Inside the dark green space of the Sky Poison Pearl, You’er was curled up on a soft bed like a cat. The tip of her nose went up and down gently with each breath.
Yun Che wasn’t the only one who had to withstand the power of God Ash. The Heaven Smiting Sword was under great pressure as well.
Yun Che had no choice but to use the sword’s Devil Emperor form throughout the whole battle, so the second he had fallen unconscious, You’er had blacked out as well. Hong’er wasn’t able to wake her no matter how many times she shook her.
"Master’s injuries are really bad. He’s definitely going to sleep for a very, very long time."
Hong’er scratched You’er’s palm again and again while mumbling, "Even You’er looks completely out of it."
"Oh well, master is pretty tough. He’ll be fine."
It was at this moment He Ling walked up to Hong’er and dropped a dozen or so shining swords in front of Hong’er. She said gently, "You must be really hungry, Hong’er. Enjoy."
"Wow! It’s so many!"
He Ling normally kept Hong’er on a strict "diet". It was to prevent the Heaven Smiting Sword from growing beyond Yun Che’s ability to use.
It had been years since she was able to indulge like this.
Eyes shining like a million stars, Hong’er let out a cry of joy before pouncing right on top of the pile of swords. In the past, she could only take tiny nibbles because there were only so many swords to eat. But now? She didn’t have to hold back anymore, not for this meal at least. She grabbed two swords and ripped out an entire chunk of metal with her shiny, perfect teeth.
Beside her, He Ling cupped her cheeks and watched the gleeful Hong’er and the sleeping You’er in silence.
It didn’t take long before five swords whose power could’ve sent shivers down any profound practitioner’s spine had vanished completely into her mouth.
As Hong’er wiped away her saliva and picked up the sixth sword, she said while her mouth was still full, "Y-you seem pretty strange today, sister He Ling."
"Really? How so?" He Ling asked gently. Her voice had always been soft and gentle, but for some reason she sounded even softer than usual.
"I don’t know. It’s just a feeling." Hong’er’s vermillion eyes moved upward while she crunched metal with every bite. "You just seem a little different from normal."
"..." A hint of sorrow lurked behind her eyes, but she immediately pushed it away with another beatific smile. She subconsciously reached out toward Hong’er’s cheek to caress it like she normally did, but she withdrew her fingers at the last second and held them tightly against her chest.
"The world is changing everyday," she said smilingly, "but no matter what happens, Hong’er, You’er and master must only change for the better, okay?"
A single tear fell off her cheek when she finished her sentence. It sounded unusually loud when it hit the floor.
"Ah?" Hong’er’s mouth fell open. "Why are you crying, sister He Ling?"
She thought for a second before breaking into a giggle. "I know, you must be worried about master, am I right? Relax, sister Jasmine always said that master is an unkillable insect. His injuries might look real~ scary, but he’ll recover in no time as long as he’s not dead. So don’t cry~"
She was serious. Yun Che had suffered an innumerable amount of grievous and even fatal injuries throughout his life, and she had gotten used to it a long time ago. She wasn’t worried for his wellbeing in the slightest.
While making cooing noises at He Ling, Hong’er attempted to wipe away the tear streak on the Poison Spirit’s cheek.
But instead of the usual warmth and smoothness, her fingers only touched thin air...
Hong’er’s fingers froze in mid-movement. Her vermillion eyes became affixed to He Ling’s cheek.
The half-eaten broadsword in her arms hit the floor with a resounding clang, but she did not even notice. She just stared at He Ling in utter silence.
He Ling hurriedly moved away from Hong’er’s hand and looked away. She did not want the girl to notice how watery her eyes looked.
She had more to say to Hong’er, but she suddenly found herself at a complete loss for words. Worse still, time continued to pass irregardless of her feelings...
She abruptly rose to her feet and rushed to leave the area. But before she could do so, Hong’er suddenly called out to her,
"Where... are you going, sister He Ling?"
Hong’er suddenly felt like someone was pulling her nose. A terrible sorrow that seemed to come from nowhere sat heavily against her heart.
"I’m going to see master," she replied quietly. She sounded like the thinning mist of dawn. "I... would like to see him a little longer..."
An existence that had long since vanished from their plane, but had continued to exist in a world beyond their world.
It was a place that returned everything into nothing, and it ought to have remained that way until time immemorial. In reality, it had somehow transformed into another world.
Yun Che’s consciousness was in turmoil even though he was in a deep coma.
It wasn’t because he was soon to awaken, but because the pressure crushing his soul was unbearable. He could not find peace even when he was unconscious.
He was a Half-God.
In order to match that man’s power for just a few brief moments, Cang Shitian had to end the Deep Sea lineage by his own hands, and Huo Poyun his very existence and the future of the Flame God Realm.
His own God Ash could only be manifested and sustained by sacrificing a divine origin.
On top of that, Mo Beichen was just a pioneer. Fodder that was meant to be expended for the glory of the Abyss.
He was ranked 779th among the Abyssal Knights.
Assuming that the Abyssal Knights were ranked by strength, that meant that there were at least 778 more people who were stronger than him.
What a joke...
Worse still, the Abyssal Knights themselves were just servants.
A single Half-God had already cost them so much.
What should we do if, no, when a True God rises from the Abyss...?
Is it even possible to deal with even a speck of such power...
Somehow, Yun Che could hear his bones clenching despite his blurry consciousness.
I fought tooth and nail to become the emperor of the world. There should not be anyone left to challenge me.
So how... am I powerless yet again? And in only a few years no less?
"Wake up, master..."
Suddenly, a weak and gentle voice entered the heavy, hazy world.
It was He Ling’s voice. He could never forget it even in a state of unconsciousness.
She sounded unusually weak and distant though. It was almost as if her voice was a dream within a dream.
"Can you wake up, master? I would like to speak with you for a bit... just a bit. Is that okay?"
His mind was beyond hazy, so he could only respond instinctively, "I’m tired... I’ll talk to you when I wake up..."
"... Okay." As expected, she responded as obediently and gently as ever. "Have a good rest then, master. I’m going to meet dad, mom, and Lin’er now. I’ll tell them everything about you, okay?"
"Yeah... sure," He continued to respond instinctively.
Lin’er... was a very familiar name, but he just couldn’t recall who it was right now.
"This is the best ending for me, master, so you mustn’t be sad no matter what, okay..."
Her voice continued to weaken as if it came from behind a thousand fogs.
Finally, his consciousness sank into pitch black silence.
When he awoke again, the first sensation that greeted him was growing pain.
Yun Che slowly opened his eyes. He was greeted by a most familiar scene.
It was his bedroom in Emperor Yun City.
"You woke up."
Chi Wuyao’s greeting grew in volume as she appeared beside his bed. She had moved to his side the second she detected a disturbance in his soul.
Terrible pain wracked his entire body. He tried moving his fingers and was startled to find that he could raise his right arm.
He was in far better condition than he expected he would be.
"How long have I slept?" Yun Che asked. He took a moment to perceive his meridians and found them in good condition as well.
"Six days," Chi Wuyao replied.
"...?" Yun Che looked stunned. "Six days?"
The first time Mo Beichen had dealt him a grievous blow, he had fallen unconscious for sixteen days straight. He was half-dead even after he awoke, and it took some time before he was fully healed in the Eternal Heaven Divine Realm.
This time, he maintained God Ash active over thirty breaths before sustaining a final strike from Mo Beichen. His injuries were... it was easily the worst injuries he had ever suffered in his life.
And yet... Chi Wuyao said that he was only unconscious for six days?
It must be true though. Both his bones and his meridians were in much better condition compared to the last time he awoke.
There was literally nothing in this world that could heal him faster than he could heal himself, so what in Primal Chaos was going on here...?
"Honestly, I’m quite surprised that you woke up as quickly as you did." Chi Wuyao sat down beside him before circulating a gentle stream of devilish energy inside his body. Her devilish eyes immediately widened in astonishment once more.
"Huh. Did your body undergo some sort of evolution after using the power of a Half-God for too long or something?" Chi Wuyao said half-jokingly. "In any case, this is obviously great news."
Now wasn’t the time to wonder why he had woken up so quickly. Yun Che tried struggling for a bit and... actually sat up using his own strength.
"..." Chi Wuyao’s lips parted a little.
She was with Yun Che nearly the whole time when he was recovering from his first engagement with Mo Beichen. This... was extremely unnatural to say the least.
"Is Mo Beichen dead?" Yun Che asked.
He was alive, so Mo Beichen must be dead. Still, he needed to hear the answer with his own ears.
"Yes, he is. The Sky Poison did not leave even his marrow behind," Chi Wuyao replied.
"What about Wuxin?" Yun Che’s breathing quickened uncontrollably.
"She’s perfectly unharmed. She’s resting in her bedroom right now," Chi Wuyao answered. "She’s been watching over you for the past six days. I just managed to get her to catch some rest an hour ago."
Yun Che shook his head in an attempt to clear up his muddled mind. "What about..."
He paused for a second before forcing out the words, "Cang Shitian and Huo Poyun?"
"Cang Shitian did not leave a body behind. All we found is a tiny fragment of the Deep Sea Divine Pearl with some of his blood on it... Shuhe has already taken him back to the Deep Sea Realm for a proper burial."
"As for Huo Poyun," Chi Wuyao shook her head a little, "He surrendered everything to his flames, and so did not leave anything behind... actually, allow me to correct that. He left behind a scorched world after his flames had finally died."
"Is that... so..." Yun Che muttered while staring blankly forward.
"Cang Shitian turned out to be a fiercer man than I thought. Perhaps Cang Shuhe is the only person in the entire world who truly knew him," Chi Wuyao sighed emotionally. "As for Huo Poyun, well, he acted exactly as I thought he would."
"That said, I could not help but spend the past couple days wondering if he did it more to defend his honor, or to prove himself to you."
Yun Che did not say anything for a very long time. Finally, he snapped out of his reverie and asked, "Did anything happen while I was unconscious?"
Chi Wuyao knew what he was referring to despite the ambiguity of his question. She shook her head and said, "No. However, the horrifying might of the Abyss and the news that they will appear in the world very soon spread across the entire God Realm in no time. There is no realm that isn’t panicking and terrified."
"What about the Qilin Realm?" Yun Che asked with a frown.
Everyone knew the Qilin Realm was going to taste his wrath the moment he awoke.
Not only were they first realm to bend their knees to Mo Beichen, they had betrayed him in every way imaginable.
As an indirect result of their betrayal, the three Yama Ancestors, the two Brahma Ancestors, and the Chief Enforcer Cang Shitian were all killed in action. He himself had fallen into a deep coma. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he was at his weakest at this time.
It was also the Qilin Realm’s only chance to marshal the realms and launch a do-or-die coup d’etat against him. If they missed the window, well, they were dead. It was as simple as that.
Chi Wuyao’s gaze turned inscrutable. "In fact, Qi Tianli is in Emperor Yun City right now. He has restricted his own profound energy, and he has knelt outside the main hall for four days and four nights."
"...?" The disbelief on Yun Che’s face quickly morphed into disgust. "So, the bastard has the guts to betray me behind my back, but not the nerve to revolt against me upfront? Truly, the Qilins’ spine must be softer than maggots!"
"The old fool doesn’t think I will actually forgive him and his people, does he?"
"But you will." Chi Wuyao sighed quietly.
"...??" This time, Yun Che shot her a look of disbelief. He almost wondered if his hearing was impaired.
Chi Wuyao was one of the people who knew him like the back of her hand. It was why he could not help but be astonished by her statement.
"The thing is, Qi Tianli is fundamentally different from Zhou Xuzi." Chi Wuyao began slowly, "Zhou Xuzi believed himself to be a man of upright and honorable character. Not only did his justice involve betraying others for the so-called greater good, he did not forget to wallow in guilt and atonement to maintain his belief. His behavior was pathetic and ridiculous to the point of being sickening."
"On the other hand, Qi Tianli has always been forthright about the most important thing in his life: the continued survival of the Qilins. He doesn’t care for fame or glory, and he never involves himself in another’s business unless they involve him first. He does not fear death either. He would happily sacrifice his life if it could ensure his race’s survival."
"Put yourself in his position for a moment. What would’ve happened if Qi Tianli had chosen to resist when Mo Beichen had first appeared in his realm? There is no doubt that the Abyssal Knight would’ve wiped out the Qilins from the surface of Primal Chaos. He really didn’t have a choice..."
"Enough." Yun Che interrupted her with a frown. "Nothing you say justifies his betrayal in any way."
"And even if they do justify his actions, it doesn’t change the fact that he is a betrayer! The old fool betrayed me in every way possible!"
A spine-chilling gleam gathered behind his weak eyes. "If betrayal is not punished properly, then loyalty is nothing more than a joke!"
"Perhaps you’re right, but I’m not finished yet. Do you want to know the biggest reason you’ll forgive him despite what you just said?"
"Not even a little." Yun Che looked away from her. "I know you’ll convince me one way or another. That’s why I’d rather you not say the reason at all."
Chi Wuyao burst into a giggle before continuing, "That’s fine, because I’m not the one who will convince you to let Qi Tianli live..."
"The Blue Dragon Emperor’s the one who will change your mind."
The memories before unconsciousness claimed him replayed chaotically in his head. He slowly turned back toward Chi Wuyao and asked, "She... lived?"
He was barely conscious back then, but the Blue Dragon Emperor’s blood-drenched body had literally been pressed up against his own. He had felt her life force being destroyed at an extraordinary rate as if his own.
It was why he was so surprised to hear this. By all rights, she should have died.
The only chance she could have survived was if he had unleashed the full power of the Divine Miracle of Life in perfect condition.
"Yes, she survived. In fact, she awoke much sooner than you did," Chi Wuyao replied even as she was confused by Yun Che’s reaction, "It was thanks to the light profound energy you left in her body at the last moment that saved her life."
The confusion on Yun Che’s face only deepened. "Light profound energy? Me?"
"I was so depleted back then that I could not even lift a finger to save myself. How could I possibly have healed her from certain death with the light profound energy?"