Chapter 171: Hanging by a Thread

"...Monster..." Several generals backed away from the white-haired man in front of them.

Murong Zuoyu's armor had long been stained red, blotches of blood coloured his face. Swords were stuck in his chest, yet he remained standing at the very same spot he stood at in the beginning. He had not moved back at all, not even an inch.

The generals looked at the soldiers behind them. They only had a few hundred soldiers left. 

"Go together! Kill him! He can't last long!" One of the generals waved his sword and charged with his horse. Murong Zuoyu lifted his head at the sound and raised his own blade as well. 

Come, then. Would you blame me, Brother Zhu, if I could not return? Would you be disappointed that I did not keep my word? I am not afraid, but if there was one thing I want, I wish I could keep my promise to you. I'm sorry. 

The frigid moon hangs high as his shadow turns into frost, his armour a frozen glacier. He may not return from battle, but he will emerge triumphant. 


Meanwhile

Xuan Wu suddenly turned into a bolt of black light and rushed straight towards Ye Jin!

"Xiao Zhezhe!" Gu Qingyu immediately ran forward, and the chain in his hand was immediately dispatched, but the speed of Xuan Wu was too fast to catch up.

"It's okay." Ye Jin flashed slightly, avoiding Xuan Wu. But Xuan Wu just slammed head first into the wall! 

Gu Qingyu was stunned. "Is he just going to kill himself?" 

"Perhaps." Qi Wan also nodded blankly, but his mind was moving quickly. Xuan Wu was not so stupid. 

Suddenly, there was a faint cracking of stone, followed by the gurgling of liquid. Xie Li panicked and yelled, “Run now!”

The walls burst open and hot, red magma poured out! Gu Qingyu stared at the orange waves surging towards her in a daze, her feet rooted to the ground.

"Boss!" Qi Wan's roar came, and Gu Qingyu felt a ribbon wrap around her waist and tightened as she was jerked back. 

When she came back to her senses, she was already pressed up against Qi Wan’s chest. The ribbon had bound them together, while two more ribbons were jammed into the walls, pulling them away from the magma that was right below them. A wave of hot air rushed up and she closed her eyes from the heat. She could vaguely hear a racing heartbeat, but despite its speed, it soothed her. 

Gu Qingyu opened her eyes when the hot air had gone past them and reached around to hold Qi Wan. She wanted to use her chains to help ease his load, but she could not summon her weapon at all. In fact, she barely had any strength and her chest was still throbbing. Was this because of Xuan Wu?

Qi Wan's body is very weak now, he would not be able to hold on at this rate.

"I'm fine, boss..." Qi Wan said right next to her ear. The magma was closing in on them, Qi Wan gritted his teeth and hoisted them up another level. Gu Qingyu heard something tear open and a warm sticky liquid began to drip onto her hair and down her face. She looked up in horror, that liquid was blood. Qi Wan’s efforts had caused his wounds to reopen and the blood had flowed down his cheeks and dripped onto her face.

Pitter. Patter.

"Qi Wan, let go..." Gu Qingyu murmured, tears bursting from her eyes.

“Don’t be silly. I’ll be fine, don’t cry.” Qi Wan smiled at her, then turned to look further up. The magma was still pouring from the stone walls, but the Moon-view Lake was right above them. 

“Things should be fine once we get up there.” Qi Wan clenched his jaw and said, “Boss, I’ll bring you up there immediately.” 

“But what about the others?” Gu Qingyu furrowed her brows with worry, 

"Don't worry, they are not idiots.”


Xie Li and Xie Zang were tucked away in one of the corners of the cavernous system in the volcano. The magma rolled and bubbled, but it did not reach them, the liquid rock was blocked out by a pale red barrier. 

Cough, cough! Xie Li suddenly collapsed to the ground and spat out a mouthful of blood. 

"Sister!" Xie Zang was shocked, and immediately knelt down to support Xie Li, "Are you alright?” 

Xie Li waved her hand to indicate that she was okay, only to cough up more blood. 

"Sister!" Xie Zang watched as Xie Li's blood sprayed on her crystal ball, causing the original fiery red crystal ball to glow with an eerie red light.

"Zang..." Xie Li gently leaned against Xie Zang's arms, closing her eyes, looking very tired, "If I can, I don't want to live like this. I’m so tired.” 

Xie Zang pursed his lips, but stretched out his hand to gently hold his sister without a word. 

“I just want a home for the two of us, away from all the conflict in the world, and the scheming in the royal family.” She murmured, as if she were in a dream. “I once saw a flower in my dreams. It was as red as flames, very beautiful. And it had a sweet, lovely smell. The flowers were so many, they grew all over the city. They even grew and wrapped around a castle. It was so beautiful...” 

Xie Zang hugged Xie Li tightly: "Sister, when we get to surface, I’ll take you and we’ll run away together.” 

Xie Li smiled bitterly and nodded, looking at the crystal ball. She wished her life would not be so difficult. She wished she could spend the rest of her life with her brother. Alas, her wishes would not come true. 


"Miss, you..." Qi Yichen frowned as he looked at Suzaku. She stood in front of him, her body glowing with a red light as she set up a barrier to protect them from the magma. When the magma first rushed out, she had pulled him behind her and shielded him. Qi Yichen was unscathed, but Suzaku had burned her arm. 

"It's okay." Suzaku waved and looked at Qi Yichen with clear eyes, "Are you okay?"

“I’m fine.” He glanced at her arm, now marred with blistered skin and burnt flesh. “But, Miss...” 

"My real name is Hong, for rainbow." Suzaku smiled softly at him.

"……Hong"

Her eyes lit up as he called her name. “Would you like to hear a story?” 

At this moment, the magma outside seemed to be targeting them, smashing and slamming against her barrier. She was unfazed by their predicament and held up the barrier as she asked him with a smile. Qi Yichen hesitated, but eventually he nodded.

"Once upon a time, there was a bird who liked to fly between the heavens and the earth..." She took a deep breath and continued, "And there was a scholar, who loved to read and practice music in the valley. Whenever he showed up, all of the flora and fauna would be buzzing about him. The scholar would chat with them, as if he could hear what they were saying. But the truth was, he could not hear them, he was just talking to himself. It was his way of calming his nerves and keeping himself company, for you see, the scholar was blind.”

Qi Yichen seemed to understand something when he heard this, but he did not interrupt Suzaku.

"That bird loved the scholar's music. It was really beautiful, he would play it with his heart, his soul. She loved how he sounds when he recites poetry deep into the night, it was so clear that it used to ring across the valley" She closed her eyes, absorbed in her memories. 

Qi Yichen was about to interrupt her when she continued, "The bird loved the scholar so much that she turned into a human to keep him company. She would chat with him, play music and recite poems with him. But all good things must come to an end, a human's lifespan was limited after all. So the bird, an immortal Divine Beast, stayed with the scholar until his last breath." 

She steadied her breath then resumed, "After the scholar was gone, the bird spent the rest of her life searching for his reincarnations and protected him. Maybe this was love, and the scholar had taught her this emotion, so she decided to spend all of her life to repay him." 

Qi Yichen lowered his eyes and smiled. "Miss..."

"I'm Hong." Suzaku looked at Qi Yichen solemnly. 

"Hong..." Qi Yichen called her name at her request. 

"Yeah." Suzaku curled her lips slightly. It looked like a genuine smile. "Thank you, scholar... Chen, I will definitely protect you."

Qi Yichen sighed softly.


Gu Qingyu could feel that the droplets of blood that dripped onto her face had turned into splatter. Her vision was already stained red. 

"Qi Wan...let go...please..." She pleaded. "Please, let go! I rather die than to see you suffer like this, please!" 

"Don't be stupid! You know I would never do that!" Qi Wan lost his temper and shouted. But he immediately regretted raising his voice at her, and apologised profusely. "Sorry, boss. I shouldn't have said' that, I'm sorry..."

Tears and blood mixed together on Gu Qingyu's face. If this continued, both of them would die. Qi Wan was already slowly dying from the blood loss, and as obstinate as he was, he would not let go until he was bled dry. Either, he would run out of strength to scale up and both of them would be burned alive in the magma. Gu Qingyu ground her jaw, and made a gamble. She used all of her remaining energy to summon the Soul Chain and shot it into the wall near them!

Boom! The wall cracked, dust and smoke filled the air. When it settled, Gu Qingyu saw that the wall she attacked had opened up to a small cave that led deeper in. She couldn't help crying with joy. "Qi Wan! We're saved!" 

"Yeah." Qi Wan used his ribbons and swung them into the cave. Just before they landed, Qi Wan released the ribbons and pulled her flush against him and they fell into the cave with a tumble, him taking the brunt of the fall. She laid in his arms and tried to catch her breath, that one attack was all she could do under Xuan Wu's counter. She could not even move a finger now. But despite her exhaustion, tears kept pouring from her eyes. 

Her heart hurts. He loved her so much that it makes her heart clench in pain. He could throw away everything, withstand unimaginable suffering, and endure the excruciating pain of literally being bled dry, all for her sake. 

"Hey, it's okay." Qi Wan smiled, looked at the top of the cave and placed his hand gently on the back of her head.

"Oh? Really?" Suddenly, a strange voice came from deeper in the cave. Her blood turned into ice. Qi Wan removed his hand and pushed himself up from the ground with a frosty glare at the sudden intruder. 

Gu Qingyu dragged herself away from Qi Wan and turned behind to the source of the voice. That person looked almost exactly like Qi Wan and she had once mistaken him to be her best friend as well, they were so much alike then. But now, they were polar opposites. Her bond with Qi Wan was so deep that it was etched into her bones, no one would ever be able to resemble Qi Wan, even in the slightest. Qi Wan would always be one and only in her eyes. 

Cloud said with an elusive smile. "Your Excellences, are you ready to die with me now?"

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