“A protective realm…? You… You’re the Recorder?” Bing Shuai turned in Fu Bo’s direction, but even he could not see through Fu Bo’s barrier.
“This is bad!” Stargaze raised his head toward the skies and exclaimed. She had never thought that Li Yiming would use Fu Bo in such a way.
A hole suddenly appeared in the sky, as if the dark and gloomy sky was torn asunder. Crimson thunderclouds could be seen billowing on the other side of the opening.
“Shit!” Stargaze could not stop herself from cursing anymore. She knocked on her crescent blade with her left hand, turning the starry carvings on the steel into a million shards of light that encircled her, and vanished the next second.
“It’s Heaven’s Punishment! Fu Bo’s realm removed Yan Bing’s boundary! Nicely done, Li Yiming!” Li Huaibei raised his right hand and struck his own abdomen without hesitation, causing him to fall downward after spitting out a mouthful of blood.
When Heaven’s Punishment was summoned, it immediately locked onto the three biggest targets, Li Huaibei, Stargaze, and Bing Shuai. Stargaze escaped by destroying her own weapon, but not everyone had that luxury. Li Huaibei had opted for a more direct method — he sealed his own powers to avoid being targeted. Although Li Huaibei suffered grave injuries, he would escape Heaven’s Punishment’s relentless pursuit.
Bing Shuai finally understood the reason behind Fu Bo’s strange technique, and also why Stargaze and Li Huaibei were ready to do anything to protect him. ‘If only I had known better… It’s all too late now.’
Bing Shuai decided to imitate Li Huaibei. He delivered a strike to his own abdomen and fell out of the skies, right in front of Li Yiming.
By now, the sea of fire that raged violently within the crimson cloud was clearly seen in the skies, as though it was sent to purge all of the sins in this world.
“It’s the Divine Fire Punishment… It’s the Samadhi Fire…” Bing Shuai gazed at the skies in fear. The strength of Heaven’s Punishment incited by three sages was no small token.
The next instant, he saw Li Yiming throw a venomous stare at him, unmoved by the blaze above his head.
“I hope you won’t burn to ashes, Li Yiming. Once Heaven’s Punishment is over, I’ll show you true despair. I’ll capture your friends, your family and torture them one by one in front of you. I’ll let you know what hell on Earth means.” Bing Shuai’s anger and frustration peaked once again when he saw the maker of his misery.
“You won’t have the chance.” Li Yiming replied coldly. “Thunderous Strike!”
A small rift appeared in the sky as Li Yiming raised his right hand, and a bolt of lightning descended straight toward Bing Shuai.
“Are you insane? You dare to attack me in the presence of Heaven’s Punishment?” Bing Shuai was outraged. With the enhancement from that mysterious stone, Li Yiming had already exceeded the fifth level, and Thunderous Strike poured every last drop of power within him into a single attack. Normally, Bing Shuai would be able to blow such a petty blow with ease, but he had already sealed his powers to escape the wrath of Heaven’s Punishment. To block the attack was to call upon his powers again, and to expose himself once more.
“No!!!” Bing Shuai roared furiously. A white light spread from his abdomen and enveloped his entire body against the purple lightning; the energy in his body mobilized to protect his life before he could react.
The lightning bolt vanished along with the small rupture in the sky, but the next second, punishment befell. A spark erupted from where Bing Shuai’s laid prone, turning into a blazing ball of fire that covered his entire body.
“I… I will…remember…” Bing Shuai’s voice was suddenly cut off, leaving nothing, not even dust behind.
At the same time, a spark erupted from beneath Li Yiming’s feet. Li Yiming smiled wryly and thought to himself. ‘If I had even a shred of energy left, I could teleport into Fu Bo’s realm, and maybe escape Heaven’s Punishment. But against an opponent like Bing Shuai, only Thunderous Strike would work… Oh well, my life for a sage’s… It’s worth it!’
The fire grew rapidly and enveloped Li Yiming instantly. Li Yiming closed his eyes and accepted his fate. However, the mysterious runic glyph within Li Yiming’s consciousness shone once again, emitting a barrier of golden light that protected him from the ravages of the flames.
After not feeling any pain for an extended period of time, Li Yiming opened his eyes in confusion. ‘What is this?’
The flames turned Li Yiming into a human torch, but regardless of how strongly they burned, they could not penetrate Li Yiming’s golden barrier.
“His body is being forged in the divine fire?” Within the wreckage, Li Huaibei peeked out and his expression changed from apprehension to disbelief. ‘He continues to surprise me… Li Yiming…’
Eventually, the fire dispersed, and the crimson thunderclouds scattered. Li Yiming emerged out of the furnace naked, his skin glistening under the sun. The golden light around his limbs flickered a few times and vanished. Li Yiming’s powers had been miraculously restored, and he had grown even stronger. As for the mysterious glyph within his body, it dimmed out and seemed even more ethereal than when it first appeared.
Li Yiming scanned his surrounding and scratched his head in confusion. To his horror, he realized that he was now bald. He awkwardly withdrew a set of clothes from his storage bracelet and ran towards Fu Bo, who was the real hero of the day.
Before Li Yiming could approach him, however, a rainbow-colored ray of light descended from the heavens, enveloping Fu Bo’s entire protective realm.
“Stay away!” Just as Li Yiming was about to dash in, Li Huaibei stopped him.
“What is that?” Li Yiming turned around and asked Li Huaibei, who barely made his way out of the wreckage.
“It’s the Path of Guidance. He’s been exposed. Heaven’s Laws is taking him away…” Li Huaibei answered as he looked at the rainbow in the sky.
The transparent ripples generated by Fu Bo’s domain vanished, and Li Yiming could see his friend smiling at him with a broken laptop in his hand.
“You can’t stop this. No one can…” Li Huaibei put his hand on Li Yiming’s shoulder and held him down, worried that the latter would do something rash.
Fu Bo continued his ascension, eventually disappearing into the crack in the sky. After that, the fissure began to slowly close off.
“What’s going to happen to him?” Li Yiming withdrew his gaze and turned toward Li Huaibei.
“I don’t know. Perhaps he’ll be teleported to another place to continue his writing, living a life that no one knows. Or perhaps another Recorder will replace him…” Li Huaibei let go of Li Yiming’s shoulder and shook his head in resignation; this was the closest he had been to the truth in so many years, and yet it ended in failure once again.
“Fu Bo…” Li Yiming looked at the sky, a tear slid down his cheek.
“Let’s go.” Li Huaibei gave Li Yiming a pat on his shoulder. “You really are full of surprises.” With one last stare, he was suddenly gone.
Li Yiming did not have the luxury of considering why Li Huaibei suddenly left. He looked at the wreckage around him, and the usual sense of relief that came with the termination of a domain was missing: this was the real world, and he would have to live with the consequences of what had transpired.
“Ji Xiaoqin?” Li Yiming suddenly remembered and leaped to the second floor. She was still unconscious, lying still in the half broken bedroom. Upon further inspection, she seemed to be unharmed. However, Li Yiming did notice the bare red string around her neck. ‘My stone… That glyph?’
Suddenly, the wail of sirens was heard in the distance. Li Yiming picked up Ji Xiaoqin, glanced one last time at Guo Xiang, who seemed more dead than alive in a corner of the room, and vanished behind the ruined building.
After Li Yiming left, Tian Yan slowly sat herself up by the side of the pool. She held a golden business card in her hand. Li Ping Consulting Co. — Wang Li Ping
At the entrance of the neighborhood, a young woman in full black tights waved to stop a car. She dove inside under the perverse stare of the driver, but not before raising her head toward the sky one last time.
In an office in the capital, Stargaze sprawled on her office chair with blood still around the corner of her lips. She picked up her brush and wrote three big characters on the paper in front of her. Li Yiming.
On the other side of the world, a block of ice on a frozen mountain peak began to slowly crack. A frail hand reached out as a hoarse voice rang out from within. “Li Yiming, I swear I’ll kill you. I will not rest until you are dead!”
In a small fishing village in the northern sea, a skinny man squatted near a pond’s edge, observing the perfect stillness of the water. He pulled the plastic knitted bag at his feet closer to him and whispered: “Li Yiming…”
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