No one had expected the Dusk River God to manifest and forcibly interrupt the Dusk River Sacrament! Likewise, no one doubted the girl’s true identity. Who else but the Dusk River God would be able to interrupt the ritual and calm the maddened river?
All of the Dusk cultivators bowed down, kowtowing and worshipping her. An endless supply of gratitude flowed into Xuanxi’s body, devout sentiments that propelled the vestiges of her strength back to the empyrean immortal level and beyond.
No one was more grateful to her than Dusk residents. It was she who’d suppressed the ancient Dusk Tomb and ended the calamity of evil. It was she who’d sealed the tomb with her own life.
Over the past thousand years, the frequency at which the spirits and specters rioted had been significantly lower. Therefore, it was no wonder that the cultivators would offer the river god their most fervent gratitude and belief as soon as she appeared.
“You bastards and idiots! The river god is dead! This is a water monster born out of the river!!” Lu Yuanhou frothed at the mouth to see the river god grow ever more powerful from the cultivators’ worship. Anyone who wrested his opportunity away was his worst enemy!
“Kill her!!” he roared again, but no one dared do anything. The immortals from the Feng and Lu Clans were no exception. A strange influence had risen from the Dusk cultivators and formed a weighty atmosphere, converging heavily on the immortals like a gargantuan mountain.
It didn’t result in physical damage, but it could destroy their spirits. Unity of will was invincible!
Xuanxi had protected the province for a thousand years. Her place in the locals’ hearts was even greater than that of the Nephrite celestial emperor. Her mere presence commanded and banded together the will of all living beings in Dusk Province, in return creating a power that guarded the river god.
She had been dead for a millenium, but that wasn’t such a long period of time for cultivators. Some of those who’d weathered the initial great unrest from the Dusk Tomb still lived. They passed down the river god’s deeds to those around them, praising her for her benevolence. Tales of her actions had thus traveled through generation upon generation.
More importantly, she was the deity they sacrificed to at the Dusk River Sacrament every century. Those of Dusk Province had never forgotten about her.
“How can this be?! How?!” Feng Li and Lu Yuanhou had completely lost their calm.
“Do you all want to rebel by worshipping a water monster?!” snapped Feng Li.
“Rebel?” a coolly mocking voice floated from the river as a young man in black emerged from behind Xuanxi.
“Qing Han! Why are you with that witch?!” Feng Li and Lu Yuanhou’s expression fell. Unlike Feng Li, Qing Han was the true envoy of the celestial emperor. Everything he did represented His Majesty.
“Witch?” Qing Han scoffed. “Are you calling the river god, the one who used her own body as a seal and kept the province protected for a thousand years, a witch? What schemes are the two of you cooking up?”
“Nonsense!” Feng Li’s thoughts had reordered themselves by now. He might be known as a skirt-chaser in Nephrite Capital, but he was craftier than Lu Yuanhou. “The river god died after sealing the ancient tomb a thousand years ago,” he denounced. “She couldn’t possibly have come back to life after all this time!”
Xuanxi silently scanned the crowd on the riverbank with clear eyes. The Dusk denizens hadn’t forgotten about her even after a millenium. They attended the ritual for her, rather than treating it as a perfunctory mission. That truly did move her.
“If the river god is dead, why would I be here?” Qing Han snorted. “The river god sealed the entrance to the ancient tomb with her own body, but no one witnessed her death, did they?”
He brandished the token given to him by the celestial emperor and boomed solemnly, “Receive your imperial decree, Xuanxi!”
Xuanxi curtsied gracefully.
“On behalf of His Majesty the Celestial Emperor, I do appoint thee the Dusk River God. Thou art to guard the river and protect all lives in Dusk Province. What say you?”
Everyone on the riverbank held their breaths and stared unblinkingly at the figures floating above the Dusk River.
“Xuanxi receives the decree,” Xuanxi responded quietly.
A commotion broke out from the crowd. The Nephrite court had invested the river god with a title! She must be the real deal!
Although it had been Qing Han who appointed her, the token in his hand indicated that he represented the will of the celestial emperor. There was no difference between his actions and the celestial emperor issuing the decree himself.
The heavenly court naturally had the authority to bestow titles onto divine spirits. Those who were officially recognized were true gods.
Many factions still hunted ‘wild’ divine spirits in the world of immortals, but no one dared lay a finger on an appointed deity. Like the governor, the true gods were members of the court and represented its authority.
“Let the Dusk River Sacrament end today,” Xuanxi murmured. “The entrance to the tomb at the bottom of the river has been completely sealed.”
Another bout of cheers broke out on the riverbank.
“Don’t do anything reckless!” Sensing his companion’s rising anger, Feng Li hurriedly grabbed Lu Yuanhou and transmitted caution. “This was merely an opportunity to improve our cultivation. Just let it go.”
Lu Yuanhou gnashed his teeth when he saw Lu Yun walking toward them atop the river. He’d lost again!
“No more Dusk River Sacrament?” He broke into a sudden smile. “If that’s the case, take the offerings and go.”
The Lu and Feng clans sighed in relief. The power of the altar had dissipated, so the Lu Clan ascended the altar and made a grab for Wanfeng.
“Wait!” Xuanxi frowned slightly.
“What is it?” Lu Yuanhou feigned confusion. “Is there something else you want, Honored River God?”
“Leave the offerings,” said Xuanxi.
Lu Yuanhou burst into raucous laughter. “Are you joking, Honored River God? Since the ritual is no more, what do you need the offerings for? This young master brought them here, so I will take them away with me.”
Derision marked the faces of the Lu immortals as well. They’d traveled from the capital with Lu Yuanhou’s fifth great uncle. The cultivators and immortals of Dusk Province might revere the river god, but they didn’t have a lick of respect for her.
She was just an empyrean immortal, their clan had captured many of her kind. If the cultivators here hadn’t created a strange atmosphere to stop them from harming the river god, they would’ve killed her before Qing Han issued the decree.
“We meet again, Lu Yuanhou.” Lu Yun walked on the waves and landed on the riverbank. Mo Yi and Diexi followed closely behind him.
Lu Yuanhou stared at Lu Yun, killing intent flashing through his eyes. “Something you need, Governor?”
“You came for me time and time again. I just didn’t have the time to deal with you before.” Lu Yun sneered. “Now, you can safely rest in peace.”
“You want to kill me?” smirked Lu Yuanhou. His fifth great uncle had brought many powerful immortals from the clan this time. Although golden immortals didn’t dare set their foot into the Dusk Province, about a dozen august immortals had come. Seven of them were even his companions. If his fifth great uncle hadn’t forbidden him from killing Lu Yun, he would’ve already ordered the immortals to take him out.
A low growl swept the premises. Even before the smile dropped from Lu Yuanhou’s face, he realized with terror that the immortals around him had died one horrible death after another.
It looked like something had sucked them dry. Spirits and bodies were deflated, shriveled and drained. Then, a skinless humanoid monster emerged before him and grabbed him by the throat.
“Stop!!” Feng Li shouted, his expression crumbling as soon as he saw the crimson monster. “You can’t kill him—”
The bloodcorpse broke Lu Yuanhou’s neck and devoured his spirit before Feng Li could finish. Even his soul was gone!
Thus marked the end of the brilliant young genius from the Lu Clan of Nephrite Capital.
“Dusk Province is my territory.” The bloodcorpse returned to the Gates of the Abyss while Lu Yun continued in a low growl, “While I remain the governor, you have to play by my rules. I will kill whoever lays a finger on my people, no matter who you are!”
Li Youcai shuddered. It seemed more like Lu Yun was speaking to him.