Chapter 539 – Drawing a Clear Line
“The Helian Family are of the Nine-headed Demon Snake race. Their current Patriarch is Helian Kuang and that Helian Peng Big Brother saw two months ago is his younger brother. The strongest of the Helian Family’s young generation is that person sitting next to Helian Peng… Helian Ba! He and the Su Family’s Su Zhizhan are the strongest among the all the juniors from the Twelve Guardian Families. However, Helian Ba is thirty-one years old this year, while Su Zhizhan is only twenty-seven, so in terms of innate talent, Su Zhizhan is slightly superior to Helian Ba.”
“Su Family?” Yun Che swept his eyes over the seating arrangements of the Twelve Families. The Twelve Families were split into two, one side east and the other west. The Helian, Chiyang, Bai, Nangong, Lin, Jiufang and Xiao Families were seated on the east side, while their own Yun Family, Mu Family, and Under Heaven Clan were seated on the west side. And the northern-most seats on the west side were labelled with the word ‘Su’, but the seats were still empty as the Su Family had not arrived yet.
“The Su Clan has arrived!”
Just at the moment Yun Che was looking in the direction of the Su Family seats, a loud, clear voice rang out from the front of the main hall. The one hundred members of the Su Family entered as one body and they directly marched over to where their seats were.
The middle-aged man who led the group came to a stop once he passed by the Yun Family. He cupped his hands towards Yun Qinghong, “Brother Yun, I hope you’ve been well?”
Yun Qinghong stood up and faintly smiled, “Everything has been splendid. Big Brother Su’s profound strength seems to have once again risen significantly, congratulations on this great news.”
“Haha, I am still far off compared to the freakish talent that is Brother Yun.” The middle-aged man laughed in a free and easy manner, “Zhizhan, hurry up and greet Uncle Yun.”
“Zhizhan greets Uncle Yun.” The youth who stood beside the middle-aged man made junior’s courtesy. His expression was filled with respect and he was neither servile nor overbearing. He was of uncommon bearing but after Yun Che saw his eyes, he had a feeling that this fellow was also someone who was filled with conceit… but that was to be expected. Because all these absolute geniuses from the best families had grown up amidst the constant admiration and astonishment of others; it would be even more abnormal if they did not possess any arrogance whatsoever.
After they had said their greetings to the Yun Family, Mu Family and the Under Heaven Family, the Su Family took their seats. Xiao Yun resumed his introductions without missing a beat, “The person who greeted Father just now is the current Patriarch of the Su Family, Su Xiangnan. And the young man was the aforementioned Su Zhizhan. The current strength of the Su Family is only inferior to that of the Helian Clan, but Su Zhizhan will definitely not lose to Helian Ba; both of them are at the sixth level of Tyrant Profound Realm, but if they were the same age, Su Zhizhan would definitely be the superior one.”
“The Su Family is the same as our Yun Family, in that both families are all humans, so the relationship between both our families have been in good standing for generations. Patriarch Su is also Father’s longtime friend. In the years that father was crippled, he personally came to visit many times.” Xiao Yun explained in detail.
Yun Che slowly nodded his head. Moreover, from the looks that Yun Qinghong and Su Xiangnan had exchanged just now, he could surmise that the Su Family was definitely not an enemy.
“That ‘Yan’ Family to the right of the Su Family, are they also humans?” Yun Che pointed at the position the Yan Clan was seated.
“Yes.” Xiao Yun nodded his head, “The Yan Family are called the Divine Spear Clan and all the members of that family use the spear as their weapon. They also had a pretty good relationship with our Yun Family all this while. One hundred years ago, the Yan Family was basically considered the weakest of the Twelve Guardian Families, but now it is a title our Yun Family ignonimously bears… The Yan Family’s Patriarch is called Yan Zijing and their Young Patriarch is Yan Chengkong, twenty-six years old, third level of the Tyrant Profound Realm.
“The Under Heaven Clan are of the elven race and their weapon of choice are profound bows and arrows. The Patriarch is Seventh Sister’s father, Greatest Ambition Under Heaven, and the Young Patriarch is Seventh Sister’s eldest brother, Number One Under Heaven. The one who is representing their young generation is Seventh Sister’s sixth brother, he should be twenty-eight this year, fourth level of the Tyrant Profound Realm.”
After Xiao Yun’s introduction, Yun Che now had a good grasp of the basic information regarding the Twelve Families.
“Xiao Yun, what kind of level are Duke Huai Palace’s Hui Ran and Hui Ye at?”
At the mention of these two names, Xiao Yun’s expression clearly became a lot more nervous, “Hui Ye is at the sixth level of the Tyrant Profound Realm and he is the third amongst the Illusory Demon Seven Scions. And that Hui Ran, I heard that he is already at the eighth level of the Tyrant Profound Realm?”
Yun Che’s brows twitched, “A late stage Overlord? The Twelve Families are already considered the pinnacle of power in the Illusory Demon Realm, so why is their young generation so lacking in comparison?”
“The various great Duke Palaces of the Illusory Demon Royal Family have always been small in number, so their combined power will not be as strong as the Twelve Families. But in the end, they are still royalty so they have access to the best resources. Thus, the elites they produce, especially those elites from the young generation, had extra advantages which far outstripped what was available to the Twelve Families. Every generation’s Illusory Demon Seven Scions will be, on a whole, stronger than the twelves prodigies from the Guardian Families, but they won’t be that much stronger… This Hui Ran is a rare monster, his innate talent is so high that it’s bizarre. Moreover, Duke Huai Palace has definitely spared no expense in using an extreme amount of resources on his body to allow him to have an abnormal strength that far surpasses his age!”
“I heard from Mother, that when Father was thirty years old, he was also at the eighth level of the Tyrant Profound Realm, so this Duke Hui Ran is as strong as Father was when he was young.” Xiao Yun said in a rather dissatisfied tone. This was because, at least where the Yun Family was concerned, Duke Huai Palace was an evil adversary.
“Oh, these two cases are very different to me.” Yun Che faintly shook his head, “Father had an innate potential which distinguished itself from the rest, whereas this Hui Ran had access to extra resources that far exceeded what our father ever had in his youth. He may be comparable to Father when they were both this age, but once you look to the future, he definitely will not have the qualifications to be compared with Father at all.”
“Mn, well said, Big Brother!” Xiao Yun said in a voice filled with agreement.
Yun Qinghong glanced at this set of brothers and he gave a dry laugh. After that, he looked forward and kept silent, not uttering a single word.
It was only fifteen minutes away from the official start of the grand ceremony, so at this moment, the Demon Imperial Hall was already filled to the brim. The various dignitaries, hegemons, main powers within the Demon Imperial City, Twelve Families and the great Duke Palaces had all assembled. Yun Che turned his head, and he was just about to ask Yun Qinghong some questions regarding the Little Demon Empress when he suddenly noticed that Yun Qinghong’s expression was far more grave now as compared to when they had first entered. Yun Che furrowed his brows. His eyes swept across the crowd, but they began to slowly relax a bit.
The center of the Demon Imperial Hall was directly north and it was where the Demon Emperor would be seated. The two core seating arrangements which were closest to the Demon Emperor were divided into an east and west wing, and these core seats were where the various great Duke Palaces and Twelve Families were seated. The Su Family, Yan Family, Under Heaven Family, Mu Family and Yun Family were arrayed from north to south on the west wing. Whereas the Helian Family, Chiyang Family, Bai Family, Nangong Family, Lin Family, Jiufang Family and Xiao Family were arrayed from north to south on the east wing.
The west wing, where the Yun Family was seated, had a total of five Guardian Families.
Whereas the east wing had a total of seven Guardian Families!
The specific seating arrangement was:
East Wing (north to south): Helian, Chiyang, Bai, Nangong, Lin, Jiufang, Xiao.
Middle (north): Little Demon Empress.
West Wing (north to south): Su, Yan, Under Heaven, Mu, Yun.
The two wings had were exactly the same but the Twelve Guardian Families had not split themselves up equally, so this ended up with one wing having five while the other had seven and this presented an uncomfortable asymmetry… And this asymmetry, during a grand ceremony where all the heroes of the land had gathered, definitely had to have some meaning.
And the same imbalance occurred with regards to where the Duke Palaces had seated themselves. There were also more royalty seated in the east wing than in the west wing. This even created a gap in the golden seats that were originally reserved for the royal family. Some aristocrats and nobility who were not from the Demon Imperial City were arranged to be seated there instead, causing their expressions to be terrified as this excessive, unexpected good favor left them restless.
“Father, the seating arrangements seem extremely problematic this time?” Yun Che asked in a low voice.
Yun Qinghong slowly nodded his head, “The situation is much worse than I thought it would be… far, far worse! This seating arrangement could be said to be drawing a clear line.”
That’s right, this was indeed drawing a clear line!
For those who were not from Demon Imperial City, they naturally could not tell what was happening. But as for those who lived in the Demon Imperial City, especially the members of the Twelve Guardian Families and the royal family, they could tell with a single glance… that the Guardian Families and royalty sitting in the east wing were either aligned towards Duke Huai, or had even completely defected to his side.
On the west wing, there was no one who was aligned with Duke Huai; they were all still loyal to the bloodline of the Demon Emperor and as such, they were also loyal to the Little Demon Empress!
At first, Yun Che was still rather unclear as to which of the Twelve Guardian Families had thrown in with Duke Huai, but now, it was clear as day! And this was clearly deliberate on Duke Huai’s part; he was showing to all those assembled that the power that he held was already this great… and it was a power that already completely suppressed those who were still loyal to the Little Demon Empress!
Such a seating arrangement, such brazen and unscrupulous behavior… Duke Huai’s intentions and desires were made abundantly clear during this grand ceremony!
The various Patriarchs and Elders of the Su Family, Yan Family, Under Heaven Family, Mu Family and Yun Family exchanged glances and their expressions became incomparably grave. None of them had predicted that the situation would be quite so severe, that the power Duke Huai had been gathering covertly all these years would actually be so terrifying.
“Is it really so unbearable to have a woman as a ruler?” Yun Che said with lamentation in his voice. The image of Cang Yue immediately appeared in his mind and it warmed his heart. He said to himself: Thank goodness I healed that disease of my royal Father-in-law so he can spawn a whole new nest of little princes. Because if there is a situation where he has no choice but to pass his position to Xueruo, then my princess wife will be in for a bad time… she’ll be tired to death.
“To these powerhouses who stand at the peak of the Illusory Demon Realm, women have always only been viewed as an accessory or even a toy for men. Thus, having to swear loyalty to a woman will indeed cause conflict to arise in their heart… But it should definitely not be a reason for them to betray the bloodline of the Demon Emperor! The greatest reason is actually their own greed! Duke Huai Palace had definitely peppered them with a copious amount of treats and enticements… but I just never expected that the two great families of Chiyou and Nangong would actually be aligned with Duke Huai! This is absolutely preposterous!”
Yun Che could hear a deep pain emanating from Yun Qinghong’s voice.
“What moves do you think Duke Huai will actually make during this grand ceremony?” Yun Che asked, “And why would he choose this particular occasion?”
“Because this is where all the heroes of the realm are gathered.” Yun Qinghong said as his brows sank, “All the various district rulers, lords of the big cities in the Illusory Demon Realm, hegemons and the leaders of all the main races… and even the leading figures hailing from the every field of mercantilism, medicine, and craftsmanship were invited as well! Almost every single person among the one hundred thousand who are within this great hall is an individual who has a great deal of influence over a place, profession, or even over the entire Illusory Demon Realm. It could be said that the seventy billion citizens of the Illusory Demon Realm are completely represented by the one hundred thousand people present! When today’s grand ceremony ends, these people will go back to their respective territories and they will disseminate all that has happened here today to every nook and cranny of the Illusory Demon Realm.”
Once Yun Qinghong had finished speaking, Yun Che immediately understood what was going on. “So that is to say that this time, Duke Huai wants the people to know that the Little Demon Empress no longer holds the highest power and prestige in the realm, that the strength he possesses now is more than enough to suppress her? After which, he will force the Little Demon Empress to abdicate in front of everyone here?”
“No, you have only gotten one part of it correct.” Yun Qinghong shook his head as he replied, “He definitely wants to borrow this occasion to fulfill his meticulous and methodical plans, but he definitely won’t use that method. Because that method will produce a result that is contrary to what he desires.”
“It would produce the opposite of his desired result?” Yun Che asked in shock.
Yun Qinghong’s eyes grew distant and he slowly began to recount, “Ten thousand years ago, the Illusory Demon Realm was a sea of chaos. The human and demon races were locked in battle and the fire of war had spread to the four corners of the realm; this left the people in dire straits. But after that, the Demon Emperor Clan inherited the legacy of the Golden Crow and received a great power. Henceforth, they led the Twelve Families and began a campaign that lasted several hundred years before they finally conquered the Illusory Demon Realm. Under the brilliant leadership of the Demon Emperor, both the human and demon races stopped fighting. After that, he gradually began to eliminate the conflict between the races and brought peace to the realm; this has persisted to this day. And the primordial divine beast, the Golden Crow, became something that the people of the Illusory Demon Realm have put their utmost faith in for the last ten thousand years. As such the Demon Emperor became a figure that has been loved and revered by the citizens of the Illusory Demon Realm through the generations.”
“If Duke Huai forces the Little Demon Empress to abdicate so he can take her place, then there would be rejoicing throughout the land only if the Demon Emperor bloodline had always led the people to calamity and caused them to undergo unspeakable hardships. But it just so happens that it is the opposite of that scenario, so if Duke Huai truly did that, all he would invite would be the wrath, rebellion, and rebuke of the people of the Illusory Demon Realm! Even if the power that Duke Huai holds is one thousand times what he has right now, how could he afford to provoke the burning wrath of the seventy billion citizens of the Illusory Demon Realm? This is the main reason Duke Huai is has never dared to make any hasty moves.”
“Ah, so this’s how it is.” Yun Che said as he lapsed into a momentary daze, “So what action will Duke Huai actually take?”
“He will definitely create a reason that is sufficiently adequate, a reason that will cause all the people to be convinced during this grand ceremony.” Yun Qinghong said with a grave expression, “The Little Demon Empress has always been very clear about Duke Huai’s disloyalty but she has never taken any actions against him because she does not want to give him something that he can use, like saying ‘her nature is brutal and vicious and that she harmed other members of the royalty for no rhyme or reason’. So during today’s events, the reason that he will concoct will be fairly simple… for example, he will implicate the Little Demon Empress in a few rumors that would cause all the people to rise up in fury, scandals that he himself has created, of course! And they will be the most vicious and evil of rumors possible… Such as promiscuity, harming her loyal citizens and even feasting on the innards of children.”
Yun Che’s eyebrows slanted fiercely and he said in a low voice, “And if these kinds of rumors were to be shouted out by a single person, no one would pay any attention… but if half of the Guardian Families and half of the royalty support these rumors and join their voices to rebuke the Little Demon Empress, then all these people who have arrived from all over the Illusory Demon Realm won’t have a reason to doubt such lies! Furthermore, the public opinion will be manipulated in such a way that it will create universal fury throughout the lands. Thus, the Little Demon Empress’ reputation would be completely swept away and she would even become a villain in the eyes of the public… Once that happens, it would only be logical that Duke Huai succeeds the position, and it will even be done with the full support of the people!”
“That’s right!” Yun Qinghong said as he nodded his head with a heavy expression. Because once he noticed the strange seating arrangements, he immediately saw through all of Duke Huai’s thoughts.
“So does Father have a plan to help the Little Demon Empress avert this calamity?” Yun Che asked in a serious voice.
Yun Qinghong lapsed into a momentary silence, and then slowly said, “The plan is actually fairly simple, but now that seven Guardian Families and the majority the royalty have sided with Duke Huai, it will be even harder to realize it, nearly impossible in fact.”
“What is the plan?” Yun Che asked swiftly.
“The plan is that we incline the hearts of the heroes gathered towards the Little Demon Empress before Duke Huai can begin his scheme, so as to not allow his people to voice out the accusations they had already prepared…”
As Yun Qinghong finished speaking, he gave a long exhalation and he shut his eyes. It was clear that he was bitterly pondering how he should face and deal with the coming scenario.
Yun Che silently considered Yun Qinghong’s words and he was also drawn into deep thought. After a while, he suddenly opened his mouth and said, “Father, once the grand ceremony starts, no matter what I do, I hope that Father does not stop me.”
Yun Qinghong opened his eyes and gazed at him deeply. But he did not ask what he was going to do exactly, instead he simply nodded his head silently. And in the midst of those eyes which were as deep as the sea, laid the trust that a father had in his son, a trust that needed no reasons.
“The—— Little—— Demon—— Empress—— Has—— Arrived!!”
At that moment, a reverberating, earsplitting voice filled the Demon Imperial Hall and the originally noisy grand hall immediately fell into a hush. It was so quiet that one could hear the sound of pin dropping. Every single person raised their head to the skies and gazed at the sky above the grand hall.