At the mention of Li Wudi, Tianming thought about himself.
"You meant to say that once word that I am a pentabane gets out, my future path will be a thorny one. Others won't oppose me openly, since the Grand-Orient Sect is built on the foundations set by the founding ancestor of the clan. Messing with me will only invite mockery from others. However, I have to be wary of hidden attacks and not let anyone have a grip on my weakness. Otherwise, it'll be over for me. Is that about right?" He had already guessed most of it from Li Wudi's current state and what he had heard from Li Jingyu.
"You're much smarter than Li Wudi was when he was young. Back then, he was talented and accomplished, so he was filled with vigor and made sworn brothers all over the place..." Jingyu sighed.
Her heart ached at the memory. She turned to her sleeping son, looking at him with reddened eyes.
"He called Yuwen Taiji—son of the council member, Yuwen Fengtian—his brother, and pledged he would go through life and death with him. Yuwen Taiji seemed polite, reserved, and unambitious. He was my son's playmate since they were young, and Yuwen Fengtian also came to help us out often after finding out about my son's talent. There had been no geniuses in the Li Saint Clan for a long time, so I didn't have my guard up against them at all. Just like that, the two pledged to be sworn brothers and cultivated together for some five years. My son told Yuwen Taiji everything without holding anything back. In fact, he probably spent more time at his house than our home!"
It sounded like they used to have an unbreakable fraternal bond. That was something Tianming valued, too, like his relationship with Midas before, and now with Ying Huo and Meow Meow. So, he could understand the nature of Li Wudi and Yuwen Taiji's relationship.
"All I can say is that those of the Yuwen family are superb actors. They’re far too patient! Even though Yuwen Taiji's talent couldn’t compare to my son's, he managed to get him to pledge their lives to each other! It was a long time back when my son got married, the year when Qingyu was born. The council of elders held a competition for the geniuses at the Abyssal Battlefield. During the competition, Yuwen Taiji exploited my son's trust and thrust his beastial weapon, Venomdrake Spike, into my son's heart! You don't know how terrifying the spike truly is. Once it’s in, it can never be pulled out. Those who try will end up dead! However, without pulling it out, one must endure the torture of the spike forever! The Venomdrake Spike came in a pair—one for my son, and another for his lifebound beast. Thanks to the agony from being pierced, my son couldn't cultivate at all and his level has since deteriorated to this point!" Jingyu's fists were tightly clenched as her body tensed. She was shaking with anger and tears filled the corners of her eyes. It must have been hard for her to be greeted by the sight of her son returning from the Abyssal Battlefield.
"Did Yuwen Taiji not get punished for it?" Tianming forced himself to ask.
The four or five years Yuwen Taiji spent to cultivate his relationship with Li Wudi was all for that one moment. He was far too cruel and harsh! As far as Tianming was concerned, people who weaponized emotions and feelings were the lowest of the low!
"No! The Venomdrake Spike is the signature beastial weapon of Su Yan, from Heaven's Elysium. Nobody else has it. So, the only possible culprit was Su Yan. After all, nobody else in the Grand-Orient Sect could rival my son, not even Yuwen Taiji! Only my son knows that it was his trusted brother who backstabbed him when he let his guard down! That kind of betrayal was a great blow to his mental state. What's worse is Yuwen Taiji had already made plans with some others for an alibi. When my son accused him of that, he said Su Yan was masquerading as him! Without any proof, my son's testimony alone was useless. He was set up. Even if the council of elders wanted to do something about it, they were powerless. Not to mention, most of those in the council don't want my son to bring the Li Saint Clan back to power and wrest control of the Grand-Orient Sect from them. There was nothing a widow like me could do about it. Nobody cared what I had to say, and my son was already crippled. Even though there were some friends of my husband on the council of elders and were there thanks to the clan's support, they couldn't have helped us even if they wanted to. This is the truth: the Yuwen family were the culprits, yet they didn't suffer any consequences."
It was a true shame. In that situation, nothing could be said or done about it. It was something Tianming was really familiar with. When he returned from Ignispolis, he told many people the truth, but only Wei Jing really believed him. Who else would bother? It was already too late for him, anyway. No doubt Li Jingyu's mental state was similar to Wei Jing's back then.
"Yuwen Fengtian and Yuwen Taiji... those sly, venomous, heartless bastards! All these years, my son suffered the pain from the Venomdrake Spike and spending his days barely alive. Did you know why Yuwen Taiji didn't kill my son at the Abyssal Battlefield and left him alive to endure the torture? It's because he secretly fancied my daughter-in-law, Mu He. He hated Wudi, so he wanted to torture him and see him fall from grace all to sate his desires! However, Mu He had never given him the time of day. Yuwen Taiji came to my Fatepath Peak to pretend to visit my son, but his actual goal was to take Mu He away. Mu He and I resisted with much effort. In the end, she couldn't take it anymore and abandoned Qingyu when she was three, and took her own life.
"Qingyu was only three! She had to see her mother collapse right before her eyes! It was Yuwen Taiji who forced Mu He to choose death! I really want to avenge them. But nowadays, he's no longer the same man who orchestrated his insidious plan like a snake. Now, he's the strongest in the Grand-Orient Sect, whereas I'm already old and incapable of avenging my son. This is the greatest regret I have in my life!" All the hate she endured caused her to lose sleep at night.
"Tianming, it's not that I expect you to do anything about this by telling you all this. At the end of the day, the grudges of my family have nothing to do with you. I brought you here with the sole intention of letting you reach your full potential. I'm telling you this just to warn you to always be careful, no matter what heights you reach in the future. Nowadays, they’ve long forgotten Fatepath Peak and the Li Saint Clan, so you’ll be safe here. What happens within the clan will no longer affect the sect. All else aside, our clan still has our dignity. Even if others wish us ill, they won't openly harm us. They also value their reputation, after all, and their family is now the hope of the Grand-Orient Sect.
"Back when Yuwen Taiji forced Mu He to commit suicide, he was harshly criticized by many in the council of elders, and even punished for it. Even if he's the strongest in the sect now, he's still not out of the council's grasp. While those on the council don't wish for our clan to be restored, they still care about their reputation. The whole Grand-Orient Realm pays attention to them, after all. Most wise folk out there know the true conspiracy behind my son's downfall. Back then, the reputation of the council of elders took a huge, foundational hit and caused the sect to grow more chaotic.
"You, on the other hand, are a pentabane. There’s no issue with you training and growing in the sect. There are still those in the council who remember what the Li Saint Clan has done for them, and will protect you. Even so, always keep your guard out! The hardest strikes to avoid are those you don't see coming! Who would've guessed a sworn brother of five years would plot to cripple you?"
It was as if Jingyu had let out all the tears she had saved up over the years. She finally rubbed her face dry when she finished.
"Child, this has nothing to do with you. The debt we’re owed is not yours to claim. All you have to do is to fulfill your full pentabane potential. Don't waste it. I’ll introduce you to the council members who are still on good terms with us soon. As long as you can show your worth, I believe they'll protect you. There are good people out there too. It's just that this time around, my son was set up and the evidence was masterfully forged. They couldn't do anything about it. Even if they tried to help, the nature of the Venomdrake Spike made it so my son couldn't be saved.
"As for Mu He, she’d already suffered a huge blow from my son's downfall in the first place. Yuwen Taiji didn't want her dead, he was just tactless and pushed her to her breaking point. The council of elders punished him with two years of seclusion after her death. Yet who would've expected him to improve so much during his seclusion. Nowadays, he could simply just take the position of sect master from my son." She breathed a long sigh when she finished.
It was all in the past, but it would never truly be forgotten. Tianming bit his lip in frustration. Everyone in the family, from the older to the younger generation, was suffering. That was especially the case for Qingyu. She shouldn't have had to experience all that at her age. All Tianming could do was vow to do what he could for this family. At the very least, he had to return the favor of her saving Feiling, bringing him here, and being granted the Kunpeng Sacred Seal.
Li Wudi slowly awakened and reached out for his wine jar to take another drink.
"Oh? You took that thingy into your body?" he said, looking at Tianming with shock.
"That's right," Tianming replied with a nod. Now, he was officially the junior sect master.
"Beautifully done. Now, you can enter the Li Mausoleum with me!" Li Wudi said with a smile.
"Alright." Tianming himself was quite curious what the mausoleum of such a great clan would look like.
Li Wudi crawled upright and put his arm around Tianming's shoulders, covering him in a strong, alcoholic musk.
"Come, kiddo, daddy will bring you to the mausoleum! Are you ready? We'll go sing and dance for our ancestors."Previous Chapter Next Chapter