The two teardrops were quickly evaporated into nothingness by the demonic energy.
"XIUHONG!" Miao Yi howled, his voice trembling.
However, there was no response.
Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei quickly spread their transcendence energy over to scan Qi Xiuhong's body hanging limply above them.
Soon, the two of them quietly retracted their transcendence energy. Sikong Wuwei let out a deep sigh and said, "Brother. My condolences."
His attempt to console Miao Yi ultimately revealed the unfortunate result of their examination.
The iron chains binding Miao Yi abruptly rattled as he struggled to break free; his fists clenched and loosened repeatedly. His eyes were bloodshot as he stared upwards, and he struggled with all his might, but alas, it was to no avail.
He wanted to save her. He believed that since his cultivation art could eradicate the demonic energy, he could do the same for her as well; just like he did with the cold Yin energy before.
He knew that there was still a chance to save her. If he could eradicate the demonic energy in Qi Xiuhong's body in time and use the Glorious Star Immortal Herb to help her regain some vitality, then there was definitely a chance she could be saved. After all, her breathing had only stopped moments ago.
However, Miao Yi had no way of getting close to her. No matter how hard he tried to reach out, he couldn't touch her at all. Although they were so close to each other, he felt like they were miles apart.
He watched as Qi Xiuhong slowly died right before his eyes. Even though she was so close, he couldn't do a single thing. His entire body felt numb from that sense of helplessness. It was starting to become difficult to breathe, as though even his soul was suffocating.
His eyes bulged as he stared up at Qi Xiuhong's pale face, growing redder by the moment.
He had never felt this way before. His breathing was ragged and strained. He had never wanted to become stronger as badly as he did now.
A deep resentment birthed within him as he continued to struggle against the iron chains binding him.
He hated himself. He hated how he had been dazed in that final moment! In his many years of cultivation, he had killed countless people and told so many lies. Why couldn't he just tell her that he truly loved her? Why did he have to let her die in tears? In grief?
He would never forget it. The sensation when those two teardrops fell upon his face—so vivid, it was instantly etched into his soul. He couldn't imagine how sad Qi Xiuhong must have felt at that moment. And it was all because of him.
Then it flashed into his mind. Back on the ship, the moment he knocked on that one door and behind it, a beautiful girl in a yellow dress was cautiously peering at him. It was the scene from where they first met.
He never knew what love was because he had never experienced it before. It was an unknown emotion to him, but now he understood. Alas, the price for it was simply too great, and too painful!
Having experienced such loss, Miao Yi could only lower his head and cry out, shaking his head weakly as he did so. He screamed from the depths of his soul; it sounded as though it came from the deepest pits of hell, as though a devil that had been sealed for eternity was trying to break free from the underworld, to crush the gourd that was its shackles, and scorch the world black!
The bead under Miao Yi's neck shone with a dull light, and Lao Bai's silhouette suddenly appeared out of thin air. He was the epitome of elegance. Like a snow pear blossom kissed with gentle specks of blue, he was garbed in a light blue cloak, and slowly made his descent upon one of the iron chains.
His white robes and light blue cloak, and the two strands of white hair beside his cheeks all floated gently amidst the whirling mass of demonic energy.
Lao Bai gazed down at Miao Yi screaming at the top of his lungs, then slowly closed his eyes and sighed, "If you are truly able to reach those heights one day, I hope you will not come to resent me! This is the path you chose. You have to shoulder every single consequence yourself. The road of cultivation is a long one. Not everything will always work in your favor!"
He then let out a long sigh, tinged with mixed emotions, before vanishing into thin air.
That horrifying howl continued on. The sound of it was capable of sending chills down one's spine. Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei exchanged a glance. They never thought that a person could make such a terrifying sound.
Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei couldn't help but worry that Miao Yi would go mad. However in the end, they were simply overthinking things!
'CRACK!' Miao Yi suddenly clenched his fists tightly, popping the joints on his fingers with the pressure.
Then, he slowly relaxed his hands and fingers. His expression gradually regained its calm as well. It was almost frightening how tranquil he seemed. His gaze was still, and his expression quiet, as though nothing had happened at all.
After quietly observing him for a while, Sikong Wuwei couldn't help asking, "Brother Miao, are you alright? Death is a common occurrence in the path of cultivation. Brother. You must overcome your sorrow! Once we get out of here, we will help avenge Qi Xiuhong."
"I'm alright!" Miao Yi calmly replied. "Ever since I started walking this path, bloodshed has been a normal occurrence. I cannot blame anyone else for this. I have only my own weakness to blame. So incompetent that I couldn't even protect my own woman!"
"..." Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei looked at each other, unsure of what to say.
The two of them were worried that Miao Yi wouldn't be able to control his emotions to the point that he wouldn't be able to hold out until they made their escape. But now it seemed like they had simply been overthinking it. That said, he regained his composure much too soon. Both Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei had witnessed how agitated he was earlier on. Was he truly alright now?
On the ocean, a group of people was approaching Gu Sanzheng and the others from the front. The leader was riding atop a snow-white beast that resembled both a Qilin and a lion at the same time, which galloped across the blue waves with astounding speed.
Gu Sanzheng's group was caught by surprise. With opponents coming from the front and back, they were at a loss on what to do.
"It's the Jade Lion! The spiritual beast being bred by the Realm Beyond Heaven!" Tan Lao said. "It should be the representative from the Realm Beyond Heaven then. Normal participants wouldn't be qualified to have such a high-tier spiritual beast. We can try using the Realm of Ten Thousand Demons as a reason to ask for help. These two parties have always been at odds with one another. Maybe we can use this as a chance to escape pursuit."
Gu Sanzheng quickly invoked his arts and shouted, "Is the one before us the expert from the Realm Beyond Heaven? We are loyal subjects of the Celestial Sage, belonging to the Celestial Nation's Fifth Earthly Branch. We are currently under pursuit from the Realm of Ten Thousand Demons. I would like to humbly ask for your assistance!"
A clear voice then rang out from the front and replied, "Who is the insolent fool who dares persecute the cultivators of my Celestial Nation?"
Gu Sanzheng and the others were overjoyed by the response. They knew that their gamble had been worthwhile. Turning back to look, they saw that their pursuers were already slowing down. Clearly, they were quite afraid of these people as well.
The person riding atop the Jade Lion sped up and separated from the rest of the group, meeting up with Gu Sanzheng's group earlier than the others. Raising its legs, the Jade Lion came to an abrupt stop on the ocean. As it rested its legs on the turquoise waves, the water underneath immediately formed thick layers of ice, allowing it to stand firmly.
Gu Sanzheng's group quickly came to a halt. When they saw who it was, they couldn't help being taken aback. It was because the man riding atop the Jade Lion was simply too beautiful. No one would have been able to resist stopping to stare.
That person was obviously none other than Yue Yao.
Perhaps her disguise would work on mortals. However, in the careful eyes of cultivators, it was easy to tell she was cross-dressing with a glance.
Even Ye Xin couldn't help losing focus. Yue Yao in men's clothing exuded a different sense of charm. One that was capable of beguiling even women.
Soon, Yue Yao's group caught up to her. When one of her handmaidens saw how Gu Sanzheng and the other two were staring, she immediately yelled, "What impudence! Why are you still not paying your respects upon seeing Lord Sixth?"
The trio immediately snapped back to their senses. They quickly bowed with their fists cupped and said, "We come from the Celestial Nation's Fifth Earthly Branch. Gu Sanzheng of the Sword Deviate Sect. Ye Xin of the Jade Lady Sect. Tan Lao of the School of Imperial Beasts. We respectfully greet Lord Sixth of the Realm Beyond Heaven!"
Even though they didn't know why this cross-dresser was called 'Lord Sixth', but since the other party had addressed her as such, they may as well follow suit.
From her appearance, the three of them wondered if she was one of the legendary 'Twin Fairies Beyond Heaven'—Fairy Yue Yao, who also seemed to be Celestial Sage Fu Manjun's sixth disciple. They were thinking, 'This title of Lord Sixth couldn't possibly have come from that, right?'
"Gu Sanzheng?" When Yue Yao heard their introduction, her gaze immediately fell upon Gu Sanzheng. In a man's voice, she asked, "You're Gu Sanzheng?"
Gu Sanzheng was taken aback. 'How did she know my name?'
Ye Xin and Tan Lao also looked at Gu Sanzheng in confusion.
Gu Sanzheng courteously replied, "Indeed I am, Lord Sixth!"
Yue Yao then asked, "Are you 'Niu Youde'?"
'Why am I hearing this name again?' Gu Sanzheng cupped his fists again and replied, "Lord Sixth. I am Gu Sanzheng, not Niu Youde."
"Lord Sixth!" Beside Yue Yao, one of her handmaidens pursed her lips towards Bai Ziliang's group, who was slowly approaching them, and reminded her of their presence.
Yue Yao instantly understood. Gu Sanzheng definitely wouldn't admit that he was Niu Youde at a time like this, so she didn't question him any further. She gestured for the three of them to stand behind her, then shifted her gaze to the group opposite her.
Bai Ziliang had already released his Tempest Beast once again and was riding it towards them. Coming to a stop nearby, he cupped his fists and smiled, "Yue Yao. Long time no see!"
As soon as she saw Yue Yao, Lan Susu cast a sideways glance at Bai Ziliang. Upon seeing the joyful look on his face, she pursed her lips and shifted her gaze back to Yue Yao, albeit with a little more hostility now.
Clearly, it was not the first time that Yue Yao and Bai Ziliang had met each other.
Gu Sanzheng's group exchanged glances when they heard how Bai Ziliang had addressed this Lord Sixth. As expected, she was Fairy Yue Yao. No wonder she possessed such nation-toppling beauty.
"And here I was wondering who the cheeky bastard could be. Bai Ziliang, why are you persecuting the cultivators of my Celestial Nation?" Yue Yao bluntly rebuked.
Bai Ziliang appeared to be at a loss as he replied, "Then what else would you have me do? This is the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade you know." He pointed towards Gu Sanzheng and continued, "That man is Niu Youde, the perpetrator of the Brass Gong Fort murder incident here in the Sea of Constellations all those years ago. Who else would I hunt down, if not him?"
Yue Yao indifferently asked , "What evidence do you have that he is Niu Youde?"
Bai Ziliang smiled, "Simple. Once I take him to the Western Constellations Palace and hand him over to Lord Fu Qing, all will be revealed."
Gu Sanzheng furrowed his brows. The more he listened to the conversation, the less he followed. What did he mean by the Brass Gong Fort murder incident all those years ago? Didn't it just happen recently? Why did it even involve the Western Constellations Palace?
Yue Yao scoffed, "Stop trying to use Fu Qing to scare me. I won't let you take anyone from my Celestial Nation without any proof. I suggest you be on your way. Otherwise, don't blame me for being discourteous!"
Suddenly, Lan Susu asked, "Hei Langjun. Is he Niu Youde?"
Hei Langjun immediately stepped out and pointed at Gu Sanzheng, saying, "Your subordinate can vouch for it. He admitted it to me himself. At the time, I was not the only one who heard him!"
'So this guy is Hei Langjun. The one that spread the news!' Yue Yao eyed him coldly, then called out, "Lan Ruo!"
Her handmaiden Lan Ruo immediately pointed at Hei Langjun and said, "I can verify that it is this Hei Langjun who is the one called Niu Youde."
Yue Yao then said, "Bai Ziliang. I think my handmaiden's testimony should be more trustworthy than this no-name lackey's, don't you?"
"Young Master!" Anxious, Hei Langjun looked to Bai Ziliang for help.
Before Bai Ziliang could reply, Yue Yao shot over a black streak of light with a flick of her fingers. Hei Langjun screamed in agony as he was instantly sliced in two.