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    Chapter 159: Station 24: Bubble

    Time seemed to slow down within the taut red threads.

    Ming Yiyang held the loose end of the thread, hesitated for a moment, then attempted to connect with these threads as if he were manipulating a Spirit Binding Rope.

    He had only intended to give it a try.

    However, these red threads truly loosened like ordinary silk, following his will and collapsing under his careful manipulation, eventually fading away entirely.

    Guan Zhiyi and Tojo Shuang's faces lit up with joy.

    But when Ming Yiyang turned to them, his expression was one of astonishment.

    The two who were about to step outside suddenly released a vast mist resembling golden dust from their skin. This mist visibly consumed their bodies at an alarming rate.

    Before they could even bid farewell, the two vanished before Ming Yiyang's eyes.

    Beyond the red cocoon, in the world visible through the protruding black-gray stone tablets, Yuangong Baiyu's body was left with only a thin layer of skin clinging to his bones. Standing before him was a figure wearing a white mask... a person?

    Ming Yiyang was puzzled because this person's hand, at this moment, resembled intertwined steel wires with deadly blue glimmers at their tips.

    The iron mask was securely fused to the man's face, obscuring his expression, yet Ming Yiyang instinctively sensed danger and instantly raised the wooden blade in his hand.

    Before he could react, an unexpected assault sent him crashing to the ground!

    The man with the iron mask chuckled with evident interest.

    "Not bad."

    In the next second, his five fingers pierced through the young man's back and emerged from his chest!

    The masked figure let out a sinister chuckle.

    "However, as Yan's weakness, I'm afraid for the sake of peace in the Realm of Endless Torment, a small sacrifice will have to be made."

    Ming Yiyang spat out a mouthful of blood in shock, staring at the spikes protruding from his chest.

    Until that very moment.

    Only then did he realize the true power of a Heaven Rank Wujian Master.

    ...He didn't even have a chance to resist.

    -

    Zhan Deshi's figure became a seamless blur, skillfully evading Paimon's attacks!

    With one blow landing, the dining table was neatly split in half without a sound, smoothly dividing into two halves before crashing to the ground.

    Paimon seemed slightly surprised as she looked at Zhan Deshi with her giant serrated blade slung over her shoulder:

    "Did you take the wrong pills or something? Running that fast?"

    Zhan Deshi had no time to entertain Paimon's taunts. He was preoccupied with Yan Qiling's whisper by his side:

    "Why listen to Paimon's threats when I can offer you something better, as you've seen... As long as you have enough value, I can give you a second choice, Zhan Deshi. Don't you want to live on?"

    "....Of course I do."

    Dodging Paimon's triple attack once more, Zhan Deshi pushed up his glasses and panted:

    "But I betrayed you."

    "I can forgive you for the time being."

    The man spoke thus.

    Zhan Deshi's resolve wavered for a moment, but it quickly hardened like iron:

    "But what if one day you don't forgive me, just like how Paimon is now...!"

    "Would I then abandon you?"

    Yan Qiling's voice carried a hint of amusement, as if teasing.

    But in reality, this seemingly joking abandonment could truly be fatal.

    The arm, accompanied by a spurt of blood from the temple, slammed onto the ceiling before thudding vertically to the ground.

    Having lost his arm, Zhan Deshi covered his wound, but the relentless barrage of attacks from his opponent rained down madly upon him.

    Zhan Deshi was well aware that he had no other choice!

    With a firm resolve, he declared, "I'm willing to cooperate, Yan! Right now!"

    However, Yan Qiling responded leisurely, "Is that so? Then you need to show some sincerity."

    Cornered and anxious, Zhan Deshi urged, "Tell me what you want!"

    The man lurking in the shadows narrowed his exquisite peach blossom eyes and asked, "What exactly is Paimon leading you all to do?"

    Miyose could be utilized on any object, trapping it within a cycle of time and events.

    Despite the subtle variations in each cycle, it was essentially a projection and reenactment leading up to the final moment.

    The damned would still die, and the destined would continue to live.

    The altered fragments could never truly impact the genuine reality. As they approached the "real," all affected elements would converge toward their predetermined endpoints.

    Miyao was more of a prison than a cycle of rebirth.

    It trapped people within the confines of time, denying them the chance to truly be reborn or escape.

    But what difference did it make to Paimon? Besides, a fragmented Yuangong Baiyu was incapable of unleashing Miyao's full potential.

    All their efforts seemed to be a mere delaying tactic against some impending event.

    As Zhan Deshi maneuvered deftly, he sensed time slowing down momentarily.

    Seizing this opportunity, he evaded Paimon's new assault and swiftly created distance between them!

    After a moment of contemplation, he said,

    "Of course, it's the sacrificial array used to seal you."

    "He really dared to dream."

    Yan Qiling's laughter held an icy chill:

    "Thank you, I've obtained what I wanted to know."

    "Baimon," with shark-like teeth, tore off its mask to reveal lake-blue eyes. With Yan Qiling's face, it gave Zhan Deshi a grin.

    The manifestation of the precious pearl had once again deceived the self-assured Master of the Unseen World.

    Zhan Deshi stared at this person in disbelief, finally realizing that his "Azure Swallow Pavilion" world had been ravaged by the previous "Void Targeting" act.

    Everything was fake, but his severed arm was all too real.

    He looked up abruptly to see the real Yan Qiling standing gracefully on the railing of the second-story balcony.

    The oriental man's heterochromatic eyes had turned completely into a fiery crimson, like a demon with blood-turbulent waves swirling within them, a beautiful nightmare.

    Zhan Deshi didn't even have time to take in more before Yan Qiling, with his lake-blue eyes, suddenly expanded into an abyssal maw.

    However, a colossal shark burst from the ground, swallowing Zhan Deshi whole before he could react!

    Yan Qiling gazed at this "fish" that seemingly materialized out of thin air, aware with certainty.

    Paimon had arrived.

    And everything within and around the Blue Oriole Pavilion began to decay at that instant.

    A radiant white glow spread from within the shark, illuminating the surroundings like a living spirit. It enveloped everything, reaching the ends of the world in a contagious manner.

    Amidst this grand display of white light, Yan Qiling witnessed all that had been dissolved by the cycle of rebirth.

    The pristine hot spring house crumbled into decay in an instant, its wooden planks sinking into mud.

    Little Li Qinghe and the others sat silently in their rooms. As the wood rotted away, they transformed into skeletons, only to collapse into dust after eons of time.

    The abandoned bus in the snowfield had, over time, decayed into a pile of rusted scrap metal, its remnants tossed about by the swirling snowflakes.

    The earth cracked open, revealing a deep and cavernous chasm!

    From this rift, a flat world emerged, squeezed between the fissures.

    It swayed gently, like a fragile piece of paper, suspended in the eternal snowstorm, unfolding its own dimension as it forcefully inserted itself into this icy world!

    This fully unfolded world resembled a colossal cathedral cleaved in two, with the towering statue of the Pieta serving as a landmark, forcibly integrated into the world of the Hot Spring House.

    It was an unapologetically intrusive intrusion.

    Though he disliked it, Yan Qiling was long accustomed to his master's style.

    Through the howling wind came the low, resonant notes of an organ. While beautiful when played at full volume, in its depths, the sound seemed to whisper the ancient language of deities.

    No, it was more terrifying than that. It was an invitation whispered from the shadows.

    It sang praises to the heavens and Christ, but in times of necessity, it could also summon the voice of Satan.

    Yan Qiling stepped toward the shattered marble staircase, beyond which stretched vast golden wheat fields under a serene, overcast sky. The rustling of the wheat whispered in the stillness, as if each stalk was watching the man's every step, leading him to the statue of the Pieta.

    On the gray altar lay a figure, spread-eagled and nailed securely by sacred spikes. A suspended Lance of Longinus hung above his left chest, abdomen, and head. His eyes were wide open, and blood continuously flowed from his body, soaking the altar and trickling down the grooves, gradually forming an intricate pattern on the ground.

    Yan Qiling's pupils constricted.

    -

    That person was Ming Yiyang!

    Above the altar stood a lofty throne beneath the Pieta. Paimon sat upon the spiky throne with his right leg crossed over his left, his hands folded on his abdomen, appearing as if he had been waiting for this moment for a long time.

    His voice echoed through the church, breaking all barriers with its resounding depth:

    "Yan, there's finally something other than your usual indifference on your face. If I hadn't known you for a hundred years, I'd suspect you were an imposter."

    "I understand that the Blue Peacock Pavilion holds bitter memories for you, but to kill Zhan Deshi is going too far. He's a crucial component in maintaining the Prison Train. It's not your place to use him like this."

    Yan Qiling's gaze, which had been fixed on the young man, finally shifted to the throne.

    With frost in his eyes, a rare cold demeanor emerged:

    "You lured me here and made them fight desperately just to tell me this?"

    "Paimon, of course, it's not only this. Have a little patience with me, Yan."

    With his hand propping up his chin, Paimon seemed to be observing Yan Qiling's expression.

    But the iron mask concealed his features, preventing any genuine emotions from being conveyed through his face:

    "Yan, I never had any intention of killing you. Perhaps when you first became the Ruler of the Abyss, I might have had a chance, but back then, the situation in the Lotus Tower was chaotic. Now, I no longer have the means to kill you, even if I wanted to."

    "Similarly, you can't kill me either."

    Yan Qiling strode toward the altar, his tone icy as he said,

    "I don't need to kill you. Without the Prison Train, you'll dissipate sooner or later. And as long as the Lotus Tower stands, so will I."

    "Precisely!" Paimon clapped the armrest of her throne, laughing maniacally.

    "That's why I must keep you here."

    "Wherever you go, the Nineteenth Level of the Lotus Tower is now in Yan Hesheng's hands! As long as you can't locate the core of the Nineteenth Level Lotus Tower, nothing will be resolved."

    "You want to seal the Lotus Tower? Of course, as you wish. But not only us must sleep – you must too."

    "Yan, it has to be you!"

    "Let everything return to zero! Then, when we all awaken, fate will decide who should continue slumbering and who shall rule the world!"

    The overcast sky illuminated abnormally, defying its usual state.

    The temperature around them soared drastically, and even within the vast shadow of the cathedral, the change was distinctively palpable to the Lord of the Abyss himself.

    Yan Qiling approached the altar.

    His cold, fish-like hand brushed against the bloodstained cheek of the youth, and he was startled to find that the youth's once-fiery temperature, which had been uncomfortably intense, was now chillingly cool.

    Paimon still sat on the throne, basking in the scene before him.

    "Yan, don't act impulsively. If the sacrifice is unfortunately displaced, those three Lances of Longinus will pierce him into a pile of mush."

    "This is a curse that not even I can halt. Once the ritual commences, it's bound to come with numerous such troublesome rules."

    "Since I'm sealing you here, I think it would be more symbolic to activate it with the blood of someone you love. What do you think?"

    Yan Qiling ignored him and instead turned slightly to look back.

    "Wu Ling, come here."

    Wu Ling, who had been following silently, wore a look of surprise, seemingly failing to grasp his intention.

    Yan Qiling said,

    "Return to my body."

    Behind the steel mask, Paimon's smile deepened in an instant.

    The scene he had been eagerly anticipating was finally about to unfold.

    The "50" that had devoured countless curses and the Master of the Netherworld on behalf of Yan Qiling was essentially the embodiment of Yan Qiling's "Chaotic Evil" side.

    When it acted independently, it wouldn't affect Yan Qiling's utterly rational self, and could still be manipulated to some extent.

    But once it returned to Yan Qiling's embrace, the fusion would be far from simple.

    All the malevolent thoughts within it, all the ideas belonging to or not belonging to Yan Qiling, would surface instantly, creating the fragmented personality that Paimon had been longing for.

    And at that moment, his opportunity would present itself.

    Upon hearing the command, 50 first felt fear, which was quickly replaced by uncontrollable exhilaration.

    He lunged at Yan Qiling like an arrow released from its bowstring.

    The man caressed the cold skin of the offering, and an intricate web of crimson script continuously crawled out from within his body, covering every inch of available space.

    Six arms burst forth from his back, halting the gradual rise in temperature.

    In this polarized conflict, the scorching extremity of heat finally reached a deadlock amidst the vast snowstorm, adopting a unique posture of stalemate.

    Yet, the scene that Paimon did not anticipate unfolded.

    The young man, who had been destined as a sacrifice and was on the verge of death, abruptly opened his eyes.

    A brilliant purple glow erupted from the depths of his irises!

    That purple light was dazzling, shimmering like fragmented rays of a diamond. At this moment, these rays converged densely, forming an incredibly formidable power!

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