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    Chapter 122 - The New Heavenly Dao

    Chaos never expected anyone to explain its existence from such an unconventional perspective. Its expression darkened as it stared fiercely at Wei Xi, "How dare you! Do you know who I am?"

    Wei Xi indeed restrained his expression, looking at Chaos cautiously, "You are...?"

    Chaos revealed a mysterious smile, typical of a supreme being, "According to the standards of Heavenly Dao, you might consider me the Origin of All Evils."

    Wei Xi: "?"

    The cautious look on Wei Xi's face vanished instantly. He found his full authority and faced Chaos, "Then do you know who I am?"

    Chaos: "???"

    Chaos frowned, "How could I not know, young one—"

    Wei Xi interrupted, "If you do, then why don't you address me as Sect Leader Wei or Director Wei!"

    Chaos: "?????"

    Amidst the chaos, the distant, feeble rumble of thunder in the sky suddenly intensified.

    He immediately turned around in anger, looking up at the horizon. "You won't leave me alone!"

    Xia Shouren shook his head, dismissing the inexplicable conversation he had just heard. A hint of joy flashed in his eyes. "Just in time!"

    Wei Xi asked, "What's coming?"

    Xia Shouren replied, "Of course, it's the Heavenly Thunder! It seems that the formation we set up earlier has taken effect. The Heavenly Dao finally has the strength to dispel those resentful spirits and deal with Chaos!"

    Now he finally understood that even if the Heavenly Dao was scattered, it shouldn't have shown such weakness just now. No matter how immense the accumulated resentment was, it shouldn't have pushed the Heavenly Dao into such a passive position. But Chaos was different. An adversary as old as the universe itself, with origins dating back beyond ancient times, could indeed exhaust the already weakened Heavenly Dao in its endeavors – this was only natural.

    So those divine lightning bolts earlier hadn't been aimed at the resentment, but rather, at this Chaos!

    With the divine power bestowed by the auspicious beasts and the deities, the Heavenly Dao should now be capable of contending with Chaos!

    Wei Xi: "I see now."

    Strangely, his second disciple didn't seem to show any joy. The arm around his waist tightened even more, and the breath on the top of his head grew heavier.

    Hearing Xia Shouren's words, Chaos turned to Wei Xi with a ferocious expression, glaring at the one who had shown great disrespect to him earlier. "Traitor, do you think you can escape just because you've become a puppet of Heaven's Will?!"

    Wei Xi was taken aback. "What are you talking about?"

    Chaos sneered. "I'm saying that after the Heavenly Lightning strikes me, it'll be your turn!"

    Wei Xi was puzzled. "Our Taicang Sect is innocent and pays our taxes honestly. Why would the Heavenly Lightning strike me?"

    Chaos was speechless for a moment.

    After a brief confusion, Chaos suddenly realized something and enunciated each word slowly. "You don't know why the Heavenly Lightning is going to strike you?"

    Just as Wei Xi was wondering what was happening, Chaos suddenly burst into maniacal laughter. "No wonder! No wonder! So you have no idea!!"

    Wei Xi found the other party acting strangely. His disciple had already pressed his head against his chest and was quickly retreating. "Ignore him."

    A blinding bolt of lightning suddenly illuminated the heavens, striking directly at Chaos.

    It was a truly earth-shattering bolt of lightning.

    Since Wei Xi had gained consciousness, he had never witnessed such terrifying lightning, but he instinctively sensed the horrifying destructive power that could effortlessly split mountains and rivers, causing his face to go blank for a moment.

    However, the primordial chaos was unexpectedly formidable as well. It turned its head and abruptly opened its mouth, forcefully devouring the heavenly thunder!

    Xia Shouren, who had just been extremely joyful, was now utterly shocked. "How is this possible?! It shouldn't be like this!"

    The primordial chaos's low and hoarse laughter echoed everywhere. "I disappoint you, fool. Did you forget that the Heavenly Dao has already collapsed by more than half? Do you still think it's the same all-powerful Heavenly Dao from before?"

    All the auspicious beasts and divine beings present turned pale upon hearing this.

    Yes, the Heavenly Dao had already crumbled by more than half. The remaining fragment had barely held on for over a hundred years, and it was probably reaching its limits. The primordial chaos, however, was of the same age as heaven and earth. Even after being cleaved apart by Pan Gu, it was by no means an easy opponent to deal with.

    Aside from that, its ability to devour everything was a complete game-breaker.

    Nonetheless, after swallowing the heavenly thunder, the primordial chaos didn't seem as relaxed as it claimed. After all, the strike was powered by the combined divine might of numerous deities and a multitude of auspicious beasts. Its body swelled up like a balloon filled with air, stretching to its limits due to the energy within the lightning. Cracks appeared on its surface, and black gas spewed out from the wounds before swiftly flying back towards it, fusing together once again.

    This was clearly not a pleasant experience. The primordial chaos's face contorted in unbearable pain, and its eyes burned with even more hatred. It shifted its gaze back onto Wei Xi and tempted him, "Child, do you want to come to me?"

    Feeling the sharpness emanating from his disciple behind him, Wei Xi immediately shook his head. "No, I don't."

    The disciple cast him a downward glance, and the chaos in front of him paused, his face then revealing a knowing smile. "You don't need to be afraid. I misunderstood you just now. Come over now, and I won't harm you."

    Wei Xi looked at the crackling lightning now flashing around him, his expression troubled. "But eating you now would sting my mouth."

    Chaos: "…"

    Shuo Zong: "…"

    A flash of anger crossed Chaos's face, his gaze turning hostile once more. "I was originally going to give you a chance, considering you, though not yet awakened, are still of the same origin as me. But now you're not appreciating it yourself."

    Wei Xi: "?"

    Chaos sneered mockingly. "Idiot, do you still think you're just an ordinary human?"

    Wei Xi: "…"

    Reminded of his sorrow by Chaos, Wei Xi's mood immediately plummeted, his brows slumping. "How could that be possible..."

    If only he were truly just an ordinary human! After the initial thrill of being a divine beast had worn off, Wei Xi had regretted every day why he had woken up that day, and even if he did, why had he gone out to listen to his second disciple and Xia Shouren talking for no reason? To make matters worse, after listening, why hadn't he remained silent like a chicken but instead stupidly asked that extra question? Now, he had brought all this trouble upon himself.

    The life of a benevolent beast was damn unbearable.

    During the day, he had to be a hero; at night, he maintained law and order. It wasn't too bad when there were no acquaintances around, but with familiar faces, especially his senior disciple Jianyi, he couldn't ignore someone falling eight hundred meters away. When natural disasters struck, his luck worsened. For instance, during the recent earthquakes in the capital, he ran tirelessly on the elevated highways to send the injured to hospitals, so much so that he wished he could die from exhaustion. Yet, he couldn't even accept payment for his efforts.

    Chaos paused, "You actually know you're a—"

    Shuo Zong sensed danger and immediately whisked Wei Xi away, giving a meaningful glance to the other benevolent beasts nearby. Xia Shouren, not being a fool, promptly coordinated with his teammates to surround Chaos.

    However, they were no match for Chaos. Their fate was sealed with the latter's next two words, "ferocious beast!"

    Wei Xi looked up abruptly at Chaos, almost jerking his neck, "What did you say?!"

    Shuo Zong lashed out with his Godslayer Whip at Chaos, not even letting the lingering thunderous power deter his killing intent. He yelled at Wei Xi in a low voice, "Wei Xi! Cover your ears!"

    For the first time, Wei Xi defied the order, staring wide-eyed at Chaos, "Say it again! What am I?!"

    Seeing the reactions of his opponents, Chaos suddenly understood everything and burst into maniacal laughter, "Hahahaha! So that's how it is!!"

    Shuo Zong: "Wei Xi!"

    Wei Dedao also stepped forward, blocking Wei Xi and Chaos between them. "Xi-er!"

    Wei Xi muttered to himself, "Could it be that you've mistaken me? I'm not actually the divine beast Taiyi?"

    "You are indeed Taiyi!" Upon hearing this, Chaos immediately realized that his previous guess was correct. A crazed malevolence spread across his face. "Hahahaha! It's just that you probably don't know! Taiyi is not a divine beast! It's an utterly vicious beast, through and through! Hahahaha!"

    Wei Xi stood there in a daze, as if overwhelmed by the information he had just received.

    Shuo Zong's heart ached upon seeing his reaction, his eyes turning bloodshot. "Wei Xi! Calm down! Don't believe him!"

    Wei Dedao's gentle expression finally vanished. He waved his sleeve and attacked Chaos. "You talk too much."

    Chaos could tell that Wei Dedao was no pushover, but he didn't take the old man seriously. He slapped out with one hand. "What trash dares to speak to me like that!"

    Despite being of average strength, Wei Dedao was enveloped in a golden aura of virtue. Though he managed to push Wei Dedao away as intended, he was struck by a thunderbolt once more.

    "How dare you!!"

    Chaos was now consumed by hatred for his adversaries. Clutching at the growing cracks on his body, the malice in his eyes intensified. "Are you worried? Did I disrupt your plans? Too bad the more he trusts you now, the more despair he'll feel when he learns the truth. He'll naturally choose to follow me, walking down this path that the Heavenly Dao won't tolerate."

    Shuo Zong's murderous aura soared to its peak as he roared, "You... want... to die!"

    Chaos didn't dare underestimate him but was instead even more delighted. With an eerie smile, it replied, "I can't die. What I'm doing is merely to make you—dogs fight each other!"

    Its final words were accompanied by a chaotic force that swept across the heavens and earth with devastating power!

    Shuo Zong's expression shifted drastically, and the injured Wei Dedao grew even more flustered. Wei Xi, holding his forehead, lifted his dazed eyes, feeling a bout of dizziness before his body felt increasingly weightless. When his consciousness returned, he looked back to realize that his soul had already left his body.

    A voice devoid of emotion echoed from the sky. Wei Xi leaned in to listen as certain repressed thoughts rushed forth eagerly from the depths of his mind. Despite having no recollection, he instinctively knew that it was the Heavenly Dao.

    It had been so long since he'd left the mountain.

    Back when he was forced into this physical body, he had tried countless methods to free himself, all to no avail.

    Yet now, it had come out on its own.

    The people around him seemed anxious. Floating midair, Wei Xi realized that without his disciple holding onto his waist, he wasn't falling.

    *********

    He had just woken up from a long and vivid dream.

    It was a scene he seemed to have dreamed of before.

    After much pondering, Wei Xi recalled that it might have been the dream he had on the day he found out he was a blessed beast.

    This time, however, the hazy images and sensations were much clearer. He could now see the people gathered around him and hear their cries.

    For some reason, his body felt weak, and his stomach was empty. His right hand hurt slightly, prompting him to instinctively lift it to lick the wound. Only after doing so did he remember how unhygienic that was.

    Nonetheless, he had this bad habit in the past. It took Wei Dedao's constant nagging in the mountains for him to eventually break it out of boredom.

    But now, with Wei Dedao and his second disciple gone, and no familiar faces in sight, he decided to take advantage of the moment and continue licking.

    As Wei Xi savored this opportunity, he glanced ahead. The people before him wore wide-sleeved robes, none of them recognizable to him.

    Being surrounded by so many people stirred up a faint memory of the fear he felt during the earthquake when he saw the injured lying on the ground, desperately needing medical attention. He felt a wave of worry wash over him.

    His second disciple had mentioned that this seemed to be some sort of ceremony honoring him.

    What if they make wishes to me?

    Running errands wouldn't be too much of an issue, but what if they pray for wealth? Would he have to share his earnings with them? Though the Taikang Sect had grown to a size of over a thousand employees, it would likely be stretched thin if each of these believers were given just ten yuan.

    Wei Xi became more and more fearful the more he thought about it, and the urge to escape grew stronger – even more so than when facing a heavenly bolt of lightning.

    A tall figure in front of him spoke with a trembling voice, "We've finally managed to trap this fierce beast. Have you all thought about what we should do next?"

    Wei Xi was taken aback and looked at the crowd again. Suddenly, he noticed that their expressions seemed to be filled with fear.

    **

    When Wei Xi opened his eyes once more, he found his second disciple and Wei Dedao standing protectively on either side of him, both with equally solemn expressions.

    It seemed that everyone else had already engaged in battle. Xia Shouren was seriously injured, clutching his newly wounded body in pain. Bi Fang's fiery red hair was now mostly bald, as if it had been violently pulled out. The other auspicious beasts and deities all showed signs of exhaustion. The rumbling of the heavenly lightning continued in the air, and Chaos looked terrible, though its smug expression remained.

    Wei Xi shook his head, trying to clear his mind. This small action immediately drew the attention of everyone present.

    Xia Shouren's face was pale, and he even shrank back, muttering softly, "Buddha bless us, Amitabha, please no, no…"

    Confused, Wei Xi felt a gentle stroke through his hair, turning to meet his disciple's usual expression. "You're awake? Does anything feel wrong with your body?"

    Staring at his disciple, Wei Xi suddenly recalled his dream and replied off-topic, "Que'er, you were mistaken that day. The people we saw in our dreams weren't my followers."

    His disciple gazed deeply into his eyes without a word.

    Wei Xi asked, "So, the Taotie really isn't a symbol of good fortune, right?"

    Upon these words, Xia Shouren's muttering ceased, his face frozen in a look of despair.

    Wei Dedao let out a long sigh. "Xiao Xi..."

    Shuo Zong abruptly closed his eyes, his breathing rapid and uneven.

    Silence ensued, but Chaos reveled in it, beckoning Wei Xi despite the countless envious gazes directed at him. "Now do you believe I wasn't lying to you? Come here."

    Looking at Chaos, Wei Xi attempted to move, only to be held back by his second disciple, who whispered his name, "Wei Xi, you...?"

    Turning around, Wei Xi asked, "What is it?"

    The second disciple's face was slightly pale, and his fingers trembled slightly. Eventually, he removed his hand from Wei Xi's shoulder. "No, it's nothing."

    Wei Xi was a bit worried, but his disciple didn't seem injured. Eager for answers, he still approached the Chaos.

    Chaos, observing his former adversaries now demoralized, narrowed his eyes slightly, filled with satisfaction. He asked Wei Xi, "What happened when you fainted earlier?"

    Wei Xi replied, "I had a dream."

    A small curve formed at the corner of Chaos's mouth. "What did you dream about?"

    Wei Xi recalled, "Someone called me a fierce beast in my dream."

    Chaos's smile widened, revealing his sharp white teeth. "That wasn't a dream; it was likely a memory you've forgotten."

    Wei Xi pondered, "So I'm not a benevolent creature after all, but a fierce one?"

    Chaos confirmed, "Indeed."

    Wei Xi continued, "So I don't actually have believers who would make wishes to me?"

    Chaos laughed boisterously. "Pray to you?! Who in their right mind would dare to pray to a monstrous beast? Beasts are inherently savage and are not tolerated by the Heavenly Dao. They are born to plunder. Everyone in the world fears them and avoids them like the plague. If you don't wreak havoc or act tyrannically, they should be grateful!"

    Wei Xi nodded, finally convinced. "So that's how monstrous beasts are."

    *****

    Chaos's voice was loud, seemingly intentional for everyone to hear. Shuo Zong couldn't hear Wei Xi's response, but he could guess what they were discussing. Listening to Chaos's words, he dared not imagine Wei Xi's emotions.

    He recalled Wei Xi's actions over the past few days. Ever since he found out he was a benevolent beast, he seemed like a completely different person. He was kind-hearted and generous, helping strangers retrieve lost wallets, patiently assisting those in need, rushing to provide aid during an earthquake without expecting anything in return, and according to Tuan Jieyi, even racing to help an elderly woman who had fallen eight hundred meters away.

    Traditional acts of kindness, which even true benevolent beasts might overlook as insignificant, were what Wei Xi was doing. Only catastrophic disasters that affected entire regions could warrant the intervention of Ning Tian, the benevolent beasts.

    Yet, Wei Xi never discriminated against the size of his good deeds. It was evident in every action that he genuinely wanted to fulfill the role of a benevolent beast.

    Now that the dream had ended, and the truth was so harsh, how deeply would his passionate affection for the world be crushed?

    Looking at Wei Xi, Chaos sneered mockingly, recalling Wei Xi's earlier question. "Monstrous beasts have always been this way. I didn't expect you to be so naive as to believe that people would pray for your blessings. Impossible! A monstrous beast will always be a monstrous beast!"

    Wei Xi nodded. "I understand."

    The Primordial Chaos Heart said you've finally come to your senses, narrowing its eyes and chuckling maliciously as it gazed at the myriad divine beasts in the distance. It slowly raised its hand and asked, "Look at them, these divine beasts and deities. Unlike fierce beasts, they're born with countless believers who worship them daily, offering prayers without end. What do you think when you see them?"

    Wei Xi glanced back, scanning the familiar faces, then shook his head and replied, "Heaven's Will is unjust."

    The Primordial Chaos Heart immediately became agitated. Exactly! Heaven's Will is unjust to you! Why don't you assist me in overthrowing this unjust Heaven's Will and resisting these divine beasts who possess everything you don't?

    But Wei Xi continued with his reflection, "Heaven's Will is truly unfair to them."

    Still immersed in its inner monologue, the Primordial Chaos Heart's mind was filled with slogans like "Come on! Overthrow this tedious world," "Raze what you can never have," and "Let the universe return to chaos—wouldn't that be most satisfying?!" Eager to speak, it was stunned into silence by Wei Xi's shocking statement.

    After a long silence, the Primordial Chaos Heart asked slowly, "You... What did you just say?"

    Recalling his hardships of late, Wei Xi felt even more moved and said, "I said Heaven's Will is unjust to them, burdening them with so much from birth."

    Primordial Chaos: "……………………"

    Turning to face the blank expression on the Primordial Chaos Heart, Wei Xi said solemnly, "Thank you."

    Chaos remained expressionless. "…What are you thanking me for?"

    Wei Xi let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you for telling me all this. To be honest, I've been going through a rough time lately. I almost lost my attachment to the world and didn't even bother with business." He continued, "Now that I realize I'm a fierce beast, I'm ecstatic beyond words."

    Chaos: "………………"

    Chaos: "Are you out of your mind?"

    Wei Xi's brows furrowed. "Why are you cursing at me?"

    Cursing? I'd love to beat you up!

    Chaos was seething. "So you're not planning to help me overthrow Heavenly Dao?"

    Wei Xi: "There are still over a thousand mouths to feed in the company. Why would I overthrow Heavenly Dao?"

    Looking at the person he had gone through great lengths to bring over, only to find out that he couldn't be controlled to fight against the blessed beasts, Chaos felt a surge of anger, as if he had been betrayed by a jerk. "If you have no intention of assisting me in toppling Heavenly Dao, then why did you come when I called you?!"

    Wei Xi sized him up. Presumably, all the fighting had taken place while he was unconscious. Chaos was covered in wounds from being struck by lightning, but the terrifying lightning glow on his injuries had faded since Wei Xi first saw him. He answered matter-of-factly, "You're no longer spewing venom, so of course, I came to eat you."

    Chaos: "?????"

    *****

    True to his word, Wei Xi acted as soon as he spoke. Reaching into his embrace, he gasped, realizing he had forgotten something. "I left my Tupperware behind!" he exclaimed, glancing at his body that was placed on the rooftop.

    Chaos: "... ..."

    Wei Xi then considered that, being in spirit form, he wouldn't leave any scent for his disciple to detect. With a determined grit of his teeth, he resorted to his old tactics and pounced at Chaos, ready to bite!

    Surprisingly, without his physical body, his movements were much more agile! He could leap higher than before!

    Thrilled by this new discovery, Wei Xi felt elated. Life seemed full of excitement and promise.

    Chaos was always the one devouring others; he had never experienced being bitten before. Confused by Wei Xi's unpredictable approach, he was caught off guard. By the time he reacted, it was too late – Wei Xi had sunk his teeth into him, leaving a harsh mark on his head!

    Wei Xi's mouth knew no bounds – it could consume anything, including Chaos, who let out a howl. He felt a part of himself detach from his control under the force of the bite. The unfamiliar sensation of being gnawed on was more terrifying than the pain itself, causing him to rage, "You dare to really eat me?!"

    In fact, Wei Xi had a favorable impression of Chaos, so he remained polite while chewing. "You won't be completely consumed anyway," he replied between bites.

    Upon finishing the bite, he lifted his head in surprise. "Huh?"

    The chasm on the chaotic being's head didn't heal as swiftly as he had anticipated. Instead, it remained conspicuously absent for quite some time before the surrounding chaotic energy sluggishly filled it back in.

    Wei Xi was greatly disappointed. How could this be called 'endless'? Clearly, he could finish it if he ate faster, right?

    The chaos also realized this, experiencing for the first time the predicament of those lives it had devoured before. It immediately acknowledged that this was a formidable opponent.

    Both possessed similar abilities. As Wei Xi continued to gnaw, the chaos retaliated by opening its mouth to devour Wei Xi. Sensing danger, Wei Xi drew from past experience and preemptively stuck his leg into the chaos's mouth!

    Chaos: "...."

    Taking advantage of the chaos's now-blocked mouth, Wei Xi hastened to consume the remainder of its head, quickly devouring more than half of it!

    With half its face gone and its regeneration slow, the chaos finally perceived Wei Xi as a serious threat. It no longer dared to underestimate him, tugging at Wei Xi's foot while struggling to engage in combat.

    The distant divine beasts: "...."

    Why had they suddenly started fighting?

    Shuo Zong's stony expression grew even more rigid.

    Xia Shouren felt a dizzy spell coming on. "… Wei… Wei Xi… This is… Didn't he already know the truth?"

    Shuo Zong's gaze darkened, his eyes filled with deep concern. Wei Dedao, standing nearby, was similarly moved. "He knows the truth and still chooses to do this… What else is there to ask?"

    Xia Shouren stood frozen, looking at Wei Xi with newfound admiration. "I underestimated him."

    The exhausted divine beasts, who had just fought a brutal battle, were instantly reinvigorated by Wei Xi's display of valor. Xia Shouren, clutching his wound, sprang into action, urging his companions, "Get up! Wei Xi is holding back the Chaos! The Heavenly Dao might be able to hold on now!"

    The dark sky continued to emit a despairing twilight.

    But just then, an unforeseen turn of events unfolded.

    Perhaps the power contained within the chaos was too immense. After swallowing most of Chaos's head, Wei Xi experienced another intense bout of dizziness.

    The moment Wei Xi's formidable aura began to emerge, Shuo Zong, sensing danger from afar, immediately flew forward. "Wei Xi has detached from his physical body. When he awakens, it might invoke the Heavenly Dao!"

    Nonetheless, he was a step too late. The instant Wei Xi's power became perilous, the Heavenly Dao drew near swiftly. In the next second, the mass of black clouds coalesced once more, unleashing a thunderous strike of immense force.

    Shuo Zong's eyes widened to the point of tearing, his mind blanking instantly. When he regained consciousness, he had already transformed into his primal form and taken the lightning bolt head-on!

    Wei Xi, in a daze, sensed a colossal golden-red figure charging at him. The beast's eyes were wide open, yet it was an unfamiliar creature calling out his familiar name, "Wei Xi!!!"

    Automatically responding, Wei Xi shouted back, "Que'er!?"

    The massive golden-red beast, struck by the heavenly lightning, dipped abruptly but still resolutely flew toward him, its body now riddled with wounds.

    Wei Xi tried to reach out to the chaos surrounding the creature.

    But suddenly, everything went dark, and he could see nothing.

    *****

    In front of him, the area was empty. Shuo Zong, with wounds inflicted by the heavenly lightning, had bloodshot eyes as he desperately searched for Wei Xi's aura like a caged beast. Xia Shouren stepped forward to block his path, yelling, "Old beast! Snap out of it!"

    Shuo Zong paused, gradually returning to human form. Blood trickled from his numerous wounds, leaving marks on his skin identical to the black tribal patterns already there, not a single drop falling from his fingertips.

    He gazed solemnly at the sky for a moment before finally speaking calmly, "Return. Activate the array."

    "What's going on? ! What's happening? !" Many of the divine beasts on the spot were stunned by this turn of events and stepped forward to inquire, but Xia Shouren had a rough idea. He looked up at the sky with a wistful expression: "I thought without Chaos, Heavenly Dao could persevere... But it seems I was mistaken."

    Shuo Zong's reply was even more concise: "Heavenly Dao foretold its own collapse and used its last bit of strength to absorb Wei Xi and Chaos into the rift together."

    That indeed seemed like something Heavenly Dao would do.

    The divine beasts fell silent, despair spreading among them. "So Heavenly Dao is still destined to fall? Then what should we do with this world? And Wei Xi, what about him...?"

    Shuo Zong twirled a drop of his own blood between his fingertips. "Repair. Save."

    The collapse of the Heavenly Dao spelled doom for all. Only by repairing it could there be a chance to retrieve Wei Xi from the rift.

    The sound of rain in the city had crept close to the mountains, howling winds battering the forest's trees until they seemed fragile. The array formation was silently activated, but everyone was now utterly exhausted.

    Even the divine beings appeared strained. "With Heavenly Court in ruins and the cultivation world vanished, only a few of us remain. Our numbers are too few, and our divine powers are insufficient to uphold the needs of the Heavenly Dao."

    Shuo Zong clenched his fists tightly and suddenly shot a bolt of spiritual energy at himself, forcing out a drop of heart's blood which he sprinkled into the array.

    The array suddenly intensified, startling Xia Shouren, who looked at Shuo Zong's pale face in alarm. "Old beast! You're throwing your life away!"

    Shuo Zong replied coldly, "No more nonsense. Activate the formation."

    Xia Shouren gazed at him for a moment, then at the sky. After a short while, he also extended his hand and resolutely sacrificed a drop of his own blood.

    "Damn it!" Xia Shouren panted in frustration. "I'm practically a saint! When Wei Xi comes out, I'll make him treat us to a meal!"

    His grumbling finally elicited a few low chuckles amidst the solemn atmosphere. Ning Tian's array of divine beasts exchanged glances, and after an unknown creature took the lead, the third, fourth, fifth... up until the thirty-second drop of heart's blood flowed into the grand formation.

    The deities and buddhas sighed, each assuming their meditation positions or movements, sacrificing parts of their divine bones to join the formation.

    At this point, everyone present had suffered significant damage. However, compared to the precarious Heavenly Dao, the power of the formation still seemed insufficient.

    Shuo Zong gazed silently at the horizon, while the other deities, buddhas, and divine beasts were nearly despairing. Yet, precisely at that moment, the formation suddenly blazed with a burst of light!

    All those present turned to look, only to witness a powerful surge of wishful energy drifting slowly from beyond the mountains.

    **********

    Outside the mountains, numerous temples and Daoist monasteries were filled with thick incense smoke as the chanting of scriptures continued uninterrupted.

    In a temple, passersby seeking shelter from a torrential downpour watched in curiosity as the monks recited scriptures together. One of them asked, "Master, what are you doing? It's pouring rain, and no one is here to burn incense. You're all so devout."

    The senior abbot smiled at the passerby. "Would you like to light an incense stick?"

    The passerby pondered for a moment. "Sure, lately, the public opinion has been terrible, predicting doomsday. Well, even though life can be stressful, it's still quite enjoyable. I hope the heavens will bless us with peace."

    At Liandu Temple, locals who came to borrow items couldn't help but glance at the fully armed Taoist priests. "Priest Kuang, are you all ascending to a higher realm?"

    Kuang Zhiming, dressed in his Taoist robe, stood beside his wife by the incense table with a gentle expression. "As cultivators, though we haven't reached enlightenment and our abilities are limited, we can still lend a small hand."

    The resident didn't quite understand but, seeing their dedication, they clasped their hands together in a prayer, looking up at the sky.

    In the Wei family home, the three of them finished dinner and gazed at the dark sky and worsening storm. None of them spoke.

    Wei Chengshu put down his bowl, got up, and headed upstairs. Passing by the portrait of their revered Celestial Deity, he thought for a moment before lighting three incense sticks.

    Behind the table, Wei Tianyi, with wounds on his face inflicted by his son, snorted coldly, seemingly disdainful.

    When Shu Wanrong washed her hands and went upstairs, she glanced at the altar and was surprised to see, besides the incense her son had lit, three additional sticks in the small censer.

    Old Lady Wang knelt on a cushion, chanting, "Divine Lord protect, heaven bless, let this rain stop soon. If it doesn't, my little girl won't be able to go to school tomorrow."

    In every corner of cities and villages, countless people, in their respective households, were silently praying or sighing towards the sky. Even animals without spiritual intelligence were unconsciously wishing for a better life. The aggregation of these myriad wishes formed an astonishing power.

    The deities within the array withdrew their gazes from beyond the mountain, each with a different expression.

    This world had never solely belonged to the gods; it was the world of all living beings in the heavens and earth.

    However, despite incorporating this surge of collective will, the array still seemed to lack something.

    At that moment, a slow and mellow voice echoed outside the formation:

    "Count me in as well."

    Everyone turned their attention to the source of the sound.

    A fierce-looking deity frowned and said, "What can you do? You were so severely injured just now, and you don't have divine bones."

    Amidst the night, Wei Dedao, dressed in old clothes, stood with his body radiant in the golden light of his accumulated merits. His hunched figure carried a calm demeanor, and he replied with a gentle smile,

    "I don't possess divine bones. Only my soul remains. It should be sufficient to merge with the array formation."

    **************

    The fierce immortal was startled. "You're not thinking of living anymore?!"

    Wei Dedao narrowed his eyes and replied, "Exchanging my life for the well-being of millions seems like a fair deal."

    "Wei Dedao," Shuo Zong's voice was grave. "Wei Xi would never consent to this."

    Wei Dedao looked at him blankly, his demeanor as placid as water. "Lord Tianlu Shen, then I must trouble you and everyone present to keep this from him."

    Shuo Zong responded, "That's impossible."

    Undeterred by his refusal, Wei Dedao smiled. "That child might be scared in the rift. He's still young and doesn't understand much. If I manage to bring him out, I implore everyone here to take good care of him for me."

    Silence engulfed the scene, and Shuo Zong's expression turned grim.

    Wei Dedao sighed. "I've pondered the meaning of 'Dao' for so many years but have yet to fully comprehend it. In my youth, I made many mistakes in pursuit of it. I owe that child too much. This time, let Lord Tianlu Shen grant me this wish."

    Shuo Zong's gaze darkened, and after a long while, he closed his eyes. "Very well."

    Wei Dedao smiled and struggled to his feet.

    His combat prowess was too weak, and he hadn't ascended to godhood. The impact from the chaos had damaged his soul, so his movements were exceptionally slow. It took him a long time to slowly enter the formation.

    The fierce deity was already furious and called out to him weakly, "You pretender, how dare you overestimate yourself! Hurry up and get out! What good will it do even if you go?"

    Wei Dedao wasn't angry. He said calmly, "I truly don't possess any remarkable abilities, but I hope the constellations will guide my devoted heart to its rightful place."

    With that, he bowed to everyone present and turned towards the sky. With the formation finally gathering enough divine power, he resolutely headed for the rift in the Heavenly Dao.

    The scene fell silent. Master Wind and Master Rain exchanged glances. Master Rain wiped away tears, while Master Wind stomped his foot heavily. Both were sorrowful, and regardless of the fierce deity's intentions, they vented their frustration at him, "You! How can you look down on others at a time like this! Can't you say something nice? Why call him a pretender!"

    The fierce deity's eyes were also red, "Did I say something wrong? Isn't he a pretender?"

    Master Wind replied, "So what if he's a pretender! Your golden light of virtue couldn't catch up to his in eight lifetimes!"

    The fierce deity retorted, "What use is more golden light of virtue anyway! It's only good for treating athlete's foot!"

    Master Wind: "Do you look down on curing athlete's foot?!"

    Fierce Immortal: "So what if I do? Can treating athlete's foot forge divine bones for him? Can it turn him from a false god into a true god?!"

    As their argument ensued, Wei Dedao silently entered the rift of the Heavenly Dao with his grand array.

    In the next second, the heavens and earth trembled violently. A surge of abundant spiritual energy gushed out from the rift, cascading upon all creatures like a nourishing rain.

    Everyone present looked up at the sky in astonishment.

    "What on earth is happening?!" Xia Shouren, too weak to stand, sat on the ground and scooped up a handful of spiritual energy before him, disbelief etched on his face. "O...Old beast, wasn't that array only supposed to help slow down the collapse of the Heavenly Dao? Did I remember it wrongly?!"

    Shuo Zong gazed at the sky, letting the spiritual energy buffet his face. His eyes still held the blood-red memory of Wei Xi being taken by the Heavenly Dao. "You didn't remember wrong."

    Xia Shouren: "...So that array... its effect... how could it be so powerful?"

    To repair the Heavenly Dao to the point where it rained down spiritual energy— even if all the gods and buddhas from both the East and West had combined their divine powers during the time when the Heavenly Court still stood, they wouldn't dare claim to achieve such an outcome, would they?

    Shuo Zong turned to him with a stoic expression. "This effect has nothing to do with our array."

    Xia Shouren opened his mouth, an inconceivable conjecture suddenly flashing through his mind, but he dared not believe it. He stammered, "So... Where did all this spiritual energy come from?"

    Shuo Zong extended his finger to wipe the blood trickling down his forehead. Lowering his head, he examined the golden-red hue now infused with abundant spiritual energy. After a moment, he bluntly stated the answer Xia Shouren had been unable to accept.

    "A new Heavenly Dao has emerged."

    Xia Shouren: "!!!"

    All the other gods, buddhas, and auspicious beasts present: "!!"

    Master Wind asked in disbelief, "A new, new Heavenly Dao?! Who? Who has become the new Heavenly Dao?!"

    Shuo Zong's voice was devoid of emotion. "Was there anyone else who went up besides him just now?"

    Master Wind: "..."

    Master Rain: "..."

    The numerous auspicious beasts and deities present: "..."

    Master Wind's eyes were blank as he stared at the sky, an expression of disbelief on his face. "Well, bloody hell... Treating athlete's foot definitely doesn't lead to divine bones... But this damn thing can directly cultivate Heavenly Dao..."

    Fierce Immortal: "..............."

    Among the numerous gods and buddhas present: "..."

    After a moment, everyone finally reacted. A few deities approached Master Wind and Master Rain, covering their wounds from where the divine bone had been taken as they weakly asked, "How effective was that online course you took?"

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