“Do you know why madam imperial consort has been without child?”
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
In the rear hall of Xingqing Palace, Hongjun and Li Jinglong were squeezed to the point where the bones throughout their whole bodies ached immensely, as if their internal organs were about to get squeezed out. Hongjun once again lifted his hand to wave his blade, but ultimately he had no strength left.
“Wait…” Li Jinglong said with great difficulty. “You see… this sea of blood… is living...”
“I’m being squeezed so hard I’m going to vomit,” Hongjun said painfully. There was no way he could focus his attention on anything.
When Li Jinglong activated the Heart Lamp and shone it down upon that sea of blood, the areas of fresh blood the Heart Lamp’s light touched would grow lighter in color, and the surrounding regions would grow darker and darker.
He had no way to tell if these were ghostly shadows caused by the light, or if this sea of blood actually felt terror towards the Heart Lamp...
“In a bit, gather up all of your energy, and push the Pentacolor Sacred Light outwards…” Li Jinglong eked out brokenly.
Hongjun exhaled the last breath of air he had in his lungs. Li Jinglong’s face had already turned greenish-purple from holding his breath in, and his gaze began to grow unfocused. Their chests were pressed tightly against each other, but the sea of blood continued to collapse inwards and crush the Pentacolor Sacred Light.
Li Jinglong, “Are you… ready?”
Hongjun already couldn’t speak any longer. They were squeezed very tightly together in an extremely narrow space, but just then, Li Jinglong exerted all his strength and sucked in a deep breath, and his chest began to shine with light.
Where the light of the Heart Lamp reached, the color of the blood sea seemed to undergo some strange change. The light shone down, and as soon as it touched the dark regions, they would retreat rapidly. Li Jinglong circulated the Heart Lamp down to his two hands, and his hands began to shine with light as he pointed them into the sea of blood. As the light expanded, those smears of dark-colored regions began to slowly gather up, avoiding the fan-shaped region created by the white light, gathering up in one spot behind Li Jinglong’s back.
“Right now!” Li Jinglong shouted loudly.
With the last of his strength, Hongjun suddenly caused the Pentacolor Sacred Light to expand outwards!
In that instant, light shot out in all directions through the blood sea, and the Pentacolor Sacred Light was like Pangu separating the heavens and the earth in the midst of the primordial chaos, forcibly creating a space within this blood sea! But Hongjun’s mana was already at its limit, and he could only barely manage to lift it up a few chi before he felt the blood sea sweep towards him like a tsunami!
Just as the Sacred Light was being pushed to its limit, Li Jinglong unsheathed the Sword of Wisdom on his back. He pulled it out, pushing Hongjun in the opposite direction as he borrowed that momentum to rush out of the protective barrier of the Pentacolor Sacred Light, stabbing the Sword of Wisdom in his hand into that dark-colored region!
The Sword of Wisdom exploded with powerful light, and black smoke billowed up in the midst of the blood sea. The instant that dark region was pierced through, the entire sea of blood exploded, boiling upwards, before collapsing back down with a hong!
Hongjun fell heavily on the ground, choking on a mouthful of coppery blood. But as he struggled, he saw Li Jinglong wield the Sword of Wisdom with both hands as black smoke coiled around the blade. It swiftly burned away under that strong light, evaporating to nothing in the end!
A pained howl issued from the black smoke, as if some soul that had been imprisoned within was released, before the sea of blood lost its shape and flowed out in all directions like a tidal wave.
Hongjun staggered to his feet, panting non-stop. Li Jinglong tottered over on unsteady feet, reaching out a hand to grab his arm, steadying him as he lifted him up.
“Let’s go!” Li Jinglong turned his head and spoke. “It must be near here!”
On the star observation platform, the dark clouds crowded densely around, and the rain stopped.
Yang Yuhuan laid in the center of the platform, completely unconscious. The seven-tailed fox lowered its head, its mouth emitting wave upon wave of white light that enshrouded Yang Yuhuan’s entire body.
With his glaive in hand, Hongjun walked step by step onto the deck.
After the seven-tailed fox had lost a tail, its wound had yet to heal, and blood still dripped down. Between it and Yang Yuhuan was some sort of mysterious connection. When he got close, Hongjun realized that white light was actually flowing unceasingly from Yang Yuhuan’s body into the mouth of the seven-tailed fox yao. It enveloped the fox’s entire body before turning into a pillar of light, shooting towards the heavens!
“Fox yao, release her,” Hongjun said darkly, holding his glaive blade down.
Until this moment, the fox yao hadn’t noticed Hongjun’s approach. It whipped its head around, letting out a howl, before it pounced at Hongjun! Hongjun immediately blocked it with the Pentacolor Sacred Light.
At the same time, Li Jinglong clambered onto the observation platform. He hid himself behind the stone railings, holding his Sword of Wisdom in hand as he observed that fox yao’s every move.
“You actually defeated my child?” the fox yao asked, trembling.
“That sea of blood was your child?” Hongjun asked slowly. “It’s already been destroyed by me.”
The fur on the fox yao’s entire body rose, and it said, its voice shaking, “It is what it is, son of Kong Xuan. I imagine you only came for those three flat-furred domestic pets. Whose vile spawn you are is no longer important!”
Hongjun roared angrily, his voice filled with menace, “Who exactly are you?!”
But the fox yao began to chuckle coldly, letting go of Imperial Concubine Yang still lying on the ground. At the same time, the carp yao, its mouth open, climbed up onto the platform from the other side.
Li Jinglong hurried to gesture to it, indicating that the carp yao was not to go forward. The carp yao, its face set in an expression of ignorance, rapidly nodded.
“Baxia, Suanni, Yazi,” the fox yao said darkly. “Counting Xueluo as well, you’ve killed who knows how many of my, Wu Qiyu’s, children now…” As it spoke, the fox yao’s voice was actually tinged with grief. “Kong Xuan killed my little sister, and now your methods are so brutal. We’re all of the yao tribe, so why must you slaughter our own?!”
“Those three monsters… were also your children?” Hongjun couldn’t believe it.
“To be accurate, they are the princes of the Great Tang.” The fox yao’s voice suddenly became gentle and dangerous as it continued quietly, “Do you know why madam imperial consort has been without child?”
Even Li Jinglong couldn’t help the cold chills that crept up his spine. Wu Qiyu continued, “In her lift, she was destined to have three children, but with her body, she’ll never be fit to give birth to the offspring of humans, unlike your dad… I imagine your mom was also a human, which is how such a vile offspring like you came to be…”
Li Jinglong’s pupils contracted swiftly.
Hongjun couldn’t stop breathing heavily as he said, “You killed my father?”
Wu Qiyu lowered its head, observing Hongjun. The black energy in its eyes cleared, as if there was a ball of black fire burning merrily in them, and it said quietly, “What I saw… I saw… was actually… you huh…”
When Hongjun’s eyes met that fox yao’s, he suddenly felt as if he had been struck by lightning as he was suddenly taken into his own memories.
“Di Renjie, I only have this one child…”
Within the dilapidated brick and tile main hall of the Exorcism Department, a man supported his young wife with his arm as he held a child’s hand in his other, staggering into the room.
Young Hongjun watched dumbly as this scene played out in front of his eyes. Golden light shot out in all directions, and the man holding the Sword of Wisdom hovered in midair, his body clad in golden armor. His father and his mother on her last breath knelt in front of that floating man.
The glowing man lifted up the Sword of Wisdom...
“Hongjun --!” Li Jinglong’s angry roar pulled Hongjun back to reality.
The Sword of Wisdom shone with bright light as it swung in front of Hongjun. With a face full of horror, Hongjun leaned back and fell backwards onto the ground!
Li Jinglong turned, both hands wielding the Sword of Wisdom as he shielded Hongjun. He faced the fox yao and said angrily, “Wu Qiyu, where is the yao king?! Today you will meet your doom! You won’t be able to escape from Chang’an again!”
“The yao king?” The fox yao began to laugh loudly. “Are you speaking of that trash, the black jiao?! He left a long time ago, and with his power, he only knows how to silently swallow down his humiliation and insults. Today, I am the yao king --!”
The fox yao’s biting laugh shook the palace as it said harshly, “Your Great Tang is almost done for! Just you wait! Li Jinglong! You all… you all… especially you…”
The fox yao’s gaze traveled over Li Jinglong to land on Hongjun, as it spoke, enunciating each word clearly, “Kong Xuan killed my Yu Caiyun, and originally I wanted to take his son’s life to untangle the hatred in my heart, but I never expected that it would be on your person. I only hope that you will keep living, because from today onwards, you will live, tormented by every kind of suffering, within the flames of Mara that burn everything to ash. Living will be worse than death, and you will… forever… forever be unable to escape!”
“Who killed my parents?” Within that fox yao’s gaze, Hongjun could feel a rage in its heart that could no longer be contained..
However, Li Jinglong merely lifted his hand, swiping it across horizontally in front of him. His hand shone with white light, which blocked the fox yao’s stare, and in that instant, Hongjun calmed down.
“I… I…” Hongjun’s voice quavered.
“Killing your descendants was no one’s fault but my own,” Li Jinglong said in a deep voice. “It has nothing to do with Hongjun, or with the rest of my colleagues. Even if it’s because of this that I suffer the torment of the blazing fires of hell, then let me be the one to bear the burden! Fox yao! You’ve done all kinds of evil, and today, the one who should enter hell first is you!”
Saying this, Li Jinglong readied the Sword of Wisdom in his hand, rushing completely without fear towards that fox yao!
That seven-tailed fox let out a wild roar as it swiped its sharp claws down on Li Jinglong. Hongjun came back to his senses, and with a twitch of the Pentacolor Sacred Light, he blocked that fox yao’s claws. As the two collided, the carp yao took this opportunity to leap over the tall platform, shouting, “Hey, I found her!”
While Li Jinglong and Hongjun were diverting the fox yao’s attention, the carp yao ran up and hugged Yang Yuhuan around the throat, grabbing a pinch of Lihun Pollen and stuffing it in her nose. Yang Yuhuan was only unconscious, and at this moment, under the influence of the Lihun Pollen, she suddenly sneezed and began to wake up...
…When she opened her eyes, which were filled with tears, she saw that her savior was a carp yao, whose mouth kept opening and closing.
“So beautiful.” Though the carp yao was not human, it still understood enough to admire Yang Yuhuan’s skin that could be broken with a single breath, and her delicate features.
Yang Yuhuan’s gaze was a little dazed, and she stared into the carp yao’s eyes for a split second.
“Pretty lady, are you alright?” the carp yao asked, deeply concerned.
Yang Yuhuan exclimed, “Ah-- why does this carp know how to speak! Yaoguai! A yaoguai!”
Yang Yuhuan was greatly frightened, and she hurriedly struggled to rise. A bucket of cold water was splashed over the carp yao at this reaction, and it could only say, “Alright alright, yes, yes, I am a yaoguai.”
“Take her away!” Li Jinglong shouted angrily.
“Come with me ba?” the carp yao could only ask.
Wu Qiyu was currently fighting with Hongjun and Li Jinglong, but when it heard the shrill cry, it immediately turned its head, shouting hoarsely, “Yu’er!”
In the blink of an eye, Hongjun’s left hand pushed forward, his right hand lifting the glaive as he waved it from its position by his feet to up above his head, sending out an arc of sword light like a crescent moon! Wu Qiyu couldn’t dodge in time, and it lost another tail. As fresh blood sprayed out, she turned and leapt towards Hongjun, shouting angrily, “I’ll kill you first!”
Colliding like that with Wu Qiyu, Hongjun immediately fell off the side of the observation platform. Li Jinglong tossed aside his Sword of Wisdom as he leapt over to grab Hongjun’s hand. The two of them dangled from the railings, but the fox yao opened its mouth, violent flames spewing forth, and the wooden railings on the outskirts of the platform collapsed. Hongjun let out a loud shout as he and Li Jinglong plummeted down together.
But just in that instant, the two of them were cradled by something soft, and Mo Rigen’s voice said, “We’re here!”
Qiu Yongsi and A-Tai rushed in at the same time. The Grey Wolf, with one leap, sent Li Jinglong and Hongjun back onto the observation platform, and the members of the Exorcism Department were once again all gathered together in one place. The Grey Wolf morphed back into Mo Rigen, and everyone swiftly took their places, trapping the heavily wounded Wu Qiyu in the middle of their circle.
“Fox yao?! Where is the black jiao?” Qiu Yongsi asked coldly with a wave of his brush. “It should quickly give itself up without a fight; under the Dragon-Subduing Tower is where it should return!”
“Fox yao.” Mo Rigen pulled out an arrow and nocked it to his bow, standing tall in the northern corner of the observation platform. “Where did you all take the White Deer to?!”
Li Jinglong, “!!!”
“I see you all have come with ulterior motives,” Wu Qiyu laughed coldly. “Kong Xuan’s death, the jiao dragon that escaped from the Dragon-Subduing Saint’s tower, the White Deer that guards over dreams… why don’t you all try killing me instead?”
“Your Majesty --!”
Li Longji, the Son of Heaven sword in hand, stepped up onto the observation platform. The area below the observation platform was packed densely with row upon row of the Six Armies, and behind him, a large group of soldiers knelt with one knee on the ground as they all drew their bows, pointing their arrows at the fox yao in the center.
“Your Majesty!” Yang Yuhuan cried out bleakly as she leapt over the carp yao towards Li Longji.
“Yu’er…” Wu Qiyu suddenly said, her voice filled with sobs. “Yu’er… did you know? As long as Big Sister can hold out for a little longer, until the sun rises, then you’ll be able to…”
Yang Yuhuan’s expression was befuddled. She looked at Li Longji, before turning her eyes on Wu Qiyu, her voice shaking as she asked, “Eldest sister?”
Tears dripped from Wu Qiyu’s huge eyes, dripping onto the ground.
The gathered exorcists all warily watched the fox yao. Li Jinglong kept feeling that something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t put his finger on it, and he instead roared, “Fox yao! What did you do to the imperial consort?!”
But Li Longji lifted one hand, indicating that Yang Yuhuan shouldn’t move. He slowly walked up front, and when he was about ten steps’ distance away from Wu Qiyu, he said in a deep voice, “Fox yao, where did you come from? Why do you disturb the lands of my Great Tang?”
Wu Qiyu replied quietly, “The Lady Guoguo you all know has long since died, Li Longji!”
“Insolent!” the group of soldiers all admonished as they heard Wu Qiyu use the emperor’s given name.
“When you tasted the wondrous delicacies of the world, did you ever consider the lives that ended under your reign?” Wu Qiyu smiled coldly. “Did you think you humans treated us yao with any compassion? When you gave the order to burn my descendants to death, did you feel even a sliver of regret?! The blazing fire that rises into the sky is the resentment within this world! Do I still need a reason for wanting to destroy your Great Tang’s work?!”
Li Longji said solemnly, “Monsters and evil beings are evidently not my people, because your hearts are different, so you can never become human! Kill it!”
“Then today, let’s bear witness!” Wu Qiyu howled. “How capable the real Son of Heaven is!”
“Your Majesty, be careful --!” Li Jinglong shouted in shock.
The fox yao pounced towards Li Longji, and everyone present was not quick enough to leap to his rescue. When they all rushed up at the same time, Li Longji blocked in front of himself horizontally with the Son of Heaven sword. Golden light erupted for a fleeting moment, turning into a protective barrier that rushed at the fox yao, which flew backwards from the force of the blow!
That instant, the shouts of “Long live” continued without ceasing. The fox yao panted non-stop as it widened its eyes, staring at Li Longji.
“Your breaths are numbered!” Li Longji couldn’t help but breathe heavily after that. “Surrender yourself without putting up a fight! Your corpse will be left intact!”
In this moment, Hongjun only wanted to ensure that this fox yao named Wu Qiyu was kept alive so that they could question it properly later; it had controlled Chang’an from behind the scenes for decades, and it knew far too much about internal affairs.
“We cannot show it mercy,” Li Jinglong said. “As long as it’s alive, then the truth will come out one day like water dripping through stone, but it only has one life.”
Everyone nodded their heads lightly, and Hongjun could only go along with them. Upon hearing that, the fox yao let out a mournful, wild laugh, as it roared, “Then come!”
The instant the fox yao let out that harsh howl, its form once again swelling. This time, without needing any commands, all members of the Exorcism Department went forth. Hongjun pulled out his glaive, Li Jinglong’s sword shone with bright light, Mo Rigen sent forth his Seven Nailed Arrows, and Qiu Yongsi waved his ink brush.
In that instant, bright light gathered together on the observation platform, and another of the fox yao’s tails were broken off. Li Jinglong wielded his sword as he went forward. Black fire billowed along the ground from the fox yao’s eyes, but it was dissolved wherever the light of Li Jinglong’s sword touched.
With one wave of Qiu Yongsi’s large brush, the constellations on the observation platform all left the wood that they were on, and the carvings and drawn dragons all rushed towards the fox yao!
Mo Rigen’s Seven Nailed Arrows shot towards the fox yao, before he turned back into the Grey Wolf and leapt onto its back!
The fox yao howled painfully as blazing fire issued forth from its mouth, but just then, a whirlwind of ice and snow rushed forward, blocking the burning flames that it spewed. In midair, Hongjun first blocked with the Pentacolor Sacred Light, before he closed his stance and turned, slicing down with the glaive!
“It has three left!” Hongjun roared.
The fox yao had consecutively lost multiple tails as it landed in a pool of blood, its power growing weaker and weaker. In that instant, Hongjun watched her mutely, as his heart was suddenly moved at the sight.
But in the next instant, a bird’s cry echoed through the sky --
-- Black clouds broke apart layer by layer, revealing the bright glow of the rising sun. A huge peng with a pair of wings that easily spanned ten zhang, bathed in golden splendor, circled in the sky as it cried, before shooting down in a dive from the air!
Right after, the huge peng’s wingbeats created a windstorm, as hawks, falcons, eagles, and other large birds appeared like a cresting wave that rushed towards the observation platform of Xingqing Palace. The fox yao turned to escape, rushing towards Li Jinglong, but with a block, Li Jinglong stabbed the Sword of Wisdom straight into its throat!
As the fox yao yowled, it backed up incessantly. Just as Li Jinglong was about to shout “Protect His Majesty”, the Golden-Winged Great Peng had already rushed down to the observation platform. With its two great claws, it lifted the fox yao into the air, soaring towards the horizon!
Thousands of shouts issued forth from human throats, and even Li Longji couldn’t help the change in his expression as the Golden-Winged Great Peng lifted the fox yao and tossed it into the air. The birds of prey swarmed it, and the sky was filled with a dense flock of birds that took turns attacking the fox yao. The fox yao’s pained cries echoed to the horizon and back, before it finally exploded into a fine mist of blood.
The flock of birds then dissipated, and the Golden-Winged Great Peng let out another cry before it turned in an arc and rose into the clouds. The flock of birds soared in their own circles before they, following the example of the Golden-Winged Great Peng, flew through the cloud layer, and like troops following their general, they all disappeared in a great flood.
Everything happened in such a short moment. Fur and blood rained down from the sky, the remnants of the fox yao after it had been torn apart, as if a bloody battle had just taken place. Everyone’s faces were covered in blood as they stood dumbly in front of the observation platform, and as Hongjun reached a hand out, a tuft of white fur landed in his palm.
Li Jinglong wobbled unsteadily as he planted his Sword of Wisdom on the ground, leaning against the railings, letting out a long sigh.
“Zhangshi, look,” Qiu Yongsi murmured.
The red sun rose, shining over the observation platform. The morning bell had yet to ring, and under the glow of the sunlight, the yao energy over the entirety of Chang’an dissipated. As soon as Wu Qiyu died, thousands of yaoguai streamed out of the eight gates of Chang’an like a massive flood.
The members of the Exorcism Department stood at the front of the observation platform, looking over Chang’an. This thousand-year capital seemed to have taken on a fresh new visage.
“Zhangshi, any thoughts you’d like to share?” A-Tai smiled.
“This battle that we fought, was a very long one…” Li Jinglong had no more energy left in him, and he didn’t want to think about anything more. He turned to look towards Hongjun, reaching a hand out to stroke his head as Hongjun looked towards the direction that the Golden-Winged Great Peng had left in. In his heart, he suddenly missed Qing Xiong and Chong Ming very much; he hadn’t expected Qing Xiong to show up at this moment.
His nose soured, and tears welled up in his eyes, but still he sent a smile towards Li Jinglong.
moon: we have a feitian valentine’s exchange (feilentians, if you will)! last day to sign up is today. if you’re interested, check it out here: https://www.chickengege.org/website/feitian-valentines-event/
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.