What did Tianming mean? Even though Su Yiran couldn't really process it at the moment, it was clear to everyone else. Tianming radiated bravado and courage. Even though his decision basically amounted to suicide, it was enough to inspire respect for him. By the time she snapped out of the pain and thought it through, her face was blank.
At the end of the day, the scheme had worked out more or less like they had planned. Tianming would be going to the Prime Tower. However, she had lost horribly and even had her pinky finger cut off. Turning back, she saw the tall youth burning with rage as he watched Tianming leave.
"Big Brother Zhenxing, you have to torture him to death for me!" she said once Yuwen Zhenxing came to her side after the elder announced the end of the battle and dispelled the heavenly pattern formation. Tianming had already returned to Azure Dragon Sword Mountain's hall by then.
"Don't worry!" Yuwen Zhenxing's eyes were seething with killing intent. "Yiran, I will definitely pay Tianming back ten thousand times what you suffered. Nobody should be allowed to bully you like that. It was my fault today. I would've risked my life to come to you if I was able to."
Yuwen Zhenxing had killed many people, but never had he wished for someone's death so fiercely. The Grand-Orient Sect was still ruled by their own regulations, so he forced himself to endure it. However, that didn't stop him from agonizing over what had happened.
"You should leave now," Elder Su Zhen said.
"How dare you speak? You couldn't even stop her from losing her finger!" Yuwen Zhenxing snapped, making it rather weird for the elder. However, he had indeed made a mistake today. He had never expected Tianming to be so daring, or he would have stopped the battle much earlier. Thankfully, not too many had heard him being chided by a junior like that, as most of them were still awestruck by Tianming's might.
More importantly, he hadn't even needed to send his lifebound beasts out to defeat Su Yiran. How strong was he, truly? Most, if not all of the audience members were shaken by that fact. Perhaps they would find out the answer to that question in the Prime Tower.
The disciples of Azure Dragon Sword Mountain were cheering for Tianming. Him qualifying for one of the seventeen slots for the Prime Tower round was already a mark of huge honor that their mountain hadn't enjoyed for years. However, they looked forward to the match that would take place a month from then even more. It would be a true unrestrained slaughter, for most of the people who had a grudge against their junior sect master would be gathered there. Even the elders wouldn't be able to interfere with what happened in the three floors of Prime Tower. Would they really be fighting to the death there?
Even though the seniors of Taiji Mountain, Yunzhi Mountain, Fengtian Mountain, Ninepaths Mountain, Azure Immortal Mountain, and Azure Dragon Sword Mountain didn't show up, those present could feel the seeds of conflict being sown between those factions. Even so, some did have a few things to say about the matter.
"The junior sect master really is talented. His guts and straightforwardness are also to be admired."
"I really hope the heavens will give him more time to cultivate."
"There's only a month left."
"Cultivation isn’t simply a matter of time. There will be different kinds of obstacles and challenges."
"It won't be such smooth sailing for him from now on."
"I guess we'll see if he can adapt to the Prime Struggle, survive, and emerge with some gains."
"If he really becomes a prime disciple, nobody will be able to stop his rise anymore."
"Even though he knows Yuwen Zhenxing and the others will gang up on him if he goes in the Prime Tower, he doesn't care. What a hot-blooded young man."
"Let me say that I saw something often described by our ancestors as the will of the Li Saint Clan in him."
"Who knows whether the neutral elders in the council will support him...."
The neutral elders referred to those aside from Yuwen Taiji, Azure Immortal Mountain, and Azure Dragon Sword Mountain's factions. There were quite a lot of them who hadn't quite chosen a side to stand on yet, chief among whom were the centenarian First Elder, Huangfu Fengyun, and the Fourth Elder, Shangguan Jingshu.
In Fengyun Immortal Mountain's Hall, Huangfu Fengyun and Shangguan Jingshu had watched the battle just now in full.
"There's something I heard of, you see..." Huangfu Fengyun began.
"Pray tell, Old Man Huangfu."
"A few days back when Ye Shaoqing fought Yuwen Taiji, the latter won and took the former's finger as a warning."
"So the junior sect master did this as payback?" she asked.
"I didn't expect a brat in his teens would be so fearless. He doesn't even care about offending Yuwen Taiji," he said with some measure of shock.
"He has guts, alright."
"I wonder what Yuwen Taiji thinks about this...."
"What else? For someone on his level, if he kills the junior sect master over such a trivial matter, he'll no doubt be made a laughingstock across the whole Grand-Orient Realm. That'll just invite quite a lot of criticism for when he wants to become the sect master in the future."
"True. Tianming is Ye Shaoqing's direct disciple, after all. While Ye Shaoqing lost, he's no weakling either. If they really flip out, the Yuwen Clan will be in for quite some trouble, trouble they can't afford right before the Realm Wars," Huangfu Fengyun said.
"However, there's nothing we can do if Yuwen Taiji really wants to go for the kill. Tianming isn’t a prime disciple, after all. Had that been the case, Yuwen Taiji would have a hard time touching him, at least until he gets the Grand-Orient Sword."
"If he was a prime disciple, we could also send quite a number of people to protect him. It's a shame he hasn't had long to cultivate. It doesn't seem possible for him to become a prime disciple in this round."
"So why do you think Ye Shaoqing offended Yuwen Taiji for this kid?"
That was the thing they had trouble figuring out.
"Actually, with Yuwen Taiji's current status, he won't be able to deal with Tianming as he did Li Wudi back then. He’ll probably let the juniors sort this matter out among themselves."
"True. He has his focus set on the Realm Wars," Shangguan Jingshu said.
"Speaking of which, the Prime Tower really is mysterious. Nobody can peek into what happens within it. If people end up dead, nobody can say for sure who the culprit is. Among that group, there are a few geniuses, Yuwen Zhenxing, Chen Xiaoji, and Gongsun Chi to name a few. The junior sect master might not survive," Huangfu Fengyun said with a sigh.
"It’ll depend on his efforts then. He did rather well today. Su Yiran really did herself no favors by holding back against him."
All they could do was watch as things unfolded. After all, the Prime Struggle paled in comparison to the Realm Wars, which was the real battle that would cement the Grand-Orient Sect's fate.
"Did you see it? The Voidgod Sword Intent."
"In terms of talent, there’s no doubt. That child just returned a little late."
"That's true. Otherwise, the one to take back the Grand-Orient Sword for us wouldn't be Yuwen Shendu, but rather Li Tianming."
As they chatted, a young, handsome couple stood behind them. The pair were stunning to look at.
"Feifei, Jiayi," the old man said as he waved.
Two children were walking toward the elder and greeted him as they approached. The boy was the great-grandson of Huangfu Fengyun, Huangfu Feifei. The girl was Shangguan Jingshu's great-granddaughter, Shangguan Jiayi.
"You two are pretty impressive as well, and stand a chance to get the treasures in the first and second floors. You must work together in there, alright?" Huangfu Fengyun advised.
"Don't worry, Great-grandfather Huangfu. I’ll definitely protect Feifei," Shangguan Jiayi said, smiling sweetly.
"Looks like there's nothing else an old fogey like me can say."
"Of course. These young lovebirds will definitely fight shoulder to shoulder," Shangguan Jingshu said.
"However, there's one thing I have to warn you about," Huangfu Fengyun said sternly out of nowhere.
"Pray tell," the two chorused.
"Once you enter the Prime Tower, do not antagonize Li Tianming. Just focus on the treasures. But don't help him, either. We'll leave the rest for after the Realm Wars, understood?"
The couple looked at each other and nodded.
"We won't help either side."
Back at Taiji Mountain, Yuwen Shengcheng knocked on the door and was hurriedly let in by Li Xuanchen.
"Come in," he said as he pulled him in.
"Have you heard? Li Tianming wiped the floor with Su Yiran!" Yuwen Shengcheng said with a grim look.
"Wasn't that the plan? Yuwen Zhenxing wants him to enter the Prime Tower, after all."
"It's not the way you think. He really crushed her without even bringing his lifebound beasts out!"
"His growth is far too terrifying. Are pentabanes really so ridiculously strong?" Li Xuanchen said helplessly.
"It was truly shocking. However, that only makes us even more resolved to wipe him out. One of Su Yiran's fingers was completely severed, and Sister Wuyou was really angry. I used that opportunity to do what you suggested and she agreed she’d deal with Guo Xiaofu for us!" Yuwen Shengcheng said excitedly.
"Really? Then the carefree fruit will finally see some use."
"With Sis Wuyou and Sis Yiran's cunning wiles and the powerless Guo Xiaofu, it’s practically settled. In the coming month, let's see if Guo Xiaofu will be able to lure Li Qingyu out of the sect."
"Congratulations, brother!" Li Xuanchen shot him a thumbs up.
Yuwen Shengcheng smirked triumphantly. "He really doesn't know what kind of trouble he's in for, if he dares to mess with us."
However, there was something Li Xuanchen didn't dare mention. From the very beginning, Tianming had never planned to go against them. Never had he taken the initiative to mess with them. In fact, they were the ones who tried bullying him the whole way, but so what? Their world operated on the simple principle of might makes right.Previous Chapter Next Chapter