Ning Chen was annoyed, more so than ever before. He had suffered so much, ended up falling for someone else’s schemes and even almost died in an illusion. Now, he finally managed to reach the treasure room, yet he couldn’t take the treasures!?
This maddening ache in his heart was as if someone had stabbed him with a blade and then tried to steal that blade as well.
The white foal roughly huffed as it trotted along, its body glowed red as if it had just been cooked. Unfortunately for it, Ning Chen was too annoyed with his situation to care about it at the moment.
Suddenly, the clarion ding of a bell cut across the eerily silent hall. Outside the giant gate, the familiar sight of the black and white ghosts hopped into sight covering 10 zhang(33 meters) within the blink of an eye. Before he knew it, the nether palanquin behind them was nearly before him.
His heart jumped into his throat as he swiftly dragged the white foal to the side. While he still did not know who was inside that palanquin, those ghosts weren’t something he could handle.
Having his psyche scalded once was more than enough for him, he definitely didn’t want suffer through that again.
The hall he was in was a vast one. Behind the sacrificial altar near him was a giant basin of blood that spanned 33 meters. While it was dry right now, a bloody scent lingered around it as a reminder of its gory and disgusting contents.
The nether palanquin halted right in front of the altar. At the center of the palanquin was a pair of icy cold eyes that stared right at the demonic saber and the heavenly sword. As they did so, a string of arcane chanting could be heard spewing from their owner’s mouth. From the sound of her determined tone, the girl sitting atop the palanquin meant to recover these divine weapons.
The demonic saber started shaking before emitting a blinding burst of light; its shaking was visibly faster than before. Yet just as it looked like it was about to fly away, the heavenly sword released its own aura as well in a burst of purple light that forcefully suppressed the demonic saber. Both of the divine weapons were now shaking violently as if they were fighting with each other.
In the end, the battle ended with the demonic saber returning back to its inert state after which the heavenly sword calmed down as well.
“Hmph,” snorted the girl atop the palanquin, dissatisfied with the results of this clash. However, no matter how dissatisfied she was the two weapons had a consciousness of their own, and no one in this entire Underworld Court could force them to admit a master they didn’t approve of.
“Demon Girl, it’s been a while.”
It was at that moment that a sinister voice resounded from across the great hall. The owner of that voice had a charming demeanor that gave off a sense of demonic beauty as he strode into the hall clad in a purple changsan mixed with crimson embroidery. While the man was smiling pleasantly at the moment, his eyes told a different story with their bone-chilling coldness displayed within.
“Nether Child, to think that you’ve awaken as well.”
The girl’s voice was a mix of surprise as well as anger; clearly she wasn’t happy about this handsome lad’s early awakening.
“Awaken? Hah, this one has been awake all this while.” He smiled superficially at the girl as he teleported up to the altar in a couple of steps.
The girl’s brows furrowed but in the end she chose to ignore that blatant lie he spouted. Both of them had been slumbering for a long time, and there was no way either of them could’ve awoken long ago.
The Nether Child was an unpredictable factor within the Underworld, not only was he strong, he was erratic to the point of seeming mad. His actions awed those in his presence while at the same time instilled a sense of terror in them.
“You’re here for the Demonic Saber as well I see,” said the girl in a solemn voice. Now that the person himself was standing before her, there was no point harping on his awakening.
“If this lord were to say no, would you believe him?” His fingers gently caressed the engravings on the demonic saber as he flashed her a devilish grin and continued, “However, this lord knows that the masses seemed interested in this, so he showed up as well.”
“Madman.” A derisive voice issued from the palanquin.
“Madman? This lord had always assumed that Demon Girl was the person who understood him the most. Pity.” The Nether Child gave out a long sigh, a look of sadness flashing across his face as he did so. If one had not known any better, the melancholic tone of his sigh would’ve fooled them into believing that he was truly hurt.
“Shenyuan, your acting is just as sickening as ever.”
The Demon Girl snorted in a scornful tone. In this vast hall, there was only the two of them here, and both of them knew each other well enough to not fall for the other’s theatrics.
The Nether Child turned around to face the girl and with another sigh, said: “But this lord has never once lied.”
“That sentence itself is the biggest lie you’ve said so far!” His reply instantly elicited a cold laugh from the girl.
“Nether Child, don’t blame me for not reminding you, but the world today is a different one. Your absurdness will be the death of you.”
As she finished saying that, she began chanting once more; after which the ghostly procession stirred once more. With the black and white ghosts leading the way and the other two ghostly guards carrying the palanquin, the nether palanquin gently made its way out of the great hall, disappearing without a trace a while later.
“Death…this lord is looking forward to it.”
He gently ran his fingers along the Demonic Saber, its blood red body gleamed within his eyes as he casually allowed its razor sharp edge to cut his fingers. A stream of fresh blood flowed out of his wounds and down the blade of the saber; which gave the already evil looking weapon a demonic quality.
The Demonic Saber remained stuck in the altar as unmoving as ever even as the blood on it began to dull. While it didn’t reject his blood, it wasn’t going to admit him as its owner either.
The Nether Child gave it a long thoughtful stare after which he gently laughed and said, “Demonic Saber, oh demonic saber, this lord eagerly awaits the day you descend upon the world and paint it in a beautiful blood red.”
Naturally, all these happenings were unknown to Ning Chen who left without looking back the moment he saw the palanquin. He knew full well that those strange weapons weren’t meant to be his; he could neither touch them nor move them. However, he had already hidden the boat he used to cross the river, so no one else could enter the hall after him.
Ning Chen was in a terrible mood as he continued to walk along, rambling all the while. He knew that his actions were petty but if he couldn’t get it, no one was allowed to as well!
As for whether the owner of that palanquin could do so, that wasn’t within his control. This left a bitter taste in his mouth, yet there was nothing he could do about it. The weakling that he was right now couldn’t even defeat the ox-head and horse-faced ghosts who carried that palanquin, let alone the girl who he still wasn’t sure was a human or ghost.
Even now the white foal was still glowing red, and began to feel a little hot to the touch; as if it had really been cooked in a vat of boiling water.
“ Huuffff ”
The white foal huffed quietly. It felt terrible at the moment but didn’t dare to say so.
Hmph, who told you to swallow some random pearl. Ning Chen quietly gloated at the animal.
He was still furious about not being able to retrieve those weapons, and thus didn’t pay much attention to the white foal after ensuring that it wasn’t in any danger.
“Endure it, it’ll be over soon. So…where did I stop again?”
Ever since he left the illusory world, he became more talkative. It was to the point were he rambled on constantly; which was to be expected after all. If someone ended up trapped in that void for god knows how long without a living thing to keep him company, they would go stir crazy as well.
However, Ning Chen’s ramblings were the least of its worries right now, as it wrestled with the scorching pain in its body. From time to time, it would huff at him to protest against his annoying ramblings.
Unfortunately for it, Ning Chen didn’t care about its protests. In fact, they seemed rather adorable to him, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that anything living right now was adorable to him.
Past the great hall was a wasteland dotted with pits and giant boulders that formed a strange and slightly disconcerting picture.
His brows knitted together; he didn’t like this place at all. Not only was it filled with a deathly aura, it was hard to traverse as well.
He was a cripple after all; traversing flat ground was already difficult enough, and now he had to traverse this pock marked terrain? You might as well kill him right now.
(TL: So you do know he’s in a wheelchair)
Ning Chen turned and gave the white foal an appraising and thoughtful look. Riding the horse was an option, but then it didn’t look particularly meaty either. Also, what if it refused to move and threw him off instead.
Falling off that cliff cost him his legs, if he were to damage his face now then it would truly be a disaster.
Thinking back on it, he was actually a pretty lucky fellow. He survived that jump off the cliff thanks to some unknown object cushioning his fall on impact, and he survived that illusory world thanks to the white foal. As the saying goes, good people die young while a scourge lasts a thousand years. However, no matter how you look at him, he didn’t seem like a bad person right?
Well, the ancients can say what they want, but having said so, it seems like they weren’t always right either.
“Whitey, do you think I’m a good person?” He asked as he spun his wheels as hard as he could to cross over a hump.
“Huff.” In spite of the pain, the little white horse couldn’t help but give him a scornful snort.
“I just knew that you would agree with me!” A wide grin crossed his lips as he happily exclaimed.
“Hufff….” It rolled its eyes at the shameless human and ignored him.
His hands suddenly froze in midair as he looked at the surrounding terrain, his eyes widened as a terrifying realization hit him.
Was this the fabled eighteen levels of hell?
He furrowed his brows and tried his hardest to recall the fables of his previous world. However, he wasn’t particularly well-versed in such matters. Was it the eighteen levels of hell after the great hall?
Getting nowhere, he sighed as he lamented his own ignorance. Only when you truly needed it did you wish that you had read more…if only he knew that it would come in handy now, he would’ve spent more time on these legends.
As man and beast trudged along the undulating terrain, they ended up finishing the last of their dried rations. Their throats were parched as well but there was no water source in sight.
“Whitey, do you think we’ll die of thirst and hunger here?” He asked in a exasperated and helpless tone as he continued rolling along.
The white foal huffed while pointing his head back as if to say they could always turn around.
Ning Chen paused for a second before shaking his head. He had this creeping suspicion that something terrifying was guarding that place and thus didn’t want to risk it.
The white foal puffed and continued trotting along, its meaning clear: if we aren’t turning around then so be it. Even if we’re to die, we’ll die together.
He gave a wide grin as he gave the horse a few rare words of praise. He decided there and then that if he were to survive, he would definitely treat this horse a little better.
After another half a day of travelling, man and beast were on the verge of collapsing. With his energy spent, Ning Chen’s body suddenly lurched forward and gave out a long pained grunt.
Within his Qi Ocean, the two golden pages began consuming each other having lost their supply of True Qi.
“The lot of you had better behave!” He yelled. The situation was already dire and these potatoes still wanted to fight amongst themselves!
The white foal jumped back in surprise as it gave him a confused look.
These two golden pages seemed to be natural born enemies. While there was still sufficient True Qi in his Qi Ocean, they tolerated each other’s presence; yet now his Qi Ocean was mostly depleted, this tenuous peace immediately broke down.
His face grew even darker at that and growled, “If I die here, both of you are coming along with me so you better quiet down.”
The pages hummed in response and stopped fighting.
“What kind of damned world is this, even a piece of scrap paper is able to become sentient.”
He vented amidst his ever worsening mood. Suddenly he was struck with an idea that even he found absurd. However, everything he encountered so far was absurd enough already. One more time wouldn’t surprise him.
He forcefully channelled the last bit of True Qi into the golden page he retrieved from the altar and sent it a message, “You better listen closely, right now we’re all stuck on the same boat. Since you’re from the Underworld, you should know how to get out of it as well. If you don’t want to remain buried in this place with me, you better show me the exit.”
The golden page remained silent for a moment before swiftly flying out of his Qi Ocean. It shot forth a burst of golden light that shone into the distance. Squinting his eyes, he managed to make out a giant crack in that direction.
“What the f*ck….”
This time, he couldn’t help but swear. They had already been through that area, but that crack wasn’t there before.
The white foal raised its front hooves and reared for the first time in its pitiful life. Without waiting for the wheelchair-bound teen, it galloped off into the distance leaving Ning Chen to his fate.
He yelled after the disappearing horse as he slowly rolled his wheelchair towards the crack.
This place was truly infuriating…