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Chapter 172 – The Fireworks Didn’t Bloom

Refining the Mountains and Rivers
    

    The world was cruel and not benevolent; it treated all of creation as nothing but dogs…yes, this was a phrase that had been used so many times until it was ragged. However, there was still a degree of truth to it. Whether one was a noble or a lowly beggar, there was no difference. But, if one used such a description, then there were bound to be some special exceptions.

    For instance, cultivators were a particular group that were treated with just a bit more ‘loving concern’.

    Whether it was those that were righteous, demonic, monstrous, or devils, they all had a common understanding, and it was that the world possessed its own will. But because it was restrained by certain rules, it was unable to interfere with the revolution of the great dao. The restraints of these rules could only be temporarily lifted at certain times, and that was a heavenly tribulation.

    For those cultivators that committed heinous sins, those that slaughtered, and those that enjoyed causing suffering to the mortal world, the heavenly tribulation they experienced would be far more powerful. There were few that were capable of overcoming this hurdle and many of them would be reduced to ashes.

    This wasn’t a baseless rumor, but a truth slowly revealed by previous cultivators who had experienced thunder tribulation thousands of times over. Thus, even the most ferocious and malevolent demons would try to avoid harming mortals lest they were further tainted by the cause and effect of karma, and die to the tribulation thunder as a result.

    Today, after experiencing three bolts of tribulation thunder that were far stronger than normal, Soupman fully believed that Qin Yu must have committed some evil deeds that harmed the world, and this was the only reason why he was being punished so harshly. But now, after the three strikes of heavenly tribulation came down, the tribulation clouds had yet to dissipate. Rather, an even fiercer pressure started to gradually gather.

    Something wasn’t right.

    Something definitely wasn’t right!

    This didn’t seem like heavenly tribulation anymore, but appeared as if the world itself had decided to strike down Ning Qin, ending him where he stood.

    This was something that was only briefly recorded in some ancient texts, so that was why Soupman had cursed out loud after personally experiencing the tribulation thunder for himself.

    Because, he really couldn’t imagine how many wicked deeds one had to commit to be so detested and repulsed by the world.

    The tribulation clouds above the capital city grew increasingly large. The shadow they left on the ground grew with it, and as people were caught in the shadow, their hearts shivered as if they had fallen into an icy lake.

    Old Sea muttered, “Absolute death tribulation…it is actually…absolute death tribulation…” A bitter light flashed in his eyes. “Soupman, this isn’t heavenly tribulation that you can block. Otherwise, even if you block another three strikes, there will still be more following it and it will only grow stronger each time! This hurdle is one that only Ning Qin himself can cross!”

    Soupman paled. “Do you think I don’t know? But didn’t you see the power of that heavenly tribulation just now? If I hadn’t helped, he would have definitely died!” He didn’t say anything after, but his meaning was clear: If Ning Qin died, what would His Majesty do? Of course, this was indeed not the way to speak about it, because if he were to state the reverse, then it would be that as long as His Majesty was fine, he wouldn’t care how Ning Qin died!

    Old Sea shook his head. “There’s no other way. We can only make a bet, because the longer this goes on, the more impossible it will become.”

    Soupman clenched his jaws.

    Rumble rumble –

    Tribulation clouds tumbled around like an unleashed flood. A terrifying sound resonated through the heavens and lightning lit up the world. Then, the fourth bolt of heavenly tribulation arrived! With just a glance, Soupman’s heart sank. Even if he were to personally take action, he still might not be able to escape this strike unscathed. But, if Ning Qin died, the faint ray of hope that His Majesty had would completely disappear.

    “You bastard!” Soupman roared out loud. It was unknown just who he was referring to.

    When the heavenly tribulation appeared and Soupman had intervened to resist it, the observing seafolk had quieted down and watched with wide eyes. But, no one imagined that after the third strike of heavenly tribulation, it still wouldn’t be finished.

    The aura of the fourth heavenly tribulation swept out and countless seafolk paled. They looked towards the giant sphere of spirit stones with pity and shock. They mourned for Honorable Ning. Even a Nascent Soul level existence might not be able to resist this tribulation thunder, so how could he not die? At the same time, there were many seafolk who watched with hateful and bitter expressions as they imagined those millions upon millions of spirit stones being destroyed by heavenly tribulation. It was simply mind-boggling.

    Chief Manager Wu froze in place. He looked towards the tribulation thunder with stunned shock. Just how had this escalated to this degree?

    Clearwood bit her lips, her face pale and her mind a confused wreck. She couldn’t think of anything at all.

    ...

    In a tall building far off in the distance, a mighty figure wrapped in black armor was waiting. Just by standing there, he seemed to completely suppress the area around him. There were seven or eight other seafolk in the building, sitting there in silence. If someone knowledgeable about the capital city were here, they would discover that these were some of the strongest people of the capital city, and one of them was even a key military figure. At this time, they were bowing their heads a little in order to show due deference to this truly mighty person.

    “There were definitely problems with the Companion Vine. Although the royal palace kept a tight lockdown on information, we were still able to discover it through various channels.” A fair-skinned and beautiful man spoke in a soft voice filled with regret. “Unfortunately, the incident has been solved; otherwise we would have been able to achieve our goal with the lowest possible price.”

    He looked up towards the mighty figure and then towards the sphere of spirit stones floating far off in the distance. “Although I am angry, I cannot help but acknowledge that this Honorable Ning is truly a skilled individual.”

    Another seafolk sneered. “So what if he has skills? In the end, he is not one of our people. Everyone from the Southern River Office was taken away by the Taxation Department and we weren’t able to inflict any losses at all.”

    A fat old man gnashed his teeth. “The losses weren’t only the Southern River Office, but also all of my subordinate assassins!” This was a familiar face – he was the one who had accompanied Jing Guanjin to the great sea spirit teacher competition. The assassins that were exterminated by the black riders in the street had been painstakingly cultivated by him. Of course, now he also had to add in the two masters that were killed by the royal palace guards during the initial chaotic confusion with the appearance of the spirit stone mountain.

    Another person reminded, “That’s enough. No matter what happened, he will die soon.”

    These words caused the atmosphere to ease down and those in the room to relax a little. Like a dark star that had been predestined by fate, ever since Ning Qin appeared, all of their plans had started to go wrong. They had invested a great deal of time, effort, and resources into the sea spirit teacher competition, but that plan had completely failed. Not only that, but they had paid with Jing Guanjin and his master Wu Zetian. There was finally some good news with the plot they had established in the royal palace, but that had also been ruined by Ning Qin. Because of that, the Southern River Office had been exposed. A series of chain reactions followed that, and as time passed more and more people were killed off.

    But now, Ning Qin was finally going to die.

    But what a pity, the plans they had prepared for all these years had been upended. They had missed out on the chance they had tried to create, and could only watch on helplessly as it occurred. Everyone turned towards the great figure looking out of the window and they felt their hearts calm down. Even though the man hadn’t said a single word, he was still able to stabilize their thoughts.

    As long as he was here, there would eventually be a chance to succeed.

    Coming around a bit, one could clearly see the face of the man reflected in the window. With his black armor serving as contrast, he emitted a powerful god-like aura. This was also another familiar face. If Qin Yu were here, he would recognize this powerful existence from the conflict he had with Princess Lushy a long time ago.

    Whale Sovereign!

    Standing before the window, this extremely well-polished man, who many seafolk considered the cornerstone of the empire, was now gently frowning. But what was surprising was that Jing Guanjin’s defeat, Wu Zetian losing his Purple Card, the Companion Vine’s chance being lost, the Southern River Office being exposed…he didn’t think about these matters at all.

    Because in the opinion of the Whale Sovereign, trying to overturn the heavens and change the skies was a very difficult task, and failures and unexpected accidents were bound to occur.

    At this time, what he was thinking about was why this Ning Qin, this Honorable Ning, produced such an inexplicable feeling of loathing and familiarity in him. Perhaps others might ignore such a feeling, but after reaching his cultivation and nearing the Divine Soul realm, he could faintly feel the pull of fate.

    Unfortunately, this person was going to die. Under the assault of such powerful heavenly tribulation, even his mortal body would be reduced to ashes, so there wouldn’t be anything to investigate.

    At this moment within the capital city, everyone gathered thought that Honorable Ning would die. This was because heavenly tribulation didn’t care about anything else; it was only a test of absolute strength.

    The Whale Sovereign believed this, Soupman believed this, Old Sea believed this, and even the two troops of people who had arrived here almost simultaneously also believed this.

    …

    The little girl pushed open the carriage window and looked out with wide eyes full of surprise and shock. As she watched the heavenly tribulation fall down from the clouds and sensed the horrifying destructive intent that filled them, she subconsciously shrank back. She asked in a small voice, “Seventh Aunt, is Honorable Ning the one crossing tribulation?”

    The woman’s face darkened. She squeezed out a smile and nodded. Things were far beyond her initial expectations. Honorable Ning was crossing tribulation and it was also the fabled absolute death tribulation.

    Taking advantage of Honorable Ning’s skills, Sea Spirit Pavilion had experienced a tremendous rise recently. It was like they had climbed a great mountain, but if something were to happen to Honorable Ning, they would also fall back accordingly. Not only would they suffer heavy losses but they would also have to deal with the counterattack from other sea spirit influences.

    The little girl had no idea of the troubles her family would encounter. She only looked at the sphere of spirit stones and sighed. She thought that this Honorable Ning was incredibly rich, but she also felt pity for him. Perhaps the most painful thing in this world was to have almost unlimited wealth but be unable to spend it.

    …

    Xue Zheng frowned. A cold killing intent rushed out from him like an icy wave, causing everyone around to retreat in panic. They were all frightened. Just where had this person come from? He had such a terrifying aura!

    Within the carriage, the Vice Priest had a gloomy expression and his lips were twisted with bitterness. He thought that they had a faint ray of hope, but he never expected that after he decided to make a desperate gamble to come here, there would actually be such a result.

    Had good fortune abandoned them or was this the dark tides of fate? Had the destiny of their Moon Praying Shrine come to an end?

    The white-robed girl had a sad expression. She opened her mouth, wanting to speak some words of comfort, but she discovered that her heart was in chaos and she had no idea what to say. She looked out of the window towards the great sphere of spirit stones.

    The hope of their Moon Praying Shrine was in there. It had been within reach, but in the end they were far too late.

    …

    The fourth heavenly tribulation brought with it an all-annihilating aura. It crossed the heavens and earth to arrive here, and the moment it touched the spirit stones, it vanished from sight.

    This was normal. Heavenly tribulation could not be avoided, unless an external cause-and-effect were to intervene (for instance, Soupman blocking the heavenly tribulation). Thus, no matter how one tried to hide, heavenly tribulation would always find them, crossing infinite space to strike down upon their head.

    What followed should be a brilliant show of fireworks.

    Cultivators cultivated to go against the heavens and change their lives. They drew the heaven and earth spiritual strength into their bodies, transforming that into their cultivation as well as a powerful magic power. When a cultivator died to heavenly tribulation, an invisible will would descend, returning all of this to its origin back into the world.

    In other words, a cultivator’s cultivation and magic power would revert back to spiritual strength. This was an extremely gorgeous and soul-stirring sight, thus others said it seemed like fireworks Of course, each time these fireworks appeared, it represented the death of a cultivator due to failing tribulation.

    Perhaps it was more appropriate to call it the most sorrowful fireworks in the world.

    A breath of time passed.

    Then two breaths.

    Three breaths.

    Everything remained calm.

    The fireworks hadn’t blossomed!