“A-Yi!” Fu Li turned her head to shout, “With such a big commotion, Jiu-ge is sure to be on the way here! Come in and heat up the room!”
A-Yi stuffed Xue Mei to Shan Tian. Then he leaped across the threshold and took a few steps inside before slamming the door shut with a “bang”. Immediately after taking off his outer robe, he hugged himself and exclaimed, “Why is it so cold?!”
Shan Yue’s pillow mat was already soaked. Fu Li rapidly said, “Your element is fire. You can suppress this cold.”
Thus, A-Yi sat at the window. As soon as he did so, the spreading ice promptly melted into water. Seeing Shan Yue’s terrifyingly pale face, A-Yi stood up again and asked anxiously, “Why hasn’t the baby come out yet? How long is this going to take?”
Fu Li merely commanded without answering, “Sit still!”
A-Yi stayed still. Strangely enough, the chill was no longer as pervasive the moment he entered the room. It was as if it was afraid of his form.
At the other end of the door, Shan Tian hugged his spear and sat cross-legged without moving an inch to guard the door.
Heavily surrounded all around, Zong Yin plunged into the sea, stirring up a monstrous wave. A jiaolong then burst out of the waves and threw Heaven and Earth’s game plan into disorder. Blizzard blotted out the sky and blanketed the lands. A massive net with faint rays of light leaping through the mesh swooped down from among the dense clouds and caught Zong Yin right on target.
“Condemned Deity Zong Yin!” The leading divine general above him pressed him down by the head. “Violating the law by presumptuously engaging in a love affair merits the punishment of your scales being sliced off! Your crime doubles for secretly begetting an evil being!”
Zong Yin hissed as he smashed into the ground, the force of it cracking open a long fissure in the mountain. He struggled with his claws, wanting to break free, but the other party obviously came prepared. The net tightened around him the more he struggled, and the mesh cut into his flesh, causing jiaolong to thrash around, crushing countless winter pine trees in the process.
“It’s only human to have emotions and desires.” Zong Yin stretched out his neck and fumed. “So what crime am I guilty of?!”
“The paths walked by humans and deities differ.” The divine general wound and bound the long chain of golden light around Zong Yin’s neck and abruptly hauled him up. “If you’ve done wrong, you’ve done wrong! The final decision will naturally be made on Ninth Heaven Terrace!”
Zong Yin’s giant body rose. The chain strangled him until he transformed back into human form. He was unwilling to go with them, and so, with his face red and chest bare, he tore at the golden chain on his neck. “Heaven treasures the life of every living thing, and all men have a heart of compassion! Whether you want to kill me or cut off my scales, do as you please another day! But tonight, my wife is in difficult labor and mortal danger. I cannot leave her!”
The divine general pulled and flung Zong Yin down heavily and stepped on his shoulder. He said in a cold voice, “He who is a deity must be clear on the principles of right and wrong. Yet you still remain impenitent. The ten thousand generals of Ninth Heaven are all standing ready for battle tonight. There’s no room for you to choose. Leave with me!”
Zong Yin’s knees knocked hard into the snow. He pulled the chain on his neck as he was dragged along for a few steps. His arms were so taut with tension that his veins bulged.
“Break his arms!” The divine general commanded. “We mustn’t tarry any longer!”
Zong Yin was pressed into the snow. His nose and mouth were all filled with snow. He struggled and was dragged along for a few more steps. Sensing someone pulling at his arms, he rasped, “Ninth Heaven Realm doesn’t act by the book. The laws of Heaven and Earth means nothing to Lord Chengtian!”
The divine general said, “Lord Chengtian himself is the law of the Three Realms. You hold an important post, and yet you don’t even understand this truth. Do it! “
The divine general had only just said the words when he heard the sudden surge of the north wind and the soughing of the wind through the pine trees on the mountain. The flying snow blinded his eyes, but when he waved his sleeves, Zong Yin was no longer in front of him. Standing there was clearly a man in azure daily wear.
White snow slightly covered the hair on Jing Lin’s temples. He brushed his sleeves in the billowing wind and asked, “What did you say earlier?”
The divine general felt a cutting cold penetrate all the way to his bones. Even gulping became a strain to him. His eyes slid along the Jing Lin’s temples to Jing Lin’s facial features. Then he took a step back, and his hand that had been grasping the hilt of the sword at the side of his waist began to tremble.
“Lord…” The divine general’s knees went weak. He cut a sorry sight as he attempted to hold himself up while he retreated and cried out involuntarily in terror, “Lord, Lord Linsong!”
This sound was so shrill and sharp that it pierced through the snowstorm, causing the endless sea of people to look back in unison right at once. Jing Lin stood tall where he was, neither averting his gaze nor flinching. His fingers swept through the air, and the strong wind swiftly materialized into the sheath of a sword in his palm.
Jing Lin slowly drew his sword and took a step forward.
The densely packed sea of people promptly took a step back as well, just like what happened five hundred years ago at Ninth Heaven Terrace. Silence reigned as they watched without uttering a sound and retreated in terror. Not a single one of them was able to draw their swords in response.
That bloodbath was still deeply imprinted in everyone’s mind, even to this day. Even Lord Shage had to prop himself up with his spear as he kneeled on the ground, while the Brahma Altar’s lotus pond had turned into a soup of blood.
Who killed the Supreme Father?
The one who was repeatedly the subject of discussions these five hundred years—Lord Linsong!
Jing Lin surveyed the tens of thousands of people. There was a “clank” as the cold glint of Yan Quan Sword abruptly materialized. The tip of the sword stirred up the snow. His sleeves and robe billowed as he faced the wind, while his hair fluttered across his eyes—eyes that were just like that pair in their nightmares.
◈ ◈ ◈
Cang Ji saw the azure light of Yan Quan when he approached from the air. The divine generals had already fled helter-skelter. He leaped downward and dashed right towards Jing Lin. Jing Lin looked up from below, and both men smiled at each other as their eyes met.
The words had only just left Cang Ji’s mouth when he felt a series of shocks between Heaven and earth. He was already about to land on the ground. But when he raised his head, he saw an object tossed out from among the clouds. There was a whoosh as it came crashing down between Jing Lin and him.
The snowstorm suddenly stopped.
LIANYIN @ CANGJI.NET
A double-sided bronze mirror stood silently between both men.
Jing Lin’s heart thumped when he saw the simple and unadorned bronze mirror. Yan Quan started buzzing and vibrating. He clasped his sword with one hand, and saw the mirror realm reflect his own figure before it rippled like water and transformed into Cang Ji.
Jing Lin looked at Cang Ji in the mirror realm. “Cang Ji” lifted away the umbrella to reveal his face and said to him as he braved the rain, “As expected, it’s my darling!”
Jing Lin’s hand that was on the sword paused instantly. A sharp pain erupted through his chest. He took a tentative step forward in astonishment, feeling as though this scene had happened somewhere before. It perturbed him.
“Ge…” Jing Lin subconsciously called out softly, “Gege.”
“Cang Ji” smiled and responded, “Are you dizzy? Does it hurt? Why have you lost so much weight…”
Jing Lin’s hair seemed to be wet from the rain. He looked up blankly and saw that the world had already changed. The snowy night on the mountain became Ming Jin Stage. The stage was empty. Only “Cang Ji” stood before him.
Jing Lin replied in a daze, “Not dizzy. Doesn’t hurt. Didn’t lose weight…”
“Cang Ji” stretched out his arms to hug him, and Jing Lin watched as this man made his way close before him. “Cang Ji” embraced half of his body, pushing Jing Lin’s sword back. Jing Lin wanted to speak, but then he heard a ripping sound.
“Cang Ji” transformed one arm into a dragon claw and moved to gouge out Jing Lin’s heart from the back!
At the other end, Cang Ji was smiling and asking the mirror, “What are you doing in front of the mirror? Come to me.”
At the edge of the mirror realm, Jing Lin seemed perplexed and said to him, “I’m a little cold.”
Cang Ji said, “I’ll hold you.”
Carrying his sword, “Jing Lin” moved towards him. He looked at Cang Ji and said, “My back is cold.”
Cang Ji said in surprise, “Then I’ll hug you.”
“Jing Lin’s” eyes danced vaguely with delight. He took a few steps towards Cang Ji and waited for his hug. Cang Ji held one of his hands, huffed warm air onto it, and said, “It’s so cold…”
A loud “BANG” suddenly rang out from the bronze mirror, and a hand suddenly clung on to the top of it. Blood slid down along the fingers and dripped onto the mirror surface. The man on the other side smashed the mirror with all his might. Jing Lin’s back shoulder was bloody red as he slammed his elbow into the mirror.
“Everything you see is illusory!” Jing Lin said sternly, “Cang Ji!”
He gave Cang Ji this name, and it was not until today that he called him by this name. The way he called it was this unnatural, this urgent. But it was to no avail. This bronze mirror seemed to separate them through a layer of barrier. He could hear Cang Ji’s voice clearly, but Cang Ji could not hear his voice.
Jing Lin smashed a fist heavily into the mirror surface. A strong wind swept towards him from the back, and he instantly dodged it. The power of “Cang Ji’s” dragon claw twisted the wind into a vortex as it came smashing towards him with a strength enough to crush Jing Lin’s spine easily. The back of Jing Lin’s shoulder was badly mangled. He immediately turned his sheath over to parry the blow. The impact of the tremendous force sent his entire body slamming into the mirror surface.
A loud bang resounded from the mirror. Jing Lin could barely block the blow with both arms, and the pressure of the dragon claw pressing against him made it hard for him to gasp for breath. Acutely aware that he could not beat this dragon with brute force, he lifted his neck and exerted his strength to sweep his long leg out and turned over to kick “Cang Ji” on the shoulder. Then he twisted around, taking his sword sheath with him, and spun up a leg to smash it into the side of “Cang Ji’s” neck.
But “Cang Ji” was not the least bit affected by it. His scales gradually spread over his upper body. Unless Jing Lin pulled out Yan Quan Sword, it would be hard for him to ward off Cang Ji’s blows.
Jing Lin’s ankle was grabbed. Following right after, he went smashing hard into the ground. He opened his mouth and choked on his blood. “Cang Ji” instantly grabbed hold of him and rapidly hauled him over. Jing Lin thrust his sword into the ground, stopping himself from being dragged through the snow, which had already left a trail of blood in its wake. The blow to his back shoulder was so brutal that it seemed as if it had almost broken his bone.
Who was the hardest person in the world to battle?
The answer was, of course, his own lover.
◈ ◈ ◈
At this time, Cang Ji was holding “Jing Lin’s” hand. He did not expect this hand to switch around suddenly and hold him instead. He said, “This mirror…”
Yan Quan Sword unexpectedly burst out of its sheath, and the blade went stabbing right at Cang Ji’s chest. Caught off guard, Cang Ji raised his arm swiftly to block the blade. He narrowed his eyes and, with a pull, advanced instead of stepping back.
“Jing Lin” swept the sword across the air, and an azure light erupted between both men. Cang Ji moved to sidestep the blow. He did not dare to strike out too hard with his palm, so he merely exerted force on “Jing Lin’s” wrist. “Jing Lin” loosened his grip and backhandedly held Yan Quan Sword and thrust it back towards Cang Ji’s throat. Cang Ji grasped the tip of the sword and grabbed hold of Jing Lin’s arm right after. Instead of sidestepping as he was supposed to, he flipped “Jing Lin” over and flung him to the ground.
But “Jing Lin” gazed at him as if he could still call out gege the next moment.
LIANYIN @ CANGJI.NET
Cang Ji’s heart softened. He cursed inwardly,
Lord Chengtian, what a fucking brilliant move!
Yan Quan Sword brushed past his neck, missing it as Cang Ji ducked his head to dodge it. He beat “Jing Lin” back for half a step with his arm, but did not expect “Jing Lin” to whirl around and impede him. The tip of his sword moved swiftly and fiercely, with the wind all around following in the sword’s trajectory. Cang Ji did not have the slightest desire to experience for himself how formidable Lord Linsong was. He bent his elbow and smashed it into “Jing Lin’s” midsection, then bent over suddenly as he slipped aside and evaded the blow. “Jing Lin” stepped into the air and rose, and Yan Quan Sword came stabbing down towards him with the momentum of a war steed in a visual display far more terrifying than that of Zui Shan Seng.
If not for it being the wrong timing, Cang Ji really wanted to spin a circle with him in his arms and praise him with a “well fought”!
Cang Ji slid back half a step, and the accumulated snow under his feet instantly flew up from the impact. Yan Quan Sword whistled as it sliced towards the vital point on his throat. A trail of blood materialized on the side of Cang Ji’s cheek, and a sudden stab of pain exploded in his arm. He saw “Jing Lin” draw a talisman with one hand, and the three layers of green talisman above his head enveloped him and came crashing down upon him. Before him, Yan Quan shone in its full glory.
At this critical juncture, the bronze mirror suddenly cracked from impact. The next moment, Jing Lin swiftly charged his way out. The cold glint of Yan Quan Sword was like mercury as it struck “Jing Lin’s” sword and sent it flying. Jing Lin plunged headlong into Cang Ji’s arms. Then Cang Ji turned Jing Lin over with both arms, and Jing Lin lifted his legs to kick into “Jing Lin’s” chest and sent him flying from the momentum of the kick.
“Jing Lin” instantly crashed into the snow. The fake Cang Ji’s dragon claw had already pierced through the wind to materialize right before Jing Lin’s neck. Jing Lin gasped for breath and withdrew his legs. An arm reached out from the side of his cheek, and dragon claw collided hard against dragon claw right before Jing Lin’s eyes. The ensuing windstorm blew apart the fine snow before him.
Both men had actually coordinated so seamlessly and flawlessly without even having to say a single word.
With one hand embracing Jing Lin and one hand holding up against the force of the other claw, Cang Ji strode a step forward. Strong wind swept across, and “Cang Ji’s” dragon claw gradually bent over. Wishing he could use more force to deal with “himself”, Cang Ji seized “Cang Ji” and ruthlessly slammed him to the ground.
The mountainous land under his feet shook violently.
Cang Ji exhaled a few breaths of cold air. Then, a clear crack rang out as that double-sided bronze mirror shattered into luminous light and dispersed among the flying snow.
◈ ◈ ◈
The porcelain cup in Ninth Heaven Realm chimed with a “ding”.
Lord Chengtian, who had been sitting cross-legged in his wide-sleeved formal robe for many years, gently nudged the black piece down on the chessboard.
The black jade chess piece sank to the table and tumbled onto the stone slab where it rolled along a narrow path to the side of the stone bed. The Blood Sea around it instantly bubbled over like boiling water. Intersecting talisman scripts that formed a seal materialized and burned off one by one. The man on the stone bed remained still with his eyes closed.
Po Zheng Spear, which had been sealed away unused for many years, was humming.
◈ ◈ ◈
A-Yi was watching his Ah Jie assisting Shan Yue in the delivery of the baby when the window behind him suddenly burst open. In his haste, A-Yi flung out his Sanskrit script chain and wound it around the other party’s weapon.
The long spear pressed its way in, and the wooden window splintered into pieces the next moment. Cold wind poured in. Shan Tian’s face was flushed. He raised his arm to cover his face as he panted.
On the bed, Shan Yue let out a cry of pain like one on the verge of death. Fu Li was already kneeling on the bed. She tugged at the fur coat and said sharply, “The baby’s born! Hot water. A-Yi, the hot water!”
A-Yi wanted to move, but found himself unable to budge at all. His teeth were even chattering a little as he said, “You… Why has your appearance changed?”
Shan Tian staggered a little as he slid over to brace himself against the wall. He said, “My Ah Jie… I…”
Fu Li bundled up the baby. Before she could turn her head back, she saw A-Yi slamming into the side of the bed from the impact of a blow. Table and chairs overturned, smashed to pieces. On the bed, Shan Yue’s breathing gradually weakened, yet the branch of the Can Li tree tumbled off into the gap.
Shan Yue silently mouthed his name. Her hair was already covered with cold frost.
“Hot water!” A-Yi slapped the side of the basin with one hand and sent it hurtling towards his Ah Jie.
The frozen water in the basin suddenly boiled over. Fu Li caught the basin and groped for the Can Li branch with the baby in her arms.
Shan Tian climbed over the wall and entered. The instant that spear of his smashed into the ground, the entire house rumbled like it was going to collapse! Fu Li swiftly looked back and tightened her hold on the baby as her eyes widened.
Credit: Special thanks to MaruChan for proofreading! <3