“Li Tianming.” As he headed for the Flameyellow Stadium, Li Tianming heard someone calling out to him from the shadows. Li Tianming turned around to see an unfamiliar woman about Mu Wan’s age, dressed in a scholarly suit.
“May I know who this senior is?”
“Occult Athenaeum's Qin Xuanyu,” she replied.
The name was enough for Li Tianming to know that she was the daughter of minister Qin. Back during the ranking test, she was in one of the VIP rooms, which meant that Li Tianming had never seen her before. Like her father, she was one of the Vermilion Bird King’s greatest aides.
“What does senior have for me?” Li Tianming asked.
“I can’t head over to the Wei Manor, so I need you to convey a message to them for me. It’s a message from the king,” Qin Xuanyu said, not forgetting to keep her volume down. The king, of course, referred to the Vermilion Bird King, who had been brought away by the two inspectors.
“I’m all ears.”
“His majesty said that if the opponents have the intention to kill, then do what you want with those from the Lightning Manor. But do not harm anyone from the Yueling Clan, just try your best to defeat them. That’s the Wei Clan’s only chance of survival,” Qin Xuanyu said seriously.
“I see, thank you for the tip,” Li Tianming answered.
The reasoning behind this was obvious. The Yueling Clan was the vice-inspectors' true target of protection, whereas the Lightning Manor was just a clan that had value due to Lin Xiaoting’s existence. It was fine for Li Tianming, since his foes were all in Lightning Manor anyway. As for Yueling Ji stealing his manna, he could turn the other cheek for that. It was a competition organized for her to begin with, and without her, it wouldn’t even have happened.
Now that her job was done, Qin Xuanyu returned to the shadows and left without a sound. By then, the sun was already rising, painting the city red, making it look like a boiling cauldron from a distance.
Li Tianming stood in an empty area within the stadium, a place reserved for the Wei Clan. Directly opposite them was another patch, meant for the Lightning Manor and the Yueling Clan. Higher up was a room that housed the three invigilators of the battle, the Vermilion Bird King and the two vice-inspectors!
Li Tianming was the earliest to arrive. He stepped into the VIP room, where he had a good view of the entire stadium through the window. There was still quite some time before the battle began, so he held his Grand Thunderflare Sword and waved it around the room.
The room trembled from the sword ki generated.
“Apocalyptic-Will, capable of destroying heaven and earth.” He was immersed in the way of the sword. Beside him, the little chick stood on the window ledge, casting its glance over the entire arena. And at its feet was the black cat, deep in slumber, without a worry for anything in this world.
In the blink of an eye, the clock had struck twelve. Tens of thousands of spectators flooded the stadium, their presence heard by the entire capital. Almost all the rich and famous of the city had made their way here from the wedding at Lightning Manor, and amongst them were some of the strongest cultivators in the nation.
Discussions, jeers, opinions, all kinds of small-talk and useless chatter took place inside the stadium. Clearly, a thousand years as the nation’s cradle for geniuses wasn’t enough in the face of the inspectors' bias. As a clan that remained low-key for many years, the Wei Clan was nearing its end. And yet, among those who were unaffected, most of them were gloating.
“Look, the Wei Clan is here!” Heads turned towards the entrance of the stadium, most of them interested to catch the last glimpse of a clan that was about to vanish.
“How many of them do you reckon will still be alive three days later?”
“The vice-inspectors are personally administering the challenge, so the Wei Clan's probably going to be uprooted."
“The distribution of power in Vermilion Bird will change, considering this influence of power well beyond our control.”
“From this day, the two biggest clans will no longer be the royal clan and the Wei Manor, but Lightning Manor and the Yueling Clan.”
“Don’t come to a conclusion too early. Vermilion Bird King is also here to invigilate the challenge today.”
Most people have no idea on how much power the vice-inspectors actually held. Even if they were the head-inspectors, their influence was limited within a certain range. For example, they couldn't directly replace the Wei Clan with the Yueling Clan. For Yueling Clan to truly take root in Vermilion Bird, they needed to at least prove themselves in battle for the next three days.
Compared to Lightning Manor, the Wei Clan was definitely short on manpower. Excluding those not part of the fighting strength, there were less than thirty people in the group that stepped into the stadium.
“Tianming, how’s cultivation going?” Mu Yang leaned against the door. Even though it was about time for the challenge to start, his expressions were calm and composed.
“Just a bit more,” Li Tianming replied.
“Hmm, that is apparent. You should finish it in three days,” Mu Yang said. It was not the first time he was impressed by Li Tianming’s talent that came from his ten rings, nor would it be the last.
“Come and greet your grandfather,” Mu Yang said.
When Li Tianming walked out, Wei Tiancang and the rest had already sat down. Even though a golden glow radiated from his eyes as usual, Li Tianming could tell that the old man was still in a state of fatigue, his complexion still pale.
His state even extended to the rest of the Wei Manor, where people like Wei Tianxiong, Wei Zikun and Wei Guohao all had their heads lowered. Needless to say, they must have spent the whole night complaining. Li Tianming was thankful he chose not to return to the manor.
“Tianming, I heard that you've been making pretty good progress lately.” Wei Tiancang turned to Li Tianming, his frown finally easing a little.
“Yes.” Li Tianming nodded.
“You have unsettled business with Lin Xiaoting, and this challenge is your best chance?”
“Absolutely,” Li Tianming replied with a smile. No one knew how strong the hatred boiling in his veins was.
That confidence took the Wei Clan by surprise. It was no news that the younger generation in Wei Clan was the least hopeful one, where members like Wei Guohao and Wei Lingxuan were all less than ideal. In comparison, they had to face two disciples of Heaven’s Elysium. Even so, Li Tianming easily claimed that he was a hundred percent confident.
“Tianming, can you stop being so arrogant? Do the Wei Clan really need another reason for people to laugh at us?” Wei Tianxiong shook his head and sighed.
“So cocky just because of that pitiful arrogance of yours. You wouldn’t be laughing anymore if you fully understood the crisis we are in.” Wei Zikun gritted his teeth.
“You two can wallow and mope, but don't go dragging down those with confidence!” Wei Jing was the first to snap. The two brothers had complained all night long, affecting the morale of the rest of the clan. All the juniors waited anxiously for the battle to happen, but in their mind the battle was already lost.
“You are the last one I want to hear that from. If it wasn’t for you, would father be weakened so much, landing him in such a bad state right before battle? His glory and reputation was sabotaged by none but you!” Wei Jing was in fact the main reason why Wei Zikun had been so annoyed. Why must she return at such a bad timing? Wei Jing’s life or death didn’t concern them, especially since it seemed that the entire Wei Clan was doomed now because of her.
“If the two uncles wish to push the blame, then why not blame yourself for being so useless that anyone can bully you?” Li Tianming sneered. While he knew that he shouldn’t be arguing with people on his side, it was necessary to curb people who were bringing down everyone's fighting spirit.
“Silence! Where did your manners go?” Wei Zikun scolded.
“Shut up, all of you. Tianxiong, Zikun, I will rather die here than to bow down before the Lightning Manor! If all you can do is complain, then walk out of this stadium now and never claim to be my son again!” Wei Tiancang’s voice was cold yet firm.
“Father, don’t get us wrong. We will fight for the clan till our last breath too, but we just couldn’t take how cocky this boy is,” Wei Tianxiong defended.
“Then you better stay alive to the day after to see who emerges victorious,” Li Tianming said. Tomorrow was the fight between the current generation, and the two brothers will definitely be taking part.
“Alright, Ming’er, give it a break.” Wei Jing pulled his sleeves. Wei Tianxiong’s anger was not uncalled for. He was a senior after all, and it was humiliating for him to be insulted by juniors like Li Tianming.
Li Tianming was not bothered with the two cowards too. So what if they were older than him? Only people like Mu Yang, who rose to the challenge, were trustworthy seniors to him.
When Li Tianming returned to his room to continue practicing his sword art, Wei Tiancang exchanged a look with the Guardian of Sanctions, Wei Qing. Wei Tiancang shook his head bitterly. All these years, he tried to raise the future generations of the Wei Clan properly, but the one that fulfilled his expectations perfectly was the one that never even received his guidance before. In comparison, the youngsters that grew up under his care all proved to be unreliable, with mindsets unlike a true Wei warrior’s when faced with a crisis.
“Brother, what do you think about Tianming?” Wei Qing asked.
“He has both confidence and the right mentality. The rest is up to fate,” Wei Tiancang replied.
“Try to win in the first two days. Don't let the younger generation decide our fate. Don’t leave that stress to them,” Wei Qing said, to which Wei Tiancang nodded in agreement. But that was easier said than done — what were the odds of them taking victory in the older and current generation?
There was no time for them to wonder about that, because the members of the Yueling Clan and the Lightning Manor arrived a moment later.
“Look, there’s so many of them!” When the group more than a hundred strong seated themselves opposite the Wei Clan, the stadium boiled with anticipation. If Yueling Clan was twice the size of Wei Clan, then Lightning Manor had at least three times the number of people. In other words, each member of the Wei Clan would be fighting five opposing beastmasters!
Was there any doubt to this battle? When the two clans have settled down, even a kid could tell that the Sanctum Replacement Challenge was over. The Wei Clan was clearly going to meet its end.
“Sucks to be them. If they hadn’t been so haughty about being a elite clan and took in more members like the Lightning Manor, would they have ended up in such a state?”
“Wei Tiancang lost because of his own arrogance.”
“Now the Lightning Manor has become the truly superior clan within Vermilion Bird!”
How could the Wei Clan even defend themselves? The Lightning Seigneur Lin Zhao had three brothers, while the Tempest Marshall Lin Tianjian had five. In the younger generation, they had two disciples of Heaven’s Elysium!
“I reckon the two youngsters wouldn’t even be given a chance to showcase themselves. Because if it’s the best of three, there won’t be a third round.”
“That’s where you are wrong. I was at the wedding last night, and I have heard the inspectors saying that regardless of the results of the first two rounds, they will fight for all three days!”
“Why though? If they can win the first two, they are already the winners, so why waste time?”
“Don’t you get it? The inspectors added that rule separately, probably at Lin Xiaoting’s behest. He wants to kill Li Tianming.”
“I see.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter