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    Chapter 91

    The person who seemed to be walking towards him in his line of sight suddenly stopped. The disciple on the phone fell silent too. Wei Xi realized this and turned away his gaze, avoiding that annoying fellow. "Que'er? Que'er?"

    After a long while, the disciple replied, "...I'm here. What did he do to you?"

    Wei Xi was much gentler with his disciple and explained patiently, "An old adversary. He ruined my plans before and chased away my food source. When I went to the banquet with Tianyi, Wanyong, and the others last time, the pastries I brought for you were almost devoured by him. I fought him desperately to save them for you."

    The disciple hesitated, not seeming to be touched but rather deep in thought. "...Really?"

    Wei Xi snorted coldly. "You weren't by my side back then, so it's understandable that you don't know."

    Disciple: "..."

    Hearing his silence, Wei Xi assumed he was worried and changed his tone. "Don't worry, Que'er. Even if we fight this time, Master won't suffer any loss."

    "..." The disciple was quiet for a while before he finally spoke in a solemn voice after a long time. "...Do you really hate him that much?"

    Thinking about all the grudges between him and this person since they left Fengyang Town, Wei Xi nodded without hesitation. "Of course. Ever since he stole more than ten fierce ghosts from me in Fengyang, our enmity has been irreconcilable."

    The disciple's voice grew even more strained: "… Just because of this?"

    Wei Xi: "Isn't that enough?"

    For him, eating and drinking were the most important things in life. Helping ghosts cross over who had come close to his lips was no less than a blood feud.

    On the other end of the phone, the disciple seemed to have realized the same thing and let out a long sigh, sounding exhausted. "Wei Xi, don't you think he has some strengths as well? Like..."

    After a moment, his tone tinged with embarrassment, he added, "... Like his strong yang energy."

    He did have strong yang energy, but without much thought, Wei Xi instinctively replied, "But I already have you."

    Pausing, he realized that his answer wasn't quite on point. His gaze swept across the other figures in the park, recognizing someone, and he added, "Moreover, what kind of strength is that? His friends also have strong yang energy, but they're much kinder, like Mr. Xia, who's generous and has given me a lot of food."

    It was Xia Shouren who had sent the kitchen staff to deliver desserts to him after that banquet, leaving Wei Xi with a very favorable impression of the man. However, despite this, for some reason, he didn't feel much appetite for Xia Shouren's comparably milder yang energy. Before he could tell his disciple about this, Mr. Gu's voice sounded nearby. "Master Wei? Master Wei?"

    Turning around, Wei Xi realized that everyone was waiting for him. The disciple on the other end of the call fell into another mysterious silence after Wei Xi spoke. Not understanding the situation, Wei Xi didn't have time for further discussion and hastily said, "Que'er, I have something else to attend to. Let's chat later."

    With that, he hung up the phone.

    ******

    "Mr. Xia, you're right," Chōmei observed, nudging Xia Shouren's side. "Mr. Shuo Zong does indeed seem very displeased."

    Xia Shouren, having just finished deleting the photos after his sarcastic remark, turned around in surprise. The aura around his friend was undoubtedly even more somber than before. It wasn't just unhappiness; it seemed like someone had provoked him.

    Perplexed, Xia Shouren followed his friend's gaze and quickly realized, "How could it be him?!"

    Chōmei asked, "Who?"

    "Do you remember the fierce beast I mentioned to you? The one that Shuo Zong kept an eye on ever since it appeared in this world?" Xia Shouren's expression turned serious. "Why is it here? No wonder Shuo Zong is in a bad mood."

    Chōmei half-understood, "So Mr. Shuo Zong is angry because of it? I saw him glance at you when he hung up the call, and I thought you had upset him again."

    Xia Shouren clicked his tongue. Leading Chōmei, he went to console his companion. "How could that be? As the last remaining auspicious beasts in the world, we've relied on each other since the collapse of Heavenly Dao. We're of the same kind, and our bond is incredibly strong. Despite him constantly telling me to drop dead and acting like an old brute, he actually cherishes a friend as generous as me."

    A smile spread across Xia Shouren's face as he prepared to greet the other party.

    But Shuo Zong, with a darkened expression, turned to him first, "Xia Shouren. I advise you to keep your distance from me now."

    Xia Shouren: "?"

    Chōmei: "?"

    With tears in his eyes, Xia Shouren asked, "What have I done wrong this time?"

    "Your generosity is overwhelming," Shuo Zong said in a chilling tone. "Being too close to me, I'm afraid I might lose control and strangle you."

    Xia Shouren: "..."

    Chōmei: "..."

    **********

    Chōmei: "Dependent on each other for survival..."

    Chōmei: "Our bond is unbreakable..."

    Chōmei: "We cherish each other deeply..."

    Chōmei: "Mr. Xia, it seems that Mr. Shuo Zong is quite upset with you."

    Xia Shouren also noticed, but he had no idea what he did wrong. Sobbing, he wiped his tears and went back to delete the photos: "Fake! It's all fake! There was never any reliance on each other. He's still that old beast!"

    Mr. Gu had already arranged for the filming location and was walking against the fierce wind that threatened to tear apart his umbrella in the rain. He quickly recognized the people in the park and exclaimed in surprise, "Mr. Shuo Zong?! Mr. Xia?! Why are you here too?!"

    Mr. Gu ran swiftly, and as they drew closer, Wei Xi saw the tall man in a black raincoat slowly put his phone away while casting a cryptic glance at him: "I'm here to take care of some matters."

    His gaze was deep, with raindrops still clinging to his eyelashes. His low voice pierced through the noisy rain, making Wei Xi feel an inexplicable sense of familiarity. However, given their history of battles, they were not strangers, and with Wei Xi's limited capacity to ponder, he couldn't delve deeper into the matter.

    Upon receiving an answer, Mr. Gu was not surprised at all. He introduced Shuo Zong to Wei Xi, "Master Wei, this is Mr. Shuo Zong. He has served as a consultant for our show before."

    Tuan Jieyi blurted out an expletive. The national entrepreneur featured in financial magazines was a consultant for "Believe in Science." It gave him a surreal feeling, as if the boundaries between dimensions had been breached: "Are you serious? Mr. Shuo Zong actually...?"

    Mr. Gu glanced at the stunned meteorological bureau staff who had seen the legendary businessman and explained subtly, "Mr. Shuo Zong is... accompanied by a group of extraordinary individuals."

    Aside from Mr. Gu, the other Daoist priests also seemed to be aware of something, showing no signs of surprise. The senior Daoist Priest Quan from the Daoist Association even greeted Shuo Zong with familiarity, "Mr. Shuo Zong, good to see you. Is everything under control at the scene?"

    Tuan Jieyi observed that the national heartthrob, who had been staring intently at his master, finally averted his gaze, glancing indifferently at a corner: "Some uninvited guests arrived, but they've been taken care of."

    The young man from the Meteorological Bureau, puzzled, followed his gaze and immediately widened his eyes. He dropped his umbrella and dashed towards the corner, pushing aside Xia Shouren and Chōmei, who were weeping and chatting. He shook the unconscious figures in the muddy water desperately, "Wake up! Wake up!"

    Recalling what he had just heard, he looked up at the crowd in surprise, "Why can't you wake them? Did you do this?! What's going on?!"

    The group of micro-influencers, now soaked, seemed to be of little concern to anyone present. The successful entrepreneur, known for his philanthropy, didn't even flinch at the young man's questioning, "Who's this?"

    "From the Meteorological Bureau," Mr. Gu explained awkwardly, "He's not very familiar with the rules, don't take him too seriously."

    The young man was baffled. What rules? With people unconscious in the Sea Entry Park, how could these people remain indifferent to such a life-threatening situation?

    Mr. Gu tried to reassure him, "Don't worry, they might have just fainted due to low blood sugar from the cold weather. If you're concerned about them catching a cold, move them to a dry area."

    Still confused by his casual tone, a sudden loud roar of waves erupted from the seafront view, capturing the attention of the apathetic crowd.

    ******

    The storm intensified.

    Old Master Quan looked out at the estuary, unease etched on his face. He asked tentatively, addressing Shuo Zong, "Sir Shuo Zong, in your opinion, what do you think is happening with this incident..."

    As they watched, Shuo Zong's expression remained indifferent, his gaze seemingly sweeping across someone in the crowd. His voice held a hint of displeasure as he said, "Jiao is only waiting here to transform into a dragon and enter the sea. It's our duty to prevent it from doing so, not yours."

    "Transform... into a dragon!"

    He spoke casually, yet the many Daoist priests, including Mr. Gu, nearly knelt down in shock. "R-Really a dragon?!"

    Shuo Zong seemed disinclined to engage in conversation, remaining silent with a stern face. Wei Xi, however, paid no attention and stepped out of the crowd, walking towards Xia Shouren who stood by the edge of the viewing platform. He peered over the railing at the turbulent Yellow River below. "That dragon is down there?"

    Xia Shouren looked slightly panicked when he heard Wei Xi approach, but quickly regained his composure, ready to provide an answer.

    However, before he could speak, his frugal friend's voice suddenly rang out, "It's underwater, and it must complete its transformation to enter the sea."

    Wei Xi glanced back to see that Shuo Zong had somehow moved closer, his gaze lingering between him and Xia Shouren before he stood expressionlessly between them.

    Xia Shouren, now faced with a back view: "???"

    Wei Xi was not in the mood for a fight at the moment, so he nodded. "Can't you stop it from entering the sea?"

    This question, however, was answered by another Daoist priest, who promptly spoke up, "Ancient texts record that when a true dragon enters the sea, it typically causes massive waves, fierce storms, and tsunamis. The extent of the damage is immeasurable. With such a large population in Sea Entrance City... it's already too late to evacuate. If it successfully enters the sea, the consequences would be disastrous; heavy casualties would be the least of our worries."

    Now, everyone finally realized the origin of the sudden typhoon on the sea.

    However, despite their comprehension, the Taoist masters present still found it hard to accept: "We just never imagined... that there would really be dragons in this world..."

    Shuo Zong seemed indifferent to their tone of awe: "Is it strange? Dragons, like the Black Tortoise, have always existed. There used to be many in the East China Sea, but they've since vanished."

    The Taoist masters disregarded his dismissive attitude and were still in disbelief: "Like the Black Tortoise...? Were they also sealed?"

    Shuo Zong shook his head: "They died out. This one probably awakened through self-cultivation."

    If that was the case, wouldn't this be the only dragon left in the world? !

    The Taoist masters swallowed, their eyes fixed on the murky water ahead. It could have been an illusion, but the sky grew darker, and the sense of impending danger lurking beneath the surface intensified.

    Suddenly, the howling wind grew even more fierce, and a bolt of lightning struck down from the clouds that had been accumulating for a while.

    With that blinding flash of light came an unspoken realization among those present – it had arrived.

    The ocean waves pounded the seawall of the coastal park with a ferocity as if greeting their impending ruler. A few times, the waves rose so high that they spilled over the barriers. Amidst the extreme chaos, a distinct shadow began racing towards the surface.

    In the next instant, deafening thunder echoed through the air, followed by the sound of water breaking. All the Taoist masters present lifted their heads in stunned silence.

    They thought they were prepared, but when the moment actually arrived, they realized that human instinct could not be easily overcome.

    What a scene unfolded before them! An azure dragon, seemingly unaffected by gravity, leaped from the water, twisting and soaring through the air with effortless grace. It was over ten meters long, its sinuous body strong and majestic. Its head adorned with sharp spines, and its enormous, round eyes fixated on the crowd, a mere glance from which was enough to send hearts pounding like drums.

    This was a sight that could only be glimpsed in myths, yet now it materialized before their very eyes.

    Its scales shimmered with dazzling radiance, its long whiskers danced in the wind, and its four claws glinted with deadly sharpness. Every detail was both familiar and beyond human imagination.

    Shuo Zong seemed surprised as well, raising an eyebrow and commenting, "I didn't expect it to be azure."

    Noticing Wei Xi's gaze, he patiently explained, "Dragons come in different ranks. By color, they're commonly classified into red, black, white, blue, and golden. People used to believe that golden dragons were the most valuable, but that's just a misconception influenced by imperial power. The truly prestigious ones represent the constellations of the East - the Azure Dragon. That's the same Azure Dragon as in the Four Symbols, along with White Tiger, Vermilion Bird, and Black Tortoise. As the East corresponds to wood, Azure Dragons usually have a blue hue. This one doesn't have horns yet, but after surviving the lightning tribulation, it might grow them."

    As his words faded, dark clouds overhead unleashed bolt after bolt of lightning, striking the hovering Azure Dragon above the Yellow River.

    The dragon showed no fear, roaring at the sky as it absorbed the bolts of lightning. With each thunderclap, its figure grew more robust, and its scales shone even brighter. A pair of horns began visibly sprouting from its previously bare forehead.

    Hearing Shuo Zong's appraisal, the dragon boomed with a deep, jovial laughter, exuding arrogance, "Excellent! Excellent!"

    The Azure Dragon was evidently very pleased with itself. It had taken it countless years to reach its current state, and it was well aware of what its existence meant to the human world.

    Upon hearing its laughter, the Taoist masters present and Mr. Gu's film crew were all shaken to their cores, their knees instinctively weakening.

    They were acutely aware of why they had come and what would happen once they allowed the dragon to enter the sea. But this was a dragon! A living, breathing dragon!

    What the dragon symbolized to the people of this land needed no elaboration. Throughout history, even the most revered emperors during feudal times had bowed before it. Now, despite the passage of time and the dawn of a new era, the deep-seated instincts ingrained in their bones remained unaltered.

    The Taoist masters gazed at the dragon with trembling limbs, beholding their shining faith. Their excitement surpassed even that which they had felt when they first laid eyes on the Black Tortoise, causing Daoist Quan's eyes to instantly brim with tears.

    The dark clouds gradually dispersed, and the Azure Dragon swished its tail in the air, leisurely turning its head to admire its devotees. "Humans, are you here to hinder me from entering the sea?"

    Master Quan gazed at those lifeless eyes, his voice trembling as he struggled to speak, barely managing to choke out, "Truly... with the mighty dragon above, please consider the millions of citizens in Harbor City."

    The Azure Dragon let out a cold laugh, adopting an aloof and superior demeanor as if looking down upon the mortal world. "My palace lies within the ocean. You know my status, yet you dare to make such an impudent request. Do you expect me to condescend and reside in this narrow river instead?"

    Priest Quan choked, as a cultivator, he was well aware of the gods' ruthlessness. He truly didn't know how to persuade this divine dragon, who held humans in contempt, to change its mind. However, his deeply ingrained beliefs prevented him from uttering harsh words against his own faith, leaving him in great torment.

    The Azure Dragon, clearly aware that he wouldn't dare to stop it, revealed a satisfied expression in its eyes. Amidst the crowd, a clear and melodious inquiry suddenly echoed, filled with genuine curiosity: "You claim to hold a certain status, but what might that be?"

    Azure Dragon paused, looking down to meet the gaze of a curly-haired figure in the crowd. Surprisingly, there was no trace of reverence in the young man's eyes!

    Feeling its dignity challenged, it grew furious. It lowered its head, pressing closer to the human amidst the intensifying waves, roaring, "Mortal! I've cultivated for thirteen hundred years and have just withstood the lightning tribulation, receiving the legacy memory. I am now the sole Azure Dragon in heaven and earth! The embodiment of the Eastern asterism, the faith of this nation, and the true ruler of this land and sea! How dare you offend me like this?"

    Didn't dragons represent the culture of this land for thousands of years? Upon becoming one, wasn't it expected to have power over wind and rain, to reign supreme?

    But the curly-haired mortal showed no fear, even asking, "So, you're indeed not a protected animal by the state?"

    The question was peculiar, causing Azure Dragon's rage to subside as it stared at him, confused. "What is that? What are you talking about?"

    A knowing smile gradually formed on the curly-haired figure's face. "I see."

    In the next second, before Azure Dragon could figure out what he had realized, its horns were suddenly seized with lightning speed.

    It had lowered its head to amplify the intimidation of its roar. Now, as it tried to lift it again, a figure lightly leaped onto its nose.

    The weeping Taoist masters present were stunned. They watched helplessly as Wei Xi grabbed the dragon's horns and jumped onto its head, screaming after a moment of shock, "Fellow Daoist Wei! Be careful! What are you doing?!"

    They would soon find out what Wei Xi intended to do.

    Due to the Azure Dragon's furious roar swiftly transforming into a shrill shriek, Wei Xi clung onto its dragon horns, refusing to let go despite its struggles in the air. At the same time, he opened his mouth and fiercely bit down on the dragon's forehead! He tore off two scales and chomped on them noisily, mixed with blood.

    The Taoist priests: "AAAAHHHHH!!!"

    The Azure Dragon: "AIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!"

    Xia Shouren was also dumbfounded, even stepping back in horror, covering his butt. "Damn! Damn!! His glory hasn't faded at all!"

    He regained his composure and quickly grabbed hold of Shuo Zong. "Damn! This is still a dragon, you know?! Think of something quick! We can't just let him eat it like this!"

    Shuo Zong had maintained a calm expression since the beginning. Upon hearing Xia Shouren's plea for help, he didn't hesitate. He grabbed the wildly thrashing tail of the Azure Dragon and leaped onto it.

    The young dragon, who had just transformed, was now terrified by the sudden turn of events. Its previous arrogance was long gone. It could only roll and shake its head in agony, trying to shake Wei Xi off. However, Wei Xi's grip was firm, never faltering for a moment. He ate at an astonishing speed, soon biting away most of the scales on the dragon's face.

    The instant Shuo Zong appeared atop the dragon's head, Wei Xi immediately became alert, glaring at him with a mouthful of scales, fueled by both old and new resentment. "Are you here to ruin my fun again?!"

    The Azure Dragon, sensing the aura of another auspicious beast, cried out in heart-wrenching despair. "Save me, save me, save me!"

    On the observation platform, Xia Shouren comforted Chōmei, whose face had paled from witnessing the dragon being eaten. "It'll be alright, Shuo Zong is very reliable. He'll definitely stop him soon."

    Amidst the soothing voice, Shuo Zong indeed leaped swiftly to Wei Xi's side, just as Xia Shouren had described.

    He crouched down, hesitated for a moment, and finally made his move---

    With a snap, he broke off half of the Azure Dragon's horn.

    Then, he offered it to Wei Xi's lips. "Would you like to eat it?"

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