Beautiful men who get angry are nothing to take lightly.
And once Zilin heard Yang Qi insult Empress Joyflower, he flew into a rage. That said, despite his fury, he still looked cool and collected, and not the least bit vicious. In fact, he was more like a fluttering butterfly, his garments rippling as he flew after Yang Qi and struck toward him with his fan.
“Lively Dance of the Butterfly,” he said casually, yet his moves were filled with the ultimate power of both yin and yang, causing Yang Qi’s defensive empyrean energy to tremble violently before shattering like actual porcelain.
Yang Qi’s eyes went wide with shock; he had never expected his opponent to be so fast and ferocious. And his move, despite being as beautiful as a butterfly, was exceedingly dangerous.
“Endless Mourning Finger Technique!” he said, spinning in place as he relied on the Seventy-Two Monarchs Energy Art, specifically, a finger attack from King Mourn-Parting. A will of mournful hatred sped out, heading directly toward his opponent’s fan.
The finger hit the fan, and Zilin’s clothing rippled as his true energy spread around him, causing him to collapse into a host of what appeared to be butterflies.
“What ability is that?” Yang Qi murmured in surprise. Contrary to any expectation, his Endless Mourning Finger Technique had no opportunity to enter his opponent’s meridians before he collapsed into a host of butterflies.
“Endless Mourning Finger Technique?” Zilin said as he pursued Yang Qi into the depths of the Exquisite Cathedral. A host of divine likenesses could be seen on either side of the hall they flew through.
They were ancient stone carvings, meticulously detailed, all of them holding weapons and treading on ghosts and gods. Auspicious clouds surrounded them, and they were so lifelike that they almost seemed to be truly alive. At first glance, it was impossible to see what sect or organization might have carved them.
“So you have the Endless Mourning Finger Technique from the Seventy-Two Monarchs Energy Art,” Zilin said. “Unfortunately, I can tell that it's not complete, and doesn’t have enough of a will of mourning. There’s no way you can push it to the point of eternal parting, let alone true endless mourning for all aeons. Look, I’ll give you another chance to join the Joyflower Palace. We have one of King Mourn-Parting’s weapons in our treasure storehouse, as well as halls of the Mourn-Parting Heaven-Palace. If you get them, your cultivation base will improve and your Endless Mourning Finger Technique will reach an even higher level. What do you say?”
Obviously he still hadn’t given up on trying to recruit Yang Qi.
Inside, Yang Qi was laughing. ‘Never in your wildest dreams could you guess that I’ve already started clearing out your treasure storehouse.’ It was only natural that Yang Qi couldn’t unleash the Seventy-Two Monarchs Energy Art to the same level as the old seventy-two monarchs. The old King Mourn-Parting had mourned so deeply that he hated everything in heaven and earth, including all living things. That was how he had developed the vicious Endless Mourning Finger Technique. As such, it needed a boundless spirit of mourning and hatred to unleash its full power, which Yang Qi was incapable of.
However, as long as he pushed his will to a high enough level, he could be like the gods of old, who had many faces, including those that expressed happiness, anger, sorrow, and joy.
After all, the ancient gods had often had three heads and six arms, four heads and eight arms, or even ten thousand heads, arms, eyes, and mouths. The faces of each of those heads would display a different emotion, and real ones at that; they weren’t just designed to strike fear into the hearts of humans. According to rumor, the buddhas of ancient times had rivaled the legion of gods and could use the emotion of rage as a defense mechanism.
Meanwhile, the resistance from Zilin’s cultivation base was incredible, forcing Yang Qi to stagger back several paces. Then, cracking sounds were heard as he expelled butterflies from his meridians, which briefly shot out into the open before fading away.
“Incredible,” Zilin said. “You were hit by my Lively Dance of the Butterfly, yet easily dispelled the Dream Butterfly True Energy. You’re definitely as strong as multiple Grand Emperors.”
Zilin took a few steps forward and streams of beautiful dancing butterflies flew out, manifestations of true energy that were each the size of a palm.
Yang Qi immediately realized that all of the butterflies were packed with magical laws, and, in their flight, they were creating a spell formation that would confuse and befuddle anyone caught in it.
“Think this over,” Zilin said. “I'm going to give you a bit more time. Now, more than ever, you qualify to join the Joyflower Palace and become a consort. Consider carefully!”
“Just what kind of true energy is that?” Yang Qi said coldly. “It's very miraculous. Like nothing I've ever seen before.”
“It’s a consummate art from Dream Butterfly from the god world, the Lord of Dreams. Even if I explained more details, you wouldn’t understand. Your cultivation is just too low. I’m going to repeat myself: I'm not going to kill you. But you’re not strong enough to escape here, I’ll capture you, take you back to the empress, and force you to apologize to her!”
‘Dream Butterfly?’ Yang Qi thought. He had never heard of this supposed Lord of Dreams, but anyone with a title like that was likely to be a Paramount God.
Regardless, this energy art was definitely at the level of a Paramount God, and was no inferior to any of the individual energy arts of the seventy-two monarchs. That alone showed how profound Zilin’s cultivation was. Yang Qi had a feeling that his will convergence was actually in the Destabilizing level, far above the Stupendous level.
It was a terrifying thought.
As for his power index, it was over a thousand, whereas Yang Qi’s was only at two hundred eighty. With Destabilizing will, that meant that Zilin was about evenly matched with Yang Qi.
It was no wonder this guy was a favored consort of Empress Joyflower and held sway over the harem. He was almost like the official husband of the empress. 
“You really think I can’t escape this formation?” Yang Qi said. He smiled, then was suddenly surrounded by a blur of black light as he stepped out of the formation of butterflies. “Well, I'm off. Feel like a bit of hide-and-seek in this cathedral?”
Without another word, he vanished.
“After him!” Zilin said, visibly taken aback. ‘What did he just do? I honestly can’t believe he escaped from my Dream Butterfly Formation. That formation turns reality into a dream state, and uses the magical laws of the Lord of Dreams to invert the world. Most who practice cultivation seek to cultivate truth, but I actually cultivate that which is a dream. By inserting dreams into my dao, I can break truth with dreams. At high levels, I can use dreams to create a kingdom of the true self.’
Despite being unsure of what he was dealing with, he didn’t hesitate to speed forth at top speed in his search for Yang Qi. By now, he realized that this opponent was definitely highly skilled. Although Yang Qi didn’t have a very high power index, he was definitely someone to view as an equal. And he had a variety of techniques at his disposal that made him difficult to assess. It seemed that the only way to try to unravel his secrets was to clash with him further.
The cathedral was filled with a maze of corridors, all of them lined with divine likenesses. It was such a confusing place that even top experts would likely get lost there.
Yang Qi was using the Myriad Worlds Monarch Chart to travel about, going between different parallel universes to make it even harder to track him. After all, he wasn’t here to fight with Zilin, he was here to acquire the reward of godhood. That said, his interactions with Zilin were giving him an initial look at what Empress Joyflower was capable of. After all, the two of them had definitely practiced dual cultivation together.
‘This guy’s power index is over a thousand, and he definitely has an advantage over me with his Destabilizing will. But once I get that godhood, I should be able to increase my power index to close the gap. Then he definitely won’t be a match for me.’
He continued using the Myriad Worlds Monarch Chart to plot a course to his destination, heading deeper and deeper into the cathedral.
The strangest thing about the cathedral was that it didn’t have any treasures in it, only the divine likenesses. And those statues didn’t emanate any fluctuations, making them seem like they were made of ordinary materials that had later become deathless.
Yang Qi could sense traces of energy arts on them, but he wasn’t interested in them at the moment. After all, what energy art could possibly surpass the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth?
‘There it is! The godhood!’ When the Myriad Worlds Monarch Chart finally revealed the location of the godhood, he drew on his Freedom Wings and flew toward it at top speed.
It was the very center of the Exquisite Cathedral, and by extension, the very center of the Exquisite Desert.
Yang Qi vanished into a vortex, then reappeared in front of a huge altar covered with black magical symbols. Deep within the symbols, energy flowed almost like water, creating stalactites that were also covered with liquid.
Yang Qi reached out and allowed some of the liquid to touch his hand. Instantly, the energy wrapped tightly around him, exerting such force that blood began oozing out of all of his pores.
Before he could do anything else, the power assessment systems unleashed a screaming warning.
[Beep-beep-beep. Beep-beep-beep. Fragmented godhood. Immense power. DO NOT ABSORB. Danger. Danger. Extreme danger!]
Despite the voice speaking to him, Yang Qi’s heart swelled with excitement. ‘Fragmented godhood? So, it really is a piece of godhood. No wonder it’s filled with so much power. It nearly destroyed my meridians!’
Godhood was actually the quintessence energy of the will of a god. The flesh and blood of a god was almost like trash compared to it. Even after a powerful god perished, their flesh and blood might rot away, but their godhood was truly undying.
1. There is some complexity that gets tangled up in translation here, primarily thanks to the fact that the words for emperor and empress are technically gender-neutral. The author uses a formal word to describe Zilin that would normally be translated as “empress”, except it just means the spouse of the imperial ruler.