“They aren’t setting up a trap for the wedding ceremony tomorrow. It will just be announcements, so don't worry,” Wei Tiancang said.
“Announcements? About what, master?” Mu Yang asked.
“If I'm not wrong, it should be the ‘Sanctum Replacement Challenge’,” Wei Tiancang replied.
“I remembered Jin Yixuan bringing that up once a few years ago. It’s an event where clans controlling Heaven’s Sanctum are tested and swapped out if necessary. I’m not so sure about the details either, so let’s just wait for the inspectors’ updates tomorrow,” Wei Tiancang explained.
“The vice-inspectors want to make use of this challenge to replace the Wei Clan with the Lightning Manor, and let them seize control of Heaven’s Sanctum?” Wei Tianxiong asked.
“No, it’s the Yueling Clan,” Mu Yang muttered.
“That’s right, it’s the Yueling Clan.” Wei Tiancang nodded in agreement.
“Master, as the potentate, will you be taking part in this challenge?” Mu Yang asked worriedly. Normally, he wouldn't be worried, but since he had just cured Wei Jing of her Lifesbane, Wei Tiancang needed time to recover.
“Most likely.” Wei Tiancang frowned. That was definitely troubling.
“Father, don’t tell me you knew about this long time ago and yet you still chose to heal Wei Jing!” Wei Zikun jumped up.
“Silence!” Wei Tiancang threw him a stare.
“Zikun, don’t make guesses on things you know nothing about. We only arrived at this conclusion in the past two days,” said Wei Qing, the Guardian of Sanctions, who had spent much more time with Wei Tiancang than the rest.
Clearly, Wei Zikun was trying to blame Wei Jing for making Wei Tiancang lose his power at such a crucial moment. Even Wei Jing couldn’t say anything to defend herself, only looking at the still tired Wei Tiancang worriedly.
“I understand, master. Please get some rest. I'll figure out what the exact rules for this challenge are tomorrow.” Mu Yang knew he needed to be the one to support the Sanctum at this crucial moment.
“That’s right. The Wei family would rather die than to give up without a fight!” Wei Tiancang cast one last look at the crowd, before leaving the hall, his hands behind his back.
The supernal mentors took their leave as well. Liu Xueyao had already mentioned that the supernal mentors were not involved in this, so none of them received the invitation.
The ones set to visit Lightning Manor tomorrow were Wei Tianxiong, Mu Yang, Wei Jing and Li Tianming. Out of the four, Mu Yang represented the Sanctum, while Wei Tianxiong represented the Wei Clan. As for Wei Jing, they were probably just curious about her recovery.
The mentors were at ease knowing that it has nothing to do with them. But sadly, the same could not be said for members of the Wei Clan who are deemed to have a sleepless night.
“What do you think?” Mu Yang asked.
“Whatever it is, we shall be fine as long as we win the battle.” In that aspect, Li Tianming was on the same line of thought as Wei Tiancang.
“Then we shall pay them a visit and see exactly what they are up to tomorrow.” Mu Yang wasn’t afraid either. The Lightning Manor wouldn’t dare to do anything outrageous during such a public ceremony.
The undercurrents that came along with the wedding invitations swept across Ignispolis in a single night. On the second day, the whole city was discussing the largest wedding to ever take place in the history of Vermilion Bird. Rumours and gossip flew all over the place; some backed with evidence, others just utter hogwash.
Li Tianming disregarded the ongoing speculation, choosing to spend the entire day in the Flameyellow Pagoda instead, learning Apocalyptic-Will, the final move of Demise of Heaven. When dusk approached, Wei Tianxiong, Mu Yang and Wei Jing were already waiting for him outside of the pagoda. It wouldn’t be a surprise if all the rich and famous of Ignispolis were all heading for the Lightning Manor right now.
“So, how much have you grasped?” Mu Yang asked.
“Not that much. I still need inspiration.” Li Tianming said. The move was too unique, and even with ten bane-rings, it wasn’t enough for him to fully understand the move in such a short period of time. With that said, the more difficult the move was, the more terrifying its power.
“About time, let’s go.” Wei Tianxiong beckoned them over. Whatever his father said yesterday were all guesses, so he would be the one to hear the vice-inspectors’ official statements later.
Speculations about the wedding tonight flew wild, and underneath the celebrations and joy was a bloodbath ready to be unleashed at any time. But for the average citizens, the wedding no doubt called for a celebration.
“Congratulations to Lin Xiaoting and Yueling Ji. Congratulations to the Lightning Manor. And congratulations to our Vermilion Bird!”
“Once Yueling Ji gets married to Lin Xiaoting, she'll be a genius of Vermilion Bird too!”
“We will have two disciples of Heaven’s Elysium in our nation. Vermilion Bird shall prosper in the years to come!”
The vice-inspectors had spent so much time in the Lightning Manor that even ordinary folk were now aware of their existence. But as expected, no one talked about the abandoned Mu Qingqing. She was nothing but history now.
Before long, the group in Wei Tianxiong’s horse cart had arrived in front of the Lightning Manor. Lanterns and ribbons draped over the manor, while the sound of music and the smell of delicacies hovered in the air. It was an extraordinary sight to behold.
“Vice-Potentate Mu Yang, the Flameyellow Institute Chancellor, and their family have arrived!” The moment they stepped out of the cart, they were welcomed by members of the Lightning Manor. As one of the famed beauties of the manor, Liu Qing was naturally there to receive the guests.
“Liu Qing, show these distinguished guests to their seats,” Lin Xiaofeng, the second son of the Lightning Seigneur, murmured.
“Yes, sir.” Liu Qing wore a red cocktail dress, her make-up further bringing out her charming looks. But when a young girl alighted from the Wei clan’s cart, attention was immediately diverted away from Liu Qing. The girl showed little emotions and wore minimal make-up, but her natural beauty was enough to make Liu Qing appear pretentious and fake. Likewise, the white-haired Li Tianming had also sparked a discussion amongst the crowd.
“Who’s this girl, and why does she look somewhat familiar?”
“Haven’t seen her before. Since when did Li Tianming befriend another beauty?”
Only Lin Xiaofeng recognised Wei Jing, since he still remembered her looks from twenty years ago.
“Congratulations on attaining your youth once again.” He smiled.
Wei Jing chose not to reply. Two decades ago, they already weren't on good terms, let alone now. But Lin Xiaofeng did not take offence to that, choosing to cater to Mu Yang and Wei Tianxiong instead, while letting Liu Qing take the mother and son pair.
“This way, please.” Liu Qing’s head was lowered and she did not wish to look at Wei Jing and Li Tianming in the face. They did have an awkward relationship after all.
Li Tianming stepped into the Lightning Manor. The first thing he saw was a middle-aged man standing before him. The man’s face was plump and rosy, and even his mustache was shining. It was evident that he was having the time of his life.
Both Li Tianming and Wei Jing saw the man, who was none other than Li Yanfeng. He remained expressionless as he looked at the mother and son. Compared to a few months ago when the two left Flamehaven, they were in a completely different state now.
He saw Wei Jing returning to her youth, a pretty lass who seemed to be at the prime of her teenage years, boasting a beauty that made everyone else look dim in comparison. He also saw Li Tianming, who was now one of the most successful teenagers in the nation, unstoppable by anyone but the newlyweds tonight.
Would he regret it? Li Tianming wanted to see Li Yanfeng’s bitterness, but he knew the man had a face thicker than a wall. No matter how ashamed, how annoyed, how envious he might be, Li Yanfeng was not one to show it. He was a man who treasured his face more than anything else, after all.
He had long heard about the happenings to Wei Jing, and he, like Liu Qing, wouldn't even look at Wei Jing right now. Liu Qing’s main selling point was her age and her looks, but how could that compare with Wei Jing now? When placed beside the latter, she was just another gaudy woman on the streets.
Even though it has been long since they left Flamehaven, Li Tianming still flared up the moment he saw Li Yanfeng.
“It’s been a while. Lightning Manor must be feeding you well. To think that even a dog can put on so much weight.” Li Tianming looked askance at Li Yanfeng. He had heard that Li Yanfeng was in the Lightning Manor.
“Tianming, many have told me that you’ve been doing well lately, and that you are working hard to change your fate. But a bastard child will remain a bastard child.”
“Hoho, it's impressive to know that Lightning Manor can train such a sense of superiority into their dogs. Have you been barking so much that you forgot how to talk like a person?” Li Tianming smirked.
“Li Tianming, brother Feng is a member of the clan, so quit your insults. He has more power in the manor than you think.” Liu Qing snapped angrily.
“Don’t bother about him, he can only laugh for a few more days.” Li Yanfeng smiled. But even then, he never did look at Wei Jing, let alone Mu Yang and Wei Tianxiong. It was a past that he had forgone, so why bother?
“Then you better keep your eyes peeled and see who gets the last laugh. We will see where being a dog of the Lightning Manor will get you,” Li Tianming said.
“Very well, drown in your illusion that you are now an unmatched genius. We shall see the end of you soon!”
Throughout the conversation, it had only been Li Tianming and Li Yanfeng talking. Since even Wei Jing did not say anything, Mu Yang and Wei Tianxiong chose to remain silent as well. After stepping past Li Yanfeng, Li Tianming asked Wei Jing.
“Did you not see how cocky that bastard is? Aren’t you going to at least scold him a bit for old times' sake?”
“As you said, we will soon see who has the last laugh, so no need to waste time here,” Wei Jing said.
True enough, arguing with Li Yanfeng wasn’t going to achieve anything. How could he not be clear on how Wei Jing was doing? If he truly thought his actions were justified, then would he still keep his head lowered and refuse to look at her?
“What’s over is over. He’s no longer your father, so just forget about him.” Mu Yang patted Li Tianming on the shoulders. Even then, Li Tianming found it hard to accept that the person who birthed him was such a piece of trash. If Li Yanfeng thought that Li Tianming’s glory was short-lived, then Li Tianming would prove to him how wrong he is!
Night fell, and the truly influential people of the entire capital were now gathered in the Mythic Lightning Hall inside of Lightning Manor. It was the biggest hall in the manor, with no less than a thousand tables sitting inside.
The layout of the hall was split into three different layers. In the most prestigious layer were guests like Mu Yang, Wei Tianxiong and the Vermilion Bird Emperor. They were naturally accompanied by the likes of Lightning Manor, Yueling Clan as well as the two vice-inspectors. Other personages in that layer included Minister Qin, the Starry Sages, and so on. They were all some of the top figures across the entire Vermilion Bird.
The second layer hosted slightly less distinguished guests. Li Tianming and Wei Jing were guided to a table in this layer, and they were seated in the outer ring of the hall.
Lastly, the third layer was those outside of the hall, which was also about a thousand tables of guests. Even though it was the least prestigious layer, the honour of being present at such a wedding was enough to boast about. Clans and organizations had sent many gifts in the off-chance that they could see the two Elysium disciples.
Li Tianming was seated beside Wei Jing, and those in the same table had all chosen to distance themselves away from the two. Some even chose to move to a nearby table. Rumour had it that before Lin Xiaoting departed for Heaven’s Elysium, he would butcher Li Tianming. As such, simply getting too close to them was a risky act. Even though many people were still curious about Wei Jing’s return to youth, they chose to observe it from a distance.
Li Tianming looked towards the VIP seats. The two vice-inspectors were seated in the most distinguished seats, and were currently receiving flattery from some of the most famous people in the nation. The Lightning Seigneur Lin Zhao, Yueling Hong, Lin Tianjian and Yueling Xiao were all accompanied at one side, engaging in joyous conversation.
In comparison, Mu Yang and Wei Tianxiong’s seats were arranged in a corner. Even the emperor was seated away from the center, with no one to talk to. It was quite an awkward scenario for them.
At that moment, chimes sounded, marking the auspicious hour... and the beginning of a wedding whose proportions were hitherto unseen in Vermilion Bird.