Chapter 554 – To Not Return, to Accompany Forever
“Why, your highness?”
The sudden change in the situation took all the cultivators by surprise. Han Anguo’s face sank heavily as he tightened his grip around his spear.
The scholar in white could not help but recall Feng Buquan’s words when he behaved erratically, as well as the Dark Queen’s strange behaviours. His eyes were filled with surprise and doubt as he was on full alert.
Li Qingshan had never thought the Dark Queen would strike so ruthlessly either. He frowned and thought, She may be of noble status, but killing a marquis who was conferred by the Great Xia empire is no laughing matter. I wonder how she’ll clean up after herself.
The Dark Queen gave him an answer immediately. After killing the Marquis of Ruyi, she did not recall the Void-bellied Ghost King immediately.
The Void-bellied Ghost King’s huge, hideous head rotated slowly. His colossal body abruptly moved, striking flagrantly.
Gusts of wind kicked up the yellow sand, blowing into his face.
Li Qingshan squinted his eyes before widening them.
Within the sky filled with sand, the Void-bellied Ghost King rushed about quickly, unleashing a massacre. It basically killed off the remaining Golden Core cultivators one by one with a single strike each.
Li Qingshan wanted to say something. A hand was placed on his shoulder. He turned around, only to see Gu Yanying gazing into the distance and shaking her head gently.
Li Qingshan returned to his senses. The last sight he saw was Han Anguo merging with his spear, charging towards the Ghost King countless times larger than him. His gaze was as firm as steel as the spear burst forth from his hands, whistling and spinning like a tornado. It pierced the Ghost King’s huge hand, directly targeting the Dark Queen’s head.
Following that sound, the fierce wind subsided, and the sand settled.
The Void-bellied Ghost King grabbed the spear like it was holding a toothpick. Han Anguo’s aura vanished.
Li Qingshan remembered how the Arts of the Boundless Ocean he practised had only been assembled by borrowing his power. He was also Han Qiongzhi’s uncle. He could not help but become heavy-hearted.
The Dark Queen rubbed her forehead gently. There was a red mark on there, but apart from that, she was unscathed.
She turned around. Her expression was as chilly as frost as the hem of her clothes swayed slightly. She hovered in the Void-bellied Ghost King, approaching the three of them.
The smear of azure in the centre of the sky began to spread and permeate sliver by sliver. A white sun radiated with light before rapidly descending in the west. The sky had been dyed red too before becoming a dark blue very soon. A lone moon hung high in the air.
Li Qingshan was unable to observe this bizarre phenomenon as he stood in the desert soaked in moonlight.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
The Void-bellied Ghost King strode towards the three of them.
She wants to kill everyone! Li Qingshan shivered inside. He was forced to admit that the Dark Queen did possess that strength right now.
The Void-bellied Ghost King extended its arm, reaching towards Li Qingshan. It did not move quickly, but it did lock onto Li Qingshan’s aura firmly, sealing off any room to dodge.
Completely exhausted, Li Qingshan was unable to dodge at all.
Xiao An leapt out and there was a flash of her sword.
The Dark Queen drew back her hand, now with a slash in her palm. She closed her hand firmly and gazed over coldly. The flames flickered in Xiao An’s eye sockets as she met her gaze.
“Your highness, it’s quite late already. It’s time for us to return.”
Gu Yanying gazed at the sky. The rate at which everything changed was currently slowing down silently.
“I know you’ve guessed it already. If you can keep this secret, you will obtain the friendship of the Umbral Yin sect.”
The Dark Queen shifted her gaze away and dispersed the Void-bellied Ghost King with a wave of her hand as she said that to Gu Yanying.
She had not carried out a massacre on impulse. Cultivators were thorough with their thoughts, let alone Golden Core cultivators. Every single one of them were well-versed with how to deal with people. The Marquis of Ruyi had come from an aristocratic background and had become rooted in fear and hatred, which was why he was unable to see through her strange behaviour. However, that did not mean other cultivators had not noticed or seen through it. Silencing them was necessary.
The very belief of a demonic sect like the Umbral Yin sect was to view human lives as nothing. They were not bound by any laws or morals at all, completely doing whatever they wanted. Even if it were not for this secret, she probably would still do the same for the cultivators’ golden cores and belongings. Every additional golden core gave her greater confidence with overcoming the third tribulation.
As for Gu Yanying, she was on rather friendly terms with her. Moreover, Gu Yanying stood aloof from the world and was not a so-called person of the “righteous path”. Although she could be rather heartless, she was not sinister.
Most importantly, the Dark Queen had no confidence in being able to kill her here. This was how people of the demonic path did things. As long as they could increase their cultivation, even by only a bit, it would be worth it no matter how many “fellows” they had to kill. To her, cultivators like the Marquis of Ruyi had enjoyed peace for far too long. They had forgotten about the age when cultivators fought and killed one another.
Gu Yanying lowered her head slightly and bowed gracefully. “Please exchange this friendship for three golden cores.”
The Dark Queen immediately tossed three golden cores to Gu Yanying. One of them was pure-white and out of the ordinary. It was the Marquis of Ruyi’s golden core. Gu Yanying ingested it without minding at all and began meditating to refine it.
Only then did the Dark Queen relax, completely extinguishing the killing intent inside.
They no longer said anything afterwards, waiting quietly to return to the World of the Nine Provinces.
Li Qingshan had no idea whether Gu Yanying and the Dark Queen were communicating with their soul sense.
However, from the beginning till the end, the Dark Queen and Xiao An did not speak a single word to one another.
Only when the sky brightened did the surroundings gradually clear up. The rate at which the celestial bodies in the sky moved about returned to normal.
As soon as they returned to the World of the Nine Provinces, Li Qingshan dove into the ground immediately with Xiao An. He completely refused to look back. He could sense several tremendous auras shining in the night sky like torches. Several strands of soul sense swept past him as if they wanted to see through him completely.
In that moment, the spirit turtle gave off several warnings. Every single one of them was as terrifying as almost certain death, but no attacks rained down.
The sky was enveloped with thick clouds that constantly churned about. Half a claw could be vaguely made out, black as ink, as it traversed through the clouds. On the other side of the sky, a sword that leaned against the heavens seemed to stand in opposition.
That was a clash that the current Li Qingshan could not become involved in, the game among the kings.
A man stood in the air with his hands behind his back. His clothes were black, and his hair was combed back meticulously. His eyes were filled with an imposing sense of dignity as his soul sense chased after Li Qingshan and Xiao An. His brows were furrowed as if he was thinking of something.
The Dark Queen flew into the horizon, arriving beside this man and bowing. Only then did the man retract his gaze, looking at the Dark Queen. He was slightly surprised. “You’re close to undergoing the tribulation?”
“Very good.” The man nodded, but his brows remained locked. He did not seem particularly happy.
Gu Yanying bowed. “Greetings from subordinate Gu Yanying, lord of the province!”
The man happened to be the Fierce King of Chu who governed the fifteen thousand kilometers of the Green province. “As long as you’re fine, or I’d really have no idea how I would tell sir Hawk God about this. Just what exactly happened inside?”
At this moment, a streak of light arrived. A woman wielding a sword approached them and bowed towards the Fierce King of Chu before looking at Gu Yanying. Her expression was cold and her gaze was as sharp as a sword, but she completely overlooked the Dark Queen’s existence.
“I’d like to hear it too.”
“Your majesty the Light Queen has arrived too!”
Gu Yanying gave a rough explanation of everything that happened, but she obviously covered up and changed a lot of details.
The Light Queen clasped her hands at the Dark Queen. “Younger sister, you’ve done a tremendous job with sealing the Gate of Hungry Ghosts. Once we get back to the estate, I’ll definitely give you a toast.”
The Fierce King of Chu swung his hand. “Everyone, let’s disperse!”
Just like that, the powerful auras that watched from the sky or from afar receded, and the dark clouds dispersed.
Before she returned, the Dark Queen glanced back at the boundless earth. Yue’er, it’s still not time right now, but I’ll be bringing you home very soon!
Li Qingshan constantly ventured deeper underground. Only when the underground magnetic field completely wrapped around him and he was unable to sense anymore soul senses did he stop. He exhaled deeply and smiled. “It sure was dangerous this time.”
Although it was a very close shave, he did manage to break through to the fifth layer with the Ox Demon Transformation, allowing him to witness the future powers of the ox demon. As long as he had the time to familiarise and digest everything, his personal strength would definitely increase drastically. Even if he ran into Golden Core cultivators, he would have the confidence to defeat them.
There was no reply. Xiao An seemed rather distracted, only replying after she realised he had said something, “Y- yeah!”
Li Qingshan pulled her into his arms. His expression changed constantly as he faltered. Only after a long while of hesitation did he ask, “Have you remembered where your home is?”
Xiao An nodded before shaking her head firmly.
“It doesn’t matter. If you want to go home and take a look, I’ll accompany you. I’ve promised this to you. Hehe, didn’t I even carve a tablet for you? Don’t worry, it’s fine…”
Li Qingshan’s voice gradually grew softer. Who knew who he was trying to comfort. His voice was rather hoarse and he held her firmer. If it really were like what he had guessed, why would the mighty provincial lord’s estate allow her to remain by his side? However, perhaps that would be slightly better for her.
Xiao An stood up and took out the scholar wood tablet. One side had the word “south” carved into it, while the other had the word “An”. The craftsmanship was crude and the characters were ugly. There were even traces of being burned by fire, but she held it preciously in her hand.
“No matter how many dangers, difficulties, obstacles, and hardships there are, there will be a day when I send you home!”
Under the moonlight, the young man had promised seriously. The scene was just like the red mole on her forehead, something she could never forget about.
The scholar wood tablet with the words “south” and “An” carved in was evidence.
With a crack, Xiao An closed her fingers around it, and the scholar wood tablet split open. It was crushed to pieces as splinters flew everywhere.
Li Qingshan was stunned, only to hear Xiao An say, “I’m going nowhere. Don’t cast me aside either. I will remain by your side forever, all the way to beyond the Nine Heavens, unless death parts us!”
“Where is this? Didn’t I die?”
Opening his eyes slowly, he looked at the gloomy sky and the ground piled with endless bones and corpses. A figure climbed up, supporting himself by leaning on the huge, withered tree by his side. Suddenly, he discovered that his hand had become just as withered as the dead tree, pale-white and icy-cold.
He immediately noticed the peculiarities of his body. He did not have to breathe, and when he touched his chest, his heart no longer beat either. All of his bodily functions had ceased. He had become a corpse.
It was true. He was already dead, but this world happened to be the paradise of the dead. The living could not survive here.
Oh right, I fell into the Hungry Ghost realm. “Have we met somewhere before?”
Ma Chaoqun gazed at the vast wasteland. Right as he thought of that, a voice suddenly rang out behind him. Ma Chaoqun turned around and saw a violet figure standing there gracefully. Her eyes were clear and her skin was fair. She seemed very much alive, but that was only because of how powerful she was. She was unable to hide the powerful aura of death she gave off.
“Zi’er!” Ma Chaoqung murmured. If this were hell, then he was willing to fall forever.