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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 95 - Love's Demise III

    An Zhi smiled softly, completely unruffled as if everything was under his control. "Perfect, I have some questions for you. Otherwise, how could you have so effortlessly lured me in?" As he spoke, he gently touched the golden barrier before clenching his fist and striking it.

    "Sss-Phew!" The barrier was incredibly hard; he couldn't break through easily, and instead, his hand throbbed in pain, causing him to grit his teeth.

    Old Chen chuckled. "My clan, the Azure Dragons, possesses countless treasures, and this Bì Zǐ Mǎo is one of them. It's impervious to blades and fire, and cannot be shaken by water."

    An Zhi glanced at Old Chen with a sideways look, taunting, "Oh, so powerful, your Eastern Sea Azure Dragon clan, yet you still ended up dying by my hands."

    Old Chen became greatly angered, pointing at An Zhi's nose and yelling, "You heinous creature!"

    "Honestly speaking..." An Zhi crossed his arms, appearing relaxed. "I don't think your Eastern Sea Azure Dragon clan was slaughtered by me."

    Old Chen angrily swept his sleeves and turned away, his voice trembling with anger. "If not you, then who else!"

    An Zhi was straightforward. "Look, Ji Shu, there's no need to keep up the facade anymore. Since I'm already in your grasp, there's no need for such caution. Take off that disguise."

    Ji Shu ignored him.

    He continued, "At that time, only Wang Wanhe, Dian Shan, and I were in the East China Sea. I suspect that the one who slaughtered your clan was either Wang Wanhe or Dian Shan."

    "Rubbish!" Duan Yan bellowed. "There were only the three of you. If it wasn't you, then it had to be one of the other two!"

    An Zhi ventured cautiously, "So, you're saying that it truly wasn't me who annihilated your clan, but rather Wang Wanhe and Dian Shan?"

    "Certainly..."

    "Cough!" Ji Shu interrupted with a cough, then instructed Duan Yan, "Leave."

    Duan Yan replied respectfully, "Yes, Patriarch."

    Upon hearing this, An Zhi chuckled. "Ah, I told you he was Jishu. Look, even Duan Yan, no, Jiyue, is addressing you as Patriarch now."

    Jishu removed his disguise and turned to face An Zhi directly.

    Indeed, it was Jishu.

    An Zhi explained casually, "I've been cursed with blood since I was ten. If I had truly slaughtered your Azure Dragon clan, I would have likely died from the pain back then..."

    Before he could finish, Ji Shu suddenly knelt before him, causing An Zhi to take three steps back in alarm. "I cannot accept this bow from the Dragon Clan's patriarch," he said hastily.

    Ji Shu pleaded earnestly, "Please save our clan—"

    An Zhi crouched down to look him in the eye and countered, "How do you propose I save you? By emulating Sakyamuni's act of cutting flesh to feed a vulture?"

    Ji Shu replied, "Dian Shan said that only your blood and flesh can save us."

    "A request for me to cut my flesh, huh..." An Zhi muttered softly. Then, waving his hand, he said, "That was a lie Dian Shan and Jiaomiao cooked up to deceive you. They have a grudge against me and are using you as pawns to make my life difficult."

    Ji Shu rolled up his sleeve, revealing his arm with only two or three dragon scales left. "After we die, it's excruciating if we don't return to the Ghost Realm. Our dragon scales fall off, and sometimes even our skin comes off in large pieces."

    The thought made An Zhi's scalp prickle. He asked, "Then why don't you return to the Ghost Realm?"

    Ji Shu answered, "We can't enter. The ghost official says our lifespan in the mortal world isn't over yet."

    "That's quite peculiar..." An Zhi continued, "Did the ghost official tell you how much lifespan you have left in the mortal world?"

    Ji Shu replied, "He said we're immortal."

    Upon hearing this, An Zhi understood the situation, exasperated. "What a feeble excuse! It must be Jiaomiao. No one else has such authority. They slaughtered you and harmed you, yet you still took part in their massacre of innocent civilians in Shangchicheng?!"

    JI Shu's face contorted in distress. "We know that, but she holds all the power. If we don't obey her, we'll suffer the agony of having our scales stripped."

    "I am all too familiar with that feeling of helplessness," An Zhi sighed deeply, resigned to his fate.

    A question had been weighing on his mind for a long time, and now, facing JI Shu, he asked, "Back then, why was it necessary for me to become engaged to Ji Yuanshi?"

    At this, JI Shu stumbled, collapsing from kneeling to sitting on the ground. His palm pressed firmly against the floor, supporting himself with one arm as he stammered, "Th-this... This m-matter, i-it... it..."

    An Zhi replied, "I already know that you've all been deceiving me. Speak, I won't hold any of you accountable."

    After a moment's hesitation, JI Shu spoke, "While the Empress was on Earth, our Azure Dragon clan once harmed her friend, nearly causing their death. Afterward, when the Empress returned to her position, our clan was confined to the East Sea. When you were born, the Empress said that if Little Nine were to be engaged to you, our clan could regain our freedom."

    An Zhi pressed further, "So why was our engagement crucial?"

    "Because of the Soul Refining Stone," JI Shu explained. "It's unique to our East Sea and can both absorb impurities and release them."

    An Zhi continued, "Jiaomiao insisted on my journey to the East Sea so that the Soul Refining Stone, which absorbed her impurities, could be infused into my body." He lifted a strand of silver hair. "That's why my hair turned white, strand by strand."

    "Not just for that," Ji Shu recalled. "After your death, Dian Shan promptly built the Wangsi Terrace. It wasn't solely for his reputation but also to facilitate Jiaomiao's extraction of the Soul Refining Stone from your body. Once the stone had released all its impurities, it would start absorbing back in. Jiaomiao injected those Soul Refining Stones, infused with your divine blood, into her own body, turning you into her."

    A vision of Jiaomiao's wind-tousled black tresses flashed through An Zhi's mind. He thought, That hair was originally mine.

    "I was consumed by resentment and made a bet with Jiaomiao," he continued. "I vowed that if I could uncover the truth, regardless of victory or defeat, whether the world believed me or not, I would offer my divine bones to her. Now she has become the True God in my place, and I have become the True Demon in hers."

    "Situations are set in stone, and there's nothing we can do about it…" Ji Shu fell into despair.

    An Zhi understood this too, his expression melancholic. "Yes, it played right into Jiaomiao's hands. If we hadn't made that bet, there might've been a chance, a way to reverse things. But now, with the facts as they stand, how can I explain? The past is deeply ingrained in people's minds. In my current state, no one will believe me."

    Ji Shu urged him on, "You can still explain. No one can stop you. Believing or not is their choice, but you need to fight for yourself once more."

    "No, I've explained before—" An Zhi shook his head. "Let's not dwell on the past, nor hold grudges against old acquaintances. Let it be."

    Ji Shu asked, "Are you truly content?"

    An Zhi sighed. "Of course—"

    With a wave of Ji Shu's hand, the Avoiding Child Formation trapping An Zhi vanished. Bowing respectfully, An Zhi pleaded, "Then, can you save our Azure Dragon clan?"

    An Zhi had long since made it clear that his flesh and blood couldn't save them; it was a deception Dian Shan and Jiaomiao had cooked up together.

    Seeing Ji Shu remain obstinate, he could only nod in agreement, hoping to dispel the man's obsession.

    He extended his slender, fair hand and said, "After you—"

    ...

    An Zhi's flesh and blood were powerless to cure the Azure Dragon clan of their agony from shedding their scales. He was all too aware of what would come next.

    His face had turned deathly pale, and cold sweat drenched him as his vision blurred. Clutching the back of the chair for support, he attempted to stand up and leave. However, halfway through, his legs gave out, sending him collapsing back into the seat.

    Suddenly, a piercing buzz filled his ears.

    "How can this be! How can it not work!?" Ji Shu stared at his arm in disbelief.

    An Zhi shook his head, regaining some clarity. He forced a weak smile and said, "I told you, they lied to you—can I go now?—"

    He gripped the armrests with such force that his knuckles turned white, but still, he couldn't muster the strength to rise. Letting out a sigh, he languidly leaned back into the chair, saying, "Since it didn't work, and I've suffered as well, surely you won't do anything to me, right?"

    "No! It's not enough! There must be more!" JI Shu seemed to have gone mad, forcefully pulling An Zhi's hand and raising the dagger. Ignoring the countless bloody gashes on his arm, he pressed the cold and sharp blade downward, carving deeply into the unhealed wounds.

    With furrowed brows, a searing pain surged, followed by an overwhelming sense of disappointment. An Zhi remarked, "You truly are insatiable, aren't you?"

    JI Shu clamped down, tearing at the flesh.

    An Zhi gripped the armrests of the chair tightly, letting out a muffled groan. Another dragon clan member, inspired, rushed forward, crouched down, and ruthlessly sank their teeth into his arm.

    "Ha ha ha!" An Zhi laughed bitterly.

    JI Shu tore off a chunk of flesh, swallowing it, and without wiping the blood from his mouth, he asked, "What are you laughing at?"

    An Zhi replied, "I'm laughing at my inability to change."

    At that moment, the voice urging him towards madness spoke again, asking, "Want to change? Embrace the darkness."

    An Zhi gritted his teeth and yelled, "I said I don't want to!"

    Everyone was startled by his outburst, including JI Shu, who took a step back along with the others.

    The voice continued, "But don't you need to defeat Jiaomiao to save those people in Wen Yan's hands? In the end, you'll have to fall to the dark side, won't you? Only then can you defeat Jiaomiao, hehehe."

    Indeed, An Zhi had no other choice.

    This game was a proving ground designed to push him down that path.

    Here, he could fall to the dark side without harming anyone, as all these individuals were mere lines of code.

    But what about after he truly fell?

    Wen Yan would take him back, and at that point, the harm wouldn't be limited to virtual characters anymore.

    What about the people currently held hostage by Wen Yan?

    An Zhi found himself in a dilemma. "Is there really no way to achieve a win-win situation?"

    In front of the computer screen, the tears pooling in his phoenix eyes shimmered with dark radiance. Ju Lang felt pained. "I have a solution that could give you your win-win scenario, but it won't grant me the win-win I desire... What should I do?"

    As he finished speaking, the scene he least wanted to witness unfolded before him.

    An Zhi rose to his feet, all signs of weakness vanished.

    He strode towards the Azure Dragon clan, and as he passed, their souls crumbled like bubbles, releasing a mesmerizing, ethereal glow.

    Their disintegration was the fireworks that greeted An Zhi's rebirth.

    Just as he was about to depart, he paused, turning to admire the spectacle with a fleeting, sinister smile. A crimson flash flickered in his eyes.

    Lifting his arm, he licked the wound disdainfully, declaring, "Do you really think you're worthy of feasting on my flesh and blood?"

    His gaze was cold, as if those living beings were no more than ants, and crushing one was no cause for compassion.

    --------------------

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