Zhuo Bufan was as pale as a sheet and his hair disheveled, his eyes red with grief. There was no sign of his customary good-for-nothing air to be found—a dense atmosphere of bleak desolation wrapped around him.
The Scorch King was dead and his two elder brothers also gone. His fathers forces had disintegrated and he no longer had a backer. He was all alone in this world.
Before his death, the Scorch King had maneuvered his dao rules to protect Zhuo Bufan. If it wasnt for Jinse arriving in the nick of time with the Purple Stellar Mountain, the duke wouldnt have lived much longer either.
When they emerged safely from Starspace Region, uncontrollable despair burst forth from Zhuo Bufans heart. The cultivators of Cloudexit City fell silent.
“The Extraordinary Duke is a thing of the past with the fall of the Scorch King.”
“Zhuo Bufan is just Zhuo Bufan, hes a duke no longer. He might make it to kinghood if his pain transforms into motivation and he throws himself into cultivation though. Apparently, hes close with the Immortal King.”
“What a shame about the Scorch King. He insisted on walking the path of the scorching sun and refused to break through, keeping himself at second step king. If hed been willing to give it up, he mightve been the strongest king in Starspace Region.”
Lamentations flowed out of the city; no one delighted in the kings death. Even those who once scorned Zhuo Bufan refrained from jeering at him.
“Hold on!” someone exclaimed. “Thats Jinse of the Immortal Pagoda, Dusksnow Morningstar and Zhuo Bufan of Starspace Region. Whos the fourth person His aura is stronger than sixth step—hes a seventh step king!”
“Who is he Is there another seventh step king at the Immortal Pagoda!” Many pairs of eyes scanned Hua Fengwen.
He no longer resembled a doddering old man—he was back to his dashing, heroic self. Hua Fengwen had regained his dao heart through countless rounds of battling for his life.
“He looks very familiar… hes… Hua Fengwen!”
“Thats right, its Hua Fengwen! So he went to Starspace Region and became a seventh step king there!”
“Heavens! Its only been a hundred thousand years. He ascended to seventh step king during this time!” gasped cultivators in Cloudexit City.
A hundred thousand years was sufficient for him to rise from sixth step king to seventh step Hed only become a titled king a hundred thousand years ago!
Most kings still struggled with stabilizing their cultivation level after a hundred thousand years. But not only had the long-vanished Hua Fengwen stabilized his, hed broken through to become a high level king!
No wonder he was the foremost genius of the Hongmeng—he well and truly deserved the title!
When the Kaleidoscopic King, disciple of Origin Worlds World King, became a titled king, hed only been a fourth step king. His level was two steps lower than Hua Fengwen, but his master and resources were much superior. In comparison, Hua Fengwen only had a regular sixth step king to learn from.
His reemergence in public view at this time stunned the realm.
Dusksnow Morningstar was still a half step king. There was no sign of disappointment or anger on his face, just the same quiet calm as if the depths of still water.
The four headed straight for the Immortal Pagoda when they entered town. Whether it was Dusksnow Morningstar or Zhuo Bufan, both had nothing to their name and the only place they could find succor was the Immortal Pagoda.
“Dusksnow Morningstar!” The Purpleclad Duke suddenly appeared in front of the genius. “Starspace Region is no more and Starspace City destroyed. What are your plans now” he asked lowly.
“The Immortal King at the Immortal Pagoda will take me in,” Dusksnow Morningstar responded expressionlessly. He didnt pause, plainly not wanting to have anything to do with the duke if he could help it.
When Starspace Region came under attack, cultivators from all over had come in support. They fearlessly charged in to locate friends and family, even if they were no match for the ghosts.
But the Purpleclad Duke never appeared on the scene.
One word exchanged with the duke was one word too many for Dusksnow Morningstar.
Purpleclad frowned faintly, he knew what was running through the genius mind. It wasnt that he hadnt wanted to rush to Starspaces aid, but that vestiges of the Starspace Kings power had flung him back the moment he approached the region.
This was why he was still alive and safeguarding Cloudexit City.
Dusksnow Morningstar didnt know about this, nor did he want to know. All he knew was that Starspace Region had fallen and his loved ones devoured by the vicious ghosts. Some had turned into vicious ghosts themselves—hed had to cut those down with his own hand. He was now a withdrawn and taciturn fellow, a reaction at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Zhuo Bufan.
“Senior Hua, Id like to learn the way of the sword,” he suddenly said to Hua Fengwen.
“Im not that much older than you, so just use my name.” He looked at Morningstar. “Have you decided”
“Mmhmm.” Morningstar nodded. “The venerated enforcer says Im suited for sword dao, as does the Bloodclad Duke. During a critical moment in a previous battle, I wouldve died if I hadnt deployed the sword technique that the venerated enforcer taught me.”
He was a bow and arrow cultivator, but the path hed walked for millions of years had been less useful than a single sword technique when faced with unending hordes of ghosts. Thatd finally swayed him.
“Its not too late to set foot on your proper path,” nodded Hua Fengwen. “Ill help you find a master when we reach the Immortal Pagoda.”
“…understood.” Morningstar wanted to take Hua Fengwen for his master, but he didnt mention it again when he heard the kings response. Hua Fengwen was also a sword cultivator, and a very strong one at that.
“Its not that I dont want to teach you, its that I cant,” the king explained. “The Dragonrise technique that you deployed exceeds my grasp of sword dao. If I teach you, youll never rise beyond the limits of that stroke.
“The one who invented it is also part of the Immortal Pagoda. It would be a hundred times better than me being your master if hes willing to teach you.”
Hua Fengwen naturally knew that Lu Yun was the inventor of the technique. When Dusksnow Morningstar used it to defeat the Bloodclad Duke, Miao had identified it on the spot.
His subsequent travels with Lu Yun through Multitude Region and escape from the lost ancient city left him with a deep understanding of how astonishing Lu Yun was. How else would he be willing to follow the young man, given his publicly recognized status as the foremost genius of the Hongmeng
Just for a vow hed made to a nebulous rescuer Lu Yun had said a long time ago that if Hua Fengwen wanted to leave, he could leave.
“Alright!” Light dawned in Morningstars eyes and the deathly morose atmosphere around him lightened somewhat.
“Master has agreed,” Jinse abruptly said. “But youre a tiny step away from becoming his disciple. He will teach you when you comprehend this sword diagram and find your own sword dao on it.”
She sent a tiny tendril of thought into Morningstars mind with a point of her fingers. Gravity overtaking his face, the half step king sank into the profound scope of sword dao.
“Dusksnow Morningstar, Zhuo Bufan, you two are the Starspace Kings troops. The Starspace King was a king of the Enforcer Alliance, so I ask you now, are you willing to return to the alliance” A black robed enforcer suddenly descended from the air and shouted at the two.
Though Morningstar had trained beneath the Starspace King, he wasnt part of the Enforcer Alliance. Zhuo Bufan, however, was an executive of the alliance.
“Forget it, my position of executive and title as the Extraordinary Duke are longstanding jokes in the Hongmeng. Im not going back. It doesnt matter to the alliance anyway if Im part of it.” Bereft of his usual cockiness, everything seemed meaningless to Zhuo Bufan now.
Of course, the black robe wasnt here for him. He only wanted to talk to Dusksnow Morningstar. The latter was absolutely strong enough to be an executive.
“I already said that Im part of the Immortal Pagoda now.” Morningstar stopped and looked up at the enforcer, most of his attention on the sword diagram.-