Xukong was a little shocked upon seeing the faces of Lin Mu’s parents appearing on the dark figure’s face.
“Why did Lin Mu never speak to me about this?” Xukong questioned himself.
‘Has he been suppressing this in his mind all long, such that it has now turned into his Heart Demon?’ Xukong thought to himself.
Indeed, the figure that was alternating between the two faces was none other than a Heart Demon. A Heart Demon is the product of the cultivator’s emotions, memories, and guilt. They combine together and give birth to an entity that eventually becomes a Heart Demon.
A Heart Demon can gravely harm a cultivator if they don’t deal with it or suppress it. Every cultivator that exists will one day develop a Heart Demon, the only difference is when. Even the most staunch, just, righteous, and willful of cultivators develop Heart Demons when they undergo their tribulations, not to say about the other common or unorthodox cultivators.
Though the reason why Xukong was so shocked was because Lin Mu was simply not at the cultivation stage where he could develop a Heart Demon. A Heart Demon also required a large quantity of spirit qi to be born, thus the earliest a cultivator could develop a heart demon was at the Core Condensation realm.
Lin Mu developing one at the Mid-stage of the Qi refining realm simply did not make sense. This was apparent since looking at the heart demon, Xukong could tell that it was not fully developed and was thus forcibly absorbing the spirit qi in Lin Mu’s dantian.
“Even if it absorbs the entirety of Lin Mu’s Spirit Qi stores, it still won’t be able to live. Nevertheless, I have to do something.” Xukong spoke inwardly.
Xukong was just about to act when suddenly, his spirit sense was pushed back because of an immense pressure.
“Wha… What?” Xukong spoke after recoiling.
He looked around and saw that the True Grand Formation Array had activated. The runes on it started shifting and showed a myriad of changes. It was as if the workings of the heavens were hidden within the formation and gave one a slight glance into it.
Xukong could not help but be lost within the mysteries of the True Grand Formation Array. A moment later he forcibly snapped out of his daze, as a chill went down his body.
“This is truly fearsome. It can even pull someone like me into it.” Xukong spoke with a little fear in his voice.
Xukong then heard a loud echoing screech and saw an oval mass appear over the formation array. The oval mass was making shrieking and crying noises which made one’s ears hurt and hair stand on the end.
The oval mass dissipated and revealed the heart demon that was hidden within. The heart demon was floating above the formation array and seemed to be greatly distressed. It seemed to have stabilized its form temporarily after absorbing the spirit qi from Lin Mu’s dantian, but probably could not maintain it for much longer.
“Why is the heart demon here?” Xukong questioned.
The heart demon’s movements were being restricted by something invisible which even Xukong could not determine. Suddenly the altar that was glowing with white light started to thrum with power. Even more intense waves of energy started being released from it. Xukong was just about to brace for its impact when he discovered that the energy waves never reached him.
Xukong gazed at the altar and saw that the waves of energy were only targeting the heart demon. The energy waves would be released by the altar and then surround the heart demon into a certain kind of a shell.
“The altar is sealing the Heart Demon? No! This is something else…” Xukong uttered.
After the heart demon was completely encased within the energy shell it started floating towards the altar. It came to a halt right above the beam of white light and was veiled within it.
And then it happened…
The entire environment within the ring changed. The beam of light that was being emanated by the altar was no longer white. Instead, it had turned into a crimson shade of red. The light kept on being intensified until finally; it became blood red.
“This aura… how can it be here…” Xukong uttered in between breaths.
A violent and oppressive aura spread inside the ring and made Xukong recoil.
“There’s no doubt… It is the aura of the Demonic Path!” Xukong stated before he was pushed back a large distance away.
Back in the real world. A stream of memories were currently flashing in Lin Mu’s mind.
A young teenage boy was standing in the door frame while crying. He was looking at a rough and brawny man that was currently sharpening a blade with a whetstone.
“Please don’t go, father.” The boy requested.
“We don’t have a choice, my son. I need to go hunt, we don’t have any more money left.” The man spoke.
Evidently, the man and the boy were a pair of father and son.
“But what if you fall sick like mother as well?” The boy spoke.
“I just have to take that risk. The town head can’t offer anyone aid, and this is the middle of the winter as well. I don’t know what else to do, I have to buy medicine for your mother.” The man spoke with determination in his eyes.
The memories soon changed and a different scene appeared in Lin Mu’s mind.
The boy was now standing over two graves alone. He fell on his knees and was kowtowing while crying.
“Why… why did this happen? If we had waited for a few more days, the medicine would have arrived.” The boy yelled.
“What am I supposed to do, now that you two are gone?” The boy uttered between sobs.
The boy stayed in that position for a while before standing up. He then walked out of the courtyard and saw the scenes outside. Many other people could be seen crying and mourning. The boy then understood that he wasn’t the only one in this situation, and there were others in the same condition as well.
These memories kept on replaying in Lin Mu’s mind over and over again. Each time he would think what if, it didn’t happen? What if they did something different? Or what if they had chosen to wait? But every time he thought about each ‘What if?’, the fury within Lin Mu’s heart grew.
He remembered the conditions in the past and then how the town head had rejected everyone’s calls for aid. He would then recall all the luxuries that the Town head was enjoying and could not help but wonder, what it was all for?
Lin Mu was unaware of the events happening within the mysterious ring. He did not even react when the spirit qi within his body started depleting rapidly. The only thing that mattered to him right now was his thoughts.
It was then that he heard a voice call out to him. The voice asked him what was so wrong, to which he could barely reply and could only whisper.
Lin Mu then heard someone slap his back and yell at him. This did not help his condition much and only helped to infuriate him more.
It was now that he looked up to glare at the voice that was calling out to him. He wanted to give a fitting response to the person who was disturbing his thoughts, disturbing his memories.
But when Lin Mu looked up, he saw the person who was currently the main target of his hate. It was the person he was pinning his previous sorrow and tragedy upon. He saw the Town Head standing in front of him looking at him with eyes that were intending to make him feel lowly.
The fury in his heart was at its peak, when Lin Mu finally mustered enough will to yell out his answer,
“I SAID EVERYTHING!!!!”
And then, it was as if the fury within his heart could no longer be contained. Lin Mu heard something beckoning him, calling him to come to it. He chose to respond to it and saw everything slowdown. The movements of the Town head in front of him froze, and even the dust particles that were floating around in the air became still.
It was as if the world itself had stopped.
Lin Mu then felt it. Something was pulling on his mind. He let go of his inhibitions and let it happen.
He found himself in a vast empty expanse. The ground was red, as if stained by blood and even the sky seemed to be filled with crimson red clouds. A moment later Lin Mu could even smell the metallic stench of blood.
Then he saw them appear in the sky. Thousands of vague figures started appearing. They kept on increasing in number until finally they became uncountable and the sky was blotted out by them. The figures were but a dark red silhouette, though they all had different shapes and sizes.
Some were as big as mountains while others were as small as bulls. Still, even the smallest silhouette was many times bigger than Lin Mu. Some silhouettes had multiple hands and legs, some had horns, some had tails, while others had wings. There were a myriad combinations of such, and these figures were surrounding Lin Mu.
Then finally he heard them talk.
Thundering chants started echoing in the vast expanse, as the voices of all the figures melded together into an inhuman, demonic voice.
“Ignite thy heart as a furnace, let your rage fuel your strength and unleash rampage upon the worlds – Behold The Burning Heart Sutra.”