Fue Sangye's entire body trembled violently under Liang Chen's gaze, but it wasn't due to fear, it was indignation that he hadn't even been able to resist a bit of poison to protect his men. He didn't shy away from Liang Chen's gaze, meeting it without fear. But because he was daring enough to match Liang Chen's gaze, he could notice his expression.
"I want to know something, I should at least have that right, no? You said you killed Qing Rue and his men, and even my men, because you didn't like what they were doing, but what do you gain from it? The treasures don't seem worth it, and it certainly doesn't look like it's for personal joy or pleasure. So what do you gain? Why do you go so out of your way?"
They said that the eyes were a window into the soul, so Fue Sangye could be said to have a front-row seat to Liang Chen's seat. And because of that, he saw that Liang Chen's eyes didn't contain even the slightest trace of joy. He didn't look happy to have removed the source of displeasure, he didn't look like he found it fun to kill them, there was simply nothing.
Liang Chen's head tilted slightly, his hand unconsciously tracing his face. It was a question he hadn't expected to hear, nor was it one that he had ever expected that he would answer so he was temporarily caught off guard. He closed his eyes for a bit and gathered his thoughts, now that it had come to his attention he felt like he should find an answer, at least for himself.
Did he find joy in the killing, did he achieve a modicum of happiness whenever he removed a vile person from the face of the earth? ...Perhaps at first, at the very start when he first chose to head down this path, back then he perhaps found some joy in the deed. Each kill felt like a step closer to the goal, another bucket of water thrown into the pond.
But now? He honestly couldn't say that he found joy in it, he didn't find any happiness when he killed someone. He had travelled too far and seen too much, realized that every kill wasn't a bucket of water into a pond, it was just a drop of water added to the endless ocean. If he had to describe it, perhaps sorrow was a better emotion, a lamentation over the fact that people would be willing to sink so low in a world like this.
It was an answer that could easily lead into another question, did he regret his choice? But that was a question he wouldn't need any thought to answer. No, there had never been a time he regretted choosing his path. If he had the chance to return to the past, he would choose to make the same choices and follow the same path.
The act itself may not give him any joy, but there was something in it that gave him joy. Every time his gaze deviated from the path, every time he saw the happy people roaming at the side of the road, the thankful people he had saved, it was seeing them that gave him joy, that made it feel worth it.
The path itself didn't give him any joy, but the people beside the road provided all the joy he needed. That was the answer Liang Chen had come to after thinking it over, so he opened his eyes again and looked down at Fue Sangye.
"I go out of my way because I chose it, because I decided on this path. If I see evil, then I will kill it, again and again, all the way until the only evil left is me."
Drops in the ocean were still drops, they still made a difference, it was just that he had to accumulate more of them if he wanted to see a noticeable change. He had already racked up several tens of thousands of bones beneath him, but he would rack up millions, even trillions more if that was what it took. And what better place to do just that than here in Purgatory's Cradle, the bloodiest place in the entire universe? It wasn't exactly a newfound determination, it was just an affirmation of his determination, of what he had chosen to do and what he still had to do.
Fue Sangye trembled slightly once more under Liang Chen's gaze, but this time was because he couldn't quite decipher what he was seeing in his eyes. Was it bloodlust, anger, determination, or was it acknowledgement of the price he would have to pay? He couldn't reach a conclusion, and Liang Chen felt like he had said and heard enough so he turned around and started to walk away. This was only the first city, there was still a lot more for him to explore and do in this hidden realm before he returned to Purgatory's Cradle.
Chaos and war weren't kind or patient things, nor were they things that could be controlled. Once unleashed, they would become a tidal wave that rushed forward uncontrollably, swallowing up everything in their path and dragging it along. But unlike a normal tidal wave, chaos was not something that diminished the further it travelled, it would only grow larger, until it was either crushed or had swallowed everything.
Moonset city was currently experiencing a time of peace, albeit a somewhat fragile one. The Stone-Soul King had been killed so they didn't need to worry about being attacked by any beast hordes, something both the Tien and Enlai clan were very happy about. The citizens were also happy that they didn't have to worry about whether or not they would end up being eaten the next day, but everyone was also aware of just how fragile their current peace was.
The threat of the Stone-Soul King was one of the main driving forces that prevented the Enlai and Tien family from waging a proper war over the city. After all, what organization would be fine with having to share their territory with another clan? Now they didn't have to worry about outside attacks, so it was the perfect time to try to seize full control over the city.
But they hadn't shown any signs of starting a war yet, and the reason was quite simple. Liang Chen had given them a very stern warning before he left, if they embroiled the city in war and ended up killing innocents, then their heads would be his. But the peace they had agreed to would only last for 10 000 years, and that was only under the assumption that the other clan didn't attack them first.
Currently rushing about in the halls of the Tien clan mansion were two young twins, barely nine years old, their curly blonde hair bouncing slightly while their green eyes darted about. The boy, Zun Zhao, ran a bit ahead of his sister, Zun Zhi, both of them carrying boxes they could barely hold properly. They had the interspatial rings that their Big Brother Chen had given them before he left, but he warned them that they shouldn't show them off to others so neither of them elected to just store the boxes in them.
"You're falling behind, you're falling behind~! I'll be the first one there, I'll be the first one there~!"
Zun Zhao hummed the makeshift tune while slightly turning his head, egging on the slightly red-faced Zun Zhi to run faster. She puffed her cheeks out and forced her legs to move faster, but a mountain-like pressure suddenly bore down on them just as she was about to catch up.
Their legs gave out underneath them and they both tumbled to the ground, the boxes rolling away and spilling out the plates that had been neatly stacked in them. The inhuman pressure crushed down upon them, a droning creaking sound reverberating in their ears, but they couldn't tell if it was from their own bones or from the hallway around them.
Zun Zhao felt his chest burn, it was as if his lungs were going to collapse if he tried to so much as breathe. But in this situation more than ever, he remembered what his Big Brother Chen had told him. All pain was worth bearing if you bore it living the life you chose for yourself. And the choice Zun Zhao had made was that he would be as strong as his Big Brother Chen and protect his sister.
He exerted all the strength he could, his hand barely able to push against the floor. But even as he gave it his all, he found himself unable to move, he couldn't even push his body closer to his sister so that he could shield her. But just as he was tensing up so much that it felt like his veins were about to burst, a gentle force wrapped around them and blocked the pressure.
"You two, quickly, we need to get out of here!"
Tien Huang had crossed the corner closest to them at an unknown time, his blue eyes slightly bloodshot while his usually smooth black hair had clumped together due to sweat. He shielded the two of them with his Qi and helped them up, dragging them along as he started to run through the hallway.
"Young Master, what's going on?"
"Young Master, did one of the elders have a training accident?"
The twins had no idea what was going on, everything had simply happened too quickly. This clearly wasn't the best time to give an in-depth explanation, Tien Huang was perfectly aware of that, so he only gave the simplest possible one.
"It's the Enlai family, they're attacking. There's no telling what might happen so I'm bringing you two away, otherwise I won't be able to face your Big Brother Chen should he return."
Liang Chen had specifically included the Zun twins in the warning he had given both clans, if they were harmed then he would come for their heads. So the moment the attack started, Tien Huang knew that he would have to get them both away from the mansion. There was also the fact that Liang Chen had taken care of the great threat that loomed over them, the least he could do was protect these two twins while he was gone.
He quickly dragged them to one of the many secret passages in the mansion, rushing through the underground tunnels and escaping through a small hatch that opened up to one of the areas that was a few hundred metres away from the mansion. As for the mansion, over a third of it had already collapsed, the men of the Tien clan rushing to the front of it to oppose the other side.
The Enlai family's men stood by the broken gate that led into the Tien clan's headquarters, the aura of the two opposing armies shooting into the sky. But floating in the sky were the leaders of the two families, and in truth, it was they who would decide the flow of the battle.
Standing at the front of the Enlai clan's elders was their matriarch, Enlai Yuan-Hah, her crimson hair flowing freely while her green eyes had hardened with determination. Tien Bao stood against her, his white hair and sharp blue eyes forming a contrast to the youthful woman facing him.
"Is this the choice you've decided to make, Enlai Matriarch? Do you really think that they'll leave you be just because you've accepted their offer? Tearing an opposing force apart from the inside to weaken them is the standard strategy above all others so don't tell me you don't know what the next step in that strategy is!"
Tien Bao's roar resounded across a good portion of the city, his wrinkly face distorting slightly. The Zun twins had no idea what he meant with his shout, but Tien Huang knew. Someone had approached their clan not long after the destruction of Violet Dawn city, they promised them the means to win over the Enlai clan, the chance to rule the city. All they had to do was swear loyalty to them and they would be able to acquire what their ancestors had dreamt of for years.
But in the end, they rejected the offer. The other side was simply too suspicious, there was a good chance that they had given the same offer to the opposing Enlai clan. There was also another fact, Tien Bao didn't think that things would end well even if they accepted the offer. They would either be killed by the Nine Heavens Demon God if he won, or they would be killed by the party that had made the offer, they were a loose end after all.
They wouldn't be able to survive if they accepted the offer, so it was better to reject it and ensure their survival. Tien Bao knew that Enlai Yuan-Hah wasn't a fool so she had definitely also thought of this, but she didn't show any intention of backing down.
"Of course I know it! Of course, I know what end awaits us no matter what side wins! But did you see what they did to Violet Dawn city? Did you see how effortlessly they eradicated it? If both of us rejected, what do you think they would have done? Would they have just left? No, we would become another Violet Dawn city!"
The news of Violet Dawn city's destruction could not be hidden, the other party had even gone out of their way to show them images of its destruction, showing a taste of the power they offered. Enlai Yuan-Hah had given it a lot of thought, and she had made her decision.
"What choices did we have? Either we reject and you accept, resulting in the eradication of my clan. Or we both reject and both our clans are erased on this very day, just another paragraph in the history books. I am the matriarch of the Enlai clan, I am their mother and their leader, it is my duty to give them the best possible life. So hate me all you want, but I will do everything I can so that they survive and thrive, even if it's only for a short while."
Enlai Yuan-Hah held her head high as she spoke, but the only thing she radiated was an anguished pride. No matter what path she chose, she was doomed to never be able to fulfil her duty as the Enlai Matriarch, not truly. So she chose the path that would at least let her children live for a while longer, the path that would let them be happy for at least a few more years.
She raised her hand slowly after she finished her statement, a watermelon-sized heart covered in intricate runes appearing above her palm. Each pulse of the heart would send out waves of power, some of the weaker Tien clan disciples exploding into a bloody mist from just the waves alone.
Tien Huang was luckily quite far from where Enlai Yuan-Hah hovered so he and the Zun twins weren't really affected by the pulsating waves. But his face paled horribly at the sight he saw. Those were his brothers and sisters, people he had grown up with and trained with. Would this really be the end of his family, was this the decree that the heavens had set down?
"I'm going to protect you as best I can and get you to the nearest spatial array, but if worst comes to worst then you need to rely on the treasures that Big Brother Chen gave you."
Tien Huang swallowed down his tears and spoke to the twins in a trembling voice. He didn't know exactly what Liang Chen had given the twins before he left, but since he even went as far as to give them interspatial rings it shouldn't be anything weak. But he would only bring them to the closest spatial array to send them away, that would at least be enough to get them away from this calamity. After that, it would be time for him to return so that he could perform his duty as the young master and share the fate of his clan.