Li Yiming stood in the domain of Shangbei, the same spot where Bai Ze and Tian Yan were in the real world. The landscape was desolate in both worlds, only instead of soldiers running in preparation for combat, Li Yiming was immersed in a pool of blood.
Li Yiming threw his coat away and looked at the blood-splattered onto his arm. He then looked at the reflection of himself in the glass windows of a shop nearby. He struggled to recognize himself as being the person who laid his blade without hesitation upon anyone he came across, be it an elderly person or a small child.
Li Yiming never thought he would develop such a bloodthirsty impulse.
“Come out.” Li Yiming threw away his cigarette and a small metallic sphere appeared out of his right hand.
‘Liu Meng isn’t here… So it’s pretty simple…’
“When did you find out about it?” A shadow formed into what seemed like a clone of Li Yiming.
“From the very first person.”
“But you still went ahead and killed them all?” The clone looked around amusedly. Out of the millions that inhabited the city, perhaps only a few survived Li Yiming’s pitiless onslaught.
“Well, I would have to face you sooner or later.” Li Yiming lit up another cigarette. He could finally understand why Mr. Kong was always smoking — it made him feel alive.
“You’re the one behind all of this?”
“You’re overestimating me. If I was capable of creating this place, then I wouldn’t bother trying to trick you into doing things, would I?” The clone chuckled and sat down on the remains of a small car.
“Did you create that shadow of Liu Meng inside the gate?”
“What do you think?” The clone asked back as he played around with the metallic sphere.
“It’s not you.” Li Yiming sighed as he recalled the events.
“That woman, Ying Mei, she’s a genius. I’ve never seen anyone hide her true motives that cleverly.”
Li Yiming had already noticed that Ying Mei had been acting strange ever since the moment she joined forces with him. As someone that was able to dig up so much information about Li Yiming, it was an easy task for Ying Mei to tempt Li Yiming into venturing beyond the gates using Liu Meng as a bait.
“Since you seem to care so much about that woman, I’ll let you into something.” The clone raised his hand and a screen of light appeared, playing a scene. A blue phoenix was seen diving toward the ground, bringing down with her fire and destruction. Cities turned into cinder one after another, and countless perished.
“This is what I have witnessed. After seeing this, do you still want to bring her back?” The clone questioned with a smile while playing with his sphere.
“I’ve known her for so long. I trust her.” Li Yiming’s expression did not change in the slightest.
“I’m curious. How can you be so confident?”
“And how can you?” Li Yiming said as he sent his cigarette flying into the distance.
“Interesting. So you have made your choice.” The clone found it surprising how much Li Yiming had changed ever since their last encounter.
“I’ve decided a long time ago.” Li Yiming said as he stared at his clone, preparing for the combat to come.
“Do you really think that you can defeat me?” The clone said mockingly. He would not have stood a chance a week ago, as he was barely able to materialize himself by borrowing power from the three fragments of his former self that Li Yiming had collected. However, his strength now far surpassed Li Yiming’s after only a couple of days — every single life that Li Yiming had taken within the domain gave him the opportunity to absorb a sliver of the domain’s power.
“I told you, it was bound to happen sooner or later,” Li Yiming grew impatient, eager to face the shadow of his former self. He did not want to continue living as a continuation of whom he was previously, much less be forced to do the bidding of the Heavens.
The clone absorbing the victim’s powers in the domain had not escaped Li Yiming’s perception. Instead, Li Yiming took it as an opportunity to get rid of him once and for all.
“Quite impressive. So you did inherit some of my courage at least. Let’s see how your power measures up to it!” The clone suddenly let out a loud laugh. The metallic orb he held turned into a long staff and smashed down onto Li Yiming’s head.
The entire neighborhood was obliterated as a long fissure appeared on the ground. Li Yiming reappeared in the air with a flash of light, thunder gathering within his palms.
As the second swing of the staff came, Li Yiming vanished once again, appeared behind his clone and sending his attack forward.
Another loud explosion came.
‘Of course.’ Li Yiming looked at his clone, who seemed to be completely unaffected by his attack, as the latter’s body was but a mere projection of the spirit which inhabited the staff.
“So you’ve realized?” The clone stroked his staff.
Li Yiming landed and took out a giant axe he had collected from one of his previous fights, a level five guardian equipment. The clone smiled in contempt and the staff came swinging once again.
A loud metallic clunk was heard as the axe turned into metal scrap, and Li Yiming was sent flying back with bloody hands.
“Don’t fight me with toys like that. If that’s all you have, then maybe you should give up. Is all of this necessary?” The clone said haughtily.
Li Yiming did not wait before attacking again. He raised his fist toward the staff, sending a large bolt of purple thunder.
“How foolish can you be? Do you know how this was forged? Using the thunder from the Heavens! And you think that’s going to be a good idea? Hahaha!”
“I’ve waited a thousand-year for an idiot like you? This world is truly is desperate. And yet these feeble insects dare to call themselves sage. I’ll show you true power…” The clone’s laughter was heard as his staff multiplied until over a thousand of it came striking down at Li Yiming at once.
Li Yiming raised his hand and created a sword made of pure thunder. He stood still and endured the avalanche of attacks, parrying every single strike. With every blow exchanged, his weapon’s glow would dimmer, only to be brightened once again whenever Li Yiming swung back.
“Interesting… I wonder how long you’ll be able to last?” The clone sat down in a meditative stance. He focused his mind onto the minute changes occurring around him as his fight with Li Yiming broke out — the clear sky had become shrouded by thick clouds, the sun and the moon could no longer be seen, and even the landscape was beginning to slowly fade away. ‘The aura of death in this domain is aggregating… He’s going to be awake soon.’
One copy of the staff among the many that attacked Li Yiming suddenly hid its golden glow and circled behind Li Yiming, using an opening created by another attack to slam down at the back of Li Yiming’s head.
“It’s over.” The clone sighed, as he expected the splash of Li Yiming’s blood to end his long wait of over a thousand years.
The staff collided against Li Yiming’s head and all the other copies suddenly froze in the air, waiting in silence to return to their true master.
“Is that your attempt at killing me?” Li Yiming slowly turned around, staring at the staff that grazed his skin.
“Impossible!” The staff trembled violently in place but was unable to move an inch more.
“Can you really kill me?” Li Yiming asked with a glacial tone as he wrapped his fingers around the dragons sculpted onto the staff. With a flash of golden light, all of the replicas, along with Li Yiming, vanished, leaving behind a single staff floating quietly in the air.
“Impossible! How can this be?” The clone shrieked as he looked at Li Yiming, his uninvited guest within the isolated space inside the staff itself.
“Nothing is impossible. That staff may be your body, but it’s also mine.’ Li Yiming said as the golden staff appeared in his hands.
“Remember, you’re the one who escaped so long ago. I’m the one who brought the pieces of the puzzle together, so why would they choose you, a broken husk of a soul?”
“I refused to merge with you last time because I didn’t want to lose myself in all of this. Do you really think that I was afraid of you? And now you’re trying to use the staff to kill me? Ridiculous.” Li Yiming said as he slowly walked toward the clone.
“So that’s how it is… Ahahahaha!” The clone suddenly began laughing, as his panic slowly subdued.
“Get it?” Li Yiming swapped the staff to his right hand and raised it to his chest.
“I made a miscalculation. I’m the one whose existence was doomed from the start.” The clone smiled.
“But you made the mistake of coming here! I’m powerless against you in the outside world, but here… I’m the master! Can you really kill me?”
“Do you think I can’t?”
“Ahaha! With what? Your sword?” The clone let out a maniacal laugh. A red staff appeared in his hands. He was unable to harm Li Yiming using the staff, but within this isolated space he had plenty of ways to slowly break Li Yiming’s sanity to achieve his long-awaited end result.
“I won’t use my sword. I have a blade,” Li Yiming’s staff slowly changed into the shape of a large blade.
“What?” The clone stared at Li Yiming’s weapon, as it seemed oddly familiar.
“The second move of Heaven’s Blade!”
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