Chapter 2355: Blood Debt
Tu Qiming's eyes flushed red. This beast was not fake; there was no way that it was fake. Not even the four ruling powers working together would be able to face a Progenitor-level beast, and even if they could, what would be the point? Not to mention, the jiao was clearly the one that belonged to Shenwu's Sky.
Lu Yin looked back at Zhou Tang. "Where are Che Zhan, Brother Hong, and the Matriarch of the Eastern Mountains? I told you all that I would definitely come back for you, so all that you needed to do was wait for me for a bit."
Zhou Tang finally reacted, but complicated emotions flickered through his eyes. "They’re dead."
Lu Yin's heart sank. He had already suspected as much, but he had still hoped to hear a different answer. It was such a pity…
"It was just the other day," Zhou Tang added.
Lu Yin's eyes instantly grew cold, and his fists clenched tightly. "What was that?"
Zhou Tang answered softly, "There was a vicious battle here just two days ago, and Chen Zhan died then. Brother Hong died a short time after you left, and the Matriarch of the Eastern Mountains died about ten years ago."
Lu Yin's expression completely changed. Just two days ago? He had already been on the fourth array base, waiting for these people to be sent to him two days ago. If Lu Yin had checked on the people in New City just a few days earlier, Che Zhan would not have died.
Many people had fallen to the New World together with Lu Yin, and they had survived by fighting against the Aeternals together. They had faced death together and survived together. Lu Yin could still see those smiling faces in his mind. They had been left to die, but Lu Yin could only remember his companions’ smiles.
The promises that they had made to each other and the dreams that they had shared as they hoped to survive continued to echo in Lu Yin's ears.
He looked up at the sourcebox array, and an indescribable killing intent welled up within his eyes.
A short time later, Lu Yin moved underground to see Wan Zhiyi. The man was bound tightly in chains, and he had withered away to the point where he looked like a dried up corpse.
Wan Zhiyi lifted his head to look at Lu Yin, and the old man’s eyes lingered on Lu Yin's face, staring at the young man intently.
Due to his haggard appearance and how deeply sunken in his eyes had become, Lu Yin could not see Wan Zhiyi’s eyes, but the old man’s excitement could be sensed, as the chains that bound him were trembling.
"You came back," Wan Zhiyi said in a hoarse voice.
When Marquis Green Bamboo had attacked New City, he had mentioned that Wan Zhiyi had been powerful and energetic, but such a description could not be connected to the old man that Lu Yin was looking at.
Lu Yin walked towards Wan Zhiyi and offered the old man a deep bow. "Grandpa Zhiyi."
Wan Zhiyi gave a small smile, and hoarse laughter could be heard. "Do you still remember me?"
Lu Yin shook his head. "I’ve lost all of my old memories."
Wan Zhiyi sighed. "That must be hard."
Lu Yin straightened up. "It’s not too bad."
"I can no longer challenge the Progenitor realm, so I can't help you." Despite the shocking words, Wan Zhiyi spoke them calmly. His tone of voice made it sound as though attempting to become a Progenitor no longer meant anything to him.
However, it had been public knowledge that Wan Zhiyi had possessed a ninety nine percent chance of successfully becoming a Progenitor. And yet, he had just admitted that it was impossible for him to ever do so. This had to be a massive blow to the man who had long since anticipated eventually becoming a Progenitor.
"It’s still not impossible. There’s always hope," Lu Yin said. He observed the chains binding the old man and then summoned the jiao. The beast raised its claws and instantly shattered the chains.
For the chains to be able to restrain Wan Zhiyi, they had to be incredibly resilient. Yet, they tore like paper beneath the jiao’s claws.
Wan Zhiyi rubbed his arms. "Is this the jiao from Shenwu's Sky? It appears that you’ve grown up a great deal. You may have experienced a different life, but the results remain the same. No matter how high you climb, I will never be surprised. That’s because your surname is Lu, and you are the master of this place."
"Grandpa Zhiyi, let's go back." Lu Yin stepped forward to support the old man.
Only after touching Wan Zhiyi did Lu Yin come to understand just how ruined the old man’s body had become. His body seemed more like the frail body of an old man in his final days, not that of a powerful Semi-Progenitor.
Lu Yin clearly remembered how the endless shoots of green bamboo of Marquis Green Bamboo had all been instantly crushed by Wan Zhiyi. Lu Yin had never expected the body of the powerhouse behind that attack to have been reduced to such a pathetic state.
It was only after Lu Yin helped Wan Zhiyi to the surface that Tu Qiming and everyone else laid eyes on Wan Zhiyi for the first time.
In the decades since Marquis Green Bamboo had exposed Wan Zhiyi’s presence underground, the people in New City had done their best to meet with the Semi-Progenitor, but they had never been able to see him. Words had been exchanged on occasion, but no one had ever been able to see the old man. It was also because of Wan Zhiyi that no one had killed Tu Qiming or attacked several others. Without the Semi-Progenitor’s protection, Tu Qiming would have been killed long ago for his attitude.
When they finally saw Wan Zhi's body, the man looked more like a dried-up corpse.
Tu Qiming hurried forward to help as well.
There had originally been thousands of former vassals of the Lu family who had survived and been sent to the Stacking Mountain Range, but fewer than a hundred were alive now.
Lu Yin kept a tally of blood debts in his heart. The day would eventually come when he collected all of those debts.
Tu Qiming and several others moved about and identified everyone who should be taken away with Lu Yin, and they all climbed atop the jiao’s back. Only some of the selected people had been the Lu family’s vassals, as others had also been selected because the vassals believed that they should be taken away as well. Lu Yin had no intention of taking everyone. Many heinous criminals had been banished to the New World, and besides that, the New City was supposed to be a city in the New World that was inhabited by humans. It could never be entirely abandoned.
As for the Semi-Progenitor who referred to himself as Ancestor Ku, he would be left behind.
As the jiao rose up into the sky, Tu Qiming and the others looked back down. They felt torn by various emotions at this moment. They were finally leaving a life that had been worse than death in so many ways.
The jiao was more than strong enough to easily tear through the Coiling Knot, but Lu Yin did not want that to happen. Instead, he went through a path that he found that led out of the sourcebox array, and it took half a day to leave. He did not want to destroy the Coiling Knot.
After exiting the sourcebox array, the jiao instantly shot through the sky to arrive back at the first array base, where Bai Qi was waiting.
As soon as the jiao arrived, she saw all of the surviving vassals of the Lu family, as well as Wan Zhiyi.
Despite her youthful appearance, how could Bai Wangyuan's daughter actually be young? Bai Qi had been born during the Daosource Sect era, and she was far older than Semi-Progenitors like Xia Ziheng. In fact, the woman was almost as old as Wan Zhiyi.
Although she was looking at Wan Zhiyi, Bai Qi did not recognize the man at all.
"You still haven't changed, Bai Qi," Wan Zhiyi commented upon seeing Bai Qi.
Bai Qifu stared at Wan Zhiyi. "You’ve changed a great deal."
Wan Zhiyi laughed. "You never thought that I would still be alive, huh?"
Bai Qi had indeed never expected such a thing. She had never considered that a day would come when the surviving vassals of the Lu family would be publicly released.
The Perennial World will not be peaceful from now on. Why on earth did Father agree to such terms with Lu Xiaoxuan?
Aside from the Progenitors themselves, no one in the Perennial World knew the true reason for the truce, not even Bai Qi.
Lu Yin went back down into the Coiling Knot once again.
Without the surviving vassals of the Lu family, the Coiling Knot lost its purpose, and Mu Shang would soon remove it. This was the only opportunity that Lu Yin had to learn this particular array.
Back on the first array base, the Lockbreaker that Bai Qi had summoned to answer Lu Yin's questions sent a message to Qiao Er and told her about what had happened. Qiao Er was unconcerned, but she soon received a call from Bai Qi as well, who warned Qiao Er to stay close to Mu Shang for a while.
Mu Shang was part of the Celestial Frost Sect, while Qiao Er was Mu Shang's apprentice. Bai Qi had met the apprentice on several occasions, and she found her to be quite cute. Bai Qi had a good impression of Mu Shang’s apprentice, and she did not want anything to happen to Qiao Er.
Lu Yin did not care about Mu Shang, and while Bai Qi was not very familiar with Lu Yin, she did know that things definitely would not end as they stood. Lu Yin was someone who even the Progenitors of the four ruling powers referred to by name.
Bai Qi wanted Qiao Er to stay with Mu Shang. That way, even if Lu Yin tried to make trouble for the woman, Mu Shang would be able to protect her.
However, Bai Qi did not actually know Qiao Er very well. Rather, Bai Qi had been deceived by Qiao Er's cute appearance, and she had assumed that the apprentice would obediently listen to a Semi-Progenitor’s warning. However, her years of being Mu Shang’s apprentice had caused Qiao Er to become extremely arrogant, and she only adopted the cute demeanor that Bai Qi was familiar with when around specific people. Qiao Er was someone who would only be well-behaved in front of the people she regarded as important; everyone else simply did not matter to her at all.
This was why, even if Qiao Er knew that Lu Yin had reached an agreement with the four ruling powers, and even though the four ruling powers themselves had asked her to use a key to open the sourcebox array sealing New City away, she had ignored it.
She had too much confidence in Mu Shang's status, and it caused her to be confident enough to ignore almost everyone in the entire universe.
Not only was Qiao Er not concerned by Bai Qi's warning, but receiving such a message also made the woman angry. She wanted to see just what Lu Xiaoxuan was capable of doing. From what Qiao Er could tell, the four ruling powers had to be using Lu Xiaoxuan as bait to eliminate all the surviving vassals of the Lu family.
Qiao Er was not the only person to have such thoughts, as most people in the Perennial World believed the same. After all, why else would the four ruling powers leave Lu Xiaoxuan alive?
Furthermore, many people from the four ruling powers had spread those rumors as a means of saving face.
"He’s nothing but bait!" Qiao Er spat contemptuously. After seeing that most of the preparations for her master’s birthday celebration were already finished, she realized that it was time to check on the Coiling Knot again. After all, that was the task that she had been given.
As for the lost key…
A smile appeared on Qiao Er’s face. As if she would ever throw it away! She had simply said that she had lost it.
Qiao Er was not stupid. She first confirmed that Bai Qi was at the first array base, and knowing that her master would soon be returning as well, Qiao Er headed for the rear battlefield. If she stayed away, who knew if Lu Xiaoxuan might go crazy! Qiao Er believed that her own life was much more valuable than Lu Xiaoxuan's.
After all, Lu Xiaoxuan was nothing more than a lost dog.
Ten days later, Qiao Er finally returned to the first array base and approached the edge.
When Bai Qi saw Qiao Er approaching, the Semi-Progenitor shouted, "What are you doing here? Where's Mu Shang?"
Qiao Er offered a respectful bow and schooled her expression into an appropriately submissive look. "Qiao Er accidentally lost the key, so she came here to apologize. Qiao Er failed in her assigned duty and has caused trouble for the general."
Bai Qi frowned. "Go. Get back to Mu Shang right away."
Qiao Er blinked. "Master is almost here."
Bai Qi started to grow irritated. "Leave before Mu Shang arrives. Get far away."
"General, that person down below is Lu Xiaoxuan, right? Does he want to open the sourcebox array? That’s hilarious! He’ll be trapped there until he’s dead!" Qiao Er laughed as she looked down and mocked Lu Yin.
Bai Qi had already seen Lu Yin go deep into the Coiling Knot, and while he had clearly been studying something, Bai Qi could not understand what was happening. After all, she was not a Lockbreaker.
"Do you know what he's doing?" Bai Qi asked.
Qiao Er once again adopted a respectful tone of voice. "He most likely wants to learn Master's Coiling Knot, but he has overstepped himself. Master is an Array Grandmaster, so how could that person ever grasp a sourcebox array set up by Master? He’s trapped, and he’s going to die."
As she spoke, the corner of Qiao Er's mouth started to twitch. "Given the fact that he can’t even move right now, anyone could kill him."
Bai Qi’s brows rose high. Anyone could kill him? That was an extremely tempting suggestion to hear.
Bai Qi did not have any personal enmity towards Lu Yin, and she also had no knowledge regarding the Lu family’s exile, as she had not been involved. However, since the Lu family was gone, the four ruling powers had become mortal enemies with everyone from the Lu family. Naturally, it would be best to eliminate an enemy.
Qiao Er glanced over at Bai Qi as she continued, "Many people claim that Lu Xiaoxuan is a Redback. General, if that’s true, then he should be executed."
Killing intent flickered in Bai Qi's eyes. The four ruling powers had spread propaganda that claimed that the Lu family had been the largest gathering of Redbacks in history.
Regardless of whether it was true, the existence of a member of the Lu family threatened the stability of the human race. Thus, no matter the truth of if a member of the Lu family was a Redback, they all needed to die.
"A mere Realm Array Master went deep into Master's Coiling Knot, and now he’s completely stuck. Hehe, he’s as stupid as a pig! It would be great if those monsters came along right now," Qiao Er commented with a chuckle.
Right as she was speaking, Lu Yin suddenly lifted his head and looked straight up at Qiao Er. An icy gaze locked onto the woman.
Qiao Er was startled by Lu Yin’s actions. Since the woman had spent years on the rear battlefield training and even fighting against corpse kings, she had long since lost all fear of others. But at this moment, Lu Yin’s eyes triggered fear in the woman, and she unconsciously started to tremble. She felt as though the sky was falling and the ground was collapsing.
She looked down at Lu Yin in horror.