“Show mercy to the drought fiend!”
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
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As soon as Che Luofeng saw the group of drought fiends, he felt a stab of instinctive fear, but the enemies discovered him right that second.
Chen Xing’s heart thumped once. Damn, he had forgotten that Youduo and Che Luofeng bore a grudge against each other!
As expected, Youduo completely ignored the rest of them, spurring his horse on as he turned and rushed towards Che Luofeng. He leapt off the back of the horse, slashing down at Che Luofeng. Already halfway through charging at the enemy ranks, Xiang Shu had to forcefully rein his war horse to a stop, turning to save Che Luofeng.
Chen Xing joined in on the battle as well, his hand flashing with the light of the Heart Lamp, which exploded across the ground. In this dim, murky snowy land, the reflection was extremely visible, and a gap appeared in the drought fiend group. Chen Xing roared, “Xiang Shu! If you keep holding your grudge, your anda might die!”
Finally, Xiang Shu had no choice but to raise his arm, splaying his palm open. Chen Xing called upon all his strength and lit up the Heart Lamp.
With that, Xiang Shu transformed into the Protector Martial God, and with a weng, his white robes fluttered in the wind, his golden armor shining with a thousand rays of bright light. He rose into the air from the back of his horse, leaping towards Che Luofeng, who was being dragged away by Youduo.
His hands, the backs of which were covered by that golden armor, turned and curled into fists.
Chen Xing immediately came back to himself, and he shouted, “Cut off his arm!”
Like a meteor streaking through the sky, Xiang Shu broke through the drought fiend formation. Leaping towards Youduo and Che Luofeng, his left hand came forward in a defensive position, swinging a shining golden shield out!
Chen Xing: “???”
What was that?! When Chen Xing saw the shield, he immediately grew bug-eyed.
Xiang Shu also found this very strange, but he was already in front of Youduo, and he had no more time to think. With a wave of his shield, there was a dang, and the arm that Youduo was using to hold onto Che Luofeng was cut off. Right after, Xiang Shu turned his body into the second swing of the shield, performing a perfect shield bash. With a dong, he sent Youduo flying backwards!
Che Luofeng fell into the snow. He struggled to his feet, staring dumbstruck at Xiang Shu, whose entire body was glowing with light.
Xiang Shu began to walk towards Youduo in the distance, but Chen Xing had already raced up behind him and pulled back the power of the Heart Lamp. He shouted, “Show mercy to the drought fiend!”
Sima Wei took this chance to move in front of him, tossing the chains in his hand out, tying Youduo up.
The group of drought fiends immediately dispersed, disappearing back into the plains all around them. The golden light shining all over Xiang Shu’s body dissipated as well, and he glanced at Chen Xing, anger still writ clearly in his brows. Xiao Shan rushed over and looked at the two of them, asking in confusion, “How come you two have come?”
One shichen later, in the camp of the Akeles.
Xiang Shu’s shield and sword had only appeared in that single second before they disappeared again. Xiao Shan, Sima Wei, Che Luofeng, Tuoba Yan, and Chen Xing were sitting in the tent as one of the members of the Akeles tribe brought over some milk tea to ward off the chill. Outside, the sky was already fully dark.
Chen Xing said, “We took a shortcut, so we got here before you.”
Xiang Shu didn’t speak.
Chen Xing continued, “I never expected that your goal was also Lake Barkol.”
Xiang Shu had heard what King Akele said, and he had keenly grasped the main point -- Zhou Zhen’s base was within the lake. Chen Xing recalled their battle from last time, and he guessed that the skeletal army that had surrounded and attacked Karakorum must have been located not too far from here. Since Zhou Zhen had retreated, that meant that he needed some time to organize his men and think of another strategy, and there were only two places he could have gone. One was the canyon in the Yin Mountains, and the second was here, to Lake Barkol. The Yin Mountains were too far from Karakorum, and Zhou Zhen was not likely to trek long distances to run into the mountains.
But to the north, of all the places where a large army could be hidden, there was only Lake Barkol. Since the Akeles people’s camp was moved from the side of the lake, the consort had specially sent out scouts to search the area. On the island in the center of the lake, a strange sacrificial altar had appeared, and there was some colossal object wrapped in many animal skins lying on it.
There was a strange energy coming from the island that prevented any mortals from approaching.
“Shulü Kong?” Chen Xing asked uneasily.
Originally, he thought that in front of this many people, Xiang Shu would more or less cooperate with him, but he hadn’t expected Xiang Shu to stay exactly how he was before, persisting in his own ways from the beginning to the end. Having a spat in front of this group was nothing more than a side dish for him.
Xiao Shan: “???”
Che Luofeng was still thinking about that moment when Xiang Shu had turned into the Protector Martial God, and he was still completely astounded.
“Anda,” Che Luofeng couldn’t resist asking, “just now, when you saved me, what happened?”
“Don’t know,” Xiang Shu finally said. “All of you, get out.”
Tuoba Yan glanced at Chen Xing, then to Xiang Shu, before leading the way out of the tent. Che Luofeng still wanted to say something, but Xiang Shu said in an irritated voice, “Get out!”
The group could only leave the tent one by one. Chen Xing still sat there in a kneeling position, watching people leave. Xiang Shu, however, shot him a glare.
“Oh, including me?” Chen Xing asked dejectedly. “Want to go take a look at the island? I thought you weren’t angry anymore.”
Xiang Shu: “I won’t go. You want to put Zhou Zhen on his guard? What did I say? Why didn’t you stay in Karakorum, did I tell you to come with me? What do you treat Guwang as? In your eyes, is there still the Great Chanyu?!”
Chen Xing: “...”
Chen Xing thought, you’re the Protector! I’m not a Hu person, so why do I need to recognize you as the Great Chanyu? You can’t control me, a Han person, either, right?
Chen Xing did his best to make his views known. “I was afraid that when you faced down Zhou Zhen, something would happen.”
Xiang Shu: “Guwang already said that I would bring his artifact back. You don’t believe it?”
In these past few days, Chen Xing had basically understood how Xiang Shu’s temper worked. He knew that he could always be persuaded, but would not bend under sheer force. As long as he lowered his head slightly, Xiang Shu’s anger would immediately dissipate. However, he couldn’t swallow down that anger either, and after thinking it over and calculating a bit, he figured that Xiang Shu was only angry because he was chugging Tuoba Yan’s vinegar.
“What about Karakorum?!”
“The phoenix is guarding it!” Chen Xing said.
Xiang Shu suddenly frowned. “You had it help? Didn’t you not want to ask it for help?”
Chen Xing thought, so you could tell.
Xiang Shu: “So you did what you didn’t want to do, and you spoke to it, begging it to come guard Karakorum, just to come find me?”
Chen Xing replied morosely, “It doesn’t count as begging, I don’t want to explain any more! I came to find you because I don’t want to be separated from you. If I put it like that, that’s alright ba?”
Xiang Shu: “...”
As soon as Chen Xing saw Xiang Shu’s expression, he knew that his cunning scheme was working, and he continued, chagrined, “For this long, we’ve always been together. You went north on your own, so I felt some trepidation in my heart, I was afraid, alright?”
“Then how come you went on your own to the stone tower?” Xiang Shu rapidly changed the topic of the conversation and asked in response, “Wasn’t Tuoba Yan there to protect you?”
Chen Xing thought, enough ba! How come you keep such deep grudges!
“He’s not my Protector!” Chen Xing said. “What exactly is going on with you, for you to have such a strong negative opinion of him? He’s never offended you nor wronged you, so why? If you want to chug vinegar, you shouldn’t be chugging his ba!”
When Xiang Shu was blocked by Chen Xing’s point, he suddenly felt that his own temper had also come a little out of the blue. Chen Xing hadn’t even spoken many words to Tuoba Yan in Chang’an, so why was it that every time he saw Tuoba Yan and Chen Xing together, he felt an unwarranted stifling feeling in his own chest?
“You…” Xiang Shu said. “Didn’t he come just because of you? What vinegar? Guwang… you watch… your words!”
Chen Xing replied, “How about you go ask him yourself? I’ll call him in.”
Xiang Shu: “...”
Chen Xing lifted aside the tent flap and left, while Xiang Shu rose impatiently to his feet. In reality, he hadn’t expected Chen Xing to follow him here just like that, as if he had calculated that he would come here to Lake Barkol.
“You’ve run so many times!” Xiang Shu said. “Which time wasn’t Guwang chasing after you the entire way, and yet you dare to show me this attitude? I see that you have never treated Guwang as the Great Chanyu. Is it that every time you butt heads with me in front of a bunch of bystanders, you feel…” When he got to this point, Xiang Shu suddenly stopped speaking, his brows furrowing, his face filling with confusion.
When had that happened? Xiang Shu couldn’t remember it at all. He had left Karakorum with Che Luofeng as a spur of the moment decision, and in reality, it hadn’t been impossible for him to bring Chen Xing along. However, without understanding why, there was a strong urge to get payback in his heart, as if he knew that Chen Xing would definitely come chasing after him.
As expected, Chen Xing had come after him, but it was under the protection of Tuoba Yan, so Xiang Shu grew even more displeased.
What exactly was happening here? Xiang Shu could not doubt things more than he already was.
“Great Chanyu,” Tuoba Yan said, coming in. “Chen Xing and I definitely are not the way you think we are. I feel that I have to explain it properly to you…”
“Go away!” Xiang Shu was so angry that he moved to beat up Tuoba Yan.
Chen Xing passed through the campground, and Xiao Shan came racing up, asking, “What happened in Karakorum?”
Chen Xing replied, “A little bit of trouble, but that side’s already alright. Where’s Lu Ying? And White Mane?”
Xiao Shan replied, “I had it go back to Carosha first, and stand guard over the mountain. When are we going to save Lu Ying? Are we going to cleanse Zhou Zhen first?”
Chen Xing looked at Xiao Shan and made a gesture, meaning you decide ba. Xiao Shan stood still and thought for a bit, before saying, “Let’s catch Zhou Zhen first ba. Lu Ying’s antlers are in his hands, do you remember last time at the Yin Mountains?”
Chen Xing remembered. At that time, Sima Yue had the antlers of the White Deer and had re-refined them with resentful energy, and these antlers were artifacts that had fallen into Wang Ziye’s grasp long since. The Zheng Drum could awaken the dead, and under the power of the antlers, even white bones could gather together again. They had to figure out a way to take back both the antlers and the Zheng Drum.
Though Xiao Shan was small physically, and he looked the same as when the two of them had just met, mentally he had retained the level of thought that he had attained before the Tide of Eternity had activated. Compared to back then, he had matured a lot, and his thoughts and actions were very organized.
“When will Zhou Zhen come?” Chen Xing asked himself, looking towards Lake Barkol outside the camp.
Xiao Shan said, “I’ve sent wolves to go scout. That pile of bones is currently moving around in the lake.”
Not far away, Xiang Shu and Tuoba Yan left the tent, seemingly having come to a mutual understanding, at least temporarily. Xiang Shu began to give out orders to lay out an ambush on the shores of Lake Barkol, preparing to ambush Zhou Zhen when he returned. Since they had rushed here before he returned, Xiang Shu decided to use all the power at his command to get rid of Zhou Zhen here and now.
“Let’s go check on Youduo first ba,” Chen Xing said to Xiao Shan.
Youduo was wrapped up in chains in an out-of-the-way area of the camp. All around him were Akeles people; clearly they were expressing great shock at seeing their once-prince revived to be a drought fiend. There were also people filled with sympathy who wanted to feed him some water, never mind that drought fiends didn’t need to drink water.
Sima Wei stood to one side, guarding Youduo. Not a shred of light could be seen from his murky eyes.
Youduo had been tied to a pillar, but he was quiet, his head lowered, not moving at all.
Chen Xing approached Youduo, pressing his hand on the area over Youduo’s heart, but Sima Wei suddenly said, “There is energy in his heart that is helping him retain his sense of self.”
Chen Xing replied, “I know. He has never fully lost himself, but what exactly is this energy?”
Last time, Chen Xing had also discovered Youduo’s condition. As a drought fiend, he had almost never completely obeyed Zhou Zhen and the drought fiend kings, but had rather kept a little bit of his own consciousness. He clung to carrying out his revenge on Zhou Zhen and Che Luofeng.
Chen Xing injected the power of the Heart Lamp into his chest, and he found that that heart seemed to have a strange yao power.
“Bring him into the tent…” Chen Xing said. “Let me try expelling the resentment in his body. If my luck is good, then perhaps… Oh? This chain…”
When Chen Xing lifted the chains binding Youduo, he suddenly discovered that the metal chains were covered in runes. With the mana that had returned with the Revival of All Magic, they flashed with a weak light.
“This is an artifact!” Chen Xing exclaimed. “Who found it?”
Xiao Shan said, “Did you forget? Lu Ying had White Mane bring it from the Yin Mountains; he said that you might have some use for it.”
Chen Xing remembered now. These were the chains that he had been tied up with last time, when he was captured and brought to the summit of the Yin Mountains! Back then, Xiao Shan had even used Cangqiong Yilie but could not break them, so they must have been extremely powerful artifacts!
Chen Xing tested out putting his mana into those chains, and the chains immediately shrank and coiled in on itself, hanging off Youduo’s neck like a dog leash. No matter how Chen Xing looked at it, he felt that that wasn’t very respectful, so he untied the chain and tied it around Youduo’s remaining arm instead.
Youduo moved slightly, and Xiao Shan immediately pulled out his claws, watching him warily. However, Sima Wei reached a hand out, pressing down on the shoulder of the arm that Youduo had lost. After all, both of them were drought fiends, and Youduo seemed to be able to sense Sima Wei’s attempt at placating, so he gradually calmed.
Sima Wei nudged him again, making him turn around, and Chen Xing, still holding the chain, walked into the tent.
“Let him lie down flat,” Chen Xing said quietly.
Sima Wei had Youduo lie down on the ground, and Chen Xing knelt by his side, igniting the Heart Lamp. Just like how he had expelled the Devil God’s Blood with Sima Wei and Feng Qianyi, he pressed his hand against Youduo’s chest.
In that instant, the Heart Lamp’s brilliance filled the meridians all over Youduo’s body, gathering without pause towards his heart.
Youdou’s heart was still beating! That was a heart that had not yet died! It had already been completely corrupted by the Devil God’s Blood! It had left its original body, existing independently in Youduo’s body. That heart was very large, taking up almost three times the space a normal heart would in the chest cavity.
“Where exactly did this heart come from?” After injecting the power of the Heart Lamp in, Chen Xing found that things were not as simple as he thought they were. Its light gathered in Youduo’s heart meridian, rapidly cleansing Youduo’s entire body. At the beginning, Youduo kept struggling, but later, he calmed as the resentment was expelled.
But that strange yao heart in his chest kept vibrating, warding off the Heart Lamp’s invasion!
He had almost broken through… Chen Xing put in all his effort, but he suddenly heard an impatient voice from outside.
“You dare to stop Guwang?” Xiang Shu threatened.
“Let him in,” Chen Xing immediately said.
Xiang Shu lifted the curtain out of the way and entered the tent. Upon seeing that Chen Xing was currently fighting to save Youduo, he suddenly froze.
Chen Xing: “What’s wrong?”
Xiang Shu’s brows were furrowed as people began to argue again outside. Chen Xing said, “Zhou Zhen has come? Right now, things are in a tense situation… Xiao Shan, you go take a look outside.”
“King Akeles’ consort is about to give birth,” Xiang Shu said. “Do you know how to deliver a child?”
Chen Xing: “...”
If Chen Xing was to withdraw the power of the Heart Lamp right now, while the resentment that was keeping Youduo alive had already been exorcised, the seed of the lamp in his heart meridian had yet to be lit. It would cause him to turn into a completely dead corpse. However, because of the battle, the queen’s delicate condition was disturbed, so she was about to give birth. What were they to do now?
“I… I’m currently saving her eldest son,” Chen Xing said. “Can she hold out for a while longer?”
Xiang Shu frowned. “How long will she have to wait?”
The yao power of that heart was extremely powerful, constantly fending off Chen Xing’s heart lamp. This was definitely not something that Wang Ziye could accomplish, which meant that this heart had been retrieved from some great yaoguai’s body, before it was transplanted into Youduo!
“I… I don’t know!” Chen Xing said.
Just at this time, King Akele rushed in as well, saying, “Doctor, please save my wife…”
But halfway through his sentence, the king of the Akeles saw this scene before him and also froze.
“Alright, alright,” Chen Xing could only say. “Bring the queen in as well, hand them all over to me. As I treat the dead person, I’ll help her with her delivery, that’ll be how it goes.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.