“This is Yueling Hong’s son, Yueling Xiao. He is also Yueling Ji’s father.” Jin Yixuan continued to introduce the Yueling Clan.
“Ah, the father and grandfather of Heaven Elysium’s new disciple. It is an honour to meet you,” Mu Yang greeted them. To be honest, there was something weird about the three from the Yueling Clan, but Mu Yang wasn’t going to be mouthy at this juncture. All he cared about was that everyone from Vermilion Bird was safe, and that was the best scenario he could have imagined.
“It's our pleasure too, Vice-Potentate Mu.” They immediately struck up a conversation.
“Murong Tianhai, I know you may be upset, but such are the rules to pick out the best disciples for the Elysium, and there's nothing we can do about it. Why don’t you try to find their bodies, and prepare to send them off?” Jin Yixuan suggested.
“Yes, sir inspector. I’ll take my leave now.”
“Farewell.” Murong Tianhai left without a second word. Li Tianming wanted to tell him that this very lake had four bodies, but he refrained from doing so in the end.
“Since the Abyssal Trials is over, I too shall leave with our disciples,” Wang Kun said.
“Alright.” Jin Yixuan said. Once Wang Kun was gone, only the inspectors, the three from Yueling Clan and those from Vermilion Bird were left.
“Inspectors, we will be taking our leave too.” Normally speaking, the inspectors were busy people. They would be taking Yueling Ji with them, so Mu Yang got ready to leave as well.
“Ah. Vice-Potentate Mu Yang, give us a moment. We will be heading over to Ignispolis too, so why not join us?” Jin Yixuan smiled.
Mu Yang was stunned for a moment. “You'll be visiting Ignispolis too?”
“Have you forgotten? We will be picking up a disciple by the name of Lin Xiaoting, and then we will send him and Yueling Ji to the Elysium together. Or does the Vice-Potentate not welcome us there?” Song Yixue replied.
“I would never imagine that! In fact, it is our honour for the inspectors to visit us at Ignispolis,” said Mu Yang.
“Let’s go then.”
“That explains why the two of you picked Azure Domain within Vermilion Bird boundary as the place for the trials then. Was it for the convenience of picking up Lin Xiaoting?” Mu Yang asked.
“Naturally. It will save us some effort. It helps that Vermilion Bird is closest to the north too, and we can depart for the Elysium once we get Lin Xiaoting.” Jin Yixuan said.
“And the two of you?” Song Yixue asked the two from the Yueling Clan.
“If Vice-Potentate Mu Yang doesn't mind, we will go to Ignispolis to send our girl off too. Are we welcome too?” Yueling Hong added.
“Of course. Everyone’s welcome.”
“Haha, then let’s not waste anymore time here,” Jin Yixuan said.
With that, everyone headed back to Ignispolis. Li Tianming carried Jiang Qingluan on his back, while Mu Qingqing was carried by a bubble using Mu Yang’s power, since her injuries were severe.
While Jiang Qingluan had no intention to make body contact with him, she had trouble going back by herself due to the aftereffect of the poison. Li Tianming’s assessment of Jiang Qingluan was as follows: she was as fit as a cheetah, her muscles tight and her contours showing at the right spots.
“Big brother, disperse those evil thoughts.” To make things worse, Jiang Feiling was crystal clear on anything that he was thinking.
“Don’t accuse the pure, innocent me of that. I have no interest in your sister,” Li Tianming, with righteousness emanating off every fibre of his being, replied.
“Hmph, her Heavenly Pattern Barriers are squashing your back right now!” Jiang Feiling snapped back.
Li Tianming was in a bad mood before this, considering how his first place was stolen by Yueling Ji. But Jiang Feiling’s little tantrum had cheered him back up again. Damn, she sure is cute…
While losing the opportunity to enter the Elysium was lamentable, that was never Li Tianming’s goal to begin with. The main problem now was whether his grandpa agree to save Wei Jing or not, given their current circumstances. It was undeniable that Li Tianming had defeated everyone else in the Abyssal Trials, but he simply couldn’t win a battle that was rigged from the start. Once he returned to the capital, Li Tianming would seek out Wei Tiancang’s thoughts on this.
On top of that, Lin Xiaoting would be leaving Ignispolis very soon, and Li Tianming wasn't going to allow that. Li Tianming definitely wasn’t headed to the Elysium; once Lin Xiaoting was there, revenge would be impossible. This was his final chance to kill Lin Xiaoting, and he couldn’t possibly let it pass him by.
He took a look at the still unconscious Mu Qingqing. Surely he would want to avenge her for what I have done right? He better be!
Was Lin Xiaoting strong? True, he was a twin-beastmaster in the Unity stage and he even had the Saintbeast War-Soul! But was that actually enough to protect him from Li Tianming?
It didn’t take long before they crossed the bottomless pit and returned to Flameyellow Continent. As soon as they arrived, Li Tianming saw a crowd of people waiting at the other side. It seemed that Mu Yang had told them about the inspectors’ visit in advance; many of the rich and powerful were clearly here to welcome them.
A brief scan around revealed many familiar faces. Amongst them were: Potentate Wei Tiancang, the Sage Chen couple, the chancellor Wei Tianxiong, the Guardian of Sanctions Wei Qing, the Hall Overseer Wei Zikun, and the Guardian of Merits Zhao Yuanji! It had been a long time since Wei Tiancang last appeared in public, and it was clear how important this visit by the inspectors was.
Li Tianming couldn’t recognise half of the big-shots waiting there. For example, there was a hulky, tiger-like man standing right beside Sage Chen. Judging from his resemblance to Xing Que and the presence of madam Yuan Yu, who was standing beside him, he was clearly the famous Sage Xing. Together with Sage Chen, they had founded the legendary Xing & Chen Merchantry, turning them from zeroes to heroes.
There were two other factions present. There was a middle-aged man dressed in a fiery robe, standing right next to Wei Tiancang, the two clearly leaders of the entire group behind them. That was sufficient to suggest that the two were the most powerful figures across the entire Vermilion Bird. The man in question exuded dignity and poise with every move; it was evident that he was a very important personage. That was of course true, since he was the ruler of Vermilion Bird, the Vermilion Bird King! He was also Jiang Qingluan’s father, and Jiang Feiling’s adoptive father.
A white-haired elder stood directly behind the king, his wisdom observable just from his appearance. He was the minister of the nation, and also the master of the Occult Athenaeum. Most knew him as Minister Qin.
Since the king, the Starry Sages, and the ministers were all here, Lightning Manor, the star of the day, was here as well. A man in his forties stood beside Lin Xiaoting, a fearsome look etched on his face. He was the commander of the Tempest Regiment, Regiment Marshal Lin Tianjian!
Beside Lin Tianjian was another elder cloaked in purple. While the elder was slightly hunched over, like Wei Tiancang, the purple storm raging in his eyes were formidable. He was the other pillar of the nation, the Lightning Seigneur!
Minister Qin, Wei Tiancang and the Lightning Seigneur were all seniors from the past generation, and had more or less handed their roles over to their respective descendants already. Yet, they still came to welcome the inspectors today, which went to show how important the event was.
“Jiang Chen, together with those from the Vermilion Bird, greets the two inspectors.” The moment they stepped out of the pit, the king led the crowd with a bow.
Li Tianming looked at the scene. So, even our king needs to show respect to two vice-inspectors.
“Ah, Vermilion Bird King.” Jin Yixuan approached with a smile.
“It is our honour to have the inspectors join us in Vermilion Bird today. We have set up a feast in the palace, so please come with me. Our three friends from the Yueling Clan are welcome too,” the king replied, a bright smile on his face. He had heard the news that his two daughters were safe a while ago, so his focus had shifted to the inspectors. As the ruler of the nation, the role of host naturally fell to him.
However, Song Yixue’s reply was unexpected. “No need. We won’t be troubling you. Our main purpose for the trip is to pick Lin Xiaoting up, so we’ll head to the Lightning Manor directly. We’ll test Lin Xiaoting’s talent there, while we’re at it.”
“But…” That caught the king off-guard. But since the inspectors were in a higher position, he could only say, “Lin Zhao, Lin Tianjian, make sure the inspectors are treated properly.”
“Definitely, your highness.” The Lightning Seigneur, Lin Zhao, smiled. It was as if he knew the inspectors were not going to visit the palace all along.
“This way please, sir inspectors.” Lin Tianjian smiled.
“You must be Lin Xiaoting?” Jin Yixuan spotted the teenager standing beside Lin Tianjian immediately.
“Xiaoting greets the two sir inspectors.” Lin Xiaoting threw a quick glance at the heavily injured Mu Qingqing, before greeting the inspectors with a smile.
“Not bad, you are really lucky that our boss is interested in you. Once we arrive at the manor, I will personally test you,” Jin Yixuan said.
Their boss? Who could that be?
“Definitely, sir inspector.” Excitement crept into his voice.
“Hmm, he’s quite strong, and quite a looker too.” Yueling Ji observed Lin Xiaoting, her face tinged with a slight blush.
“Behave yourself,” Yueling Xiao reminded her.
Lin Xiaoting had spotted the girl smiling at him from within the crowds too. He smiled back at her, “Congratulations, Miss Yueling, for placing first in the trials. I will try my best to meet the inspector’s standards and join you in the Elysium.”
“Do your best, okay?” Yueling Ji said.
“Of course. I definitely won’t let Miss Yueling down.” Clearly, Mu Yang had informed them of Yueling Ji’s victory way before this as well.
As they continued to speak, the Lightning Seigneur and Lin Tianjian led the two inspectors and the Yueling Clan towards the Lightning Manor. That left the awkward king and Wei Tiancang hanging at one side. Though it was rude, the inspectors hailed from the Elysium, and that was all that mattered.
At the same time, Li Tianming observed Mu Qingqing, who had woken up in time to see her ‘boyfriend’ talk to Yueling Ji. She must have seen how Lin Xiaoting simply threw one glance at her, before walking off merrily with Yueling Ji.
The others too had noticed. And this was all within Li Tianming’s expectations.
It would seem that karma was early today.