Chapter 881: Putting More Pawns in Place

When Yang Qi saw the look in Flower Mildcloud’s eyes, he couldn’t help but blurt, “Idiot!”

“You!” she said, glaring at him. Then she looked away coolly. “You’re not nearly as attractive as Zilin. The empress definitely won’t be asking you to be a consort anytime soon.”

Yang Qi laughed. “You think I want to be a consort? Even if Empress Joyflower herself offered to be my handmaiden, I would refuse. Eventually, I'm going to turn all the women from the Joyflower Palace into slaves. Including you.”

“Uh....” Flower Mildcloud shivered as she suddenly recalled her current situation. Although Yang Qi was helping her advance her cultivation, she was still completely under his control. And he was advancing ten times faster than she was. If things continued progressing as they were right now, it would eventually reach the point where her cultivation base couldn’t possibly compare with his.

A moment passed, and she simply sat down quietly and closed her eyes to work on cultivation.

Eyeing her, Yang Qi sent out a canopy to cover her and make sure she didn’t go around causing problems in the Myriad Worlds Monarch Chart. She was very valuable to him right now. The fact that her aura conformed to the Joyflower Palace meant that he had easy access to the treasure storehouse, among other places. Of course, now that he had eight of King Immortal-Slayer's legacy medallions, her usefulness was diminishing rapidly. But Yang Qi wasn’t the kind to forget her earlier service.

After handling some matters in the Myriad Worlds Monarch Chart, he returned to the Exquisite Desert.

Having defeated all of the knowledge-devils, he had the option of returning to get more god formations. However, after hearing that there was true godhood in the Exquisite Desert, he decided that he would be best served by staying behind and making sure Empress Joyflower didn’t get it.

The empress was currently one of his biggest enemies. Forgetting the fact that she treated all men like pigs or dogs, there was still the fact that she had somehow taken Leaf Dao-Denier as a consort. That was a big development that had come as a complete surprise.

Leaf Dao-Denier knew a lot of Yang Qi’s secrets, including the fact that he had a God Legion Seal. Although he had never spread that information, it was a given that he was trying to find an opportunity to kill Yang Qi. And if he finally ran out of options, it was always possible that he would finally reveal the information about the God Legion Seal to harm Yang Qi.

Yang Qi absolutely had to be on guard against any desperate moves.

Thankfully, it would be easy to discard his current identity and fake his own death in the Exquisite Desert. That would relieve a lot of pressure.

For the time being, he was virtually free of any care or worry.

The Dao Defense League was currently in the hands of Orchid Purity, who was actually strengthening it with every moment that passed.

If he ‘died’ in the Exquisite Desert, then no one would possibly be able to track him down, not even Proud Heaven. That said, perhaps this would be a good opportunity to toy with Leaf Dao-Denier a bit. Maybe he could even lay some bait and turn the entire situation to his advantage.

WHOOSH!

With that, he headed deeper into the Exquisite Desert, using his Destabilizing will to probe into the natural laws and structure of the place. Apparently, the legendary Exquisite Cathedral was the ultimate destination, the location of the godhood that he so needed to challenge the Joyflower Palace. It would also help him take the countless god formations much faster.

The desert only got more hot and dry as he went along. There were a few creatures present, things native to the desert who were used to its nature that were so incredibly powerful they could easily devour Grand Emperors.

Yang Qi ran across the occasional god-general or two. With the flick of his sleeve, he would dismantle their energy arts and force them to become believers. Most of them were Grand Emperors with power indexes of about twenty, although some had indexes as high as forty, fifty, or even eighty.

After capturing about thirty such individuals, his army of Grand Emperors in the Myriad Worlds Monarch Chart reached a total of around ninety. The immortal-slaying clone was in the virtual god world, flanked by the seventy-one patriarchs, and the influx of faith continued to grow more beneficial.

After losing the Dao Defense League, the clone’s cultivation speed had slowed down significantly, and might have even crawled to a halt if it weren’t for finding the eighth legacy medallion.

But now he was once again advancing by leaps and bounds. Not only was his power index increasing, but Yang Qi could also sense that the clone's sea of consciousness was developing magical laws. Of course, they weren’t pure, but had black spots from the karma of the people who gave the faith. Eventually, that karma would cause major problems.

Yang Qi shook his head, aware that the problem of karma would cause difficulties in dealing with the resurrected King Immortal-Slayer.

‘Once I take down the Joyflower Palace, I’ll kill all the bad seeds and take the faith from everyone else for my immortal-slaying clone.’ With such matters on his mind, Yang Qi continued along in the desert until he came across three familiar faces.

One of them looked nearly skeletal, the other was tall and burly, and the third was a sinister-looking young man.

They were none other than the Three Ruthless Fiends, who were now consorts to a flower goddess. As such, they weren’t in the Exquisite Desert as god-general prisoners. Apparently, they were using some sort of magical treasure or god item to fly along without impediment.

“Brothers, let’s hope we get truly lucky and find the legendary Exquisite Cathedral!” said the burly Ruthless Earth-Fiend. “Once we do, we’ll solidify our place amongst the consorts, and even achieve spectacular advancement.”

Ai!” said the sinister-looking young man. “It's too bad we're only consorts to a flower goddess. You can only be so important in that position. Wouldn’t it be great if we were consorts to the empress? Even her low-ranking consorts command incredible might and authority on the outside.”

“Are you kidding me? It’s not that easy to become consorts to the empress. For one thing, our cultivation bases are too low.”

“Yeah, but what about that punk named... what was it? Leaf Dao-Denier! He has a pitifully low cultivation base, not even at the Grand Emperor level! But after he got captured, the empress immediately started doting on him. Apparently, he’s one of the top consorts now.”

Even as the Three Ruthless Fiends were discussing Leaf Dao-Denier, a beam of light appeared in front of them, out of which stepped Yang Qi. Before they could react, an energy field sprang out from him, blocking their path.

“Who are you?” Ruthless Earth-Fiend said. “How dare you block our path!”

“I trust the three of you have been well since we last met?” Yang Qi said with a broad smile. “You beat up a power double of mine, and seemed to have quite an enjoyable time doing so. Of course, it was only a measly power double.”

“Oh, it’s you.” Ruthless Earth-Fiend immediately prepared to attack Yang Qi, but before he could, the skeletal Ruthless Heaven-Fiend reached out to hold him back. 

Eyes flickering shrewdly, Ruthless Heaven-Fiend said, “Well, who would’ve thought that a top expert like you would be hiding within the forces of the Joyflower Palace. Not even Eunuch Sunflower noticed you, did he? What exactly is your plan here?”

Yang Qi’s eyes narrowed as he smiled. “Plan? There’s no plan. However, you three offended me, and that means the only fate in store for you is death.”

“I don’t see the need for us to fight, Your Majesty,” Ruthless Heaven-Fiend said calmly. “Whatever your plan is, why not let us help you? We're consorts to a flower goddess, so we have access to a lot of top-secret information.”

“You’re just trying to buy time,” Yang Qi said. “By the way, look at what I have here. Your communication medallions.” With a flourish, he produced three communication medallions, which were already covered with shimmering, porcelain-colored shields, rendering them completely inoperable.

Snorting coldly, he continued, “I'd suggest you not waste your time trying to play games with me. You see, I've already spread my tendrils throughout the Joyflower Palace. Leaf Dao-Denier works for me, which means that I have your empress completely under my control! Do you really think a few pieces of trash like you have the right to act tough to me?”

“What?” The Three Ruthless Fiends suddenly realized that this was going to be a difficult situation to escape from alive.

Swish!

Suddenly, Yang Qi blurred into motion, appearing in front of the skeletal Ruthless Heaven-Fiend, who dodged to the side with spectacular quickness.

Nine Ghostshadow Transformations!

Unfortunately, no matter what he did, he wasn’t able to escape from Yang Qi.

Suddenly, Yang Qi’s hand latched onto his head, crushing it to a pulp, destroying his nascent divinity, and transforming him into nothing more than a corpse that flopped down onto the sand.

“Let’s go!” the other two fiends said, not even bothering to try to get revenge for their slain fellow.

Yang Qi flicked his finger, sending out a burst of energy that slammed into Ruthless Earth-Fiend, ripping him to shreds.

Agggghhhh!

The only survivor was Ruthless Man-Fiend, who desperately burrowed down into the earth beneath him. Smiling coldly, Yang Qi launched another palm strike at the earth. However, Ruthless Man-Fiend was nowhere to be found, apparently having teleported away to parts unknown after burrowing underground.

Of course, Yang Qi had allowed him to escape, all in the hopes that he would spread the word that Leaf Dao-Denier was on Yang Qi’s payroll.

Yang Qi was planning two moves ahead. First, he was sowing distrust between Leaf Dao-Denier and the empress. After that, when word spread about the treasure storehouse having been robbed, he would make sure Leaf Dao-Denier was implicated, and the empress would be even more furious.

Of course, Yang Qi needed to clear out all of the other god formations before that happened.

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Deathblade's Thoughts

For those interested in my upcoming ttrpg Righteous Blood, Ruthless Blades, we have another episode of the podcast up in which we discuss things like the martial arts abilities in the game, magic, and dungeons. The discussion revolves around the movies Lady Hermit and Web of Death. Incidentally, Lady Hermit is now one of my favorite old-school wuxia movies. On the other hand, Web of Death, which is very quirky and bizarre, has probably the WORST dubbing ever on Amazon Prime, and I can't recommend that version.