The words "Sword Spirits" were like a sore spot for Yan Qiushan, almost causing him to be caught by the Guiding Lamp.
But now, he struggled and focused his gaze on Xuan Ji, his eyes reflecting a terrifying fire.
Zhang Zhao asked in confusion, "What? Weren't these children orphans adopted by the Mountain King?"
Xuan Ji lifted his heavy eyelids, pressing down on his gaze as if he were afraid to see the person's face.
People age, burdened by memories. And there was no heavier burden than this.
Xuan Ji could only recall bits and pieces of his own past, unable to make sense of it all. His memories were turning him from a carefree youth into a lifeless corpse.
He could almost smell the stale odor seeping out of his bones.
After the destruction of the Heavenly Demon Sword, for some unknown reason, the young Vermilion Bird chick who had been forcibly sealed inside as a sword spirit did not perish with it.
Xuan Ji remembered falling into a realm that was neither demon nor ghost, like a shell-less turtle, lacking in soul and intelligence, and unable to remember anything.
At first, he instinctively followed Sheng Lingyuan, drifting aimlessly around him. It wasn't until some time later that he gradually regained some consciousness and understood what he was.
He discovered that no one in the world could see or feel him anymore, and he became a confused account beyond life and death.
Xuan Ji collected himself and briefly recounted the history he had witnessed to everyone present.
"After getting rid of the heavenly demon sword, the Emperor did not disappoint the people's expectations and returned to his "normal" self. His temperament became gentle and peaceful again.
"He lightly brushed over the incident of the people forcing him to break the sword and did not investigate further. He even admitted candidly that he had been like in a dream before, his mind unclear, and had done many foolish things.
"The Emperor comforted those who had been wronged because of the demonic sword, giving posthumous pardons and compensation to their families.
"For the living, he granted them promotions and rewards. In terms of governance, His Majesty worked diligently and soon everything was in order.
"He no longer displayed the erratic behavior of before and became a great emperor for the ages. The court officials felt that their hard work had not been in vain and were overjoyed.
"The Mountain king Wei Yu may have thought he had achieved great things, and his past heroic deeds were praised by his courtiers, making him overly proud. Or perhaps he believed that without the Heavenly Demon Sword, the Emperor had no claws, so he boldly revealed his ambition to expand the Mountain clan.
"He repeatedly demanded money and land from the court, becoming increasingly arrogant. He even listened to someone's persuasion and began practicing the infamous Mountain black magic, drinking three cups of infant blood on every new and full moon, consuming placenta for nourishment, and extracting essence from young boys and girls.
"The children he detained in the Mountain palace became his prime materials. The effectiveness of dark magic was unknown, but the constant use of it did not seem to make King Wei Yu any more youthful or attractive.
"As public discontent grew, the once righteous officials who had supported him could no longer tolerate his insane behavior. With repeated incidents, they denounced the Mountain king as a barbarian and refused to associate with him any longer.
"Two years later, Sheng Lingyuan turned against King Wei Yu and accused him of ten crimes, including colluding with demons, falling into the path of evil, and betraying trust.
"He swiftly surrounded the city of the Mountain king with lightning speed, and the defense of the small island city was like paper compared to the emperor's throne, which was won by fighting against demons. From the order to attack the city to taking over the palace, it took less than half an hour - on normal days, even a stroll from the city wall to the palace would take longer.
"The reason why they attacked so quickly is because there was an insider helping them, and that traitor is Wei Yun," Xuan Ji said. "But even with his help, they still didn't make it in time to save those children. King Wei Yu hates Wei Yun to the bone and wanted to drag him down with him.
"When the army of the Emperor was at the gates of the city, he ordered the poisoning of all the orphans in the palace - using the extracted blood of mermaids to create a gas chamber for the mermaid poison. That's why every child's body was filled with a large amount of the poison. Interestingly, filling living creatures with the poison is the first step in the ancient method of refining the spirit of the Mountain people's magical artifacts."
Everyone present was stunned by the barbaric and ancient sorcery of the primitive people.
"The spirits of the Mountain people are definitely made from living creatures," Xuan Ji somehow found a cigarette, put it in his mouth, and chuckled vaguely. "Otherwise, what do you think it is? Artificial intelligence? Shouldn't we, as field agents, also read more books in our spare time? The Mountain people were still in a slave society 3,000 years ago, slightly stronger than primitive humans. Do you think they could pass the Turing test back then? What are you thinking? Are you planning to give this group of people a bunch of Fields Medals?"
Yan Qiushan trembled and touched his wound, curling up in pain.
Then what about Zhi Chun?
He wondered: Was Zhi Chun also once a living person?
When Zhi Chun was alive, did he also struggle in the cruel and desperate blood of the merfolk, filled with poison gas, and finally killed and imprisoned in a knife?
Then his one-sided way of treating him well, even going to great lengths to try and repair him after his blade was destroyed, was it really good for him?
And what is the relationship between the Sword Spirit and the owner of the sword?
Is it a replication of the ancient slave and master dynamic?
Even the wooden puppet girl was stunned, turning to the child corpses surrounding them on all sides and murmuring, 'So...so the last batch of divine weapons that went missing after the destruction of the Mountain clan...they were actually...'"
The "divine weapons" were always clearly placed in the tomb of the Mountain prince clan? Even the Qingping Division was kept in the dark... No, the Qingping Division was already kept in the dark, but she finally realized it.
That so-called "map of the tomb of the Mountain prince" was actually a death trap, leading them straight into a ravine. If it weren't for the field agents of the Bureau who happened to catch up, they would have become mere decorations in a crystal wall long ago!
"Not bad, it's these burial objects. Of course, Qingping Division's map was meant to prevent you from stealing it. See, it worked." Sheng Lingyuan laughed.
Xuan Ji had just briefly mentioned the Heavenly Demon and the Heavenly Demon Sword, only giving the Wind Gods a brief history lesson, and he didn't notice anything wrong.
"I can't stand curved blades, so who wants this one?" The Mountain king, Wei Yu, seemed to have no regard for anyone else.
All the child corpses were only going towards Sheng Lingyuan.
As the current leader of the Wind God, Wang Ze had never experienced this kind of "cold treatment". On one hand, he was anxious because of Yan Qiushan's injury, and on the other hand, he was furious: "Give it to me! These uneducated orphans who haven't even graduated from elementary school, who do they think they are looking down on?"
However, Xuan Ji intercepted him halfway, saying nothing, just beckoning to the curved knife. The blade obediently fell into his palm.
"Sorry," he nodded to Wang Ze with a cigarette in his mouth. "Let me cut in line first. I have some debts to collect."
Sheng Lingyuan thought Xuan Ji was talking about his personal sword, because he had taken the sword for himself and Xuan Ji was now left without a suitable weapon.
It was almost unfair for him to fight with just a steel coin in hand.
So, the emperor generously waved his hand and made a promise: "Of course, I will compensate you with a better sword if there is a chance in the future."
Xuan Ji turned his back to Sheng Lingyuan and listened to his carefree voice. He smiled strangely and didn't answer.
Suddenly, intricate flame patterns appeared on the blade of his curved sword, and with a light "buzz", all the jumping child corpses froze in place. Next, a layer of snowy white fire appeared on the blade. With one swing, it cut through the darkness and the deep sea.
The fire on the blade burned through the Yin Sacrifice barrier just like it did in the underwater world. Not only did it not extinguish in water, but it also spread out along the seawater.
The Yin Sacrifice text that pervaded the deep sea behaved like it had encountered a natural enemy. It retreated in droves, and the sword spirits' teeth chattered.
They formed a circle around the speedboat, retreating more than twenty meters.
"You guys go first and quickly take the wounded to the hospital. I'll take care of things here." Xuan Ji turned his back to the speedboat, his huge wings surrounded by swirling flames, suspending him in mid-air.
He blew out a smoke ring from his nose. "Don't forget to contact Director Xiao for me. Tomorrow, my department will be renamed the 'Rearguard Department'."
A group of sword spirits, shoulder to shoulder, surrounded Xuan Ji with their cold, eerie gazes. Their whispers were like waves crashing against the shore.
"Such a young one..."
"How audacious... how audacious..."
Meanwhile, a massive black shadow emerged from the depths of the sea, taking on a humanoid form. Its edges undulated with the waves, enveloping the entire sea.
The Wind God agents on the speedboat felt an indescribable pressure, as if the air around them had been sucked dry. Through her X-ray eyes, Gu Yuexi saw the familiar black aura that represented heavenly demons within the darkness.
It was much stronger than the nameless heavenly demon of Chiyuan and Aluojin, and within the swirling black aura was a giant face that was faintly visible. It looked like a man in his prime with handsome features, but with strange black markings on his face.
In the next moment, Gu Yuexi suddenly realized that those markings were the lines where his skin had been cut open and sewn back together!
The King, Wei Yu, had once been dismembered into 108 pieces by the Emperor.
The face within the darkness suddenly opened its eyes, which were like two deep wells with nothing inside. The eye sockets were filled with surging black aura, and a hurricane suddenly rose up.
He opened his mouth, and 108 child corpses burst into laughter at the same time.
The sea trembled beneath them, and the small speedboat was buffetted like a helpless leaf in the midst of a typhoon.
Someone shouted, "Oh no, a tsunami!"
With all his might, Wang Ze quickly activated a dozen protective bubbles around the speedboat, which was almost sucked dry by the force of the waves. The boat spun like a top in the chaotic bubbles, and the various protective gear glimmered in the flashing bubbles, creating a disco ball effect.
At the same time, Zhang Zhao instinctively paused a second. That second freeze-frame gave everyone a chance to see the scene around them - hundreds of non-decaying bodies floating in mid-air, with wide, white-eyed stares, pale as paper from being struck by lightning.
The raging sea looked like a scene from a doomsday movie, with waves dozens of meters high silently roaring, ready to crash onto the nearby land dotted with lights!
Dr. Wang from the Research Institute had said that heavenly demons were equivalent to natural disasters. The first heavenly demon that Gu Yuexi and the others had encountered had been too rebellious and was consumed by the Yin Sacrifice ritual, so they left it alone. The second heavenly demon, for some reason, either due to unfavorable conditions or something else, dispersed into the mountains of Dongchuan amidst the sound of strong winds and light rain. They had always thought that the legend of "heavenly demons" was just an exaggeration.
It wasn't until now that they understood why only one demon could emerge as the fate and calamity of a clan. Why "heavenly demons" were a part of the rules of heaven and earth.
Xuan Ji's clan emblem appeared on his forehead, and he decisively bit his tongue and made a hand seal.
In the next second, time began to flow again, and a huge totem fell from under Xuan Ji's feet. The fiery halo rapidly expanded, and everyone was blinded by the light.
A distant bird cry could be heard from the direction of the horizon, and at midnight, the eastern sky was illuminated with a pale light, as if the fire could break through the darkness!
When the waves were raging, Sheng Lingyuan had already left the fast boat filled with mortals, standing on the sea with black mist under his feet. The strong wind broke the leather rope that tied his hair, and his long hair scattered.
Suddenly, he looked up and his pupils shrank - the fire-keeper had activated the power of the Vermilion Bird bone to suppress the Chiyuan.
The fire light smashed onto the sea surface, forcibly pressing down the huge waves. The two sides struggled like a big bird diving down to press down a venomous snake on the ground, and the venomous snake struggled to fight back with its fangs.
The roaring of the sea was deafening, and the fierce wind collided with 108 child corpses, making a sound like ancient battlefield of metal and iron!
However, just as the black shadow was about to be pressed into the water by the fire light, a lightning bolt like a giant dragon suddenly struck without warning - but it was not aimed at King Wei Yu, but at Sheng Lingyuan!
The heavenly thunderbolt came unexpectedly, like a stirring stick in a pile of shit.
Except for His Majesty, who had a vague premonition, no one else reacted in time.
Xuan Ji was shocked and turned pale. In a flash of lightning, Sheng Lingyuan's body was surrounded by black mist, which briefly froze the surrounding seawater into ice.
He pushed away the Wind Gods' speedboat with a backhand, arrogantly withstanding the wrath of heaven and earth. The thunder and demonic energy clashed head-on, and even though he had already pushed the speedboat dozens of meters away with one palm, the dozen or so protective bubbles on the boat still shattered instantly.
Wang Ze, who was holding up the protective barrier, was hit first and almost had his spine broken by the terrifying pressure. Even King Wei Yu and his child corpses were affected, with many of them swept away by the lightning and turned into their original weapons when they fell into the sea.
The demonic shadow of King Wei Yu in the water was also dispersed. Xuan Ji was still in shock, and then he was stunned again.
When Sheng Lingyuan's demonic energy erupted, he suddenly felt a strange sensation, as if something invisible had bound his hands and feet. The totem under his feet immediately dimmed, and most of his strength was sucked away!
Chiyuan was sealed by Sheng Lingyuan, so he immediately realised what had happned just now. In a world where spiritual energy was almost extinct, the power of the Vermilion Bird bone of the Fire-keepers could extinguish the fires of Chiyuan. It could be said that they were invincible in the world.
However, all things in the world have their own balance, whether it is the demon or the guardian who restrains the demon, the heavenly way will not allow them to be unrestricted.
The Fire-keeper and Chiyuan, the source of demonic energy, are in a mutually restraining relationship. The heavenly way prohibits the Fire-keeper from using the power of the divine and demonic outside of Chiyuan.
Once the Fire-keeper uses the power of the Vermilion Bird Bone outside of the Chiyuan, the suppression of the Vermilion Bird Seal on the Chiyuan will loosen.
This will make the heavens nervous, and the Chiyuan Canyon will definitely be filled with thunder and lightning. Who knows, tomorrow we might see news of a forest fire.
Sheng Lingyuan, for some reason, is connected to the Chiyuan and couldn't separate himself from it when the Heavenly Tribulation struck. Therefore, he was also struck by lightning.
In other words, as long as Xuan Ji uses his true power, the Heavenly Thunder will continue to chase after Sheng Lingyuan and strike him. Of course, Sheng Lingyuan is not willing to just sit there and be a lightning rod.
As soon as he resists, the demonic energy will erupt and the power of the Vermilion Bird Bone will immediately be forced to turn back and suppress him. As a result, Xuan Ji's power will be correspondingly depleted.
Previously, Xuan Ji was lost and clueless, following a group of mortals and unable to remember any useful spells. He couldn't even harness the power of the Vermilion Bird Bone to suppress demons. But now, his strength and memories have returned, and with them, the shackles that bind him.
Together, they fought side by side, but it was a futile effort. They were destined to turn on each other. As their internal conflict escalated, the already fragile seal on Chiyuan began to crumble. Soon, without others instigating things with the Yin Sacrifice ritual, the two of them would unwittingly unleash the fiery abyss, and this lawless fire-keeper would be consumed by the inferno.
Sheng Lingyuan swallowed a mouthful of blood. This brat was probably born to be his nemesis!
The dispersed demon shadows of King Wei Yu that had just been beaten began to gather in the seawater.
Xuan Ji was in a state of distress as he hovered in mid-air with his wings. Sheng Lingyuan had been struck by lightning several times and had accumulated some experience in this regard. He gradually figured out the limits set by the heavenly way and managed to maintain the release of demonic energy on the edge of angering the thunderclouds, freezing the demon shadows in the water along with the seawater.
The demon shadows were unable to condense for a while, and Sheng Lingyuan was helpless against them. The frozen ice blocks were constantly washed and melted by the surrounding seawater, maintaining a dangerous balance like walking on a tightrope. Xuan Ji, who was skilled in exorcising demons and dispelling evil, dared not move recklessly and use his true powers as the fire-keeper.
The sea surface was at a stalemate for a while.
A speedboat carrying a Wind God almost turned into a gyro, and it was only at this moment that it stopped dangerously. Whether it was the exceptional performance of the Wang Ze's koi luck blessing, the boat did not sink.
And at that moment, the critically injured soldier Yan Qiushan suddenly stared intently in a certain direction.
Gu Yuexi had just thrown all of her protective gear onto the wounded soldier and hadn't had time to take care of herself. Her vision was still blurry and her legs were weak. When she noticed Yan Qiushan's gaze, she was taken aback.
Following his line of sight, she saw the child corpse that had been jumping around earlier, frozen and turned into a puppet with its strings cut.
It bobbed up and down in the waves, while the gloomy sacrificial text that had been forced back by Xuan Ji contracted into a single line and converged on a figure not far away, highlighting that person.
Among the countless child corpses, there was a face that was equally lifeless, floating on the surface of the water like a member of an army of corpses... except that his face was so familiar - Zhi Chun.
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