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Chapter 77: Tianlan Zhenjun
The atmosphere at the center of the Barren Valley felt a little tense. For a very long moment, no one spoke a word.
Standing in the center of this circular world, Lu Chen slowly turned around to look at the surroundings, but his gaze wasn't able to escape from the desolate land. However, what truly appeared in his mind was something entirely different—what he saw was a scene so fiery that it felt suffocating. It was a blazing inferno, a massive pillar of light from the heavens, a grand power capable of creating and destroying worlds, as well as the innumerable fragments of light descending as it all blew apart, as though waking up from a nightmare. But following which was the suffering from the black flames, an experience that was etched deep into the depths of his soul.
"I am not your disciple."
Lu Chen suddenly chuckled as he looked at that bald fatty. Calmly, he spoke, "You are the esteemed and revered Tianlan Zhenjun while I am only a shadow hidden in the darkest corners of the world."
As he spoke those words, the face of the calm but imposing bald fatty that seemed to harness the entire world in his grasp, or rather, the legendary Tianlan Zhenjun, changed.
He lowered his head slightly, and pain seemed to flash across the depths of his eyes. After some time, he smiled bitterly, "Do you blame me for it?"
Lu Chen slowly shook his head. His expression was complicated, as though he was recalling his past affairs, "That isn't it. Just that, I have been haunted by nightmares all these years. I would dream of slaughtering many people, dream of the scorched crimson earth, dream of mountains after mountains of corpses stacked all over the lands and the fresh blood flowing through the veins of the earth…
Tianlan Zhenjun frowned as a bizarre look flashed across his face, "What happened?"
Lu Chen contemplated for a moment before lifting his gaze to look at him, "Back then, when I wrecked the God Descension Incantation, the Curse of Black Flames activated immediately, searing my flesh, blood, and soul, leaving me in great pain and a state of delirium. I can only vaguely remember that after stepping out of the valley, there seemed to have been a battle. The bloodshed within my dreams seemed to have come from there…"
"You didn't remember wrongly!" Tianlan Zhenjun suddenly interrupted and spoke impassively. "Back then, our plan was to strike from both the inside and the outside simultaneously. After destroying the God Descension Curse within the Barren Valley, the army under the True Immortal Alliance launched an attack from the exterior. Because most of the Three Realm Demonic Cult elites had gathered on this land, the fight was extremely brutal. The resulting mountains of corpses and river of blood were probably what you saw back then."
Lu Chen was taken aback. He didn't expect Tianlan Zhenjun to concede so straightforwardly. After hesitating for a moment, he asked, "If that's the case, then in my dreams, I also dreamt that I killed a lot of people…"
Tianlan Zhenjun replied, "That didn't happen. You fainted not long after leaving the valley, and someone rescued you. Thus, you weren't involved in the fighting. It was probably the great amount of bloodshed in the battle back then which created such an illusion."
Lu Chen pondered for a long while, and gradually, his conflicted expression faded. He seemed to have eased up, and after a short moment, he exhaled deeply.
Tianlan Zhenjun sighed softly, "It's all my fault. If only I had met and discussed these matters with you in the past few years, you probably wouldn't have been so distressed."
Lu Chen shook his head, "That's not your fault… Right, Elder Yun Shou Yang of the demonic cult had a son and a daughter. The name of the son is Yun Jian while the daughter is called Yun Xiao Qing. Do you know what happened to them?"
Tianlan Zhenjun was silent for a moment before replying, "They died in that battle."
Lu Chen hesitated for a moment before asking, "How did they die?"
Tianlan Zhenjun glanced at him before replying, "Back then, when the Immortal Alliance surrounded the Barren Valley, they fought back stubbornly along with the other fiends of the demonic cult, killing innumerable orthodox cultivators. Eventually, they were subdued and killed in that chaotic battle."
"They died in that chaotic battle?"
Lu Chen remained silent for some time. Then, he abruptly shook his head and sighed. After which, he turned his head to look at Tianlan Zhenjun once more, but this time, light seemed to have returned to his eyes. "Alright, after chatting for so long, you haven't told me the reason for your presence yet."
Tianlan Zhenjun smiled, "That should be the way. A man should face life with a smile."
Lu Chen harrumphed, "You sure put it easily. Why don't you try being scorched by black flames for a decade?" After which, he muttered indignantly, "Damned fatty."
Tianlan Zhenjun shook his head with a smile, as though he didn't hear the other party's resentful utter. "I do have something I need your help on."
"What is it?"
"Go to Kunlun Sect and uncover a demonic cult fiend who has been hiding within their ranks for many years."
"Five years ago, a spy under my Fleeting Cloud Division discovered by chance a Three Realm Demonic Cult rendezvous point within the Immortal City. Thereafter, under the leadership of Blood Warbler and the combined efforts from the Fleeting Cloud Division, we finally managed to infiltrate their ranks. However, after the showdown at the Barren Valley, the weakened cult had grown even more cautious. Thus, the man whom we snuck in had been unable to enter the core of the organization. Then, a month ago, we suddenly received a secret letter from him saying that the demonic cult is hatching a huge scheme in the shadows, and the mastermind is an elder within the demonic cult."
Upon hearing those words, Lu Chen's eyes narrowed.
Tianlan Zhenjun glanced at him calmly before continuing, "However, things went awry from there on. The demonic cult members noticed the intelligence leak and acted immediately. Even though we gave our all to save him, we were still a step too late."
"That person died."
"Before his death, he only told me two things. First, a demonic cult spy has managed to invade the core of the Immortal Alliance and currently holds an important status there. Second, the cult has ambitious plans, and a key member is currently undercover in Kunlun Sect. It is unknown what that person is up to, but if he were to succeed, the demonic cult's scheme would come to be, thus bringing catastrophe to the world. In fact, the threat is greater than the God Descension Incantation in the Barren Valley back then."
The Barren Valley fell silent once more.
After a long moment, Lu Chen asked softly, "Why me? It's not like you are unaware that the Curse of Black Flames has already destroyed my cultivation. The current me is no different from an ordinary mortal."
Tianlan Zhenjun shook his head, "Cultivation isn't the priority in such matters. Even a hundred Golden Core cultivators might not be able to bring out better results than you can."
Lu Chen smiled bitterly. Tianlan Zhenjun continued, "Even if I don't point out certain things, you should already understand. The True Immortal Alliance of today is just a shell of its former glory, bloated and powerless. The intelligence we received suggests that there is a high possibility that there is a spy in the upper echelons of the Immortal Alliance. Since that's the case, it is infeasible to work from the Immortal Alliance. We've to utilize a person whom even the True Immortal Alliance doesn't know of."
Lu Chen smiled in self-ridicule, "And that's me? Have you forgotten that the demonic cult remnants are still investigating the whereabouts of the Hei Lang?"
"But they didn't manage to find you." Tianlan Zhenjun replied calmly. "There are only two people in the entire world who know of your true identity. There is not a second person I can find other than you who holds the jargons, secret signals, history, habits, and other hidden secrets of the Three Realm Divine Cult so firmly in his grasp."
"You are the one and only person who can uncover the hidden fiend from the demonic cult!" Tianlan Zhenjun looked at Lu Chen grimly, speaking his words one by one to emphasize the importance of the matter.