Li Qiye left Cleansing Incense before the start of the trip and took his time traveling to various locations in the nine worlds.
He entered certain perilous places just to watch the sunset, burial grounds just to see the blooming and withering of flowers, darkness just to see the fluttering of the leaves…
He was retracing his steps and made it to many different places. In one, he struggled with his friends. In another, he faced near-death with his followers. The next was when he taught the dao to a student…
In a particular desert in the nine worlds, he took his time walking to an oasis just to taste a handful of water. After drinking, he stared at the rippling waves and the fire camp of that year seemed to still be jumping. The girl with the veil was still dancing with so many wonderful poses.
Next was on top of a mountain pass situated on a vast plain, he sat down on the soft grass to look at the white clouds in the sky. A scene of stallions galloping by, led by a gallant woman. Her happy, bell-like laughter echoed across the plains…
Rain fell during the night but he didn’t seem to care about becoming wet. This was an ominous ground with creaking skeletons and night demons lying in ambush. The rain painted an old picture for him of a little girl continuously walking forward in such a stubborn and fearless fashion despite the tears in her eyes. It was raining that night too with a crow circling overhead to watch the unyielding girl…
Each place was so familiar yet different. The scenery was still there but the people have come and gone. Mulberry fields replaced the blue seas, everything has disappeared along the river of time.
These locations were once visited by a crow, laughter, and suffering. They were blessed with the appearance of great characters who couldn’t be forgotten…
In Sacred Nether, he stood on top of a peak to stare at the lonely city on the horizon and the towering peak standing proudly across the world.
“Goodbye.” He whispered intimately before leaving.
A woman opened her eyes inside the city to watch Li Qiye’s departing figure. Her heart shuddered and her fists clenched.
For them, it was better not to meet. So many words yet expressing them was the difficult part. They didn’t want to show weakness before each other.
Next stop was Stone Medicine. It was a quiet journey, not letting anyone know. He leaned on a giant bamboo tree and seemed to be asleep.
After a long time, he patted the tree and said before leaving: “Goodbye, my friend. May you be eternal and everlasting.”
The leaves and branches rustled as if they were waving goodbye to him. So many words expressed in such a simple manner between two parties who understood each other.
He stepped on a high mound with an old tablet on top. A prosperous city used to be below but only broken tiles remained.
He stood in front of the tablet and stared at the broken place in silence. Eventually, he grabbed a handful of soil and let it sprinkled through the gap of his fingers.
“We once stayed in this prosperous citadel where the great sects used to be. People prostrated before us, now only ruins are present.” Li Qiye spoke softly.
He grabbed another handful and threw it at the sky so that the grains would flutter far away into the ruins.
An ancient battlefield emerged. The place was full of corpse energy and bones. Li Qiye lighted a bundle of incense and slowly drank old wine by himself, gulp by gulp.
“Goodbye, my brothers and comrades. Perhaps I will meet all of you again one day.” He sprayed what’s left of the wine on the battlefield so that its fragrance could permeate the place.
He stopped and went during this journey. When he was tired, he would stop on a peak to watch the clouds. Another destination was a pub inside an old city to enjoy some cheap wine and people watch. Watching wondrous trees and divine flowers growing inside a valley was next…
In the last several days, Li Qiye had traveled to many locations. A plethora of memories resurfaced; joys and sorrows assaulted his numb heart.
There were times when he thought that his heart wouldn’t beat again. He had lost feelings after experiencing so much. However, it was moments of departure that reminded him that his heart was still living. He still felt happiness, sadness, and unwillingness due to pain…
In the end, he returned to Mortal Emperor. There was a surging river here. He sat down and leaned on his knees to watch the green water flow.
The current was especially quiet and gentle as if it was afraid of waking someone up from their sweet dream.
At the bottom was the grave of a generational goddess with a thunderous fame.
Li Qiye had a hard time speaking despite the words forming in his mind. He eventually smiled wryly and said: “You once asked me, if I always stay as an immortal and live till the world grows old, what will I do? The truth is I don’t know the answer either. For millions of years, so many people pursued immortality. In each epoch, amazing characters and Immortal Emperor searched for it. But I’m afraid that real immortality isn’t as beautiful as their imagination. How many people can preserve their original mind? They will either go crazy as a devil or become unreachable like a saint.”
He gently sighed: “If I could choose again, I wouldn’t want immortality. The burden of responsibility is too heavy. It’s better to go all out just once. Living and victory are fine, same with dying and defeat.”
He paused for a moment and elaborated: “That’s why I don’t truly want to grasp the Longevity Grass. As long as it doesn’t fall into the hands of the Ancient Ming, I’ll be just fine as I head towards the final battle in this generation.”
After a brief lull, he laughed and said: “No, don’t get me wrong. I’m not fighting to die. Your young master has never been that pessimistic. Though I do not wish for eternal life and am ready to fight without turning back, I will go there with an unstoppable momentum to trample the emperors and gods as well as the villainous heaven! Your master was invincible in the past, is untouchable now, and will still be unbeatable in the future! Just watch, my brilliance shall paint the worlds above. My legends shall be imperishable!”
His boisterous laughter drifted with the winds.
Finally, he left the river and floated to the sky. His profound and aggressive glare saw all the lands before focusing into the horizon. The glare then pierced through the worlds all the way to the tenth. The gods and emperors up there would be stricken with fear if they were to see this.
“Tenth world, the Dark Crow is coming again!” He said slowly: “Emperors and gods, are you ready? Inhabitants of the thirteen continents, are you aware that a new era is coming? Old Qian, have you thought it through? Continue to stand in my way or side with me? I will show no mercy this time around!”
His eyes became austere and emotionless, seemingly capable of freezing the tenth world. If anyone to see this, this terrible pair of eyes would become their nightmare.
In the end, he became gentler and looked deeply at the nine worlds: “Goodbye, nine worlds. You will need to rely on yourself in the future. The guardian will no longer be here.”
He returned to Cleansing Incense and told the group: “Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to go to the tenth world. Go say your goodbyes and calm your emotions before facing a new challenge. A more brilliant era and vaster world are waiting for you all.”
The group took a deep breath. This day has finally come!