Chapter 12 - Lantern of Souls
It was a complete coincidence that Li Yiming somehow managed to learn Wu Yun’s signature move from the item left meant as an enduring challenge, but very fortunate in that it worked particularly well against spirits.
As Li Yiming’s strike passed through his clone’s body, the latter could do nothing but stand still, frozen in shock. Along with the bitter expression on his face and his hatred that had accumulated for a thousand years, he slowly turned to dust.
Li Yiming stared forward vacantly as his large weapon shapeshifted back into a thin, silver staff, standing in sharp contrast with the crimson one left behind by his clone. As he vanished from the space within the staff, where he confronted the clone and reappeared in the ruins of Shangbei, his staff liquefied before turning into a golden emblem on his wrist.
Li Yiming closed his eyes and stood still for many days, focusing on absorbing the strength he gained from eliminating his clone. During his concentrated state of mind, he did not notice that the city around had been engulfed by a cloud of thick, black smog that confluenced around him.
“What?” Bai Ze’s suddenly began trembling uncontrollably.
“What… That’s impossible!” Tian Yan’s expression sank as she could see Bai Ze’s fate slowly vanishing.
“Are you okay? I… I can’t see your fate anymore!” Tian Yan said fearfully. She tried to reach out and help Bai Ze but hesitated as she did not want to act too rashly.
Fang Shui’er suddenly shot up into the sky with an iridescent light trailing behind her.
“Her too!?” Tian Yan turned around and saw that Fang Shui’er fate as well was slowly disappearing.
Beam after beam of light lifted off toward the sky, with one of them being Li Huaibei, who landed right next to the two.
“What happened?” Li Huaibei asked as he stared at Bai Ze.
“I don’t know…” Tian Yan could not shake away her worries knowing that losing one’s fate could only lead to death.
“What!?” Li Huaibei looked at the closing black mist in the distance. ‘Is this the work of the Realm of Ghosts?’
“Don’t worry little girl. I’m not about to die. You can’t see my fate anymore, that’s all...“ Bai Ze suddenly stopped trembling and said excitedly.
“What do you mean? What about Fang Shui’er?”
“To be free of the three worlds and to cease to exist within the elements… He really did it…” Bai Ze suddenly laughed.
“It’s him?” Fang Shui’er asked as she landed. Her full-body crystal armor and bow exuded a brilliant radiance. Just as she felt that something had happened to her connection to Li Yiming, she grew stronger once more and even exceeded the limits of a sage.
“I knew I made a good deal with you!” Bai Ze smiled in satisfaction as her eyes began glowing, and her strength grew even more.
Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong!
A loud siren was heard as the black smoke in the distance began billowing.
“Now of all time? Crap! I’ll be right there.” Bai Ze pursed her lips and focused on controlling the new strength Li Yiming had granted to her.
“Go!” Li Huaibei rushed toward his area of defense.
* * *
“This is…” Wu Yun opened his eyes, shocked beyond relief by what he had just sensed — there was no mistake, someone had just used one of the blade moves he had perfected.
‘Not bad, that kid. To think that you actually pulled it off. If only I had met you earlier… But now I have only one strike left, and it’s for the one up there…’
* * *
“Grandma! How can you still have time for knitting?” A young man said as he nervously stared at his computer screen, opening pages from multiple news websites. To avoid panic spreading, the authorities had decided to make news report completely transparent, which meant that anyone could watch a live feed of the situation developing in Shangbei.
“What’s the problem? If it’s the apocalypse, then we’re all dead. If not, then what’s there to worry about?” Aunt Wu flashed a serene smile.
“Nevermind…” The young man said in frustration and went back to staring at his screen. “Grandma, who do you think these ‘guardians’ are?”
“Guardians…” Aunt Wu’s hand trembled slightly at hearing the word.
“They’re miserable people…” Aunt Wu said as she stared out of the window.
“Miserable people? Have you seen them, grandma? They’re the protectors of our world! They can shoot lightning and fire out of their hands! They’re like gods on Earth!” The grandson suddenly jumped up and yelled while showing footages of the promotional videos from the government on his cell phone.
“Gods… Haha.” Aunt Wu chuckled. Her expression instantly changed when she saw somebody appear behind her grandson.
“What are you doing at a time like this?” Aunt Wu’s asked in a cold voice.
“What?” The grandson was perplexed, thinking that his grandmother was speaking to him. He then realized that Aunt Wu was talking to someone behind him. He turned around in confusion, only to find a beautiful woman dressed as if she had just walked out of an antique painting.
“Who are… Are you a guardian?” His countenance shifted, eager to meet a guardian who surely must have flown into the apartment.
Stargaze looked at the young man and turned around to greet Aunt Wu. “Aunt Wu, I’d like to ask for your help.”
“You know about my situation. Why aren’t you fighting in the East with the others? You’re scaring my grandson!” Aunt Wu was visibly irritated.
“Grandma, you know her?” The grandson had a hard time believing that Aunt Wu, who seemed busy dancing at the public square all the time, was someone who possessed extraordinary powers.
“I wouldn’t have come to you if this wasn’t an emergency. I’ve paid a visit to the Taoist Child, but he said that you were our last hope…” Stargaze’s anxious voice betrayed her facade of calmness.
Aunt Wu let out a sigh and stood up from her chair.
“Someone is stuck in a world of nothingness and I need to bring her back.” Stargaze put out her right hand, releasing an orb of light which showed Liu Meng standing still in the middle of complete emptiness.
“Wow! Really!” The grandson jumped up and down in excitement, only to be nailed in place by his grandma.
“I need to bring her back. Please. She’s of utmost importance to the entire world,” Stargaze pleaded.
Aunt Wu stared at the orb and then looked at Stargaze.
“Any teaching would be greatly appreciated.”
“Burn your soul to create a lantern lighting up her way, and she’ll be able to come back.”
“I…” Stargaze’s countenance shifted.
“She’s not in danger of losing her life and she can easily break through the fabric of space, but she needs help for knowing where to go. Someone will have to be the light that guides her.” Aunt Wu said with a low voice.
“What of the person who becomes the light?”
“The body will be unharmed, but the soul will burn away like candle wax.”