Nevertheless, the old man still thought of Li Qiye as his savior and bowed again: “My name is Wu Youzheng. Though you do not wish for repayment, just say the words in the future and I will come running and do everything I…”
He couldn’t finish because Li Qiye has already disappeared into the horizon. He didn’t care nor want to care about the old man’s gratitude.
The old man gently sighed while looking at the sky, aware that he has met a master. The guy was capable of destroying those tree demons so easily. Such masters were hard to get close to.
Li Qiye continued on with smooth footsteps. The pacing looked slow but he was actually traveling through Stone Harmony at an incredible speed.
Stone Harmony used to reign over Imperial so its territory was massive. Alas, one could see the clear illness plaguing the system.
It had no inhabitants and very few cities. The natural sceneries had a bleak feeling to it. All in all, it resembled a dying old man or a candle flickering to the wind. Even the birds and fish had no vitality to them. In fact, the place used to be the complete opposite, bustling and full of people and animals.
As time passed, the capable sects and powerful cultivators moved away from the declining system. The ones that couldn’t do the same thing suffered destruction.
As for the animals, the ones strong enough also left this system for other places. As the saying goes, the wise birds pick the right branch.
Furthermore, the spirit medicines and natural resources also gradually disappeared. This resulted in a compounded effect, accelerating the decline of the system.
Li Qiye traveled through half of the system. It was a quiet trip since he rarely saw other cultivators.
The most common sights were villages in the remote mountains with thirty to fifty families or so. That’s already considered lively for this area. Moreover, they were far and away from each other.
No one would believe that this was a system of the imperial level. Its dao land shouldn’t last long at this rate.
However, being part of this system was a blessing and a curse. The land might have been withering but the dao source remained, adding stability to the system.
A collapsing system was a calamity for the inhabitants, almost like a world-ending event. The strong cultivators would have ran far away or prepared enough to survive.
The weak could only watch the scene of destruction, only to be buried along with the rubble in the end.
Of course, this trend of stagnation couldn’t last forever. No matter how strong a progenitor might be, they couldn’t create an everlasting dao source.
A system’s prosperity relied on the effort of the sages for many generations. They continuously fed the system with their own strength.
But now, due to a lack of population, there were fewer and fewer cultivators, let alone existences at the imperial or eternal level. The lack of generational nourishment would result in an inevitable collapse.
Li Qiye wasn’t emotional during his journey. He has seen the rise and fall of numerous sects in his life and has grown numb to this cycle.
“It’s not just trying to fill its belly.” Li Qiye had a good overview of the situation during this pursue. His mighty divine intent has locked on to this land so nothing could escape his eyes.
He knew that the disappearance of White Orchid was only the beginning. This tragedy could repeat and spread all over Imperial.
He finally stopped as an ancient city emerged on the horizon.
It must be wider than ten thousand miles, just like a monster resting on the land. However, it was naturally in a disorderly state. Many parts were abandoned so the real thing became less than one-tenth of its former glory. Nevertheless, it was still the largest city in Stone Harmony at the present.
The towering walls and buildings remained, though abandoned. One could catch a glimpse of their old golden days. This must have been the center of the entire world where powerful beings ruled and accepted tributes.
Now, the only visitors were the wild grass and weeds.
He stopped and perused the area, noticing steam and smoke from cooking in the distance: “The next target is here.”
Without a doubt, this city would be just like White Orchid City, disappearing completely with only a great abyss left behind.
“Death is coming soon.” Li Qiye chuckled before entering the city.
The name was Mingluo, the strongest and biggest city in Stone Harmony. It had the highest population of cultivators as well, around two to three hundred thousand people.
It managed to survive to the present due to its riches and strong foundation in the past, unlike other fallen cities.
The streets were still the same scale as before, extremely wide and long. People were coming and going. Shouts could be heard from the street merchants to the workers in the wine pavilions.
After traveling through the wilderness for so long, people would be infected by the lively atmosphere found here.
During the night, the city was brightly lit by lamps and lights. It had an intoxicating feeling, allowing people to see the temptation of the mundane world and life, in general. This was different from the unreachable temples and mountains meant for the lonely cultivators.
The place resembled the mortal world since there weren’t that many cultivators and sects around.
Mortals had a short lifespan, no different from ants. They couldn’t see the entire world so some weren’t even aware of their system’s gradual destruction. They were more than happy to live day-by-day with enough food and material possessions.
Lifespan was the biggest difference between a mortal and a cultivator. The former was akin to the night-blooming cactus - short-lived yet beautiful.
Li Qiye was unaffected by the atmosphere here. He has seen the flourishing world of the mortals many times before and was just a passerby. This world wasn’t suitable for him.
“It’s nice being a mortal, happy and unaware of the incoming destruction. I suppose even ants have their own happiness.” He looked at the carriages zooming through the streets and smiled.
His dao heart has been polished by tribulations and pain so nothing could move him.
There was no doubt that Mingluo City has been chosen as the second target. The entire place was going to disappear.
He didn’t come here to save the city and its inhabitants, only to carry out his own business. Its survival was none of his concern because he wasn’t a savior and had no reason to do so.
In fact, in his mind, destruction and survival were the same things for Mingluo. Even if it was lucky enough to make it through this disaster, it would still crumble in the future. It was only a matter of time.
This was the cycle of time. Everlasting prosperity didn’t exist; destruction was inevitable.
His destination was an abandoned location inside the city. Overgrown weeds were everywhere along with insects and snakes.
This place was different from the wasteland outside. There were still structural remnants and outlines of temples.
This wasn’t the case here. It was flat since all the existing structures have collapsed.
“I was just passing by, it’s no big deal.” Li Qiye said insipidly.