“Monster! Such beings should be utterly eradicated!” Xie Shuci exclaimed furiously, wishing for a thunderbolt to descend from the heavens to strike down that accursed Patriarch Helian.
Even a fierce beast doesn’t eat its offspring, yet he made a seven-year-old child stain his hands with the blood of his peers? It was utterly unforgivable!
Chu Wenfeng, grinding his teeth in anger, added, “How can such a man be a Patriarch? To enter the Floating Tower realm, he sacrificed his own disciples. Such an act is truly an abomination!”
Chu Guiyi sighed, “Regrettably, though he started all this, he never dirtied his own hands. The consequences of these actions are solely borne by young master Helian.”
Staring blankly at his own hands, Helian Zhu seemed to see them smeared with gory, fresh blood, that thick fluid, warm and dripping between his fingers.
With a sorrowful tone, Xie Shuci asked, “Senior Brother, have you found a way to break the formation?”
Ignoring the formal address, Helian Jue shook his head sadly, “To be the anchor of such a formation inevitably leads to sacrificing oneself. It’s a law of the universe, immutable by anyone.”
Seeing the distraught look on Helian Zhu’s face, Xie Shuci’s heart ached, “Even so, isn’t there a way for him to reincarnate?”
For a living, breathing person to be forever ostracized by this world after death, to exist outside the cycle of reincarnation, and to fade away for all eternity is too heart-wrenching to accept.
Even in the modern world where Xie Shuci came from, when someone dies, they at least leave behind a body and all their personal belongings, a trace that they once existed.
Such a cruel erasure of a person’s existence was unimaginable for Xie Shuci.
Everyone fell silent, with Chu Guiyi speaking up first, “There’s no escaping it. As long as one lives, they cannot break free from the laws of the universe.”
“So, what exactly are the conditions for being rejected by the laws of the universe? None of this is Helian Zhu’s fault!” Xie Shuci retorted angrily.
Chu Guiyi’s expression grew somber. “Shuci, the laws of the universe aren’t like humans. They only recognize outcomes, not the causes.”
Helian Jue interjected, “It seems that since ancient times, the only individuals clearly expelled by these laws belong to a specific category: the cultivators of the Path of Slaughter. They live by killing, and they attain enlightenment through it. Their nature is flawed, their emotions barren. Often, on the day their Dao heart reaches its zenith, they face the wrath of the heavens in the form of eighty-one lightning tribulations, until they are reduced to ash.”
On hearing this, Xie Shuci’s pupils dilated. Xie An, standing beside him, slightly lowered his head, the corners of his mouth lifting in an ambiguous smirk.
“Does this mean Xiao Xun will eventually be struck by lightning and perish?” Xie Shuci asked incredulously.
How could that be possible? How could such a fate await Xiao Xun?
“If he cultivates the Path of Slaughter, he will undoubtedly be struck down by the lightning and perish,” Chu Guiyi stated.
Xie Shuci looked dazed. “If the end result is utter annihilation, why would anyone cultivate the Path of Slaughter?”
Chu Wenfeng remarked with a shrug, “Those on this path inherently revel in killing. It’s impossible to fathom their motives using a regular person’s mindset.”
Chu Guiyi added, “Perhaps there’s no real reason. For people like Xiao Xun, they live for the present moment and only this lifetime. They don’t care about life or death but act only to appease their own ambitions.”
“But what’s the point of it all?” Xie Shuci voiced, filled with confusion.
He truly couldn’t grasp Xiao Xun’s way of thinking.
While reading the original book, he realized that the protagonist’s values and worldview were completely different from his own. There were many actions of Xiao Xun that he couldn’t approve of. At times, he even sensed that the author, after receiving numerous criticisms, had tried to alter Xiao Xun’s character and motivations. However, it had failed.
Xiao Xun, as a character, had come alive from the writing, possessing an independent system of thought and a unique way of life. He no longer moved under anyone’s control, which was a frightening realization.
Hearing Xie Shuci’s question, Xie An’s expression faltered.
His right hand curled into a fist, fingertips grazing an unhealed wound, his brow furrowing deeply in contemplation.
“Young Master Chu, we can’t delay any longer.” Amid their conversation, Ye Changxuan approached.
Her complexion was pale, her figure swaying like a weak willow in the wind, appearing extremely delicate.
“We’re trapped here. Even if Helian Zhu doesn’t kill us, we’ll die from depleted spiritual energy. The speed of Subduing Dragon artifact draining spiritual energy is too fast,” Ye Changxuan said with a pained expression, her brows furrowed.
Members of their Hehuan Sect heavily relied on spiritual energy, their physical resilience was not as robust as other cultivators.
It was only then that Xie Shuci noticed the disciples from other immortal sects were looking rather pallid as if they’d lost a significant amount of blood. However, looking at his companions, the Little Blind, who didn’t have any spiritual energy, and the others who had spiritual energy seemed unaffected.
Ye Changxuan also noticed this anomaly. Staring at them in confusion, she asked, “Are any of you feeling unwell?”
Chu Guiyi paused momentarily. After his bout of cultivation madness, his golden core couldn’t gather spiritual energy. He first glanced at Helian Jue, then turned his eyes to Xie Shuci and Chu Wenfeng.
Shrugging, Xie Shuci responded, “I feel fine. In fact, I feel more energetic than ever.”
Chu Wenfeng, looking perplexed, added, “Same here.”
Helian Jue also shook his head.
Chu Wenfeng came to his senses and nudged Xie Shuci’s shoulder, saying, “You treated Helian Jue and Xie An, how can you possibly feel nothing?”
Xie Shuci responded innocently, “But I genuinely don’t feel unwell.”
Xie An leisurely leaned against the wall, looking detached from everything else, his fingers brushing over the pouch hanging from Xie Shuci’s waist.
Assuming the contents of his pouch had bumped into him, Xie Shuci pulled it closer to his chest.
The others exchanged glances, and subsequently, their gazes all settled on Xie Shuci.
Noticing their odd expressions, as if they were under some spell, Xie Shuci clutched his pouch even tighter, shrinking close to Xie An like a turtle into its shell.
“What are you all up to? Let’s talk this out. We can discuss anything…” Xie Shuci leaned back against Xie An, who resignedly opened his arms to offer support.
Resting against the warmth of Little Blind’s chest, Xie Shuci felt a tad calmer.
Chu Wenfeng, obviously intending to spook him, smirked devilishly and whispered, “Given the circumstances, our chances of leaving alive are slim. Why not be direct and just ‘rob and kill’…?”
Following suit, Ye Changxuan revealed a profound smile, “Little Daoist, hand over the item…”
Without a second thought, Xie Shuci swiftly removed the small pouch and offered it with both hands, “Beautiful fairy sister, take all the treasures, just spare us.”
“Pfft-” Ye Changxuan hadn’t expected such a response, let alone the sweet talk. Holding her side, she burst into laughter, “You, young man, are so endearing. If the situation permitted, I’d really want to…”
Xie An’s eyes turned cold, and he promptly snatched the pouch from Xie Shuci’s hand, tossing it to Chu Wenfeng.
Realizing what had happened, Xie Shuci quickly shook his head, protesting, “No! Don’t do it!”
Seeing this, Chu Guiyi couldn’t help but laugh. He clarified, “Relax. Wenfeng is just being his mischievous self, joking around with you. However, it is strange that despite using so much spiritual energy to heal them and still being under the influence of the Subduing Dragon Formation, your body is still full of spiritual energy.”
Chu Wenfeng raised an eyebrow smugly at Xie Shuci, infuriating the latter to the point of grinding his teeth.
As Chu Wenfeng opened the small pouch, a faintly glowing cyan halo appeared within everyone’s line of sight.
He glanced at the group, then carefully retrieved a bronze medicinal cauldron from within the pouch.
The cauldron was palm-sized, radiating a cyan sheen, and a continuous flow of spiritual energy emanated from it.
Upon seeing this, Helian Jue had an epiphany, “The bronze medicinal cauldron first appeared within the Floating Tower realm.”
Chu Guiyi instantly grasped his implication, “Like the Subduing Dragon artifact, it originates from a realm rich in spiritual energy.”
A gleam of excitement crossed Ye Changxuan’s face, “The bronze cauldron can refine anything, even the Sunduing Dragon artifact!”
As her words settled, all eyes simultaneously shifted back to Xie Shuci.
Seeing the faint excitement in their eyes, Xie Shuci scratched the back of his head in embarrassment, his face flushing as he muttered, “I… I can’t do it.”
“You can’t?! Then why do you carry that bronze cauldron around all the time?!” Chu Wenfeng exclaimed angrily.
Pushing Chu Wenfeng, Xie Shuci retorted, “Didn’t you know I couldn’t?”
“I…” Chu Wenfeng paused, recalling that he indeed knew. A hint of embarrassment crossed his face, but he quickly shifted his tone, “How was I to know you’d be so useless?”
Chu Guiyi shot him a reproachful glance, “Wenfeng, watch your words.”
With his head hung low in dejection, Xie Shuci felt utterly humiliated, especially in front of the beautiful sister. His young spirit felt crushed, and like an ostrich, he buried his face in Xie An’s shoulder.
Xie An lowered his eyes, his expression becoming inscrutable under the dim light.
Chu Wenfeng picked up the bronze cauldron to inspect it. Just as he was about to channel his spiritual energy into the cauldron, Chu Guiyi’s voice stopped him.
“Don’t act recklessly,” Chu Guiyi warned with a serious tone.
Ye Changxuan added, “The bronze medicinal cauldron isn’t like other artifacts. Using it rashly might lead to a backlash.”
Chu Wenfeng frowned, “Then what should we do?”
It was at this moment that Helian Zhu, who had been silently processing his emotions in a corner, spoke up, “Let me do it.”
He rose from his spot, appearing pale and worn out as if he had been deeply affected. However, a newfound depth shone in his eyes, as if he was a changed man.
Chu Wenfeng hesitated for a moment, glancing at Chu Guiyi and the others.
Chu Guiyi was momentarily undecided. Given the current situation, Helian Zhu seemed the most appropriate choice. However, if Helian Zhu activated his spiritual veins, there was a chance he could be controlled once more by the Helian family patriarch. Chu Guiyi was unsure if they should take this risk.
Helian Jue also appeared uncertain.
Seemingly understanding their concerns, Helian Zhu directly approached Chu Wenfeng, taking the bronze cauldron from his grasp. He assured the group, “Don’t worry, I won’t activate my spiritual veins.”
Hearing this, the group finally agreed.
Helian Zhu then retrieved a magic weapon from his robe. He twisted a black needle on its top, and with a soft ‘click’, a strand of inky spiritual energy emerged from the weapon.
The inky energy approached the bronze cauldron, but just as it was about to adhere to it, it was repelled by a burst of cyan brilliance emitted by the cauldron.
“It’s no use. The bronze cauldron is sealed,” Chu Guiyi declared with a grave expression.
Everyone was taken aback and almost simultaneously turned their gaze to Xie Shuci.
Xie Shuci, who was still leaning against Xie An in his own world, suddenly felt the silence around him. He raised his head in confusion, trying to ascertain what had just occurred.
But Xie An’s broad palm pressed against the back of Xie Shuci’s head, preventing him from turning around.
From the perspective of the onlookers, the youth took on an incredibly dominant stance, much like a wild beast marking its territory. He forcefully held Xie Shuci close to him in his arms, shielding him from the others and ensuring his safety.
“Xie An?” Xie Shuci murmured in confusion.
Chu Guiyi was the first to recover, shaking his head and stating, “It’s not wise. Shuci isn’t proficient enough with his spiritual energy. He’s more susceptible to backlash than the rest of us.”
The oppressive aura that Xie An had been exuding faded, and the hand that had been stationed at the back of Xie Shuci’s head began to slide down.
It gently roamed across Xie Shuci’s back, patting in a soothing manner.