This man was two meters in height with a full beard. His hairs stood high as he let his rage shoot through the skies and his cry caused the beasts in the area to scatter in fear. In an instant, everyone turned to look at Li Jingyu with malice in their hearts.
"Li Jingyu, we of the three bloodlines wanted to hold a Sacred Assembly to decide who would become the junior sect master. But who could've known that you’d do something so foolish, you sick sadist!" Fourth Patriarch Li Yunting said. Though he seemed like a tall and lanky gentleman, his words were sharp and ruthless.
"Then tell me. What have I done that's so foolish?" Jingyu was completely unmoved by the fierce youths. It was far from the worst she’d ever had to face. She shielded Tianming and Qingyu behind her and stared back ferociously, though those on the other side didn't back down despite the chill they felt down their spines.
"You just picked up an outsider and called him Li Wudi's son, then announced he’d be the junior sect master. Tell me, how else should I describe this but foolish?" Li Yansheng said in a deep voice. The others from his Fire Bloodline shot burning glares at Jingyu, who felt a little daunted by the pressure. Given her age, there were times when her will couldn't match her intent.
"Li Wudi has no son of his own. He doesn't seem like he'll last much longer. So, picking the junior sect master is a matter of utmost importance for our clan! While we were discussing a fitting candidate among ourselves, you selfishly appointed your own! Not only is that foolish, it's childish! Matriarch, you don't have the authority to do so."
Many others joined in the complaints.
"You lot? Discussing who should be the junior sect master? What a joke. That position has always been passed down in the Apex Branch. Since when did that have anything to do with the three bloodlines?" Jingyu spat.
"Matriarch, we’re in uncharted waters. The present situation has no precedent—Li Wudi has no legitimate heir. From now on, the Li Saint Clan will no longer have an Apex Branch. Our clan will abandon this hereditary farce and pick a leader that can truly lead us out of this crisis!" Li Xuanyi said without warning. He sounded calm and unhurried, but every word of his was designed to impress and earn him much admiration. Those of the Saint Realm were indeed different! Tianming could clearly tell that his aura and demeanor were in a whole different league than the rest. That was no mortal; that was a saint! No wonder people often said those who became saints transcended mortality.
"The second patriarch is correct. The Apex Branch has fallen, so it's time you moved out of the way. Even the Wind Bloodline isn't here. All the Apex Branch has left is Li Qingyu, but she's not a male heir. Eventually, the Li Saint Clan will no longer have an Apex Branch."
They made it sound so inconsequential. Those in their generation had only heard about the glory of their ancestors from hearsay and rumors, so how could they truly understand the magnitude of the achievements the Apex Branch had forged in their glory days? Tianming felt truly sorry for the clan's present state; the Apex Branch had once been the top hegemons, yet had fallen so low. It turned out that even they couldn't stand the test of time.
"Matriarch, hand the Kunpeng Sacred Seal to us. As long as we pass it down to a talented descendant, there's still hope for our clan to rise again." Li Xuanyi sounded calm and easygoing, but he applied his full saintly pressure to Jingyu.
"You really know how to sell something. Everyone knows that you're talking about your son, Li Xuanchen. After all, he's the most talented one in our clan and is the disciple of Yuwen Taiji! So you intend to forcefully take the seal for your son? Third Patriarch, Fourth Patriarch, do you agree with him as well?" Jingyu said with a cold smirk.
"What's there to disagree about? Even if my son can't compete with Li Xuanchen this time, there's still a chance our grandsons and descendants down the line can," said Li Yansheng.
"That's right. But if the seal stays with the Apex Branch, we'll have no chance at all," said Li Yunting.
"Li Jingyu! Hand us the Kunpeng Sacred Seal!"
"Admit your loss! The Apex Branch is no more! It's over for Li Wudi!"
"Don't just make the bogus claim that some outsider is a pentabane!"
The crowd didn't hesitate to lay the heat on Jingyu. They slowly approached with their eyes widened in rage. The old woman hopelessly shook her head and sighed, yet the restless crowd cared nothing for her advanced age.
"Who said my claim was bogus?" At that moment, Tianming stepped out and glared back at the experts of the clan. "Did those of the Seven Starry Wind Branches not tell you how I defeated Li Linghe?"
Everyone stopped in their tracks in surprise. However, the older ones among them had been waiting for this moment. They had wanted to see the so-called sixteen-year-old Spiritsource who defeated Li Linghe, who was at the third level of Unity. Now that he was forced out, this matter would be easily settled.
Li Xuanyi waved and everyone stopped advancing. He looked at Tianming for a moment and smiled. "Young man, we’re not as foolish as those from the Seven Starry Wind Branches. We won't be easily fooled by them. Whether you're the son of Li Wudi, a descendant of the Apex Branch or a pentabane, I'm sure you know the truth just like we do. Don't test your luck and go against us for a small benefit like that. The consequences of lying to us are horrible, no matter who you may be."
His words oozed merciless threat. He looked straight into Tianming's eyes when he made his proclamation. Almost everyone was shocked to hear him speak in such a tone.
Would Tianming really risk his life for the mere position of junior sect master? However, Tianming was far from the sort to be scared by mere words.
"Second Patriarch, let me then reemphasize three things: first, I am Li Wudi's son. As for whether I'm a descendant of the Apex Branch, I don't have to prove it to you. You'll just have to take my word for it. Second, if you're not convinced I'm a pentabane, I'll accept your son's challenge. I’ve only cultivated for half a year and am still at Spiritsource. I'd like to see what stage you trashy lot are at after tens of years of training. And third, listen up!"
He raised his voice all of a sudden, as if he was challenging the heavens. This was his pride as a member of the Apex Branch, fueled by the blood essence of the countless ancestors before him! All he had to do was to fight to prove himself, not fight to the death. There was no need to fear victory or loss. Those who knew better could easily see the truth, so he would show it to them! Elder Ye Qing was his only chance. Tianming had to keep his position as junior sect master and fully convince those misfits. Only then could he continue training in the mausoleum. Otherwise, Jingyu would never know peace from their constant bickering.
"I have already assimilated the Kunpeng Sacred Seal in my body! I have also entered Li Mausoleum to pay my respects to the ancestors! Dissatisfied? Feel free to come get beat up!"
The moment the words left his mouth, the thousands of members of the three bloodlines were flabbergasted. What gall! He actually dared to risk everything and assimilate the seal?! What kind of confidence did he have? How could a mere outsider have that kind of courage?
"Nonsense!" Li Xuanyi said, his gaze seething. He hadn’t expected Tianming to not only not fear his pressure, but also talk back. And worst of all, he dared make that kind of reckless proclamation!
"Outsider... aren't you afraid we'll kill you to retrieve the seal?" Li Xuanyi asked.
"Second Patriarch, dare I ask if you're doing this out of self interest? You want to take it for your own son, do you not? What proof do you have that I'm not Li Wudi's son? You don't. But I can. Only those from the Apex Branch can have five bane-rings like the founding ancestor! I am a pentabane, just like him! All you have to do is to send your sons out to fight me!"
Tianming knew their children were far stronger than Li Linghe, but so what? It's not like he had to win. The stronger they were, the brighter he would shine. If a Spiritsource beastmaster could hold off opponents of their level, him being a pentabane would be the only explanation. The youths from the three bloodlines were no doubt riled up by the humiliating challenge they’d just been issued.
"Dad, I'll show him the price he'll have to pay for impersonating someone from the Apex Branch!" said a black-clad girl who stepped out from behind Third Patriarch Li Yansheng. Being about Qingyu's age, she had a pair of fiery eyes that was just as explosive as her apparent temper. Pride was practically etched deep in her face.
Tianming recognized her. He didn't just waste his time waiting for them to arrive. Last night, he had already learned quite a lot about the youths of the three bloodlines from Qingyu, including this girl. She was called Li Chiling. Just like Qingyu, she was a tribane and at the fourth level of Unity! She and Qingyu were the most talented girls below the age of eighteen in the whole clan.
They’d fought each other countless times since their childhood, and both had wins and losses. In other words, Li Chiling was no doubt far stronger than Li Linghe. A talent like her might not stand out as much in the Grand-Orient Sect, but she would no doubt be a once-in-a-myriad-years genius in Vermillion Bird!
Qingyu hated Li Chiling deeply, as she often humiliated her by bringing up her late mother. Countless times, she had shamed Qingyu by boasting about her parents and mocking hers for being pathetic. Her pride had haunted Qingyu for much of her childhood years. While Qingyu didn't say much, Tianming could immediately tell the kind of person she was with one look.
"Come!" Tianming said. It was simple and straightforward. He stood against the backdrop of the mountains before a fiery young girl. He felt this battle wouldn't last long, especially with Feiling attached to him.
"Vile crook, return from whence you came. No, you dared to put your taint on the blood essence of our ancestors. Death is the only fitting punishment for someone like you!" She summoned her lifebound beast and immediately struck!Previous Chapter Next Chapter