Clouds dyed black stealthily veiled the fierce sun, unnoticed.
Sparse rays pierced through the crevices of the clouds, stretching a tendril of light that fell to earth as if it were the sole beacon in the enveloping darkness. It seemed to offer hope, but in reality, it only allowed those bound to the abyss to look upon it, never to touch.
If he kept his eyes shut, perhaps this agony would not be his to bear.
Why expose him to a glimpse of hope that was out of reach?
Drops of blood rhythmically moistened the dusty ground as the young man’s hoarse screams, torn as if shredded, assaulted the ears of all present.
His hands formed claws, and to the surprise of all, he pierced through the bodies of Helian Jue and Lu Jin, tearing them open.
“Ah….” Helian Zhu’s eyes widened in terror. His body became stiff as wood, his screams scattered like fragments in the wind while tears unknowingly traced down his cheeks.
Helian Jue, already gravely injured, showed a brief revival from the effects of the Resurrection Pill. But before he could even react, he was struck by a fatal blow. His head drooped powerlessly, and a trickle of blood silently spilled from the corner of his mouth.
A gentle breeze lifted the ink-black hair from his forehead, caressing his unkept face, where traces of his once youthful vigor were faintly discernible.
But now, all life had departed from him.
“Helian Jue…” Lu Jin still had a breath left in her, too hurried to contemplate what had transpired. Her senses were numb, she felt no pain. She could only see the sight of Helian Jue’s head hanging lifelessly with his face etched with pain and fear.
Xie Shuci was petrified by this scene, his mind blank as he frantically searched his small pouch, murmuring, “I have pills, I can save them…”
But the next moment, his trembling hands were held down by Xie An’s grip.
“Xie An… let go… they’re dying…” Xie Shuci desperately tried to push his hands away, only to realize his body had scarcely any strength left.
Chu Guiyi’s face was stricken with sorrow as he shook his head, “Their core is destroyed; they’re beyond saving.”
Such simple words, yet they were excruciatingly difficult for him to utter.
Xie Shuci was taken aback, his eyes suddenly brimming with tears.
“Did you think that by sealing the spiritual veins, I wouldn’t be able to control you?” Helian Yong laughed triumphantly, pleased with his own masterpiece. “Look, Zhu’er, you’re still my good disciple.”
Helian Zhu, as if struck by immense shock, swiftly withdrew his hands and fell to the ground, legs giving way beneath him.
Lu Jin with tears filling her eyes, looked at Helian Jue who was so close yet so far. Her pale lips quivered as she called out his name, crawling to his side, her hands stained with blood gripping his clothes, “Helian… Helian Jue…”
Helian Zhu looked at his hands, then at the chaos before him. His face was full of fear and disbelief as he shook his head in denial, “No… it can’t be… I… I obviously didn’t move…”
“Changxuan, his mind is on the verge of collapse. Helian Yong can control him with ease. Do it, kill him,” an elder from the Hehuan Sect stated emotionlessly.
Ye Changxuan watched the young man’s helpless despair, the lifeless form of Helian Jue on the ground, and Lu Jin, who with her dying breath crawled to Helian Jue’s side. She felt a sorrow so profound it was almost unbearable, making her hesitate to strike.
Helian Yong stood triumphantly, completely indifferent to his disciple lying dead before him, a child he had raised with his own hands. Watching his sect members slaughter each other, he felt a perverse sense of satisfaction!
“Zhu’er, by taking away the destinies of Ah Jue and Lu Jin, you will surely win in the Immortal sect selection… Our Helian clan will finally enter the Floating Tower realm!” His laughter, ringing out to the sky, carried a tinge of madness.
As the two on the ground lay silent, dark and sinister patterns spread over Helian Zhu’s body, making him resemble an ancient, cold sacrificial offering, filled with the power of ancient evil. His spiritual energy surged wildly, distorting the space around him and whipping up a ferocious wind.
“Changxuan! Strike now! His cultivation is about to ascend!” the elder bellowed.
With the fate of the entire Luofang City at stake, everyone’s mind was set. Ye Changxuan no longer hesitated, summoning her spiritual power to leap towards Helian Zhu.
“Who dares to touch Zhu’er?” Helian Yong raised his hand and repelled Ye Changxuan with a blast of spiritual energy, standing protectively in front of Helian Zhu, his cold gaze challenging everyone.
None dared to move rashly as Ye Changxuan and the others were not yet fully recovered and were no match for him.
“I don’t want this… I don’t!” Helian Zhu cried out in madness, desperately trying to suppress the rise of his cultivation.
What did this increase in cultivation mean?
It meant that Helian Jue, his senior brother, and Lu Jin, the Miss Lu he respected, were truly gone! They had been erased from this world, and with each advancement in his cultivation, their existence in this world would be further obliterated! He didn’t want this!
How could he accept it?
How could he personally kill his senior brother and then watch as his own cultivation rose because of his senior brother’s death?
Why must such cruelty exist? Why must such cruelty befall him?!
“Ah… I don’t want this…”
Cradling his head, he wailed inconsolably, yet nothing could halt the unfolding of reality.
Voices swirled in his mind, tearing at him as if to shred him alive:
“The people who die by your hand will be forsaken by the heavens, just like you…”
“Zhu’er, my good child…”
“Litt Zhu, save your senior brother, I’m going to be beaten to death by that madwoman Lu Jin…”
“Little Zhu, move aside! Today, I must give Helian Jue a good lesson…”
“Brother Zhu, who among us will become an inner disciple…”
“Brother Zhu, the fruit wine is so sweet…”
“Helian Zhu, rest assured, if I enter the inner sect, I will plead with the Partriach to bring you in as well…”
“Senior brother has lost the bet to Miss Lu…”
“How can Lu Jin, a mere wandering cultivator, be worthy of Senior brother…”
He was dying! These voices were torturing him to death!
“Senior brother, when you and Miss Lu leave, could you give me the Cloud Piercing Spear?”
His senior brother bent down and ruffled his hair, “When you can protect the Helian family, I will personally hand over the Cloud Piercing Spear to you.”
“Senior brother, when you leave with Miss Lu, will you protect only her from then on?”
“Of course not, I will protect the world together with her.”
Sadly, the life he and Miss Lu aspired to was never to be realized.
Why couldn’t he be selfish? Forget about him, forget about the Helian family, forget about everyone else’s life or death. Why not just wander the world with Miss Lu? Why be so foolish?
At this moment, Helian Zhu didn’t know how to vent the unbearable pain in his heart. Besides crying and hoarse screaming, he found himself powerless to do anything else.
Even when he wanted to self-detonate his golden core, his body refused to listen.
The young man’s desperate sobbing struck everyone’s hearts. Empathetic as Xie Shuci was, his heart twisted in pain, tears brimmed in his eyes. He wanted to help, wanted to bring Helian Jue and Lu Jin back to life, but like everyone else, he could only watch and listen, powerless to stop anything.
Pity showed on everyone’s faces to varying degrees, all except for Xie An, who stood coldly apart, unable to comprehend or share in the emotions of the others.
“Beast! Helian Yong is truly a beast!” Chu Wenfeng cursed through gritted teeth.
Meanwhile, the cultivators who had left earlier were now returning with their disciples. Among them were many who had heard rumors and had come to investigate.
As a disciple of the Xiaoyao Sect, Deng Fengming held the most prestige among the many sects present. The crowd followed him, pouring into the Helian family residence with a mighty surge.
When he saw his own sword in Xie An’s hands, he was momentarily stunned, his pupils constricting sharply. Xiao Xun was the kind to bear grudges, and having been wounded by him, he would surely not let this slide.
Deng Fengming’s steps faltered, but with many disciples and cultivators following him, he had no choice but to steel himself and move forward.
“Patriarch Helian, are you truly coercing your sect’s disciples into practicing forbidden arts?”
“It’s utterly disgraceful! We must report this to the Hundred Sects and strip the Helian family of their qualifications for the Immortal Sect Selection!”
“Ah—what has Helian Zhu done? Did he kill his own senior brother?”
“I didn’t! I didn’t!” Helian Zhu cried out near madness, “I didn’t kill my senior brother! It wasn’t me… It wasn’t me!”
“Everyone, please, let’s not be hasty!” Ye Changxuan intervened, stopping everyone from getting closer.
Helian Yong’s gaze was dark and icy as he addressed the newcomers, his voice cold and threatening, “You all are forcing me to take action to kill. Now that everyone knows, don’t even think about leaving here alive!”
Helian Zhu’s face was marred with black patterns, his eyes bloodshot with endless hatred as he looked up at Helian Yong’s back.
It was you…
You killed my senior brother…
It’s all because of you! I will kill you!
After stealing the destinies of Helian Jue and Lu Jin, Helian Zhu’s cultivation soared. His pupils glowed crimson like rubies, and all the voices in his head silenced in an instant, leaving only one thought: I will kill him!
His spiritual veins had already opened unknowingly, his body enveloped in a white mist, slowly rose into the air. Then, in full view of everyone, he stood up and picked up the fallen Cloud Piercing Spear at his feet. His jet-black hair was now in wild disarray, while his eyes were completely covered with blood and patterns.
His robes flapped in the fierce wind, and as he stepped forward, a towering killing intent surged with him. The Cloud Piercing Spear, sensing its master’s desolate heart, let out a mournful wail.
The crowd held their breath, no longer making any sound.
Yet Helian Yong smirked with disdain, “Zhu’er, go on.”
No sooner had he spoken, the young man, who had been slowly approaching Helian Yong, suddenly halted. His body soared into the air, and the Cloud Piercing Spear in his hand swept out a fierce wind as his body flew past Helian Yong to stand in front of everyone.
The residual waves from the spear in the air forced the crowd back.
Seeing this, Chu Guiyi said with a grave expression, “Helian Zhu is deeply ensnared by his inner demons, completely under control. We could barely handle one Helian Yong, and now with Helian Zhu’s advanced cultivation, the task is even more daunting.”
Several disciples, unaware of the truth, drew their swords and attacked Helian Zhu, only to be easily flung aside by his Cloud Piercing Spear.
“What do we do now? Why did that fool Helian Zhu wait for that old scoundrel to finish talking?” Xie Shuci couldn’t help but curse.
Chu Wenfeng also expressed his frustration, “Had we known, we should have killed him then. Even angering Helian Yong wouldn’t have been a death sentence. Now we’ve lost two lives for nothing!”
Chu Guiyi shook his head, “It’s no use talking about what’s passed. Helian Yong has laid out a formation outside Luofang City, and now, not even a fly could escape. The cultivators inside the city could stand a chance against Helian Yong. It’s just that Helian Zhu uses his body as a formation and each time he kills a person his cultivation will improve, so we must resolve him as soon as possible.”
On the other side, Helian Yong had already manipulated Helian Zhu to commence a fierce battle. Despite the multitude of cultivators present, even their combined forces could only manage a stalemate.
“Shuci, this place is too dangerous. You take Young Master Xie An and leave first. After you return to Manjiang Hall, we can think of another plan,” Chu Guiyi said.
Xie An seemed eager to depart as well, grasping Xie Shuci’s wrist, ready to whisk him away from this place.
“Wait—” Xie Shuci shook his head, knowing that staying here would be of no use, and likely would only add to the chaos, “I want to take away the bodies of Helian Jue and Miss Lu.”
Chu Guiyi paused, his expression complex, “Shuci, if Helian Zhu dies here today, their bodies will also vanish with him, dissolving into heaven and earth.”
Xie Shuci’s expression darkened. He really didn’t understand what this so-called heavenly way was thinking?! What are rules? What are principles? By what right does it indiscriminately erase a person’s existence? Shouldn’t Helian Yong be the one to be erased?