Sometimes, a fleeting moment can become exceptionally long, seeming endless.

Throughout one’s life, there may be several of these uniquely prolonged moments, such as when facing imminent death.

Cheng Qian instinctively swung his Frostblade backwards, sending it flying through the air, until he turned his head and saw the face of the person behind him—Han Yuan.

Han Yuan suddenly ran up behind him for various reasons, perhaps to watch the excitement, perhaps to kick Zhou Hanzheng, or perhaps to indulge in some verbal satisfaction… No one would be prepared for him.

At this moment, his fourth junior’s eyes were bloodshot, resembling the same appearance as those scattered cultivators on Qinglong Island. His familiar face was shrouded in dark energy, his features contorted. It seemed that he had concentrated all his true essence into this one hand, exerting too much force that his finger bones had snapped, yet he was unaware of the pain.

The scattered cultivators on the island who were affected by the Illusion Art were the same—they didn’t even know pain, let alone death.

Cheng Qian stared at Han Yuan in astonishment, feeling his true essence and vitality gushing out through the hole in his chest. Along with it leaked his innermost emotions, unstoppable and struggling, even if it seemed unbelievable.

Han Yuan stared back at him without any awareness, and then suddenly pulled his hand out of Cheng Qian’s chest, blood splattering across his face. He stared blankly as Cheng Qian fell to the ground at his feet.

Cheng Qian continued to stare at him, his limbs twitching unconsciously. The little bit of color in his face seemed to gather around his eyes, but he couldn’t utter a word.

Over the past decade or so, all the burdens of unbearable pain and exuberant joy had turned into faded trivialities, falling into a handful of absurdity called “this is how fate is.”

Finally, the Frostblade that had been held against Han Yuan’s neck trembled violently. Like ordinary iron, it fell to the ground, only leaving a shallow scratch on Han Yuan’s skin.

This sudden change left everyone dumbfounded. It wasn’t until Water Pit cried out first that Yan Zhengming snapped out of his daze. He maintained the posture he had half-knelt on the ground, but his limbs felt as heavy as lead, turning him into a stone, unable to stand up.

Li Jun, who was usually timid, acted on impulse and forgot all about the terrifying state of the scattered cultivators on the island. Regardless of everything, he rushed forward, pushing Han Yuan away.

Han Yuan was pushed backward and fell, but he didn’t know how to get up. He stared blankly, leaning to one side. If it weren’t for the rise and fall of his chest, he would look like a fresh corpse.

“Xiao Qian, Xiao Qian…” Li Jun’s vision was blurred with tears. He knelt beside Cheng Qian, one hand aimlessly searching himself, as if still holding onto a glimmer of hope, attempting to find something that could save a life.

Cheng Qian lay on his side on the ground, like a dying fish. Perhaps because he heard Li Jun’s voice, his slightly hazy pupils suddenly regained a glimmer of light. Immediately after, the Frostblade sword, seemingly playing dead, soared into the air, narrowly missing Li Jun’s face and almost freezing his tears. It went straight into the top of Zhou Hanzheng’s head behind Cheng Qian.

This sword and this person truly lived up to the saying “A man’s heart is as unyielding as iron.”

Zhou Hanzheng, who had struggled to break free from the suppression of the Spirit Gathering Jade and had already exhausted himself by activating the “Illusion Art” placed on Han Yuan, was basically done for. With this final blow, a generation of calamity finally came to an end.

Cheng Qian had a special connection with the Frostblade. With Zhou Hanzheng dead by his sword, he didn’t need to check, as he knew.

Under the bloodstained face, the young man revealed a faint smile—finally, he had killed that Zhou guy. As long as they were careful, no one would know that they were from the Fuyao Sect, and no one would target them for the mysterious and ambiguous treasures on Fuyao Mountain…

Cheng Qian breathed a sigh of relief, feeling as if he could retire now that his mission was accomplished. He turned his face slightly toward the ground, as if a dying person instinctively sought a resting place.

At this moment, Li Jun exclaimed, “Han Yuan! What are you doing?”

Due to Zhou Hanzheng’s death, Han Yuan, like a puppet, suddenly twitched all over his body. However, with something manipulated on his body, Han Yuan didn’t fully regain consciousness. His gaze wandered in confusion, but when it landed on Cheng Qian, his face struggled for a while. It was as if the real Han Yuan was desperately fighting for control of his body.

But in the end, he couldn’t wake up.

Han Yuan stood up abruptly, ignoring the senior martial brothers on the island, and walked straight into the sea.

Li Jun sobbed heavily, forming a hand gesture he wasn’t sure was correct. He swung his hand and struck Han Yuan’s back, only to see numerous thin threads extending from his palm, firmly binding Han Yuan in the middle. He shouted, “Stay right there!”

Han Yuan remained oblivious as the threads on his body cut into him. Li Jun clenched his teeth and forcefully contracted his fingers, trying to pull him back. But at that moment, an inexplicable fire ignited on Han Yuan’s body. The flames, with an unknown origin, burned away the threads that entangled Li Jun and Han Yuan’s clothes. Subsequently, Han Yuan, unrestricted and unhindered, leaped into the vast sea, never to resurface.

Cheng Qian was unaware of this series of events. All his senses dulled, focusing solely on the pain. A pair of icy hands reached out, lifting him up, and trembling fingers brushed against his face.

Strangely enough, at this moment, Cheng Qian couldn’t smell the scent of blood on the ground but peculiarly detected the fragrance of orchids.

It was the scent that wafted from his senior brother’s sleeve whenever he applied medicine to him. It was the aroma that lingered when he lazily stayed in his senior brother’s room, the fragrance faintly emanating from the bedcover. It always surrounded him, making him feel drowsy.

Cheng Qian’s consciousness started to blur, and the clarity he had maintained, even when he was willing to die for Zhou Hanzheng, quickly faded. For a moment, he was so confused that he almost forgot where he was.

“I…” Cheng Qian uttered a mosquito-like murmur.

Yan Zhengming lowered his head and brought his ear closer to Cheng Qian’s lips. “Hmm?”

“…Want to… go home…”

Yan Zhengming froze for a moment, revealing a smile that seemed both sorrowful and joyful.

He unsteadily stood up, holding Cheng Qian. Softly, he said, “Alright, let’s go home. Senior Brother will take you back to Fuyao Mountain. Let’s go.”

Cheng Qian seemed to smile briefly, gradually losing the strength to speak, and fell silent.

At the same time, he suddenly thought incoherently, “It hurts so much. If death is this painful, is it the same when one is born?”

Later, he remembered that when he was born, his birth mother seemed to have endured pain for him.

Suddenly, all of Cheng Qian’s resentment and grievances toward his parents and everyone else vanished into thin air, even the turbulence and dependence he experienced throughout his short life. It all dissolved in the faint and mysterious fragrance of orchids.

Finally, Cheng Qian’s head abruptly lost support and weakly leaned on Yan Zhengming’s shoulder.

In the hustle and bustle of life, like fleeting echoes, it cannot be chased.

Li Jun caught up, crawling and rolling. “Senior Brother! Senior Brother! Let him go. Xiao Qian is gone!”

Yan Zhengming turned a deaf ear, and Li Jun grabbed his arm. “Senior Brother!”

Yan Zhengming’s footsteps faltered. He turned around and silently looked at Li Jun, not shedding a tear. Li Jun’s heart rose to his throat, afraid that Yan Zhengming would say, “He’s asleep, don’t disturb him.”

With the death of Cheng Qian and Han Yuan’s disappearance, Li Jun didn’t know what to do if someone else went insane. He took a step back, trembling as he spoke, “Senior Brother, please don’t scare me.”

“I know,” Yan Zhengming lowered his eyes and muttered softly, “I’m not crazy. Tell the youngest junior sister not to cry.”

Li Jun felt even more panicked because his senior brother’s madness seemed somewhat different from the ordinary.

“Go fetch water,” Yan Zhengming ordered, not looking back. Carrying Cheng Qian’s lifeless body, he walked toward the center of the desolate island, saying, “Let him be clean… and then we’ll find a way to make a boat.”

Li Jun asked in a daze, “Where are we going on the boat?”

“Back to my home, but I reckon the Yan family is no longer there. Although my family was once prosperous, we are ultimately just ordinary mortals. Aside from eliminating them, there’s not much difference between us and an ant nest… I want to see it with my own eyes, and if it’s gone, I won’t miss it,” Yan Zhengming said without turning his head.

Suddenly, a chill ran through Li Jun’s body. On the way here, they were still deceiving themselves, saying that it was only the loss of the Snow Green Puppet Symbol, and nothing happened to the Yan family. But now, it seemed that his sect leader had accepted, without reservation, all the possible misfortunes that could befall him.

Zhe Shi silently put down the water basin and quickly fetched water. He reached out and helped Yan Zhengming place Cheng Qian down, washing away the young man’s bloodstains. After completing these actions, Yan Zhengming still felt that Cheng Qian’s disheveled appearance was somewhat unfair, so he took off his own outer robe and wrapped it around Cheng Qian.

Yan Zhengming half-knelt beside Cheng Qian, staring blankly at his face for a long time, as if witnessing the collapse of all his hopes and dreams.

Suddenly, Yan Zhengming thought, “Why am I still alive? It’s better to go with him.”

As this thought emerged, his true essence immediately reversed, and an ominous blood color suddenly covered Yan Zhengming’s face. It vaguely signified the onset of demonic possession. Countless grievances rose and fell within his heart, forming an aimless and incoherent snare that tightly entangled his body and soul. Zhou Hanzheng, Tang Yao, Bai Ji… numerous faces flashed before his eyes.

“Why don’t they just die?” Yan Zhengming murmured suddenly. “Is the so-called heavenly law to let the shameless live a hundred years?”

Zhao Shi, who was closest to him, immediately sensed something was wrong and called out softly, “Master?”

Yan Zhengming’s gaze slowly turned towards him, his familiar peach blossom eyes, usually filled with smiles, now like two bottomless wells, so dark that their edges couldn’t be seen. Yan Zhengming suddenly laughed softly, each word falling with emphasis, “If I were to attain enlightenment, I would also act recklessly, indulge in indiscriminate killing, and seize everything I desire. Anyone who dares to obstruct my path, I will dismember them a thousand times, preventing them from reincarnating forever. Whether they be gods or Buddhas, I don’t care!”

Li Jun was greatly shocked. “Senior Brother, what are you saying?”

“Why?” Yan Zhengming’s voice lowered, filled with hoarseness. “Why?”

Before he could finish speaking, a dark aura rose around him, and a ring of sand and stones rose with a resounding noise. No one could approach him for a while. Li Jun reached out to grab his shoulder but was repelled three or four steps back without even touching him, landing on the ground.

Zhao Shi didn’t know what to do, so he could only look at Li Jun expectantly.

Li Jun jumped up from the ground, with a fierce expression, and said, “Yan Zhengming! Xiao Qian is in trouble, and Xiao Yuan is lost. Do you think I don’t have a heart or don’t feel sorrow? I would rather be the one who dies!”

Li Jun’s character had never been sharp, even when he was bad, he was just timidly bad. As he grew older, he rarely displayed his anger fiercely. Thus, the anger he had finally accumulated was quickly exhausted after just a few words. After jumping up and stomping his feet, he took a deep breath, and with a tearful voice, he spoke words he had never admitted aloud for many years, “At least Xiao Qian is much stronger than me.”

Unfortunately, he rarely expressed his true feelings, and the result was like playing the lute to a cow. Yan Zhengming seemed deaf to it, and the stones that flew up from the ground slapped Li Jun’s face like a slap, leaving a bloody mark. Li Jun was forced to take a few steps back, coincidentally bumping into the water pit that had been left unattended.

The water pit helplessly clung to his thigh. In just a few days, her bloated face had visibly slimmed down, becoming a small lump. Li Jun scanned his eyes, then suddenly squatted down, gripping her shoulders and urgently said, “Let me borrow one of the Soul-Searching Needles!”

Without time to react, Li Jun had already pulled one of the Soul-Searching Needles down and popped open the wooden stopper with his fingertips, waving it towards Yan Zhengming.

The water pit was frightened and screamed. The Soul-Searching Needle went straight into the black mist, accurately piercing Yan Zhengming’s shoulder.

The dense black mist suddenly dispersed, and Yan Zhengming groaned. His entire body lunged forward, falling onto Cheng Qian’s body, unable to get up for a while.

Li Jun immediately rushed forward, swiftly removing the poisonous needle, cutting off the flow of blood, and injecting a stream of true essence to force out the barely spreading poison. He breathed a sigh of relief only when the flowing black blood turned red. Then, he took out a bottle of detoxification pill soaked in seawater from his pocket and pushed it towards Yan Zhengming, who remained motionless. He said hesitantly, “I called you and you didn’t respond… But there was no choice. Senior Brother, take this detoxification pill for now.”

Yan Zhengming didn’t lift his head. Li Jun waited for a moment but didn’t receive any response. He carefully placed his hand on Yan Zhengming’s uninjured shoulder, and only then did he feel the trembling of his body, like quivering fallen leaves.

Yan Zhengming held Cheng Qian’s already cold body tightly, crying uncontrollably.

They stayed on the island for half a month, and finally, a crude canoe inscribed with rough talismans was completed. The small boat could only accommodate two people squeezed together, but fortunately, the water pit was small enough to make do by squeezing. Yan Zhengming could ride his sword, barely able to travel alongside. He tore off a piece of cloth, wrapped Cheng Qian’s Frost Blade Sword, and carried it with him. Their luggage couldn’t be any simpler.

“Senior Brother, let’s go,” Li Jun reminded.

Yan Zhengming nodded and turned back for one last look at the unknown small deserted island. The seemingly youthful and carefree expression between his eyebrows suddenly became heavy overnight, as if the moments of his life had been infinitely extended, but in the blink of an eye, the youth had already shed his skin, grown up.

Yan Zhengming looked towards the island, his brows curved suddenly, revealing a somewhat heavy tenderness. “One day, when we can openly return to Mount Fuyao, shall we come and bring you home?”

Naturally, no one answered him.

Yan Zhengming rolled up the cloth-wrapped Frost Blade Sword and slung it over his back. Stepping on his sword, which had a corner missing, he flew away.

The sea and sky merged, both vast and boundless.

Author’s message: End of Volume 2.