Just like the world outside, the Hidden Territory itself experiences the changing of the seasons and witnesses the shifting between the sun and moon.
In this very moment, the sun is beaming brightly over the mountains, valleys and the endless sea of grass. Even the inside of the damp cave is lit up with light and warmth.
After two days of intense meditation, supported by the tremendous healing powers of the Majestic Blood, Ling Xian's injuries had mostly recovered. The physical lashes of his wounds had all but disappeared while broken bones reattached and entangled blood vessels realigned.
Ling Xian had recovered well in both body and soul.
His internal injuries would require more time to fully recover, but such injuries did not diminish his powers to fight a good battle.
Moments ago, Ling Xian had sensed that someone was spying on him from outside his cave. Further sensing that the stranger had summoned powers intended for an attack, he opened his eyes, activated the Eyes of Execution, and landed behind the intruder in a blink of an eye.
A bloodstained sword settled gently against the intruder's neck, readied for the kill.
Even though the sword was not forged from the purest of Qi and could not be considered a distinct treasure of the realm, it is one of the nine weapons of the Eyes of Execution. Legend has it that its powers extend beyond Heaven and Earth, undefeatable even in the deepest realms of hell.
The Sword of Extinction was now drenched in the blood of magical creatures of the Hidden Territory, making it even more powerful and unpredictable.
All accounts identify this sword as a creation of the Heavens, but in reality, it was a weapon forged in the underworld, intended for killing, intended for inflicting pain.
According to the legend, the more blood the sword spills, the more powerful it becomes. Under its first owner, the sword had been engaged in a battle that annihilated an entire city.
That city was no ordinary city. That city was one of the nine major cities of the Taoism Community, home to countless warriors and unimaginable forces. The fall of the city further strengthened the supremacy of the sword.
Today, 120,000 years later, the second Master of the Eyes of the Extinction has emerged. The Sword of Extinction, the feared killing machine of history, has returned.
Tomorrow, the sword will ignite a bloody storm that will swipe through the entire Taoism Community, threatening the existence of all beings.
Fang Yun's face turned a ghostly shade of white as he swallowed hard. Examining the bloodstained sword from less than an inch away, he could sense its killer intentions through his body and soul.
The warmth of the land had suddenly turned into a bone-chilling ice storm.
[Dammit, how did he do that? Was that a technique or a weapon?] Fang Yun was overcome by regret. He regretted making a move, then he regretted pondering for so long before making that move. He should have acted on instinct and finished him with a single strike.
[Surrender or unleash the fireball and fight for my life?] Fang Yun quickly weighed his options. He instinctively wanted to toss the fireball but hesitated as he evaluated his chances of survival.
"You can try. Let's see if your fireball is faster than my sword," Ling Xian said calmly as if seeing right through the intruder's motives.
Bizarre, mysterious, powerful.
Fang Yun felt a mixture of these feelings. He dared not move, or unleash any weapons. He felt safer leaving the option to his opponent.
"My advice, my sword is faster. And don't you think about taking me with you. Your powers can't hurt me," Ling Xian explained peacefully.
The fireball is one of the most entry-level tricks a cultivator can have, its damage limited. Even if released by a cultivator of the sixth realm, its powers will not be lethal. For Ling Xian, this trick was too easily expelled.
Fang Yun examined Ling Xian closely. Though the more he observed, the more uncertain he became of his opponent's true depth. So he decided not to act rashly and let out a forced smile more hideous than laughter, "A misunderstanding, the most unfortunate misunderstanding. I was passing by and mistook you for a beast. Please spare my life."
Ling Xian laughed out loud as he shook his head. This one, who intended to kill him, is now lying about mistaking him for a beast. How shameless!
Fang Yun's heart sank as he realized Ling Xian was not buying into his lie. However, he couldn't change his tactics now, so he insisted with a bright smile, "Friend, this is truly a misunderstanding. Lower your sword and let me leave?"
"Ha, funny." Ling Xian threw him a deadly glare then turned to the Xuan Ming Snake and asked, "There is a beast outside the cave, do you see him?"
"Ssssss…" The Snake waved his tongue. It was not the brightest creature, but it understood the implications perfectly. Shifting its gaze onto Fang Yun, the Snake responded, "Of course, Master has the keenest of eyes. There is a beast disguised as a human, we should kill him!"
"See? Even my pet says you are a beast. I was right. Any last words? I give you that much." Ling Xian mocked him. He twisted the sword gently against Fang Yun's neck as he spoke. A splash of fresh blood seeped out.
"No, no, please, friend, look at me. I am human, I am no beast."
Fang Yun was losing his footing. He quickly examined the youth in front of him again, the black, blood-soaked cloak, a giant snake, and suddenly a bold guess erupted inside him.
A young fellow, dressed in black, sustained heavy injuries, accompanied by a Xuan Ming Snake.
He suddenly recalled the details of the conversations exchanged during his battles with the beasts of the Hidden Territory, that a Kill Order had been issued against a human who was murdering his way across the magical realm. As he matched the details of those conversations with the young man in front of him, his heart began to jump uncontrollably inside his chest.
It must be him!
He is in the presence of the mass murderer!
Fang Yun nearly laughed out loud at his own recklessness. How incredibly moronic was he to initiate a fight with this man? Was he tired of living?
This man was the killer of men and beasts, the murderer of magical beings.
This man took on hundreds of hideous beasts solo and emerged victoriously.
This man had forced the rulers of the beasts to issue a Kill Order and unite all creatures of the Hidden Territory in eradicating him.
[Dear mother, I want to come home…]
Hopelessness was now written all over Fang Yun's face. He had completely abandoned any attempt at escaping or retaliating.
If Ling Xian was determined to kill him, Fang Yun had wanted to take a gamble and put up one last fight. However, now against this cold-blooded killer, he knew the situation was hopeless.
Though he could not simply submit to fate without a fight. He continued to strategize.
"You are indeed human, but I will treat you like a beast." Ling Xian elevated himself and observed his captive from above. He continued, coldly, "What? You can mistake me for a beast but not the other way around?"
"No, no, no, you can treat me as anything you wish. Only that you spare my life." Fang Yun bowed. He could not reveal his true identity. The Fang name was enough to threaten most people, but against their archenemy, death would come even more swiftly.
His only hope was begging to be spared.
"I will never leave anyone who wishes to kill me alive," Ling Xian responded sternly.
This is how he is, a kind and understanding man until he is provoked. Once provoked, all hell breaks loose.
Fang Yun had to force himself not to react with anger. He continued to beg, screaming as he went on, "Friend, I have an elder mother who's over 80 years of age, and a suckling child, please, let me go, let me live!"
"Ha! Look at you, 18 years of age at most. Your mother gave birth at 62? If you want to make up a story, at least make sure the math adds up!" Ling Xian couldn't contain his laughter. He had had enough of this. He had made up his mind to end this now.
Fang Yun sensed it too. Instinctively he called out, "Please, don't!"
"What else do you have to say?" Ling Xian frowned impatiently.
"I have news that will be of great interest to you. I will exchange it for my life," Fang Yun said with much difficulty. He had been pondering whether or not to deal this last card. Now, he had no choice. His knowledge of the imminent attack on the Ling Clan was his last hope.
The fate of his clansmen, the survival of the entire Fang Clan, nothing mattered anymore to Fang Yun. If he were to be known from this day forward as a traitor, then so be it.
"Oh? Perhaps the location where the treasure is hidden?"
Ling Xian glanced over at the Xuan Ming Snake. He found it amusing that both his captives had wanted to exchange such information for their lives.
"No, no, this is news regarding members of the Ling Clan who had entered the Hidden Territory. I have urgent news regarding their fate." Fang Yun let it all out. As his voice trailed off, he felt an enormous sense of relief.
Ling Xian's expression suddenly darkened. The entire cave froze.
"Speak now, tell me everything!"