In the depth of the Dark Abyss, in a place so deep that no sunlight could ever reach since the ancient era, there stood a magnificent palace shrouded in a faint glow.
An extremely thin layer of cloud was trapped by a powerful spell, shaped into a perfect square measuring one hundred miles in both width and length. A cluster of palaces and pavilions stood loftily on top of it. Four strangely fashioned pillars poked out of the four corners of the cloud, beautifully carved but sending forth an immensely evil air. They stood about one hundred miles tall, and with their foundations only measuring about one hundred feet in circumference, they looked like four sharp needles from afar.
The pillars were constructed with bones from some unknown beasts, which had been meticulously carved and polished into bone bricks that measured four feet and nine inches in both width and length. No patterns were carved on their smooth surface, save only the natural crevices of the bones. A vast evil air shrouded the pillars while green flames danced around them. On top of each pillar was a blood-red bowl shaped like a lotus flower, fully filled with a blood-like liquid. A flame burned ragingly and leaped several dozen feet up from the liquid, spitting out a bloodcurdling light to the surroundings, dimly lighting up the pitch-black Dark Abyss while smearing the place with an eerie feeling and filling one's heart with restlessness.
Although the palaces and pavilions were extravagantly luxurious, all the buildings, flower nurseries, gardens, were shrouded in either green or blood-red fiend flames. Not a single soul could be seen walking around, yet there were men and women who were clad in long black robes, their faces pale as if they were wearing a mask, standing quietly at every corner of the palaces and pavilions. They looked like puppets who had worn human skins, adding even more despair to the place.
When looking from a closer distance, under this thin layer of cloud, at a place about one hundred miles below was a large hole opening on the ground with a dark mouth spreading a few miles wide. The hole barely made a round shape, with dark smoke billowing out ceaselessly. Every now and then, green flames and red mist could be seen flashing across the hole, and vaguely, some Godfiends clad in strange outfits, their bodies huge and half-translucent and faces solemn, were seen sitting on red lotus thrones made of flame. They were hovering amidst the black smoke with long banners and large flags in their hands, forming a peculiar formation.
This palace was Miao Ying Palace.
And, the hole beneath it led to the Land of Nine Yin Negate Yang.
The Patriarch of Miao Ying Palace had established a temporary dwelling palace above the Land of Nine Yin Negate Yang. For over the last tens of thousands of years, she alone had been hiding in that mysterious and perilous land which no one knew the depth of, borrowing the venomous pure Yin energy to craft a mystic treasure of the Fiend League. She had shielded the only entrance to the land with the 'Minor Rakshasa Void Reversing and Heart Slaughtering Formation', a formation she had invented herself. The shield was very strong, and could last for a long time even when attacked by a dozen cultivators whose cultivation base was at par with the Patriarch.
In a chamber inside Miao Ying Palace, with a decoration that was luxurious more like a mortal brothel than the residence of a cultivator, Goddess Miao Xin was seen holding a painting brush and drawing on a snow-white leather.
The leather was stripped from a young girl from the Long Bo Kingdom, tanned with the snow water melted from a ten thousand years Dark Ice Essence that was blended with eighteen different spirit herbs. It was silky smooth and could absorb ink properly, the best painting material in the world of cultivators which Goddess Miao Xin had discovered all by herself. Only from the most beautiful girl of the Long Bo Kingdom could she obtain this leather that measured tens of feet in both width and length. Perhaps the texture of the leather would be finer if it were from a young girl of the human race, but it would not be as large as this.
Next to the leather were placed a set of thirty-six painting brushes, varying in length and thickness. They were made of the hairs of 108 meticulously selected young girls from 108 different races, including the human, the Featherman, the Double-faced Man, and the Long Bo Kingdom. Each of the brushes was personally crafted by an expert craftsman from the Heaven's Crafting Division, who was also a Gold Immortal himself. Both the craftsmanship and the quality of the final product were flawless.
The paints she used were also the natural colors of the best quality. Among them were the bright red blood essence extracted from the hearts of the bravest human warriors, the green and blue bone marrow extracted from aquatic demons, and other natural colors taken from various immortal birds and rare beasts.
It was a set of painting tools that was both precious and excellent in quality. However, even with Goddess Miao Xin's prestigious status and power in the Miao Ying Palace, it had taken her several thousands of years to complete the collection. After all, although it was not a difficult task for Miao Ying Palace to find over one hundred flawless, pure and beautiful girls, using their hairs to make one full set of painting brushes and collecting so many different natural colors was a very tedious task nonetheless.
Therefore, she had been very careful each time when she was painting, fearing that she would waste even just a little bit of the hard to come by materials.
Standing next to the long table, the fully naked Goddess Miao Xin had the finest brush in her hand as she carefully and delicately drew the brow of a lady on the painting. Line by line, stroke by stroke, she drew each hair with great care. Every stroke had been thoroughly pondered upon, for she scared that she would make a careless mistake, ruining this huge portrait which she had been working tirelessly for over a month.
Goddess Miao Xin stood slightly less than six feet tall, but she had an enormous girth of three feet and two inches in circumference, while her skin was dark and tough like that of an old hippo. Above her big, fat body was an almost one-foot long face, on top of which was a pair of small eyes, a flat nose, and a large mouth with thick and drooping lips that hung on her face like two bananas. There was a half-foot distance between her mouth and nose, but as she had a long tongue, she could easily lick the bridge of her nose.
Whenever she was absorbed in drawing, she liked to stick out her tongue and lick her lips. Therefore, her lips were always wet, with saliva dripping from the corner of her mouth. Fortunately, she was followed by two of her most loyal maidservants, who stood next to her and pulled out handkerchiefs from time to time, wiping away the saliva to prevent it from smearing the portrait.
Though in such a shape and form, Goddess Miao Xin loved to paint the portrait of a lady with peonies, portrait of a drunk lady with begonias, and some other with a similar theme. Anyhow, she had always tried her best to paint the lady in the portrait as perfectly as she could, not allowing even a single flaw.
There was one time when the Patriarch of Miao Ying Palace had praised her paintings– they had their own sentience, and even souls! If an almighty expert could do a little trick on her paintings, the figure in the portrait could be easily turned into an actual living person.
"Hehehe!" Goddess Miao Xin burst into a loud laughter. She had finally put down the brush, tilting her head sideways to carefully study the portrait which she had been working tirelessly on for one month. It was a beautiful and splendid artwork. The lady in the portrait reclined lazily on a soft couch under some begonias, her face beautiful, shy, and gentle, looking so pure. "A masterpiece! An unprecedented masterpiece!"
Then, she clapped her hands and roared at the top of her voice, "Lu Buwei, get the hell over here!"
A dark smoke rose from the ground, amidst which came walking out Lu Buwei with five little ghosts around him. The little ghosts gave a few noisy chirps before transforming into gusts of wind and disappearing without a trace. With a calm manner, he walked straight to the long table without even offering Goddess Miao Xin a greeting, and began to carefully study the portrait. After a full fifteen minutes, he sighed and shook his head.
Goddess Miao Xin's little eyes went as wide as goose eggs abruptly. "Shaking your head? What do you mean by that?" She asked fiercely.
Lu Buwei breathed out a deep, long sigh, cupped his fist, and bowed to Goddess Miao Xin as he said, "Goddess, you should not have painted this portrait!"
"Hmph!" She snorted coldly with killing intent rushing up into her eyes. "Oh? Would you mind explaining why?" She said with a cold grin.
Wisps of golden light shot out from within her body, and soon, she was clad in a large golden Daoist robe. A golden light wheel about two feet in diameter and looking as if it were made of pure gold drifted out from behind her head, inside which were countless skeletons who had a thin gauze veil on them, forming a formation that was shaped like a lotus flower as they began to dance gracefully.
Lu Buwei straightened his back as he gave the portrait a further study, and did not utter a single word for a long while. The killing intent in Goddess Miao Xin's eyes became thicker; flesh and skin were growing out from those skeletons inside the golden wheel, and soon, they had turned into beautiful and seductive girls. While staying inside the wheel, these girls were gesticulating at Lu Buwei, their soft laughter echoing out and lingering in the chamber.
Just as Goddess Miao Xin nearly lost control to her killing intent and was about to attack Lu Buwei, he breathed out another deep, long sigh and said, "Goddess, with this painting of yours completed, how are the painters in all the outer heavenly realms, as well as on Pangu Continent, going to have the courage to pain again?"
He pointed at the portrait and cried out grievingly, "With this painting completed, no other people in this universe would have the face to paint or draw anymore. Goddess, oh Goddess, it would have been better if there was even just a tiny bit of flaw on your painting, but yet it is of the highest quality, as if you have trapped a real living person in it. How are all the rest of the painters going to fool the people with their shabby brushes? With this masterpiece of yours before me, no other painting under the heaven could enter my eyesight anymore."
Goddess Miao Xin roared with laughter, nodding happily as she said, "I knew Old Lu has a pair of discerning eyes. I also think this portrait is decently painted. But, your words of praise are a little bit exaggerated. Do not speak like that in the future!"
She laughed satisfyingly, turning her head from side to side as she studied the portrait again and again. The more she looked at it, the more she felt she had done a good job. She clapped her hands, then pointed at the two loyal maidservants and said, "You two, keep the portrait properly and put away all the brushes and inks... Right, how is the situation in the mine over the last two days? I've promised a Great Bodhisattva of Fa Hua Heavenly Realm that when his little disciple finishes apprenticeship two days later, I'll send him some Northern Ocean as a gift!"
Lu Buwei smiled faintly. With hands clasped behind his back, he stared at Goddess Miao Xin and said, "Goddess, since you made that newcomer, Wu Wang the deputy supervisor, I've stopped paying attention to the matter in the mine and let him handle everything. Patriarch is coming up to have a rest in just a few more days, and I'm in the middle of preparing Patriarch's favorite immortal wine, fruits, as well as the boys who are born with the Seven Killing entering their Life Palace, so that Patriarch can enjoy later!"
Goddess Miao Xin gave an alarming cry as she slapped her head and said in a hurried tone, "Master is coming up to have a rest soon? Aye, you're right! Another forty-nine days have passed. Make haste and prepare everything. You can just put the matters in the mine aside for now."
Lu Buwei smiled as he bowed deeply and said, "It shall be done."
A cold gleam flickered from the depth of his smiling eyes, and his mouth curved into a cruel smile.