Chapter 888 – Outbreak
On the main peak of the Fire Melt mountain, in the centre of the magnificent, scarlet palace, was a place akin to a small garden. The divine wutong tree was planted there. Its bark was red like fire, and its leaves were like flowers, layered together to form a huge canopy. Although it was nowhere close to the Great Banyan Tree King in size, it was still an extremely grand sight to behold. It shone with a pure, crystalline glow.
The scarlet branches wove into a huge bird’s nest. That was where the phoenix had once roosted. It was where the noble, divine bird had once rested, sung, rebirthed, and ascended.
When the phoenix flew away, it had once hesitated about leaving its nest behind. That was a fact that no one knew.
The three Fire Devouring Kings sat beneath the divine wutong tree, each wielding a Divine Fire tablet. Their auras were interlinked and inseparable, constantly training and practising together in their seas of consciousness.
It had already been ten days since the major eruption. To them, it was almost as short as an instant, but after this “instant” had passed, they basically all felt a shadow being cast on their minds at the same time. They opened their eyes and looked at one another.
What had happened?
Fire devourers were not skilled at divination, but at their cultivation, they obviously had a slight, profound sense over the obscure existence of fate.
And what they sensed right now clearly was not some auspicious omen.
Before long, a shaman priest in fiery-red robes rushed into the sacred little garden and reported to the three kings that a clansman had died.
“Where did he die?” Zhu Fen frowned and exchanged glances with Zhu Zai and Zhu Yan. The death of a clansman clearly was not enough for the shaman priest to specially interrupt their cultivation.
“At the foot of the mountain.”
“How did he die? Did something go wrong with his cultivation, or was he fighting with someone?” Zhu Fen frowned even harder. Within the vicinity of the mountains, he could not think of a third way of dying apart from these two situations. If it really were one of these two situations, then he would definitely punish this shaman priest who had no sense of propriety.
“Neither. I- it seems like some kind of strange disease. Perhaps he was poisoned!”
“Even fire devourers can fall sick? Just who can poison the flames beneath the mountains? Where’s the corpse?”
Under the lead of the shaman priest, the three kings arrived in a stone room at the foot of the mountains. A young fire devourer laid there.
Zhu Fen knew this young man. He was a genius who had earned quite a name for himself in the younger generation of the race. He could devour fire spiritual qi. He cultivated extremely quickly, already close to the first heavenly tribulation. Perhaps he could become a new king in a thousand years’ time, but now he had died here under such mysterious circumstances. His face was a very unnatural ashen colour too. His eyes were wide open as if he struggled to believe this was his fate. It was filled with fear and despair.
“Something is wrong. He’s lost his fury!” Zhu Zai closed the young man’s eyes. To fire devourers, fury was not just an emotion, but a never-ending spirit of battle. Even when they faced certain death, they should not have exhibited an expression like that.
The young man’s companion was called in. She was around the same age as him and had a bright and beautiful face, except it was filled with sorrow now. The young man’s death seemed to drain her life of all interest.
“How did he die?” Zhu Yan asked.
“My king, he suddenly said he felt discomfort in the heart a few days ago. I thought he had devoured the fire a little too viciously, such that he found it a little difficult to endure, so I told him to rest here. Afterwards, he gradually ran out of energy, like he was a completely different person. He just silently died.”
“With life comes death. Haven’t you seen a dead person before? Why do you have an expression like that?” Zhu Zai stared at the young woman and noticed an ashen colour on her face similar to the young man’s, only not as obvious. It made her feel a hint of unease.
“I- I feel uncomfortable inside!” The young woman could not help but be rather alarmed when the king Zai she admired questioned her. She felt worse and worse inside.
Zhu Fen suddenly plunged his hand into the young man’s chest and dug out a heart. Despite being so unruly and fearless most of the time, his face was overcome with surprise too. The heart that should have been fiery-red had now become a greyish-white rock.
The young woman let out a miserable yelp and clutched her chest. She took a step back, and a horrific wound had appeared on the left of her chest.
“Move your hand!” Zhu Zai ordered. She was the one who had suddenly struck and split open the young woman’s chest.
The young woman endured the pain and moved her hand. Within her jagged ribcage laid a fiery-red heart, except a greyish-white colour had swallowed most of it, turning it extremely dim.
“What’s going on!?” Zhu Fen roared furiously.
“Apart from them, there are many more clansmen who feel uncomfortable. It seemed to begin after the major eruption ten days ago.”
“Go, find all the people who feel uncomfortable!”
The shaman priest rushed off after receiving that order and returned with all the fire devourers with similar symptoms soon after. None of them had undergone a heavenly tribulation, but there were so many of them that even the three Fire Devouring Kings were shocked. And there were still many more fire devourers who believed there was nothing wrong with them, or their symptoms had yet to show.
What made them even more uneasy was Zhu Zai had been tending to the young woman this entire time, eliminating the greyish-white from her heart. She plunged her left hand into her chest and gripped the heart firmly, but she was afraid to use too much power, or she might directly melt the heart. However, it was basically useless.
“This isn’t a regular poison. It’s more like a disease that humans speak of!”
The three of them caught the scent of a scheme at the same time. Something was wrong with the eruption this time. Someone had done something to the flames. Just who was it? The Merfolk? The King of Yue?
Now was not the time to consider that question. Their priority was to cure this strange disease. If all the infected clansmen died like the young man, then it would basically be an unimaginable disaster to Fire Melt mountain.
Let alone attacking Savage mountain, they had even cast their war with the Merfolk to the back of their minds. The shrill sound of a horn rang out from the main peak, summoning all the mid and high-ranking members of the race!
“There’s probably an outbreak now! Father, are you seeing this? You won’t blame me, right?”
Ru Xin spent a few days recuperating in her dwelling before coming to the peak of the mountain alone, gazing in the direction of Fire Melt mountain. That cheerful and enthusiastic face appeared in her mind. Whenever she endured the torture from the conflict of water and fire, he would always find a way to make her laugh. Even after they had been captured by Fire Melt mountain, watching his wife being burnt to death right in front of him, he continued to smile, as if it was only a vicious joke.
Back then, she hated him so madly that it even surpassed her hatred towards Zhu Yan, at least until he used the opportunity when Zhu Yan entered secluded cultivation to escape from Fire Melt mountain with her. No one had imagined a fire devourer could possess such forbearance. He successfully fooled everyone, and in the end, what he left her with was still a smile.
“My dear daughter, I have a huge secret I have to tell you today. Actually, you were adopted by your mother and I!”
“Haha, you’ve fallen for it! Travel northwards, the further the better. My good daughter, I’ll come and find you as soon as I lead the pursuing forces away!”
She ended up being tricked again! Even towards the end, he could not say a word of sorry, but even if he did, he definitely would have turned it into a joke!
“Hmph, I don’t care if you blame me or not. I’ve done it already. I’ve always been this stubborn. I’m not good at all!” Ru Xin whispered to herself and touched her chest. The heart of hers that belonged to a fire devourer had already cooled and petrified.
In order to refine the virus that specifically targeted fire devourers, she had always been the perfect experimental specimen. It was all thanks to the Heavenly Tome of Cloud Furnace that she could refine her heart into a rock and then into a piece of jade. As such, it would not cost her her life.
She had to thank her master, Hua Ci. That small, dark-skinned old man insisted on saving that annoying Chu Tian and attributed all the work to her, without holding back at all. However, there was no need for her to feel deeply grateful. That was not the first time he had saved her life anyway.
“I really have come across a lot of kind-hearted people! Compared to Li Qingshan, that pitiful man who never had any parents since young, was harassed by his elder brother’s family, and would run into a great pile of enemies no matter where he goes, my life is still very great.” Ru Xin happily found consolation from the “pitiful” Li Qingshan. Then she thought in complete “malice”, When he goes to the Crystal palace this time, he’ll run into a conflict with the Merfolk again. Gong Yuan, oh Gong Yuan, it really is your misfortune to run into a sex fiend like him!
At the same time, thousands of kilometers away, Li Qingshan rubbed his nose and gazed at the sea chart in his hand. He said to Xiao An, “The Crystal palace is probably beneath here. The Merfolk sure are rude. They didn’t even send a person to welcome me. So much for saving their queen’s life.”
“The Merfolk would probably be even more grateful if you didn’t do that.” Xiao An smiled. When it came to understanding people, she far surpassed Li Qingshan. Back then above Giant Ship island, he and Gong Yuan had fended off the enemies through a method almost akin to dual cultivation.
Back then, perhaps Gong Yuan would thank him for saving her life. When her mind was one-sidedly suppressed and controlled by him, she might even rely and depend on him instinctively, but now that she was in charge again, it was a whole different attitude.
She was the mighty Merfolk Queen. Just how cold, proud, and noble was she? Yet she had actually been held in the hands of a man in front of so many people, which already left her embarrassed enough. However, compared to the embarrassment of being mentally invaded and controlled, that was nothing. On top of that, the man had ignored her influence and might right from the beginning. When he saved her, he had to negotiate a deal with her, so he could not exactly be regarded as righteous. Towards the end, he even behaved like nothing had happened at all, putting forward his demands for the alliance.
If it were not for dealing with the fire devourers’ Divine Fire tablets, if it were not for finding the method of eliminating her inner demons, perhaps she would wish to never see him again, or even directly kill him.
Xiao An dissected these aspects for Li Qingshan and smiled. “That’s why you shouldn’t think you can do whatever you please in the Crystal palace just because you’ve hugged her! This time, she’ll probably give you quite the attitude!”
Li Qingshan smiled as well. “You sure have read through her thoughts. Now that you say it, I do regret it a little. If I had known earlier, I would have acted a little more righteously. Perhaps that would have stolen Gong Yuan’s heart. Cough, cough, what am I telling you this for?”
“Hmph, even if you didn’t tell me, I would have guessed it!”
Suddenly, a water spout erupted from the ocean, and a blue whale swam over. It approached the surface, and with a leap, it burst out of the water, turning into a large man in the middle of the air. He clasped his hands at Li Qingshan. “I’ve been waiting here for quite some time now for the King of Savage’s grand arrival. I left in a hurry last time, so I was unable to thank you for saving my life. Please accept a bow from me!”
As he said that, he bowed deeply towards Li Qingshan. He was that elder Blue.