The turtle didn’t dare to argue. It quickly transformed then stood up. At this time, it had become an old man with gray hair and a hunchback. It looked quite friendly, so no one would think that it was a monster hiding below the river to ambush people.
The old turtle immediately prostrated before Li Qiye and crazily slammed its head on the ground repeatedly: “Great immortal, I was too blind to see your arrival and even tried to ambush you. This lowly one deserves death, deserves to be minced into countless pieces…”
A loud bang resounded each time his head met the ground.
“You are still a Heavenly Sovereign, so why are you so afraid of death like this?” Li Qiye glanced at him.
It wasn’t easy for cultivators to reach the sovereign realm. Most people capable of this feat were rulers of countries or lords of their own domains — prestigious existences.
Experts of this level would rather die before acting so shamefully. Even in defeat, they would rarely prostrate and beg for their life.
The old turtle turned red after hearing this. Nevertheless, his skin was sufficiently thick as he awkwardly smiled: “Great immortal, you think too highly of this lowly one. This lowly one is but a turtle in the wild. Not to mention having self-respect, just staying alive is already a blessing.”
“Turtle in the wild?” Li Qiye looked at him: “What does being in the wild have to do with anything? There are countless vagabond cultivators in this world. There are those who are weaker than you with more of a backbone.”
“Great immortal, this lowly one’s life is as valuable as grass. I’m ugly and lowly so I can’t compare to the amazing people with peerless talents.” He was not ashamed of debasing himself at all: “I only want to live a bit longer and do not dare to chase after the heavenly path or fame.”
Li Qiye chuckled at the shamelessness of the turtle and no longer wanted to kill him. He demanded: “Reveal your background.”
The old turtle didn’t dare to hide anything: “This lowly one is only a water turtle. When I was young, I ate a pearl…”
It turned out that this turtle managed to eat a mystical pearl and became enlightened. As the saying goes, nothing lives longer than a turtle. He had been living at the bottom of the pond and would sometimes sneak up to the surface to look at the world outside.
After seeing cultivators devouring clouds and the earth as well as soaring freely in the sky, he grew envious and chose to stay near the river bank. He would pick the dead bodies of these cultivators and eat them to slowly cultivate.
Due to his long lifespan, he was able to eventually reach the Heavenly Sovereign realm against all odds.
“Having a long lifespan is a good thing.” Li Qiye checked his cultivation and smiled. This old turtle might be a Heavenly Sovereign, but his dao foundation was a clutter of impurities. Both his merit laws and treasures were all over the place. To become a sovereign under such circumstances was simply a miracle!
“Great immortal, please don’t laugh at me. You are from a great immortal sect while this lowly one is only a turtle at the bottom of a river. My cultivation laws are a mess, so they can’t get into your sight.” The old turtle immediately responded and used the chance to suck up to Li Qiye.
Li Qiye gently nodded: “It really isn’t easy. A turtle without any guidance reaching the sovereign realm — this can truly be considered an amazing feat!”
Outside of having lived for a very long time, many coincidences blended together to allow the turtle to have such fortune. Not dying under the tribulations was another incredible stroke of luck!
“Great immortal is the best in history. Your cultivation is comparable to that of Immortal Emperors. Without any equals, you are unstoppable in this entire world…” The old turtle went with the flow. After hearing Li Qiye praising him, he immediately flattered Li Qiye back and shamelessly said: “I am foolish, but I wonder if great immortal would be willing to teach me a thing or two? So that I can be under your protection…”
Such wretched shamelessness was rare to find in demons, especially a sovereign level demon.
“There’s no need to grovel like this.” Li Qiye shook his head and ignored the praises: “Where is this place?”
“This is Quicksand River. It is one thousand and three hundred miles long. The source is back at the Driftsand Plain. There are fifty tributaries…” The old turtle introduced his territory without pause.
“Okay, stop. It’s just a tiny location, I’ve never heard of it before.” Li Qiye gently waved his sleeve.
After noticing Li Qiye’s lack of interest, he immediately said: “Great immortal is a celestial up in the nine heavens, a monarch in myriad realms. This small river area, of course, wouldn’t get into your sight. Only the divine mountains and immortal firmaments in the immortal world would—”
“Stop your sweet-talk. Do you know where the heavenly flame is?” Li Qiye interrupted the incessant turtle.
“Heavenly flame?” The turtle tilted its head in contemplation: “Is great Immortal talking about the Heavenly Flame County of the Shepherd Country?”
Li Qiye insipidly replied: “Perhaps.” That place wasn’t called the Heavenly Flame County a long time ago. However, as time passed, many names changed.
“This lowly one has been there several times before.” The old turtle spoke: “If great immortal wants to go there, then I’ll tell you the way. Great immortal only needs to cross this river then head north towards the eastern county…”
Although this turtle asked Li Qiye to teach him earlier, he actually hoped that Li Qiye would leave as soon as possible. If such a strong person became unhappy and decided to turn him into soup, then it would be quite a sad fate.
“There is no need to tell me.” Li Qiye didn’t bother listening to the directions. He gently tapped the turtle’s back and insipidly declared: “Carry me there.”
“Great immortal…” The old turtle’s expression quickly changed after hearing this. It calmed down and responded: “Great immortal, this lowly one is old and powerless. I am slower than a snail, so I’m afraid I will only slow great immortal down from your business…”
“Oh? Didn’t you ask for my guidance earlier?” Li Qiye glanced at him.
The old turtle immediately replied: “This lowly one would, of course, be eternally grateful for great immortal’s guidance. However, great immortal is the ruler of this world, the monarch of the nine heavens. Your business relates to the well-being of the nine worlds and its billions of inhabitants. How could this lowly one waste your time with my own insignificant matters—”
“Alright, no more blabbering. If I told you to carry me, then do it.” Li Qiye smiled. The more the turtle didn’t want to, the more he wanted to force him.
“Great immortal…” The turtle frowned in pain. Of course he didn’t want to leave this place. Quicksand River was his home, and he knew it the best. He knew the safest locations to hide from his enemies. The moment he spotted danger, he would run away and could disappear instantly.
Li Qiye dismissively said: “Say no again and I will make a soup out of you. Just try me.”
The old turtle quivered and didn’t dare to speak again. He immediately laid down and revealed his true form as a big turtle.
Li Qiye sat on him without another word. The old turtle felt an indescribable torment at this moment. He didn’t know whether this was a fortune or a disaster. What if he made Li Qiye unhappy and the guy made a soup out of him? He had no choice but to obediently take Li Qiye to the Heavenly Flame County. He could only hope that Li Qiye would show some kindness and quickly allow him to return to Quicksand River.
Although the turtle said that he was as slow as a snail, this was far from the truth. Once he went full speed, he could ride the clouds at an astonishing speed. Just from this particular style, it was apparent that he was someone who ran at the first sign of trouble, a professional escape artist!
The Heavenly Flame County was not considered a big location in the Beast Realm. There were plenty of places like this here.
If one had to mention something remarkable about it, then it would be its history. An extraordinary character emerged from this county with the title of Heavenly Flame Goddess. Legend states that this goddess swept through the Stone Medicine World and eventually established her foundation here, hence its name.
Although riding a turtle seemed strange, it was still acceptable in the Beast Realm even for its mortal inhabitants. There were two reasons for why the Beast Realm had this name. The first was that it was inside the beast vein, and the second was that this was the world of demons. If the Alchemy Realm was a place where demons and golems coexisted, then the Beast Realm was exclusively meant for demons while the Stone Realm was for golems.
There were many strange demons in this realm, so seeing a weird turtle was not surprising at all. To the south of the Heavenly Flame County were huge ruins. There were broken pavilions and buildings with shattered tiles everywhere. Weeds ran amok along with entangling vines. Anyone who stood here would have an uncontrollable feeling of sadness.
It was easy to see that this was once a prosperous land, a sacred ground. Alas, after millions of years, this place had fallen. Only these broken buildings before them told the story of its past glory. While sitting on the turtle and staring at these buildings, Li Qiye felt a tinge of emotion despite his numb heart. He gently sighed: “Heavenly Flame, oh Heavenly Flame. Glory and prosperity turned into ruins. Nothing in this world can stop the ruthless erosion of time…”
Li Qiye composed himself after a while and told the turtle: “Let us go in.”