The child corpses began to climb up the water wall, and at the same time, a large number of bubbles emerged from under the speedboat as it ascended. A group of child corpses swam under the boat, lifting it up and holding it in mid-air!
The boat tilted, and the searchlight rolled into the water, scanning a large area of dark seawater.
The child corpses climbed up the edge of the boat, opening their mouths to reveal their uneven teeth, singing in unison like a choir.
"What are these little brats howling about?" Wang Ze asked.
"'Bloodline unbroken, the heavenly demon never dies,'" Xuan Ji murmured. "'Sheng...human race, do you still remember how many pieces you cut me into back then?'"
"I know your 'corpse language' is at level ten," Wang Ze said, collapsing. "Just give me the gist, no need to translate word for word!"
The words spoken by those child corpses were not "corpse language," but rather the ancient elegant language from three thousand years ago.
Before this, Xuan Ji could only vaguely understand it. To describe his level, it was probably like a person who scored 425 on the English level 4 exam trying to watch an American TV show without subtitles - sometimes understanding, sometimes not, relying on context and body language to guess and infer.
But at this moment, he found that he was familiar with those ancient elegant words, as if they were his hometown dialect, with no barriers between him and them.
He even promptly changed the demon's use of "Sheng Xiao" to "human race" to avoid exposing Sheng Lingyuan's identity.
"Remember," Sheng Lingyuan said calmly from the boat, switching to the ancient language, "108 pieces, the executioner's skills are too poor."
The child corpses all laughed at once, with the most annoying laughter of children mixed in with the sound of waves. "Hehehe," they said, "there are exactly 108 corpses here."
Before the words had even finished, one of the child corpses suddenly shot up like a flash of light, flying straight towards Sheng Lingyuan at a speed so fast it was hard to keep one's eyes open.
Sheng Lingyuan quickly stepped back, narrowly avoiding the child corpse as it brushed past him. But on the back of his hand was a fresh cut from a knife.
Xuan Ji instinctively covered his hand, feeling as if he had also been cut by a knife. His heart was trembling with fear.
The child corpse landed on the deck of the speedboat, and the part of its body that had touched Sheng Lingyuan's blood was corroded, revealing charred flesh and faintly visible bones.
"The blood of the Heavenly Demon is so powerful," it laughed with a sinister grin, "Your Majesty, your Heavenly Demon Sword that could cut through heaven and earth has already been shattered. Is the blood on your body enough to dye this entire sea after you've killed all 108 of my clones?"
The Heavenly Demon Sword... has been shattered...
The Heavenly Demon Sword...
Xuan Ji's pupils contracted, and in an instant, a thousand years of time and space transformed into a giant hammer that smashed straight into his forehead with a "buzz," causing his soul to tremble.
In a daze, he felt as if he was in a palace, freezing cold. Otherwise, why would the person holding him keep trembling?
The person's cold and disheveled hair hung over him like a winter morning's brocade. He smelled the familiar fragrance on the person's body, and under his feet were rows of people's heads, a group of people kneeling on the ground, groveling and asking for death.
"Your Majesty, this sword was damaged when it slayed the Demon King. The Demon King has already turned into a demon, corrupted by such impure energy that even the Mountain clan cannot cure it. It is connected to your mind and spirit. If you keep it, it will surely harm your mental state."
"You have always been wise and impartial, but lately you have shown signs of impulsive behavior. It is clear that this is an ominous object and must be disposed of early."
"Your Majesty, the demon race has not yet been eradicated, and the country has just been stabilized. The bones of millions of soldiers are not yet cold, and you carry the hopes of the people..."
Xuan Ji couldn't help but be stunned, thinking to himself: Even Sheng Xiao is trembling.
Sheng Lingyuan, who was as human as anyone else, could no longer bear it and interrupted the noisy room, saying coldly, "The bones of millions of soldiers are not yet cold, does the Prime Minister want to chill them first?"
The old minister kneeling at the front bowed his head, revealing the jagged shoulder blades under his neck like an old horse waiting to be slaughtered, ready to be executed.
"Go down and receive thirty lashes yourself," Sheng Lingyuan sneered like a famous tyrant from history. "Anyone else who speaks out of turn..."
As soon as he finished speaking, the water cup on the table exploded, hot tea spilling all over the table. His laughter was filled with an indescribable murderous intent as he swept his sleeves and flipped the table, drawing his sword and leaving.
A gaze shot over, causing Xuan Ji to tremble. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a masked figure standing silently on the outskirts of the crowd, their gaze devoid of emotion like a shrine.
That gaze had watched the downfall of the witch people, and now it was watching him.
At that time, the Du Ling Palace had not yet been completed, and the Imperial City was in a mess. The imperial carriage was temporarily stopped at a palace thirty miles away. Xuan Ji could already wander around without anyone seeing him, as he had detached himself from the sword.
Sheng Lingyuan couldn't actually see him either, but most of the time, he could share the sword spirit's sixth sense and "see" his position through his eyes, and "hear" people's whispers behind his back through his ears.
The wandering sword spirit was always well-informed. He could rely on his invisibility to catch the first hint of spring breeze and hear scattered rumors when the dust was stirred up.
"It's just a sword, and the Right Minister only said a few words, but he got thirty cane strikes... A veteran courtiers of two dynasties in their twilight years! They carried him away and he was out of breath. His family is preparing to mourn him. Your Majesty has..." The speaker's lips moved, as if he wanted to say "gone mad", but he dared not speak it out loud.
Instead, he lightly slapped his own face.
"I've heard that a sword has two edges, one side hurts others, and the other side hurts oneself. It's true. That day, the demon sword was able to slay the demon king, such power can naturally also confuse people's hearts. Your Majesty, in recent years, has indeed become less kind and benevolent than in the past."
"Shh... Be careful what you say!"
"There's something I want to tell you, but it's just between us. There's no one else around. You may not know this, but I've heard that when the Emperor was young, he was lost for over two years before he was found. And when he was found, he had the Demon Sword with him. It must have been with him for many years, and he must have had a deep emotional attachment to it."
"But even if the attachment is deep, it's still just an object."
"My older brother is one of the Emperor's guards, and he said he once heard the Emperor laughing alone while holding the sword."
"Is that so?"
"Could it be that the sword is really as the legends say, and has a spirit? But...what kind of trouble could the Demon Sword's spirit cause?"
"That's not really a concern. It hasn't caused any trouble in recent years, but the Demon Sword was corrupted by the demon king's aura. I'm afraid that in the future..."
"Ah, in the past, the ones causing chaos in the court were either flatterers or temptresses. How did a sword become the problem in our dynasty? What is going on?"
"The imperial teacher observed the stars last night and sighed several times, only saying 'inauspicious'."
"Disaster! It must be a disaster!"
Although the demon king had already died, the shadow he left in people's hearts had not dissipated.
Legend has it that the demon king had consumed one thousand innate spiritual objects during his lifetime, resulting in nine hundred and ninety-nine clones. His life was more numerous than the legs of a centipede, and people were afraid of him even in their dreams.
After more than twenty years of chaos and darkness, it was too tragic. Whether it was the human race or other races, they were all on the brink of collapse and could not withstand another catastrophe.
And just at this time, an unsettling rumor spread—
They said that during the battle with the demon king, the Heavenly Demon Sword of the Emperor of Humanity had a small crack, and one nine hundred and ninety-ninth of the demon king had slipped inside.
The loyal and brave officials who were worried about the world were terrified when they heard about this. They collectively went to seek confirmation from the Mountain king - who had been experts in sword-making for generations.
The Mountain king Wei Yu patted his chest and said that he had an obligation to the greater good, and his personal safety was insignificant. Even if he was hated by the Emperor in the future, he would not be afraid.
With the tacit approval of the Imperial Tutor, this "hero" conspired with the loyal officials to stage a palace coup.
During the New Year's Eve banquet, Dan Li toasted the Emperor three times.
Dan Li was the Imperial Tutor and his caregiver, so it was inappropriate for the him to refuse the toast. Therefore, Sheng Lingyuan had no choice but to drink.
However, the Emperor, who was immune to all poisons and could hold his liquor, could not stand steady after just one stick of incense.
Xuan Ji had a premonition and forcefully shook his head, trying to shake off the memory.
The New Year's Eve banquet, with its clinking glasses and bustling atmosphere, made him shudder. He instinctively didn't want to remember it. However, the terrifying memory had already been lurking deep in his mind, waiting to swallow him whole.
The drug Dan Li put in the wine was called "Thousand Dreams," meaning "a dream of a thousand years." It was said that just one drop, if dropped into the moat and flowed downstream, could make the entire city drunk for three whole days.
Legend has it that there were only three drops of "Thousand Dreams" left in the world, and that night, all three drops were poured into the three cups of the Emperor.
When the Heavenly Demon Sword was smashed inch by inch by the Mountain king using a so-called "secret method," Sheng Lingyuan was trapped in the nightmare of "Thousand Dreams."
But that didn't mean he couldn't hear. From a young age, he had been connected to the spirit of the Heavenly Demon Sword, and the senses of the sword were his own.
However, since Sheng Lingyuan had come of age, it seemed that the Heavenly Demon Sword had grown more powerful and temperamental.
Living together day and night, they would inevitably argue and bicker. Sometimes, if one misspoke, they would ignore each other, and the one who was angrier would unilaterally "close off" their thoughts, not letting the other hear what they were thinking.
But perhaps because the sword spirit had been lazy and unwilling to practice properly, he was never able to unilaterally "close off" his senses to Sheng Lingyuan... until that day.
That was the first time the sword spirit completely severed the tactile connection between them, being extremely closed-off and not wanting to share any of the pain of being broken with him.
However, his sense of touch and pain were gone, while his sight and hearing remained. Sheng Lingyuan could still "hear" and "see", but he felt like a prisoner trapped in a cumbersome body, struggling desperately to find a way out.
He couldn't feel the sensation of being torn apart, but when the mithril fell, it felt like his liver, intestines, and spine were shattered.
"Don't listen...Lingyuan, don't look...let me tell you something else...breaking the sword body may not be a bad thing...who knows, I might be free from this."
"I want to travel the world, without taking you with me...you're always so busy anyway..."
"I also want to experience the pleasures of the world...I don't want to use your lousy tongue anymore. You complain about everything, even when it tastes good...you're just a person who deserves to eat plain rice and drink plain water..."
When the Heavenly Demon was born, it was sacrificed with the lives of eighty-one of the top human experts, sealing the grudges of those that died in the depths of the Chiyuan during the first Pingyuan battle into the young Heavenly Demon.
Every night since then, from midnight until dawn, the child and his sword would suffer endless torment and burning. They had to stay awake and struggle constantly to maintain their clarity, lest they be devoured by the irrational spirits.
Only those who survived this repeated grinding and tempering could become the true emperor who suppressed the demons.
This made Sheng Lingyuan's childhood tumultuous and extremely weak.
For thousands of nights, both the person and the sword endured by listening to each other's voice and breath. And now, that familiar breath was about to disappear.
The Heavenly Demon Sword was broken from the tip to the hilt. In the depths of his consciousness, Sheng Lingyuan saw the Sword Spirit for the first time.
Perhaps because of its origin as a bird, his Sword Spirit had wings, and he was enveloped in a huge pair of wings, with flames all around him.
His appearance was unclear, but there was a vague outline of a young and clumsy figure.
He really couldn't grow up, even though he was in his twenties.
If he were human, he should have already started a family.
Sheng Lingyuan desperately wanted to hold onto that ball of fire and take a look at his face, but before he could even touch him, the person turned into ashes before his eyes.
In that instant, Sheng Lingyuan's soul broke through the limits of his body and struggled out of the three drops of "Thousand Dreams". His limbs were out of control, and countless attendants held him down.
His eyes seemed to be burning with flames that could destroy everything as he crawled out of the sleeping quarters. The heavenly demon sword spirit disappeared into his sea of consciousness, its faint voice still echoing as if there were unfinished words: "Lingyuan, I..."
But they didn't even give him that. With the final blow from the Mountain king, the sword spirit was gone forever.
The sword shook violently, roaring incessantly.
In an instant, the cold iron turned red as fire.
The Mountain king, who held the mithril, was shocked. His hand trembled, and the last piece of the sword body splashed up, with the sword inscription reading "Tong."
The world-shattering heavenly demon sword, with the inscription "Tong," was not at all imposing. The shared vision was completely blacked out.
Sheng Lingyuan's left eye could no longer see the world in the sword spirit's eyes.
He reached out to grab his own eye, but those around him quickly shouted and held his hand, so he didn't catch anything except a piece of flesh from the corner of his eye.
Xuan Ji struggled to break free from his memories and returned to reality, his bloodshot eyes fixed on Sheng Lingyuan.
Sheng Lingyuan had just mocked King Wei Yu, his smile still lingering on his face, and the small dimple at the corner of his eye still visible. When he met Xuan Ji's gaze, he was completely puzzled and didn't understand what the other meant.
He only felt that this little demon was acting very strangely today.
Xuan Ji felt his heart sink from his chest all the way down to his feet, sinking into the icy depths of the sea... That man didn't remember him.
After spending so many days together, the sharp and perceptive Emperor had no familiarity with him at all.
Xuan Ji remembered that when the Heavenly Demon Sword was broken, the Du Ling Palace had not yet been repaired. According to historical inference, the emperor was only in his twenties at that time.
He had been broken into a piece of scrap iron, but the emperor still had half a lifetime of political career ahead of him. He fought monsters and leveled up all the way, killed all his political enemies, fought against the heavens, the earth, and the people, and had endless fun.
A sword that was smashed to pieces... for the emperor, it might be like an old torn piece of clothing, just evidence of the imperial power being offended.
After he defended the imperial seal with his blood, those scraps had no place in his heart anymore.
On the sea where lightning flashed and thunder roared, the young corpses of the Mountain clan quickly changed positions and formed a formation. Suddenly, they would turn into a sword shadow and emerge from underwater, beside the ship, and other tricky places, shooting towards Sheng Lingyuan like 108 hidden arrows.
Sheng Lingyuan calmly watched as the swords and knives that couldn't penetrate his protective black mist were deflected with hoarse screams. The Mountain king destroyed his sword, and he wiped out the entire clan, perhaps feeling that the debts were settled.
Even after three thousand years, when he meets his old acquaintance again, his face remains as calm as a still lake, without any ripples.
"The Heavenly Demon Sword is no ordinary iron," the child corpses, who had been speaking in unison, now spoke one by one. Some were crisp, some were soft, and some had the hoarseness of a teenage boy going through puberty.
Their voices rose and fell, surrounding the area in three-dimensional stereo.
"It must be soaked in the thickest mermaid blood and then struck with steel drills in several 'acupoints'."
As they spoke, seventeen or eighteen child corpses transformed into swords, almost weaving a net and pressing down on the top of the boat.
Quick-witted Zhang Zhao paused for a second and then the speedboat took off, forcefully breaking through the sea of corpses and narrowly avoiding the "sword net," which fell and created a large splash of water.
"Do you know? The most spiritual swords have 'key points', like the seven orifices of a person. They represent its vital points and show that it is alive. Only the most experienced master blacksmiths can find them. To destroy a sword, you must pierce these vital points through cleanly. Then, use a hammer made of mithril and weigh it down with thousands of pounds to strike it. The better the sword, the better the sound it makes when struck. Some are clear and some are low, but I love that sound the most...
"The Heavenly Demon Sword is the best of the best, and when the mithril hammer strikes it... tsk, the sound is both deep and lingering, like it's carrying a mournful tone. Your Majesty, I heard that you are a master of music, but unfortunately, you didn't hear it at the time. Otherwise, you could have evaluated it for us."
Sheng Lingyuan remained unmoved, even letting out a chuckle: "I come from a humble background, a rough soldier who only knows a few country tunes picked up from who knows where. Please forgive me for my lack of refinement, Mountain king."
Suddenly, a child's corpse hidden at the back of the boat transformed into a flash of light and flew towards Sheng Lingyuan, stabbing towards his back without warning.
"Be careful!" cried Gu Yuexi.
Without turning his head, Sheng Lingyuan pulled out a bamboo flute he had casually carved on the road from his pocket and deftly blocked the attack.
The flute was sliced in half, and the blade reverted back to the child's corpse, crashing heavily onto the deck.
Before it could regain its footing, Sheng Lingyuan flicked his wrist and nailed the sharpened end of the bamboo flute onto the child's forehead in one swift motion.
"I'm quite a rough man, if you insist on my hearing my views, then what I love most is hearing about the excitement of households cooking lamb and slaughtering cows," said Sheng Lingyuan as he played his bamboo flute.
In just a few words, he had already poked seven holes in the child's corpse.
"During festivals, when the knife comes down, blood is spilled. But the farmer's knife is never fast enough, and one cut often doesn't kill the animal. It's still howling, and the hot blood can be directly consumed. Cut it up and stew it in a pot, and everyone can share in the celebration of a bountiful harvest."
With a snap, the bamboo flute broke, and the child's corpse trembled violently before becoming still. Its small limbs began to wither, and it transformed into an ancient-looking curved knife, which sprang up and sliced off a strand of the puppet girl's hair.
The puppet girl screamed and cowered, "Is this a person or a sword?"
A person nearby spoke in a hoarse voice, "It's both a person and a knife...these corpses are sword spirits."
The wooden puppet girl turned towards the sound and saw Director Xuan slowly standing up.
Just moments ago, Director Xuan had suddenly become ill and had been leaning against the side of the boat in silence after the boat had rocked back and forth.
As a member of the "Bird species," it was understandable for him to be skilled in water combat, but on this stormy boat ride, he finally played the role he was meant to play - that of a cheerleader.
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