The Executioner Lord, Shen Wei, couldn’t help but tremble uncontrollably at his side. He was filled with anger and urgency.

Zhao Yunlan seemed oblivious to how he had made Shen Wei feel. He casually found a less icy rock, sat down on it, finished his coffee, and used his teeth to remove the cheese from the hamburger before throwing it away.

Shen Wei stood near the gusty wind, remaining silent until Zhao Yunlan finished his uninterrupted breakfast. Then, in a deliberately lowered tone, Shen Wei asked softly, “What did I tell you?”

“Don’t agree to what the Underworld says. Wait until you get home,” Zhao Yunlan wiped his mouth.

Lowering his voice even more, Shen Wei enunciated each word, “Then why did you come here?”

Zhao Yunlan looked around and saw that there was no one else except for the black cat. He walked up, reached out, and hugged the Soulslayer who felt as cold as an ice sculpture. He stood on tiptoe and lightly kissed the top of the massive hood covering Shen Wei’s head, saying, “Are you angry?”

Daqing shuddered from head to tail at the word “baby” and shivered as if having a muscle spasm. Then, it silently moved a few steps away, feeling unable to bear listening any longer.

Zhao Yunlan was about to approach again when he suddenly stopped. In an instant, he regained a normal human expression and retreated five steps away. After a moment, a group of ghost messengers, including the Judge, Ox-head, and Horse-face, arrived with a large group of unknown people behind them. There were demons, a few humans, and even some who appeared divine. Zhao Yunlan quickly scanned them and felt that none of them were ordinary individuals.

Zhao Yunlan and the Executioner Lord stood on opposite sides. The Executioner Lord’s appearance remained inscrutable, and Zhao Yunlan showed no particular expression. Perhaps due to the cold or lack of oxygen in the highland, his complexion was somewhat pale, and even his lips lacked color. When he saw them, he seemed to slightly furrow his brow, but then he calmly nodded and politely said, “Good morning.”

The Judge couldn’t determine how long Zhao Yunlan had been there, nor could he ascertain the atmosphere between the two of them.

Arranging for the Executioner Lord to meet Zhao Yunlan alone was indeed their calculated plan. After all, they had reached the foot of Kunlun Mountain, and the Executioner Lord couldn’t possibly allow Zhao Yunlan to return by himself. He had to accompany him up the mountain, even if the Executioner Lord harbored any ill intentions. He would have to be cautious, and he absolutely wouldn’t dare make a move at such a critical moment.

However, in doing so, the Underworld was blatantly extending its hand and rubbing the Executioner Lord the wrong way.

The Judge anxiously assessed the thickening black mist surrounding the Executioner Lord, feeling truly fearful.

As a Judge, he held a prominent title, but in reality, he was overshadowed by the ten Yama Kings above him. When it was his turn to preside, he had little actual power. Sometimes, even the Judge himself felt like he was just a scapegoat and errand boy. In the Judge’s view, the current rulers of the Underworld were mostly a group of juniors who only had a partial understanding of past events. He regarded them as a bunch of fools who dwelled in their small territory and deluded themselves into thinking they held great power.

Zhao Yunlan could be ignored for now, but the Executioner Lord was someone who had to be won over. If he wasn’t dealt with properly and was antagonized, wouldn’t even a biting dog bark? If they pushed him to the limit, forget about the Underworld, even the Thirty-Three Heavens wouldn’t be enough for him to sever with a single slash.

The Judge forced a nervous smile and stuttered, “Lord, you’ve arrived so early.”

Then, he turned to the Executioner Lord, bowed with both hands clasped, almost bending down to the ground, and respectfully said, “This humble one sees…”

He bent down, but before he could finish speaking, the Soulslayer remained silent and turned to walk up the mountain - he ignored basic etiquette and slapped the Judge’s face in front of the ghost messengers, clearly displaying his frustration.

The Judge didn’t dare to object. He forced a bitter smile and quickly signaled everyone to follow. Knowing that the Soulslayer didn’t make a move, they were already showing mercy on account of Zhao Yunlan.

The sky grew darker, and the wind and thunder roared in the Nine Heavens. Looking up, it seemed that a black dragon was leaping within.

Kunlun Mountain remained frozen all year round, soaring high into the clouds. Birds ceased to fly, and human footprints vanished along the myriad paths.

As they entered the mountainous area, Daqing, who had been squatting on Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder, suddenly became restless, as if recognizing something.

All previous suspicions and speculations vanished the moment Zhao Yunlan saw Kunlun Mountain. He had never been to Kunlun before, nor had he ever imagined any connection between himself and this snowy mountain. However, when he spent a sleepless night and traveled a long distance to set foot on the realm of Kunlun, Zhao Yunlan suddenly understood the meaning of “bloodline connection.”

The feeling was subtle, as if a data cable had found an interface deep within his soul, connecting him to the mountain.

This made Zhao Yunlan temporarily forget his complicated calculations, forget the demons and spirits around him, and even momentarily disregard Shen Wei, who had been angry and refused to even look at him.

Almost instinctively, he moved forward, feeling the heat emanating from the Original Token placed against his chest in his inner pocket.

“…Lord, Lord?”

Startled, Zhao Yunlan seemed to just wake up. He turned his head and looked at the Judge, still carrying a hint of confusion in his eyes.

Unconsciously, they arrived at a flat area covered in untouched white snow. On one side stood towering rocks arranged in the pattern of the Eighty-Eight Divinations. Occasional small whirlwinds passed by, creating an atmosphere of profound tranquility.

The Judge appeared somewhat restrained. “Once we pass through here, we’ll reach the entrance of Kunlun Mountain. I ask the Lord to lead us up.”

Although Zhao Yunlan couldn’t see Shen Wei’s face, he could sense his gaze. However, when he turned to follow that gaze, Shen Wei deliberately turned his face away, as if showing no interest.

Zhao Yunlan forced a bitter smile, patted Daqing’s buttocks, let it down from his shoulder, and took out the Original Token from his embrace. He walked straight into the middle of the stone formation.

With each step he took on the ground, everyone involuntarily held their breath. The wind stopped for a moment when he reached the center. Zhao Yunlan left behind a long trail of footprints and appeared solitary yet serene.

He stood still, closed his eyes suddenly, and revealed a profile as tranquil as a calm abyss. He could hear the echoes from the hundred thousand mountains.

To the north of the Red Water, connecting the heavens and the earth, lies the great mound of ten thousand and nine thousand peaks, the birthplace of gods and humans.

At the summit of grand magnificence, surveying the vast sea within the six realms, it is the beginning of the thirty-six mountains and rivers, the foundation of all things in the universe.

This is called Kunlun.

No one taught him what to do, and Zhao Yunlan didn’t ask. However, he seemed to know. It was as if a voice had been guiding him all along. He suddenly opened his eyes, and wherever his gaze fell, the rocks moved along with his spiritual energy, creating an unpredictable pattern resembling the trajectory of stars, overwhelming to behold.

Finally, someone couldn’t help but discuss in a low voice. They didn’t know who was in the formation, and whispers filled the air. Shen Wei, however, ignored them, his eyes focused solely on one person.

Though he was dressed in a mismatched combat uniform and mountaineering boots, his short hair wind-blown into an unkempt mess, in Shen Wei’s eyes, he strangely merged with the figure in the long green robe from countless years ago.

Unable to restrain himself, Shen Wei released a burst of black mist from his sleeve, enveloping Zhao Yunlan within it and blocking everyone’s line of sight. Only he could see, as if there were only the two of them left between heaven and earth.

Shen Wei suddenly chuckled self-deprecatingly, recalling how he had longed to be seen by that person, thinking that it would be worth dying for him with just one more glance. But at the same time, he felt unworthy of sullying that person’s gaze. And yet now, he couldn’t help but be greedy, hoping that he could be only his, without anyone else seeing.

Unknown to him, over the course of countless millennia, a seed had grown into an indestructible demon within his heart.

The earth trembled, and a distant rumble echoed from Kunlun Mountain. A bolt of heavenly thunder finally broke through the thick clouds and struck the ground. On the obscured mountaintop, a mysterious mask seemed to appear and disappear, as if a ghostly face was coldly overlooking the ground.

With a loud rumble, the colossal stone pillars descended, carrying everyone to the summit of Kunlun, the forbidden realm of the gods.

Before the people could stabilize themselves, the black cat that had climbed into Zhao Yunlan’s arms let out a piercing cry. Following its gaze, they saw the ancient divine tree, which shared the same lifespan as the heavens and earth. Its twisted trunk was already half-dead, devoid of leaves and flowers, exuding a heavy sense of lifelessness.

The black cat struggled free from Zhao Yunlan’s embrace and, in an instant upon landing, transformed into a human figure. Zhao Yunlan had never known that Daqing could take on human form and was momentarily stunned. This person had raven-like hair, long and tied behind their back. Their cat-like eyes gleamed with an indescribable cold light, resembling precious stones. And when they spoke, it was still Daqing’s familiar voice.

They…they said in a deep voice, “Who dares to act recklessly on Kunlun Mountain?”

Before the words even finished, tears welled up in Daqing’s eyes as they stared at the nearly withered tree trunk.

At that moment, numerous spirit beasts seemed to emerge from the earth, drawing sustenance from the roots of the divine tree. They surged out, covering the ground, their cries piercing.

A gust of wind swept through, and a gigantic ghostly face appeared within the thick clouds, spanning thousands of meters wide, obscuring the sky with an eerie smile on its face.

Then, its enormous limbs and body, as vast as mountains, flickered within the perpetual mist of Kunlun Mountain. One hand formed a seal while the other reached behind. A colossal cauldron, dozens of floors high, appeared behind them, spinning rapidly, stirring up a violent gust of wind that made one’s ears ache.

Someone exclaimed, “The Soul-Refining Cauldron, it’s the Soul-Refining Cauldron!”

The hand hidden behind the ghostly face suddenly reached out, wielding a massive axe without any warning. With an iron resolve, it swung the axe downward.

Zhao Yunlan was forcefully pushed aside, stumbling several steps before regaining his balance. The gust of wind, tainted with the scent of blood, made it difficult for him to open his eyes. The enormous axe, like a mountain ridge, was halted by a thick-backed straight sword measuring three feet and three inches in length.

The Soulslayer beneath the axe was like an ant holding up a thousand jin weight. The fierce wind “sizzled,” leaving a small cut on the corner of his robe, revealing his fair and slender hands. Then, with a soft sound, the Soulslayer twisted his wrist, causing a corner of the giant axe to crack.

He then leaned sideways, producing a clear and melodious echo. The enormous axe involuntarily bounced three feet upward. A narrow crack extended from the point of rupture, traversing the axe’s body. The colossal axe fell to the ground, cleaving a nearly hundred-meter-long abyss on the snowy mountaintop. Countless spirit beasts, unable to emerge from underground in time, perished under their master’s axe.

“The Soul-Refining Cauldron,” the Soulslayer said softly after this first, heart-stopping clash. “You’ve gone mad.”