The endless expanse of the North Seas rippling waters was largely calm, broken only by the flight of a few waterfowl.
After barely managing to reattach its broken claw, the Golden Lion King darted as a horrified, golden streak of light back toward Levitating Island.
Upon repairing its origin dao fruit, Scarlet Ape had expressly warned it not to leave the island without permission. For good reason, it seemed, as the lion king had encountered disastrous trouble as soon as itd disobeyed.
The foreclaw seemed a light injury, but the stroke had damaged its lifeforce. As a result, it was now a thousand times slower than its uninjured self. A distance that could once have been traversed several times in a single breath now took considerably longer to cross.
The marine waters exploded in a spray of salinity. Sunlight glinted off countless blades flashing through the sky with pernicious intent toward the golden lion.
“Who is it!” the lion king roared angrily. Its fiery golden fur bristled with blazing radiance in an attempt to parry the oncoming attacks, but the sword lights were simply too terrifyingly sharp. They cut through his defensive flames like hot knives through butter.
Despair bubbled up in the lions eyes.
“Peak origin dao!” it howled hoarsely with desperation.
“No. I am missing a single perfect origin dao fruit for that.” A shadowy figure swooped down from above. “That final fruit will come from you,” he chuckled softly, longsword still unsheathed.
“Stop!” Upon Levitating Island, Scarlet Ape was both shocked and furious. It summoned its iron staff with a quick wave, then soared into the sky on a rescue mission.
A bleached hand slapped it back down from the air.
“If you dare leave, I will destroy everything on Levitating Island,” it communicated through thought waves.
The master of Ingress Island!
It was the eponym of the realm after the dao immortal realm, and the lord of Ingress Island was one of the few remaining ingress immortals in the world.
“When you returned to the world, you devastated Ingress Island and slew an innumerable amount of my disciples. Today, my disciple will take that Golden Lion Kings perfected origin dao fruit for his own. Such is cause and effect,” intoned the island lord.
The man wielding the sword over the waves was the leader of one of the North Seas three great factions: the head of the Dark North Sword Sect!
Tongues of flame almost blazed from Scarlet Apes eyes in the depths of his rage. The ants itd crushed were worthless, compared to a real origin dao immortal!
“Fine!” it spat out suddenly. “Dragon veins! Give me the four dragon veins from Ingress Island and the Dark North Sword Sect. Otherwise… this seat will destroy both of your factions if its the last thing I do!”
Originally, itd planned on sneaking in and personally stealing the veins. Now that it was prevented from saving the lion king, the least it could do was seek compensation. Besides, itd told the Golden Lion King more than once not to leave Levitating Island or act directly in the world of immortals. This was the consequence of its own foolhardiness.
“Acceptable,” the Ingress lord replied after a long while. “What use have you for dragon veins”
“I made a deal with the kid of Dusk Province. Hes the one who wants them.” Scarlet Ape wasnt interested in keeping Lu Yuns secrets. On the contrary, it wanted the entire world to know that dragon veins could heal shattered earth veins and restore the natural order.
Although the lions origin dao fruit had been repaired by Scarlet Ape, it was powerless against the head of the Dark North Sword Sect.
Three sword strokes later, the sect master walked away victorious, a sparkling origin dao fruit now his. Hefting the lion kings corpse in his other hand, he returned to his sect in a single step.
As if on cue, the bleached hand outside Levitating Island slowly retracted into the void. Four snarling dragon veins brandishing their claws flew from the Dark North Sword Sect and Ingress Island onto Levitating Island shortly thereafter.
Retiring to the floating peak at the center of the island, Scarlet Ape looked very grim indeed.
No one paid any attention to the Golden Lion Kings death. The rampaging sword auras over the North Sea had caused no commotion elsewhere. Aside from Scarlet Ape himself, no one on Levitating Island had even noticed the Ingress Island lords intervention.
Dusk Province was being rebuilt for the umpteenth time.
However, the most recent devastation had also been the most complete; this time, obliterating public sentiment as well. Her few survivors had departed alongside the other cultivators, no longer considering Dusk their home. Plenty of Lu and Chen immortals and cultivators were among their ranks, hiding their names and lineages to wander the rest of the world.
Lu Yun made no effort to stop them.
Everyone had their own goals in life. Dusk Province was on the path to becoming the worlds greatest enemy, and its destruction at regular intervals was no laughing matter. He couldnt begrudge them for their prudence—not when he very much agreed with it.
Legions of Infernum marched out from hell to assist in rebuilding the province. The East Sea Court, Panorama Pavilion, and Star Demon Sect all contributed a tremendous amount of resources and craftsmen to help as well.
Soon, great cities rose up from the ground once more. Three hundred sixty-five in all, they were arranged in a special pattern upon the provinces forty thousand kilometers of land. To the knowing eye, they formed a colossal feng shui layout.
The new Dusk City was ten times bigger than before, and now spanned five hundred kilometers across. Mortals and cultivators alike would have a hard time hiking from one side to the other. A myriad of buildings towered across the landscape inside the city, forming uncounted feng shui layouts in turn.
Lu Yun had poured everything he knew into the new city. After innumerable hours of calculation and research, hed come up with this final draft. Every brick and tile were manufactured and placed according to a meticulous standard.
The inheritance tower stood in the citys northeast, glittering with dazzling sword light.
“Youre not just building a city… what is all this” Qing Ruyan asked, astonished by the scale of the city.
The city had been planned out in an excessively orderly fashion. It didnt seem like a place for the living at all. None of the remaining Lu and Chen clan immortals resided in the capital; theyd all been assigned to other cities. The rebuilt provincial capital was completely empty.
“Youll know soon enough.”
Lu Yun gently tousled the hair of Qing Ruyans daughter in her mothers arms. Liu Qingmiao was only a few months old; though she was the monster spirit ancestors reincarnation, and had heaven-defying potential, she was just a sleeping baby for the moment.
“We can begin now,” he said.
“Have you really decided” Qing Ruyan looked rather serious. “Youll be funding your enemies this way! Theres too many of them. Even if they get something of yours, they wont be grateful to you for it.”
“Im just a perceived void cultivator. Theres no way I can make that many enemies alone.” Lu Yun shook his head. “Anyone in my position will become a public enemy sooner or later.
“But…” he raised his head toward the cerulean sky, “I dont want to die, and I dont have much time. If I could, I really would prefer taking things quietly slow and steady instead…”
Qing Ruyan tilted her head quizzically at the young man, who shook his head again wordlessly.
“Alright. I hope you can bear the consequences of this… of teaching the entire world that supplemental paths are king…” Qing Ruyan flicked her wrist.
A shower of golden shimmers flew from her fingers into every direction. They were headed for every major, every land, and every nook and cranny where geniuses and experts lived: Panorama Pavilion invitations in the form of faintly sparkling talismans.
As one of the top three mercantile organizations in the world, the Pavilion had an incomprehensible amount of wealth and power at its disposal. Qing Ruyan had sent out invitations to the entire world with only a wave of her hand.
Everyone who received an invitation was informed the Panorama Pavilion was hosting an auction of legendary proportions. It had done so only twice in eighty thousand years of this eras history. Each auction had elevated many factions to new heights, while causing a great deal of death and destruction in the process.
Now, a third auction of worldwide scale was upon them once more.
“Dusk Province.” Many people furrowed their brows at the indicated address.
Dusk Province, of all places
After its veins were destroyed two months ago, it mustve already become an inhospitable environment for cultivators. And yet, the Panorama Pavilion was hosting their third great auction there…
“An auction of this level will be hosted by all ten of the best merchant guilds in the world. I doubt the Panorama Pavilion has executive authority alone,” one intrepid invitee inhaled. “This is hope for our race. Even if the auction takes place at the bottom of the mythical abyss, we will still go!”
Just like both times before, the Panorama Pavilion had been one to send out the invitations. When the actual gatherings were held, though, all ten mercantile organizations were joint hosts of the two prior auctions. However, this time was different—only the Panorama Pavilion was involved.
Hesitation stayed the footsteps of the other nine. If Panorama Pavilion was brave enough to send out the invitations, they must have something prepared.
The auction was slated to take place in three months time.
Standing upon the capitals battlements, Lu Yun inclined his head toward the North Sea. “Please come to keep the peace in three months, honored seniors.”
A dragons croon and phoenixs cry answered in the affirmative.-