In the hall, Celestial Venerable Yue remained behind the screen, talking through it. "How do you know that I can observe any ruckus in the Primordial Realm's heavens? I'm disabled already, my heart is basically dead. Even if I can, I don't have the energy to do so."
Qin Mu looked at the outline of the figure behind the screen and said, "Really?"
The lady behind the screen sighed. "Of course not. When you went to the celestial heavens, I asked South Deity Vermillion Bird to take my peach flower to express my attitude. South Deity told me about her plan. Naturally, I can't seclude myself and ignore the world anymore."
Qin Mu said, "If you didn't intend to involve yourself, your peach forest wouldn't be connected to the thousands of heavens of the Primordial Realm, Celestial Venerable."
"Indeed. My divine art is a spatial technique. I already set it up before Celestial Venerable Yun died in battle. My ability then was still weak, with my spatial technique not at its best yet. It could only connect, at best, a dozen heavens."
Celestial Venerable Yue said from behind the screen, "However, at the end of the Dragon Han Era, my peach forest connected hundreds of heavens, and at the end of the High Emperor Era, it had connected thousands of the Primordial Realm's heavens. Although I'm crippled, everything, from the celestial heavens to Xuandu, Youdu, and the four poles, is under my observation. The only places I didn't intrude upon are the forbidden zones of the ancient gods and the Ruins of End."
Qin Mu said, "You're angry."
Celestial Venerable Yue's voice seemed calm, but there was deep anger in it. "The purpose of the Heaven Alliance was to help humans obtain the power to survive and live better. Yet, it was corrupted. The principles by which the Heaven Alliance was founded are no longer there. The Heaven Alliance is a place of corruption! A place where half-gods, ancient gods, and even masters of creation split benefits! Of course, I'm angry."
Qin Mu quietly looked at the figure on the screen. Celestial Venerable Yue continued, "When the Heaven Alliance was formed, Celestial Venerable Yun set up its first principle, and that was to treat people according to their nature. Yet, it's so hard to do in practice. People are always too harsh on good people and think that they can't make a single mistake. After they make a mistake, they aren't good people anymore, they are to be treated harshly and squashed. People are too good to bad people too. After doing thousands of bad things, as long as they do one good thing, they get praised as if they are a saint! We failed, Celestial Venerable Mu, can you succeed?"
Qin Mu groaned and said, "It's difficult, but I'm trying. There was once an evil man who poisoned the grassland to resist Eternal Peace, killing 90% of the people there. He found his conscience during the Eternal Peace Calamity and died to save people. Although I could have revived him or summoned his soul for him, I didn't, for I felt that if I did, I wouldn't be able to face those who died in the plains."
"Then how will you face the ancient gods?" Celestial Venerable Yue asked.
Qin Mu's heart shuddered.
Celestial Venerable Yue shook his spirit.
The evil person he talked about was Grandmaster. He used Shaman Poison to poison most of the farmers of the plains, making him incorrigible. Just because he did one good thing, Qin Mu couldn't forget about his ruthlessness.
What about the ancient gods?
In the Dragon Han Era and the dark ages before it, the ancient gods fed on Postcelestial lifeforms, treating them as sacrifices. Now, Qin Mu needed them to collaborate with him to fight against the celestial heavens, which was a good thing done by the ancient gods.
Could they be pardoned because of this?
One should treat people based on their nature. It was a simple principle, but one that was difficult to follow!
"Sympathy is incomparably cheap, but criticism is also shameless."
Celestial Venerable Yue's voice came from behind the screen. "I found the three people you were talking about. They are in Feathering Heaven and are planning to steal the old nest of the second heavenly master of the celestial heavens' four great heavenly masters, Meng Yungui. I'll bring them here."
The Primordial Realm's Feathering Heaven.
It was Heavenly Master Meng's ancestral grounds. He came from there and became the second heavenly master of the celestial heavens and one of the few strong practitioners at the Emperor's Throne beneath the heavens.
After getting power, he began to manage Feathering Heaven, scraping wealth from other heavens to be sent there. He had no other love except for his love of money. Thus, Feathering Heaven was extremely rich. Some said his wealth was greater than that of the ten Celestial Venerables.
He was also skilled with formations and was the best at it in the celestial heavens. His wealth had all sorts of killing formations guarding it. It was extremely well guarded.
At the moment, Cripple and Old Ma had already snuck into his treasury. With them was a loyal and honest youth, Lan Yutian.
Cripple had always liked being alone, but after Granny Si picked up Qin Mu from the river, he liked bringing him along. Granny Si didn't like how little Qin Mu wet the bed and sent him off. However, every time, he stole little Qin Mu back.
When he came back, Blind, Mute, Apothecary, and the others had countless other things to do, so no one became his companion. Qin Mu came back infrequently, so he could only rob tombs and other heavens alone, which he found boring.
Suddenly, Cripple remembered that Qin Mu had a younger brother, Lan Yutian, so he stole him from Youdu.
It just so happened that Old Ma resigned from Rulai and left Mount Meru, so Cripple hired this ex-constable to guide his techniques so they could improve.
Old Ma couldn't get over his face, yet he was worried about him and Lan Yutian's safety, so he had to follow them and help them clean up the mess.
"This Heavenly Master Meng's formations are great, and they aren't limited to killing formations. He can cause intruders to leave their tracks too. For example, in this formation, the mirrors are to store figures, and if one intrudes into it, their figures will be stored by these mirrors."
Old Ma looked around, and his gaze fell onto the books in the formation. He said, "Those books seem like the Life and Death Book and are one with the mirror. After one leaves their figure, those books will use the image to find the thief's identity. There's also a sound worm inside to mimic the thief's voice… That jade box over there has no treasures inside, it's a trap…"
Cripple was impressed, and he said to Celestial Venerable Yu, "Learn from this, rascal. This is what ability looks like!"
Lan Yutian nodded and remembered Old Ma's words.
Cripple and Lan Yutian were about to strike when the space around them changed. They got spooked and looked around, only to see a peach forest. The peach flowers were blossoming, which signaled that it was early spring, yet the peach beside them had already matured, which signaled summer!
"Masters, Young Master, the Celestial Venerable is inviting you." A maid walked up to them and spoke gently.
Cripple's face was like dirt. "Old Ma, I'm doomed! A Celestial Venerable caught us, and he's likely going to cut off my legs, just like what happened to Village Chief, so he can plant me in jars to prevent me from escaping ever again!"
Old Ma examined the surroundings and said, "This seems to be Celestial Venerable Yue's peach forest. Mu'er talked about this place before. We shall follow them. Don't be too alarmed. I was able to catch you in the past because you were careless and had a weak Dao heart."
They followed the maid and saw the dragon qilin and a weak girl waiting outside. Lan Yutian rushed forward with a cheer. Yan'er seemed like she had just cried as she refused to feed him, choosing to wait outside quietly.
"Fatty Dragon, what happened to Sister Yan'er?" Lan Yutian inquired.
The dragon qilin sighed and said, "Cult Master invites you in. Enter first, please."
Lan Yutian felt more and more weirded out as he followed Cripple and Old Ma into the palace.
In the palace, Qin Mu took out a mirror to display to Old Ma and Cripple, then said, "The hall in the mirror is a reflection left behind by the Hall of Fragrance. The imprinted talismans are those used on the Hall of Fragrance. This Hall of Fragrance is what the celestial heavens use to suppress souls. There are a lot of talismans on it. I need an expert to break them and steal the soul suppressed inside."
He tapped it, and the space in the mirror expanded. The Hall of Fragrance in the mirror also projected into the hall in front of everyone. This bronze hall with all sorts of talismans imprinted on it looked like a reflection in the mirror, yet it looked normal when it was outside of the mirror.
Lan Yutian praised, "Brother's painting path has improved!"
Qin Mu said, "The last bit of your soul is hidden inside too. Grandpa Cripple, do you have a way inside?"
Cripple's face was dense as he examined the talismans while circling the bronze hall. He mumbled, "Impressive, impressive… This is the hardest and most terrifying restriction I've ever met… The peak of my life… "
Qin Mu looked at Old Ma, and he shook his head. "I can't, Cripple is the expert here."
Lan Yutian moved forward to check the talismans in a manner similar to Cripple.
Qin Mu frowned and thought, 'Celestial Venerable Yu has followed Grandpa Cripple for too long. He has almost become another Cripple. He's probably tainted…'
Both of them carefully examined the seals and talismans on it and mumbled in a heated discussion.
Qin Mu thought about it and said, "Grandpa Cripple, you have time to research it. Take this mirror to Eternal Peace, to Grandpa Mute and Grandpa Blind. Ask them to build a replica of the Hall of Fragrance according to the talisman formations, seals, and restrictions on it. After that, you two can slowly break it…"
Before he finished, Lan Yutian began to run excitedly at a fast pace. Suddenly, his silhouette became a series of broken figures as he rushed straight towards the Hall of Fragrance's apparition!
Qin Mu hurriedly looked at him and saw Lan Yutian going through the talisman apparitions as if they were nothing. He continued to run as if he was entering sticky mud. He became slower and slower before becoming sealed by the seal, unable to move.
Cripple ran after him and saved him from it. He shook his head and said, "It's too strong, so even if one runs fast enough, they can't pass through it. We have to think of another way!"
Qin Mu put the Hall of Fragrance's apparition into the mirror with a pat and said, "This is important. After Grandpa Mute forges the Hall of Fragrance, someone has to fully replicate the talismans, seals, and restrictions on it too. You two must be careful when you attempt to enter! Remember, remember!"
Cripple put away the mirror and said, "When I saved Little Lan just now, I realized that the seal has countless spaces. We will be blocked when we enter the fourth layer of seals, and the ones after it will be even stronger. It's too difficult to enter!"
"We have to enter!"
Qin Mu interrupted him and said, "It concerns our future, Grandpa Cripple. We have to leave this to you!"
Cripple saw how serious he was and said, "As long as one is fast enough, there's no such thing as an unbeatable seal. Mu'er, why don't you follow us?"
Qin Mu shook his head and said, "I have to return to the past to see South Deity Vermillion Bird. Go and see Grandpa Mute. After I see South Deity, I'll tell you two what to do. Celestial Venerable Yue, could you please send them to Eternal Peace?"
Old Ma walked forward and seriously said, "Mu'er, don't force yourself too hard."
Qin Mu's eyes were slightly red, and he hastily hugged him to conceal it. "Why would I? Old Ma, you and Grandpa Cripple have to cultivate too. My celestial palaces still lack the Buddhist celestial palace and thief celestial palace. There are paths in Buddhism and thieving. I'm waiting for you two to cultivate these two celestial palaces so that you can impart them to me for me to improve."
Old Ma smiled. "Buddhism only cares about internal cultivation and having no external desires. Any external desires are fabricated. You become Buddha after that, and you don't need the help of others."
Qin Mu said, "There's a limit to our power. One can try to use appearance to prove oneself."
They separated, and behind the screen, Celestial Venerable Yue deployed her sleeves. Cripple, Old Ma, and Lan Yutian disappeared.
Qin Mu said to the lady behind the screen, "Celestial Venerable Yue, I have to leave too."
Celestial Venerable Yue said, "You plan to head to the source of the Surging River? Do I need to send you there?"
Qin Mu said, "I want to go back to the past to take a look. The Surging River isn't far from here. I'll search for a boat first."