The Hall of Fragrance hung above the ninth heaven of the Dao flames. It had overlapping talisman imprints on it, so it wouldn't be affected by the holy fire.
It was a bronze throne hall that was extremely ancient, standing for a million years. Nevertheless, it was still very grand and dignified.
The 72 throne halls of the celestial heavens were 72 treasures of shocking power like this one. With such a large throne hall above him, Qin Mu felt powerless.
That was where his Soul Guide and resurrection couldn't reach.
The imposing god in the flames walked towards Qin Mu. He grew larger and larger as the blazing flames coalesced in his body.
There was an even larger figure behind him.
The divine weapon Celestial Venerable Yu was behind him!
At that moment, Celestial Venerable Huo absorbed the Great Dao light in the South Pole forbidden zone to strengthen himself. It was extremely hard for him to elevate himself after cultivating to such a level.
To improve, aside from cultivating to the Celestial Heavens Realm, he could absorb the Great Dao of Heaven and Earth of his attribute. South Deity Vermillion Bird's South Pole forbidden zone was undoubtedly the best place for that.
When South Deity Vermillion Bird was alive, he couldn't take away the power there. After all, it was her nest. However, with her now dead, he could take over the place.
Qin Mu looked at Celestial Venerable Huo, who was walking from the fire. He was so tall and imposing that one had to look up to see him.
He gave him an unfamiliar feeling.
"When you became a Celestial Venerable, the four deities blessed you so that you could live longer and turn dangers into fortunes."
Qin Mu suppressed his internal anger and said, "And now you've killed one of them, do you feel happy?"
At the back of Celestial Venerable Huo's head, the wheel of fire blazed as his gaze fell on him. Celestial Venerable Huo was so powerful that even his gaze made Qin Mu feel like his primordial spirit was on fire.
"Their blessings are merely a form of surveillance and control."
Celestial Venerable Huo said, "Truth be told, I already removed their blessing at the start of the middle of the Dragon Han Era. After Celestial Venerable Yu died, I realized that my destiny can only be held by myself and not be put in the hands of the ancient gods!"
He bent down to look at Qin Mu as he held out his hand to hold onto him. He coldly said, "Celestial Venerable Yu died because he believed that ancient gods could coexist peacefully with Postcelestial lifeforms like humans and trusted them naively! I followed him for so long, and the only thing I've learned is that one can never trust the ancient gods! Any of them!"
He straightened himself and plainly said, "You're lucky, Celestial Venerable Mu. You left after getting the title of Celestial Venerable, so you didn't get their blessing. Who amongst those who got their blessing survived? You're lucky to not have had to survive the crisis of the Dragon Han Era. I did. They blessed me to control me. Isn't it right for me to fight back and remove South Deity of the four deities?"
His gaze was awe-inspiring as he said, "I know why you're here. You want to use the ancient gods' power to go against the celestial heavens. However, have you ever thought about how the four deities of then were terrifying beings who accepted Postcelestial lifeforms' sacrifices? The era of today is way better than back then!"
Qin Mu nodded his head. "As long as I don't resist?"
"Yes, as long as you don't resist!"
Celestial Venerable Huo continued to absorb the Great Dao light of the zone as he said, "As long as you don't resist the celestial heavens and do your reform thing, everyone can live. As the Celestial Venerable of humans, I can protect you all! If Celestial Venerable Yu was still alive, he would be proud of my accomplishments!''
Qin Mu's eyes shook. "Celestial Venerable Huo, you have lived in the celestial heavens for way too long. You haven't seen what life is like for humans in the large heavens and the Primordial Realm. Every time gods and devils head down for sacrifices, are they not using humans as sacrificial offerings? Not resisting doesn't mean surviving. At best, only those with power and money do!"
"It's already far better than the past eras."
Celestial Venerable Huo bent down again with blazing flames burning in his eyes. The air he breathed out became a sea of flames that flew by Qin Mu as he said, "It will be better in the future. I have the power to protect humans, unlike other human Celestial Venerables! Celestial Venerable Yun was defeated, Celestial Venerable Yue became secluded, Celestial Venerable Ling didn't know how to be flexible and died without a burial site, Celestial Venerable You only knows how to hide in Youdu and blame himself, and Celestial Venerable Qin only knows how to go against the heavens and how to hide after being defeated. There's only me left!"
"Celestial Venerable Mu, I'm the only one working to give humans a chance to survive! I can work with people that disgust me, like cunning snakes, just for this chance! For this chance, I have to use their power to get rid of the ancient gods! All of them!"
He extended his palm to Qin Mu and sincerely said, "Stop the reform. Don't make it difficult for me in the celestial heavens. Come and help me. You are Celestial Venerable Mu, the strong practitioner who beat me then. I know that you are talented. If we work together, we can make that beautiful era a reality sooner! By that time, we shall split power in the celestial heavens. I will be able to protect humans, and humans will no longer be sacrifices!"
Qin Mu didn't take his hand. Instead, he stared at it and vaguely said, "You want humans to live, even if they are kneeling or part of sacrifices to appease gods and devils. I have a dream too. In my dream, humans live standing up without kneeling for anyone."
"In my dream, every human can enjoy themselves and be a member of god sects. They can control meteorological signs, and the Great Dao of Heaven and Earth serves them. They can choose to study to become god scholars instead of chasing power. They can paint and become painting gods. They can do what they love and become gods in what they are good at.
"I want them to live with dignity and satisfaction. They can chase their dreams, unlike only surviving groggily like what you said."
Celestial Venerable Huo retracted his palm and said with disappointment, "You are still thinking of reform. You are stubborn like Celestial Venerable Qin. Celestial Venerable Mu, the era of the ten Celestial Venerables is here. The corrupt ancient gods will be buried in history, and the era for stubborn humans like you will never come."
Qin Mu clenched his fist and shouted, "Where's the corpse of South Deity?"
Celestial Venerable Huo turned around as the ring of flames behind him absorbed the Great Dao light there crazily. The size of the South Pole forbidden zone was shrinking at a visible rate.
"The ancient gods are the source of all chaos in this world. Founding Emperor used their power to rebel, causing the Founding Emperor Calamity. High Emperor had Mother Earth helping him, and 300,000 years of killing in the Crimson Light Era and Dragon Han Era were caused by the ancient gods!"
Celestial Venerable Huo leaned over and said, "Did the ancient gods help create your Eternal Peace Era? Celestial Venerable Mu, you are making me your enemy by caring so much about South Deity!"
The South Pole forbidden zone shrunk at a crazy rate as the Great Dao multi-colored light disappeared gradually. Even the ninth heaven of the Dao flames became thinner and thinner.
Qin Mu took out a pen and quickly wrote a note to break off relations. He waved his sleeves, and it flew towards Celestial Venerable Huo. He plainly said, "Since you think I'm making you an enemy, sign your name on this note to break off relations! I've signed mine. Write down your name, and from this day on, we will have nothing to do with one another!"
Celestial Venerable Huo took a pen and wrote his own name on it.
It flew back into Qin Mu's hands.
Qin Mu took it and seriously looked at Celestial Venerable Huo's signature before accepting it, then shouted, "Where's her body?"
Celestial Venerable Huo sat down and plainly said, "You can leave now, Celestial Venerable Mu. You are but another lackey groomed by them. Don't force me to kill you. If I do, I won't fight you in the same realm. I'll beat you to death."
Qin Mu took out a mirror and shone it at the Hall of Fragrance in the air, saying, "Celestial Venerable Huo, please give me a belonging of hers. I knew her, after all."
Celestial Venerable Huo didn't move, but he said, "I have refined her corporeal body. I won't give her, or any ancient god, the chance to be resurrected!"
"Master…" Yan'er said, trembling.
Qin Mu took Yan'er's hands and walked out. This South Pole forbidden zone was collapsing as Great Dao lights flew into Celestial Venerable Huo's body at a rapid rate. Soon, Celestial Venerable Huo would absorb all of the energy that birthed South Deity.
The nine heavens of the Dao flames collapsed, its power waning as it flooded towards the forbidden zone's core like a tsunami.
In the end, all of the Great Dao light there would become Celestial Venerable Huo's cultivation. Even South Deity Vermillion Bird's cultivation would become a part of his cultivation.
Celestial Venerable Huo's power would increase greatly!
Qin Mu walked out of the nine heavens and boarded the carriage with a groggy Yan'er, then said, "Let's go, Fatty Dragon."
The dragon qilin didn't dare say anything as he silently drove the carriage away.
Qin Mu's palms were cold as he let go of Yan'er's hand to take out the note to break off relations. He took out a small notebook that had the signatures of Celestial Venerables like Celestial Venerable Ling and Celestial Venerable Huo.
These were the signatures that he begged for shamelessly when he met the ancient Celestial Venerables during his return to the first year of the Dragon Han Era.
He compared Celestial Venerable Huo's signature on the note to the one in his notebook. They were identical.
'He is still the Celestial Venerable Huo of the past, not the Grand Emperor or Celestial Emperor. Yet, he isn't the Celestial Venerable Huo of the past anymore.'
Qin Mu sighed as he put the note in his notebook. He then asked Yan'er, "Do you have any of your mother's belongings? It must be something with her essence. I can try to summon her soul with it. I can at least summon her shattered soul spread across heaven and earth, even if I can't summon the soul suppressed in the Hall of Fragrance."
Yan'er shook her head and replied, "I only met her a couple of times. She didn't give me anything…"
Qin Mu frowned and comforted her, saying, "South Deity had good relations with Celestial Venerable Yue. Maybe there'll be something of your mother's there. Don't worry."
The dragon qilin's voice came from outside. "Cult Master, Red Deity pleads for an audience."
Qin Mu lifted his hand, and the curtains automatically rolled to the side. Red Deity Qi Xiayu bowed outside. "Celestial Venerable."
Qin Mu closed the curtains and said, "Leave. South Deity is dead."
Qi Xiayu shuddered. She took a while to recover, then hurriedly said, "Then, Celestial Venerable…"
Qin Mu said with a powerless voice, "I can't resurrect her. Dragon Pi, let's go back to the Primordial Realm. Hehe, you people…"
After a few days, the carriage was outside the peach forest of the Primordial Realm. Qin Mu got out and entered while Yan'er followed with her lantern.
After a while, Celestial Venerable Yue's palace was in sight.
"Yan'er, you shall wait outside with Fatty Dragon," Qin Mu instructed her as he entered alone.
"South Deity has no belongings here."
Yan'er heard Celestial Venerable Yue's voice faintly. "You still need her belongings to summon her soul?"
"It would be best to have her corporeal body. Belongings are secondary. Without it, I can't summon her tattered soul. However, Celestial Venerable Huo suppressed her soul in the Hall of Fragrance, so I can't do anything."
Qin Mu's voice was light as he asked, "Did South Deity split part of her soul for reincarnation, Celestial Venerable Yue?"
"I don't know about that. We may have good relations, but reincarnations are very important. There's no way that she would tell me."
Qin Mu became silent before speaking again, "Sister, your spatial divine art is very powerful and vast. Can you help me find a couple of people?"
"Who do you want to find?"
"Two thieves and a constable. They are committing crimes in the various heavens of the Primordial Realm."