"Tianming, are you confident?" Ye Qing asked.
"Elder, the timeframe is quite tight, but I'll try my best not to let you down," he replied, smiling. While he made it sound humble, his face exuded confidence. Anyone could make it out.
Reaching the third level of Unity in half a year? Back in Ignispolis, he had broken through three levels in a single month! He wasn’t just a pentabane, but was in fact a decabane. Not to mention, now he had the untapped blessings of the ancestors in the mausoleum. No matter what, the position of junior sect master was his for sure. He didn't want to give up on all the blessings inside the mausoleum just yet.
"Li Tianming, I'll come test you half a year from now to see whether you actually reach the third level of Unity!" Li Xuanchen spat.
Tianming merely smiled back. He knew Li Xuanchen thought very highly of himself as the top genius of the Li Saint Clan. He would see.
At least, Li Xuanyi was satisfied with what transpired today. They didn't have to do anything, yet Tianming had taken on what was basically an impossible challenge.
"Li Tianming," the elder said as he took out a bronze talisman. He inscribed something on it, then threw it to Tianming.
"This is the talisman of an inner sect disciple of my Azure Immortal Mountain. From now on, you're considered one of my disciples as well. You may come to cultivate at Azure Immortal Mountain. Any disciple of mine will have their safety guaranteed!" Ye Qing announced.
Jingyu was overjoyed at the elder's proclamation, knowing full well what it entailed. She called out to remind him, "Tianming!"
Hearing her reminder, he hurriedly said, "Your disciple thanks you, Elder!"
"Work hard and prove you're a pentabane. I am really curious about you. The founding ancestor is a legend that I’ve admired all my life. Since you have the same bane count as him, I'd like to see what you’ll be like ten years from now."
"All I can say is I'll definitely do my best to impress you, Elder."
Ye Qing smiled at the response. "Now that's something to look forward to." Being able to hear the elder say something like that was the greatest shock of all. The others were completely flabbergasted.
"Work hard, young man. You used to be able to back out of this risky path, but the moment you assimilated the seal was the moment you gave up on any hope of escape. I admire your courage. From now on, you'll only gain more adversaries in the Grand-Orient Sect the more accomplished you become.
"However, true experts can only emerge from the midst of chaos and carnage. The ancestors of my Ye Clan have always wanted to compete with the Li Saint Clan, but more than that, we all deeply respect them and thank them for their graciousness. The Li Saint Clan has been in decline for far too long. Such a legendary clan shouldn't be mocked by everyone, no matter how far it falls. Someone has to stand up for them. That person doesn't have to revive the clan to its former glory; defending the clan's current dignity is enough. I'm sure the ancestors of the clan would turn in their graves if they saw the state of the clan now.
"Li Tianming, I hope the person that'll stand up for the clan will be you. My clan has always held a regret. But if you can become our hope, at least the clan won't be the target of so much ridicule. I, Ye Qing, will protect you." The regret he was referring to was his failure to protect Li Wudi, as the sect master had fallen to a plot from the shadows rather than an upfront attack.
As for Mu He's death, it was suicide as a result of harrasment from Yuwen Taiji. Ye Qing hadn't expected her to choose such a method to make her exit. Tianming knew that the elder had made him a promise in earnest. He really wanted to see what a pentabane could become. The Ye Clan, second to only the Li Saint Clan, was their most loyal partner, but could do naught but sigh at the Li Saint Clan's current state.
Ye Qing patted Tianming on the shoulder. There were many things that didn't have to be outright stated. Now, Tianming just heard an impressive senior like him make a request of him. His main objective now was to live up to the elder's hopes and fulfill his promises.
"Qingyu, your big brother just returned to the sect, so there's no doubt much he doesn't know. Teach him patiently, so he doesn't suffer from not knowing the rules," Ye Qing said.
Qingyu was moved to tears. Tianming had obtained a total victory! His status as an inner sect disciple of Azure Immortal Mountain also meant he had planted his roots in the Grand-Orient Sect.
After his announcement, Ye Qing prepared to leave. While some of what he did would displease the council of elders, it wasn't something he would be ashamed to carry out.
"Elder, please wait a moment," Li Xuanyi suddenly said, smiling.
"What is it?"
Li Xuanyi waved and a fat, brutish, fully bearded youth came running to his side. "Elder, this is my youngest son. He's called Jincan, and is fifteen this year."
"For him to only be at Spiritsource at fifteen... it's a little too lackluster, isn't it?" Ye Qing said.
"Elder, this child was afflicted by a prenatal condition, so he can't be compared to Xuanchen."
Upon hearing that, Li Jincan seemed a little unhappy and gave Li Xuanyi a nudge. He was so chubby that it almost seemed like oil would ooze out of his face. His yellow teeth elicited discomfort in those who saw them. When he looked at Qingyu and gaped, his saliva was just on the edge of dripping out.
"What do you want me to know, then?" Ye Qing said, furrowing his brow. No normal person would bring such a humiliating son out into the public.
"Elder, this is the marriage agreement Li Wudi signed with me. Eight elders from the council signed their names as witnesses to the contract. It stipulates that when Li Qingyu reaches the age of sixteen, she would be wedded to my son, Jincan. I was about to ask you, Elder, if this agreement is valid for life."
Annoyed, Ye Qing replied, "I wasn't part of the signing, so it's not my place to meddle."
"Understood. This junior here merely wanted an elder from the council to reconfirm the agreement's validity. After all, Li Qingyu turns sixteen next month. I worry that Elder Ye Qing would think we’re causing trouble for the Apex Branch when we come next month to enforce the agreement, so I just wanted to make you aware of it."
"Are you afraid I'll stop you?" Ye Qing asked.
"No, Elder. This is merely a small matter to the council. I wouldn't worry about that."
"What if I did stop you?"
"Surely you jest, Elder. Should that come to pass, I’d have no choice but to seek out the elders who signed the agreement for aid. Naturally, I'm aware that you're a busy person, so you definitely wouldn't bother yourself with petty matters like this."
Since Ye Qing's argument about Tianming's matter was sensible, Li Xuanyi had to accept it. But a marriage agreement with the signature of eight other elders gave him the edge.
"Since it's a petty matter, don't bother me with it. Annoy me enough and I'll tear the agreement up," Ye Qing said.
"Elder, forgive my transgression!" Li Xuanyi bowed his head in a hurry.
Ye Qing looked at Jingyu and Qingyu. He didn't say anything, but his message was clear. That was Li Wudi's own blunder. It was beyond his power to help, so he merely left.
When the elder was gone, Li Xuanyi turned to Tianming and the rest with a smile.
"I already made plans. Perhaps we'll hold the wedding on the fifteenth or sixteenth. Matriarch, we shall come on the day itself. Do prepare a good dowry when the time comes. The Apex Branch can't be stingy, you know. Naturally, we’ll also pay the bride price on time. I'm sure you'll be satisfied with it, Matriarch. And I'm also sure you'll be all the more delighted when Qingyu finally gives birth to a great grandchild for you, right?" He smirked when he finally finished.
Everyone turned to look at the ugly Li Jincan and the beauty he was about to marry and couldn't stop themselves from laughing. They were beauty and the beast, alright, not to mention this beast had no fangs or talons at all.
"Qingyu, I want you to birth me five children to make my dad happy!" The buffoon looked at his fiancee with a smile so wide he couldn’t help but drool. During the whole exchange, Tianming and the other two wore cold expressions.
"You think a fat pig like that can wed my granddaughter? Over my dead body!" Jingyu snapped.
"Matriarch, this is what Li Wudi has agreed to. If you try something inappropriate, the council of elders will get involved. It doesn’t matter if you’re dead or alive; Qingyu will still become my daughter-in-law." There was nobody he would fear now that he had the marriage agreement with the elders' signatures on it. Jingyu could do naught but grit her teeth. Qingyu shuddered at the lustful, bestial gaze coming from Li Jincan.
"They're going too far!" Feiling voiced from inside Tianming.
"Brother, shall we kill this pig using this opportunity? Don't worry, nobody will discover me," the little chick said. It was a rather upstanding fellow filled with a strong sense of justice.
"Don't be hasty. I have plans."
Tianming patted Qingyu on the shoulder and whispered to her ear, "Don't worry. If this Li Jincan dares touch one hair on you, I'll turn him into meat paste." He didn't sound like he was joking in the least.
"Big Brother...." She felt like a drowning person who had finally grabbed onto a float.
"Qingyu, relax. If I can't save you, I'll make my head into a chamber pot for you," he said with full seriousness.
"Big Brother, I don't need a chamber pot," she said, chuckling.
Tianming turned back to Li Xuanyi and his two sons. "Buzz off."
"Don't forget the dowry. I'll bring my younger brother here to collect it," Li Xuanchen said.
"Sure. Bring a few more lives if you would, just in case you lose a couple."
Li Xuanchen merely laughed it off and ordered, "Let's go!"
There was nothing more to say. Li Xuanchen couldn't take the position of the junior sect master within half a year, no matter what he did. But at least he could relish in the fact that his younger brother was going to get Qingyu.
The three bloodlines left just like that, and Fatepath Peak returned to its former quiet. From beginning to end, not a single one from the Seven Starry Wind Branches had shown up. This was what the Li Saint Clan ended up becoming; with no tiger on the mountain, the monkeys reigned supreme!Previous Chapter Next Chapter