When Li Yiming opened his eyes once more, he felt cracks on his skin, as if his true self had come out into the world for the first time.
“I’m finally complete…” Li Yiming sighed. The confusion he felt over the year was gone and the void in his heart has now been filled. He clenched his fist as he made ready to let out a long howl.
However, his expression changed upon noticing his surroundings. The entirety of the Shangbei domain was no longer like what it used to be — it was now simply a vast pool of thick, ink-like liquid that dripped into an endless lake. It was only a matter of time before the island he stood on would soon be submerged as well.
“This is… the true form of the gate?” Li Yiming raised his right arm. The golden marking near his wrist glinted and a sword suddenly appeared. Nine stars were sculpted on the hilt of the sword, and the carvings on the guard depicted a roaring lion’s head which sent out a projectile, which was undoubtedly Bai Ze.
With the sword materializing itself, the surface of the tenebrous lake began rippling, producing waves that grew stronger by the second.
“So what if you’re the gate to the Realm of Ghosts? I’ll bring you salvation.” Li Yiming’s smile exuded confidence. He looked forward and put his sword on the backhand before dancing as he stared at the thick fog ahead.
He then saw an apparition of what looked like Aunt Wu, who looked like she was having a casual stroll. ‘One, two… nine steps…’
When all nine steps were complete, the apparition vanished.
Li Yiming finally came to understand that Aunt Wu’s technique was not about the sharpness of her blade, or the swiftness of her feet, but rather about the stillness of her heart. It now made sense to him why he had acquired an inconsistent talent for dancing after consuming such an infamous pill — it was not due to bad luck, but to the boid he had yet to fill in his own heart.
But now he was finally complete in body and soul. Li Yiming paused briefly in his dance and tapped at the ground with the tip of his left foot. His shadow emerged from his body and dove into the mist, followed by a second, a third, and a fourth… until Li Yiming lost count.
Instead of a dance that brought upon wild and uncontrollable carnage, it had now become a dance that brought Li Yiming’s every wish to fruition.
“Show me you measure up to my technique.” Li Yiming stopped as the clones he had sent out to scout the surroundings all returned to his body at once.
“What?” To his surprise, the black smoke was not bent at all on harming him. Instead, it opened up a path whenever Li Yiming approached it as if to welcome him.
Li Yiming slowly raised his left hand and wrapped his fingers around a ball of the black smog. It had a gentle feel to it, almost like warm water from a hot spring.
“What?” Li Yiming looked up and saw the black mist splitting into two, revealing a puddle of bubbling black liquid.
“So you’re here.” Li Yiming raised his weapon.
The black liquid slowly settled down and formed a perfectly smooth mirror. A ghost-like being then emerged from the screen, wearing a set of dark armor. Li Yiming felt a strange feeling, as if the being was here to aid him instead of engaging in a fight.
The armored shadow slowly made its way toward Li Yiming.
“Show yourself!” Li Yiming said as he brought down his sword, sending a golden crescent of light toward the shadow.
“Oh?” Li Yiming readied himself for the spirit’s counterattack, but it continued to slowly pace toward him, completely unaffected by Li Yiming’s attack.
“Thunder!” Li Yiming sent out an arc of lightning, and a loud explosion ensued. Just like his previous attack however, the spirit was not affected in the slightest.
“An illusion?” Li Yiming frowned.
Right before reaching the tip of Li Yiming’s blade, the armored spirit stopped. Standing his ground, Li Yiming gathered all of the strength that he had absorbed from his clone as well the killing intent acquired from slaughtering thousands upon thousands.
“What?” Li Yiming was surprised to see the spirit’s opening his arm wide and bowing down.
‘Submitting to me?’ Li Yiming was perplexed. Even the black smoke that nearly completely submerged his island receded by several meters.
“I see.” Li Yiming finally understood that the armor was a result of the will of the domain itself, which hungered for blood. Li Yiming, through his massacring of the entire city, resonated with its desires. Upon sensing Li Yiming’s strength, the spirit chose to submit to him.
Li Yiming sensed ulterior motives in the spirit, but all he cared about for the moment was to become even stronger.
“Come then.” Li Yiming’s clones all vanished at once as Li Yiming reached for the spirit’s helmet. The armor instantly liquefied and climbed up Li Yiming’s arm.
Blustering winds condensed around Li Yiming before forming a tornado, sucking in all of the black smoke around him.
Li Yiming emitted a long roar as his eyes grew bloodshot, lighting up with a demonic glow behind the face mask of the tenebrous, full-body armor.
“An armor made for demons… So what if I become one?” Li Yiming muttered as his lips curled up.
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