”… ” Within Zuhei ’s cell, a dark, cold, gloomy world filled with only endless agony and desperate despair, Wei Wuyin stayed within for an entire hour. There was not a minute more or less stayed within, but the events that transpired caused Su Mei, who stayed silently outside, to feel her heart to shiver endlessly with turbulent, sporadic emotions.
At the end, her head and eyes lowered to the floor, and a peculiar glint flickered in her eyes.
Clank! Clank! Clank!
The sounds of Zuhei ’s restraints opening resounded, followed by a light thud of his fragile, malnourished, and emaciated body. His silver hair scattered across the floor in a spiraling pattern, and while it lacked luster, each strand released an innate beauty that could not be denied.
From the gaps of his hair, his scarlet eyes gleamed brightly in the desolate darkness.
”If you believe you don ’t need me, if you ’re content on walking alone, then walk out of here yourself. If you do, then I ’ll make sure you ’re given your freedom. ” Wei Wuyin ’s words seemed icy cold, demanding, yet Zuhei didn ’t complain nor react. With a quivering body, he moved his fragile body.
He tried to lift his body with his arms, but failed to muster any strength, helplessly falling down. Wei Wuyin walked out of the cell, gazing at Su Mei. ”We all have our own path to walk. We all have a moment that will define us for the rest of our lives, ” he spoke as if he was speaking to himself.
Su Mei was deeply shaken as she lifted her gaze to see Wei Wuyin ’s silver eyes calmly staring at the exit of this prison forged by man. She softly nodded.
The soft sounds of Zuhei ’s failing attempts continued. The moment he was captured, his cultivation base was thoroughly crippled, and this affected his mental and bodily functions. If it wasn ’t for his resilience and luck, he could ’ve been rendered with full physical and mental retardation from the act. This was a consequence of the destruction of one ’s Natal Soul.
The body, mind, and soul was no longer complete. The meridians of one ’s body and acupoints would collapse and no longer be able to execute cultivation, and they were fated to be weaker than mortals. The one thing cultivators dreaded the most was the crippling of their spirit, because it could lead to a state worse than death.
While the experience of losing qualifications to become a cultivator again was horrific to think about, it paled in comparison to no longer being an able-bodied individual in mind or body. And Zuhei experienced this deeply.
He couldn ’t control his legs. His arms were like lead, and his breathing was difficult to control. The thoughts he sent to his body were oftentimes incomplete, interrupted, or abruptly vanished. He would forget things, like himself, experiencing bouts of insanity. He would lose his ability to communicate with his body.
He tried again and again, yet never succeeded. His mouth opened slightly, revealing a set of fractured, yellowed teeth. His spittle wet the floor as he struggled with soft, exhausted grunts.
”Haaa…haaaa….haaaaaa… ” His heaving breaths were heavy and ceaseless, but his scarlet eyes never left the opening of the cell. It was merely a few meters away, yet he hadn ’t moved more than an inch this entire time, but he similarly didn ’t stop his actions.
Wei Wuyin closed his eyes.
Su Mei didn ’t. She watched it all. ’Cultivation is difficult. Life doesn ’t have second chances, just learning experiences and future choices. Zuhei…just crawl… ’
She softly gritted her teeth. If Zuhei just crawled to the cell opening, he could get out. It was easy! But…
As she watched him continue to lift his body up with a body like that, her heart filled with a hint of bitterness. She recalled earlier events.
”Wha…t? ” The dry, wild, and cold voice belonging to Zuhei softly said in confusion.
”I asked: are you hungry? ” Wei Wuyin repeated.
”… ” Zuhei remained silent, but from his scarlet eyes, he clearly regarded Wei Wuyin as a fool. Hungry? Haha, how foolish of a question was that? He has long since lost…
”You aren ’t? I guess it makes sense. ” Wei Wuyin abruptly answered his own question. He started to pace a few steps, turn, and pace in the other direction. This continued until those scarlet eyes followed Wei Wuyin religiously, trying to glean some understanding of his existence here.
”That ’s what you lack. ” Wei Wuyin calmly stated.
Zuhei ’s fractured and yellowed teeth were bared slowly, revealing a weak snarl as he brushed aside Wei Wuyin ’s words. ”Wha…what do you know of hunger?! ” His eyes radiated endless discontent and maliciousness. Did this man even understand what it meant to be hungry? To starve? There were times he wished to sever his own fingers and eat them whole!
Wei Wuyin stopped his steps, giving Zuhei a side-eye glance. ”I know one thing: Hunger is for the living. ”
”… ” Zuhei stilled. The brightness in his eyes that radiated murder dimmed considerably. His head slightly drooped and his features were concealed by his silver hair.
Wei Wuyin scoffed. He turned his body, approached Zuhei until they were merely a few inches apart, and his silver eyes met those scarlet eyes without an ounce of fear. Wei Wuyin could smell his turbid and horrific breath that was warped by the smell of decay, death, and filth.
”I once met a man. He was quite an interesting person, because when his life was no longer under his control, his fate decided by others, and everything was hopeless because he could no longer affect the world or hearts of others, he was simply one thing at the moment of his inevitable end: Hungry. ”
Zuhei shivered slightly. It was as if a thousand wisps of icy-coldness entered his body, traveled through his muscles and spine without end.
”I was simply a kid then. I didn ’t understand what it felt to be like that. In fact, I found it rather funny. But I wanted to save him, so I did. ” Wei Wuyin ’s eyes flashed with a hint of nostalgia. ”I was merely a little kid at the time, but later…very soon, I would understand what he felt; the hunger. So hungry it hurt. So hungry that I couldn ’t think about anything else than satisfying that hunger, whatever the cost. ”
”… ” Zuhei didn ’t reply. His thoughts were hard to settle, and a storm was brewing.
”So I ask for the last time: are you hungry? ”
Su Mei watched as Zuhei continued to struggle to stand on his own two feet, a feat that might very well be impossible to perform alone. He refused to crawl to the entrance, regardless of how many times he failed. Even after an entire three hours, he hadn ’t moved more than that inch from before, but he never gave up.
His body was drenched in sweat that permeated the air with a bitter smell, yet he continued.
Wei Wuyin ’s eyes remained closed throughout.
Su Mei ’s eyes moved from Wei Wuyin to Zuhei. ’I know the feeling…the hunger. The want. The desire. It ’s endless and it drives you. Perhaps if I never met him that day, I would still be uncertain if I was truly hungry for life, for choice, for my destiny in my own hands. ’
Her thoughts had long since settled. She was hungry, and her willingness to satisfy her desire was endless and boundless.
She softly said, ”Your pride isn ’t important. What ’s important is your willingness to seek what you want. ”
”…! ” Zuhei stopped. His head slightly lifted to see a figure outside the cell, a figure he hadn ’t noticed before. While his current gaze was blurry, and all he saw was a black silhouette, he felt as if someone out there understood him. Who?
He clenched his teeth, calmed his breathing, and looked at the two figures. ”You want me to be your claws? You want me to be your fangs? Then give me a fucking body! ” His voice was hoarse, strained, and quivering, teeming with a sense of unyieldingness and desire.
Wei Wuyin opened his eyes. His silver gaze moved to Zuhei ’s collapsed form, uplifted head, and eyes that radiated endless scarlet light.
”And what type of body do you want? ” Wei Wuyin threw him this question out with an indifferent tone.
Zuhei didn ’t hesitate with answering this question with a loud bellow: ”One that can satisfy my hunger!! ”
”Hmph, ” Wei Wuyin slightly smirked. ”I want the best claws, I want the best fangs, and in return, I will give you the best body. All I ask for is that your hunger, that feeling you want at this moment, never vanishes from your heart, mind, and soul. Can you promise me this? ”
Zuhei breathly exclaimed, ”Yes! ”
Wei Wuyin laughed with a hint of coldness and excitement. He didn ’t ask for loyalty. That was a ridiculous request that could never be certain, nor would he be foolish enough to demand it. What he wanted was a set of fangs and claws that could rip through his enemies without question!
Everything else was secondary.
Wei Wuyin ’s fingers on his right hand moved, flickering with traces of multicolored light that shuttled between the gaps with a mystical aura. This was his Alchemic Qi. From his left hand, it trembled slightly and a single pill was formed. This pill was dull, grey like ash and revealed a desolate aura that seemed to siphon all life.
He inserted his qi into the pill and with a flick, sent it flying towards Zuhei ’s collapsed body drenched in sweat. It touched his forehead, and then melted into his body seamlessly.
Su Mei ’s eyes watched as the pill appeared and moved. ”Isn ’t that… ” She was shocked, looking at Wei Wuyin with disbelief. Since she was exposed to the Extreme Creation Mountain, she diligently studied all the known alchemical products that existed as a priority. That ash-grey pill was a pill she instantly recognized!
In the various spiritual jades, they would not only describe the pills appearance, but its aura. This pill wasn ’t an ordinary one, in fact…it wasn ’t a seventh-grade pill!
”Eighth-grade?! ” But how? She knew eighth-grade pills almost never appeared, and if they did, they would be worth continents. From the pill ’s innate spiritual aura, she felt Wei Wuyin ’s unique signature! He…he…he wasn ’t just an Alchemic King?
Her eyes slightly bulged as she regarded this lord of hers who she devoted her life to follow alongside, to travel the ends of the world until death, and to forge her own path to ensure she would be able to remain by his side.
Was he already an Alchemic Emperor?!
Products at the eighth-grade were designed mostly for Astral Core Realm experts at the middle-phases, but those at this level were exceptionally rare throughout the entire Tri-Vision Starfield! In fact, out of the tens of trillions of people, less than a dozen Emperor Alchemists existed!
If the world knew…
Wei Wuyin didn ’t react to Su Mei ’s stunned reactions, merely watched as the pill ’s unique energies and medicinal efficacy started to seep into every cell of Zuhei ’s body and activate. The pill was a low-tier, eighth-grade pill called the Desolate Resurrection Pill. It was a pill designed specifically to repair the fragmented portions of a person ’s spirit, resurrecting one ’s Natal Soul.
Typically, the crippling of one ’s spirit was the result of a shattering and subsequent collapse of one ’s Natal Soul. If they were below the Eighth Stage of the Qi Condensation Realm, then it would be the shattering of their spirit. This wasn ’t extraction, but destruction, but like glass, if shattered, the pieces could be placed together again and restored.
However, it becomes exceptionally difficult to do so, and the stronger one becomes, the harder it is.
Zuhei was originally a cultivator at the Second Stage of the Astral Core Realm, the Sky Ruler Phase at his crippling, so the difficulty was a million times greater than those at the Qi Condensation Realm. However, the eighth-grade Desolate Resurrection Pill was capable of doing so!
It absorbed all the lifeforce, mental energies, Natal Soul fragments, and physical energies, before refining it and restoring that which was lost. Its basis was a unique essence called Desolate Absorption Essence. It was a top-tier essence that was outside the nine elements, and an incredibly unstable and volatile material. Quite a few lose their everything, life, mind, flesh, and more simply by touching it.
Only Alchemists could handle it, allowing it to not just take, but to give everything it took in greater quantities
”Gaaarrrgh! ” Zuhei immediately started to shout in pain. It was loud and unable to be stifled. His body spasmed and twitched endlessly as his pale skin turned to the color of white-ash. It was as if everything within his body was being drawn away and forcefully pulled into his glabella.
”Not only will I give you the best body, I ’ll let you reach limits you ’ve never even dreamed of! ” The excitement effusing from Wei Wuyin ’s eyes was tangible.
Zuhei ’s scarlet gaze shined brighter with each passing moment.
”It seems you were right, Su Mei. ” Wei Wuyin turned his gaze to Su Mei who still looked at Wei Wuyin with a wisp of disbelief.
”W-what? ” It was very rare to see Su Mei lose composure, but her mind was truly shaking with the understanding that Wei Wuyin was an Emperor Alchemist! They were in the sect for merely four months! She knew that he was merely a King Alchemist before, and even then, the difference between King Alchemist and Emperor Alchemist was larger than the gap between First Stage of Qi Condensation and First Stage of Astral Core!
But he jumped this gap using less than four months?!
”It seems your report was right, ” Wei Wuyin said. His eyes shifted back to Zuhei who was struggling to pain brought about by the pill. His aura was becoming desolate and filled with a sense of emptiness, but within this emptiness was a vigorous speck of slaughter and something else…
It was intense. It was fueled by fierce and unyielding will to challenge oneself without end, overcome all obstacles and challenge greater enemies! In comparison to the aura of slaughter, it was purehearted and untainted.
”No wonder he could overcome an entire phase in the Astral Core Realm in battle. He didn ’t just give birth to Slaughter Intent…but he also has Battle Intent! ” Wei Wuyin ’s eyes glimmered with brilliant light.
Su Mei started. Battle Intent? Her eyes shifted to Zuhei ’s body and she realized his aura was like a bloody battlefield now. After his everything was taken away by the pill, his battle intent was no longer overshadowed by his intent to slaughter. In fact, his horrific pain brought it out as it tempered his will to overcome!
Wei Wuyin softly exclaimed, ”He ’s perfect! ”
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