Celestial Venerable Ling stood there silently, only recovering after a while.
Suddenly, this maiden, who didn't care about her appearance, rushed forward and took her hairpin from Qin Mu. She kicked Qin Mu to the ground and attacked him ferociously.
The rod spirits riding the bamboo rods rushed forward too. They also beat up Qin Mu until bones began to snap.
Celestial Venerable Yue, Yan'er, and the others were dumbstruck. Meanwhile, the dragon qilin napped on the ground and pretended not to see anything.
"You stole my hairpin! Who let you steal my hairpin!"
Celestial Venerable Ling hollered while beating him, "Who let you slip away and return sneakily! Do you know how bitterly I waited?"
Qin Mu curled up on the ground while hugging his head, begging for mercy.
Celestial Venerable Ling didn't care, continuing while furiously saying, "Do you know how tough it was on me all these years? After you left, everyone said I was wrong. Only I knew that I was right because you are my proof!"
She began to cry as she continued on with her venting and beating.
"Everyone said I was crazy. Even Yun and Yue thought I was wrong and that I could never succeed!
"I wished for you to be by my side so badly, just to tell me I'm right!
"Yet, you ran away and disappeared!
"I'll beat you to death!"
She jumped on Qin Mu and cried like a girl who had been wronged for a long time. She clutched her peachwood hairpin in one hand and Qin Mu's shirt in another, afraid he would disappear again.
Others might not be able to understand such a feeling, yet Qin Mu understood the loneliness brought forth by setbacks and misunderstandings deeply.
At such a time, one only needed acknowledgment from a Dao friend to muster up some courage and continue on.
Qin Mu encountered this before, and so did Celestial Venerable Ling.
Qin Mu had the dragon qilin. Even if the dragon qilin didn't understand him, he would at least encourage him.
Celestial Venerable Ling had nothing.
Celestial Venerable Yue held her up, and Celestial Venerable Ling jumped on her shoulder to cry while still pinching Qin Mu's clothes.
Qin Mu patted the footprints on him and said, "If you didn't succeed, how could I return?"
"I knew I would succeed!" Celestial Venerable Ling insisted.
Qin Mu laughed before seriously saying, "You're right."
After a while, Celestial Venerable Ling stabilized herself and threw Qin Mu aside. She took the peachwood hairpin and looked at it repeatedly. Meanwhile, Celestial Venerable Yue dragged Qin Mu away to drink tea at a clean place. It was hard to find a clean place in Celestial Venerable Ling's garden.
Those ponies riding the bamboo rods were still charging at Qin Mu's legs. Qin Mu tried to chase them away, but he failed.
Yan'er led the six heavenly dragons to help Celestial Venerable Ling clean her room and garden and organize the papers she had written on.
"Yan'er, this scroll is organized in a wrong manner," the dragon qilin glanced at it and said.
"It's wrong?" The ponies became energetic again. They gave up on Qin Mu and went after the dragon qilin instead. They beat him up while he continued to sleep, refusing to budge.
Celestial Venerable Yue looked at Qin Mu, then looked at Celestial Venerable Ling, who was laughing at the hairpin in her hand. She blinked and probed, "Mu, are you really from the future?"
Qin Mu drank the tea and pouted his lips towards Yan'er. He said, "You will adopt this girl in the future and give her the name Yan'er. Her mother gave birth to her and gave her to you personally. She will feed you until you are all chubby and fat."
Celestial Venerable Yue examined Yan'er and said, "Nonsense! There's no way I'll be fed until I'm fat by her! Unless, I sent her to you in the future?"
Qin Mu smiled as he put down his teacup, asking, "Celestial Venerable Yun went to complain to the celestial heavens?"
Celestial Venerable Yue nodded and, with a faint gaze, said, "Not long after you disappeared, Celestial Venerable Hao built the half-gods' celestial heavens upon the order of the ancient Celestial Emperor. It's called the Dragon Heaven Celestial Heavens. Their power rose, especially in places like the Primordial Realm, which has caused greater friction between humans and half-gods. However, humans are still weak, so even though we have worked together with other Postcelestial races, we have still been bullied by the half-gods. It has been hard for us."
Qin Mu looked at her face. The once gentle and weak Celestial Venerable Yue was way tougher now.
"We have worked with them and fought many times against half-gods. However, we have mostly lost."
Celestial Venerable Yue smiled bitterly as she played with her teacup with her finger. "It sounds like the half-gods and the Postcelestial races fighting for territory and advantages, but it's more like sharing loot. The ones sharing loot aren't us, however, but the ancient gods. We have lost more than we've won because of how unwilling we are to sacrifice to them."
Qin Mu's heart moved slightly.
Celestial Venerable Yue continued, "Whenever we fought them, and both sides amassed their armies, we would have to perform a blood sacrifice to get the ancient gods to come down and help us. Mu, you come from the later generations. Do they still do that in combat then?"
Qin Mu shook his head.
"Guess, what did we use as a sacrifice for the greedy ancient gods?" Celestial Venerable Yue said.
Qin Mu shook his head, and he hoarsely said, "I don't want to."
"When people are desperate, they can do anything."
Celestial Venerable Yue drank her tea, yet she coughed as if it was strong alcohol that burnt her throat. She took a while to recover before sighing. "Unfortunately, it isn't wine. Then, we were desperate, for we were pushed back to the Heaven Han Celestial Heavens and the Jade Capital. Thus, we sacrificed to the ancient gods."
She said rigidly, "Us, as gods protecting the Heaven Han Celestial Heavens, sacrificed ourselves to the ancient gods high up. We made ourselves beasts and food for them. Soon, the ancient gods descended. Celestial Venerable Hao did the same. Guess what happened."
Before Qin Mu could say anything, she laughed and said, "Both sides had ancient gods, and the battle had been bloody and filled with deep hatred! Everyone thought that it would become an unimaginably bloody massacre, but both sides' ancient gods actually negotiated, acting as meditators!"
She revealed strong mockery as she clenched her teeth and said, "They peacefully negotiated and set down a peace treaty for us to put down our hatred and to get the half-gods that were about to attack the Heaven Han Celestial Heavens to withdraw! They couldn't take it, so they protested. They only left quietly after a batch of them were eaten. It was then that we knew…"
The mockery became denser as she said, "We are food. The entire Primordial Realm is a giant breeding ground! Mu, this is a breeding ground! We are livestock bred by the ancient gods! They ate us directly in the past, but now, they are civilized! They let us fight amongst ourselves so that we have to sacrifice ourselves for them to eat!"
She was figuratively drunk from tea as she cried while lying on the table. "What bullsh*t Celestial Venerables, what bullsh*t God Emperors, what bullsh*t Celestial Emperor Yun and Celestial Emperor Hao? We are all a bunch of sheep and hunting dogs! We are the sheep and hunting dogs that the ancient gods let out to graze! Mu, it has been tough for us these couple of years…"
Qin Mu put his hand on her shoulder and gently said, "I know, but I also know that, in the future, the era of the ancient gods will end at you-all's hands. They won't dare to do this again."
"Really?" Celestial Venerable Yue lifted her head and looked at him with teary eyes.
Qin Mu nodded.
Celestial Venerable Yue roused her spirits and fixed her hair, then forced herself to smile and say, "This tea makes me too drunk. I'm sorry for losing my composure. Don't mind me."
Qin Mu revealed a gentle smile. "Without all of you, there wouldn't be us of the later generations."
Celestial Venerable Yue received some great consolation from him, and she continued after feeling encouraged, "Celestial Venerable Yun became an emperor and the first to reach the Emperor's Throne Realm. However, the rule of the ancient gods in the Primordial Realm and the other worlds is still deep-rooted. Celestial Venerable Hao's aptitude is extraordinary, and he's about to reach the Emperor's Throne Realm too. Celestial Venerable Yun is going to the Dragon Han Celestial Heavens to complain about the half-gods and to see Celestial Venerable Huo."
Qin Mu's heart moved slightly.
Celestial Venerable Yue looked at him and said, "He wants to establish a connection with Celestial Venerable Hao via Celestial Venerable Huo. Do you know what he intends to do?"
Qin Mu's eyes jumped as he nodded and hoarsely said, "Invite Celestial Venerable Hao and Celestial Venerable Huo, and even God Emperor Lang Xuan and Ancestral God King, into the Heaven Alliance to overthrow the ancient gods' rule together."
Celestial Venerable Yue nodded and smoothed out her hair again. "Are we doing this right?"
Qin Mu's eyes jumped again. He wanted to tell her how Celestial Venerable Yun would die because of this. He wanted to tell her how the Heaven Alliance would permanently change and become the half-gods'.
He wanted to tell her how it was because of their decision today that the Heaven Alliance would replace the ancient gods and become terrifying rulers!
He opened his mouth, but he couldn't say anything.
He couldn't tell them.
The Heaven Alliance of the later generations wasn't as terrifying as the ancient gods of today. It was the best choice for humans to work with Celestial Venerable Hao.
If they broke this alliance, the ancient gods' era would continue, and the Primordial Realm and other realms would still be a giant breeding ground!
A Dao friend was one that stood by one's side and told them that they were right.
Yet, surprisingly, Qin Mu found that hard to say.
"You guys are doing this right," he calmly said.
Celestial Venerable Yue smiled. "You are from the future. If you think we are right, we will definitely succeed. Thank you, Mu."
She stood up and said, "The garden has been cleaned. Yan'er, come here. Walk around the place with your master and your lantern."
Yan'er appeared in front of her like a gust of wind, her eyes glowing. "Sister!"
Celestial Venerable Yue pinched her ears and fiercely said, "What?"
Finally, Yan'er diligently woke up the dragon qilin with the lantern. The dragon qilin was still being beaten by the ponies as he stood up with a yawn. He shook his body to get the ponies off.
"Where are we going, Cult Master?" he curiously asked while being chased by ponies.
Qin Mu looked at Celestial Venerable Yue. She smiled and said, "There have been some things at the border. Some half-gods keep trying to enter our land. They seem to be looking for something. The reason I didn't follow Celestial Venerable Yun to the celestial heavens is so that I can find out what they are looking for. Since you are here today, Mu, let's go investigate them!"
Qin Mu hesitated before nodding. "Sure. I'm waiting until Celestial Venerable Yun returns. I'll leave after talking to him. Let's use my carriage, it's faster."
"Sister Ling, are you coming?" Qin Mu asked.
Celestial Venerable Ling rushed out and gave Qin Mu her hairpin before saying, "Of course! Wait for me!"
She suddenly remembered something, so she called Celestial Venerable Yue over and whispered, "I haven't been out for years, so I feel somewhat timid. Can you help me groom myself?"
Celestial Venerable Yue didn't know whether to laugh or cry as she said, "Sister, you still know that you're a woman?"
"Don't embarrass me. If I go out like this, it'll be you guys who get embarrassed too."
They went to groom themselves, but Celestial Venerable Ling had no clothes to change into there, so Celestial Venerable Yue had to go to her own residence to get some clothes and accessories. It was uncomfortable for Celestial Venerable Ling, but she exited anyway.
Qin Mu's eyes flashed as he complimented, "Sister Ling and Sister Yue are really beautiful."
Celestial Venerable Yue blushed, while Celestial Venerable Ling complained about how uncomfortable her clothes were. Her dress was too long, and her sleeves were also too long, which were hindrances.
They boarded the carriage and drove towards the frontier. Celestial Venerable Yue opened the windows and looked down, saying, "The half-gods have been sneaking in, as if in search of someone. I ordered people to scout things out, and there should be news soon."
They came to a small border town and descended. Most of the people there were normal people, though there were a few divine arts practitioners.
The Heaven Han Celestial Heavens was extravagant, while the humans of the Primordial Realm still lived in poverty. It was, however, still an improvement compared to the first year of the Dragon Han Era, as people could maintain their livelihoods, albeit barely.
One could see half-gods going around at the border. They descended, and the sky suddenly darkened. Qin Mu looked up and saw a giant bird flying in the distance with green-gold wings. It blocked out the sun.
The bird cried out while flying, "Da Hong, Da Hong—"
"There's going to be a flood!" The people in the town panicked and scampered away.
The large bird descended not far away from the town, looking like a large mountain. On it was the palace of a god, and a person was tied on a pole outside of the palace. His chest was exposed, and a large spear was stuck in it. He was dying.
Celestial Venerable Yue was about to inquire about the situation when Qin Mu blocked her with his hand. He shook his head and said, "I recognize the people in the palace. The person on the pole isn't a good guy either. Let them be."
A lady walked out of the palace with a long whip and whipped the man on the pole. The man was severely injured.
After that, the lady cut meat from the man's chest with a sharp knife and forced open his mouth to force-feed him his own meat.
"I've heard about them!"
Celestial Venerable Yue said with shock, "I've heard of this weird couple in the Primordial Realm. The lady will come out every day to hit the guy and torture him. I've finally witnessed it for myself."
At that moment, the scouting god returned. He greeted Celestial Venerable Yue and Celestial Venerable Ling and said, "I've found out that they are looking for a man named Ah Chou."