Chapter 1604 - Standoff

Only now did Ye Zichen learn that the stairway leading down to the third layer had a thousand steps.

 

With each step they took, the spiritual pressure from below increased. Even with Venerate Spirit Treasure’s protection, Ye Zichen couldn’t help but frown.

 

The red smog filled the entire corridor. Venerate Spirit Treasure was calm at first, but his brow gradually furrowed. It seemed that, even with his cultivation, he felt quite a bit of pressure.

 

“This old fart….” 

 

The former Demon Emperor’s aura came in waves, one after the other until…

 

“Scram!” A roar containing towering fury filled the corridor. Venerate Spirit Treasure reached out, grabbed Ye Zichen, and swung him behind him. Then, an enormous bell emerged from between the yao’s eyebrows. Once it was out, it expanded, enveloping them both.

 

The inside of the bell was pitch-black, but after a little while, the interior lit up. 

 

“Scared the crap out of me.” Venerate Spirit Treasure sat against the bell and panted. When they looked down, they saw that they were still on the staircase.

 

“Venerate, what are you…”  

“Don’t you realize we almost died down there?” Venerate Spirit Treasure rolled his eyes. “I didn't realize he was that vicious. If I hadn’t sensed him in time…”

 

Venerate Spirit Treasure clutched his chest in lingering terror. Ye Zichen, who’d been under his protection this entire time, didn’t know what had happened, nor did he know what the Former Demon Emperor had done to scare Venerate Spirit Treasure this badly.

 

But he did take a moment to evaluate the golden bell. If he weren’t mistaken… This was most likely the treasure the great emperors were referring to when they brought up his “turtle shell.”

 

Then can we still proceed downward?” Even though he knew Venerate Spirit Treasure had been forced to use his natal divine artifact, Ye Zichen couldn’t help but ask.

 

“You still want to go down?” Venerate Spirit Treasure stared at him, eyes wide. “I’m afraid you’ve lost your wits. I’ve been forced to bring out my natal divine artifact, but you still want to go down even further?”

 

“Then…”

 

“We can’t leave either.” He glared at Ye Zichen, as if venting. After an angry silence, he finally continued, “Why did I agree to bring you here? Look at this! We’re both trapped here now.”

 

“....” 

 

A full hour passed in silence.

 

Then, as if he couldn’t bear to sit around any longer, Venerate Spirit Treasure got to his feet and opened a window in the bell’s walls. “Hey, old man, why’ve you been so ill-tempered lately?”

 

“Scram!”

 

Even through the bell, they could sense the former Demon Emperor’s fury.

 

Venerate Spirit Treasure twisted his neck, covered his ears, and shouted back, “Stop shouting! Are you trying to show off your lung capacity?”

 

The former Demon Emperor really did quite down, but before long, they heard him roar, “A mere treasure-swallowing toad dares speak to me like that? You’re courting death!”  

“What, are you going to scare me to death? If you’ve got skills, come beat me up yourself.” Venerate Spirit Treasure stood within the bell, jumping about like a macaque. His expression changed rapidly, and he sneered. “You can’t even leave. Who do you think you’re threatening? I urge you to hurry up and withdraw your spiritual pressure. I’m bringing a little brother of mine to see you. He’d like to have a chat with you.” 

 

Silence. 

 

A minute passed with no response. Venerate Spirit Treasure scrunched up his brows, stroked his chin, and said tentatively, “We’re coming down!” 

 

He silently raised the bell, opening a crack, but before they could leave….

 

“You’re playing tricks, you damn old fart!” Venerate Spirit Treasure hurriedly lowered the golden bell. He put his hands on his hips and glared, although who knew if the former Demon Emperor could see it or not? Staring outside the bell, he cursed the former Demon Emperor for a full minute.

 

The former Demon Emperor didn’t respond once, but eventually, Venerate Spirit Treasure seemed to tire himself out. “Old man, what exactly do you want? The kid behind me has an extraordinary status, and he’s desperate to chat with you. The two of us are, for better or worse, long-time neighbors. Can’t you give me just a little face?”

 

“He can come, but you can’t!” said the former Demon Emperor suddenly. 

 Ye Zichen had been silent all this time, but when he heard that, his shoulders spasmed, and he turned to look at Venerate Spirit Treasure. Venerate Spirit Treasure was looking at him, too.

 

“Venerate…”

 

“Wait a moment.” After gesturing for Ye Zichen to stay calm, Venerate Spirit Treasure licked his lips and said, “Old man, you’re being awfully unkind. We’ve been neighbors for so long. Why aren’t you letting me down? Besides, my big sis entrusted the kid to my care, and you’re capricious and temperamental. What will I do if you kill him in a sudden fit of rage?”

 

“Then just don’t come at all,” said the former Demon Emperor.

 

“Come on, old man.” Venerate Spirit Treasure cursed him out once more.

 

The former Demon Emperor snorted, “I detest yao; just one whiff of your stench and I feel sick to my stomach. Especially you; that filthy, toadlike stench… I really regret my failure to torture you to death these past ten thousand years.”

 

“I…” Venerate Spirit Treasure’s eyes suddenly reddened. His true body was a three-legged golden toad.

 

He hated nothing more than being called a “dirty toad.” He endured it when it was Xuan-Yuan Xiang, and when the great emperors did it, he knew it was because they were mad about him stealing his treasures. He’d endured that too!

 

But he’d never once, neither before nor during their imprisonment, done anything to offend the former Demon Emperor. There was no grudge between them at all!  

Yet here he was, calling him a “dirty toad”!

 

“You stubborn, cantankerous old fart, if you’ve got balls, get the hell out here and see if I don’t skin you alive! It seems you’ve been locked up for far too long, and it’s changed you. I’ve been trying to talk to you. What, you don’t understand human speech anymore?” 

 

“Get out here!”  

“Come down here!”  

The two of them fought back and forth like children. Ye Zichen licked his lips, then reached out and pulled Venerate Spirit Treasure back.

 

“The damn geezer’s really irritating the snot out of me.” Venerate Spirit Treasure glared and cursed through the window in the bell.

 

Then, he turned to Ye Zichen and frowned. “You see the situation too; the old man hates yao, so there’s no way I can go down with you. I’m afraid that if I try to accompany you, I won’t be able to keep a lid on my chaotic power and hold back from squishing him!”

 

Squishing him? 

 

It would be good enough if he didn’t get squished himself!

 

They’d yet to even enter the third layer, but the former Demon Emperor’s aura had pushed him to the point of summoning his natal divine artifact. It was already obvious which of them was stronger.

 

Of course, while Ye Zichen thought that to himself, he knew better than to say it out loud.

 

“Then how do you want to proceed?” asked Ye Zichen.

 

“The only option is to go down by yourself.” Venerate Spirit Treasure shrugged. “I want to accompany you down to the bottom, but the old fart’s made his attitude perfectly clear. Also, my words were rather unpleasant earlier. Even if I force my way down, with me here, there’s no way the two of you can communicate. Based on what he said, it seems he doesn’t have any particular aversion to you. If you go down yourself, you might make unexpected gains, but…. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

 

“Why not?” Ye Zichen frowned.

 

“Too dangerous!” Venerate Spirit Treasure said solemnly, “I wasn’t kidding around or insulting him randomly earlier. He’s been imprisoned for tens of thousands of years without anyone to talk to. His personality… might very well have changed. In short, you need to think this over carefully. It’s up to you whether you go down or not!” 

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