Dread flashed through Darkriver’s face. He ducked his head, seemingly too afraid to utter a word. Crimson flames and thick venom, though, burned deep within his eyes. Leize looked at him with derision, feigning ignorance of the other’s true intentions.
Lu Yun continued making his way to the heart of the fiery sea, hellfire serving as his staircase. Finally, he came face to face with the torch dragon in its infancy.
“The torch dragon is so powerful...” The little fox goggled at the dragon below. “It wasn’t this powerful last time I saw this silly dragon!”
“What?” Lu Yun paused. “Have you met the torch dragon before?”
“It’s the dragon beneath the Xuan Yuan Tomb!” said the little fox. “It’s the first torch dragon to ever be born into this world! When I time-travelled to the eve of Emperors Fall, I used a little trick and trapped it in the tomb to keep it alive. It was only in the empyrean realm then, so how...”
“It was in the empyrean realm when you encountered it?” Lu Yun started. “It was in the human king realm when I met it.”
The little fox was stunned as well. Though the torch dragon was still an embryo, it radiated power greater than even Darkriver! Once it was born from the flames of hell, it would very likely rival Leize and Taiyi.
“This dragon is too heaven-defying for the world to tolerate it. Born in the Sea of Hellfire, it will absorb the flames’ power and acquire the ability to control yin and yang… But it’s unlikely to survive its birth.” Lu Yun considered the unborn torch dragon, deep in thought.
The embryo was formed from concentrated hellfire; he could see the faint figure of a dragon twisting through the light of the flames. Once the torch dragon was born, the torch above its head would burn with hellfire.
However, a being that rivaled Taiyi and Leize while wielding the tremendous power to reverse yin and yang would never be allowed to walk the world. Lu Yun was certain that heavenly tribulations would strike it dead the moment it formed physical shape, or trouble from the living would come knocking.
This torch dragon wasn’t supposed to exist.
“Humanity’s foundations are still too shallow,” Lu Yun muttered. “I alone won’t be enough to raise it upwards. Fuxi has entered the chaos while Wahuang guards Mount Buzhou… The great Leize and Huaxu are too important to take a stand for the human race. Humans need a powerful guardian to keep those with malicious intentions at bay!”
There was something he’d left unspoken—according to Fuxi, both Leize and Huaxu were gravely injured. They might not even be able to protect themselves.
The little fox gaped at Lu Yun. “In the future, the torch dragons will die with the human race. The guardians go down with their wards… Is that due to your doing?”
Lu Yun rubbed his nose. “I’d thought that would be Tianqi’s handiwork, but he isn’t powerful enough yet. I guess it must have been me.”
“What are you going to do?” The little fox popped out from Lu Yun’s arms and added conspiratorially, “That silly dragon isn’t really what you’d call quick-witted. Do you break its brains?”
Lu Yun suppressed an eyeroll. “It’s only pretending to be a fool, there’s nothing wrong with its brains!”
The torch dragon had yet to gain its physical form or develop intelligence. If it hadn’t been born into the Sea of Hellfire, it would’ve long been possessed by other living souls, or been robbed of its chance at living.
“Here, nothing can rival me.” Lu Yun scanned the surroundings, his eyes bright with confidence.
He had access to his death arts in the Sea of Hellfire and he could derive countless combat arts with hellfire as their basis. The fires here burned at their greatest intensity. If released, they would be able to burn down the heavens, turning the great wilderness and even the cosmos outside into seas of flame!
Hellfire was the most powerful fire in all worlds, barring none.
“You may not be sentient at the moment, but once you are, you will know your duty,” Lu Yun declared gravely before the torch dragon. “This is no transaction, but an obligation I’m assigning to you… You will protect the human race!”
He would meet the torch dragon in the future, but he wouldn’t be Lie Shan at that time, thus there would be no bond between him and the dragon. Now that he was on his way to becoming Lieshan, first great emperor of the human race, he was to be the Flame Emperor.  After these events, the torch dragon would recognize him after he returned to the future, even though it’d never met Lie Shan in person.
With a point at his own chest, Lu Yun extracted some of his heart blood and cast it into the Sea of Hellfire. Hellfire surged with sudden ferocity, pulling in local power of the land to form a tremendous grand influence. It fell heavily onto the unborn torch dragon to envelop it.
Thick crimson clouds emerged to overshadow the entire Sea of Hellfire, jagged bolts of crimson lightning howling through them. This was the dragon’s tribulation, and it was supposed to strike when the dragon was born.
However, Lu Yun had drawn upon the power of hellfire to protect the torch dragon. Thus, the tribulation struck now, attempting to kill the torch dragon before the protective circle could be completed.
“What’s going on?!” Darkriver stared at the abruptly materializing crimson clouds, his expression grave.
This was a chaos heavenly tribulation. Only those the world couldn’t tolerate would trigger such a tribulation. It struck only once, and overcoming it would win one the approval of the heavens.
“He’s going against heaven and earth...” Leize muttered, his eyes fixed on the crimson clouds looming over the Sea of Hellfire.
Hellfire surged and transformed into a giant human that gazed up at the bloody clouds in the sky. It looked identical to Lu Yun, but was tens of millions of times more powerful than he was. Nothing could defeat him here.
“The lightning of a chaos tribulation isn’t real lightning, but a type of force that corresponds to order. I can’t absorb it with Thunder Palmstrike since it’s the most primal power of the world.” Lu Yun murmured his observations as he met the cold eyes deep within the clouds. Those were the eye of the tribulation.
The world itself wasn’t sentient, but the denizens living within it were. The dao of the world was the dao of the living, and the will of the living was the will of the world.
The eye of the tribulation… was the eye of the living.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
A series of powerful explosions heralded the arrival of a crimson force of order, which blasted down at the Sea of Hellfire in mighty pillars of light that were aimed at the unborn torch dragon.
“Scatter!!” Lu Yun snarled as he threw a punch at the thick crimson pillars. Hellfire surged and belched beneath his feet, turning into a giant fist.
The tremendous impact shook all of the netherdark, and a tiny crack snaked through the void.
*facepalm* Maybe you guys should tell people when you trap them for their own good next time. Torch dragon... Venerated Sacrosanct Demon Sovereign...