Liang Chen's mind immediately exploded with excitement when he received the affirmative answer. It didn't matter whether or not Ye Zhong was lying to him, what mattered was that he finally had hope, tangible and true, a goal he could see and reach for. Compared to the uncertain state where he was just blindly waving his hands and stumbling forward, it was countless times better.
But he quickly reigned in his excitement before it could become excessive, it was in moments like this that it was most important to stay calm and composed. And it was because he quickly calmed down that his mind caught onto a specific part of Ye Zhong's first sentence, the name of his master.
Liang Chen had once before encountered the name, Ning Hao, it was the name of the black-haired and white-eyed youth he had seen in the recording that gave him the full Ocean God Physique. He was uncertain if they were the same person, but remembering how that Ning Hao had been able to raise an army of countless dead with just a single word, he guessed that they might, in fact, be the same person. While Liang Chen was making that connection in his mind, the voice of Ye Zhong once again rang out within his mind.
"That was technically your two questions, but since this is my first time being anyone's superior, I'll pretend that they were one question and give you one more for free. Just don't tell Big Brother Fen or Big Sister Xiuya, they'll scold me until my ears fall off."
Liang Chen's eyes narrowed slightly when he heard Ye Zhong's jovial statement, rubbing his chin softly while thinking it over. He was considering whether or not he should ask about Ning Hao but quickly decided that doing so would be throwing away the free question. Once he discarded that question, he only needed another few seconds to come up with the question that he should ask.
"I'm trying to get to a planet known as Dragon's Gate, do you know how I can get there? From here preferably."
Now that Liang Chen had gotten his hands on the full Ocean Gods Physique and increased his cultivation further, even become strong enough to kill someone at the Primordial Immortal realm, he figured that it was about time that they returned to their own home planet. Yan Ling was also missing her family, so the faster they returned the better it was. The only problem was that they didn't really know how to return, they didn't even know just where their home planet was located. Ye Zhong swiftly responded, his breathing changing slightly as he seemed to start working on something.
"Dragon's Gate huh? Give me a few minutes, I gotta go check up on the location of your Code before I can answer that."
The voice of Ye Zhong vanished, the incessant sound of thunder and howling wind the only audible sound in the surroundings. Liang Chen didn't mind, the sound of thunder had already become rather dear to him, it was almost like listening to his own heartbeat. After spending almost seven minutes in silence, calmly breathing and drawing in the surrounding elements just to make sure that there were no problems with his body, the voice of Ye Zhong once again resounded within his head.
"You're in some luck, you're currently on a rather small planet known as Tripartite God so you only have to head to Blossoming Ocean planet, only about four planets to the west of your current location. That planet houses an Interstellar Array that can take you to Dragon's Head planet, from there you only have to travel for a few hundred kilometers north into space to reach a Spatial Vortex that leads to Dragon's Gate planet. The vortex has a tendency to be somewhat unstable, but at worst it'll only put you in a spot a few kilometers away from your intended location."
Ye Zhong made it sound easy, but Liang Chen didn't even really know how to get to this Blossoming Ocean planet. He had an idea that might work, but he'd have to check with Yan Ling first to see what she thought. While Liang Chen was going over his plan, the still jovial voice of Ye Zhong once again rang out in his mind.
"Alright, that'll be your second question. I really can't give you more, otherwise, I might lose the right to become a superior in the future, and that would suck something fierce. But don't you worry, if you manage to survive for long enough to raise your rank or receive a ruler title, then I'll be right here to answer any other questions you might have!"
The voice of Ye Zhong vanished after he said his piece, Liang Chen waiting a few minutes before standing up and stretching his body. He had defeated a strong enemy, received a weapon forging technique that he might be able to use someday in the far off future, and even found a clear goal to strive towards, so he was in a pretty good mood right now.
He made sure that he hadn't forgotten anything or was leaving anything behind, and then once he was certain that he had remembered everything, he started making his way back to the cave where Yan Ling should still be recuperating. It didn't take him long to reach the cave thanks to his quick gait, softly tapping the ground to notify Yumao that he had returned.
The ground split up into several chunks, opening enough room for Liang Chen to jump down into the cave before the chunks moved back together, locking up the cave once more. Just as he guessed, Yan Ling was still recuperating, Lan Yun sitting quietly in her lap while Yumao was finishing up the last of the corpse that he was eating. Liang Chen walked over to them and sat down by them, patting Yumao and Lan Yung softly on the head.
"Thanks for taking care of things for me here, you can return to your own cultivation, I'll take care of the ceiling again."
A slight breeze started to blow within the cave after Liang Chen finished his whisper, the wind holding up the pieces of the ceiling so that it didn't collapse down on them. Yumao enjoyed getting pat a bit more before swallowing the last of the corpse and closing his eyes, the darkness around him forming threads that started to weave in and out of his body, especially his head.
Once Yumao started to focus on his own cultivation, Liang Chen took a deep breath and gathered some energy onto himself. He held one palm towards Yan Ling and the other towards Yumao, the gathered energy flowing into his palms and then out, forming two small spheres wherein the flow of time was increased, one for Yan Ling and the other for Yumao. He could at best triple the flow of time now that he was focusing on two targets other than him, but it was better than nothing for them.
Yan Ling and Yumao noticed the increased flow of time around them, but Yumao didn't interrupt his cultivation because he had somewhat expected it. Yan Ling was caught a bit off guard and opened one of her eyes, glancing at Liang Chen out of the corner of her eye. She could guess at what he had done thanks to his tattered robes, but seeing his unharmed state caused her to click her tongue.
"Tch, so you managed to kill him without even sustaining any injuries. And here I thought I had finally managed to somewhat close the distance between us."
Liang Chen did his best to hold back a chuckle when he saw her expression, which was a strange mixture of worry, relief, and dissatisfaction. He placed his hand on her cheek and gave it a few soft strokes, speaking softly but vaguely.
"I'm unharmed due to some special circumstances, so don't worry about it. Just focus on healing those wounds and then we'll talk, I might have found a way for us to go home."
Yan Ling's eyes lit up with a glitter when she heard that he might have found a way for them to go home. She glanced at Lan Yun and Yumao, making sure that they were fine, and then closed her eyes to focus on her own recuperation again.
Tian Chun was currently sitting on an embroidered chair so soft that it felt like she was sitting on a cloud, drinking some cold water from a cup made from a transparent crystal that likely cost more than she would make even if she saved all her money for ten years. The various wives and concubines of Qing Lan Yong were sitting on couches around the same table as her, chattering while drinking their tea or wine.
But their conversations didn't even register in Tian Chun's mind, she was still too caught up in the absurdity of the situation. She had already been here for over a month, but it still felt utterly strange to be here, to have been saved by the person who could be said to have single-handedly ruined the life of the person she considered her little brother. It felt as strange as when she heard about all the things Liang Chen had supposedly done after they split up. Hearing about some of them, she couldn't help but laugh and shake her head. Even now she would occasionally mutter about it.
"Scourge King? That really can't be right, the Little Chen that I know is a kind person, there's no way he'd do something that would get him a title like that, no way he would massacre people like that."
Tian Chun didn't want to believe it, didn't want to believe that the one thing she wanted to protect, Liang Chen's innocence and smile, had already died. She didn't want Liang Chen to enter the cultivation world, she knew how cruel and vile it was, how adept it was at breaking a person and what they were. But the proof had all been laid out for her, all his deeds detailed one by one, so she had no choice but to believe, believe that the cultivation world had already sunk its bloody fangs into Liang Chen.
As such, she could only hope, she could only place her hopes in the person called Yan Ling, hope that she was able to be someone who could serve as a harbor for Liang Chen, a stopgap that would prevent him from truly being broken. Tian Chun's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud rumbling that was followed by the entire house quaking fiercely, some of the items along the wall being sent flying.
Tian Chun and the other people in the room quickly stood up with unsteady legs, confusedly and vigilantly scanning their surroundings. The oldest of Qing Lan Yong's wives, a blonde-haired and blue-eyed woman called Wen Nuan, quickly reacted and grabbed onto the two closest children, shouting out orders.
"There's an escape array in the basement of the neighboring house! Flee there and use the Spirit Stones stored there to escape!"
They didn't know what was going on, but they knew that the planet was currently in a state where it was better to be safe than sorry. The others quickly followed her orders, grabbing onto the younger children that couldn't run and heading for the neighboring house, Tian Chun following after them. They ran into Qing Lan Yong the moment they pushed open the door to the house, and his state alone told them about the situation. His robe was tattered and torn, streaks of blood running down the right side of his body. He pointed them at the neighboring house, which was a mere four kilometers away.
"Shadow Four has betrayed us, we're under attack! Flee there, use the spatial array in the basement to escape. Shadow Two and Three, protect them and make sure that they get away safely! I'll meet up with you at a later time, Ah Hua, you and the others know where we are to meet up, bring Tian Chun there with you!"
The shadows cast by the house suddenly wriggled, a black-clad man and a black-clad woman jumping out from the shadows. Both had a few wounds visible on their bodies and their breathing was somewhat rushed so it seemed like they had just gotten out of combat. Qing Lan Yong cast one last loving look at his gathered wives and children before turning to the side and running to the house in the opposite direction of the one they were heading, throwing out a few crystal orbs that shattered and unleashed thunderous explosions, drawing all the attention to himself.
Wen Nuan and the others grit their teeth for a few moments, eventually turning to look at Shadow Two and Three. They pushed Tian Chun and the children, as well as the youngest of the wives, at them, flashing them a quick apologetic smile.
"Sorry, but we belong at his side. Little Sister Mei, you still have a long life ahead of you, so you should focus on fleeing. Should we never meet again, please take care of the children, let them be happy."
The six other wives and concubines turned and ran right after speaking, rushing to catch up with Qing Lan Yong. The black-haired and brown-eyed one called Little Sister Mei grit her teeth, wanting to run to him alongside them, but she knew that someone had to flee, otherwise there wouldn't be anyone to take care of the children. Shadow Two and Three looked in the direction of the running women, but they didn't have the luxury of trying to stop them, they could only silently pray that everything would work out.
They quickly pushed the children and the others, guarding them as they rushed toward the house containing the spatial array. But they were forced to stop before they even made it halfway, seven people wearing golden robes assaulting them from all sides. The man that was called Shadow Three stomped the ground, his shadow stretching out and turning into thin threads that flew at the incoming attackers.
"Sister Two, I'll hold them back!"
The black-clad woman nodded her head and pushed the others to continue running, leaving behind the black-cloaked man to delay the seven attackers. They ignored the sounds of battle and screams coming from behind them, running with all their might, but were once again stopped after only a short while. Five more people wearing golden robes assaulted them, the black-clad woman gritting her teeth and gazing at the house, which was only a few hundreds of meters away from them now. She stretched out both her arms, her own shadow rising up and forming several smaller copies of her. She and the copies stepped towards the incoming attackers, calling out to the fleeing people at the same time.
"Go! Reach the target!"
The fleeing group continued to run, leaving behind the black-cloaked Shadow Two and continuing to ignore the screams and sounds of battle. But just as they were only 200 meters away from the house, six more golden-robed figures arrived by them. The one called Little Sister Mei grit her teeth so hard that blood started to seep out from her gums, her eyes so bloodshot that it looked like her veins were about to explode. They were close, so very close. Were they really going to be stopped here at the final step?
And this was when Tian Chun noticed the eyes of the gold-robed figures, they were all focused on her, and only on her. She now also remembered that Tian Chun had told her that she was being chased because someone wanted to force Liang Chen out into the open. When these two facts were brought together, it wasn't hard to realize the goal of these gold-robed figures, to capture her.
She grit her teeth for a split second and then ran away from the group, heading away from the house as fast as she could. And just as she guessed, the six gold-robed figures all ran past Little Sister Mei and the children, heading straight for her. She couldn't outrun them, she knew that very clearly. But she would at least be able to buy the others enough time to escape, and in a situation where their loss was inevitable, she considered it to be a pretty good outcome, probably the best someone like her could ever hope for.
She looked back as she ran, just barely able to see Little Sister Mei bring the children into the house, the two sharing one last look before Little Sister Mei closed the door. Tian Chun's gaze then landed on the six people, which were already right behind her, they would probably reach her in less than a second. Knowing that it was lost, Tian Chun couldn't help but let out a weak laughter.
"I really wish I could have seen you again, just so I'd know if that wonderful smile of yours had been saved. But it seems that won't be the case, so let me at least do the one thing I can still do for you."
Tian Chun mustered all her courage and bit down on her own tongue with all her might, the taste of blood and the burning pain flooding her every sense. This was the last she could do for Liang Chen, die so that she couldn't be used to lure him out. But she was weak, so she didn't even have the right to choose how and when she died. Her shadow wriggled slightly, a man hurriedly rising up from it and showing his hand into her mouth, stopping her before she could swallow her own tongue. An unknown liquid ran down her throat from the man's hand, the last thing she heard before her consciousness falling dark being his voice.
"Sorry, but can't have you dying before he's arrived here, orders from above."