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    Chapter 82: Becoming a Demon

    The man in the black coat, with his phoenix-like eyes and ghostly presence, was none other than Ju Lang!

    Surprisingly, An Zhi couldn't recall anything that had happened between him and Ju Lang before entering the game.

    For a moment, Zhe Dan's words rang true, fueling his determination to seek answers from Ju Lang.

    After a brief silence, upon hearing An Zhi's silence, Shi Liuli continued, "Jiaomiao only made a bet with you because she wanted your divine bones. Before Dian Shan placed you in the ice coffin and pushed you into Yu Yuan, she had already extracted your divine bones and replaced them with her demonic ones. From then on, you were a demon, and she was a deity, bound to this cycle for countless lifetimes."

    An Zhi stood up, muttering to himself, "That's why Ju Lang didn't want me to die. His moment of tenderness led to obsession. Later, through three thousand reincarnations and becoming a demon three thousand times, his lack of sentiment turned him into a saint..."

    Looking at An Zhi, Shi Liuli suddenly noticed a difference in him.

    If one were to compare the previous An Zhi to Shen Yuan, both were clear and pure, but An Zhi had a livelier spirit. Now, however, there was an elusive quality about him, his aura complex and profound.

    Studying An Zhi from head to toe, he remarked, "Why do I feel like you're different?"

    An Zhi's scalp tingled as he replied sternly, "What nonsense are you talking?"

    "Shi Liuli, have you truly understood your feelings for Xiao Zhuwen?" An Zhi's grin was sharp and sinister as he asked, "If you have, then why are you still clinging to Jian Fengzi? Why not keep your distance!"

    Startled by An Zhi's menacing demeanor, Shi Liuli lowered his voice, stammering in reply, "Wh-What do you mean?"

    An Zhi countered, "I ask you, is Xiao Zhuwen the same person as Yuwen Fengyao?"

    Shi Liuli shook his head resolutely. "I've followed Fengyao for over a decade. I'm certain she isn't Xiao Zhu. Apart from their appearance and build, they're worlds apart."

    An Zhi pressed on, "Then, does Little Feng resemble Xiao Zhuwen more or Yuwen Fengyao?"

    Shi Liuli shook his head again. "I know too much, having been sealed on Jian Songxiang for a thousand years by Jiaomiao. I don't truly understand Little Feng."

    "Well then, let me tell you who Little Feng resembles more," An Zhi said. "His looks favor his mother; his physique takes after his father, tall and slender; his character is uniquely his own. His experiences and surroundings since childhood have shaped his personality. He doesn't resemble anyone else – he is himself."

    Shi Liuli stumbled a few steps before regaining his balance.

    An Zhi stepped closer, intensifying the pressure. "You're a man. Can you change your gender for Little Feng? If not, you're forcing him, causing him pain."

    Upon hearing this, Shi Liuli's chin trembled slightly, tears welling up in his eyes and sliding down his cheeks effortlessly.

    "Yuanchuan Water, erasing past memories. Xiao Zhuwan, Yuwen Fengyao, Little Feng – they're three entirely different individuals. When Xiao Zhuwan loved you, you didn't reciprocate her feelings, forcing her into a life of degradation, making her kill her own maid, and landing herself in prison! Now that Yuwen Fengyao and Little Feng don't remember you, you persistently haunt them! You, you truly deserve the label 'vile.'" Finished scolding, An Zhi rolled up his sleeves and reached out to wipe away Shi Liuli's tears.

    Slap! - Shi Liuli fiercely slapped away An Zhi's hand.

    Her tears still wet, glistening in her eyes, she glared at him fiercely. "Now, you embody the word 'demonic.'"

    "I no longer care," An Zhi scoffed, retracting his hand. In a solemn tone, he continued, "Shi Liuli, let Little Feng go."

    Shi Liuli sharply rebuked, "You should say that to Long Bo!"

    An Zhi turned his gaze towards Wangsi Terrace, narrowing his eyes slightly, a sharp glint flickering in his eyes.

    This gesture made him appear dangerously cunning. He muttered softly, "The ancient giant turtle, Long Bo—"

    Shi Liuli composed herself and said calmly, "Little Feng is with Long Bo now. You should ask him to let Little Feng go. Long Bo designated a Jian family descendant as the Sacred Son and Daughter of Wangsi Terrace, all for the reunion with Fengyao's reincarnation."

    An Zhi agreed, "Alright."

    He left the passageway with determination, his steps resolute.

    The luminous night pearls embedded in the corridor's walls cast his elongated, towering shadow.

    Staring at it, Shi Liuli felt an inexplicable chill run down her spine. The shadow seemed to be that of a malevolent demon, laughing sharply with bloodthirsty instincts, one that devoured humans without leaving a trace.

    But An Zhi was still An Zhi. The old friend had returned, clad in green and with white hair, not much different from before.

    As if talking to herself, Shi Liuli murmured, "He does seem a little different now..."

    As she spoke, three sharp footsteps echoed behind her, brimming with killing intent and moving swiftly, seemingly directed straight at him.

    "WHO?!" He spun around to find Chu Yun, Xia Huan, and Xuan Zhu.

    Pointing at An Zhi's back, Xia Huan yelled at Shi Liuli, "STOP HIM!! - He has fallen to the dark arts! He has become a demon!!"

    Upon hearing this, An Zhi smiled faintly and hastened his pace.

    Suddenly, a gust of wind stirred behind his head as two white figures leaped from behind, landing in front of him, blocking his path.

    "Deputy Island Lord... Xuan Zhu," An Zhi halted, adopting a pitiful expression. Scanning their faces, he asked softly, "Xuan Zhu, have you taught Xia Huan to let go of you?"

    Xuan Zhu knitted his brows deeply but remained silent.

    Chu Yun said in disappointment, "I didn't expect you to be a coward. Such a small hardship has turned you into this."

    "Just a little bit! Why don't you try it, Vice Island Master?" An Zhi shouted sharply. "Whatever you say is right. Being constant is obstinacy, and changing is cowardice. I just follow my heart and don't want to please anyone. At least, I'm true to myself!"

    Chu Yun commented, "Too selfish."

    An Zhi replied, "Wang Pan already criticized me that way six thousand years ago. There's no need for the Vice Island Master to lecture me. You're not qualified."

    His words were a bit harsh. Xuan Zhu said, "Ayuan..."

    An Zhi interrupted him, "A thousand years ago, you were one of the rabble. You knew everything but dared not speak up. People's words are terrifying. He watched me die with his own eyes! We're both cowards. What gives him the right to criticize me?!"

    The usually graceful Xuan Zhu was actually angry now. "Master is the Vice Island Master of Peng Lai Island!"

    An Zhi smiled and said in a sarcastic tone, "Oh, the island motto of Peng Lai Island—think carefully and distinguish right from wrong, eliminate demons and protect the righteous path. So, you're white, and I'm black. That's why you have the right to do this?"

    "You...!" Xuan Zhu couldn't hold back anymore and stepped forward.

    An Zhi lifted his chin, raised an eyebrow, and a malicious red glint flickered in his eyes as he taunted, "Oh, are you angry? Then go ahead, give it a try, huh!"

    Beside him, Chu Yun didn't waste any words. He raised his hand like a blade and swiftly struck down, catching An Zhi's falling body. Turning to the other three, he said, "To the Wangsi Terrace."

    Xia Huan was confused. "Aren't we supposed to bring him back to Peng Lai Island?"

    Xuan Zhu walked up to her side and explained, "Master has their own plans, we just need to follow orders."


    When An Zhi regained consciousness, he found himself back in the corridor filled with drawings of his misdeeds. Chu Yun stood before him like a statue, his expression stern and intimidating.

    Surveying his surroundings, he noticed they were alone. "Where are Xuan Zhu and Xia Huan?"

    Chu Yun replied, "They went to the Wangsi Terrace with Shi Liuli to fetch Long Bo and Jian Fengzi."

    Just as An Zhi attempted to stand up, he realized he was unable to move. Looking down, he saw that he was tightly bound. He looked up at Chu Yun with urgency, asking, "Why did the Deputy Island Lord tie me up?"

    Chu Yun's almond-shaped eyes were now clear, no longer clouded as they had been earlier.

    Seeing this, Chu Yun sighed in relief and countered, "Do you know that you've fallen to the dark side?"

    "I was worried about something serious," An Zhi said nonchalantly with a smile, "But I remember everything now. From the moment the Qin family's stocks crashed, I've been like a madman. So this is what it means to fall to the dark side? Well, it's certainly more comforting than being depressed all day."

    "The blame isn't on you," Chu Yun's stern expression softened, radiating compassion as if he were a bodhisattva in white, "You've suffered enough, but as the Deputy Island Lord of Peng Lai Island, I can't let you go."

    "Hahaha!" An Zhi laughed through his tears, his smile more grotesque than crying, "Back then, you said I couldn't stay, now you say I can't leave. When will I be able to decide my own fate?"

    Chu Yun let out a long sigh, closing his eyes deeply. A tear squeezed out from the corner of his eye, rolling down his cheek to his chin before dropping onto the back of his hand with a soft pat, "I'm sorry, Ayuan—"

    Shen Yuan?


    "Shen Yuan—"

    "An Zhi—"

    "Qin Wujiu—"

    A symphony of voices echoed in his ears, blending together.

    Upon hearing Chu Yun address An Zhi, he found himself momentarily unsure if he was Shen Yuan, An Zhi, or perhaps he had never grown up at all, remaining forever as Qin Wujiu.

    Lost in thought, a powerful grip suddenly clamped down on his neck.

    Chu Yun and Xuan Zhu shared a similar demeanor, both gentle and refined. Chu Yun, in particular, exuded an elegance that commanded respect, leaving others hesitant to act rashly. But now, his eyes brimmed with murderous intent, revealing a ruthless determination.

    An Zhi thought to himself: Once things have changed, it's impossible to return to the past – enough, I'm weary; let fate take its course...

    With a sense of resignation, he closed his eyes, awaiting Chu Yun to end his life.

    Exhaling, unable to inhale again, that would be the start of another lifetime – when he was five, An Zhi had been playing in his father's study. On the desk, he had come across a book with this very phrase written inside.

    Back then, he hadn't understood its meaning nor knew its author. It wasn't until he nearly drowned that he grasped the significance of those words.

    At this moment, his head spun and his ears rang, feeling as if he were dissolving into the air, floating weightlessly.

    Suddenly, a cold breeze brushed against his cheek, the pressure on his neck vanished, and Shi Liuli's voice sounded close by:

    "The Deputy Island Master sent us away so he could kill Shen Yuan while we were absent."

    Not intending to take Chu Yun's life, Shi Liuli struck his shoulder with a palm.

    "Ow!" Suffering sudden pain, he grunted and retreated, only to be stopped and supported by Xuan Zhu.

    Watching An Zhi gasping for air, Xuan Zhu asked, "What is Master planning to do...?"

    Straightening his clothes and placing his hands behind his back, Chu Yun assumed the demeanor of a righteous elder, "Eradicating demons and protecting justice, I have no need to hide from you."

    Xuan Zhu anxiously stepped forward, inquiring, "Is that truly Master's plan?"

    Glancing at Xuan Zhu, Chu Yun replied, "As your master, I sent you off the island to find Shen Yuan for two reasons: one, to let you see an old acquaintance one last time and put your obsession to rest; two, to prevent Shen Yuan from recalling his past. Those bitter memories will turn him into a demon."

    "I've always known how much thought and effort Master has put into this," Xuan Zhu stammered due to her anxiety, "But, but... must we really kill Ayuan?"

    "There's no other choice," Chu Yun answered resolutely, "Cutting off emotions and love is not the essence of the path. Indifference cannot love the world. Xuan Zhu, it's wonderful that you have feelings, but you must consider the bigger picture and learn to let go."

    Xuan Zhu glanced back at Xia Huan.

    Xia Huan appeared utterly perplexed. "What's the matter?"

    "There's nothing..." Xuan Zhu's tone was indifferent.

    Shi Liuli untied An Zhi's binds and chuckled mockingly. "No wonder you spent so much time with Wang Wanhe; Vice Island Master, you've truly inherited his mannerisms."

    Chu Yun spoke with righteousness. "This world cannot tolerate a demonic Shen Yuan."

    An Zhi declared loudly, "Then I shall perish alongside Jiaomiao!"

    Saying that, Dian Shan's voice echoed in the tunnel, "If you wish to perish alongside the Empress, you must first ask for my consent!"

    The crowd followed the sound and saw Dian Shan appear behind them like a ghost, silently.

    His black cloak shimmered vividly under the glow of the night pearls, revealing the intricately embroidered coiling dragon patterns.

    Chu Yun inquired, "How did you know we were here?"

    Dian Shan glanced at Long Bo, "The Ancient Dragon Tortoise has guarded the Demon Subduing Pagoda for many years. Do you truly believe that a few of you could have taken it away?"

    Xia Huan, exasperated, cried out, "I see why you're not resisting – you're guiding him! What promise did Jiaomiao give you to make you help her so much?!"

    Long Bo gazed at An Zhi and said, "Do not believe unverified claims, and do not proceed without clarity. You don't truly understand the Empress. She is our Mother Goddess, the one who led me back onto the righteous path. I vowed to her that I would obey her every command, even at the cost of my life."


    An Zhi remained unchanged, still lacking in martial prowess.


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