The old man smiled. His aura was gentle and just as he said: “Long time no see, old friend.”
“Long time no see, old friend.” Li Qiye was relaxed and in good mood: “Time can take away everything, but not our dao heart.”
“The path is endless, only your dao heart will be able to see the dawn. Your world and epoch are on your shoulder, my friend.” The old man said.
Li Qiye smiled: “You’re overthinking it. You are you and I am me; a saint and a devil. You are a savior while I’m only a passerby. Vast the world may be, it means nothing to me.”
“That’s only your own opinion.” The old man said: “I was born as a Saint to fight against the darkness and save the world while you are mad; your only goal is the final battle. Alas, ultimately, our different paths have the same destination.”
Li Qiye didn’t contest this point. The two of them were like brothers, finding each other quite close because they were the same type of people.
There was a saying that describes the two of them - friendship is not limited by age.
The two of them were alike with an extremely firm dao heart. They spent more than half of an epoch for their own goals. They gained much and lost more but there was no looking back. They heroically marched forward without regrets.
This old man was considerably older than Li Qiye. He was a lucky survivor from a distant epoch but the two of them spoke as if they were on the same level.
“I’m afraid I won’t last for much longer. Too many years have passed.” The old man said with a warm tone.
“Don’t worry, the holy light in this place is fading, but your divinity will keep you alive without a problem.” Li Qiye smiled.
“Alive I may be, but no different from a rock. I have let go of all things, outside of one stubborn intent.” The old man said.
“Who could actually do so?” Li Qiye replied.
The two of them became silent because this topic was too heavy. It had been hounding them for nearly an epoch.
“Earlier, I told my company about the tale of a warrior turning into an evil dragon.” Li Qiye broke the silence: “They know of the transformation, but they don’t know the fate of the villager who followed him.”
“Everyone has a different end.” The old man seemed to have accepted everything: “I’m not the only one who have found out that secret, and not the only one to witness it all in person. Being aware is still useless.”
“But you’re the only true Saint.” Li Qiye said: “There are those who know of the secret but how many actually resisted? Even if they were to fight, who would be like you, wasting more than half of an epoch without giving up!”
He looked at the old man and continued: “That’s why you are a Saint, while the other wise sages turned into lackeys or evil dragons.”
“Many wise sages turned into bones too, on this path.” The old man replied with a tinge of disappointment.
Li Qiye nodded: “Yes, but there is no victory, no dawn - without death.”
“My epoch is done for. Though they have taken roots in this broken place, there is no way of prolonging it. But there is still a chance for you and your epoch to strike against the heaven. As long as you win, your epoch will go on. Everything else will only be history then. Or maybe when that day comes, spirits will lament and specters howl, unable to enter the reincarnation cycle. Serenity will come again and it will disappear on the river of time. Otherwise, everyone will keep on hesitating and the darkness will never disperse.” The old man’s expression became wistful.
“Perhaps.” Li Qiye smiled: “I don’t think about these things; the only thing on my mind is to pierce the heaven, never giving up until death. Only to fight to the end, the result doesn’t matter.”
“No, you must return triumphantly.” The old man became serious: “In all of your epoch, if you were to fail, then there would be no hope. Even though there have been those who tried in your epoch, no one has been so thorough like you! At best, they were only worried about themselves. If you were to die at the end of the world, your epoch will surely fall into darkness. The blood cycle will start until the destruction.”
Li Qiye shook his head: “I can’t save the world and the heart of the people. I’m afraid I can’t become someone like you.”
“But you can save yourself! There is no returning from the final battle without winning. Your soul will continue to be tormented by the river of time. Look at it, so many wise sages are drowned in despair right now? Even after dying, your hellbent desire won’t disperse. It will be there, screaming for an eternity! That’s why you must win in order to save yourself!” The old man had a profound glare since he had a deep understanding of this issue.
“Winning has always been on my mind.” Li Qiye eventually responded.
“I’m sure.” The old man nodded: “This confident belief is the reason why you have made it to this point!”
“Perhaps if you have a heart ready to kill like me, maybe you would have been able to end the cycles of your epoch and it will still be here right now.” Li Qiye smiled.
A while ago, Li Qiye was telling the juniors about the cycles of an epoch, from prosperity to the reaping. Some tried to resist before but in the end, the result was similar to the tale of the warrior and dragon.
Of course, there were exceptions, like this old man ahead. He was like the villager, understanding the secrets of the cycles. He knew why his race’s top masters were harvesting their own citizens.
He was the one who resisted during that bloody era. After many generations, he remained unyielding and untouchable. Alas, he still failed in the end. Their epoch fell into darkness until the great sundering.
“No re-do in this world.” The old man quietly said: “But I do want to give you an advice, be wary of your companions. The wise sages that have struggled all along might be the ones backstabbing you at the final moment, but I’m sure you are aware of this.”
His expression became grave. In fact, warriors weren’t the only ones who turned into evil dragons; even the wise sages would eventually falter.
Back in his epoch, the old man nearly ended the reaping cycles but he failed. The wise sages backstabbed him; his allies who fought the darkness eventually became the dark overlords!
“I understand.” Li Qiye said: “Before the war declaration, I will flatten what I need to, killing those with hidden motivations. I’m not as benevolent like you and certainly won’t be repeating your mistake.” His eyes flashed with a frightening glare after stating this.
The old man nodded. They have experienced the cruelest moment possible in life so they understood these logics too well.
“What else can I help you with, my friend?” The old man eventually asked.
“I want to declare an all-out war!” Li Qiye revealed a faint smirk.
“Right here in the wildland?!” The old man’s eyes slightly batted: “Who is the opponent?”
“An overlord but if I were to lie a bit, I would say that it is to flatten the wildland for you, removing your stubborn wish. The truth is that I need an item from this place, so I want a war. I need to bait out the overlord hiding underground and kill him. Only then would I get what I want.” Li Qiye said with a smile.
“What do you want?” The old man stared at him.
His eyes became serious and sharp: “I want your epoch’s Paragon Artifact!”
The old man pondered before answering: “You should that it is a horrible weapon of destruction and cruelty beyond anyone’s imagination.”
“This applies to virtually all Paragon Artifacts.” Li Qiye calmly replied: “But since others have these terrible weapons, I need one too! Brutality against brutality, this is the most direct method.”
“Well, you should be ready for the worst.” The old man said: “I failed before the destruction back then so I do not know whether this weapon is still here. Anything is possible during that moment.”
“Even without it, they certainly will have something else since they managed to stay alive. A Paragon Artifact isn’t too crucial, in short, I need enough resources and weapons so that I can quell the chaos.” Li Qiye said sternly.
The old man said: “Resources and weapons, certainly. They have reaped one epoch after another, even if they have lost some, there should still be a frightening amount left.”