Li Qingshan and Feng Xiwu stared at each other. Their eyes met, and both of them refused to give in.
Xiao An tugged Li Qingshan’s sleeve, so Li Qingshan thought about it. “Fine then! Since I’ve already accepted your duty, then I’ll uphold my promise and hatch this phoenix’s embryo as quickly as possible.”
“Thank you for upholding your promise. I’ll also take back what I just said. Compared to other humans and daemons, you’re still relatively alright. If you can comprehend the heart of the true phoenix, we might even be able to become friends.” Feng Xiwu also took a step back.
“Hehe, sure!” The tense atmosphere eased up, but Li Qingshan thought, Who’d want to be your friend? I’ll obviously leave when I want to leave.
He had not forgotten. He did not remain here to complete some duty, but to achieve the fourth layer of the phoenix, to balance water and fire and to reach Daemon King. Once he underwent the third heavenly tribulation, how could a mere phoenix’s nest stop him? Even if that did not work out, he had the phoenix’s embryo in his possession as a hostage. Even if he was standing in a domain that Feng Xiwu controlled, he was still absolutely capable of destroying it. It was more than enough to use as a threat. However, if he did that, he would be falling out with Feng Xiwu completely. The need for that had not arisen yet, and he was reluctant to do that too.
“Don’t worry. I’ll lend you a hand, so it hopefully happens sooner. I’ve waited for too long for this day.”
It was not that Feng Xiwu had not considered this, but he had still ended up underestimating Li Qingshan’s strength. After all, the current Li Qingshan was only a Daemon Commander. Even when it came to true Daemon Kings, apart from the Seventy-two Daemon Kings of the past, any of the new Daemon Kings that had broken through in the past few thousands would still be sitting ducks in the phoenix’s nest.
From another perspective, he could even be considered as “modest and gentle” towards Li Qingshan given his realm of cultivation and strength. Of course, that was because he required Li Qingshan’s bloodline. Otherwise, he would not even waste a word on him.
As a result, Li Qingshan sat back down, picking up the phoenix’s embryo and bringing it to his forehead. He looked through it with his soul sense.
Suddenly, a chaotic world unfolded in his sea of consciousness. It was like the sea of magma he had seen deep below the crust, but it gave off a pure, divine glow. The phoenix had not even taken the most basic form yet. If this had been a chicken’s egg instead, then it would only be an egg yolk and whites. However, the energy hidden inside was so great that it left even Li Qingshan shocked.
What great and pure energy . This phoenix will probably have the strength of a Daemon Commander as soon as it hatches, and the purity of the energy will be on par with Daemon Kings. It truly is a divine bird among divine birds, the apex life form among avians. He glanced at Feng Xiwu from the corner of his eye. Though, this definitely isn’t just the phoenix embryo’s energy. This bastard has probably put in quite a lot of effort. If I could just swallow it, it’ll be as nourishing as it can get.
Feng Xiwu stood quietly to the side and did not disturb him. Li Qingshan had guessed correctly. For over ten thousand years, he had constantly tried to hatch the phoenix’s embryo. With each deep slumber he fell into, he devoted most of his effort into this apart from regular cultivation. It did not bear any fruit, but over many years, the phoenix’s embryo had accumulated a shocking amount of energy.
Li Qingshan gathered his focus and devoted all of his attention to the phoenix’s embryo. He had the experience of turning into an egg before, and he could still remember how he awakened from this chaos. He was not exactly conscious, nor did he have any exact memories back then, but he could never forget about the feeling.
However, to his bewilderment, it clearly possessed such pure and tremendous vitality, and its nature had reached the level of gods too, so it clearly should have hatched a long time ago. Why had it not even developed a basic consciousness yet?
He could not help but recall when he was buried deep within the sea of magma in the form of a phoenix’s embryo. Back then, he did not rely on anyone to hatch him. He completely relied on himself, and he still ended up hatching. Was it because the bloodline of this phoenix’s embryo was more pure, so it was especially difficult to hatch?
However, the environment in the phoenix’s nest was countless times better than the sea of magma he dwelled in back then. What critical element was missing?
Only after a very long time did Li Qingshan move the embryo away from his forehead. He opened his eyes, and his eyebrows became firmly locked as if he was contemplating something.
“How is it?” Feng Xiwu asked in concern. Li Qingshan felt like he had become a gynecologist. He asked, “When the phoenix left it to you, did it leave behind any instructions?”
Feng Xiwu thought about it. “I can’t recall it. There didn’t seem to be anything particularly special. It just told me to take good care of it.”
“Didn’t you say that spring and autumn each last eight thousand years for you!?”
“Yeah, it’s exactly because of that that I can’t recall all the details.”
“Fine then! Let me ask you another question. This might be critical to hatching this egg. Did the phoenix say the egg could only be hatched with the bloodline of the phoenix, or was that your own speculation?” Li Qingshan asked sternly. He had a slight idea.
“It’s my own speculation. Isn’t it supposed to be like that? Don’t tell me you can’t hatch the phoenix’s embryo either?” Feng Xiwu answered with questions. He personally believed the environment and resources he had provided to the phoenix’s embryo were unmatched in the world. There must have been some other reason why it did not hatch, which was the phoenix’s bloodline.
“I think I understand now. There is only one truth. The reason why the egg has never hatched and become a phoenix is all because of you!” Li Qingshan shook his head and sighed. As he had suspected, even if the phoenix wanted to ascend, it could not be in such a big hurry where it had to make the embryo wait over ten thousand years for a fated person that could hatch it.
“What! Why?” Feng Xiwu asked in alarm.
“Have you always been nourishing it with your energy?”
“Of course. I’ve been doing it since it was laid, for over ten thousand years, without missing a single day!” Feng Xiwu said. He possessed patience that outclassed any daemon or human. The feelings and anticipation he had devoted to the phoenix’s embryo were even deeper than what he felt towards the phoenix itself. “Is there something wrong with that?”
“Of course, there’s something wrong with that! It’s not just wrong! It’s terribly wrong!” Li Qingshan pointed at the phoenix’s embryo. “You’ve given it far, far too much energy, such that it can no longer digest it completely. That’s why it hasn’t hatched!”
Feng Xiwu was completely stunned. “This… this…”
Li Qingshan continued, “In the words of humans, this is spoiling it, drowning it with love! That’s the same ‘drowning’ as ‘drowning in water’, as well as ‘drowning to death’!”
Feng Xiwu leapt up like he had been struck by a bolt of lightning. “You’re certain!?”
“Extremely certain. I’ll be honest with you. I’ve also gone through the experience of becoming an egg, but when I first hatched from the egg, I was extremely feeble. Let alone a Daemon Commander, I wasn’t even on par with mortals, and that was the result of my Nirvāṇa Rebirth. I had been very powerful before that. Like I was wondering. I was very confused. No matter how noble the phoenix is, it can’t be this powerful as soon as it is born. It must be due to your ‘efforts’, but this won’t work!”
Xiao An said, “I understand now. As the buddha says, ‘Formation, existence, disintegration, then emptiness’. In the very beginning, even towering trees were seeds. Even the buddha had only been a mortal. The phoenix’s principle of eternal life deviates from the word ‘emptiness’, where it’s still ‘formation’ after ‘disintegration’, going on in cycles. However, it’s not completely without downsides. It must convert all of its power into flames, reverting to weakness from strong, before it can undergo rebirth in fire. The power you bestowed upon it is too great, which instead breaks the process of ‘formation’.”
“That sounds so profound! You’re still the clever one!” Li Qingshan praised before lifting up the phoenix’s embryo again. “If this egg was a world, then the world is still in chaos right now. If you want to take form from this chaos, then you have to rein in this world first. In other words, the feebleness at the very beginning is absolutely essential. Ha, I’m so profound too!”
Xiao An nodded with a smile.
Normally, Feng Xiwu definitely would have despised Li Qingshan’s current behaviour, but right now, all he could think of was what they had just said. He murmured, “‘Formation, existence, disintegration, then emptiness; formation, existence, disintegration, then emptiness; formation, existence, disintegration, then emptiness…”
No matter how much time he had spent with the phoenix in the past, he was not a phoenix after all, nor did he have the experience of turning into an egg. It was impossible for him to have first-hand experience like Li Qingshan. He had only been following his heart and constantly committing himself to the egg, wanting to provide it with a bit of assistance. The more unlikely the phoenix’s embryo would hatch, the more attention he devoted to it, even if he had to sacrifice his own cultivation speed, even if he had to sever his connection with the entire world.
But all of his efforts had actually been in the completely wrong direction, instead becoming the exact reason why the phoenix’s embryo could not hatch. For a moment, even with his mental fortitude, he found this rather difficult to accept.
“No wonder the power I’ve injected into it has been constantly leaking away…”
As a divine tree of nature, the amount of energy he had injected into the egg over ten thousand years was enough to turn a regular wild beast into a Daemon King.
“I was wrong… I let down the great trust that was placed in me…” Feng Xiwu sighed heavily as tears rolled down. If he had not done this unnecessary deed, perhaps the phoenix’s embryo could have ascended and gone off to find its parents already.
The more he thought about it, the more guilt-ridden he became, and the more regretful he became. He collapsed on his knees, burying his head in the ground, and began sobbing away.
The divine wutong tree shook violently, but its glow had become very dim.
Li Qingshan and Xiao An looked at one another. They could still sympathise with Feng Xiwu a little. Drowning something with love was still love. The more emotional he was, the less rational he became. It was often easy for those who were immensely patient to become obsessed. If Li Qingshan himself had spent ten thousand years making a mistake, a sob would be a small matter. If he handled it badly, he might even directly lose his mind.
He patted Feng Xiwu on the shoulder. “Don’t be sad. Hatching the egg is still the priority! You can say it’s your good fortune that you ran into me.”
“It’s not an egg! It’s a phoenix’s embryo!” Feng Xiwu wiped away his tears before sitting up on his heels. He bowed his head deeply towards Li Qingshan, no longer a form of courtesy because he had a request, but because of gratitude from the bottom of his heart. “If it weren’t for you, fellow, I still would not even know where I had gone wrong. Thank you!”
“This is my duty. There’s no need to thank me.” Li Qingshan returned the gesture and also felt rather emotional inside. The great Daemon Kings like the Golden Cicada Spirit King and the Great Banyan Tree King all had good temperaments and showed him good graces, but when it came to being upright and noble, possessing the bearing of a gentlemen, Feng Xiwu really could be considered as one of the rare few he had seen throughout his entire life. He only became so hysterical when it came down to the phoenix’s embryo, which he could understand.
“Then what we need to do right now is to disperse the phoenix’s embryo’s energy?” Feng Xiwu asked.
“I have to admit your efforts haven’t gone to waste. Your energy has already merged with the phoenix’s embryo completely. If you disperse it forcefully, you’ll definitely harm it.”
“Then we let it disperse the energy naturally?”
Li Qingshan shook his head. “Who knows how long that’ll take. Even a century might not be enough, and wouldn’t all of your efforts go to waste?”
Feng Xiwu widened his eyes. “You mean…”
Li Qingshan smiled. “Let’s hatch the strongest phoenix chick in history!”
Releases are back to normal. 2 chapters a day.