Book 18, Highgod - Chapter 32, The Netherworld Heart
Linley's heart trembled.
Chief Sovereign of Death?
Linley knew that each Law or Edict had seven mighty Sovereigns, with one High Sovereign, two Intermediate Sovereigns, and four Lesser Sovereigns! Seven Elemental Laws and four great Edicts. In total, there were only eleven High Sovereigns, and these eleven High Sovereigns were also termed Chief Sovereigns! They were the supreme kings of their Laws and Edicts, chief-like figures!
They were the greatest of existences beneath the Overgod level.
As for the Overgods, they were the personifications of the Edicts. They had no human emotions, nor would they interfere in struggles and battles. They couldn't be counted as people. Thus, the eleven Chief Gods could absolutely be considered the most supreme existences of the universe.
And, from what Yennaway was saying, it seemed as though the four Chief Sovereigns of the Four Higher Planes were the most powerful of the eleven Chief Sovereigns. One could completely imagine what sort of status this Sovereign of Death, seated on her throne, possessed! It was indeed laughable for Linley to mention the Bloodridge Sovereign to her!
"Sovereign." The nearby Bebe said frantically as well. "My Boss, he..."
"Shut your mouth." The Sovereign of Death, seated atop her throne, said calmly. Bebe instantly felt a tremendous pressure crush down on him, preventing him from speaking. "The decisions I have made are definitely irreversible. The reward and the punishment cancel each other out. I will not help you."
Linley raised his head to look at the seated Sovereign of Death.
She still was dressed in that long violet robe, and her hair was still long and blood-red. This woman had that beautiful, graceful face...but the aura she naturally emanated caused Linley to feel powerless. This was one of the four Chief Sovereigns of the Four Higher Planes...the Chief Sovereign of the Netherworld! A powerful, supreme, invincible existence!
"Sovereign, then my brother and I will depart." Linley rose to his feet, still bowing.
"Mm." The Sovereign of Death acknowledged calmly.
Bebe couldn't help but turn to stare at Linley, transmitting mentally with franticness, "Boss, are we leaving now?"
"Right, we're leaving right now! The Sovereign's decision is irrevocable. What we need to do is seize every moment and hurry to find the other Netherworld Sovereigns." Linley sent mentally. He had begged the Sovereign of Death repeatedly, but hadn't been able to move her in the slightest. "This Sovereign of Death isn't willing to help us, but I refuse to believe the other six will be the same!"
There was no way Linley would give up!
When he thought of how his father, Yale, George, and the others were in a life-and-death danger, Linley felt panicked! They had died in the Yulan continent, but that wasn't a true death, as their souls had survived. But dying in the Netherworld meant their souls would disperse, just like his Grandpa Doehring, never to come to life ever again!
Linley wasn't willing to stand by and watch their souls disperse!
Even if he risked his life, he would have to rescue them!
Linley glanced at the Sovereign of Death, seated on high. "Right. Let's go."
Linley and Bebe still bowed very courteously towards the Chief Sovereign of Death, then turned and strode outwards towards the outer palace. As for the gold snake and the silver serpent, as well as Arthurs, Bailey, and the others, they watched as Linley and Bebe left, the expressions on their faces varied. The gold snake and the silver serpent, husband and wife, just laughed coldly.
"Wait a moment." A cold voice suddenly rang out.
Linley and Bebe, who had already reached the doorway of the palace, suddenly came to a halt. Linley turned his head to look towards the Chief Sovereign of Death with surprise and joy in his eyes. Linley's eyes were blazing. "The Sovereign called out to me...can it be that she changed her mind? Why would the Sovereign change her mind? But then again, the Sovereign was once an ordinary person. Perhaps she might really change her mind. There's still a chance!"
Linley grew tense.
Bebe raised his head to look at the Chief Sovereign of Death as well, both puzzled and expectant.
"Linley, let me warn you that you do not need to go find the other Sovereigns of the Netherworld. You can go directly back to the Infernal Realm." The Chief Sovereign of Death said calmly, but her eyes continued to look with interest at the expression on Linley's face.
"Why?" Linley's heart trembled. He had a bad feeling.
"When ordinary people die, their souls will enter the Netherworld and form into an undead. This is part of the natural Laws, while control over the management of this Law was transformed into a treasure, the supreme treasure of my Netherworld, the 'Netherworld Heart'. If one wishes to find out which undead your father and friends transformed into, this Netherworld Heart must be used. And this Netherworld Heart...is under my control." The Chief Sovereign of Death said coldly.
Linley couldn't help but stare at the Chief Sovereign of Death.
So it was the Netherworld Heart which controlled everything. This supreme treasure was under the control of the Chief Sovereign of Death. This was indeed reasonable.
The Chief Sovereign of Death stared down towards Linley, her lips curving upwards slightly. "I told you. As punishment, I will not save your father and your friends. Thus...forget about saving them. Even if you go beg other Netherworld Sovereigns, I will not permit them to use the Netherworld Heart. I imagine...they wouldn't have the gall to disobey me. And you aren't qualified to make them wish to disobey me!"
"Thus, you can go straight back to the Infernal Realm." The Chief Sovereign of Death said calmly.
Linley felt as though an explosion had gone off inside his brain. 'Netherworld Heart'. 'Father'. 'Boss Yale'. 'George'. All sorts of things chaotically jumbled together within his mind. Linley's mind had completely lost all logical thought. He was completely stunned. It seemed a long time passed...Linley felt as though he were in a dream, as though his mind was in a stupor!
And suddenly, he awoke!
"No!" Linley suddenly raised his head, staring at the Chief Sovereign of Death. "Sovereign, you cannot do this, you cannot do this! Sovereign, if you aren't willing to save them, I, Linley, won't say a single word of complaint. But you cannot stop the other Sovereigns. You cannot. You cannot!" Linley had already sunk into despair.
Faced with the Chief Sovereign of Death, he was completely unable to resist her power or to require her to do anything. All he could do was speak powerlessly. In his despair, he even forgot to speak with respect. If he were clear-minded, he would never have errored in such a way.
Bebe stared at the Chief Sovereign of Death as well, his eyes also filled with disbelief.
"This is your punishment." The Chief Sovereign of Death said calmly.
"Sovereign!" Bebe suddenly strode forward.
"Impudence!" There were two maids standing at the two ends of the upraised dais of the palace. One of them barked coldly, "Stand back!"
Bebe stood there, his head raised as he stared at the Chief Sovereign of Death. "Sovereign, you are an invincible Chief Sovereign! Right, I did kill a Spirit Snake. As to whether or not that was 'Tina', I have no idea." Bebe held his head up high. "Sovereign, you arranged for people to test us. How was I supposed to know it was just a test? She was trying to kill me. Was I not allowed to fight back?"
Bebe suddenly fell to his knees, but his head was held high as he stared at the Chief Sovereign of Death. "I don't believe that I was wrong. If the Chief Sovereign of Death feels I was wrong, then punish me. Just punish me directly, and not my Boss. It was I who killed the Spirit Snake. I did the deed, and I will accept the punishment for it. Don't get my Boss involved! Come, if you want to kill me, then kill me!" Bebe, head held high, stared straight at the Sovereign with an unruly, untamed look.
Linley, hearing this, was stunned.
Arthurs and Bailey, at the front of the palace, stared at Bebe in amazement. Even the golden snake and the silver serpent, that husband-and-wife couple, were rather stunned.
"Excellent." The Chief Sovereign of Death looked downwards calmly at Bebe.
A terrifying presence swept out, and with a 'whap' sound, Bebe was crushed downwards, smashing into the floor of the palace. However, Bebe still pressed his fists against the ground, forcing his waist straight. He continued to hold his head high as he stared at the Chief Sovereign of Death.
Linley suddenly moved in front of Bebe. He raised his head high, staring at the Chief Sovereign of Death. "Chief Sovereign, it was I who ordered Bebe to kill that Spirit Snake. At that time, we wanted to acquire the Abyssal Fruit. But that Abyssal Snake was preventing us, so I ordered Bebe to kill him, while I would seize the chance to acquire the Abyssal Fruit! Bebe was just obeying my orders."
"Bebe." Linley mentally shouted at him, "Are you insane? Once you die, you won't even have a divine clone left behind. You'll truly be dead. What will Ninny do? What will your daughter, Ina, do? And Beirut will be heartbroken as well."
"Boss." Bebe looked at Linley.
"Shut your mouth. Don't say a thing." Linley shouted mentally.
Bebe stuttered, but in the end, maintained his silence.
Linley raised his head to look at the Chief Sovereign of Death, seated high above him. That invincible aura was indeed enough to inspire dread. Linley stared at the Chief Sovereign of Death. "Sovereign, punishment is punishment, reward is reward. How can they cancel each other out? I am willing to take my punishment! I only ask you, Sovereign, to save my father and brothers. Even if you want to kill me, I won't say a single word of complaint!"
Bebe suddenly turned, staring at Linley, who was standing there with his back ramrod straight.
"What?" Arthurs and Bailey stared in disbelief. As for the colossal golden snake and the silver serpent, they and their nine children all stared in Linley in amazement.
"Boss, what are you doing?!" Bebe shouted back frantically.
"Bebe, if I'm killed, I'll still have my divine fire clone back at the Yulan continent. Although I won't be able to become a supreme expert by relying on my divine fire clone, for the sake of my father and my brothers, so what if I'm not able to be a supreme expert?" Linley sent mentally. "But if my father and brothers end up having their souls dispersed and destroyed in the Netherworld, even if I become an expert on Beirut's level, I will never be at peace and regret it my entire life! Grandpa Doehring once, for my sake, allowed his soul to be dispersed. My brothers, my father, they still have hope. I can't give them up just for the sake of becoming a supreme expert!"
Bebe was stunned.
"If I can let my family and friends all be alive and well, even if I give up glory and power, so what?"
Linley raised his head, looking towards the Chief Sovereign of Death.
"Reward is reward, punishment is punishment?" The Chief Sovereign of Death repeated these words, and then stared downwards at Linley. "Linley, your future is limitless. Are you willing to give up your future potential for the sake of those weak little undead?" The Chief Sovereign of Death's words caused Linley's body to tremble.
The Chief Sovereign of Death also knew that Linley had a divine clone in another plane.
"I am willing." Linley held his head high.
Sometimes, a person should maintain his pursuits. Sometimes, a person had to give them up.
Today, giving up his pursuits might mean he would never become a supreme expert. However, he would have his family and have his lifelong friends. This was enough to satisfy Linley. After all, it was hard to achieve perfection in everything!
The Chief Sovereign of Death stared at Linley, then said calmly, "You are willing to give it up, but...I'm not going to agree."
Linley, who had already prepared himself, was stunned.
"You feel that rewards and punishments cannot cancel each other out, but...as far as I'm concerned, they should. This is a rule which I have set. What you need to do is to obey my rules!" The Chief Sovereign of Death laughed coldly as she stared down towards Linley, as though she were looking at a maddened ant.
Bebe suddenly rose to his feet.
Linley stretched his hand out to stop him while shouting mentally ,"Bebe!" Bebe's face was purple. He turned to stare at Linley.
"The result of offending a Sovereign is to die for nothing. Understood?" Linley sent mentally.
Linley raised his head, looking at the Sovereign. He said, one word and sentence at a time, "Sovereign, really...is there really no hope at all?" When Linley thought of the grief his father had lived in for so many years, and how he had died without even successfully avenging Linley's mother...and how Boss Yale had collapsed to the point of begging for Reynolds to kill him...Linley felt heartsick when he thought of his father and friends.
"Boss." Bebe looked at Linley, sensing his grief.
"Sovereign!" Suddenly, the nearby Arthurs spoke out. "Sovereign, aren't the Planar Wars starting soon? Didn't you say that if a Commander is killed...why not just change that a bit?"
The Chief Sovereign of Death actually let out a rare laugh. "Arthurs, you really are clever. I nearly forgot." And then, she turned to stare at Linley and Bebe. "Linley, I have wonderful news for you. You wish to save your father and friends, yes? There is hope. There is still a little bit of hope."
Linley and Bebe both immediately raised their heads to stare at the Chief Sovereign of Death up above.
"Hope?" Linley felt a blaze of eagerness in his heart.
The Chief Sovereign of Death said, "Seven Divine Planes, Four Higher Realms. Between them, there is an extremely rowdy event that will occur every trillion years. The Planar Wars."
Linley's heart trembled.
Planar Wars. He had heard of them long ago, but all he knew was that the battle between two planes was extremely fierce. A war which resulted in an extremely high number of experts falling.
"And now, the Divine Darkness Plane and the Divine Light Plane are currently undergoing a Planar Wars battle! The Divine Darkness Plane belongs to my Netherworld side! The Netherworld's Lords of Tartarus are qualified to participate. To encourage them, the rules of the Planar Wars state...that if they are able to kill ten enemy commanders, they would be able to make a request of a Sovereign of their side. You could ask the Sovereign to make a Sovereign artifact for you; attack, material defense, spiritual defense, you can choose for yourself what you want. The Sovereign will definitely accomplish it for you!"
"But of course, you can make an earlier request." The Chief Sovereign of Death said. "You can now go assist the Divine Darkness Plane's side. If you kill a commander, I will help you find one of your family or friends and allow them to regain their memories. If you kill two, I will help you save two. If you want to save many people, work hard to kill the enemy commanders."
Linley's eyes instantly lit up.
"Done." Linley hurriedly said.
"Don't be impatient. I forgot to warn you; in the Planar Wars, commander-level experts are all at the Lords of Tartarus level, which is what the Infernal Realm calls 'Purgatory Commanders'." The Chief Sovereign of Death said calmly. "The weakest amongst them should be comparable to you, while the strongest...are Highgod Paragons."
Linley's facial expression instantly froze.
They were all Purgatory Commander level experts? Those who were commanders...were the likes of Reisgem, or the castle lord of Miluo Island, 'Mosi'. For Linley to kill experts like them?
"In the Planar Wars, 'commander' is a position of high rank. Naturally, they consist of the supreme experts of the various planes." The Chief Sovereign of Death said slowly. "If you wish to become a commander, the prerequisite is that you are a Lord of Tartarus, or a Lord Prefect of a prefecture. Only by doing so are you qualified to enter. You can imagine what level of strength is needed. If you go kill them, but end up meeting someone who is stronger...you'll be finished."
Linley felt as though a massive boulder was crushing down upon his chest, making it hard to breathe.
He wanted to go fight!
But...did he have the ability to? Those weren't mere Seven Star Fiends; they were Purgatory Commanders, Lords of Tartarus, the most supreme of experts, and they included amongst them invincible figures comparable to Beirut and Dunnington. To kill them?
The Chief Sovereign of Death stared down at Linley. "This is the 'hope' which I spoke of. Originally, killing an enemy commander came with a reward! But you can use it to instead save your loved ones. For each commander you kill, I will save one of your loved ones!"
Bebe stared angrily at the Sovereign.
This was too unfair! Killing a commander was a tremendous merit, but the Chief Sovereign of Death would only save a single person? However, if Linley wished to save his loved ones, this was the only path. There were no other options!
"If you are afraid, you can leave now." The Chief Sovereign of Death said calmly.
"I accept!" Linley raised his head, staring up at the Chief Sovereign of Death.
Even if he had to climb up a mountain of knives or descend into a sea of flames, Linley would make the attempt!
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