TGL Volume 3, Chapter 4 (3)

I’m dying. This is painful. Why is this happening to me? No. I can’t think like that. Bear with it. Ignore the pain. Where are Lucia’s impurities? Is this the last vial? It’s hard to remember how many I drank. I’m tired, but I can’t stop now, not when Brother Claw is struggling for his life. Back then, I hated the fact he became stronger than me thanks to Lucia helping him kill earth-realm and sky-realm experts, but now, I’m not as bitter.

“As expected of the one with the nickname Executioner! You’re a strong bastard, aren’t you?” Vermillion Blaze spat out a mouthful of blood while retreating backwards through the air. Sluggish flames floated around him, no longer as vibrant as they were a few minutes ago. Battles between sky-realm experts happen very quickly once they fully commit. There’s nothing special about them, and the only tactic is strength. Whoever has the strongest technique and the most qi wins.

“You’ve heard of me?” Brother Claw paused, his voice filled with leisure despite enduring the pressure of four other sky-realm experts surrounding him. “That’s odd. I thought I killed everyone who’s ever witnessed my strength.”

“Did you think—”

Brother Claw didn’t let Vermillion Blaze finish before rushing up and slashing down with his blade. Thankfully, the three sky-realm experts surrounding me seemed to be distracted by their conflict. They had bound my body with flaming chains, thinking it was enough. And it should’ve been if not for Lucia’s impurities. Heart devil worms surged out of me in all directions like a black flood, pushing back the fiery chains and consuming them a second later. “Devouring Snake of Bondage!”

A black snake made up of Lucia’s impurities soared out of the tip of my whip and consumed the three sky-realm experts standing around me. Their qi had been mostly exhausted while fighting against me earlier, and they didn’t have any strength to resist. They fell to the ground, a wriggling lump of black impurities. Though I dealt with those three, I still wasn’t safe. Brother Claw had killed two sky-realm experts at the very start of the conflict. Three experts went after me. That means there’s still five left. As expected, two experts peeled away from Brother Claw, their auras billowing with killing intent. In a five-against-one conflict, they hadn’t used much of their qi. I wish I could say the same about myself; all I can do is hold on and hope Brother Claw can deal with the remaining three before coming back to help me.

A flame in the shape of a bird flew towards me, my skin turning red from the heat. I might not have any qi to defend myself, but don’t think I’m completely defenseless! I’ve learned a lot from Lucia by watching her survive a tribulation. I sent my will into my interspacial ring and, in the space between me and the flaming bird, hundreds of dead bodies filled the gap. The bird screeched and collided into them, turning most of them into ashes before burning out. I’m sorry, Sister Ilya, this was the only way!

“D-despicable!” The expert who had shot out the flaming bird glared at me. “How many people have you killed!? Elder Fire, help me incinerate this devil!”

The two experts flew closer together and joined hands. They pointed towards the sky, and a massive golden phoenix materialized above them, their faces visibly paling by the second. They pointed at me and shouted in unison, “Yellow Phoenix: Ten Thousand Suns!”

I … don’t think I have enough bodies to stop this attack. I flew backwards to make as much distance as possible, but the phoenix seemed to blink through the air, arriving before me in an instant. It opened its beak wide enough to swallow me. Even though it was made of flames, it cast a shadow over me as it blocked the sun from my view. There wasn’t any time for me to do anything. I, I’m sorry, Lucia, but I think this is the end for me.

Time seemed to slow as the beak closed around me. Every detail of the insides of the phoenix’s mouth was etched into my memory. Especially its tongue. Why did those two experts have to make the phoenix so realistic? That’s…, I don’t want that to be my last thought before I die. Lucia, I, I love—

“Skree!”

Something tackled my side, and I was pushed out of the way, my vision changing from the golden insides of the phoenix’s mouth to the light-blue of the sky. I turned my head just in time to see the golden phoenix snap its beak shut on a small patch of red. “Mr. Feathers!”

The golden phoenix dimmed and fell apart into thousands of wisps of flames that fell to the earth, scorching the land beneath. The space it had occupied was empty, nothing remaining of the brave red phoenix that saved me from the jaws of death—not even ashes. Mr. Feathers…, he … gave up his near-immortal life for me. My vision blurred as my eyes grew hot, but I wiped my sleeve across my face. Now wasn’t the time to mourn. The two bastards spent a lot of qi to conjure that phoenix. How could I be deserving of Mr. Feathers’ sacrifice if I didn’t take advantage of this chance!?

“Forbidden Technique: Heart Devil Massacre!” All the heart devils I’ve accumulated from the start of my life exploded, exiting the bodies of their victims, and appeared in front of me. With this, I’ll have to sow all my heart devils again from scratch, but it’s worth it for the momentary power! The heart devils merged together, taking on the shape of a giant whip. I grabbed the whip’s hilt and swung it with all my remaining strength. It snapped through the air, cutting off the heads of the two bastards before they could even react. Their bodies tumbled to the ground, and a moment later, their heads followed. Weakness flooded my body as I stumbled in the air and fell, summoning a mattress out of my interspacial ring to catch me as I hit the ground. With this, my role in this fight is over. My cultivation dropped down to the earth-realm thanks to the forbidden technique. Luckily, Lucia’s impurities weren’t related to the heart devils; otherwise, my cultivation would’ve dropped even further. But before I could rejoice, laughter came out of the two corpses at the foot of my mattress. The heads rolled along the bodies and rejoined at the neck with a flash of red light before I could stop them.

“Haven’t you heard of our Secret Phoenix Rebirth Technique?” The two bastards stood back up, their faces flush and lively. It was as if they hadn’t been in a fight with me and Brother Claw at all, their qi abundant and billowing.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t think there’s anything I can do, but I have to do something. Is this what despair feels like? It’s worse than when I was inside the golden phoenix’s mouth. There was a brief flash of hope, but it was instantly snuffed out. The heavens are playing pranks on people. My head lowered against my will, and I swallowed down the bitterness in my throat. Fancy shoes with feathers on them came into my vision, a shadow falling over me. I willed myself to raise my—

Splat.

—head…? The legs and feet that were there a second ago turned into a red puddle of … blood? My neck jerked up. The, the two experts were gone, and in their place, there were two bloody stains on the ground that were slowly pooling into one. This…, what? How? Was it an immortal?

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