n power without the necessary discipline.
I couldn't overlook the potential chaos your actions would have led to.”

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Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor retorted with an expressionless face.
“What a petty reason.”


“You can come up with all sorts of petty reasons, but in the end, you simply don't want to lose that tiny bit of authority, isn't it?”

His words sharply clawed into the experts' hearts.

Blue Demon shook his head.
“Whatever our reasons are…
you have done something you shouldn't have, my lord.
And that…
is the reason why you'll die today.”

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor faintly grinned at Blue Demon's declaration.
But that was the extent of his reaction.
He then slowly raised his head to stare at the heavens.
The amber glow of the setting sun was deepening to herald the oncoming tide of darkness.
That darkness of the night would completely blanket the sky in a little while.

“In that case, we should hurry things along, then.” Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor spoke in a composed voice despite teetering on the edge of death.
It was as if he had already transcended the fetters of life and death by now.
“Night is descending.
I am…
not much of a fan of nights, you see.”

Blue Demon turned his head to glance at his companions after his cult leader's declaration.
However, they all avoided meeting his gaze.
No one was willing to fight Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor even after the latter had been driven to his current state.

'And I believed in these fools…!'

Blue Demon gritted his teeth.
However, he had no one to blame but himself.
He was the one who had trusted these people and planned this monumental event, after all.
While sensing the sneaky gazes urging him forward, Blue Demon addressed his cult leader once more.
“…You can bluff all you want, but you're still dying, my lord.
Even you should be afraid of death.”

Even as he said that, Blue Demon found his actions utterly laughable.
What good were all these ramblings for? Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor was his enemy now.
His former master was in a wretched state where he could die at any given moment.
In that case, Blue Demon should act now and personally finish his former master off.
That would be the end, wouldn't it?

Blue Demon detested the experts avoiding his glare, but he also didn’t dare to step in front of his former master.
Indeed, all he could do right now was buy time by engaging in useless banter.
He couldn't do anything besides wishing for Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor to die on his own.

But then…
an unexpected reply suddenly came from Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor.
“Am I afraid, you ask?”


He asked again in a subdued voice.
“Do you know what death is?”

Blue Demon shot back.
“How can anyone know what death is, my lord?”

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor slowly shook his head.
“Death is nothing to be afraid of.”


“But, you should be afraid of what comes after.”

What an obvious statement that was.
Far too obvious, yet Blue Demon was unable to mock his former master for saying that.
The voice and the manner of speech indicated that Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor actually knew something about death that the others didn't know.

The dying cult leader spoke again.
“I do not fear death.
Besides, fear isn't what has kept me in this place, anyway.”

Blue Demon ended up stuttering a little.
“…T-then, what is it?”

It was right at that moment that a faint line appeared between Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor's lips.
They parted ever so slightly in a bizarre manner, revealing his blood-stained teeth.
That was supposed to be a grin, but it was one as chilling as a grim reaper's.
Goosebumps broke out on Blue Demon's entire body.

“You already know, don't you?” Just as he said that, Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor's figure suddenly vanished from the spot, only to instantly reappear right in front of Blue Demon—all while still maintaining that bone-chilling grin on his face!


His hand clutched Blue Demon's throat tightly.
Having subdued his former subordinate with such ease, Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor slowly brought Blue Demon closer to him.


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“Just how many more sins are you willing to commit, Benefactor!”

The experts witnessing this spectacle cried out in alarm, but they still didn’t rush in to help.
Blue Demon was already in the demon cult leader's grip anyway, and the fear of dying after recklessly charging in also paralyzed their limbs.

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor ignored the other experts, even though they looked like they wanted to rush forward.
He simply brought his lips closer to Blue Demon's ear.
Those bloodied lips parted, sending a subdued whisper to burrow into Blue Demon's eardrum.
“You do know, don't you?”

Blue Demon shuddered helplessly.
How could he not know?

How could he not know why his former master used to be called Crimson Demon? How could he not know the reason for Crimson Demon's ascension to the cult leader position despite being an outsider? How could he not know why his former master could instill such terror that went beyond his martial art realm?

Blue Demon had witnessed everything from the closest vantage point, and that was why he knew the truth better than anyone.

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor quietly muttered, “I…
never forget my grudges.”

Shruk, shururuk…

What a bizarre noise that was.
Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor was using his right hand to suppress Blue Demon, so he used his left hand to slowly pull out Azuremourne from his gut.
His action was deliberately slow, in no hurry at all.
Azuremourne left his body bit by bit, with the chill-inducing noise of a blade slicing through flesh..


Finally, the sword was out.
Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor grinned once more as he shifted his gaze back to Blue Demon.
“I gave this to you once before.”

Blue Demon already knew what his former master would say next.
Even if he didn't want to think about it, his sharp intellect still perfectly predicted what Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor would say.

“As such, you should take it back.”


He took his time and slowly, oh-so-slowly, pushed Azuremourne into the middle of Blue Demon's chest.
The latter's figure began to spasm like a man suffering from epilepsy.

A single quick thrust would have minimized the pain, but Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor deliberately took his time.
He simply had to gift Blue Demon with excruciating pain exceeding the one he had felt when the latter had stabbed him in the gut.

wuuk…” A suppressed whimper escaped from Blue Demon's lips.
The Asura qi injected into Azuremourne was ripping apart his body from the inside.

Blue Demon's quivering irises met Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor's glare.
The latter bared his teeth in a toothy grin.
“At least you needed to know—know what it means to betray me.”

Suddenly, blood gushed out from Blue Demon's mouth.
Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor stared at his former underling with a slightly cocked brow.
Azuremourne hadn't touched Blue Demon's heart yet, but the pain had gotten to him first, and he had chosen to sever his own main artery instead.

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor slowly shook his head.

I…” Blue Demon tried his hardest to say something, but his lips gradually stiffened while his consciousness faded away.
Soon, his head tilted sideways, lifeless.

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor quietly stared at the still Blue Demon before lowering the latter’s body to the ground.
He then slowly closed the latter's eyes.
Blue Demon had betrayed and entrapped his master, but that didn't change the fact that he used to call himself Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor's loyal subordinate for the past several decades.

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor silently stared at the corpse with Azuremourne sticking out of its chest.
He then raised his head to take another glimpse at the sky above.
The sun had almost fully set by now.
The heavens bathed in darkness were already filling up with countless stars.

He stared at the sky with a face awash with grief.
The heavens remained beautiful and seemingly close enough for him to reach out and grab the Milky Way.
However, he had never liked the view of this night sky.
Every time he looked up at the darkened sky sparkling with tantalizingly close stars, Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor couldn't help but recall a certain starless sky.

'Will this be my last?'

This would most likely be his last time looking up at this night sky.
His body had already reached its limit, after all.
It wouldn't have been strange for him to die any second in his current condition, yet he had still gone ahead and subdued Blue Demon.
His movements had caused the weapons impaling him to completely destroy his internal organs.

His senses were getting dull, while his vision was getting cloudy.
He had already experienced this sensation before—it was death.

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'So, will this be my end, then?'

He had no answer to this question.
This had also happened in the past, after all.

'If I get another chance, then…'

He had been breathlessly running his entire life.
He had no aim other than to prevent himself from getting swallowed up by his fate.
And that was why he had tried to survive so hard, even daring to march through hell.

'…Then, an ordinary life like others…'

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor quietly smiled.
His eyes slowly closed and would never open again.

Here, on the plains drenched in blood and under the eyes of countless stars engraved on the night sky…
Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor remained standing tall, his eyes closed for the last time.

“…Amitabha.” Only Master Monk Hui Ren's Buddhist chant quietly traveled along with the choking silence that had descended among the stupefied and lost experts of the martial world.

Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor had passed on.

Prologue 2.
A Life of One


The hospital's emergency ward was suddenly thrust into action as the loud wails of a siren went off in the background.
The emergency ward's staff rushed toward a patient being unloaded from an ambulance.
One of the paramedics bringing in the patient yelled, “Car accident victim!”


“Semi-coma! Blood pressure, 92 over 58.
Pulse, 115!”

“External bleeding?”

The ER doctors surrounding the gurney checked the patient's status and shouted, “His blood pressure is too low, there might be internal bleeding! CT scan, stat!”

These urgent voices, hurried steps, and roars were eerily similar to screams coming from somewhere distant…
The noises ringing in his ears forced the young man to slowly open his eyes.

His blurry vision saw the passing rays of light.
Lengthy, vertical lights were flitting past his view.
The young man slowly shifted his eyes to the side.

He saw a white gown first, then a man wearing a pair of glasses with an urgent expression.
He spotted a woman kitted out in a green shirt, and behind her, there were objects made out of metal.
All this was a strange sight to behold.

They were also a familiar sight.

The man slowly closed his eyes again.

I'm back.'

This young man, Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor, slowly let go of his consciousness.

'I've returned.'

A grin was etched on his lips.

Gangho, also known as jianghu in Chinese web novels, refers to the world of martial arts ☜

zi: ancient honorific denoting a man with high morals or station ☜

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