Book 7: The Extreme North
Chapter 41.2: Ice Jade Empress Scorpion
"I know what you're going to ask me: Why do I love her, even though we're from completely different races? Realistically speaking, a difference in race doesn't really matter at our level. Besides, what I'm pursuing is more of a spiritual relationship. You've seen what she thinks of me. To tell the truth, one of the main reasons that I was so eager to become your soul ring was because I simply couldn't wait any longer. I was scared that she'd reach her limit early, and that she'd pass away. Even though I love her, I won't force her to love me. However, I'll do everything I can in order to ensure that she stays alive, no matter what. It's my selfish wish that I can live with her beside me. Even if she ends up cursing me everyday, I'll still be willing to listen to her voice. Do you understand what I'm saying? This is love."
The Skydream Iceworm's voice was filled with several emotions. An intrinsic transformation seemed to have occurred in his usually lazy voice, so much so that even Huo Yuhao was gradually swayed by his words. Huo Yuhao was only twelve after all, thus it was natural for him to not understand what exactly love was. However, he had unwittingly been moved by the Skydream Iceworm's words.
"What if an accident had happened before we found the Ice Emperor? What if you hadn't been able to restrain her?" Huo Yuhao blurted out.
The Skydream Iceworm calmly replied, "There was basically no chance of that happening with my Spiritual Detection. Furthermore, there's no chance that she wouldn't have been restrained by me. When I died, my corpse became the strongest weapon that a soul beast has ever produced in the world. Not to mention her, I'm confident that I could've trapped the first-ranked Snow Emperor if it had been within fifty meters of us. Unfortunately, I could only use it one time. This was the first time that I've fought outside your body after fusing with you, and it will also be the last. The strength of my spirit won't allow me to do this again. After all, I'm your soul ring; I've already completely fused with you. The dangers that you're worrying about couldn't have happened either, as I have a last-ditch skill that allows me to instantly teleport you several hundreds of miles away. As such, I wouldn't have had any problems making sure that you were safe. Yuhao, you need to remember this: Even though I was somewhat vigilant towards you this time, we're still a single entity. We share both our glory and our losses."
Huo Yuhao fell silent. The Skydream Iceworm's lie had hurt him quite a lot, but he felt the sadness in his heart gradually disappear when he heard the Skydream Iceworm's explanation. Afterwards, another feeling took its place.
"I can only do what I do best. Even if there hadn't been any feelings between the Ice Emperor and me, I still would've brought you to this place, as this is the only place where I could utilize all of my abilities to help you find a good choice to awaken your martial soul with."
Huo Yuhao took a deep breath, then muttered, "Brother Skydream, is my heart too fragile?"
The Skydream Iceworm replied, "No. I can't blame you for how you reacted. A person's mental state is truly determined by one's past experiences. You just rely too much on me. Haven't you realized it? Whether you're cultivating, undergoing an assessment, or even whenever you encounter danger. Every single time, you subconsciously tell yourself, No matter what, I still have Brother Skydream, or something like, As long as I cultivate diligently, Brother Skydream will help me become even stronger. Am I right?"
Huo Yuhao nodded subconsciously. By this point, the stiffness in his body had more or less receded. His blood had begun to flow quicker as he circulated his soul power, which in turn gradually caused a warm feeling to rise from his body.
The Skydream Iceworm continued, "This reliance can sometimes be a good thing for you, but it can also sometimes be a bad thing. Relying on me too much will cause you to lose your way. You are yourself; you are Huo Yuhao, a human soul master, and a human soul engineer. I, on the other hand, am the Skydream Iceworm. I'm currently an intelligent soul ring. And who do I belong to?"
"Me, " Huo Yuhao replied.
The Skydream Iceworm said, "That's right. I'm your soul ring. Even if I'm an intelligent soul ring, I'm still your soul ring. Therefore, you have to remember that, while I am a part of you, you aren't a part of me. You're my master, and as such, you're the person who rules this body that we share. Because of that, I should be the one who's relying on you; you shouldn't be the one relying on me. If you keep thinking this way, you won't have any feelings of doubt towards me. If it continues like this, I'll have to consider whether or not any of my actions will affect my relationship with you. I'll only be fine if you're fine. Do you understand?"
After hearing the Skydream Iceworm's words, Huo Yuhao suddenly felt his mind clear up. He finally understood what he'd just felt—it was maturity.
In this short period of time, his heart had matured. The hatred he'd accumulated over the past several years seemed to have dulled by a large amount while, more importantly, his heart had matured. His fragile heart had firmed up, and the constant self-reflection he'd done had caused him to discard his resentment.
Once he realized this, his eyes became full of confidence once again.
I'm the master here. I'm the one who will grab the sun and moon, and who will pluck the stars from the sky in the future.
After digging his way out of the ice room, Huo Yuhao climbed out from underneath the snow. Suddenly, Huo Yuhao felt an urge to let out a shout towards the heavens.
"Don't make any noise. Immediately run in the direction I tell you to. The Ice Emperor's clansmen are coming, as they've more than likely sensed her aura disappear. If we don't leave, they'll definitely find us quickly. Now then, we need to quickly leave this place. We can handle the issue regarding the Ice Emperor once we reach a safe place."
"Okay." Huo Yuhao didn't waste any time as he immediately began running towards the direction they'd come from. His mind had cleared up, thus his footsteps had become extraordinarily swift. The Skydream Iceworm's powerful spiritual power concealed all traces of his aura, and there wasn't any need for Huo Yuhao to worry about leaving any footsteps behind. In this freezing world of wind and ice, all traces of his presence were wiped away with a single gust of wind.
As he ran, Huo Yuhao spoke to the Skydream Iceworm, "Brother Skydream, I was wrong. I shouldn't have doubted you. However, I'm still angry as, in the end, you still lied to me."
The Skydream Iceworm replied, "Okay, please don't be angry. You'll be able to see how beneficial this adventure was to you once we've taken care of the Ice Emperor."
Huo Yuhao said, "What's the Ice Emperor got to do with me? She's your lover. Don't tell me that you truly have the heart to kill her and make her into my soul ring?"
"Hehehe…." The Skydream Iceworm laughed. "You'll see, but not right now. However, I promise that I'll never lie to you again. You've passed my test."
"What test?" Huo Yuhao asked, a somewhat blank look in his eyes.
The Skydream Iceworm replied, "Your heart, of course. Although your small heart's somewhat fragile, and even though your emotions are affected very easily, I've still felt the complete trust and dependence you have in me. I did say that it wasn't a very good thing for you to do, but it's destroyed the last barrier between us."
Somewhat helpless, Huo Yuhao replied, "That doesn't really make me feel very good."
The Skydream Iceworm chuckled. "What's not good about it? Every experience always has its benefits. This isn't really a bad thing for you. Besides, you'll trust your friends more in the future, and you won't doubt them as easily."
Huo Yuhao replied, "If you won't tell me how you plan to deal with the Ice Emperor, then at least tell me the story between you and her. I want to hear what this 'love' is all about."
"Alright, I'll tell you a little story. Run a bit faster; if we're discovered, all our previous efforts will have been for nought…."
"I'm already running as fast as I can." Huo Yuhao brought his soul power to the maximum as he ran along the surface of the snowy ground using the Ghost Shadow Perplexing Track. Because of both his speed and the packed snow of the Extreme North, he left a trail of shallow footsteps in the snow without actually sinking into it. This was the quickest way he could move forward.
The Skydream Iceworm said, "I've been in love with the Ice Emperor for two hundred thousand years. I'd just woken up from my sleep back then, and I was about to find another place to continue sleeping. But then, she suddenly appeared. She'd been looking for the Ten Thousand Year Ice Pith. Unfortunately, this Brother had already eaten all of it. The first time we met, we were both astonished. You've seen my original body; it's beautiful, it's big, it's round, and it has a golden luster to it. Well, she was very beautiful too. The first time that I saw her resplendent body and her large, jade-green tail, I was deeply captivated by her. In particular, I was charmed by her cool temperament. She looks the most beautiful whenever she's cursing at me. To me, it doesn't matter even when she wants to kill me; her personality's just that perfect."
Huo Yuhao was left somewhat speechless when he heard this. "Brother Skydream, I don't think you need to continue anymore. I just can't sympathize with the love between you soul beasts. Also, I can't help but say that you're really infatuated with her. Even when she's trying to kill you, you still find her perfect! Hahahaha…"
Enraged, the Skydream Iceworm yelled, "Huo Yuhao, how dare a stinky brat like you laugh at me. Do you really think that I wouldn't dare to destroy your spiritual sea!?"
"I don't believe you. If you have the ability to do it, do it. However, if you destroy my spiritual sea, you're screwed as well. And if that happens, you won't be able to see your Ice Emperor ever again. Are you really willing to go through with that? If you are, come at me! I'm not scared of you."
"You…" Huo Yuhao's words had struck the Skydream Iceworm's soft spot. He indignantly replied, "Getting too intimate really isn't good for me! Now that we've gotten closer, you're no longer afraid of the consequences for insulting me! I feel like I've lost out on this deal…."
Huo Yuhao snorted. "Haven't you heard the phrase 'being put at a disadvantage sometimes gives you an advantage'? Whatever, quiet down a bit. I don't wanna get distracted."
This time around, Huo Yuhao had truly unleashed the entirety of his potential. In his current situation, one where he couldn't guarantee when he would even get to eat, he dashed wildly onwards in a way that seemed to overdraft his body. Only when his soul power was fully drained would he stop, shove two mouthfuls of snow into his mouth, then meditate.
He didn't even consider eating the frozen food that he'd brought with him.
The drain on his physical energy by merely relying on water to replenish his energy could be imagined, but he didn't have a choice. Repeatedly urged on by the Skydream Iceworm, he continued to run for twenty-eight hours straight. By that point, he'd finally left the core regions of the Extreme North and had arrived back at the border.