The land that spread out in front of Liang Chen after he stepped through the entrance, and what felt like a thin film of folded space, was far too familiar to him. He stood on top of a tall mountain and overlooked vast wilderness dotted with lakes, plains, other mountains, and even a grand volcano puffing out smoke.
Large corpses of various sizes also dotted the landscape, Demonic beasts of every type imaginable spread about. This was the first floor, the Demon's Graveyard, and it housed the multitude of corpses that the Sealing God Empyrean had picked up during the Genesis War of the ancient past.
But while the landscape was exceedingly familiar to him, Liang Chen's attention was focused on something else. He could feel something, his blood was flowing faster and his Qi was moving about in an agitated manner. There was something above him, something beyond this first floor that was resonating with his bloodline. But his blood was that of a Voidborn Ruler, what sort of existence could possibly resonate with him? Were there actually Voidborn hidden away within this pagoda?
"Keep your vigilance raised, Yumao, we may need to fight once we reach the higher floors."
Liang Chen's goal was the top floor, that was definitely where the Sealing God Empyrean would have left the mechanism that controlled this pagoda. And since he was going up anyway then it was inevitable that he would encounter the thing that resonated with his bloodline, and he would have to be ready for it when that time came. Yumao nodded his head solemnly, Liang Chen scooping up the lotus that was resting on his shoulder.
"Sorry, but you'll also have to go into the ring for a bit. Don't worry, the environment there will be better than on my shoulder, I'll make sure of that."
The leaves of the flower fluttered softly as if to show their understanding, the flower disappearing from his palm as he stored it into his interspatial ring. The interspatial ring he was using was something made by someone known as Sovereign Blacksmith, it could hold minor living beings like plants and he could even speed up or slow down the passage of time in it.
He didn't put the lotus into the orb where Hui Xin and the others were and instead planted it in a more secluded spot, pouring in some of his lighting and death-tinged Qi to feed it. He then increased the flow of time around that particular area so that the lotus could grow faster, it may even have altered the area around it to perfectly suit it the next time he checked on it.
"Alright, now it's just us. There are two places I want to check out before we ascend, please accompany me. You can pick up whatever you want on the way, no real reason to just leave it behind."
Liang Chen stepped onto Yumao's back as he spoke, the feathered serpent nodding his head and flapping his wings. The two shot into the distance, Liang Chen pointing out the path so that they could quickly reach their target. And the first target Liang Chen had designated was a large corpse, at least 100 metres long.
The corpse had eight long legs that resembled thick spears, a pure white carapace covering its entire body. The corpse of this spider seemed untouched, only a small hole in its chest forming a blemish on its body. This hole was something Liang Chen himself had left behind when he had plunged his spear into it to draw out the blood of the spider.
He and Yan Ling had been surrounded back then, besieged by countless enemies. And he had drenched himself in the blood and allowed its power to enter his body, practically turning him into a mindless beast fueled by nothing but poison and lightning, it was the day he got the title of Scourge King. And the poison of this spider remained one of his strongest even to this day, it liquefied the bonds that kept a person's cells together.
"We meet again. Although I'm not as beaten and battered as I was back then."
Liang Chen spoke as if the spider could hear him, but even the smallest traces of its soul had already vanished with the passage of time. But that was fine, he didn't come here to reminisce about what happened back then, he came to pick up what he could get back then.
He stopped in front of the spider and drew his spear, splitting the corpse down the middle with a single swing. And there, tucked away close to the mouth of the spider, were its dull white poison glands as well as a small sac that seemed to be filled with liquefied golden lightning. Liang Chen loosened all three sacs, the energy within them resonating with the energy in his own body.
His own lightning was already stronger than the lightning of this spider so the lightning sac wouldn't be of too much assistance, nor would the poison sacs for that matter, but they would be good cultivation resources when he needed a strong source of energy. He tossed the items into his interspatial ring, making sure to not drop them into the orb so that none of the disciples, or Lan Yun, accidentally touched them.
"One last stop, it's the least I can do for him."
Liang Chen hopped onto Yumao's back and the two left the area, Yumao quietly snatching up all the corpses they passed by. The ones suitable could be saved for Liang Chen, but the rest could be freely eaten by him. Their cultivations weren't the highest since they were left behind in this graveyard, but they would be enough to form a good snack.
The last place Liang Chen wanted to visit was quickly reached, Yumao landing at the side of a silver lake. Liang Chen walked along the shore of the lake until he reached the thing he was looking for, the corpse of a man sitting with his legs crossed.
The middle-aged man had chiselled features and flowing silver hair, even now it was flowing slightly despite the lack of a breeze. He looked like he was just sleeping, but there was no trace of life in his body, he was long dead.
This was the corpse of a Sebettu, one that had fallen during the ancient Genesis War. The man had left a bit of his residual soul in his soulsea even after death, just in case he ever met another member of his race he could tell his story to. And the person he met was Liang Chen, still young and unsure about his own origins.
This was where Liang Chen learned the truth, where the memories his biological parents had stored inside him had been awakened. It had also been where his bloodline had started to awaken, where he had gained his law of time.
The man hadn't known Liang Chen, the two hadn't even exchanged their names since they had so little time. But even so, the man's last words weren't once of remembrance or vengeance, of duty to his race. He had just told Liang Chen to live as he wished, to follow his heart and live as what he believed himself to be, be it Sebettu or Human.
"Senior, this Junior has returned. The Sebettu are still living even after losing the Genesis War, their state isn't terribly good, but they're still alive. I can't say that I have any ties with them, but the least I can do is return your body to them, the place you deserve to rest is the place you called home."
Liang Chen cupped his hands respectfully and gave the corpse a slight bow. This man was someone worthy of respect, at least in Liang Chen's eyes. Now that he had returned there was no way he would just leave the corpse here, it had to be returned home, to whatever family he may have left behind.
He placed his hand on the corpse and drew it into his interspatial ring, finding it a secluded place where it wouldn't be disturbed by anything. With this, he had accomplished everything he desired here on the lowest floor, all that remained for him would lie above, his gaze rising towards the sky.
"Come, let's break through it all."
He stepped onto Yumao's back and brought out his spear again, the feathered serpent flapping his wings and shooting towards the sky. They reached the hidden ceiling before long, Yumao breaking directly through it to enter the second floor. From the first to the second, then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, they broke through ceiling after ceiling, circumvented every floor and trial that they may contain.
Liang Chen had no respect for the Sealing God Empyrean and even less respect for the tower and trials he had set up, he would shatter them all so that there would never be a day where he would suck in countless innocents for his trials. It became a bit harder when they reached the higher floors, but when Liang Chen drew out the first moves of his Dragon King's Six Steps, even the higher floors had to give way for them.
The resonating sensation coming from his bloodline and Qi got closer and closer as they broke through to the higher floors, reaching a crescendo as they burst through the ground of the ninth and final floor. The ninth floor was a bit different from the other floors, which so far had all contained some of the things the Sealing God Empyrean had encountered in the Genesis Wars. Hordes of beast corpses, the wails of deceased souls, all-encompassing dread that pulled you down, endless darkness that made it so you couldn't see around you.
There was nothing like that on this floor, the only thing there was a large sapphire palace with six spires surrounding it. The six spires connected together at the very top, curving around to form the intricate image of a lock above the palace. The gates of the palace were shut tight, but they slid open without any fuss the moment Liang Chen placed his hands on them.
He could see markings of what looked like an array engraved around the hinges of the door and on the floor, but the array was already broken, cut into pieces so that it couldn't activate. That was most likely why nothing happened as he pushed open the door, not congratulations that he had reached the last floor of the pagoda, no announcement of the final trial, there was just silence.
But Liang Chen could see that he wasn't alone. There was someone sitting within the large statue-decorated hall that spread out beyond the doors. The statues had all been broken so that he couldn't see who they were supposed to depict, but it was probably the Sealing God Empyrean. But Liang Chen couldn't be bothered to pay attention to this, all his focus was placed squarely on the man seated within the hall.
The man looked a bit old, as if he was reaching the later stages of his middle-ages, he had short brown hair and kind blue eyes, a soft and endearing expression on his face. His sky blue robe was decorated with markings that looked like brown feathers, it looked a bit odd compared to a normal robe.
But the thing that really drew Liang Chen's attention was the man's aura. It felt slightly familiar but at the same time, unlike anything he had ever sensed before. It was as if the aura contained everything in the world, from the smallest mote of dust to the grandest dragon, it was everything but also only him. There were several hundred screens floating in front of the man, but he had clearly sensed Liang Chen, his gaze had already drifted towards him the moment he stepped into the hall.
"I see. I wonder if this is that thing people call fate? Does that mean that not even we can manage to escape its grasp in the end? Or is it just a coincidence, a small flash of two paths that intersect before they're supposed to? How curious."