Rumour in the Jianghu had it that the King of Hell once had a beloved pet nine-tailed fox. From then on, every nine-tailed fox born in the mortal plain was naturally born with exceptional spiritual sensitivity, and even without cultivating, their fox eyes could see through yin and yang. As the most talented nine-tailed fox on the Snowy Mountains, Bai Chen was naturally the best cultivator of spirit and soul techniques. So, today, when he personally said those words, Qing XuZi was confident that the youth in front of him was his past eldest disciple.
In truth, Bai Chen wasn’t lying; He Ku had really come from Bu QingYun’s soul, he’d just neglected to mention that the two souls in this person’s body were both Bu QingYun. Not much needed to be said, just a single sentence was enough. The stage was already set, and what followed afterward depended on how the actors performed.
Although he was still confined within their body, He Huan immediately understood what Bai Chen meant. Yes, this meticulous arrangement, which had started even before he had reached the Calamity Crossing Stage, had finally reached its finale.
From time immemorial, the demonic path’s progress was faster than the righteous’ and much easier. However, even though this was the case, cultivators would never attempt the demonic path unless they had no other choice. The reason behind this was the fact that all demonic cultivation techniques contained a fatal flaw; the Technique of Bliss was no exception. The Technique of Bliss was based on a Buddhist technique, and even though it had been corrupted, its endpoint was still to become Buddha and not a demon.
One wouldn’t feel its negative effects in the beginning, but once the cultivator reached the Nascent Soul Stage they would realise that no matter how they enjoyed the pleasures of life, their cultivation would no longer advance. This was exactly where Feng Xie had been trapped. If He Huan had followed the usual demonic paths, he would likely also have been trapped here, but luckily, he wasn’t a stereotypical demonic cultivator.
Bu QingYun’s life obsession was too deep; even if he fell into corruption he couldn’t eradicate the two words ‘World Peace’ from his heart. On the contrary, he made it the only thing he could feel pleasure from in this endless darkness. From the day he changed his name to He Huan, he kept encouraging and advising himself not to forget what pleasure meant to him.
His past dao heart became He Huan’s twisted obsession. He didn’t have any close relatives or friends, instead, this obsession became his only motivation to continue on living. For countless days and nights, as long as he sat on the clouds and gazed at the distant peace and prosperity, he could tell himself that even though he made himself so filthy, at least the long-cherished wish he had in his heart was already fulfilled. Nowadays, the Jianghu was quiet, so it didn’t matter if it was the righteous faction or the demonic faction, they were both able to live in a way that he liked. As for whether this peace and prosperity included him, that wasn’t important.
Like he had wanted in his youth, he’d single-handedly held together a peaceful era. He completed Bu QingYun’s dao and was very satisfied.
Through slaughter, he stopped slaughter. He cast himself into Ashura to welcome true happiness for the world. Such conduct just so happened to touch upon the Technique of Bliss’ true meaning, which is why he was able to successfully enter into the Calamity Crossing Stage. If he could continue on like this forever, wouldn’t that be good? However, it was at the cusp of his breakthrough to Calamity Crossing, that he discovered that while he could easily reach the Calamity Crossing stage, he had no way to pass the upcoming final trial before ascension—asking the soul sincerely and coming away with no regrets.
Walking the path of fire and entering the demonic path, causing the peers who sought to save him to die from humiliation, do you hold no regrets?
Betraying his sect, causing the master who saw him as his own son to suffer heartbreak, do you hold no regrets?
Living a life of slaughter, when facing the righteous and demonic cultivators he cut down, do you still hold no regrets?
When he faintly sensed these three questions looming within the heavenly dao, He Huan knew that he had reached the limit of his path… When he asked his soul, he came away with regrets.
Perhaps his destination had already been determined the moment Feng Xie appeared before him. No matter how he struggled and denied it, ultimately he was unable to escape from fate. Yet, this was also the reason why he didn’t want to accept it. Instead, he went to the Snowy Mountains to find Bai Chen, who was an expert on soul cultivation.
Bai Chen said, “Not even the best elixirs and treasures can heal the soul unless you turn back time and do it again.”
It was naturally impossible to turn back time, so under the condition that He Huan assists in Yun Ce’s Calamity Crossing tribulation, he was taught the Soul Splitting Technique. Then he harnessed the power of the lightning tribulation to split his divine consciousness into two, creating an eighteen-year-old version of himself who had yet to experience all the tragedy that befell him.
The Soul Splitting Technique was the nine-tailed fox spirits’ secret life-saving technique. They could use this technique to create a substitute and would let the original body escape. However, the most wondrous aspect of this technique lay in the fact that once the technique activated, everything between the original body and the substitute would be exchanged, even cultivation techniques.
This was He Huan’s real trump card. He braved the risk of being reduced to ash to create He Ku, not because he wanted to die, but because he wanted to be reborn.
Just as Xiu Niang had said, there were no good people within the demonic faction. While what He Huan pursued was different from what other demonic cultivators pursued, in the end, he still wasn’t a good person. He didn’t lie to He Ku; he really did split his divine consciousness in order to make up for his regrets. He just didn’t tell him that he would achieve this through creating another He Huan to die in his place.
The warnings of the divine sword intent were never wrong, but the danger it detected wasn’t towards He Huan, but its master, He Ku. You Jiang truly was a smart man; he was the first to see through He Huan’s intentions, and that’s why he left and took Xiu Niang, who didn’t dare to face Bu QingYun, away with him.
Just like they planned, they exploited the Heaven’s Library Pavillion’s scheme and led Qing XuZi to the Palace of Bliss. They would get the Xuanmen Sect Leader to personally determine that Bu QingYun had been possessed by the Demon Lord, then they would switch. When the Demon Lord He Huan got executed, he would still be the Bu QingYun of the past. He would never have to face the flaws of demonic cultivation ever again. He could recultivate the divine sword intent, and he could reclaim everything that he lost. So what if he would never be able to ascend? At least he would be able to spend his last century beside his master.
It’s just, the condition for all of this to succeed is for the Demon Lord He Huan to die here today.
He had accounted for everyone in the world, and all of the Heaven’s Library Pavilion’s machinations only served his own plan. The only thing he failed to account for was that the substitute he was prepared to abandon was the only one who would block a sword for him.
Until this moment, he hadn’t realised just how correct his master’s warning not to force himself onto the path of no return was. In the past, he had only walked such paths because the reward for surviving such dire straits was worth it. However, now that he watched He Ku firmly stand in front of him, he could almost hear the heavenly dao’s question—killing him, do you hold no regrets?
Yes, as long as he nourished his divine consciousness, he could just create another youthful version of himself later. Then, he could truly spoil and make up for the actions of today. However, he also intimately knew that wouldn’t be the same He Ku. His Nascent Soul was right here, and in order to protect him, he could risk everything. Perhaps… there would never be a second.
This was the best time to activate the technique. He knew Bai Chen had already prepared the follow-up, and yet he just remained in this person’s heart and lightly asked, “He Ku, it’s highly likely that one of us would be finished today. Tell me, what is your dao heart?”
Since He Huan had already said it like this, He Ku knew that they wouldn’t be able to escape today. Although he didn’t understand what he meant by ‘one of us’, he still answered honestly, “My dao heart is He Huan.”
He Huan had never felt this emotional from hearing his name. His demonic energy slowly spilled out, successfully locking his Nascent Soul inside his body before striking out against the old cultivator who instantly went on guard. His body stumbled a few steps backwards on its own, a trace of blood appearing from the corners of his mouth, but it was like he didn’t even notice the bitter taste in his throat, only quietly asking in his heart, “Do you know what my dao heart is?”
The gap between his and He Ku’s cultivation was enormous. If he wanted to wrestle away the control of their body, the other wouldn’t even have the chance to resist. He knew that He Ku was currently completely suppressed by his demonic energy and most likely couldn’t even speak, so he just smiled slowly and answered the question himself, “My dao heart is bliss, so I will never do anything that will make me feel hurt. No matter how good the thing is, if it will make me sad, I will not do it.”
He Ku didn’t understand how he could still laugh in this situation; he only knew that he had to stop him. Yet, no matter how much he struggled, He Huan’s demonic energy still firmly locked him within their body. He could only listen as that person’s voice became more and more lively. “Just then, I asked myself a question. If my heart truly just contained the world, then why should I care if the one who protects it is myself?”
As if he had truly been stumped by this question, he paused. His words carried an air of enlightenment, as one that had seen through and accepted everything. “In the end, it’s nothing but selfishness. It turns out that I wasn’t as noble as I had thought. Indeed, the world needs Bu QingYun, but aren’t you also Bu QingYun?”
He Huan really was a genius; even in this predicament he could still have such enlightenment, but what He Ku was most afraid of was exactly this type of insight. Within these words, he could no longer feel the other’s yearning for the living realm. This worry reached its peak when he heard what He Huan said.
Looking at the young fox who didn’t even hesitate to reveal his true form and stand against Qing XuZi, He Huan chuckled. “He Ku, Yun Ce treats you sincerely, so after this, you should live well with him. If you have nothing else to do, return to Xuanmen more often to visit my master. Also, diligently practice the divine sword intent. After you break out of this dimension, help me take a look at our home.”
He Huan had never used this kind of tone with He Ku before. At this moment, all he felt was anxiety. Sure enough, immediately afterwards, the sultry voice He Huan purposefully adopted transferred from the outside world. “The body of Xuanmen’s successor really is handy; watching him struggle in the demonic faction all these years really satisfied the craving in my heart.”
The moment these words rang out, Qing XuZi predictably became angry. He drew his sword and demanded, “Who the hell are you?”
He looked at him indifferently, but the smile on the red-clothed man’s face didn’t diminish in the slightest. “Is there any other Palace Master of the Palace of Bliss?”
Sure enough, Qing XuZi immediately guessed the answer that He Huan wanted. “Feng Xie, it’s you! I had always found it strange. From his youth, QingYun had always been upstanding and moral, so even if he had suffered a qi-deviation, how could it have been possible for him to commit such crimes! It turned out to be you!”
“That’s right, I did everything! Bu QingYun doesn’t know anything.”
In a way, this could still be counted as having been the truth back then. His heart fell silent, and belatedly He Huan thought that his acting skills really were cut from the same cloth as He Ku’s, their villainous act severely lacked IQ. However, with these flakey facts, no one would blame him for not really putting his heart into these lines. After all, in front of his master, he didn’t want such an unsightly death.
Qing XuZi was currently the most powerful cultivator in the world, when he erupted all the power contained within his cultivation, even if He Huan were at his peak condition he still wouldn’t be able to resist, but he didn’t want to resist. Ordinary cultivators would be helpless to do anything in the face of a possession, but He Huan knew Qing XuZi. With the backing of the heavens, he would be able to erase his soul with the power of a single sword.
On the barren mountain where the Palace of Bliss was situated, the demonic energy subsided. The Xuanmen Sect Leader used overwhelming power to release a sword glare and split the tangled souls of ‘Feng Xie’ and Bu QingYun apart. Like this, the evil spirit was extracted and the suppressed soul of the youth was finally freed. From then on, Bu QingYun returned to Xuanmen as a victim, and because of this they cared for him even more. He would have many brothers and friends; he would be able to walk in a world of prosperity with his head held high, enjoying the reverence of the people. He would even be able to properly spend the rest of his life with the little fox he liked. This was the happily-ever-after the evil spirit He Huan wrote for Bu QingYun.
“Master! Old man, I will kill you!”
“Little Palace Master, are you okay? Why are you crying?”
“Surnamed Li, grab Bu QingYun!”
The surroundings were chaotic, and the people who stayed to fight over him were still fighting. However, at this moment, He Ku wasn’t able to see or hear anything. The only thing in his mind were the last words He Huan had said before he left their body. In front of that sword glare, the red-clothed man looked back toward him, his usual mischievous smile reflected within his eyes as he said, “Didn’t you dislike the name He Ku? From now on, you are Bu QingYun.”
He never knew just how painful and heartbreaking it was to have your soul ripped apart until this moment.
End of Chapter 34
THISBRO: Thank you Urmulus for buying me a Ko-fi! Everyone wish me luck on my midterm next week ahhh