Yun Che and Zhou Qingchen killed yet another giant profound beast before Qianye Ying’er extracted its undamaged profound core and stored it safely. It was clear from her movements that she was very practiced.
“Miss Qianying’s movements are truly elegant. I guess the two of you are here very often,” Zhou Qingzi praised. It was the umpteenth time he had praised Qianye Ying’er… even if he never got any response out of her.
“Well, she definitely did a good job extracting the profound core.” Yun Che sounded like he was praising, but it elicited a cold snort from Qianye Ying’er.
“Speaking of which, you haven’t claimed any resources for yourself even though this is your first here. I don’t even see any greed in your eyes.” Yun Che smiled at Zhou Qingchen and said, “The fur of this ancient Divine Sovereign beast alone is priceless to most people, but not you. Quite the opposite, actually. You must have an incredible background.”
Zhou Qingchen smiled, but didn’t deny it. He unconsciously stared at Qianye Ying’er’s back again and said, “You and I are kindred spirits, so I have no wish to lie to you, Brother Ling. It is true my background is incredible, but both our bodies are still made of flesh and blood, and our souls filled with emotions and desires. Incredible background or not, our essences are the same.”
“You think you envy me, but I’m the one who envies you, Brother Ling.”
“You… envy me?” Yun Che shot him a sideways glance.
Zhou Qingchen smiled without giving a reply, but his eyes were drifting.
“Are you envying me because of her, Brother Chen?” Yun Che asked suddenly with a half-smile on his face.
Zhou Qingchen’s expression froze abruptly.
“I was wondering why a powerful, n.o.ble profound pract.i.tioner like you would want to accompany us on our excursion,” Yun Che explained with a smile. “I often noticed you looking in her direction, and every time we ran into a profound beast you’ll move in front of her immediately to protect her from any possible harm.”
“Also…” Yun Che turned cool on the inside when he sensed that he had shaken Zhou Qingchen a little. “You’re praising her a little too much, don’t you think?”
Zhou Qingchen avoided his gaze and shook his head self-derisively. He smiled and said, “You are truly attentive, Brother Ling. I’ve made myself look like a fool in front of you.”
“Wait, you’re actually interested in her?” Yun Che asked in an astonished tone before shooting Qianye Ying’er a sideways glance. The latter was standing far away from them and seemingly out of earshot.
But Zhou Qingchen shook his head before looking at the sky. He let out a sigh and asked, “Brother Ling… What do you think is the most difficult thing in this world?”
Yun Che didn’t answer his question. Instead, he replied in a casual tone, “That answer differs depending on the person. I’d like to hear your answer first, Brother Chen.”
Zhou Qingchen closed his eyes and said, “My background is rather special. I was told since I was young that I am different from others, but the status came with a price; a ‘mission’. ‘Righteousness’ is the thing I value the most in my life, and ‘desire’ the least.”
Yun Che, “...”
“It is why I’m the way I am. I’m strictly a pacifist, and I’m not interested in any form of conflict.”
“After I had reached a marrigeable rage, my father and my clansmen introduced me to many women… Maybe it was because of how I cultivated my mind, but I was uninterested in all of them. Even if someone managed to leave a good impression, I would forget about them in the blink of an eye. I thought this would never change until one day, I met her…”
“Brother Ling.” Zhou Qingchen asked, “Do you... believe in love at first sight? The kind that leaves a permanent mark you’ll never forget for as long as you live?”
“I don’t,” Yun Che replied without hesitation.
When he fell into Phoenix Perching Valley and saw Feng Xue’er just before he fainted… When Shen Xi cast away the mist of light covering up her appearance and made him felt like his soul was departing his body...
He had experienced those feelings, and he would remember them for as long as he lived. But they were gone… and so he would never, ever feel the same again, now or ever.
“I used to think the same as you, until…” Zhou Qingchen’s voice grew a little shaky, and his features involuntarily tightened. “I simply glimpsed her from a distance, but in that moment, I felt like I was dropped into a nightmare I could never awaken from.”
“Is that so?” Yun Che sounded like he couldn’t quite believe him.
Zhou Qingchen said, “I know how funny I must sound, Brother Ling, but… if one day you caught a glimpse of her true face, you would understand the ‘nightmare’ I speak of. She wasn’t smiling at all, and her eyes were filled with indifference and even a bit of disdain, but she’d still trap you in a permanent nightmare. No one can escape from it.”
“I see…” Yun Che put a finger to his chin and asked, “So, to you, forgetting her is the most difficult thing in the world, am I correct?”
“That’s right,” Zhou Qingchen replied. “I have tried countless ways to wipe her from my memory, but the ability is simply beyond my grasp, even when she did the unthinkable and transformed into a…”
He suddenly cut himself short right there.
Yun Che smiled and said, “You have successfully piqued my curiosity, Brother Chen. Now I want to see this woman myself.”
“On the contrary, Brother Ling. I hope that you’ll never encounter her. It is usually a wonderful thing to meet the one you love, but her… meeting her will only end in disaster.” Zhou Qingchen exhaled once before whispering, “There is no one in the world who is deserving of even a warm look from her.”
“That’s not necessarily true. Some women only look arrogant, when in reality…” Yun Che placed his hands behind his head and answered cheekily. He didn’t finish his sentence though.
Zhou Qingchen shook his head with a smile and looked at Qianye Ying’er again. He said, “Miss Qianying is very similar to her. I guess that’s why I couldn’t stop looking at her for even a moment. I guess you can call it…”
He smiled self-derisively at himself before finis.h.i.+ng, “...a pathetic form of solace.”
Yun Che replied, “I see… It is true that I haven’t been disciplining her properly, so her manners are lacking when she’s outside. Do forgive her, Brother Chen.”
“It’s fine,” Zhou Qingchen said. “One should maintain their distance and caution toward a stranger who approached them without invitation. They are… similar even in this regard.”
Qianye Ying’er continued to stare toward the front, searching for the Eternal Heaven Guardians’ aura with her spiritual perception. Although she could hear Zhou Qingchen clearly, she didn’t respond to his words at all.
Qu Hui was following them from very far behind. It was clear to him that Yun Che and Qianye Ying’er didn’t want anything from Zhou Qingchen. In fact, they were maintaining quite a healthy amount of caution and distance toward him. Their att.i.tude actually a.s.sured him they were being genuine because Zhou Qingchen was the one who had asked to accompany them on their excursion.
Zhou Qingchen’s words also entered his ears. He said to himself, “What a sinful creature that demon sp.a.w.n of the Brahma Heaven G.o.d Emperor was. I hope she’s already dead.”
When Zhou Qingchen came back to himself, he didn’t wish to dwell on this matter any longer. He changed the subject and asked, “So, what is the most difficult thing to you, Brother Ling?”
Yun Che closed his eyes and answered, “It’s probably the line between good and evil.”
“Oh?” Zhou Qingchen looked at him in confusion. “Why do you say that, Brother Ling?”
“What are good and evil to you, Brother Chen?” Yun Che turned the question back on Zhou Qingchen.
Zhou Qingchen thought for a moment before answering, “There are many kinds of good in this world. Kindness, benevolence; they are all good. There are many ‘smaller’ goods that exist in this world, but ‘greater’ goods are so much rarer.”
“What is a greater good to you, Brother Chen?” Yun Che asked in a casual tone.
“There is one person that I have deep respect for,” Zhou Qingchen replied sentimentally. “For the sake of world peace, he chose to defy his principles, break his promise, and tarnish his reputation. He was even willing to give up his own life to satisfy the affected person’s thirst for revenge. This is the greatest good I’d ever witnessed in my life. I doubt there’s another person in the world who can do what he did.”
“What about evil?” Yun Che asked.
“The number of evils is just as great as the number of goods,” Zhou Qingchen answered. “My father once taught me that there is no such thing as pure evil in the world. There are also many evils that can be killed in their infancy or redeemed. However, if there is one evil that shouldn’t exist in the world, they would be the devil people of the Northern Divine Region.”
Yun Che wasn’t surprised at all that Zhou Qingchen would hold such views. He turned away and asked, “Does that mean that devil people are an unforgivable evil to you, Brother Chen?”
“But of course,” Zhou Qingchen replied. “Devil people are heretics whose humanity has become twisted, and darkness profound energy is a negative power that shouldn’t exist in the world as well. If darkness profound energy can be wiped from this world completely, if there are no longer monsters or devils in this world, I’m sure the world will have far less darknesses and tribulations.”
He shot Yun Che a glance and asked, “Don’t you think so too, Brother Ling?”
It was clear from his tone that he meant—isn’t this just common knowledge? Why would you be puzzled by something so simple?
Yun Che smiled at him and said, “You know, an interesting question suddenly occurred to me… If a devil person happened to have saved the world, which category do you think he’d fall under? Good, or evil?”
Zhou Qingchen laughed, “Hahahaha, that is an interesting question—”
Suddenly, Zhou Qingchen stopped laughing. His expression changed… It was because he suddenly recalled a certain person. He said in a very soft tone, “A devil person will never try to save the world. But if a messiah were to transform into a devil person, then there is even less of a reason for them to exist in the world. After all, people like them are even scarier than your normal devil person. If they can save the world while they are good, who is to say they can’t d.a.m.n the world when they are evil?”
“I see.” Yun Che nodded as if he agreed with Zhou Qingchen’s words. He let out a chuckle and added, “So, if someone were to become a devil person, then they are a heretic that cannot be allowed to exist no matter what they did. I cannot agree with Brother Chen more.”
“Speaking of which,” Yun Che continued. “Hasn’t the Eastern Divine Region been going after a devil person called ‘Yun Che’ for the past two years? He was a proud child of the heavens and the Eastern Divine Region, and he was famous enough that even I in the Southern Divine Region have heard of his name. But no matter how amazing he is, he’s just a junior, isn’t he? I heard that every king realm in the Eastern Divine Region is doing everything in their power to hunt him down. Is there a reason behind this unusual reaction?”
Zhou Qingchen’s expression tightened slightly. He didn’t want to answer this question or even think about Yun Che.
Suddenly, Yun Che and Qianye Ying’er raised their eyebrows at the same time.
An incredibly high level presence was flying swiftly toward them. However, his aura was incredibly weak, and his flight pattern was unusual… It looked like he was injured grievously.
In the distance, Honorable Qu Hui’s expression changed drastically because he sensed only one presence coming their way, and it was weak and drenched in the stench of blood. A sudden chill engulfed his whole body as he abandoned his hiding spot and flew toward the presence at top speed.
Honorable Qu Hui’s sudden departure and pale complexion were shocking to say the least. Zhou Qingchen also sensed the incoming presence and felt his blood drain away from his face. He muttered “Uncle Tai Yin” and followed closely behind Qu Hui regardless of appearance.
“Hey… where are you going, Brother Chen?” Yun Che called out while spending an instant to exchange words with Qianye Ying’er through their auras. Then, they rose into the air and followed behind Zhou Qingchen slowly, making sure not to act unnaturally.
Honorable Tai Yin was currently drenched in blood. More than half of his flesh and bones were exposed to the air, and his right arm was completely missing. He looked like he was cut a million times before being submerged in a blood pool in purgatory… But he was still an Eternal Heaven Guardian. Any profound beast that tried to get near him was killed despite his terrible state.
He held a death grip on the Great Void Cauldron to avoid any accidents from happening. Despite dragging a broken body, he was able to meet up Qu Hui and Zhou Qingchen.
Honorable Qu Hui froze like a statue when he saw the blood drenched figure on the horizon. If it wasn’t for the Guardian’s unique aura, he would never believe that the sorry-looking man was the sixth strongest Guardian of the Eternal Heaven G.o.d Realm, Tai Yin!
“Tai Yin…” Qu Hui finally returned to himself after they had gotten within touching distance. He asked, “What happened? Where is Honorable Zhu Liu?”
Honorable Tai Yin exhaled deeply before swallowing a couple drops of spirit liquid. For a time, he couldn’t speak due to how heavily he was breathing.
“Uncle Tai Yin!!”
Zhou Qingchen’s voice reached them before his person. He also froze when he saw Tai Yin, unable to believe his own eyes just like Qu Hui.
Tai Yin quietly suppressed his wounds before opening his eyes… He was staring at the two figures landing some distance away from them in suspicion.
“Relax, they’re not enemies.” Qu Hui clenched his fists and asked again, “What happened? Honorable Zhu Liu… could he be…”
Knowing that two level four Divine Sovereigns were zero threat to him even if they were their sworn enemies, Honorable Tai Yin let out a long sigh before answering, “Zhu Liu… has pa.s.sed.”
“Wh… what!?” Qu Hui and Zhou Qingchen swayed on their feet in unison.
They knew better than anyone what the loss of a Guardian meant to the Eternal Heaven G.o.d Realm, the Eastern Divine Region or even the entire G.o.d Realm.
“However...” Tai Yin said urgently in the middle of correcting his breathing, “we did complete our mission successfully. The prince’s gift is in hand, so we must leave… now!”
Success… He actually obtained the Divine Fruit of Absolute Beginning!
It was the best news they could hope for after the tragedy that was Zhu Liu’s pa.s.sing. Qu Hui nodded swiftly and said, “Alright!”
The old man waved a small profound ark about thirty meters long into existence without hesitation. He then grabbed Zhou Qingchen and said, “Let’s go! The rest can wait until we return.”
Yun Che and Qianye Ying’er’s eyes changed at the same time.
They wanted Eternal Heaven to be successful in their endeavor to obtain the Divine Fruit of Absolute Beginning. It was why Yun Che had devised to get close to Zhou Qingchen from the start.
However, things were not unfolding the way they had expected at all.
In their imagined scenario, the two successful Guardians would satisfy Qu Hui and Zhou Qingchen’s curiosity and show them the divine fruit. They might even gift Zhou Qingchen the divine fruit on the spot.
After all, who could possibly rob Zhou Qingchen of the divine fruit while he was protected by two Guardians?
It was Yun Che and Qianye Ying’er’s best and only chance… They were close enough to make the attempt, and there was no way the Eternal Heaven Guardians would raise their guards toward two level four Divine Sovereigns.
However, one Guardian was killed, and Honorable Tai Yin was seriously injured. Even worse, the latter was so seized by a sense of crisis that he ordered an immediate departure from the G.o.d Realm of Absolute Beginning. He clearly wasn’t planning to reveal the divine fruit at all.
It was because the divine fruit was the safest with him. Even in his sorry state, he was still far stronger than Zhou Qingchen and Qu Hui, and he had the Great Void Cauldron.
“I understand.” Zhou Qingchen nodded seriously. “Allow me to bid our two new friends goodbye.”
After saying this, he turned around and said urgently, “Brother Ling, Miss Qianying, we’ll be leaving immediately due to an emergency. Maybe we’ll meet again if your travels bring you to the Eastern Divine Region.”
He stared at Qianye Ying’er for an entire breath before turning around and preparing to leave.
Yun Che nodded and took a small step forward… only to be stopped immediately by Qianye Ying’er.
“We are no match for Tai Yin,” Qianye Ying’er said in a low tone. “An Eternal Heaven Guardian is far stronger than you can possibly imagine. Even in his current state, he has the power to kill us both before breathing his last!”