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Chapter 17

The war ghost behind him emitted a piercing howl, his short blade gleaming with a blood-like hue. The clumsy mechanical man was instantly shredded to pieces by him. The war ghost’s movements were so swift they were nearly indiscernible. In a flash, he landed beside Tanyin, raising his short blade high—one strike from this blade would likely shatter her entire body.

Tanyin felt a powerful yank, and she, already on edge, was caught off guard and fell hard to the ground. A sharp wind whistled past her ears, slicing off a lock of her hair that hung over her shoulder.

Her back was soaked with a scorching liquid, and a rich fragrance immediately filled the air. Tanyin leaped up as if struck by lightning—it was blood! The high priest had been struck by the war ghost!

She turned around urgently, only to see a faint golden glow rippling around her—a barrier from the Fox Clan? Yuan Zhong stood in front of her, hands clasped together, eyes closed, and lips moving as if in silent prayer.

The war ghost’s short blade struck the barrier like a torrential storm. With each strike, the golden glow dimmed slightly. The barrier could block his blade, but not the fierce wind it generated. Yuan Zhong’s chest was slashed with numerous wounds, and drops of blood fell to the ground, the fragrance growing overwhelmingly strong.

At this rate, he would die.

Tanyin reached into her qiankun bag and fumbled for the last piece of golden nanmu wood. Just as she was about to take it out, Yuan Zhong suddenly stomped hard on her foot. The pain made her hand slip, and the golden nanmu wood fell back into the bag.

“Sigh, you burden!” he sighed loudly, full of disdain. “Men are fighting; what are women interfering for? Stay put in the back!”

His clasped hands suddenly opened slowly, and a dense golden light hovered in his palms, rolling and flowing like a small golden heart.

With a loud “clang,” the barrier was finally shattered by the war ghost. The golden light in Yuan Zhong’s palm floated out lightly, exploding instantly. The golden fragments surrounded the war ghost like they had eyes. Fearless, he twirled his short blade like a dancing butterfly, but the wind from the blade couldn’t disperse the thick golden fragments. They gradually contracted him and enveloped him in a golden cocoon.

“Go! What are you daydreaming about!”

Yuan Zhong grabbed Tanyin by the back of her collar and forcibly threw her onto the back of the bird of paradise. He clasped his hands together again and chanted, “Grow!”

The golden fragments turned into thousands of slender spikes, piercing the war ghost through and through.

Yuan Zhong then chanted, “Explode!”

The golden spikes exploded violently, and the war ghost turned to pieces without even time for a cry of pain.

Yuan Zhong exhaled deeply, covered in blood, and looked back at Tanyin. He suddenly smiled wryly.

“I’m still pretty impressive, aren’t I?”

Before he could finish, he could no longer hold on and collapsed.

Tanyin quickly caught him, whistling for the bird of paradise, which was agitated by the rich fragrance of the blood. It circled several times before flapping its wings and soaring high.

“You… you burden…” Yuan Zhong was still complaining, his head resting on her shoulder. Suddenly, he lifted a hand and brushed her hair, his voice faint.

“Silly girl, do you like me?”

Tanyin said nothing, and he didn’t hear her response, as his injuries were too severe, and he soon passed out.

The celestial image in the sky continued to call out, “Wushuang, Wushuang…”

Tanyin tightly gripped the hem of her skirt, leaving Han Nu’s call behind.

The crystal encasing Yuan Zhong’s left hand was a divine crystal, one of the treasures of the divine realm, capable of sealing divine power. However, the war ghost’s crystal wasn’t the purest, hence its black-gray color.

Tanyin held Yuan Zhong’s left hand gently, touching it lightly.

Divine crystals were usually viscous, crystalline liquids. Once they came into contact with divine power, they would automatically adhere and solidify into the hardest crystal, impenetrable by any sharp weapon. During the ancient war between gods and demons, she had used divine crystals to make armor for Taihe, which had accompanied him to countless victories.

But the immediate concern wasn’t this divine crystal of unknown origin; it was Yuan Zhong’s chest wounds. Although the barrier from the Fox Clan had protected him from fatal injuries, his chest was still crisscrossed with deep, long gashes from the blade wind.

Immortals weren’t easily killed, but being wounded by a war ghost was another matter. The wounds from the blade wind healed extremely slowly, and the war ghost’s injuries were like poison, corroding his flesh and causing unceasing bleeding.

Tanyin wrung out a clean cloth and wiped the blood from his body, but the wounds wouldn’t heal. The cloth was soon soaked through, and the more she wiped, the more blood flowed, the fragrance of the blood becoming dizzying.

This couldn’t go on; he might die tonight.

Tanyin rolled up her sleeves, her eyes glowing with a clear light. At this point, she had no choice but to use her divine power to heal his body.

But then… a cold voice echoed in her mind: “You came to the mortal world to find this person just to wait for him to die, didn’t you?”

The hand she had raised slowly lowered again. She looked down, quietly gazing at Yuan Zhong’s pale, sleeping face.

Taihe’s left hand was with him. The left hand, severed by the demon, had fallen into the mortal world and, after many turns of reincarnation, had become a sacred relic of the Fox Clan, merging with their bloodline and gaining its own destiny. The man before her was merely fortunate to inherit it. As a celestial being, she had arrogantly waited for his natural death to retrieve Taihe’s left hand.

Yes, Taihe was still waiting. He had lost his left hand, his divine power waning, sealed within the divine crystal. If she didn’t hurry, he might fade away like other gods, a fate she dreaded most.

In the end, no matter what she did, Taihe disapproved of or disliked it. Now that he was asleep, she could finally do something truly for him. She had waited five thousand years alone, all for this moment.

Tanyin closed her eyes, refusing to look at Yuan Zhong’s gaping wounds. Whether Han Nu had a hand in this or not, the ultimate goal had been achieved. She had to wait for this man to die slowly, then take his left hand.

The cold voice sounded again: “You weren’t supposed to protect him. You didn’t kill him, so there’s no need to worry about losing his divinity. Just wait quietly to take his left hand. Isn’t that fine?”

But she had protected him—purely an instinctive reaction. When the blade struck at him, she shielded him without thinking.

No, she just didn’t want to see that left hand cut off. A similar thing had happened before—another god had lost a hand to the mortal world, and his divine power faded. That god personally descended to find the new owner of the hand, took it back, and reattached it. But his end wasn’t the restoration of his divine power; instead, he turned to golden light and perished faster. That was the consequence of a disturbing fate.

She couldn’t let Taihe suffer the same fate. She came down to find the new owner of the left hand to wait for his natural death, then return the hand to Taihe in the most fate-aligned way.

So now Yuan Zhong was dying. This was what she had been waiting for. She should be happy.

Tanyin stood up, distressed. She felt something was wrong but didn’t want to think deeply about it. She couldn’t stay here any longer. The fragrance of the blood gave her a splitting headache. She had to go out and wait so she wouldn’t have to watch him die in front of her.

Suddenly, someone gently tugged her sleeve. Tanyin tensed up like a startled bird, looking down in horror. Yuan Zhong had woken up at some point, his dark eyes quietly watching her.

“Where are you going?” His voice was very weak, as if he might expire at any moment.

Tanyin, not good at lying, stammered, sweating, and came up with an excuse: “You… you’re seriously injured. I’m going to… get a doctor…”

He smiled faintly, slowly letting go of her sleeve, his voice as light as a breeze. “Come back soon. Don’t wander. It’s dangerous outside.”

He fell unconscious again, his blood soaking the bedding. In an hour—no, half an hour—he would be completely dead, immortal or not.

Tanyin felt her throat tighten, as if someone were pulling it hard from below.

The cold voice urged her to leave, but it grew fainter and fainter until it was barely audible.

Han Nu was calling her. Taihe must be in trouble. Taihe was still waiting for her. If she didn’t get the left hand back, he would completely disappear. Tanyin was trembling all over; her vision was blurred. By the time she realized it, she had already unleashed her divine power to heal him.

She cried as she healed him, like a bewildered child, not knowing if it was for Taihe or for the dying high priest on the bed. Five thousand years of withheld tears wouldn’t stop flowing, frightening even her.

The intense pain of his body being repaired woke Yuan Zhong many times. His dim black eyes finally focused accurately on hers, then he suddenly grabbed her forcefully, so tightly that his knuckles made a creaking sound.

“Am I dreaming?” He mumbled, half-conscious, his mind unclear.

The pair of black gemstone-like eyes before him—were they a dream? Not a dream? After years of searching and praying, they were now right in front of him. He couldn’t forget these eyes, so cold yet hiding something as fiercely burning as a soul. They weren’t the eyes of a god.

“Look at me, look at me…” he pleaded.

Those eyes wavered and avoided his gaze, but eventually met his quietly.

He seemed to realize something suddenly and murmured, “Where is Ji Tanyin? Where did she go?”

No one answered him. His vision turned dark, and he soon fell into a deep sleep again.

Repairing an immortal’s body was quite laborious. By the time the high priest’s wounds were fully healed, the sky was already bright.

Tanyin touched his forehead. He was fine now and would probably sleep for five or six hours before waking up. She let out a long sigh, feeling a sense of exhaustion.

Outside, there was a clamor of voices. All the immortals and spirits, including mortals, were fervently discussing the appearance of the celestial being last night.

Tanyin closed the window irritably, a wisp of clear light emanating from her fingertips, lightly flicking into the high priest’s forehead—leaving a mark so she would know if anything unusual happened to him. After some thought, she took out the last piece of golden nanmu wood from her qiankun bag. With a flash of clear light, she crafted a mechanical guard to protect him at his bedside.

Now she could leave. She needed to talk to Han Nu about what happened yesterday.

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