Behind a row of towering, ancient trees, the faint sound of panting rose out of the shadows.
Each gasp was faint and brief; they were clearly doing their utmost to prevent themselves from making any noise.
“Hah….. I never would have thought…….”
After a while, low, sinister muttering emanated from behind an ancient tree. Then Jiangchen, his wounds still bleeding, supported himself against the tree trunk. His eyes were bloodshot as he greedily sucked in air.
By his side, Houqing was more or less the same. His entire body was drenched in sweat. He peered out from gaps between the trees, staring out at an ancient path in astonishment.
Only Hanba sat dully on the ground. She said nothing at all; it almost seemed she’d lost her soul.
The moment Ye Zichen first reappeared, the Zombie Progenitors had sensed that something wasn’t quite right. When they saw him obliterate Black Dragon, they didn’t hesitate; they fled in panic.
They had no clear escape route. At the time, they thought of nothing but running away.
Day turned into night as they fled without pause. Even after ascertaining no one was following them, they’d gone out of their way to find a shady spot in a dense forest to hide in. Furthermore, they were still examining their surroundings on high alert for fear that Ye Zichen, terrifying as a demonic god, would find them.
“We can finally rest for a bit.”
After repeatedly reconfirming that there really wasn’t anyone pursuing them, Houqing finally sighed in relief and sat down.
Ye Zichen’s elegant strike had shaken the Zombie Progenitors to the core, leaving a deep impression on their hearts. They couldn’t find it in them to resist his blade, nor did they think they’d survive beneath it.
“Wasn’t Ye Zichen supposed to have died during his tribulation? We watched with our own eyes as the lightning swallowed him up. How could he possibly have come back?” Houqing swore furiously. His hatred for Ye Zichen had already reached its peak.
Jiangchen had recovered some of his strength. He rose to his feet and gently stirred the dense grass. It was as tall as a person. He examined the stone path from the gaps between tee foliage and said, “who knows? But what I can say for sure is: if we run into him, we’re absolutely doomed. Even Black Dragon, a sky supreme, fell before his blade, nevermind us. We can’t let him catch us. If we do, given all that we’ve done, we’ll surely die horrible deaths.”
This was absolutely the truth. After disposing of Black Dragon, Ye Zichen wanted to stop the conflicts in the Three Realms as fast as possible. Otherwise, he would surely have attacked them.
Houqing fully understood this as well. A faint, worried look surfaced on his face.
“Jiangchen, everything you’re saying is true. But surely you understand that no matter how far we run, we can’t escape the Three Realms. He’ll catch us sooner or later. When that happens, it will be hard to avoid death. Just look at Hanba; she’s obviously already scared out of her wits.”
They glanced at Hanba, who sat there, a dazed look on her face. When Jiangchen saw her, a veiled light glinted in his eyes.
Jiangchen nodded gravely, then returned to his spot beside an ancient tree. He turned to Houqing and said, “we can’t just sit and wait to die. How about this: you keep watch. I’ve yet to fully fuse with Yinggou’s soul. Give me a little time to merge with it completely. Then, even if Ye Zichen comes, I’ll at least be able to put up a fight. I’ll leave Hanba to your care as well.”
When he heard this, a sharp, inexplicable light flashed through Houqing’s eyes. However, he hid it well; nothing was visible on the surface. He nodded solemnly, “alright. It’s all up to you, elder brother.”
Jiangchen said nothing. He simply nodded, then, without any further hesitation, he really did it: he sat cross-legged on the ground, ripples of spiritual energy hovering around him.
Sensing the ripples’ vibrations, a brief, sinister grin tugged at the corners of Houqing’s mouth.
An hour passed.
The whole time, it looked as if Houqing was cautiously examining their surroundings, but in truth, he was monitoring Jiangchen.
Ye Zichen’s sudden rise to prominence made him feel a deep sense of crisis. Judging from that one strike, Jiangchen alone would have no way to fight back, not even if he fused with Yinggou’s portion of their soul.
Their current safety was only temporary. So long as Ye Zichen really came looking for them, it would be difficult to escape death even if they hid in the farthest corners of the earth.
He, Houqing, didn’t want to die here. He wanted to live on…..
So long as he gathered all of Denglong’s soul in one body and seized his physical body, he would become the ancient primordial beast Denglong.
When that happened, even if Ye Zichen were stronger than he already was, he’d still be no match for Houqing.
He stared intently at Jiangchen. If he attacked, he had to finish him off in one blow. If he failed, the consequence would be certain death.
At that very moment, an even stronger wave of spiritual energy burst out of Jiangchen’s body. His face gradually twisted with agony.
“He’s condensing the soul.”
Houqing watched this play out and licked his lips. Then suddenly, his expression darkened
He shouted inwardly as the fingers of his right hand sharpened into claws, then swung ruthlessly at the crown of Jiangchen’s head. However, the instant he made his move, a smile blossomed on Jiangchen’s agonized face. His eyes shot open.
“You finally couldn’t hold out any longer.”
With a sinister chuckle, Jiangchen’s right hand ruthlessly pierced right through Houqing’s chest. Fresh blood gushed from the wound. Houqing’s expression revealed his utter astonishment.
He’d been tricked.
While refining a soul, both your mind and seal had to be completely focused. There was no way to retain awareness of the outside world.
In order to avoid any possible mistakes, he’d deliberately chosen this moment to make his move. Yet now Jiangchen had actually opened his eyes! Obviously, he’d never really started refining the soul.
Houqing could no longer speak; he felt his soul being torn apart, as if someone were pulling it from his body.
since he felt the soul inside him tearing apart, as if his soul were being pulled from his body.
“I put a lot of effort into this soul of yours,” Jiangchen grinned, then, shockingly, pulled two distinct souls from Houqing’s body.
“You really did do something to Hanba.”
Houqing’s soul body was awash with terror. He struggled with all his might but couldn’t break free. Moments later, he seemed to accept his fate. He looked directly at Houqing and roared, “when did you start suspecting me?”
“The moment I first laid eyes on Hanba,” said Jiangchen. Tightly grasping Houqing’s soul, he snorted, “do you really think I didn’t notice Hanba was nothing but a soulless puppet? You don’t usually put up a fight; I never would have guessed you’d be so ambitious. You swallowed Hanba’s soul but didn’t fuse with it. Were you afraid I’d notice? Didn’t you know that I’m the one true body?”
“I can’t accept this!” Houqing shouted in fury. He’d planned this for so long and had even obtained Hanba’s soul. He was this close to living forever, but…..
An angry wail resounded through the forest. Jiangchen’s gaze was hideous as he chortled, “we didn’t get the crystalized beast soul, what a pity. But for the sake of our shared life, you’d best obediently fuse with me.”
With that, Jiangchen opened his mouth wide and tossed Houqing and Hanba’s souls into his gaping maw.