Lunhui, the sword of the end and the beginning. Liang Chen had honestly expected that it would bring with it some awe-inspiring or horrifying power, pressure and terror befitting of a sword that got such a heavy description. But there was no such thing, there wasn't even sound.
The only thing that accompanied that descending sword was an all-encompassing emptiness, a lack of purpose. If Liang Chen were to put it into words then perhaps the best one would be completion, as strange as it sounded. Everything that needed to be done had been completed, but there was no joy or contentment accompanying that sensation, only emptiness and a bitter taste in the mouth.
But the destruction brought about by that emptiness was truly something that fit the description of the blade. The earth vanished and the sky was pushed apart, what little remained of the earth took the place of the sky and the fragments of the sky took the place of the earth, both of them spinning in a seemingly never-ending cycle that ground everything it trapped to dust.
Liang Chen hadn't even been able to see when the attack properly launched, the world had simply suddenly reversed. He could feel a thin layer of energy surrounding him, it carried the same scent as the Heaven Splitting King so it was probably something he set up so that Liang Chen and Yumao weren't torn apart by the attack.
Liang Chen had grown strong, he knew that, he didn't doubt that fact. He was strong, stronger than many others. But the path to the peak was still long, and the difference between him and a true ruler was still so vast that it looked insurmountable.
But this was far from enough to discourage him, it only made his determination and conviction burn all the brighter. This was the stage he sought, once he stood in that realm he would be truly fit to become the prime evil, the darkness that swallowed up all other darkness. Only that realm was high enough to help him fulfil his desires. So he made sure he didn't blink for even a second, sharpening his senses more than ever before as he observed the realm he would one day reach.
Even amidst the destruction that made even the world itself reverse, Tian Shen was able to remain standing. One of his hands had opened slightly, a faint trace of energy seeping out from him and stabilizing the world around him. No trace of the revolving world or its grinding force could enter that small bubble around him, it only made it tremble faintly.
"So you can do it, that's great. Come, Tian Shen, show me your tricks and skills, pull out everything you've got!"
Yin Long didn't seem disappointed that his attack had been blocked, the edges of his lips actually turned up in a faintly excited manner. He charged forward, his sword held at his side as he reached Tian Shen in practically an instant.
A sideways slash swept towards Tian Shen's throat, Liang Chen's own throat suddenly feeling as if a hand had grasped it tightly, blocking off the flow of air. It was the same as the two earlier attacks he had seen, one filled with emotions and traces of pain. But Liang Chen had no idea what it was, how an attack could contain emotions and even influence those who saw it, he simply couldn't understand it or the concept behind it.
Was this perhaps linked to what Yin Long had said earlier, that it was a shame that he wasn't a true spearman? Liang Chen had no idea what made someone a proper spearman, but he didn't think that Yin Long had said it for no good reason so he couldn't help but connect these two points.
Tian Shen's hand rose in response to Yin Long's incoming sword, a faint frown on his face due to the uncomfortable sensation. Something that looked like the head of a hawk appeared in front of Yin Long's sword, its beak gleaming like metal as it opened its mouth to bite down.
But the sword curved down strangely at that very moment, and the emotion that ravaged the surroundings changed at the same time. Heavy suffocation was replaced by hollow hunger, Liang Chen suddenly feeling as if he hadn't eaten in his entire life, as if he had starved since he was born.
But Tian Shen's defence was as sudden as Yin Long's attack, the eagle head turning into water that flowed down and formed a barrier in front of the blade. The water was gleaming and sparkling, it looked as refreshing as spring water, and Liang Chen did not doubt that this water was definitely packed with nutrients it shouldn't be able to contain, a perfect counter to the strange hunger.
Tian Shen also retreated at the same time, stepping back while pushing out one of his hands. Something that looked like a small transparent silver sun orbited by six differently coloured planets appeared in front of him, whizzing towards Yin Long to catch him as his own attack was blocked by the water.
Liang Chen could see the fragmented pieces of the sky, and space itself twist and revolt as the sun passed by it, it was as if it was being stretched, twisted, and crushed all at once. It was an attack that Liang Chen couldn't quite understand, but the same was true for the defence that Yin Long mounted.
A pale silver sword covered in several sets of leaf-like patterns appeared in his other hand and was brought down upon the sun, passing through it seemingly without issue. And after the sword passed through it, the sun and the six planets around it just seemed to fall apart, drifting apart and dispersing, even the effect they had on the surroundings fell apart in the same strange manner.
And at the same time as he dispersed that sun, his other sword clashed with the barrier of water, another scene Liang Chen couldn't really understand playing out in front of him. The Heaven Splitting King's sword changed once more, or perhaps it was better to say that the emotion in it changed, hollow hunger turning into burning thirst, a ravaged throat trying to force down so much seawater that it was slowly getting pickled.
And then, as the barrier of water faded away due to the thirst, Yin Long's sword multiplied. One turned into countless as exact duplicates appeared all around the area, spreading out so far that they seemed to pass over the horizon. All the swords swung at once, but all their power was gathered in a single point. One turned into many, but the many were still one.
All the power descended upon Tian Shen without mercy or hesitation, millions of attacks turning into a single blade. But Tian Shen did not panic, the bubble around him twisting slightly so that it formed an arrow around him. The tip of the arrow pushed against the descending power, scattering it and turning it into fluttering dandelions. The attack was dispersed into the revolving world, but the arrow-shaped defensive shell cracked like an egg, seemingly on the verge of shattering.
Liang Chen could feel his breath clogging his throat as he observed the battle, it was so far above any realm he was familiar with that it was laughable. He couldn't even understand half the things that were going on, their underlying principles simply flew over his head. But there was one thing he understood, something he realized thanks to his law of time.
What he had felt when Yin Long raised his sword hadn't been a trick of the mind. He couldn't sense the law of time in anything Yin Long did, but time froze whenever his sword didn't move. The seconds would only tick away whenever he swung his weapon, that sword had taken over even the role of time in this world, this battle. He didn't have the law of time, but even that law was forced to bend to his sword.
"You've really built yourself a tough eggshell, I don't even want to think about how tough the defence of your actual body is. But that's good, the more my sword struggles to pierce your defence the more there is to learn. A bit of a shame that you're mostly defending though, so how about we kick things up a notch to force your hands a bit more? Watch closely, Liang Chen, this is what it means to have a few supreme techniques up your sleeve."
The Heaven Splitting King didn't look sad that his attacks had been blocked, his eyes only burned with greater fervour than earlier. Tian Shen's expression hardened slightly as Yin Long spoke, Liang Chen focusing fully to catch whatever the Heaven Splitting King was going to do next.
"The first sword is Huafen, it exists for me and me alone and it speaks of the eternal separation and the empty table."
The Heaven Splitting King raised his arm as he spoke, the sword he had created using the Mystic's Hidden Realm floating up and hovering above him, pointing straight to the sky. Time seemed to freeze entirely as loneliness swallowed everything else, a single sword so alone that it hurt.
"The second sword is Esi, it exists for the abandoned farmers and it howls for the children digging for mud and roots to fill their bellies."
Another sword appeared as Yin Long spoke, hovering to his right and pointing towards the distant horizon. The hollow hunger that erupted from this sword competed with the loneliness, a very faint creaking sound piercing Liang Chen's ears as the two differing emotions seemed to ravage the world. But then the Heaven Splitting King raised his hand for the third time.
"The third sword is Yongbao, and it exists for the beauty of the world, it sings of reunion and embraces even in the darkest nights."
A third sword appeared around Yin Long, hovering to his left and pointing in the opposite direction of Esi. The creaking sound instantly halted as this third sword appeared, the sheer joy and relief it radiated imposing a balance upon the hunger and loneliness, like a small boat riding around on and pushing down rampant waves.
And with the appearance of the third sword, the world was forced to its knees. Sound vanished, the wind vanished, the revolving world vanished. Everything disappeared, all that remained was Yin Long and those three swords, even Tian Shen looked like just a flickering candle when compared.
Yin Long stood amidst the radiance of the three swords, his body radiating what could only be called all the might of the world, everything was beneath him. And then Tian Shen suddenly blocked, hastily raising his arm and creating several hundred yellow butterflies at his side. The butterflies were cut in half the moment they appeared, but each of them released a repulsive force that made even this seemingly empty world creak and groan.
Liang Chen hadn't seen it, but he knew what happened, Yin Long had launched an attack. But he hadn't even seen the smallest hint of it, no movement of Qi or his muscles. Had it been too fast for him to see or had Yin Long actually not made any moves? He couldn't tell.
But him not being able to tell didn't mean that Yin Long would stop launching attacks. Tian Shen's hands flashed about so fast that Liang Chen only saw after images, thousands upon thousands of hands appearing all around Tian Shen as he birthed strange being after strange being. Each being seemed to consist of some natural force, but each of them was split apart by something Liang Chen couldn't even see or sense.
Was this a fight between true powerhouses? Was this the extent of their secret techniques, their supreme skills honed through years of practice? Yin Long's attacks couldn't even be perceived by him, but Tian Shen was blocking them all, only the slight bending of his knees showing that it was taking a toll on this avatar to block it all.
A faint light flashed in Tian Shen's pupils, a gleam of resolve appearing in his gaze. Power started to suddenly fill his body, as if he had found a new source of energy to replenish whatever he used. His knees straightened and his speed increased, his hands and their after images vanishing as they started to move so fast that Liang Chen couldn't see them any longer.
"Yeah, there we go, that's how it should be. Draw in as much power as you can, let's go all the way, Tian Shen, let's pull out all our cards and really spread our wings!"
It didn't seem like any turn of events could dampen the excitement of the Heaven Splitting King, everything that happened only pushed it to greater heights. He threw out both his arms as if he was going to embrace Tian Shen, but what came after showed that he hadn't chosen his previous words on a whim.
Swords appeared behind his left side, hundreds upon thousands of them, each of them unique. And then, as Liang Chen watched, the swords gathered together, linked up as they connected to the back of Yin Long's shoulder. A wing quickly took form behind Yin Long, each feather a sword, each one radiating so much power that Liang Chen could feel his eyes bleed from just looking at them.
Only the left wing was formed, but Liang Chen could already feel the world trembling. Everything that his senses touched was trembling and crying, the land, the sky, the wind, the plants, everything was bemoaning the end. Liang Chen had no idea what the Heaven Splitting King was going to pull out, but he was confident that it would bring an end to this land, it might just break Purgatory's Cradle in its entirety, it was not something that was supposed to exist.
But as the swords that were supposed to form the right wing started to appear behind Yin Long, a scene neither of them had expected unfolded. A dagger suddenly broke through the back of Tian Shen's head, as if it had pierced through the back of his mouth. Smoke-like darkness welled out from Tian Shen's open mouth and the rest of his orifices, spilling to the ground almost like water as the growing energy in Tian Shen's body was abruptly cut off.
"Ha~ah, I knew this was going to happen. You're an idiot, not even Huafen will be able to maintain itself if you bring out the wings, what would you do if he managed to escape before you destroyed this avatar?"
A voice rose up from the smokey darkness, he could tell where it was coming from, but it also felt as if it was ringing within the empty space of Liang Chen's own head at the same time. He didn't know who, he didn't know when, he didn't know how, but someone else had arrived in this sealed-off space.