“Bai Ze…” Fang Shui’er called out. Choosing to trust Bai Ze’s judgment, she drew back her bow and made ready for support fire.
“What is it?” Fu Bo stopped waving his arms in excitement when he noticed that Tian Yan did not seem to be rejoicing. A closer look at the crowd and he noticed that all of the sages, Fang Shui’er, Li Huaibei, Sai Gao, and Bai Ze did not partake in the celebration.
“Is it not him?” Li Huaibei was skeptical.
“It’s him alright,” Bai Ze answered. Sharing the same spirit with Li Yiming, she could tell that he was not possessed. However, she felt a strange animosity coming from him.
“He’s complete… I never would have thought.” Tian Yan slowly let go of Fu Bo’s hand. She still could not see Li Yiming’s fate, but the aura of death he carried with him was clear as day.
“Submit or perish.” Li Yiming declared as he cast down his glare at all of the guardians.
“What?” Most of the guardians still looked at him with reverence as they were under the impression that he was speaking to the ghosts hidden within the clouds. Only when they looked at the sages did they realize that something was terribly wrong.
“What happened? Is it that soul fragment?” Bai Ze’s eyes widened.
“Him? No. I killed him. I’ve found myself back, that’s all.” Li Yiming raised his hand and stared at it.
“What if I refuse?” Li Huaibei took a step forward.
“Submit or perish!” Li Yiming repeated loudly. The black mist beneath him swelled up, ready to attack at Li Yiming’s command.
“Are you going to kill all of us?” Li Huaibei took another step forward.
“Kill you? I’m not interested in that,” Li Yiming said.
“Then what are you up to?” Sai Gao said as he slowly began shapeshifting back to his beast form. Sharing the same sensitivity to auras as Bai Ze, he could feel Li Yiming’s growing antagonism, and he knew that a fight could not be avoided.
“I will destroy the Heavens!” Li Yiming suddenly cried out. The mist behind him dissipated, revealing columns after columns of ghosts, specters, and demons.
“Destroy the heavens?” Tian Yan’s knuckles turned white from clenching Fu Bo’s hand. She knew that the first step in Li Yiming’s plan would be to deal with the guardians.
“Aren’t you thinking the same?” Li Yiming asked. “Look at you, being kept alive like livestock, only useful to do Heaven’s biddings. What is the point of protecting such a hypocritical master?”
“You didn’t use to think this way…” Li Huaibei sighed.
“Look at this world. Lavish, flamboyant, prosperous, complex… Then, look at the people below. There are mediocre ones and astute ones; some are happy, others are sad, the rest, angry or depressed. Some are healthy while others are sickly and on the verge of dying. Let’s not forget about those who have poise and good manners; those who beg on the streets; those who burn their fortunes to live a few more days; and the idlers who jump off buildings for trivial matters. Tell me, what’s the difference between them? What’s the true essence of this world?” Li Yiming ignored Li Huaibei’s remark and went on to repeat the words of Mr. Kong.
“The rules that govern them.” Li Huaibei answered on the spot.
“Clever. I’ve had to think hard for it.” Li Yiming chuckled.
“This is a world where the strong take food from the weak. We may erect beautiful monuments and engage ourselves in noble pursuits, but the hideousness buried within our heart can never truly be hidden. I’ve witnessed people call upon the gods to bless them in their wrongdoings and have the Heaven and the Earth bear witness to their twisted desires. To think that I would have given my life to protect such a world… Hahaha!” Li Yiming let out a long, loud laugh. The black smoke around his body took on the shape of tentacles that swung around. The few ghosts around him did not move out of the way in time and were instantly absorbed.
“This aura of death… how many people did he kill?” A chill ran down Bai Ze’s spine.
“You’re out of your mind. A fight is all that remains.” Li Huaibei sent his sword flying high into the air.
This was the signal for Fang Shui’er to let go of her bowstring and send an arrow flying in Li Yiming’s direction.
“You dare?” Li Yiming’s eyes turned wide with anger and stared at Fang Shui’er. She instantly fell down from the sky, her entire body paralyzed by the control Li Yiming exerted over her soul. Her armor and the arrows she shot out melting like snow under the sun.
After fending off Fang Shui’er’s attack, Li Yiming sent out two tentacles to block off Li Huaibei, and then turned toward Bai Ze with an amused expression. “You’re not seriously thinking about fighting me, are you?”
With a firm expression, Bai Ze let out a savage roar and took flight, launching herself in Li Yiming’s direction.
“How interesting!” Li Yiming frowned and grabbed Bai Ze, instantly sending her away with a flash of white light.
“You should behave like a summoned beast.” Li Yiming could feel Bai Ze being sealed within his body and her power added to his own.
After witnessing the fall of both Fang Shui’er and Bai Ze, Sai Gao decided to lay low and wait in place — it was clear that he would not be able to fight Li Yiming head on.
Most of the other guardians had fallen into utter despair as the person they had thought to be their savior turned out to be an enemy even more insurmountable than the ghosts. After only a few seconds, two of their four sages were already out of the picture.
One guardian suddenly fell to his knees in submission. He was one who had recently joined Pure Water Herb Hall, and seeing Fang Shui’er, someone who had been like a goddess within the organization, be brought down so easily shattered his last sliver of hope.
After the first came the second, then the third, until the majority of the guardians fell down to their knees.
However, there were a few who refused to bend themselves to Li Yiming’s will. Big Beard, activated his mecha and directed his weapons at Li Yiming. As for Pan Junwei, he readied his cannons while spitting out curses and flew toward Li Yiming.
Qing Linglong, after one last look at her sister, who could only stare ahead dumbly with tears rolling down her cheeks, clenched her teeth and launched her attack toward Li Yiming.
Li Yiming smirked in disdain as he looked at his assailants. He slowly raised his hand, and the golden glyph on his wrist started to glow.
“Stop!” A silver barrier was erected and blocked off all of the guardians’ attacks.
“Stargaze?” Li Yiming retracted his hand and looked at the new arriver.
“Boss?” Qian Mian yelled out in ecstasy. Just as he put down his weapon and make his way toward Stargaze, he was immediately pulled back by Eyeglasses.
Stargaze’s intervention slightly eased the tension. Li Huaibei had managed to free himself from the tentacles and flew right next to Stargaze and Li Yiming, forming a triangle between the three of them.
Stargaze remained silent as she looked at the guardians below, at those who knelt down in despair and those who fought back in anger. Finally, she went back to staring at Li Yiming.
“Looks like the sages are reunited once again.” Li Yiming glanced at Stargaze, feeling no threat whatsoever from Stargaze.
“I’m not here to fight with you,” Stargaze said.
“Oh? Do you choose to surrender then?”
“I agree with you. I’ve seen far too much to believe that humanity is inherently good. I just have a question,” Stargaze did not answer Li Yiming.
“What about Liu Meng?”
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