light blasted heavily into Ge Yanxia, but a wrinkle rippled in front of it, leaving the creature unmoving.
“Who are you to dare ruin my tribe’s great undertaking?!” Ge Yanxia’s bovine eyes latched on to Lu Yun with extraordinary viciousness.
Oh right, Lu Yun was still disguised as Yin Qingran. The poor man had become such a titanic scapegoat that one could almost hear him bleat.
I almost died laughing at the last line, credit goes to cv for the idea!!
And wow, the exchange between Qi Hai and the ghost king was heavy -- I could really feel Liu Chen's rage. I also had a sudden thought: what if... those who enslaved the world weren't the divines, but the humans instead? We keep hearing about how everyone and their mom betrayed the humans, but maybe it was more like the other races rose up for themselves?
Lastly, I actually felt sad for Qi Hai for a bit, then remembered the ass-long time he spent in hell and never mentioned Zhao Qing. Yeah screw you dude. If you'd really cared about her you would've gone to her first thing. Who would've denied the greatest pill master of the Primordial Era?