Chapter 171: Great Luck and Prosperity
Shen Ying and the group did not wait long. About a minute later, a great surge of immortal Qi burst through the entrance and a figure landed. Inside the hall, all the immortals got to their feet and bowed.
"Greetings, Celestial Emperor!"
A man with black hair and in white robes walked into the hall. The immortal Qi around him continued to ebb and flow. He was exceptionally good-looking. Although he did not look as impressive as Radish or Xun Shu, he was still one of the better looking ones in the immortal realm, where people were already considered good-looking on average. His broad and kind face had a strict and stern expression. The jubilance he had when as Ning Zi'an was gone. Now, he was Celestial Emperor Chen Ge through and through.
Chen Ge looked at the crowd and nodded, then walked toward the head seat in the hall. When he passed by Shen Ying, who was still munching on a pastry, he paused. The various emperors had all stood up to bow to him, but she remained seated. It seemed that nobody had noticed this. "Sect Master Shen, it's been a long time since we last met." Chen Ge stopped in front of her and smiled, as if unbothered by this unusual treatment. "Did you have a smooth journey?"
"Ah?" Her mouth was still stuffed with pastry. When she heard his question, she swallowed and answered, "It was alright, thank you."
Who… is this person?
"That's good!" He seemed to relax and he nodded.
The various emperors' expressions became dark. It was no wonder that the Celestial Emperor did not bother with their request – the Celestial Emperor already met Invincible Sect beforehand. They began to worry.
Chen Ge continued to walk toward his head seat. Suddenly, a malicious look shot past the three of them. Lonemoon raised his head to see there were a man and a woman following closely behind Chen Ge. One was Lu Ming, and the other was Hui Ling, who was still dressed in light green robes. She changed pretty quickly.
Hui Ling still seemed dissatisfied with Shen Ying. Taking the chance as Chen Ge turned around, she shot Shen Ying a malicious glare and tutted, as if to say, "You wait and see." She quickly changed her expression into a mischievous and harmless one so that it would be difficult for anyone to call her out.
Shen Ying tilted her head. Before Hui Ling could change her expression, Shen Ying used both her hands to pull her cheeks downward and stuck her tongue out, pulling a professional funny face.
Hui Ling paused, as if she had not expected Shen Ying to do something like this. She jumped and her foot caught on something. She fell forward.
"Junior Sister!" Lu Ming quickly helped her up before her face could hit the floor. "Are you alright?"
Even Chen Ge, who was about to sit down, turned around. "Little Ling, what happened? How can you fall even while walking here?"
Hui Ling was furious by this time. Her innocent expression was no more. In her mind, she heard Lonemoon's mocking voice and her chest seemed to burn. Her eyes reddened and even before she stabilised herself, she pointed to Shen Ying and shouted, "Master, she… she frightened me on purpose!"
Shen Ying, who was already back to normal, sat calmly on her chair. Bite me then!
Lonemoon was shocked. Master? She's Chen Ge's disciple!
How could this be?
Chen Ge frowned and said sternly, "Little Ling, be careful with your words!"
"I'm speaking the truth!" Hui Ling was absolutely enraged now. Her eyes began to well up as she recalled what happened earlier. "She's clearly unhappy with me. Just now… Just now, she poured her tea on me. Senior Brother saw it!"
"Master…" Lu Ming stepped forward. "Junior Sister is not lying. Junior Sister came in here earlier out of curiosity… this Sect Master Shen did indeed have a conflict with her."
By the time he finished speaking, Lonemoon, Yi Qing and even Xun Shu's expressions hardened. What happened earlier? Everybody was clear that Lu Ming was implying Shen Ying bullied Hui Ling.
Lonemoon tutted and was just about to retort.
Chen Ge's expression fell and he spoke up first, "Shut up! I trust Sect Master Shen's character. The two of you offended our guests first."
"Master…" Hui Ling was clearly in disbelief.
"Go down!" His voice hardened as he turned to face Lu Ming. "You are her Senior Brother. You did not attempt to stop her, but instead let your Junior Sister make a mockery of herself. Go to the Heart-Clearing Mountain and reflect on yourselves. Before I give the order, you're not to leave."
"Master…" Lu Ming knelt down, his face panicked. "Tomorrow is the competition…"
"You're not taking part." He looked at Hui Ling. "You too. Go down!"
"Master!" Hui Ling looked as though she suffered a huge blow. As if a switch had been switched on, the tears began to flow from her eyes. She turned to look at Shen Ying, sniffed, and then ran out from the hall.
Lu Ming was pale as he bowed to his master, then he turned to carry out his punishment.
"Sect Master Shen," Chen Ge began in a warm tone. He looked apologetically at Shen Ying. "I did not teach them properly. Little Ling was my disciple from the mortal realm. She had a really tough life, that was why I could not resist pampering her. This led to her conflicting with you. Please forgive me."
"Oh, it's alright." Shen Ying replied callously.
Lonemoon frowned even more deeply. Is this a coincidence?
Chen Ge sat down and addressed the various emperors. "Various Emperors, you must have had a long journey."
They muttered their response, gazes drifting to where Shen Ying was seated. Where exactly is this woman from? Why did the Celestial Emperor scold his disciple so harshly because of her? Their suspicions toward the Invincible Sect were heightened.
A series of official discussions and business negotiations followed. They were all briefed on the programme for the competition as well as the venue, then they were dismissed.
The strange thing was that Lonemoon, who was usually at home in environments like that, sat quietly by the side the entire time. He looked deep in thought.
The next day was the official competition.
The moment Lonemoon arrived back at their sect's abode, he summoned the 15 disciples who were competing to discuss strategies for the next day.
This competition was very different from the ones in the lower realm. The immortal realm was filled with people of much higher cultivation levels. Moreover, the competition for each group would be carried out at the same time. Everybody who was of higher level than Young Emperor were able to open mystic realms.
Given the number of immortal meridians here, there was plenty of immortal Qi to go around. Chen Ge immediately handed out mystic realms to each group of competitors. The surroundings inside each mystic realm was completely difference. There was no need to hold the competitions one after another. He split them into groups and sent them to their respective realms.
The people inside were free to battle whoever they wanted. Each one was attached with an immortal talisman which they could crush to pieces whenever they wanted to exit the mystic realm.
Each group had ten special array flags and the mystic realm was programmed to close after six hours. Everybody inside would be shot out before then and the last ten people who possessed the flags would be crowned victorious.
It was simple and efficient.
After the top ten were selected, they would battle one another to determine the ranking.
"There are four groups in total for this competition. We will be split according to our groups," Lonemoon instructed. "So don't worry. The people you meet in the mystic realms will all be your match. Just fight them as you ordinarily would."
"Yes!" Everyone responded.
"Yu Hong, Si Yu." He turned to face two girls on his right. "There are a total of five people in the Golden Immortals group. The two of you will lead the team. Look out for one another."
"Yes, Elder." They nodded.
"As for the Earth Immortals…" He scanned the remaining ten people. Most of them were disciple who joined them late. They were lacking in experience. "Feng Ying, Chengyu, you have more experience and this is not your first time training in a mystic realm. I'll leave them all to you."
"Alright!" Feng Ying nodded. "Don't worry, Brother Lonemoon. I will look out for them."
"Okay, nobody will know what the mystic realm looks like until tomorrow. It'll be good if you can get an array flag, but if you can't, don't push yourself too hard." Lonemoon lowered his gaze. "It's more important to come out safely." Since they were unfamiliar with the competition grounds, it was useless to attempt to discuss any techniques or strategies.
He sighed and glanced at the lazy pile of mud who was sprawled on the table, frowning. "Hey! You're the sect master. Can you give them some instructions?"
"Oh." Shen Ying turned to address the group. After thinking for awhile, she said, "Actually, I really do have a plan."
Lonemoon started and looked at her, surprised. "What plan?"
"Huh? What does that mean?"
"The saying is well and good: Be indifferent and you will live longer!" Lonemoon: "…"
The crowd: "…"
Be indifferent my ass. Do you think they're going for a chicken-eating competition? Do you think they won't die if they remain indifferent?"
"I think Master has a point," Yi Qing agreed.
Lonemoon shot him a glare. You're in love with your master; of course you're going to agree with everything she says.
But Yi Qing ignored him. Instead, he carried on, "There are many immortals in the Earth Immortal and Golden Immortal groups. There are over a thousand Earth Immortals alone. In other words, the various countries brought at least a hundred Earth Immortals each. We're only a few – even if we can get the flags, we won't be able to beat that many people too. Why not we just wait at a corner until the various countries' fighters have already battled one another? That way, the numbers will greatly decrease. We will also have a greater chance of emerging victorious with the flags." Lonemoon paused. Thinking about it this way does make sense.
The disciples also understood. Their eyes began to twinkle as they looked at Shen Ying. She's indeed worthy of being the sect master!
"Alright, that's what we'll do then?" Lonemoon said. "Once you enter, don't be eager to battle anyone yet. Wait for the right opportunity to strike!"
Shen Ying waved her hand. "All the best, good luck, eat chickens tomorrow!"
Lonemoon: "…" You're still freaking talking about eating chicken!
Yi Qing: "…" Master wants to eat chicken tomorrow; I can make the preparations today. All the disciples: "…" Sect Master is indeed wise!
The Mystic Spirits Meeting
Shen Ying and the rest of the group were considered early, but the competition venue was already crowded. There were at least ten thousand people there – this was much more than the number of people they thought they saw at Heavens beyond Heaven the day before.
They asked around and found out that the various emperors from Feng Can continent and other continents had sent people to participate in the competition. Lonemoon once again addressed his disciples and motivated them.
He even dragged Shen Ying along to give her retarded fans a bit of encouragement and personally send them into the battle arena. Then, he brought Shen Ying and Yi Qing to the viewing platform.
There were many people at the viewing platform as well – even Chen Ge was seated there.
"The three of you have arrived." Chen Ge smiled and waved at them.
"Celestial Emperor," greeted Lonemoon and Yi Qing politely as they bowed.
"Hey!" Shen Ying raised her hand to wave, yet she could not recall his name. Off the top of her head, she said two words, "Salted Fish?"
"Heh heh…" Lonemoon choked on his saliva and turned to
glare at her. You could have remembered his name. What the hell is "Salted Fish" supposed to mean? Even if he had been slapped by your fish before, he wouldn't have to be called that? Chen Ge stared blankly at her, obviously confused as to what that was supposed to mean. He decided not to pursue the matter further, and instead invited the three of them to take their seats before he gave the person beside him a look.
"Sect Master Shen…" Hui Ling, who had been standing by his side the entire time, walked over.
Lonemoon and Yi Qing subconsciously frowned. Isn't she in seclusion? What is she doing out here? It seemed that Chen Ge still favoured his own disciples afterall.
It was obvious, however, that Hui Ling's attitude was very different now. She bowed to Shen Ying and said, "Little Ling was rude to you yesterday – hence a conflict resulted between us. Please be magnanimous and forgive Little Ling for her wrongdoings, Sect Master." Hui Ling saw that Shen Ying did not respond, and anxiously glanced at Chen Ge. Gritting her teeth, she got down on her knees.
Shen Ying still did not say anything. Out of habit, she turned to Father Niu. "Fellow Immortal, please do not do this." She had already said what she needed to say; there was no point in them bearing grudges against her any more. Lonemoon replied, "What's more, this is a small matter. Our Sect Master will not take it to heart." If she really took it to heart, she would not just pour a
cup of tea on you – she would make you doubt your entire
"Thank you, Sect Master." It was only then that Hui Ling got to her feet. Yet, as if she had just completed a task, she turned back to Chen Ge and returned to his side. Her face betrayed the resentment and indignance she was feeling.
"Sect Mater Shen is indeed a magnanimous person." Chen Ge paid no attention to Hui Ling beside him. Instead, he continued smiling at the three of them.
He could not figure Shen Ying out. She looked like a mere Earth Immortal with little immortal Qi, and so weak that any immortal would be able to kill her. Yet, the Young Emperor Yi Qing and the Exalted Immortal Lonemoon treated her with such high respect, as if she's worthy of being their leader. Even when he was staying at Invincible Sect as Ning Zi'an, all the disciples in the sect almost worshipped her. In the beginning, he thought that the disciples were only treating her that way because she was Yi Qing's master. Later on, however, when he was overcome by his mental demons and entered the demonic realm, he found out that even the demon king did her bidding.
He guessed that her identity was not as simple as he thought and as what she looked like on the surface. He even guessed that Lonemoon and Yi Qing's cultivation levels were increasing so quickly because of her. A person who could instil fear in the demonic king could be… related to the divine race. He could not afford to offend someone like that.
"Master, the competition is about to start," Yi Qing reminded her.
Indeed, on the arena below, huge groups of disciples gathered. In front of the audience, there were four great stone gates set up. There was a complex array set up on each one and they were all glowing. Vast greenery and mountains could be vaguely seen behind the gates.
"Master, I am going over," Hui Ling suddenly announced. "Alright, you be careful." Chen Ge nodded.
Hui Ling mounted her sword and flew to join the group of immortals at the entrance on the left.
It looked like she was going to participate in the competition. It was no wonder that Chen Ge let her out so easily. Lonemoon wondered what happened to Lu Ming.
Chen Ge conjured an array. Several crystals appeared before them. Inside each of them was the image of a mystic realm – the four mystic realms that were supposed to appear at the beginning of the competition. They were each still empty, but they could clearly see the different environments – high mountains, clear lakes, green fields, white snow and the like.
Chen Ge stood up and announced the start of the competition. The array on the stone gates opened and various entrances appeared. The various disciples flew toward the various entrances. The disciples of Invincible Sect chose the entrance in the middle. They were neither too early nor too late. Compared to the immortals who frantically began to look for the array flags upon entering the mystic realms, Invincible Sect's disciples were relatively passive. They found a dense yet unassuming bush nearby and set up a concealment array. Then, they squatted in a line to rest.
They were very seriously being indifferent!
Not a move was made.
Chapter 172: Winning The Flags
Lonemoon focused on the crystal in front of him. The crystal revealed everything that was happening inside the mystic realm. There were spells cast on each flag, which allowed the various emperors on the viewing platform to clearly see where each of them were located.
WIthin an hour, most of the ten array flags had already been found. Only two or three remained hidden in the crystal.
Lonemoon instinctively looked for the position of the disciples from his sect.
Feng Ying had the system. It became obvious that the Earth Immortals group were doing very well at remaining indifferent. What's more, the place that they chose to rest was near the entrance. It was unlikely that any of the array flags were located at the entrance. That was why most people went deeper into the mystic realm to find the flags and few turned back toward the entrance. Immediately, the entrance became the safest place. One or two would appear here and there, but none of them posed much of a threat. Just as they guessed, the immortals that went in stuck with the other immortals from their own countries in the beginning. But there were only ten flags found, and as time went by, they began to part ways. More and more people got eliminated so that the remaining people who stuck together were in groups of two or three. Ten flags had already been found by then.
Just as most people carefully guarded the array flags and waited for the competition to end, the disciples of Invincible Sect who had been resting for almost four hours by then began to take action. Without a second thought, they charged toward the group that possessed a flag and was closest to them. They had about three people. Ten people against three - it was obvious who had the upper hand. They successfully obtained the array flag. It was even easier as they travelled deeper into the mystic realm.
With the map that the system provided, they could locate groups that were even supposedly well-hidden. They swept nearly all the flags. By the time people discovered their strategy and attempted to band back together, it was too late. The mystic realm was too big. It was easy to separate, but very difficult to gather back together. Apart from the system which managed to hack into the view of the Celestial Emperor, everybody else had difficulty locating one another. The various emperors were at first only concerned with the Stygian Immortal and Mystic Immortal groups. Later, they became shocked to find that the array flags in the Earth Immortal group were starting to gather. First, it was two flags, then three… four… five… At last, half the flags were gathered together, and the number of flags was growing.
They began to study the team that only had ten people very closely and found that most of the magic was being done by the two people right at the front. The others behind were employing very little sorcery and were only using their limbs. They could not help but begin guessing.. Could the remaining eight all be sword immortals? The people who were viewing did not mind this; sword immortals were not uncommon. But they were merely Earth Immortals afterall — the sword Qi around their bodies should not be that strong.
Then… they met a team that had more than ten people. The size of the ten-man group no longer gave them the upper hand. The other group surrounded them very quickly, and the two immortals who initially took the lead began to retreat slowly. The various emperors heaved a sigh of relief. It looked like this was as far as that ten-man group would go.
Before their eyes, they saw the array flags being snatched away after a long, hard struggle. But the situation suddenly took a turn for the worse.
Eh, why are those two leaders hiding at the back? Are they going to leave the group?
Eh, why did the eight people throw their weapons away?
Eh, why is the immortal Qi around their bodies getting stronger?
Eh, why is it that the girls who looked so gentle now look like musclemen?
Eh, why does sorcery have no effect on their bodies at all?
Eh, how could they destroy the other group's immortal weapons with just one blow?
Eh, it was fine that they crushed the opponents' talismans and threw them out of the game - why were they throwing people out of the entrance? And more importantly… they really… really were throwing people right out of the entrance!
The people watching the battle were completely shocked. It was not until the eight people plucked each of their opponents like radishes and threw them out of the battlefield that they realised the answer to all of the questions in their heads.
These people are not sword immortals… they… they are… body cultivators!
There are actually body cultivators within the immortal realm. They ascended to immortality! They're alive! And they have physical forms!
"Quick, look at the Golden Immortal mystic realm!" Someone shouted.
Everyone turned to look at the crystal which revealed what was going on in the Golden Immortal mystic realm. They saw a very similar thing happening. Inside the Golden Immortal mystic realm, the same performance was going on, except there were only half the people fighting - only five of them. It was obvious, though, that they were more cruel than those in the Earth Immortal group.
It was especially so for the immortal in the center, who looked like the weakest one. After she transformed, she became bigger and stronger than anyone else. There seemed to be several layers of muscle on her body - it was clear as day. With one punch, she managed to hit five or six immortals until they became breathless. Her skill could beat even Mystic Immortals, much less Golden Immortals.
The more people saw, the more curious they became. They are all body cultivators! Where did they come from? They were all new faces - nobody could figure out which country they came from.
Six hours went by just like that. The competition was coming to an end. Nine out of ten flags in the Earth Immortal Group were already in the hands of Feng Ying's group. Moreover, they were fighting for the last one. Over at the Golden Immortal Group, Yu Hong had fewer people. What's more, they did not have the assistance of the system. They only had three maps, but they took a lot of effort to obtain those three. At the Earth Immortal group, half of the immortals who had not yet been eliminated were all gathered together. Perhaps it was because there was only one flag remaining. Moreover, the body cultivators were getting tired after about an hour of fighting. They used a lot more effort to obtain the last flag.
"Junior Sister Qi, this is for you!" A female disciple obtained the flag and handed it over to Qi Chengyu, who was standing behind her. It was the last flag. A few of the disciples could not contain their excitement. They did not expect that things would go this smoothly - they really got the top ten positions in the Earth Immortal group. The competition was almost over and their spots were nearly confirmed!
Qi Chengyu excitedly reached out for the flag.
Suddenly, a figure flashed past them. The female disciple found her hand empty. The flag was now with a girl in pink robes.
The girl was grinning widely. In an innocent tone, she said, "Big Sisters.. Since you have so many flags. Why don't I take the last one?" Qi Chengyu frowned, and looked cautiously at the girl, who did not look in the least bit threatened. How could they not have realised that she was nearby? It was either that this girl was of too high a cultivation level, or she had some sort of special weapon on her.
"Fellow Immortal, this is a competition. Of course, the flag ends up with whoever is most capable. It would be difficult for us to let you have it!"
"Pfft!" The girl tutted. "How stingy. You already have nine flags. How about you give me the last one?"
"Fellow Immortal, you do like to joke!" Qi Chengyu laughed mirthlessly. She was angered by the girl's matter-of-fact tone. "We have nothing to do with you." Why would we let you have the flag?
"My name is Hui Ling. I am Celestial Emperor Chen Ge's disciple. Do you know me now?" She proudly asked.
The disciples' expressions darkened. Feng Ying stepped forward. "Stop talking nonsense with her. We're here to compete, not to suck up to the Celestial Emperor. She snatched the flag from us. It's time to see if she has the ability to get away with it."
Once he finished speaking, he drew his immortal sword and charged at her. Without hesitation, the other disciples followed closely behind him.
Chapter 173: Entering the Finals
"You all…" Hui Ling was getting agitated. She already tried to make use of her master's reputation, yet these people did not even care to show some respect and insisted on snatching the flag from her. The more she thought about it, the angrier she became. These people did not know what was good for them – they were as irritating as their sect master whose surname was Shen. "You don't want to negotiate politely. I want to see exactly how skilful you are."
As she spoke, she waved her hand and a huge red silk appeared in her hands. It was a top-grade immortal weapon. There was rich immortal Qi all around the weapon, and it was littered with remnants of sorcery. With a light flick, the red silk caught on to the edge of Feng Ying's sword. Hui Ling flicked it away, leaving even the immortal sword in his hands in shambles.
"Feng Ying!" Qi Chengyu was shocked. She quickly flew to support him.
Hui Ling tutted, her expression full of contempt as she said, "Pfft! You want to fight me with this kind of cultivation level…" Before she could finish speaking, she heard a crack beside her. She turned to look and felt something brush past her. The next moment, there was a loud crash. The ground beneath her feet was splitting apart and huge, deep cracks appeared.
Hui Ling quickly retreated several steps. It was only then that she could see clearly. There were eight muscular girls surrounding her. The ground looked like that because one of them punched it. Even the sleeves on the robes Hui Ling was wearing had been torn so that only the top halves remained.
Hui Ling's expression changed. She looked at the people surrounding her in fear. How did they all change in appearance? "You all… What kind of sorcery are you all using?" Even the top- grade robes that her master had given her could not withstand the blow.
"If fellow immortal does not hand the flag over, we will send you out of this realm." The girls did not bother to answer Hui Ling's question. They started to charge forward.
Hui Ling began to panic. She flew into the air to avoid their blows and began to regulate the immortal Qi in her body. The red silk suddenly grew bigger, as if it came alive. It flew toward the girls and around them.
"Be careful, that silk has the Thousand Lightning Array!" Feng Ying exclaimed.
But it was too late. The eight girls who rushed up to fight Hui Ling was already being hounded by the red silk.
Hui Ling laughed mirthlessly. "Pfft! You have all become so ugly, yet you're still a wreck!" She flicked her wrist once more and a thousand flashes of lightning appeared from the end of the red silk. The lightning bolts charged toward the eight girls. Seeing as they were defenceless, Hui Ling sniggered. "I just wanted to obtain one flag, but you were being unreasonable. I'll keep the remaining nine flags now, then!"
When she finished speaking, the girls' expressions darkened.
Is this woman crazy?
"Everyone…" Qi Chengyu sounded anxious. She was going to run forward, but was stopped by one of the disciples. "Junior Sister Qi, you're not a body cultivator. Don't come over."
Qi Chengyu stopped herself. Hui Ling was already looking at that disciple in confusion.
A first disciple: "Senior Sister, what should we do?"
A second: "Senior Sister Hong said before, Sect Master instructed us not to get violent with female cultivators for no good reason!"
A third: "Unless we have no choice."
A fourth: "Is this counted as having no choice?"
A fifth: "This is a competition. We cannot afford to lose. We need to fight for the sake of our sect's glory. It's… counted, right?" A sixth: "Well then…"
A seventh: "Let's move!"
An eighth: "Finish her off!"
The immortal Qi around the eight disciples suddenly exploded. There were cracks and crashes. They caught the red silk that was trapping them and broke it into pieces, scattering its pieces onto the ground.
On the viewing platform, three suspicious gazes were focused on Shen Ying.
"You said that!"
"Huh? Did… I?"
"…" The situation in the crystal had taken a turn for the worse. Hui Ling had initially looked set to win, but now she looked on in disbelief at the useless and broken immortal weapon of hers. How… how could this be? That was a top-grade immortal weapon. Even Golden Immortals could not break it, much less Earth Immortals…
Before she could react, she felt a tug on her arm. The disciple closest to her had picked up a piece of the red silk and pulled it. Hui Ling did not release the red silk in time, and she fell forward.
A fist was coming straight at her face. It was then that Hui Ling tasted fear. She paled and began to panic and shout.
There was a crash, and the defensive weapon around her was activated. The fist stopped just three inches away from her face. She closely avoided this blow, but what looked like a huge spider web appeared around her. They were cracks – signs that the array around her was breaking down.
She looked on as the disciple prepared to punch her again. This time, the blow would really hit her. Hui Ling panicked even more. There was no more innocence or contempt in her expression – only pure fear. She shouted and waved her hands frantically, attempting to run away. Any sorcery she knew was forgotten. Anything she did would be useless against that fist headed right for her face.
"No… No, please! Help! Save me…"
The disciple did not intend to hurt her from the beginning. The disciple changed the direction of her hand and reached for the array flag around Hui Ling's waist. Suddenly, Hui Ling's body emitted a bright white beam of light, which became bigger and bigger.
The disciple felt a strange force sweeping past her. Her heart fell, and then she was thrown aside. Even the other disciples who were standing behind her fell over when the bright light swept past them. One by one, they vomited blood.
Shen Ying, who had been munching on a fruit, suddenly paused and turned toward the crystal. "What's going on?" Lonemoon was staring blankly at the crystal as well. What exactly was that beam of light?
"Could it be… some special sorcery?" Xun Shu guessed. It was not unexpected for the Celestial Emperor's disciples to carry with them immortal weapons that would protect them from coming to any harm.
"…" Lonemoon frowned.
Shit! Was it a fair competition if they were allowed to bring so many weapons? It was obvious they were competing with their backgrounds as well. If he had known earlier, he would have distributed more weapons to the disciples.
The situation in the crystal once again took an unexpected turn. All of Invincible Sect's disciples had fallen, and it looked like they were injured as well. It was at that exact moment that the competition ended. All of the disciples that participated were sent out of the mystic realm.
"Master…" Yi Qing turned to face Shen Ying. "Yes, I saw it."
The competition ended after one afternoon. The top ten from each group was quickly decided. On average, there were one or two immortals from each country who made it to the top ten for the Stygian Immortal and Mystic Immortal groups alike. As for the Earth Immortal and the Golden Immortal groups… things were a bit more complicated.
The Golden Immortal group's name list was not too bad. There were four names on it that belonged to Invincible Sect – that was almost half. That's right, in the last few minutes, Yu Hong and her group managed to steal one more array flag.
Things were much more extreme for the Earth Immortal group. Apart from Hui Ling, everybody else was from Invincible Sect. It was practically a massacre. When the name list came out, the various emperors did not know how to react. The body cultivators belonged to the Invincible Sect. It really was a perverted sect full of sword immortals – even their disciples were so freaky.
Lonemoon expressed some disappointment at this result. "Ah, two of our sect members did not make it!"
The emperors: "…"
They only brought 15 people, of which 13 made it to the finals.
What more does he want!
Not long after the competition ended, the finals began. This was no different from the competitions that took place in the lower realm. In pairs, the immortals prepared for battle.
Chen Ge gave some instructions to the immortal official beside him, then kept the crystals in front of him. After a few moments, the stone gates that led to the mystic realms below the viewing platform were removed. In their place, four broad stages appeared. Isolation arrays were set up around each stage.
The finals were also conducted in groups. Compared to the initial competition, the finals were much simpler. A maximum of two battles were needed to determine the top three immortals.
Lonemoon was betting all on the Earth Immortal group. The more he watched, the darker his expression got. Hui Ling was looking extremely different from the way she did back in the mystic realm, when she was panicking for her life. In the two battles that took place the body cultivator disciples from Invincible Sect lost to her in the final few moments of the battle
Lonemoon had absolute confidence in the disciples from his sect. It was likely that Golden Immortals were not their match, much less Earth Immortals. Yet, it was incredible the way things were panning out. Hui Ling was a mere Earth Immortal. Although it was obvious that she exerted a lot of effort in the beginning of the battle, she would always just manage to turn her defeat into a victory at the final moment to defeat the body cultivator. What's more, she had won at everything from beginning to end. It felt almost like they were imagining Hui Ling's poor performance back at the mystic realm.
"She's actually… so capable." Did she hide her skills on purpose at the start?
"Because it was not her there during the battle," Yi Qing suddenly said.
"Huh? What does that mean?"
Chapter 174: A Prize for Courage
Lonemoon was about to ask further, but the emperors were already getting up to offer their congratulations.
"She is indeed the disciple of the Celestial Emperor. Her cultivation is outstanding."
"As they say, good masters turn out skilled disciples. Celestial Emperor is really good at recognizing talent, that is why you brought her to the Upper Realm."
"Celestial Emperor, why can't we find disciples of such caliber like you."
"You're all too kind with your praises." Chen Ge said laughingly, "It's just that this disciple of mine is diligent with her practice." However, Chen Ge had his doubts about his disciple too. By right, Hui Ling was no match for the body cultivators, the outcome today… However, he did not give this matter further thought; she was his disciple after all. The other groups had also finished their matches. Once the various emperors had completed another round of mutual congratulations, Chen Ge formally announced the end of the competition. Waving his hand, he conjured a seal. The four platforms below instantly joined to become one platform which then slowly rose up.
Standing on the platform were the top three winners from the competing groups. Si Yu was first in the Golden Core group. Perhaps realizing what had befell the Earth Immortal's group, she did not display any joyous expression; in fact, she bowed her head throughout the ceremony.
Lonemoon felt an explicable anger stir in his chest. His dislike of this green tea wretch intensified. Yi Qing was very sensitive to Immortal Qi. He could sense what others on the platform could not. And he just said that there was something suspicious with Hui Ling's tactics. Lonemoon believed him. But he just could not put his finger on it.
Chen Ge praised the competitors and then started handing out the prizes, which were mostly immortal artifacts and elixirs. All the top ten winners in each group got a prize. Being a Celestial Emperor, he handed out all the artifacts without batting an eyelid. Moreover, the top competitor in each group got to choose a top grade immortal artifact that suited them; their prizes were as good as custom-made. Lonemoon was still thinking about Hui Ling's match and showed no interest in the prize ceremony. Anyway, all the immortal artifacts they had were all custom- made by Xun Shu.
"Master!" When it was Hui Ling's turn to receive the prize, instead of telling Chen Ge what she wanted, she stepped forward and asked, "Can I refuse the immortal artifact?"
Chen Ge smiled at her; he was used to his disciple's impulsive nature. So he asked dotingly, "Oh? You don't want it?" His disciple naturally did not lack for immortal artifacts.
"I know that my cultivation is weak but I'm determined to follow the Dao. I entered the competition to test my limits and train my skills. But I never thought…" Sweeping her gaze towards the Invincible Sect, she continued in a slightly belligerent tone, "I never thought that I would emerge a winner. So… I don't want anything other than to accumulate combat experience."
Chen Ge nodded and asked, "Then what do you want?" "I want…" Hui Ling trailed off and suddenly looked towards Shen Ying, who was sitting on the viewing platform. She answered loudly, "I would like to request a duel with the Invincible Sect Master!"
Everyone fell silent at her words.
The rest of the crowd were shocked, but those from the Invincible Sect's were…
"Hahaha, Hahaha…" A loud burst of laughter erupted. Before the members of Invincible Sect could respond, Xun Shu was pounding the table, laughing hysterically. He laughed until he almost collapsed on the table, attracting all eyes to him. "Sorry… Sorry I couldn't help it." Xun Shu tried his best to hold back his laughter. Then turning to Chen Ge he said, "Celestial Emperor, this disciple of yours is… is really… Hahah." He really could not help himself; it was too funny.
Lonemoon and Yi Qing were similarly bemused. They had both lived to such an age, yet they had never seen someone who was so eager to die. She actually wanted to fight against Shen Ying? Who was the person who gave her the courage? Was it Liang Jingru?
There was a complicated expression in their eyes as they gazed at Hui Ling. Could this person be… mentally challenged?
Actually, they could understand the reason for her request. It was all because she had felt humiliated at the palace yesterday and wanted to take the opportunity to regain her pride. She thought that, having won the match against the body cultivators, she could similarly beat Shen Ying, who was also an Earth Immortal.
It was only now that Lonemoon really felt that Hui Ling was a little— innocent! Naturally, Chen Ge saw through his disciple's real intention. His expression darkening, he chided her, "Little Ling, don't be rude!" Sect Master Shen is the master of a sect, so by right she is your senior. How can she fight against such a junior like you."
"Master, the Immortal Realm has always valued real skills above all else, Just because she's a sect master doesn't mean we can't spar with each other." Refusing to give in, Hui Ling said in a righteous tone, "Furthermore… this is only a duel, just take it like Sect Master is guiding a junior… unless … she's afraid."
"What insolence!" Chen Ge's face darkened.
"Master…" Hui Ling looked aggrieved. Why was he always siding with Shen Ying?
Chen Ge felt annoyed. He wanted to be on good terms with this Invincible Sect, but Hui Ling's comments were not unexpected given her impulsive nature. He was in a dilemma as to what to do. But he also had a secret desire to find out Shen Ying's true strength. "I'm sorry if my disciple has offended you."
"Not at all, Celestial Emperor." There was a gleam in Lonemoon's eyes as he said, "Your disciple is right. Sparing between cultivators is common, moreover, she has emerged the winner. You should be happy that she's so eager to improve her skills."
"But…" Chen Ge could not make out Lonemoon's intention. "She's only a junior."
"Yes. You're… right!" Lonemoon nodded his head. "It might lead to injuries."
"I'm not afraid!" Hui Ling suddenly raised her voice. "Sect Master Shen, let's begin our duel. Whatever the injuries, I'll not complain."
"In that case… All right." Lonemoon gave a sigh, but his eyes narrowed into a slit. Turning to face Shen Ying, he said, "Go on, Shen Ying!" Don't need to give me face. Thrash her! Shen Ying: "…"
Why did she feel that he was even more elated than her?
"That old fox." Xun Shu scolded silently, rolling his eyes. Lonemoon clearly wanted to beat her up from the start, yet he went through this whole rigmarole and acted like he was forced to do so.
"Sect Master Shen, please!" Hui Ling walked towards the stage behind her, a picture of confidence.
At this stage, Chen Ge did not feel he should object any longer, so he returned to his seat. The Emperors seated around the stage all looked excited. They all held a grudge against Yi Qing so they were more than happy that someone was willing to take up the cudgel. Moreover, this person was the Celestial Emperor's disciple. It was their fault for choosing such a sect master. Everyone was waiting to see the Invincible Sect being disgraced.
Everyone, except for Xun Shu and the Invincible Sect's members, had a … retarded expression on their faces.
"Shen Ying, go quickly," Lonemoon urged. He snatched the fruit from her hand and said, "Enough, stop eating. Get up to the stage."
Shen Ying finally stood up and strolled to the stage. Hai, what a bother!
She walked leisurely and finally reached the center of the stage. All the array formations around lit up again, blocking off the audience.
Hui Ling took a look at the lethargic person in front of her. Giving a cold snort, she said confidently, "Sect Master Shen, please accept my apologies if I offend you later. Don't worry, I'll restrain myself, I won't hurt you… too seriously!"
She deliberately emphasized the last three words as if she could see her opponent begging for mercy on her knees. Shen Ying cocked her head, still looking lethargic. Her gaze fell on Hui Ling's neck. "You're sure you can win?"
"Of course!" Hui Ling laughed more cockily. "Didn't I defeat your sect's body cultivators?"
"Oh." Shen Ying paused for a moment. There was a blur as her figure suddenly disappeared and reappeared in front of Hui Ling. "Is it because of this object?"
Before Hui Ling could react, she felt something cold on her neck. Before she knew what was happening, the familiar white necklace was already in her opponent's hand. She subconsciously touched her chest; it was indeed gone.
"You…" Hui Ling face paled instantly. A feeling of intense fear rose in her heart. That was her trump card. How did she know about it? "Give it back!" She charged towards Shen Ying to retrieve her possession.
"Wait, You…" A voice rang out from her necklace. However, Shen Ying clenched the object in her fist tightly.
There was a loud cracking sound…
"No!" Hui Ling cried out.
It was too late; the necklace was crushed to pieces.
"It's gone," Shen Ying said slowly.
Struck dumb, Hui Ling look at Shen Ying's fist in disbelief.
She… She actually…
Hui Ling looked up at Shen Ying, her eyes ablaze with anger. "You… You. I'll kill you!"
Hui Ling seemed to have lost her senses. Summoning her immortal sword, she charged towards Shen Ying. Shen Ying stood rock still. Just as Hui Ling's sword seemed about to pierce into her body, she stepped to the side, then… stealthily stuck out her leg.
There was a loud boom. The person who had been charging aggressively towards Shen Ying, tripped and fell directly on the ground. Her face landed smack on the ground, stirring up a cloud of dust.
Ouch… That must have been painful.
"I say Sister…" Bending down, Shen Ying lightly tapped her shoulder and chided gravely, "Cheating is wrong."
Hui Ling's face turned green in shock. A frightening thought flashed across her mind. She knew! How could she? Even Master could not tell, it was clearly…
"You're talking nonsense…" Hui Ling instinctively tried to get up, but found that she could not; the hand pressing down on her body seemed to weigh a ton. How could this be?
Hui Ling could only turn her head to face Shen Ying. However, she was terrified by the look in Shen Ying's eyes. It was as if something terrifying smothered her, suffocating her until she could not even breathe. The low voice was like a voice transmission from hell.
"You know, you'll get a beating for cheating."
Up on the spectator platform.
"Shen Ying. What's happening?" asked Lonemoon. As there was an array formation around the stage, the people outside could not hear anything within. Instead of beating her up, Shen Ying was chatting with her?
"There's something wrong with the necklace," said Yi Qing through voice transmission. "What?"
"Just now, toward the end of each round of the match, the necklace would emit a special kind of immortal Qi that helped her defeat her opponents. That immortal Qi did not belong to her."
"…" Lonemoon was speechless. Wow! That wretch was really a cheat!
No wonder Shen Ying crushed her necklace right at the start.
This was the reason!
But who did this Immortal Qi belong to? Lonemoon subconsciously suspected Chen Ge, but then dismissed the thought. As a Celestial Emperor he could not favor his disciple under the very eyes of the crowd. There was no need, for as an emperor, even if his disciple lost, who would dare say a word against him?
Moreover, at the start of the duel, Chen Ge had been sitting here the entire time, there was no way he could have the chance to use his Immortal Qi to help her. It seemed as if no one, except for Yi Qing, who was sensitive to Qi and the cheat Shen Ying, had discovered anything amiss.
Who could do such a thing under the very noses of all the state emperors and the Celestial Emperor? And what was so special about that necklace?
Just he was thinking about this, the ground suddenly shook and a white beam of light shot down from the sky, straight towards the stage, bringing a huge cloud of Immortal and Sword Qi in its wake.
"Little Ling!" Chen Ge cried out in shock.
"Master!" Yi Qing stood up as well.
Two figures simultaneously dashed towards the stage, snatched the girls and flew off with them just as the beam of light descended on the stage. The next moment there was a loud boom and the whole stage was blown to pieces. Even the surrounding arrays were shattered by the impact.
"Little Ling, are you all right?" Chen Ge looked anxiously at Hui Ling, who was now in his arms. If he had not got there in time, she might have…
"Master…" Hui Ling's face was deathly pale. Subconsciously, she looked towards Shen Ying, then immediately retracted her gaze. Shivering, she shrunk herself even deeper into Chen Ge's arms. What she feared was not that bolt of white light, it was Sect Master Shen … Her heart lurched. Maybe it was just a trick of perception. How could an Earth Immortal have such a terrifying aura?
"Master, are you all tight?" Yi Qing enquired anxiously as well.
Shen Ying, who had been dragged along by him: "Er…"
"How could she not be?" said Lonemoon, rolling his eyes. "You're worried for nothing." Lonemoon's comments jolted Yi Qing to his senses. Just now, seeing Chen Ge rushing to save Hui Ling, the only thought that came to his mind was that Master was also on the stage. So he had dragged her away, without giving a thought as to whether she needed saving.
"Thank you!" Shen Ying could not help consoling the embarrassed chef. Pointing to the dust swirling on the ground, she said, "At least you saved me from inhaling a few breaths of dust."
Yi Qing: "…" Why didn't he feel the least bit consoled by her words?
"Hahaha…" Suddenly a male voice rang out from within that beam of white light. Following a gust of wind, a figure clad in blue emerged from the sky.
"Chen Ge, why didn't you inform me of your Mystic Spirits and Immortals Meeting. I too would like to join in the fun."
Chen Ge's brows furrowed. Clenching his fists he looked upward at the man in the sky and called out, "Chu Xuan!"
Everyone was stunned when they heard this name and raised their heads to look at the man in the sky.
"Who?" The Invincible Clan members were the only ones with a baffled look on their faces.
"The Celestial Emperor from the He Chuan continent." Xun Shu explained. Turning to look at Che Ge, he immediately changed to voice transmission and explained, "He's also the one who fought with Emperor Chen Ge ten thousand years ago. The thing is … Emperor Chen lost."
"Oh." Lonemoon finally grasped the situation. He recalled that the young Chen Ge had said that he had been implanted with a demonic seed when he was seriously injured. So this was the guy who injured him.
From the looks of it… He was obviously out to wreck the ceremony! "I see that you Feng Cang immortals are pretty diligent in your cultivation practice." Chu Xuan scanned the people around him. "Since you have the time to organize this Mystic Spirits and Immortals Meeting, why don't you spar with an immortal from He Chuan too? Let's see if Feng Cang immortals are really stronger than those from the other continents?
"Emperor Chu Xuan." Chen Ge stepped forwards and said, "The Mystic Spirits and Immortals Meeting is only meant to be a normal sparring practice for Feng Cang immortals, not to test their skills against immortals from other continents."
"Normal sparring?" Chu Xuan snorted coldly and swept a look at the people on the platform. "From what I see, these are not 'normal immortals'. Let me guess, are they from Yi Shui or Chang Nuo continent?"
Chen Ge did not reply. The other continents had sent their people over but they were all his acquaintances. Sending them over was their way of congratulating him on his coming out from seclusion.
"Do you mean to say other people can come but I can't?" Chu Xuan snorted before saying, "Or do you mean to say… they're like you, afraid of people from He Chuan?"
"…" Che Ge's expression turned even darker.
The emperor seated below, unable to hold back his anger, exploded, "What insolence! So what if you're He Chuan's emperor, you think we from Feng Cang are afraid of you…"
Before he could finish his sentence, Chu Xuan had unleashed the force of his immortal Qi at him, causing him to kneel down under the pressure.
"Chu Xuan!" Chen Ge too unleashed his immortal Qi, to protect that man. He said a little angrily, "I told you… I had nothing to do with the incident involving Emperor Lan Hua. Why do you keep bothering me and even taking out your anger on others?"
"Shut up!" Chu Xuan exploded in anger. "You're not fit to speak his name!" His eyes were filled with rage. He looked as if he was going to charge at Chen Ge with his sword any minute. Lan Hua?
Hmph, it looks like this has something to do with Boss Lan?
Lonemoon narrowed his eyes as he pondered.
"I don't want to discuss these old issues with you today." Chu Xuan took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. "I think you have decided who the top three competitors are. How about this… I'll also send three people from each level to compete with you?"
Chen Ge frowned in thought before replying, "Since Emperor Chu Xuan is so keen, we of the Feng Cang continent will play along."
"Good! Then we will meet at the Interspatial Arena at noon tomorrow!" With a wave of his hand, he summoned a huge gust of wind and vanished into the air.
Che Ge sighed deeply. Turning to look at the crowd, he said gravely, "You have all witnessed what happened. Looks like I'll have to ask all of you to stay a while longer at Heavens beyond Heaven."
The various state emperors responded by saying that they would all support the Feng Cang continent in the upcoming battle.
Shen Ying's group were also feeling exhilarated.
So exhilarated that… they could not wait to get back to find out about the story involving Boss Lan and Chu Xuan!
 A Taiwanese singer who sang the song "Courage"
Chapter 175: The Substitute Female Lead
After returning to the Floating Peak for their rest break, Lonemoon immediately pulled Yi Qing into the house. He looked more serious than usual.
"Tell me what you think about that Green… Hui Ling?"
"What?" asked a baffled Shen Ying. "What's there to think?"
"Don't you feel there's something strange about her?" Lonemoon said, "She's Chen Ge's disciple and came from the Lower Realm. The fact that Chen Ge always lets her have her way. He treats her differently from his other disciples." This was no way to treat a disciple.
"You are saying…" Winking, Shen Ying answered gravely, "They're lovers."
Lonemoon: "…" Yi Qing: "…"
Although it was put a little crudely, but… that summed it up.
"Don't you find her a little familiar?" Lonemoon asked a little anxiously, "Isn't it obvious that she's the character setup of the female lead?"
Now that she mentioned it… it did resemble her.
"Isn't Xuan Dan still in our sect?" asked Yi Qing, frowning.
"Yes, that's why I find it strange." Lonemoon explained somberly, "By right Xuan Dan is the female lead. The one called Hui Ling doesn't appear at all in the original story, and from what I've gathered, this person was brought back four years ago by Che Ge to Heavens beyond Heaven. It was also the same time that Shen Ying brought Xuan Dan back. Moreover, this Hui Ling, apart from having a different character from the female lead in the original story, fits the part of the female lead exactly in terms of how Chen Ge takes her in as a disciple and the way he treats her. It's exactly as if… the female lead has been changed!"
This led him to surmise that the deviation in the script was because of their interference. The female lead had disappeared, so the script auto-corrected by replacing her with another female lead?
"You're saying… Hui Ling is the substitute for Xuan Dan's role?" asked Yi Qing. "But Xuan Dan was created from his mental demons. How can Chen Ge not recognize himself in her?"
"I don't mean that Chen Ge got the wrong person. Maybe she's only a substitute for Xuan Dan's role in the story." That girl Xuan Dan was a real jinx in the novel, her body seemed to be possessed by Conan. The more Lonemoon thought about it, the more likely this seemed. Nudging the person by his side, he asked, "What do you think, say something will you?"
"Er, I think…" Shen Ying answered lazily, "That… Salted Fish Boy didn't have the chance to fall in love with Little Shortie, so he turned his attention to another girl. This is quite normal." You can't let him stay single his whole life. "Even if the girl he likes is a little wret-… there's nothing wrong. You shouldn't be prejudiced against her."
"…" You were going to call her a wretch, weren't you. Who's the prejudiced one?
Frowning, Lonemoon said, "You mean that there's nothing wrong with the script?" Had he read too much into this matter?
"There's something wrong!" Shen Ying nodded her head. After some thought, she added, "From the time we were in the Lower Realm." Everything went wrong from then on.
Yi Qing: "…"
"Holy shit! What do you mean? Can't you tell us everything in one breath!" "It's the Chef." Shen Ying pointed to Yi Qing.
The two men were baffled.
After a while, Lonemoon thought of something. "What you mean is … the script started to deviate ever since Yi Qing came into the story?"
Lonemoon recalled that there were two characters in the script, one was Yi Qing, the other was Bai Zhe.
Yi Qing was the sword immortal character who appeared at the end of the novel. As an itinerant Immortal in the Lower Realm, it would have been very hard for him to ascend to the immortal realm. But because of Shen Ying, he had a few epiphanies which boosted his cultivation so much that he reached the level of ascension.
But at that time, the Azure World was still controlled by the Qing Tong Immortal Abode. In the original script, if he had wanted to ascend, he would have to fight a big battle with that Qing Tong group and it would be a long process.
As for Bai Zhe…
According to Bitao, the antagonists in the story had discovered the existence of a divine race; that was why they delayed the annihilation of the world. Bai Zhe was definitely a member of this divine race. As a result of Bai Zhe being sent back by Shen Ying to the divine world, the antagonists launched their annihilation plan."
So the setting that was not mentioned in the book was most likely the one in which Bai Zhe and Yi Qing, having wrecked the Qing Tong Immortal Abode's conspiracy plan, ascended into the Upper World.
In other words, the script had fast forwarded from the very beginning.
And after the ascension, Yi Qing, as Shen Ying's disciple, could not take in any disciple until he had finished his apprenticeship. So that meant that his master disciple relationship with the male lead Ning Zi'an was broken. A male lead could not be called a male lead unless he was powerful.
However, they had still met up with Ning Zi'an. They not only cured him of his sword Qi malady but also helped rid him of his mental demons. This allowed him to resume his original role as an emperor. Naturally, he no longer needed to be Yi Qing's disciple.
All this looked like a coincidence, but on further thought, it did seem like the script was auto-correcting itself.
Because of Yi Qing's epiphanies, he had completed his ascension earlier than what was stated in the original script. Therefore, the male lead had also appeared earlier.
As Yi Qing did not take in the male lead as his disciple, the male lead's cultivation was fully restored and he became the highest-ranked emperor. As Shen Ying had snatched away the original female lead, Hui Ling appeared to take on the role of the new female lead.
Although everything that had happened turned out differently from the script, after many twists and turns, everything seemed to follow the plot again. It seemed that a huge, invincible hand was secretly directing the events before anyone knew what was happening. Just like when you patch something up— if there was a corner that was chipped, you patched that corner up. All ways and means were being tried to let the plot run its course.
Lonemoon's spirits sank. Looking at Shen Ying, he asked, "When exactly did you realize this?" He was the one most familiar with the plot, yet he had not spotted the changes to the plot.
Shen Ying thought for a while before answering, "I think it was when the gate to the Demon Realm closed."
"That gate… wasn't it closed by the Demonic Tribe?" Lonemoon was surprised, he had thought all along that the demons inside had closed the gate because they had had enough of being beaten up by Shen Ying. Now that he thought about it, the Demonic Realm was the setting where the male and female lead's acted out their final scene, so naturally it would not be written off so quickly. So it meant… that the gate was closed because of the requirements of the plot?
Did the plot have such a strong power?
"Does this world exist only in the novel?" Or was this a world that operated according to the plot of the novel? Who was the one who directed the script? Was it the author?
The more Lonemoon thought about it, the more confused he got. In the end he stopped thinking about it. Who cares, it had nothing do do do with them anymore. He was too lazy to bother about the going ons between the male and female leads, just as long as they did not provoke the Invincible Sect.
"But… has Hui Ling really become the new female lead?" If the lead was changed, it would benefit them. After all, Xuan Dan was now a member of Invincible Sect. Shen Ying thought about it for a moment before suddenly asking, "Father Niu, what is the next scene described in the book?"
"What next scene? Lonemoon was a little puzzled by her question but he quickly realized what she was getting at. She was right, if they wanted to know whether Hui Ling was the substitute female lead, all they had to do was to see whether she acted according to the script. "The first thing that the female lead did after becoming Chen Ge's disciple… I think she got herself abducted?" Lonemoon vaguely remembered that a scene in the story depicted the male lead played the part of the hero who rescued the damsel in distress.
"Who abducted her?"
"I forgot, it was too long ago. I think it was the male lead's arch enemy?"
"… Chu Xuan!" Yi Qing suddenly spoke up.
Lonemoon pondered over this. Holy shit! This was really possible. This meant that the next scene would be acted out tomorrow?
"Little Missy, we're back!" At this moment, the radish suddenly kicked open the room door and charged towards Shen Ying like a human cannon ball. Just as he was about to dive into her arms, Yi Qing, who was at her side, quickly caught him by the lapels, lifted him up and flung him away. Get lost, you rascal!
"Hmph!" Radish turned to glare at him. However, he dared not do anything except look at Shen Ying with a pitiful expression. "Little Missy… Radish misses you very much."
 The main detective in a Japanese detective manga
Chapter 176: Fat and Meaty
"Where did you go?" Lonemoon looked at Radish, who rarely took on human form.
"We went to the immortal palace nearby and walked one round there," Lan Hua answered before Radish could say anything. "You're back early today. Is the competition over?"
Lonemoon looked suspiciously at the two of them. They had already arrived for a few days at the Heavens beyond Heaven for a few days now. In the beginning, Lan Hua was extremely cautious. When he realised that nobody could detect his demonic identity, he fully let loose. He took the chance when the disciples went out to compete to form extremely good relations with the children left behind. As they went around the compounds to explore, their relationship got better and better.
"Oh yes, Little Big Sister." Radish seemed to have recalled something. It retrieved a storage bag and handed it over respectfully. "I've brought you something."
The group: "…" Did you freaking go on a tour? Shen Ying was obviously distrustful of this vegetable. She did not take the bag, but Lonemoon did instead. "What is this?"
"Meat!" The Radish answered proudly. "I took very long to catch it!"
Lonemoon opened the bag and reached inside. "What meat…" Before he could finish asking his question, he heard a whine from inside the bag. There was a gust of wind, and something black and white hit his face.
Yi Qing: "…"
This is not f*cking meat! This is obviously an immortal pigeon! This is the kind of pigeon that sent letters… Is that a communication talisman on its claw? He felt his heart fall and a bad feeling rose in his chest. He firmly grasped the wing that was still hitting his face and pulled open the storage bag once again. More and more immortal pigeons flew out of the bag, each one of them fat and meaty.
Did you catch all the freaking immortal pigeons in the Heavens beyond Heaven?
Lonemoon sighed deeply and repressed the urge to boil Radish alive. For a brief moment, he thought he saw all the immortal postmen looking for their immortal pigeons.
"Are these… the presents… you brought?!" Lonemoon gritted his teeth…
"That's right!" Radish showed no hint of guilt at catching others' business tools. Instead, it proudly proclaimed, "I caught the especially fat ones on purpose. Little Big Sister, look… This one is even fatter than Radish!" It would definitely be really yummy! As Radish spoke, it picked up an immortal pigeon that was struggling for its life.
Lonemoon pursed his lips and turned to glare at Radish's partner in crime.
Lan Hua raised both of his hands and said, "This has nothing to do with me – he insisted on catching them!" Lan Hua could not do anything about it either.
Something snapped in Lonemoon's brain. He could not take it any longer. He grabbed Radish and took long strides out, stuffing it into a big flower pot in the yard.
"What are you doing? Let me go!" Before Radish could say anything more, Lonemoon took a pile of soil and dumped it on top of Radish. Radish struggled and shouted, "You ugly thing, stop trying to contaminate my pure body! Wait, I don't want to turn back! I want to go out and meet the beautiful Little Big Sister. Why, you… Ji ji ji." Before Radish could finish speaking, Lonemoon conjured a spell to turn in back into a radish. Then, Lonemoon dumped another three handfuls of soil on top of radish and stepped on the soil so that it tightened. Only then did he calm down.
F*ck, one by one… they were causing him trouble!
"Shen Ying, let go of that immortal pigeon. This belongs to others, you cannot eat it even though it's so fat!" Lonemoon turned back and called, "Yu Hong, bring a few disciples over and help me release all of these immortal pigeons. Help to treat those that are injured. And… Shen Ying, release those that you are hiding behind your back."
"Not my ass – I can see their wings. Do you think I'm blind?"
Shen Ying tutted.
"Wait! Yi Qing, what are you doing? You can't exchange the spirit beast meat for these pigeons – do you think this is a market?"
"Try hiding one more – better believe I would deduct your allowance!"
An hour later…
"Chu Xuan?" Lan Hua paused, frowning and pondering for a long time. "Who?"
"You don't know him!" Lonemoon exclaimed. That can't be right?
"I don't know him." Lan Hua shook his head. "Then why did he… look like he wanted so badly to stand up for you?" It also seemed like he kept causing trouble for Chen Ge for Lan Hua's sake.
"How would I know?" Lan Hua shook his head and glanced at Shen Ying, who was upset that she did not have a single bite of the immortal pigeons. He could not help but retrieve a few immortal fruits and placing them in front of her. "I have beef with all of the ten Celestial Emperors. If none of them has been replaced in these few years… he should be one of the people who attacked me after I turned into a demon."
That's strange. Chu Xuan did not look like he was putting on an act before. What happened in between?
It looked like they would only find out the truth when they went for the competition in the Interspatial Arena the next day.
Moreover, it remained to be seen if Hui Ling had replaced Xuan Tong as the female lead.
*** The Interspatial Arena was a wasted ancient palace in the heavens beyond Heaven. It was said that during the ancient times, there was only one Celestial Emperor in the entire immortal realm. He managed all the four seas and six continents, and the Interspatial Arena was this Celestial Emperor's only heavenly palace.
As time went by, the heavenly palace lost its former glory.
Now, it was just a wasted temple.
Although this competition was only meant to determine the top three from every stage, it was mostly going to be a competition between the two continents. Apart from the emperors who brought their disciples to take part, several strange immortals came to view the competition as well. The previously empty and desolate Interspatial Arena became filled with people.
Lonemoon and Lan Hua also came to find out the situation with the Interspatial Arena. They brought Feng Ying as well, just in case. The disciples stayed with the crowd and did not go along with them.
Apart from the five disciples taking part in the competition, the rest were resting in the immortal palace. They were also mainly watching Radish!
They obviously arrived early. Chu Xuan had not yet turned up. In the middle of the heavenly palace was a floating stage atop a pile of waste. That was clearly where the competition was going to take place.
Chen Ge led a crowd of people and flew toward a stage on the right. His expression was less kind than before, but stricter. Beside him was Hui Ling.
She did not look too well – she had completely lost her proud demeanour. From time to time, panic flashed across her face. She did not dare to look over at Shen Ying.
Lonemoon knew why she was afraid. Her Golden Finger was destroyed by Shen Ying and she was the victor in the Earth Immortal group. This was not a friendly competition within the same continent – her opponent would not show Chen Ge any respect. Of course, this meant her opponent would not hold back with her. Lonemoon suddenly felt glee in his heart. Indeed, she had to pay for wanting to make it big.
The time for the competition drew near. Hui Ling looked more and more nervous. Finally, she tugged at Chen Ge's sleeve and said gently, "Master, I… I… I'm not feeling too well."
"Little Ling, what's the matter?" Chen Ge looked worried. "Did you get injured in the mystic realm yesterday?"
"No, Master, I'm thinking of…"
She lowered her voice and nobody around her seemed to care about the conversation, except Lonemoon, who noticed that she was acting strangely…
Suddenly, Lonemoon's eyes brightened. Before Hui Ling could suggest pulling out of the competition, he put on a wide grin and spoke.
"Celestial Emperor, is your honoured disciple feeling unwell? I happen to have a Core-Restoring Pill, Core-Formation Juice and a Evil-Cleansing Talisman… They're bound to solve any symptom you might be experiencing. Would Celestial Emperor care for some?" In exchange for some money, of course.
Hui Ling: "…"
Chen Ge: "…"
Chapter 177: The Battle Between Two Continents
"No… No thanks." Chen Ge hesitated. He was suspicious of Lonemoon's sudden politeness. Yet, he smiled courteously and said, "Exalted Immortal Lonemoon must be joking. Little Ling may be of low cultivation, but she is already an immortal and does not fall sick that easily. This must be due to the nerves of participating in a competition with immortals from other continents."
He turned and looked at Hui Ling with a comforting gaze. Hui Ling did not react. Instead, she turned pale and looked panicked. She looked like she had a million and one things that she was holding back from saying.
This was the first time Chen Ge had ever seen her this bothered. He could not help but say, "Little Ling, just take this as another ordinary competition. Just fight as how you normally would and it will be okay. Your master has faith in you. Don't get too stressed out."
"… Yes, Master." She became even paler. She did not know how to ask if she could back out of the competition. "Your Majesty has a point," Lonemoon said, grinning until his eyes became slits. He glanced at Hui Ling, then turned to address his own disciples. "Did you hear that? Just fight as you normally would. I have faith in you too!"
The five disciples behind him answered, "Yes, Elder!"
Their voices resonated in the hall. Hui Ling repressed the sudden hesitation and doubt she was feeling.
Hui Ling's expression turned nastier.
Even Chen Ge frowned. Was he imagining this? Why did he feel like Lonemoon's words were dripping with sarcasm?
Just as Chen Ge started to clarify this with Lonemoon, a white beam of light appeared in front of him. The people from He Chuan continent arrived.
There was a huge stage between them and the light, so Chen Ge and the others could see clearly this time. The white light illuminated a huge transportation array. After awhile, more than ten people appeared in the white light. At the forefront was Chu Xuan.
His gaze swept over where Chen Ge and the others were. Then, he laughed mirthlessly. "Chen Ge, I thought you would not dare to appear, just like you did the previous few times we were supposed to battle. I see that you arrived earlier today."
Chen Ge ignored this challenge. He maintained his gentlemanly demeanour and answered in a low tone, "Celestial Emperor Chu Xuan invited us here in the name of the He Chuan continent - how can Feng Cang continent not show up?"
"Oh, it looks like you are very confident!" Chu Xuan looked at him with contempt. Unwillingly, he continued, "Since that is the case, let me see how skilful the fighters from Feng Cang continent are!"
When he finished speaking, he waved his hand and three immortals flew out from behind him, landing atop the stage. All three of them were Stygian Immortals. "It is far too troublesome to compete one-by-one. Why don't we let everyone of the same cultivation level battle?" Chu Xuan suggested.
Chen Ge did not object. He nodded at the three Stygian Immortals who were taking part in this competition. The three of them flew toward the center of the stage.
Lonemoon glanced at the six people on the stage. He pondered for awhile and figured out why Chu Xuan wanted all three immortals to fight at once. The three Stygian Immortals from He Chuan continent may not have looked as skilful as the other three Stygian Immortals from Feng Cang, but it was obvious that they were used to co-operating with one another in battle. The Stygian Immortals from Feng Cang, on the other hand, were picked out from different countries. It was likely that they had never fought together before. Their teamwork and chemistry was obviously lacking.
Indeed, in a few moments, the three Stygian Immortals were broken apart. It could be said that they were shamefully defeated. The three of them were kicked off the stage. Suddenly, the expressions of the various emperors present changed. The Mystic Immortal group's competition was much the same. This time, it came to an end far more quickly. The few Stygian Immortals could at least hold on for an hour, but the Mystic Immortals were defeated in little over a minute.
Chu Xuan was absolutely delighted by now. He had already expected this outcome. He was only awaiting to see Chen Ge's shameful expression. That was until… the Golden Immortal round.
If the key was co-operation, the few immortals from Invincible Sect definitely did not lose out to anyone. They trained together from the beginning. The most powerful among them, Si Yu, did not even have to transform. They depended on Yu Hong and the other disciple alone to force the three disciples from the other side to desperation. In about ten minutes, the oppositions were thrown off the stage. They looked… more pitiful than the immortals that they had defeated prior.
"Body cultivators!" Chu Xuan had not expected this outcome. He was initially extremely confident of winning every single group, but he left this possibility out of his calculations. The people from He Chuan continent did not know how to react. This was freaking unfair. Where exactly did these body cultivators come from? They were female immortals, no less. How did they even make the decision to become body cultivators?
The crowd from Feng Cang continent had already overcome their initial shock at seeing the body cultivators, so they did not express any shock this time. Instead, they were celebrating the victory in their hearts. They were not silly — it became obvious to them after the Stygian Immortal round that the opponents had done their calculations. They were just ashamed to change the rules of the battle after agreeing to letting the immortals compete in groups at the start. Thankfully, the group from Invincible Sect could transform… Wait, they were body cultivators. If the Invincible Sect managed to win the next round, they would at least be able to draw.
At last, it was time for the Earth Immortal group.
"Master, I don't want to…" Hui Ling, who had been trying to suppress her panic, could not hide her fear any longer. It was written all over her face. Subconsciously, she tugged at Chen Ge's sleeve. "LIttle Ling." Chen Ge patted her hand and felt his heart sink. He very much wanted to allow Hui Ling to back out of the competition, but he was the Celestial Emperor after all. His own disciple had won the Earth Immortal group. If he allowed her not to fight, he would not be able to answer to the other emperors. His voice became much softer as he comforted her, "Just try your best. Trust Master - you will be alright." Hui Ling had never worked together with anyone to fight before. It was normal for her to feel nervous. Looking at how the previous round turned out, however, Chen Ge was confident that she would be alright.
Subconsciously, he turned to look at the Invincible Sect. He thought to say something encouraging to them, but he saw Lonemoon mutter instructions to his disciples and even set up an isolation array to protect them.
In his heart, he wondered if they were just discussing the strategy to defeat the opponents. He did not think too much of it. That was until the three of them went up the stage and Lonemoon broke the isolation array before saying, "Remember what I said to you."
"Yes, Elder." The two disciples bowed and flew to the stage. Hui Ling straightened up, gritted her teeth and followed suit.
The moment she landed, Hui Ling drew her immortal weapon, a red paper fan. She gave it a gentle wave and bursts of fiery light flew toward the sky and charged at their opponents. It was the Fire Subduer Fan, another top-grade immortal weapon.
Lonemoon lowered his gaze. She was indeed the Celestial Emperor's disciple - so well-equipped!
The three opponents did not expect her to carry such a formidable weapon either. They quickly retreated and dodged the bursts of fiery light, but it hit them nonetheless. One of their robes got singed so that only half of it was left. The Fire Subduer Fan was an immortal weapon which produced unnatural flames. Ordinary water-elemental techniques would not work on the flames. The opponents became far more serious, yet they had no choice but to keep retreating.
Hui Ling gained confidence. The panic that she felt earlier disappeared in an instant. She lifted her other hand and there was a sound of a bell. She drew another immortal weapon. It was a golden bangle. The moment Hui Ling drew it out, it multiplied by a million times so that they seemed to cover the heavens and the earth. A wall of bangles charged toward the opponents. The opponents who were already busy trying to avoid the flames hid further away from the wall of bangles.
Hui Ling smirked. She thought too much earlier on. The opponents may have been sent by Celestial Emperor Chu Xuan, but they were nothing more than ordinary cultivators. They were not the body cultivators sent by Invincible Sect. Even if they did not help her, the opponents were not her match. As she thought about this, the hatred toward that Sect Master Shen grew in her chest. If not for her, Hui Ling would not have lost that necklace.
She turned and glared at the other two disciples who had ascended the stage with her. She realised that the two of them were on the other side. Each one of them was holding an immortal sword and were trying to block off the sorcery cast by the opponents. Hui Ling could not help but scoff. So what if they were body cultivators? They were from a small sect afterall. No matter how strong they were, they would never compare to immortals from the Heavens beyond Heaven. She alone could help them win this round.
Suddenly, her attack became much more aggressive. The entire stage was filled with red deviant flames. Even the two disciples from Invincible Sect had no choice but to retreat to a corner. The three opponents had no room on the stage to stand anymore - they were forced to fly up into the air while fighting the dense wall of golden hoops.
Chapter 178: The Battle Of The Two Continents
In less than five minutes, her opponent was about to be forced off the stage. Hui Ling twirled the sword in her hand and the dharma spell immediately changed. Thousands of steel rings immediately started gathering in the sky, then they transformed into a rope which flew towards her opponent.
Hui Ling heaved a sigh of relief. There was a triumphant look on her face as she said, "It's over."
"You're right!" Just then, a male voice suddenly rang out behind her. The next moment, a formidable blade came swinging towards her. Startled, Hui Ling wanted to defend herself but it was too late. The glittering sword blade had reached her face. "It's really over.."
"Ah!" Hui Ling screamed. The sword did not land on her body, for at the critical moment her dharmic protective vest activated and blocked off her opponent's attack.
"Huh?" Her attacker stepped back in surprise. Hui Ling starting backing away. Now she could see clearly her attacker was one of the trio in the rival team. She had not even known when he had come up behind her, how could that be? Hui Ling's lack of combat experience showed; she was terribly flustered by her opponent's move. Subconsciously, she gripped the Fire Subduer Fan and swung it behind her. Instantly, the Deviant Fire burst into flames and began engulfing the only safe place on the platform.
Her opponent was stunned for a moment, then he broke into a derisive smile. Stupid fool! He conjured a seal to ward off the Deviant Fire. He had been racking his brains on how to force her into the Deviant Fire but she had trapped herself inside instead.
Immediately, he turned to the front and commanded, "Activate the formation!"
At once, the two men descended from the sky.
Holding the dharmic seal in his hand, he bent down and struck the ground with it. The Deviant Fire covering the ground surged with a dazzling white light and the array formation started to glow brightly. The design of the array formation suddenly appeared on the platform. The Golden Steel Ring that was summoned by Hui Ling but was struck down by her three opponents was actually the medium that activated the array. The three men were the ones who had set up the array formation and it was also…
"The Five Elements Reversal Formation!" Someone in the crowd cried out in surprise.
The array formation on the entire platform was now lit up. The Deviant Fire, which had been burning brightly, was instantly extinguished. The whole platform was now sealed off by a layer of ice. Rays of sharp ice blades emerged from the array formation and headed straight for Hui Ling.
"Ah!" Hui Ling cried out in fear. She had wanted to use the Fire Subduer Fan to summon the Deviant Fire to melt the ice but felt a sudden weight on her hand. Looking down, she saw that her whole hand was covered by a layer of thick ice. Now she could not activate her Immortal Qi, let alone use the Fire Subduer Fan.
The Five Elements Reversal Formation reversed the Five Elements Sorcery in the array. The Fire Subduer Fan summoned the Deviant Fire. What had emerged from the array was the Ten Thousand-Year-old Ice, which froze everything that was of the fire-element.
Hui Ling was in a total panic. She wanted to rush out but the surrounding ice blocked her and was getting closer and closer to her, as if it wanted to freeze her too. There was nowhere for her to escape. Subconsciously. she looked towards the two people who had been forced to a corner by the Deviant Fire. They were now standing just outside the array formation.
The two-women team from the Invincible Sect was at a loss as to what they should do. Then the sagely advice of a certain sect elder came to their mind.
Hence, Disciple Number One stepped forwards, stretched out her arms and dropped flat on the ground. At the same time, she yelled out in clear and ringing tones, "Ai yah! I fell down!"
"Junior Sister!" Disciple Number Two cried out anxiously.
Suddenly she too dived to the ground. "Ai yah! I fell down too." Shen Ying: "…"
Yi Qing: "…"
Chen Ge: "…"
The emperors: "…"
All at once, numerous pairs of eyes turned towards Lonemoon.
What the heck, I never told you to act so pretentiously!
The whole area fell into an eerie silence. The trio in the opposing team were the first to react. Losing interest in the other two girls, one of them pointed at Hui Ling and said, "Finish her off first!" Then, clutching his dharmic weapon, he charged towards her.
"No…" Hui Ling instantly turned pale. Seeing that there was nowhere to hide, she took out her bracelet and summoned forth thousands of Golden Steel Rings. But she was obviously deeply frightened; her moves were totally chaotic. She only focused on summoning out ever more Golden Steel Rings but not on her target.
As to be expected, the rings did not hit any of her opponents, instead, they hit the surrounding ice pillars. These pillars had been conjured from the array set up by her Golden Steel Rings. As they were formed from the same elements, the rings not only did not destroy the pillars, they rebounded on her.
Hui Ling was unable to dodge in time. Within moments, her face was swollen and bruised. Her injuries were not caused by her opponents but by her own rings.
The trio in the sky: "…" Enemies voluntarily offering their lives were new to them. The three men did not delay any further, they decide to strike at their enemy now that she had lost her focus. As her dharmic vest was impervious to their sword and immortal sorcery, they had to resort to attacking her with punches and kicks.
Before long, the whole area was filled with blood-curdling pig- like shrieks from a certain someone. Her pure and innocent persona vanished completely.
Chen Ge's face darkened immediately. Clenching his hands, he took in a deep breath, and managed to resist the urge to rush up to the platform.
The three men stopped their attack after a while. Perhaps they could tell that their opponent was powerless to defend herself. One of them directly kicked her off the platform.
"Little Ling!" Chen Ge rushed forwards, caught his disciple in his arms and returned to the viewing platform. As he tended to the badly beaten Hui Ling, he glared angrily at Chu Xuan, who was sitting opposite. It was only a sparring practice, yet they had been so heavy-handed in their attack. He could not help feeling some resentment against the Invincible Sect. They had deliberately avoided coming to her aid. "Mast ter…." Hui Ling called out to him pitifully. If she still had her pretty and lovable looks, she might have attracted some sympathy from the audience, but now no one…
Except Chen Ge. Still viewing Hui Ling through rose-tinted glasses, he said tenderly, "Be a good girl, don't talk till you're better."
"Ah… She's your disciple." Chu Xuan seemed to have become aware of the importance of Hui Ling to Chen Ge. Giving a cold snort, he said jeeringly, "That's right. Only a person like you would take in such a useless disciple."
"You…" Chen Ge was furious but he controlled his anger.
Chu Xuan laughed cockily. "Looks like my He Chuan team is the… Huh?"
Before he could finish his sentence, he felt two beams of immortal qi surge up from the platform and subconsciously looked down. The two disciples that he thought would be easily dealt with now that Hui Ling was out of picture, stood on the platform, immortal Qi started spewing out from their bodies. Their previously short and puny bodies had shot up and muscles began to bulge out from their slender arms.
They were… body cultivators!
Holy shit! Did they still exist?!
The trio on the platform, like Chu Xuan, did not know what to make of these body cultivators. Even the one who had rushed forward to attack them was in a daze. Just as he was about to pull back, a fist flashed before his eyes.
His felt a great throbbing pain in his chest. The next moment, he lay on the ground, flattened by the punch. Blood surged up to his throat and spurted out from his mouth.
"Junior Brother!" The two men in the air cried out in shock. Just as they were about to rush to his aid, they heard a whooshing sound behind them.
When the two men reflexively turned around to defend themselves, the other body cultivator was raising her leg to kick at the person on the right. He managed to summon a defensive array at the very last moment. Crash! The array shattered under her leg and he was kicked out of the platform.
Before the one remaining man had time to react, a fist was already flying towards him. He could feel an irresistible force bearing down on him, then it struck him and the impact knocked him off from the sky. Boom! His whole body crashed through the platform and several inches of the ground. Then he passed out.
The two body cultivators…
Yay, without that nuisance, they could now fight without any qualms. Oh, but the match has ended!
The crowd: "…"
Chapter 179: The Great Immortal Execution Array
There were four duels this time, and both parties won two each. Although the Stygian Immortals and Mystic Immortals were supposed to be the more interesting groups competing, the two duels at the end were won so beautifully. A few were won with a knockout. On average, therefore, every single group was equally interesting.
Chu Xuan's expression was pale. Chu Xuan was already prepared to mock the losers, but now Chu Xuan had to swallow it back. The various emperors of the Feng Cang continent also did not look too happy. All of them were prodigies that became immortals – who could not tell what happened in the last battle?
Hui Ling was the victor of the Earth Immortal group. Obviously, the remaining two people were defeated by her. Yet, how did she manage to lose so terribly to people from upper He Chuan? If their skills were too formidable, it was alright, but in the next battle, she lost to the other two body cultivators. Within a few minutes, they knocked her out. People began to wonder whether the previous result had been tampered with.
Almost at once, everybody looked at the person in Chen Ge's arms, thinking about all the possible conspiracy theories. None of them dared to speak up on account of the Celestial Emperor, but in their hearts, everybody knew that Hui Ling had cheated earlier on. They began to wonder whether Chen Ge had told Invincible Sect something to make them lose to Hui Ling on purpose in the previous competition.
Chen Ge's expression was extremely dark as he looked at Hui Ling with a complex gaze. He knew full well that everybody knew what had happened. Afterall, Hui Ling was his own disciple. Seeing her so seriously injured and knowing that the He Chuan people were still around made him feel terribly uncomfortable. He supported most of Hui Ling's weight as he addressed the people in front of him.
"Celestial Emperor Chu Xuan, each of us has won two battles in this competition. I think we can consider that we have come to the end. Why not we cease the competition here for today?"
"You want to forget about this now?" Chu Xuan tutted, his eyes filled with fury. "Dream on. This is a draw afterall. Why don't we have a sudden death round!" Once he finished speaking, he panned out his fan and a huge immortal force charged toward Chen Ge. "You…" Chen Ge's expression changed. He had no choice but to make use of his own immortal force to protect all the immortals who were around him. He was very obviously displeased. "Chu Xuan, why do you have to do this? I have no intention to quarrel with you. Both you and I are Celestial Emperors. If we insist on the battle, innocent people will be hurt. This is a competition meant for the immortals under us. If you insist on determining who is the winner… Ah, I'll let you win."
"Nonsense!" Chu Xuan's face contorted with rage. He glared at Chen Ge so intensely that it almost seemed as if he was going to hurt Chen Ge physically with his gaze. "Pui! I don't care for your so-called courtesy. Hold back that hypocritical tongue of yours. I said this before… If we meet again, I will take your life! The fact that I dared to come today shows that I am unafraid of never making it back."
Chen Ge's expression changed again. As if recalling something, he exclaimed, "What did you do?"
Chu Xuan did not answer him, but laughed mirthlessly. He raised his voice, "Why don't you act?" "What?"
Before anyone could react, the emperor seated closest to Chen Ge, Ge You, exploded. He drew his sword and aimed for Chen Ge.
He did not realise that Chen Ge was a Celestial Emperor afterall. Instinctively, Chen Ge turned around and waved his arm, sending Ge You flying back. He successfully defended himself against the sword, but Ge You's sword still managed to break through Chen Ge's defensive array and cause a deep gash on his arm. Fresh blood flowed out of the wound.
"Ge You, you…"
Not only Chen Ge, but all the other emperors looked extremely shocked as they stared at Ge You, who was now on the ground. Nobody knew that he had turned into a traitor!
"Celestial Emperor, you cannot possibly blame me for this," Ge You said as he struggled to get to his feet. There was a grin on his face and no sign of panic. "You are not able to discern right from wrong. You don't take the various emperors' request seriously and insist on protecting that Invincible Sect. You have no rights at all to manage Feng Cang continent. This continent needs a new master."
Chen Ge's expression darkened. "You think that by depending on Chu Xuan and injuring me, you can become the master of Feng Cang?" Without being a Celestial Emperor, how could Ge You even dream of taking control of the continent? This attack with his sword was nothing in Chen Ge's eyes. He waved his hand again with ease and the wound disappeared.
Ge You's grin widened. "Once you are all dead, of course I can!"
As he finished speaking, the array underneath everybody's feet suddenly burst with red light, covering the people on the stage. Everybody began to panic and attempted to fly up and protect themselves, but they found themselves rooted to where they were, unable to move. Underneath Chen Ge's feet, something the colour of blood began to move and form a strange talisman. On closer inspection, they realised that it was the blood that Chen Ge shed. The attack earlier on was not intended to defeat Chen Ge, but to draw his blood for the array!
The disciples who had been watching the battle earlier wanted to run over and help, but Chu Xuan's immortals stopped them. Even those who managed to rush to the scene were stuck once they reached the red light – they too were unable to move. The red light expanded and the environment around them changed. What was originally the stage began to split apart, forming a valley in between. It was almost as if an entire world was forming on its own.
"What… What array is this?" Chen Ge was beginning to panic. He wanted to regulate his immortal Qi and get himself out of the array, but he found that the more he struggled, the more tightly he was bound.
"The Immortal Execution Array," Chu Xuan answered as he stepped forward. His eyes were full of self-satisfaction at the thought of finally getting his revenge. "I searched for more than a thousand years for this array, and I spent several hundred more years trying to figure out how it works. It is an ancient array found in the immortal realm and used to massacre the immortals here." An ancient array! Everybody sucked in a deep breath and immediately became pale. No wonder this competition was fixed at the Interspatial Arena. They were never meant to leave this place.
"As long as you enter this array, you can forget about escaping." Once he finished speaking, he conjured a spell and his body flashed. He flew toward Chen Ge and waved the immortal weapon in his hands. Suddenly, a hundred thousand wind blades appeared. They were clearly aimed at the various emperors and Chen Ge, who were helpless at that moment.
Out of nowhere, formidable sword Qi filled the air and swept his wind blades aside. Chu Xuan was evidently shocked. He retreated several steps to avoid the word Qi. Lowering his head, he saw that there was a man wielding a sword standing next to Chen Ge. His entire body was emitting rich sword Qi, and the red light for some reason did not seem to reach him.
Chu Xuan frowned. He had not thought that there would be such a powerful sword immortal in Feng Cang continent. Despite being trapped by the Immortal Execution Array, he still managed to wield his sword. The red light was still fast expanding. It seemed like even Chu Xuan's disciples were going to be caught in it. The Immortal Execution Array was almost complete. They would never be allowed to leave his place.
"Ha!" He waved his fan and more wind blades flew toward the crowd.
"Yi Qing, on your right!" Lonemoon exclaimed. It was alright for them to get hid by a couple of wind blades, but on Yi Qing's right stood Yu Hong and the other disciples. They would not be able to withstand more than a few blows.
Yi Qing turned and swung his sword, sweeping his right side and blocking off the huge wind blades.
Chu Xuan took the chance to charge in. He glared at Chen Ge, determined. "If I don't kill you with my own hands today, I will destroy your disciples." Without further hesitation, he grabbed the first person he could reach on his left and flew away. He did not even turn back. Shen Ying, who had been pulled away all of a sudden: "…"
He's not left-handed, is he?
As Chu Xuan flew off, everybody whom he brought with him disappeared after him. The Immortal Execution Array was complete. The pile of waste was now covered in a blood-red dome – nobody could see what was happening inside.
Only a few of the disciples who were observing the battle outside were lucky not to have been trapped within the array. Yet, none of them dared to go any closer toward it.
Lan Hua and Feng Ying watched Chu Xuan fly off and naturally also saw that the person he grabbed was Shen Ying.
"That was…" Lan Hua stood up all of a sudden, turning around to chase after him. "What are you doing?" Feng Ying held him back.
"I'm going to save her. Did you not see my good heart being taken away?"
Feng Ying pursed his lips. "Trust me, she's the only one you wouldn't need to save! We should-"
"No!" Lan Hua could not be bothered with what he had to say.
He shook off Feng Ying's hand and pursued Chu Xuan.
"Wait!" He had not finished speaking. Lan Hua disappeared into the skies.
Lan Hua was flying so fast. He had been flying for more than a minute, yet he still had not caught sight of a single figure. Inside, he cursed the man who took Shen Ying away. Indeed, not one of the Celestial Emperors were good – every last one of them was rotten to the core. His heart felt extremely heavy. He knew full well that this was the Heavens beyond Heaven, and that man was a Celestial Emperor. Even if he caught him, his demonic identity would surely be exposed the moment they fought. Then, he would have difficulty getting away. The smartest solution was to save the Young Emperor of the Invincible Sect, then think of saving Shen Ying together.
If he had been calmer, he would not even have gone to so much trouble. Shen Ying was his good heart – if she disappeared and died at the hands of that man, Lan Hua would benefit. Once his good heart was removed, he would be able to become a Skyfiend.
He knew that this was logical, but… he could not control himself!
○ | ̄|_
At the thought that she was his good heart, his body went into overdrive. He could not stop himself as he tore the necklace from his neck and regulated his demonic Qi to increase his speed. After a few moments, he felt the weak aura of that Celestial Emperor. His heart leapt as he flew in the direction of that aura. A few moments later, he felt ten distinct auras atop a mountain. Chest tightening, he shouted.
"Let go of that lady!"
The moment he spoke, the tallest figure paused and waved toward him. "Hey, Boss!"
"Good Heart? You're all…" right? Before he could finish speaking, he felt something beneath his feet as he landed. He looked down and saw that it was an immortal. He looked around and found that something was amiss.
Why were there over ten people lying down here?
Why are there a few more people hanging on that tree? Why was the man Shen Ying was stepping on so familiar?
What the heck… is happening here?
What happened in that one minute?
"Good… Heart?" You're Good Heart; I haven't got it wrong, right? "You're… alright?"
He scanned her from head to toe. That's good! She was not missing any limb and she did not have any broken bones. Even her hair was still in place. Only her robes looked a little dusty and ugly… Oh, it looked like that from the beginning.
"I'm alright." Shen Ying tilted her head as if recalling something. "Oh yes, Che…" She was just about to ask how the others were, when the person beneath her feet jumped. He seemed to have heard something strange. Suddenly, he struggled to get up. "You're… Celestial… Celestial Emperor Lan Hua… You're Celestial Emperor Lan Hua, aren't you!"
He wanted to turn around, but the moment he moved, Shen Ying stepped on his chest so that he was lying down again. He turned his head around to get a glimpse of Lan Hua.
Lan Hua frowned as he looked at the man under Shen Ying's feet, who had been beaten almost beyond recognition. "Who… is this pig head?"
"Er…" Shen Ying thought for awhile and replied, "He calls himself your good comrade."
"… What? Chicken oil"
"Celestial Emperor, it's me… it's me!" The pig head struggled to turn around to let Lan Hua see his full features. He tried to wriggle closer to Lan Hua. "I'm Chu Xuan, Master! You… You're still alive. That's great, Master…"
Hey, he's Boss' disciple?
Shen Ying paused and retracted her leg. Then, she turned to glance at the person beside her.
"Hey, hey, hey, you're spouting nonsense. Since when have I ever accepted disciples?" Lan Hua frowned.
"Mas… Celestial Emperor." Chu Xuan was obviously getting more agitated. He fixed his gaze on Lan Hua and said, "I'm really Chu Xuan. I'm the Chu Xuan… from the Shu Tai Peak 70,000 years ago!"
"Shu Tai Peak?" Lan Hua bent over and took a closer look at Chu Xuan. He thought long and hard for a long time and then declared, "I don't know you!"
Chu Xuan: "…" Shen Ying: "…"
Er, why do I hear something breaking?
Chu Xuan's blue and purple face became pale instantly. It seemed like every last bit of anger seeped out of his body.
He slumped, and then suddenly realised something.
"Chu Xuan knows… that he is not worthy of being your disciple. I did not dare to ask before… And I dare to even less now… In the past, I was blinded and I let you down. Please, forgive me. All I ask… All I ask is for you to let me atone for my past mistakes." His tears started to flow down his cheeks, as if he could no longer hold them back. Soon, streaks of tears covered his face. Wow! He looks uglier now. "Even… even if you kill me, I will have no complaints."
Hey! He's so emotional! Shen Ying turned to look at Lan Hua.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" Lan Hua felt goosebumps raise on his hands and turned to glare at her. He took a step back, disgusted. "I don't even know him."
"Celestial Emperor…" Chu Xuan was looking more desperate now.
Shen Ying sighed, "Hey… control your emotions first!"
"…" Why must I freaking control my emotions–explain yourself!
"Hey, you're still alive. Since you're still alive, come back and break the array for me." I want to eat lunch soon and Chef is still stuck in there!
"Oh yes!" Lan Hua suddenly recalled the matter at hand. This is not the time to talk about all of this. He suddenly wondered again about how Shen Ying managed to free herself.
"You want to go back!" Chu Xuan could not believe his ears. Did the Celestial Emperor really want to go back and save Chen Ge, that ingrate?
"What's wrong?" Hungry Shen Ying's expression turned cold. "Do you have something to say about that?"
A few images flashed across Chu Xuan's mind, and he began to tremble. His still swollen face instantly displayed fear. Subconsciously, he retreated behind Lan Hua. "N-No." Compared to Celestial Emperor Lan Hua, this female immortal was much scarier!
Lan Hua did not bother about Chu Xian. Instead, he drew his flying sword, supported the pig head up, grabbed Shen Ying and flew into the sky.
They flew at an extremely high speed. In about a minute, they were back at the Interspatial Arena. On the road, they finally clarified the relationship between Lan Hua and Chu Xuan.
Chu Xuan and Chen Ge were immortals from Yun Feng continent's Shu Tai Peak. 70,000 years ago, when Chu Xuan was a Mystic Immortal, his skills and techniques were lacking given his itinerant cultivator background. As a result, a problem arose when Chu Xuan went through the Heavenly Tribulations. At that time, Lan Hua had not yet become a demon and was only an immortal emperor. He had been passing by and gave Chu Xuan a hand. He even taught Chu Xuan and Chen Ge a technique that suited them very well.
It was the work of fate. Chu Xuan had already taken Lan Hua to be his master. With the technique that Lan Hua taught them, Chu Xuan and Chen Ge trained and finally became Celestial Emperors. Later, they heard that demons were causing trouble and Chen Ge invited him, together with several other Celestial Emperors, to fight the demons.
At that time, he had no idea who the demon was. Moreover, when Lan Hua helped him, he did not leave his name behind. After Lan Hua became a demon, the demon Qi surrounding his body caused him to become unrecognisable.
After it all blew over, Chu Xuan found out that his techniques and training methods were all created by Celestial Emperor Lan Hua, who was the very demon that he had helped to defeat.
Chu Xuan felt extremely pained knowing that he had killed his benefactor with his own hands. Subsequently, he found out that Lan Yu, Lan Hua's brother, had caused him to turn into a demon, Chu Xuan decided to work with Chen Ge and seek revenge for Celestial Emperor Lan Hua. When Lan Yu finally became the Celestial Emperor of the Yun Feng continent, however, Chen Ge no longer wanted to have conflicts with him. He turned Chu Xuan down. Chu Xuan was angered by Chen Ge's ungratefulness and began to hate him as well.
That was why all these years, he caused Lan Yu and Chen Ge so much trouble.
As Chu Xuan recounted these things, he cried. It was obvious that he was experiencing excruciating anger. Lan Hua almost feared that he would jump off the flying sword.
Lan Hua, on the other hand, looked calm. He felt nothing in his heart. Instead, all he wanted was to eat seeds. Whatever Chu Xuan could not forget… Lan Hua could not recall whatsoever.
Lan Hua expressed that he taught so many people so many techniques that he hardly remembered any of them. It was right – Boss Lan Hua was a child who dished out money freely. Shen Ying began to suspect that his younger brother wanted to kick him off his pedestal because he was wasting too much money.
Hmm… She'd better treat Father Niu nicely in the future.
 Sounds like comrade in Chinese.
Chapter 180: The Confusing Illusions
By the time Shen Ying and company returned to the Interspatial Arena, there were no immortals left outside the array. She did not know whether the remaining immortals fled or whether they entered the array to save people. All they say was a giant blood-red coloured dome with about a few kilometres radius.
They flew on top of the dome and tried to look in. Faintly, they could see a group of people at the right side. They were the various emperors who had been watching the battle. Chef and Father Niu were there too. At that time, however, all of them were lying on the floor motionless. Inside the entire array, everything was silent. Not one person seemed to be breathing. They all looked like they were asleep.
"What's going on?" Lan Hua turned to glare at Chu Xuan. Is this an Immortal Execution Array or a Soul Confundus Array? Why were they all unconscious?
"Celestial… Emperor, this is just a sign," Chu Xuan began to explain. "The array is complete and their primordial spirits have been trapped inside it." As he spoke, he conjured another seal, raised his hand and waved toward the array. The blood red colour hung for awhile, and then a golden light flashed and everything inside the dome changed.
The ancient wasteland was no more. In its place was a tall mountain peak with molten rocks and lava. Everywhere they looked, the place looked just as frightening as hell. The air inside was filled with wind blades and sword Qi. The immortals who were seen unconscious earlier were inside, scattered and fighting the wind blades, yet none of them were able to block off that many blows. Some of the wind blades hit the crowds. It seemed like the fight would go on forever. If this carried on, the people inside would be stabbed to death for sure.
"The immortals have a long life. As long as they have one last breath, they can be revived," Chu Xuan explained. "That is why an ordinary attack cannot be used to deal with immortals. The Immortal Execution Array traps the immortal's primordial spirit until it is destroyed and the immortal dies."
So those were just the bodies of the immortals that they saw lying down.
"Stop your nonsense – break the array immediately!" Shen Ying dragged Chu Xuan out from behind Lan Hua. It was almost noontime.
"I… I… I can't break it!" Chu Xuan's legs turned to jelly and he almost fell to his knees.
"You conjured the array and you can't break it?" Lan Hua looked at him suspiciously. Was he kidding?
"I really cannot break it. This is an ancient array – it was here from the beginning. I only found out about it a few hundred years ago as well." Chu Xuan looked like he was on the brink of tears. If Celestial Emperors knew how to break the array, he would not have used it against Chen Ge. "This array is founded on the five elements of Yin and Yang. The closer you are to the centre of the array, the more dangerous it would be. The scene in the array is ever changing as well. One must destroy the heart of the array before they can dream of breaking the array, but the heart of this array is at the centre of the array. We won't be able to get to it if we don't enter."
So there was no way to break the array from outside, but the moment they enter, they can forget about ever escaping. "Moreover…" He pointed toward the dome below and said, "The array has been completed and another world has formed inside the dome. The walls of this array are stronger than even realm gates. There is no way to…"
Before he could finish speaking, Shen Ying bent over and reached out to the dome, pulling it apart with some strength.
The walls of the array, which Chu Xuan said were stronger than realm gates, broke… broke… broke apart… just like paper!
Chu Xuan: "…"
Lan Hua: "…" Shen Ying, who was just trying her luck: "…"
Chu Xuan: This must be a fake Immortal Execution Array. He thought it was a strong and formidable ancient array?
Lan Hua: This must be a fake Immortal Execution Array.
Indeed, he could not trust anything Celestial Emperors said!
Shen Ying: This must be a fake Immortal Execution Array. She read the Soul-Sealing List for no reason – wasn't it said that only saints could open it?
Hai, if she had known this earlier, she would not have brought Boss' good comrade here together with them. She would have left them there to continue sorting out their relationship.
"Heh… Well, help me locate Chef!" She remembered the important task at hand. Shen Ying pushed Lan Hua aside and suddenly added, "And Father Niu."
Lan Hua looked at the opening of the array in disbelief. Then, he lowered his head and looked closely.
"They're there!" Lan Hua used his divine perception and located the group of people from Invincible Sect. He pointed at the lower right hand corner of the dome.
"Let's go over." Shen Ying was just about to go over and fetch them, but she was stopped by Lan Hua.
"Wait!" Lan Hua frowned. "Something is not right there."
On closer inspection, the group saw that the corner where the Invincible Sect held was indeed much quieter than everywhere else. There was no danger, no flying wind blades and no sword Qi. Instead, it was a peaceful garden of flowers and it looked extremely safe where they were. For some reason, apart from Yi Qing and Lonemoon who were standing together, everybody else was spread out. It looked like… They despised everyone else.
"That's the… Illusion Valley!" Chu Xuan sputtered, shocked. He turned to Shen Ying and then retreated two steps, as if afraid that she might reach out to hit him.
"What does that mean?" Shen Ying paused.
"The Illusion Valley is a place where illusions become reality." Lan Hua's expression fell and he frowned. He had not expected that this place would exist inside an Immortal Execution Array. "Inside, the fragrance of the flowers would condense into either the thing that a person fears or treasures most. It's very much like the mental demons, except whatever they interact with is tangible. That makes it very difficult for them to differentiate between imagination and reality."
Lan Hua conjured an array to protect the three of them. Then, he lowered his voice and instructed, "Do not go anywhere near that array or we will get affected by the fragrance of the flowers as well."
"Oh," Shen Ying nodded.
Lan Hua mounted his flying sword and entered the hole in the array. At that moment, Yi Qing and Lonemoon who were in the Illusion Valley realised something was amiss. They looked around.
"What's going on? Where's Yu Hong and the others?" Everybody was gathered together before this, yet the moment they entered the garden, only two of them remained. In front of them, apart from flowers, all they could see was a fog.
"I can't feel their aura." Yi Qing shook his head.
Lonemoon's face fell. "There is something wrong with his garden. Be careful."
Yi Qing nodded. Then, he paused and looked up in front of him. "That is… Master!"
From the white fog, a familiar figure emerged.
But was pulled back by Yi Qing. "Wait!"
"What's wrong?" Lonemoon paused. He turned to look at Yi Qing and then realised something. He stopped moving.
"What's wrong with you two? Why are you just standing there?" Shen Ying waved them over. "Come with me, it's very dangerous in this array!"
The moment she finished speaking, both Yi Qing and Lonemoon frowned.
"Shen Ying, you know how to get out of here?" Lonemoon asked.
"Of course - how do you think I was going to save you?" Shen Ying rolled her eyes.
"Where's the way?" "Right there. Come with me, quickly. We just need to walk toward the east and we'll be out."
The two of them exchanged glances and raised their swords at the same time. They charged toward Shen Ying and stabbed her several times without any hesitation.
"Where did this freak come from? It's not even imitating her rightly. Shen Ying, that brat, doesn't remember any directions."
"What lousy acting - how dare she try to impersonate Master. After four years, she still has never returned alone from the backyard after watering the plants. How can this imposter say that she knows the way back?"
In a moment, a hundred thousand flashes of the sword filled the air in the garden. They cut the fake "Shen Ying" into pieces so that only a pile of branches and twigs remained on the floor.
Not far away. Chu Xuan: "…"
Lan Hua: "…"
Shen Ying, who just landed: "…" Motherf*ckers!
The two of them were okay, but why was she feeling so terribly upset?