Chapter 17- Fire That Cleanses The World
“Liu Meng!” Bai Ze, who was supported by Sai Gao, called out.
“Liu Meng?” The other guardians were astounded at hearing the name that changed the course of their battle.
Liu Meng’s gaze was fixated on Li Yiming and she flew towards him. She picked him up gently and flashed a smile full of tenderness, as if she was a completely different person from just moments ago.
“Hm?” Liu Meng frowned as she noticed the billowing black smoke approaching Li Yiming like floodwater.
“Leave!” Liu Meng yelled out, her eyes showing a glint of crimson. At the edge of the incoming smoke, a small flame was lit ablaze and instantly spread as if the black smoke had been oil. It took only a few minutes for the sky to be set alit.
“Seriously?” Sai Gao looked at the scene and gulped down a mouthful of saliva.
Liu Meng then glanced at Stargaze’s corpse with gratitude: she knew that Stargaze was the reason she was able to come back.
Finally, she turned her attention toward Li Huaibei and asked in a glacial tone, “You wanted to kill him?”
“It’s not him. It’s the evil that he embodies,” Li Huaibei did not back down, despite the immense pressure he was under.
“Then you’ll have to pay the price.” Liu Meng squinted and a small flame appeared in her eyes.
“Liu Meng! It’s not as you think. That armor of his is a demonic artifact that will become stronger as people die around it. If Li Yiming ends up being possessed by the evil within the armor, then all is lost!” Bai Ze quickly intervened after exchanging a glance with Sai Gao, afraid that Liu Meng was going to do something rash. ‘These two just come and do whatever they want…
“Demonic artifact?” Liu Meng’s countenance sank as she put her hand on Li Yiming’s chest, a red glow ensued. There was no reason Bai Ze to lie her way out of the situation, since Li Yiming’s death would also mean her own.
A sizzling noise was heard as black smoke and white vapor came out of Li Yiming’s body. The near-indestructible armor he was wearing suddenly began melting away.
“Cleansing Flame?” Bai Ze witnessed the scene with widened eyes. The cleansing flame was a technique that belonged to Heaven’s Laws exclusively, and it was used to purify the world of many evils.
“What in the world… These two are scary…” Sai Gao grimaced.
Just as the armor was burned away completely, revealing Li Yiming’s naked body, Liu Meng frowned. She then touched Li Yiming’s forehead with the tip of her finger; this was the last step, as she would burn away the evil within Li Yiming’s spirit.
As the small flame danced on Liu Meng’s fingertips, Li Yiming’s expression slowly eased up and he closed his eyes. His left eye, damaged from forcefully unleashing Heaven’s Punishment, also began to slowly mend.
“When you say the aura of death, do you mean that thing hanging above us?” Liu Meng looked at the blaze still raging in the sky. Most of the tenebrous gas had been absorbed by the armor, and the rest was slowly burning away. Liu Meng waved her hand, and the flames redoubled in intensity, quickly consuming even the ghosts who lurked deep within the dark veils.
It was not long before the azure sky became finally visible once more. Bai Ze struggled to sit up, her worries still not completely put to rest. “All of this is coming out of the gate beneath the sea. We had a way to seal it shut, but now…”
Liu Meng understood from the way Bai Ze looked at Li Yiming that it was most likely his fault. “If we can’t seal it, then I’ll simply burn it to ashes.”
“Don’t let anyone lay a finger on him before I return.” Liu Meng stood up and ordered Sai Gao, no longer trusting Li Huaibei.
Sai Gao nodded obediently. He knew better than to disobey the woman that was now on a completely different level from when he had kidnapped her back in the Shangbei domain.
Liu Meng nodded and flew into the distance with a flash of red light. It was not long before the light of a giant blaze was seen beneath the water. Sai Gao stepped away from Li Yiming, intimidated by Liu Meng’s prowess. However, Bai Ze struggled herself free from his arms and walked to Li Yiming. She raised her leg and gave Li Yiming a kick in the face, to the horror of all of the guardians.
“Good for you. You’ve found yourself a nice girlfriend!” Bai Ze said as she vented her frustration at Li Yiming for hitting her earlier.
When Liu Meng returned, the impending apocalypse thus concluded in an almost comedic way. Qian Mian, who had lost all hope for life after witnessing Stargaze’s death, announced that the Star Alliance would be dissolved as soon as he would confirm the disintegration of the gate. Fang Shui’er announced the same for Pure Water Herb Hall after overhearing the conversation between Liu Meng and Bai Ze.
“Pure Water Herb Hall? What’s that?” Liu Meng asked as she looked at the group of guardians waiting in reverence.
“Li Yiming’s the boss. We have a lot of guardians.” As the one who managed its daily activities, Bai Ze was rather proud of the organization.
“What’s the point of that?”
“We form a team and we help each other.”
“Are they as strong as we are?”
“Well, it’s not always about power. There’s also information gathering, business…”
“Do you need money?” Liu Meng interrupted again.
“I’ll go dismiss them.” Bai Ze stopped the conversation and walked toward Fang Shui’er. Liu Meng seemed like a completely different person, which was no surprise, considering how she had to endure an entire year of excruciating pain, and the thought of being reunited with Li Yiming was the only thing that gave her the strength to persevere. Right now, all she needed was to be with her lover, and everything else,including Pure Water Herb Hall, was but a distraction.
With the dissolution of both the Star Alliance and Pure Water Herb Hall, a power vacuum had been created. Many guardians longing for an organization to belong to suddenly found themselves without one, and many were left feeling empty and lost. Fortunately for them, Pan Junwei quickly announced the government’s intention to recruit guardians to preserve law and order within the new world. Most of the guardians took Pan Junwei’s offer eagerly, while the rest left on their own accord. It was not long before the bulk of the army arrived and began to clean up the battlefield.
“What are you doing here?” Liu Meng was ready to leave as she picked Li Yiming up, but she noticed Fang Shui’er waiting with Bai Ze.
“Why are you still here?”
“I…” Fang Shui’er was not sure what to say.
“She’s Li Yiming’s slave.” Bai Ze explained.
“Slave?” Liu Meng was visibly unhappy at hearing the word.
“Soul binding,” Bai Ze added.
“Something like that.” Bai Ze took a few steps back, not wanting to get involved in it.
Liu Meng suddenly raised her arm and pushed it in Fang Shui’er’s direction. The latter’s countenance shifted as she made ready to escape, but her binding to Li Yiming forced her to stay in place. Fang Shui’er closed her eyes, ready to accept her ultimate demise.
Instead of pain or death, Fang Shui’er felt her forehead warm up. She opened her eyes in surprise, only to see Liu Meng’s palm and a small fire sitting in its middle.
“Oh?” Liu Meng frowned and performed several hand seals. This time, Fang Shui’er did not feel a pleasant warmth, but a sharp pain which burned her soul.
Fortunately, the excruciating agony went away as quickly as it came, and Fang Shui’er fell down to the ground, sweating and panting.
“Why?” Fang Shui’er looked at Liu Meng, who seemed visibly worn out by what she just did. The link which bound her soul to Li Yiming was completely gone. She could see that the favor took its toll on Liu Meng, as the latter seemed even more worn out than after she dispelled Li Yiming’s corruption.
“It’s enough to have one woman by his side,” Liu Meng said and then turned her attention toward Bai Ze.
“I’m just a kid! Wait, no. I’m not a woman! Wait, no! I’m not human!” Bai Ze fumbled for an answer, still under the shock that Liu Meng would make the decision to release Fang Shui’er, who was essentially a sage that could never betray Li Yiming.
“Come,” Liu Meng said before flying off with Li Yiming in her arms, leaving behind a dumbfounded Fang Shui’er.
Fang Shui’er let out a long sigh. She still remembered when she met Li Yiming and Liu Meng for the first time, on stage, when they were asking for her signature. Yet, now they had become godlike figures that she could only look up to.
“How strong do you think she is?” Eyeglasses asked as he closed the curtain to his tent.
“Probably stronger than Wu Yun, at least. I don’t know about the one still up there,” Big Beard said as he drank down a large mouthful of liquor.
“Most likely.” Qing Linglong was looking at herself in the mirror, having lost a chunk of hair in the combat.
“Well, they’re certainly a nice fit…” Eyeglasses shook his head, but Big Beard pulling on his shirt made him go silent.
Qing Qiaoqiao was lying on her bed in a corner of the tent, staring vacantly at her own boots.
The one who took the longest to calm down was Wu Yun, who remained bitter even after the guardians had long returned to their bases. He still could not believe that Liu Meng was the one he had been sent to kill. It was not that he regretted trying to kill Liu Meng, but rather that he regretted not waiting longer — Li Yiming and Liu Meng would be the perfect opponents to fight in order to become even stronger.
“You knew, didn’t you!?” Wu Yun suddenly yelled toward the sky. “Why didn’t you tell me, damn it!”
‘He must have known! Otherwise why would he ask me to assassinate her? Shit!’ Wu Yun burned with anger. “Wait until you come down so I can slice off your ears!”