Zhang and Xin Tao, after entering the city, were able to mix in with a group of guards who were headed for the palace.
So far, everything had gone smoothly and they had not run into any inconveniences. As they both entered the palace, Zhang and Xin Tao waited for a chance to break off from the group of guards and headed to the treasury.
The chance came when a large carriage passed by them and all the guards saluted and kneeled. Someone of high social standing was currently inside the carriage and none of the guards wanted to offend this person, so none of them dared to look up. As soon as the carriage passed and while the guards were still looking at the ground, Zhang and Xin Tao snuck away.
Zhang was lucky that Xin Tao knew the layout of the palace like the back of his hand. If not, the two of them would have wandered about for days on no end without knowing where they were. Xin Tao even knew places where guards would not frequently pass thus, allowing them to avoid detection.
After some time passed, Zhang stood in front of a huge set of gates. The two gates were massive and had intricate designs carved onto them, depictions of the 18 Levels of the Hell, dragons, phoenixes and many other things were visible. These gates would lead into the treasury of the underworld.
To open the treasury, one had to know the where the secret mechanism that unlocked the gates were. On the right gate, at the very bottom right corner, was a carving of a dragon. Two sapphires were used as its eyes for this carving. Xin Tao pressed on these two gems and with a click, a series of mechanisms within the gate went off.
He then proceeded to the left gate where a phoenix carving was on the bottom left corner of the gate. A set of rubies were embedded into the gate where the phoenix's feathers were. Xin Tao pressed the rubies in a certain sequence and then a clicking sound was also heard as the mechanisms went off. The gates rumbled and slowly began to open.
Although it was called a treasury, there were no gold or silver nor precious gems. The treasury of the underworld only housed a few items. Because what would the dead do with gold or precious gems? The inside of the treasury was massive and had many corridors leading to different treasures. Zhang, however, only had one goal, the Book of Fate.
“Senior please lead the way. We best hurry to avoid any unwanted happenings.”
While following behind Xin Tao, Zhang took the chance to marvel at the intricate carvings on the walls. Many events were depicted, some being about the history of man, others of rare and mythical beasts.
There was one that popped up that was very familiar to Zhang. It was a painting of a black dragon fighting against a massive army that were dressed in silver armor. The painting was the first of a series of paintings that depicted the battle.
From the beginning, where the dragon held the advantage and slaughtered the people. Then came a painting of a man holding two swords, one with a carving of the moon and the other with a carving of the sun on it. The man was shown standing on top of the dragon after having defeated it and held its heart in his hands. This man would be the founder of the Heilong Kingdom, Han Jian.
Xin Tao came to an abrupt halt and reached for a box that was sitting on a pedestal. The box was made of ice jade which was best used to store rare medicines that contained natural essence within them. Xin Tao opened the box and it revealed two red colored pills one of which he took and handed the other to Zhang.
“Here take this, it is called the Yama’s calling dan. This pill was a gift from the Diyu of the East to the Yama many years ago. The pill itself took 100 years to refine and whoever ate it would gain a sudden burst of energy that’s nearly unstoppable. But once they had taken it they’d be on the brink of life and death. Who knows what we might run into so it’s best to have these just in case.”
Zhang, not saying a word, took the pill and stuck it into his pocket.
A short while after, they entered into an opening. In the middle of this chamber, on top of a sacred looking altar, sat the Book of Fate.
Zhang quickly dashed up the altar and stood in front of the book. And magically, the book suddenly opened and its pages began turning. It then stopped on a blank page as letters started appearing on the pages. The letters soon formed into words. The name Lei Lang formed on top of the page. A light then shot from the book into Zhang’s forehead. Thousands of images flooded into Zhang’s mind.
“Hahahaha I remember now, it’s all so clear now!!! Those visions, that bastard that keeps appearing again and again in my visions. Hahaha!!!”, Zhang suddenly broke out laughing maniacally
Standing at the bottom of the altar, Xin Tao was dumbfounded, he had no idea what was happening.
“Zhang are you alright? Speak to me son!”, he cried out.
“Yes I’m more than alright haha! It is as if a veil had been lifted and now everything is so clear.”
The page on the Book of Fate began turning once more and drew Zhang’s attention again. And then it turned to another blank page and letters and words began forming a second time. This time the name on top of the page was Zhou Zhang. However, no strange light shot out of the book this time. Zhang began reading the story about his life.
Everything from the time of his birth until the time of his death was mentioned. Why this happened and how that happened was also listed on the pages. But there was one thing that struck as odd to him, the book never mentioned anything of his necklace.
For something so mystical that had been with him since birth, it had to be mentioned a couple times or at the very least, once. But strangely, the necklace was never mentioned nor the homeless man that showed up on the day they celebrated his birth.
But none of that mattered right now, so Zhang extended his hand grabbed onto the pages and tore them out. By tearing his pages out, Xin Tao’s pages in turn would also disappear by association.
An extremely bright light shot out from the book and through the ceiling of the treasury and into the sky.
Zhang screamed as he dashed down the altar towards Xin Tao. The two of them had to quickly get out of the treasury or else they would be captured.
The royal wedding was about to commence when a beam of light suddenly shot into the sky and gathered everyone’s attention.
“Your majesty that light is coming from the treasury!!!”,a soldier yelled out.
“It can’t be! That light looks exactly the same as 1000 years ago, when that monster went on a rampage and then tore out a page from the book of fate.” The Yama thought to himself in disbelief.
“Quickly send all the guards and surround the treasury! All Diyu and Vice Diyu go as well! We have intruders in the treasury!!!”
The man that was seen extinguishing the fallen soul earlier stood up from a chair with a frown on his face.
“One thing happening and another keeps on happening today. Why did they have to occur today! On the day of my son’s damn wedding!!!”
This man was the Northern Diyu, after angrily shouting he flew out of the room with a bunch of other people.
While inside the treasury, Zhang and Xin Tao were making haste for the exit. But by the time they reached the exit, it was too late, the second they stepped outside, they saw countless guards and imposing experts surrounding the treasury.
One could say that there were so many people that not even a fly would be able to escape in such a situation.
Seeing the bleak situation they were in, Xin Tao came to a decision and placed a hand on Zhang’s shoulder. And stuck his other hand into Zhang’s pocket and grabbed the Yama’s Calling dan.
“I’m sorry Zhang but it seems our journey together ends here. If you would help an old man with a selfish request. I know that you will one day become a person who stands on top of countless others. On that day, if you happen to run into the remnants of my clan please help them and I also wish to give you one final gift.”
A beam of light shot from Xin Tao’s finger and entered into Zhang’s forehead.
Then before anyone could react, Xin Tao pulled out another Yama’s Calling dan from his pocket and tossed both into his mouth. Soon enough, his entire body became coated in a black energy.
Xin Tao grabbed Zhang and they both flew into the air. There was no possible way for him to fend off all these opponents, so there was only one option left. Once he reached a suitable height, Xin Tao was greeted by tens of hundreds of enemies. While in the air his entire body began to bulge. And the black energy around him began changing color. From black it became pure white. Dazzling white light was emitting from Xin Tao’s body.
Eventually his eyes and mouth began emitting white lights also. Faces of horror could be seen on those flying near Xin Tao,for they knew what he was doing. Xin Tao was igniting his soul and preparing to self-destruct. An explosion from the self-destruction of someone of Xin Tao’s level was devastating enough, let alone when he was empowered by not one, but two Yama’s Calling dans.
At the very last second, Xin Tao used all his strength and threw Zhang in the direction of Pool of Regrets.
And with a smile on his face, cracks began forming all over his body and eventually, his entire body turned into white light.
A blind light shot out in all directions, many of those who were near Xin Tao had perished in the explosion while those afar were stunned and blinded.
Being thrown full force by Xin Tao, Zhang smashed into a building and from his momentum the building wall collapsed.
Although saddened by what had happened, Zhang had to press on. If not, Xin Tao’s sacrifice would be for naught. Xin Tao would forever remain in Zhang’s heart as an unforgettable senior who had used his very life as a means for Zhang to get away.
When he got to his feet, however, he found himself in a room filled with decorations. Mainly, wedding decorations were hung on the walls. A few decorations could be seen lying on the floor due to the wall he had knocked over.
In the doorway, he could see someone dressed in a bridal gown.
“I mean no harm! Please don’t scream.”, he begged.
“Zhang? Is that you??”, the bride said as she lifted her bridal veil.
After the veil had been removed, Zhang saw yet another person who he would never be able to forget, it was Yuying!
“You youare the princess??!”
Yuying simply looked at him and smiled.
Before Zhang could utter another word, he could hear many footsteps approaching.
“Use me as a hostage to escape!!”, Yuying said as she walked to Zhang’s side. Without any other option, he drew his sword, placed it on her neck and walked out of the room together.
Although there were only regular soldiers, the entire room had been surrounded. But when the soldiers saw who Zhang was holding as a hostage, they did not dare to engage him rashly.
“Unhand my daughter!”, a voice rang out.
The voice came from the sky, and if one looked up they would see that the Yama looking down on them.
“Father….”, Yuying said in a whisper as she looked up.
At that very moment, Zhang draw out the power of the hundred thousand souls that was stored in his necklace. A massive black flame along with countless smaller ones condensed out of nothingness.
The mere sight of the black fire made a frown appeared on the Yama’s face. A thousand years ago, a monstrous being had used black fire to cause chaos in the underworld and even torn pages out from the Book of Fate. And now, someone who was also using black fire had torn pages out of the Book of Fate and caused panic.
The countless smaller black flames flew in every direction, as for the massive black flame it headed directly for the Yama.
The guards all fell into panic because they had heard rumors of what had happened in the 18 Levels of Hell and none of them wanted to be the one to find out if the rumors were true or false.
Zhang knew that the black flames were currently too weak to harm him with the Yama simply extinguished it with a sweeping motion of his hand.
He looked back at the spot where Zhang and Yuying were, however, there was no one there. The two of them had disappeared.
Xin Tao had imprinted the layout of the palace along with some other memories into Zhang’s mind. So Zhang, while grasping Yuying’s hand, navigated his way to the Pool of Regrets.
He had planned to thank Yuying and let her go once they reached the pool. Although there was a debate going on within his mind. Zhang was not sure if he should ask if Yuying wished to join him and go to the world of the living. A part of him wanted to ask her while another part was afraid. He was afraid that she would reject him and laugh at him for thinking her act of kindness meant something else. Today was her wedding day after all.
Then the scene of a boy whose body was covered in blood while lying on the floor popped up in his mind.
“No not this life. No more regrets. No more going with the flow.”, he thought.
Once they reached the location where the Pool of Regrets was, many figures could be seen floating in the air. The Yama had guessed where Zhang was headed and since he could fly, he arrived sooner than Zhang.
“Release my daughter now!! And I will spare your worthless life!!”
“Yes unhand my fiancée this instant scum!”, a young man who was floating in the air said. The young man had a smug smile on his face and from that alone, one could tell that he was a person who looked down on others.
Zhang wasn’t sure, but just from the smug look on the guy’s face his blood began to boil. Soon enough, many black flames ascended into the skies and began homing into their new target.
Seeing this, the smug look on the young man’s face was completely replaced with a face full of fright.
Thousands of flames flew towards him wanting to claim his life. However, at the last second before he met his end the Yama had personally appeared in front of him and extinguished the flames. Sadly, he had missed a single flame that was about one tenth the size of the other ones.
Zhang knew that the Yama would not just stand there and watch as his future son-in-law died. He also knew that his black flames had no effect on the Yama thus, he decided to control a tiny black flame and went for the kill.
As soon as the tiny black flame touched the young man, he turned into nothingness.
The Diyu of the North could be seen flying towards the direction where his son was.
He looked at Zhang with blood thirsty eyes and at that moment, lightning condensed in his hand. A bolt of lightning that looked like a fierce dragon snaked its way towards Zhang and Yuying.
“I’ll offer your life to my son!!!”
“Shit, it’s time to use it.”, Zhang cursed as he pulled a heart like crystal from his pocket. This crystal was none other than the Underworld Heart.
A wall of pure essence formed in front of Zhang and Yuying. He used a huge amount of energy along with the Underworld Heart to manipulate the essence into a wall. At most, this method could be used a couple more times before Zhang ran out of power.
The Northern Diyu was about to launch another attack when the Yama blocked him.
“What are you doing!! My daughter is over there!”, the Yama barked.
Taking advantage of this, Zhang grabbed Yuying and entered the palace where the Pool of Regrets was located.
Upon entering, a crystal clear pool could be seen, the pool looked as if it possessed no bottom and was perfectly round. A thin layer of smoke or fog was on top of the pool swirling.
“Yuying! Would you like to accompany me?” Zhang said after he mustered up a bit of courage.
Yuying fell into deep thought. She had prayed and hoped that someone would come and whisk her away all this time, and right now there was someone offering to take her to a faraway place. She did not know what to do exactly. If she left now, would she ever be able to return here? Would she able to see her family again?
But if she didn’t leave, would she ever be truly happy? Although the son of the Northern Diyu was dead, it did not mean that this would be the last forced marriage that would be pushed on to her.
After a short while, she looked at Zhang. The person who had helped her despite not knowing who she was two years ago was the same person who came and saved her from the wedding. The words finally came out of her mouth.
“Yes.”, she said with a smile.
At that moment, Zhang grabbed her hand and the two of them jumped into the Pool of Regrets. The pool then began to glow, as did the Underworld Heart. All the water in the pool began to swirl about rapidly.
And a light many times brighter than when Xin Tao self-destructed appeared and shot into the sky.
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