The shadow became silent instead of screaming some more. Eventually, it coldly said: “I can escape this worldly prison and turn this land into a paradise. I can soar to the nine heavens again and reestablish my glory! As long as I can persevere, nothing can’t be done, nothing is impossible!”
Li Qiye emotionlessly countered: “Escape from this prison? Purify the land? How are you going to do that? You have everything right now, but it is only due to the underground power, yet you want to escape then purify it? Don’t you know how hilarious that sounds? Without a doubt, you are thinking about building a pavilion in the sky, it is all talk!” 1
“You are not what you used to be.” Li Qiye coldly stared at him: “You are no longer the Mortal Emperor, no longer the wise sage of the past. To put it bluntly, you are only a monster that’s able to live on by clinging to this resentment and feeling of indignation!”
“Hmph, who says I am a resentment?” The shadow retorted: “I am me, the Mortal Emperor that protects the human race!”
“Is that so? Look at yourself in the eye and ask yourself, are you truly the Mortal Emperor in the past?” Li Qiye emotionlessly spoke: “Wake up, you are nothing right now! And in all seriousness, I’m not clear on what exactly you resent.
“Do you resent yourself? Resent the old tyrant? Or do you resent the heavens, or maybe your daughter?”
“Stop talking!” The shadow became especially aggravated after hearing about his daughter and shouted: “What do you know! During the tyrant’s reign, how many humans and sentient beings did he kill?! Did you see how people wailed in lamentation, how their blood flowed like rivers? There was no sunlight to be found…”
“I know!” Li Qiye interrupted him and flatly said: “Even though I was not in the nine worlds during that era, I know about it very well. In fact, I have experienced an even crueler period with more bloodshed. The tyrant is nothing compared to the Ancient Ming.”
He went on while looking at the shadow: “You know, when Immortal Emperor Min Ren and I sieged this underground location, why did we only seal you instead of kill you? The truth is that with the emperor’s might and my legions, I could have buried you even deeper underground and make you cry forever in the darkest prison of no escape…”
“I could have even cut you into little pieces so that you would never form your body again. Even if I couldn’t kill you, I had plenty of ways to make you experience a fate worse than death. I could have used the most vicious means in the world to let you give up on everything!” With that, he stared at the shadow with sympathy and said: “But I didn’t do so.”
“It was not because Immortal Emperor Min Ren was a merciful person, it was because I remembered your contribution in protecting the human race back then.” He continued: “Thus, we only sealed you and the power underground. I hoped that one day, you would come to understand and let go of this hatred! Unfortunately, it seems like you still haven’t thought it through judging by today!”
This shadow ahead was Su Yuhe’s father, an invincible Virtuous Paragon from the human race. He was only one step away from being an Immortal Emperor.
During the era of the tyrant, he rose up and rebelled. In the end, he used his daughter as bait by making her marry the tyrant. One misstep ruined his daughter’s entire life and also doomed himself.
The shadow loudly snapped: “Let go? Why should I?! I can still return one day!”
Li Qiye sighed and gently shook his head: “Every choice, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, will come at a price! Your current situation and your daughter’s fate were ultimately decided by your decision.”
“Stop talking!” The shadow screamed.
Li Qiye ignored his plea and continued: “Really, I admire your will to oppose the tyrant as well as your contribution to the human race. Because of this, you are qualified to be called the Mortal Emperor even though you couldn’t become an Immortal Emperor. However, we’ll make a few things clear today. We won’t talk about your guardianship of the human race, only your dao heart and personal obsession.”
“In your case, protecting the humans and the nine worlds eventually became your obsession.” Li Qiye spoke slowly: “A young genius of the human race opposing a tyrant, persevering to the very end to become a gray-haired Mortal Emperor. I really do admire your persistence.”
“However, have you ever thought that ultimately, it became a feud between you and the tyrant?” Li Qiye took a serious look at the shadow: “By saying this, I feel as if I have become a conspiracy theorist due to your great accomplishments.”
“But ask yourself, what is your true intent? Was it really to protect the humans and the nine worlds?” He went on to say: “At the very end, you only had one obsession left, and that was to defeat the tyrant because that had been your lifelong dream! You simply wanted to make it come true!”
The shadow retorted: “Nonsense!”
“Is that what you think?” Li Qiye smilingly said: “From a teenager to the old Mortal Emperor, at that stage, you already had enough power and authority. The human race, under your leadership, was strong enough to fight against the tyrant’s kingdom.”
“But we can talk about something else instead.” Li Qiye stated: “We won’t talk about how you became ashes back then, but rather, your immortal situation today. Regardless of whether you are a strand of obsession or a wisp of resentment, they share one thing in common: to a certain degree, the power here could allow you to live on. Maybe not to the level of everlastingness, but definitely something close.”
The shadow said: “Hmph. Only I have understood the mysteries within!”
“I won’t deny that.” Li Qiye responded: “But let me ask you a question. You took the underground secret from the tyrant back then after he died — surely you must know what I’m talking about? He couldn’t comprehend the power here, and the truth was that he was even older than you. His death was only a matter of time, and it certainly would have been before you.”
“Hmph.” The shadow scowled.
Li Qiye continued: “I know this is difficult to hear, but even though we are discussing this issue, it has no effect on your contribution to the human race. In my mind, you are still qualified for your title and deserve to be worshipped as an admirable great sage.”
“But now, we have to discuss the negatives in this.” Li Qiye coldly glared at the shadow at this point: “Compared to you wanting the underground secret, it is more apt to say that you wanted to defeat the tyrant. You hoped that you could defeat or personally kill him before his natural death! This was your lifelong wish, so ultimately, you made a choice.”
“Defeating him and protecting the human race, is there a distinction here?” The shadow spoke without emotions.
Li Qiye replied: “To tell the truth, I am not trying to criticize you on this matter. In fact, I am not qualified to make any criticism at all. A man is not a saint, so how can he always be righteous? Everyone has their own desires and ambitions.
“But since you made the choice, it doesn’t matter how you have turned into ashes or became this abomination, what are you resentful about? The tyrant? The damned villainous heavens? Or perhaps yourself?
“Honestly, I do not know what you are resenting. Since you made your choice, face it and the consequences that come with it, regardless of whether they are good or bad.”
The shadow replied: “I have no resentment, I only want to see daylight once more!”
“Do you think these words bear any weight?” Li Qiye smiled and said: “Truly ask yourself that question again.”
Li Qiye stared at him and continued: “Others do not know about the power here, but I do. It is a power that belongs to darkness and negativity. Why was it that the tyrant was so strong back then and capable of changing the tides of battle by himself? Why was it that you turned into ashes yet you are still alive? It is all because of this underground power.”
Li Qiye exclaimed: “The tyrant is violent and ambitious, which allowed him to rely on this power. But as for you, because of your resentment, it turned you into your current form, making you think that you are actually eternal!”
The shadow shouted: “So what?! So what if I resent! Am I not allowed to resent just because I’m opposing you?”
“I won’t deny that I had my own agenda when establishing the Cleansing Incense Ancient Sect here. I also wanted the thing underground, but I eventually gave up.” Li Qiye flatly said: “I don’t mind your feelings of resentment and indignation, but they will turn this land evil and kill all the living beings here, so it has become my problem!”
1. An idiom meaning unrealistic utopian construction, imaginary future plans.