A young disciple of the Green Mountain was waiting for the attack of the Underworld Emperor in a careless manner. Anyone would think it ridiculous, including the Underworld Emperor himself.
"You have been locked up for too long."
Besides this remark, Jing Jiu didn't give any further explanation.
Anyone who had been imprisoned in the Fiend Prison for six hundred years would have had their Cultivation state damaged to a great extent.
Most of all, this seemingly comfortable green valley was still a part of the Taichang Prison. This place was isolated from heaven and earth, devoid of the Underworld River and the Underground Fire, so he couldn't cultivate here. What had actually occurred to the Underworld Emperor was that the yuanqi, or Soul-Fire, in his body had leaked out little by little over time, scattering into that patch of the dark space.
Based on Jing Jiu's calculation, the Underworld Emperor at present had only one percent of his original strength.
Yet, no matter how weak he was, he was still the Underworld Emperor.
A Cultivation practitioner in the Undefeated State had no chance of defeating him.
The Underworld Emperor looked at Jing Jiu, his pupils devoid of any expression. "Nonetheless, I can still kill you as easily as I can crush an ant."
Jing Jiu's reply was succinct, in only one word.
The Soul-Fire was shapeless and colorless, and it was countless as well.
Jing Jiu suddenly had a sensation in his heart that countless soul-fires were filling the heaven and earth.
In the next moment, these shapeless and colorless soul-fires came out from the greenish wild grass, purple flowers and blue sky, as if they were all painted by a layer of white paint.
His vision was filled with the faintly colored bits all of a sudden, and no matter where he looked, he was still be able to see them.
The peculiar thing was that these faintly colored soul-fires were different from the Underworld Master's Soul-Fire. These soul-fires felt more fresh and vigorous.
This must be the Control of Soul-Fire he wanted to learn.
"Hand over the Royal Seal of the Underworld…or die."
The Underworld Emperor declared while looking at Jing Jiu. "You should know that I'll have no regret whatsoever after I kill you."
"Aren't you worried about alerting the dragon?" Jing Jiu asked.
The Underworld Emperor said, "They had promised back then that this would be my world; otherwise, I would have committed suicide a long time ago, instead of letting them use me as a hostage to threaten the Underworld."
Jing Jiu didn't say anything while looking at him quietly, but his intention was clear.
Six hundred years ago, the human race made use of his trust in them and locked him up in the Fiend Prison; however, he still believed in their promise six hundred years later.
"If I alerted the dragon, you would die as well. And no matter what I did here--killing you, for instance--they wouldn't want to have me killed."
The Underworld Emperor continued emotionlessly, "More importantly, if I have the chance to leave here, why would I be afraid of taking a risk?"
Jing Jiu said, "Hope is more often than not the venom for the desperate, not the cure."
"As long as I take back the Royal Seal of the Underworld, do you think this fake heaven and earth can still confine this emperor?" the Underworld Emperor said with a smile.
He hadn't used "this emperor" until now save for the exchanges earlier.
It was because he was, at that very moment, he was the true Underworld Emperor.
The soul-fires fell down like the snowflakes, though it was not as fiercely as a rainstorm. Even though there were some gaps among them, it would be impossible to pass through them.
Jing Jiu didn't have any intention of leaving.
When the human Cultivation practitioners encountered the Soul-Fire, they would either choose to kill its owner or evade its net, otherwise they would have no other choice but to employ the magic treasure or the Sword Force to withstand it.
Jing Jiu chose the last option, which incidentally happened to also be the worst.
His mind summoned the will.
The Sword Will was swirling.
It turned into a gentle breeze, sweeping the valley, breaking many trees into pieces.
The whole valley seemed to have collapsed with the loud and shuddering sound.
It was merely an illusion.
The green valley was still the same as before, and the ground didn't shake, and the grass didn't rise up.
Though the Underworld Emperor had said that he didn't care about it, he had tried his best to avoid alerting the dragon.
The soul-fires landed on Jing Jiu. And the colors had also dyed the white cloth, instantly turned into real flames.
The fire was quite strong, reaching up one hundred feet high, as if lava was shooting up from underground.
Yet, the soul-fires had no heat to them. No matter how strong the fire was, not even one tree was set ablaze.
The formidable soul-fires had gradually swallowed Jing Jiu. All one could see was a silhouette of his body in the fire, wobbling and staggering.
The Underworld Emperor looked at the silhouette silently, his expression nonchalant.
The green valley had returned to its former quietness.
The seemingly violent fire didn't make any sound.
It burned noiselessly.
It was hard to tell time in the mountains.
It was the same in the prison.
After a long time, the fire in the valley had eventually died out.
The flames vanished into the midair.
The soul-fires turned into the shapeless entities and went back to the body of the Underworld Emperor.
That figure reappeared.
After being burned for a long time by the soul-fires, Jing Jiu didn't die. It was only that his white cloth had many small holes, and his face was pale, looking extremely tired.
At the moment, he looked like a sick scholar who had just escaped from a burning temple.
The Underworld Emperor's face grew paler, as he looked at Jing Jiu in silence without uttering a single word.
He was indeed very weak after having been suppressed for six hundred years here. He had thought that Jing Jiu, as the personal disciple of Taiping, should be able to withstand the soul-fires for a while, even though Jing Jiu was in a low Cultivation state.
But, he had never thought that Jing Jiu could have endured it till the end, and the unexpected thing was that he failed to discover the hidden place of the Royal Seal of the Underworld.
The Underworld Emperor was quite certain that the Royal Seal of the Underworld was on Jing Jiu.
As Jing Jiu held off the soul-fires, the emperor employed the Hand of the Underworld River to search the whole area, but he failed to find it. And he didn't even find any magic treasure that might have hidden it.
Where on earth was the Royal Seal of the Underworld?
The Underworld Emperor strengthened his connection with the Royal Seal of the Underworld without hesitation, and continued employing the Hand of Underworld River to search for it. Eventually, he had come to the space where the Royal Seal of the Underworld was located.
However, after a long while, the Hand of Underworld River still couldn't bring back the Royal Seal of the Underworld; it was because…that space was simply too large.
The space in the Fiend Prison was already quite large, but it was much smaller in comparison to that space.
The Underworld Emperor had never seen or even imagined such a large space.
He was certain that he was not inside a spatial magic treasure.
It was because heaven and earth weren't even as large as this space.
Where was this space?
What kind of entity was it?
Staring at Jing Jiu, the Underworld Emperor had many questions about it. "Why is this space so large?" he asked in a hoarse voice after the flowing light in his body had calmed down.
Jing Jiu's voice was also a bit hoarse, as he replied, "Heaven and earth should be this large anyway."
The Underworld Emperor fell silent, mulling it over in his mind.
Jing Jiu knew what he had done by now, and asked, "Do you still want to try?"
The Underworld Emperor said, "There is one thing I still don't understand. No matter how abundant your Sword Source is, it's impossible for you to endure the soul-fires for so long."
Jing Jiu said, "I don't know if I could keep it up, if the soul-fires lasted a bit longer."
It appeared to be simple combat, but it was actually the most dangerous fight Jing Jiu had ever been in since his rebirth.
During the period of fighting the soul-fires, he had exhausted more energy than he did in his six years in the snowland, mostly his mental energy, in addition to the exhaustion of the Sword Source.
Jing Jiu had enough confidence in his body, so he brought the Sword Force back into his body, to protect the Dao Tree and the Sword Pill.
The damage caused by the soul-fires was mostly to his mental energy, but it also left some tangible marks.
As such, this fight was totally different from that when he faced Tian Jingren in the old plum garden.
His body experienced the assault of the soul-fires.
The pain he suffered was deep...very deep.
If he were anybody else, he would have gone mad after having stayed so long in the soul-fires of the Underworld Emperor, even if he had survived.
But, he was Jing Jiu.
And yet…he could still feel the pain.
And he could get injured.
After a silent pause, the Underworld Emperor asked, "Why weren't you scared?"
Looking at the blue sky, Jing Jiu said, "As long as I can leave here, it's worth the risk."
His answer was similar to what the Underworld Emperor had said earlier.
The Underworld Emperor looked at him in silence for a long time, saying, "You are someone who has also lost everything."
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