“What do you see?”
“A mountain of corpses amidst a sea of blood.”
“Why have you come?”
“Jing Lin.” The True Buddha lowered his gaze in compassion. “Turn back, and salvation is at hand.”
Jing Lin raised his head. His hair cascaded loosely over his body. His gaze was frosty, and the hems of his clothes were soaked in blood. The tip of his sword hung down to the ground, scratching it. He was surrounded by a boundless sea of blood, with countless deities and buddhas overhead.
Jing Lin said softly, “It’s too late.”
Jing Lin stepped up the stairs, and the Three Thousand Armored Warriors of Heaven retreated simultaneously. Every step he took, the Three Thousand Armored Warriors took a step back. Everyone was as silent as a cicada in winter when they came face-to-face with him. He was clearly just one man, but the deities of Heaven and Earth behaved as though they were confronted with a formidable foe. He walked this slowly, as if he was just taking a casual stroll. As if, he was still that same old Lord Linsong that everyone was familiar with.
The lotus pond of the Brahma Altar rippled, turning turbid from the dripping droplets of blood. Li Rong, the commander-in-chief of the Three Thousand Armored Warriors of Heaven, kneeled facing the lotus pond with a long spear in his hand. He shouted in a hoarse voice, “Jing Lin… why go to this extent? Once the day ends, there will be no place in the world that can accommodate you. Exactly how much hatred and resentment do you harbor?! Even if he was at fault, he should be handed over to Ninth Heaven Realm for punishment. Why don’t you say something? Why won’t you ever say something? You are always so hell-bent on going your own way, even to the extent of ending up isolated and forsaken by friends and allies alike. Jing Lin—!”
Li Rong coughed out blood. His eyes were red, and he was trembling all over, choking with sobs.
“—Don’t you want to live?”
Jing Lin has already reached the last step of the stairs. It was as if he had pried out all the warm, tender feelings away, leaving behind only a penetrating chill. The True Buddha of the Brahma Altar faced Jing Lin with a flower in his hand as the monks behind him chanted the sutras in unison. The sky was filled with masses of people, but none of them stood with Jing Lin. The blade of his sword rapped lightly on the ground. He finally halted in his tracks.
A large golden coffin without a lid was laid horizontally in front of Buddha. A man was lying in the coffin under the tripled-sealed layers of chains made up of Sanskrit words. His eyes were closed, and his expression was serene. He looked as if he was in a deep sleep.
“You’ve committed a heinous crime, and yet you’re still stubborn.” With a merciful expression, the True Buddha gazed at Jing Lin. “The Supreme Father is right in front of you, and you are still unwilling to lay down your blade. Do you want to destroy the virtuous merits of your entire life and go to the extent of slaying your father and friends before you will stop?”
It was as if Jing Lin did not hear his words. He suddenly swept his sword, Yanquan, across in a horizontal arch that glowed azure. The chanting of the monks came to an abrupt stop. Immediately right after, a violent gale blustered out from the azure arch. For a moment, the masses shielded their faces as their bodies staggered in the wind; only the True Buddha stood firm.
“Jing Lin.” The True Buddha said with benevolence. “Bow and submit to the Brahma Altar. Repent, and you will be absolved of your sins.”
Lotus flowers bloomed all around him as the light from Buddha illuminated every corner. The chanting of sutras started up again. The Three Thousand Armored Warriors of Heaven bellowed in unison and charged forward. The tolling of the bell on Ninth Heaven Terrace in the distance sounded far away, and the Goddess Shengyue looked as if she was weeping. Yet, Jing Lin did not retreat. He lunged forward, and a slash of azure merged into the expanse of clanking silver armors. Dark red blossoms of blood erupted all around. The clouds were tinged with a layer of red as Yanquan flashed around like flowing mercury. The stench of blood threw everyone off balance. Some among the deities covered their mouths and noses as they retreated, glancing at Jing Lin in shock and fear. They did not know how Lord Linsong, whom they had seldom associated with in the past, had suddenly turned into such a god of carnage.
Blood trickled down the steps where Jing Lin passed through. He could not hear the words of dissuasion spoken by the bystanders; the only thing he could see and think of was that golden coffin. The True Buddha seemed to sigh, but to Jing Lin, it sounded so far away. When he walked past Li Rong, Li Rong held up an arm to block his way, but his fingertips only managed to brush past the hem of Jing Lin’s clothes. At the very moment the golden ray of light and crimson clouds intersected, they ceased to walk the same path.
“Jing Lin—!” Grief suddenly welled up in Li Rong’s heart. He staggered up and reached out a hand, wanting to chase after him. But he was severely wounded, and his armor was crushing down on him, holding him in place. He watched as Jing Lin’s back disappeared into the golden light. The True Buddha lowered a finger as azure light from Yanquan Sword burst forth. Violent winds raged between Heaven and Earth. Yanquan Sword had already pierced through the chains made up of Sanskrit characters to remove the head of the man in the coffin. The next moment, an infinite sea of blood surged forth in waves. The Four Lords of Ninth Heaven cast a seal simultaneously, and Ninth Heaven shook violently as if the clouds have been dealt a heavy blow.
The brilliance from the stars gathered, and the Sanskrit characters spun around as the golden light transformed into a hurricane. The chanting of monks quickened, and Jing Lin was besieged. He had fulfilled his wish. He threw the head in his hand down the stairs and slowly looked back. Li Rong’s face was awash with tears. In that very instant, he saw Jing Lin’s reply to him.
Don’t you want to live?
The way my life is now, forget it.
In a flash, Li Rong saw Jing Lin outflanked and annihilated; even that azure glow was obliterated. From then on, Lord Linsong no longer existed in Heaven and Earth. His past was gone and buried in the wind, eventually fading away into nothingness.