AIP - Chapter 13: Declaring an Aspiration
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The darkness of the night grew deeper and deeper.
Some time had passed. In the small pavilion, Xu Muyang was downing cup after cup of wine, a burning sensation in his throat. Rather than using his spiritual energy to digest the alcohol, Xu Muyang immersed his entire body into the intoxication.
Though he was slightly dizzy, he felt inspired, and recited, "Recollecting the young years, the old times roaming the parks, the carriages flowing like water and the horses like vigorous dragons, the flowers and moon in the spring breeze! Out of the dream, returning to the frontier fortress, the western winds worrying up green waves. When will the journey home be?"
(TN: This poem is a fusion of two poems, both of which were written by emperors of the Southern Tang Dynasty. The first section was written by Li Yu, the last emperor of the Southern Tang, while the second section was written by the second emperor of the Southern Tang.)
This poem was something he had thought up on the spur of the moment. He was no famed poet, but he was from a great clan and had read quite a few books. Mixing the lines of his forebears together, first recollecting the past and then musing on the current situation, could create something rather presentable.
But just when he blurted out these words, a loud voice came from outside. "Hand over the Profound Martial Mirror and you will be able to go back home in all respects. Xu Muyang, rather than clinging to precious treasure and sighing leisurely at the moon, it would be better to return what is stolen to one's rightful owner and return to the proper path!"
As this voice spoke, three individuals appeared in the courtyard.
Their leader was a violet-robed elder. He wasn't very tall, but he had a vigorous grandeur about him that made everyone focus on him.
At this time, he had his hands behind his back as he looked at Xu Muyang, his eyes radiating such majesty that they were hard to directly gaze at.
Seeing this, Xu Muyang immediately said, "So it is Aspirational Lord Wunian who has personally graced me with your presence."
Godhead Palace had four True Lords, and True Lord Wunian was ranked second. In Godhead Palace, he was the Insight Master and was famed for his power and prowess. He cultivated the Great Aspiration divine connection of Godhead Palace, so he was known as 'Aspirational Lord Wunian'.
"You know that it is the Aspirational Lord who has come, so why are you not kneeling!?" A voice exploded. It was none other than that He Chong who Xu Muyang had clashed with at Jade Orchid Mountain, and he was the one who had talked about the 'return to the proper path'.
But the violet-robed elder was unmoved, simply saying, "It's fine."
Xu Muyang glanced at the other individual out of the corner of his eyes. This was a young man in white who looked rather similar to Xu Muyang.
Seeing him, Xu Muyang trembled all over. "Big Brother!"
Even though he had predicted that a member of the Xu Clan would be coming, he had not imagined that it would be his older brother, Xu Ruogu.
But when Xu Ruogu glanced at Xu Muyang, his face was emotionless, and he coldly said, "Father and Mother miss you. Hand over Godhead Palace's possession and then come home with me."
"Father… Mother…" Xu Muyang softly muttered. With a bitter smile on his face, he asked, "Are they still doing well?"
"They are doing very poorly. In this last half-year, they have been suffering for your sake. I have come this time to take you back to see them."
"See them…" A hint of sorrow appeared in Xu Muyang's eyes. "Can I really still see them?"
"Of course." Aspirational Lord Wunian finally began to speak. "Xu Muyang, in truth, this was a misunderstanding from the start. My Godhead Palace never intended to kill you. How could we? The Xu Clan is one of the four great clans of Nadir Hill, and Godhead Palace will not strike against its own people. We only planned to use the Mindwipe spell on you once the matter was done, clearing away your memories."
Mindwipe was a secret Immortal spell that could wipe the memories of the person it was used on. But while the Mindwipe spell was powerful, it was not selective. Once it was used, all memories would be wiped away, and even one's Divine Will would vanish. The person that the spell had been cast on would be stopped at Celestial Heart, unable to advance any further.
Hearing this, Xu Muyang loudly laughed. "Without my memories, am I still me?"
Without his memories, all his knowledge on formations would be gone, and he wouldn't even be able to muster together a single spell. All he would have would be his Celestial Heart Realm cultivation, but without any spell arts, he wouldn't even be able to beat a Spirit Disciple. This was no different from crippling him. Moreover, a person was a person precisely because of their memories, and it was how they had some understanding of the world.
Without memories, how was a person any different from a newborn baby?
Moreover, the use of the Mindwipe spell was complex, so he probably wasn't telling the truth. It was more likely that this was the explanation they had made up for the Xu Clan.
"It's better than dying. As long as you are willing to allow me to search your memories with the Soulscour spell to confirm that you did not leak the information to anyone else, and then hand over what you stole, I swear on my name as True Lord that I will not kill you, only wipe your memories and return you to the Xu Clan. These were the conditions we agreed on with Xu Huaili."
Soulscour was an even more painful spell than Mindwipe. When it was used, its target would suffer unbearable pain. Damage to the soul was getting off lightly, and in the worst case, one could be made into an imbecile.
Soulscour and then Mindwipe? This was the greatest torture that could be inflicted on a living being, far beyond any mortal torture. But Aspirational Lord Wunian spoke of them in such a nonchalant tone that they seemed like matters of course.
In his view, Xu Muyang had stolen a treasure of Godhead Palace, so leaving him alive was already an incredible act of generosity to the Xu Clan, a great show of benevolence from Godhead Palace.
Xu Muyang was infuriated, and he glared at Aspirational Lord Wunian and shouted, "Scour my soul and then wipe my mind! Shi Wunian, you're ruthless, truly the Master of Insight of Godhead Palace, a man whose name makes others pale! But this time, I'm afraid you won't get your way!"
He was so furious that he even dropped the titles, directly calling Wunian by his name.
He then stood up, his body surging with spiritual energy and radiating a formidable will to fight. Even in front of a Violet Palace True Lord, he refused to back down.
Xu Ruogu paled in fright. "Third Brother, what are you doing? Don't be stupid!"
He finally revealed the concern at the depths of his heart.
Aspirational Lord Wunian's face darkened. "The audacity!"
All he did was glare, but the air suddenly became as thick as glue. All of Xu Muyang's erupting spiritual energy was suppressed, forced back into his body.
At the same time, He Chong charged at Xu Muyang, his right hand grabbing at him as he shouted, "Xu Muyang, just submit!"
Xu Muyang had been rendered immobile, but he fearlessly laughed. "A Violet Palace True Lord's words can connect to the heavens and earth, manifesting the divine connection in a single chant. But I'd like to see what your cultivation that can generate ten thousand arts with a single chant can do to stop me!"
His body erupted with spiritual light, exploding with such vigor and force that it overcame Aspirational Lord Wunian's power.
He grimaced. "Not good! He's going to detonate his Celestial Heart!"
Shi Wunian had never imagined that Xu Muyang would be so decisive, willing to commit suicide rather than give him a chance. In alarm, he thrust out his hands, a heaven-engulfing pressure encroaching from all sides as he shouted, "Xu Muyang, don't be rash! Think about the Xu Clan…"
Xu Muyang cut him off. "I am thinking about the Xu Clan! Each day you don't have the Martial Mirror is another day you don't move against the Xu Clan! I've already taken care of everything. After I'm dead, if Godhead Palace moves against the Xu Clan, the entire world will know about the Martial Mirror. By the way, big Brother, you probably don't know what the Martial Mirror really is, do you?"
Xu Ruogu was dumbfounded.
He truly did not know what the Martial Mirror was.
The people of the Xu Clan only knew that Xu Muyang had stolen some important treasure of Godhead Palace, presumably related to the treasury they had sought Xu Muyang's help to open. But they had never known what this treasure was.
There were many treasures in the world, and not every one was worth sacrificing one's life for. Godhead Palace's pursuit of Xu Muyang could have been due to the importance of the treasure, but it could also be understood as anger at the betrayal, so there had been no reason to consider the value of the treasure.
But now, it seemed like this treasure was incredibly powerful, so powerful that Godhead Palace would even destroy the Xu Clan for it. Xu Ruogu was aghast at this revelation.
"What?" Shi Wunian was also astonished by Xu Muyang's words, not having expected that he would have a back-up plan like this.
His mental trepidation affected his Immortal arts, and for a moment, the spiritual pressure weakened.
Xu Muyang used this chance to unleash spiritual light from his entire body, transforming it into a giant ball of light that shot into the sky, lighting up the night like a rising sun.
"Not good!" Shi Wunian immediately saw that the situation was dire, his mind rapidly turning as he thrust forward his hands and shouted, "Heaven Earth Barrier, rise!"
A layer of Immortal energy covered the three.
"Third Brother, no!" Xu Ruogu howled in grief.
Xu Muyang glanced at Xu Ruogu, hazy moisture in his eyes.
"Goodbye, Big Brother. Xu Muyang is too ashamed to report to Father and Mother in this life. I must entrust it all to Big Brother…"
Xu Ruogu let out a heart-wrenching cry, but Xu Muyang's spiritual energy was surging out of every pore in his body, bringing with it large quantities of blood.
The spiritual energy transformed into a giant tidal wave that swept out in all directions, and as it swept up to the Heaven Earth Barrier, it erupted with flames of light.
The entire house was flattened, and the remaining power surged forward with unstoppable momentum, turning the vicinity into flat land as well.
Fortunately, this was a remote and deserted area. However, the entire region was shuddering as brilliant lights shot into the air.
If the previous scene had been like a rising sun, the flames of light achieved the effect of the sun pressing down on the earth. Anyang Prefecture, several li away, was also bathed in this rain of light, the entire city tottering on the verge of collapse.
"Who dares to cause trouble in Anyang Prefecture?" Several figures charged out of Anyang Prefecture and began to head in the direction of the incident site.
That wave of spiritual energy left all of them shaken.
How much strength did this person have to have to unleash such terrifying spiritual pressure and might?
"Something big has happened," a cultivator within Anyang Prefecture said in a dry tone.
A white horse flew along the old Anyang road.
Tang Jie continued to struggle, trying to break free of the spirit lines that bound him, but his efforts were futile.
He saw himself getting farther and farther from the home, and his heart grew colder and colder.
"No, no, I want to go back!" Tang Jie shouted.
He circulated the Visceral Manifestation Classic's mantra as hard as he could, absorbing spiritual energy. Even though he knew that it was useless, he still tried.
Spiritual energy ran rampant in his body, inflicting unbearable pain on Tang Jie, but Tang Jie did not stop. He continued to borrow the spiritual energy in his body to try and break free of his bonds.
At this moment, he suddenly felt a sliver of spiritual energy fuse into his veins and vanish. At the same time, one of the spirit lines binding Tang Jie snapped.
Tang Jie was startled, and then he was elated. He stimulated the spiritual energy, fusing more of it into his veins. Tang Jie felt as if his blood was beginning to seethe, like his body was about to explode.
It was a bizarre development that Tang Jie had never experienced before, but he continued without remorse, for he could feel his strength crazily soaring.
As he fused more and more spiritual energy into his veins, Tang Jie suddenly roared and shook his arms. Crack! Pop! The spirit lines binding him all snapped.
As the spirit lines snapped, the white horse let out a loud neigh and collapsed to the ground, instantly returning to its paper form.
Tang Jie tumbled to the ground.
But he immediately jumped back up. He had taken a nasty fall just now, but he was completely uninjured, and he felt like there was still unspent strength surging through his body. Seeing that the white horse had turned back to paper, he angrily roared, "No! Get up! Take me back!"
The paper horse silently lay in Tang Jie's hand, not transforming no matter how much spiritual energy he poured in.
Helpless, Tang Jie threw aside the paper horse and began to run back to the courtyard.
He wasn't going to fight with the people of Godhead Palace. He only hoped to get back before they arrived and get Xu Muyang away from there.
What did it matter if they had the Xu Clan's Life Lantern? He and Xu Muyang could just take the Profound Martial Mirror and hide out in the Basking Moon Sect. He didn't believe that the Godhead Palace would dare to chase them into the Basking Moon Sect!
It was true that they were in dire straits, but there was still a way out. There was no reason to give up so easily!
But he had only managed to make it a few steps when he saw an enormous explosion of light in the distance.
It had clearly come from their house.
"No! Big Brother Xu!" Tang Jie yelled in grief.
At that moment, he understood that the one known as Xu Muyang had ceased to exist in this world.
Stupidly gazing at that distant plume of smoke, Tang Jie suddenly dropped to his knees.
"Big Brother Xu, farewell!"
A savage killing intent in his eyes, he shouted to the heavens, "Today, Tang Jie declares his great aspiration… I swear an oath on my Heart Demon, to be marked on my Origin Heart, that so long as this Tang Jie still walks the earth, he will destroy Godhead Palace!"