"Yuwen Shendu, stop!"
A sudden clamor arose from the audience. Many of them jumped from their seats in anger. Their attention was mostly concentrated on Yuwen Shendu. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the reputation the Yuwen Clan had arduously built up over the years had all been eroded by Yuwen Shengcheng.
Though they used to reign supreme and were respected by many of the strong who didn't mind them running the place, it was different now. Ever since Tianming's rise had brought hope back to the Li Saint Clan and Yuwen Shengcheng's humiliating antics increased, public opinion had taken a complete turn.
If Yuwen Shendu really overstepped the Hall of Inquisitors’ authority and killed Qingyu, the Yuwen Clan would lose all their reputation among the members of the whole sect. The sect wasn’t just comprised of the elites, but also its hundreds and thousands of disciples, guardians, exalted masters, hall prefects, and elders. If more than half of them were dissatisfied with how the matter was handled, even taking over the council of elders would be pointless. The Grand-Orient Sword would not help much in that regard, either.
It would all go against Yuwen Taiji's grand ambitions.
"Let the Hall of Inquisitors investigate this matter and have Su Wuyou arrested. Nobody has the right to kill Qingyu. Yuwen Shendu, if you dare, you know what's coming! How embarrassing of you to force your way when the rules don't agree with you, huh?"
By now, neither Tianming nor his master needed to say anything. The moment Tianming had reached peak popularity, everyone would stand with him on the matter of Yuwen Shengcheng's vile deeds. Even so, Ye Shaoqing was anxious. Yuwen Shendu wasn't someone who could be normally reasoned with. His eyes were dripping blood as he choked Qingyu and raised her up high. Who knew if he would just go for the kill? Ye Shaoqing looked up to the skies and saw dark clouds above. It was a sign that he was there.
"No, he hasn't succeeded yet. If he forces himself and gets revealed, it would've all been for naught!" He glanced at Ye Qing and they both nodded at each other, then headed to stop Su Yunchi. Ye Yuxi hurriedly turned and left, probably having gone to get help from Huangfu Fengyun. Only if the whole council intervened would Qingyu be saved.
"Elder Yuxi!" Tianming called out to her.
"Tell the first elder that Qingyu recently became a pentabane! She has five moons on her arm!"
Ye Yuxi looked at him with disbelief.
"She awakened it at the Imperial Ninefold Gates. You were there that day, too!"
"Understood!" Her eyes seemed much brighter than before.
Both Ye Qing and Ye Shaoqing had heard it too. Ye Shaoqing had been rather suspicious of the talent Qingyu had shown lately. After all, her rate of improvement was completely unlike that of a tribane.
This Li Wudi... he should've told me that first! he cursed in his mind, all the while being glad for her at the same time. However, that didn't change how perilous the current situation was. There was no saying for sure that the first elder could change the situation. With Qingyu's life now in Yuwen Shendu's hands, nobody could stop him from killing her.
"Ye Clan, leave now!" Su Yunchi came down from above and blocked their way. The unity fields of both saints clashed, making it hard for those around them to breathe. Even so, the white-haired youth standing beside Ye Shaoqing approached Yuwen Shendu. He could clearly see Qingyu's legs flailing in the air from the turbulence. Her eyes were now completely red.
The rage within him flowed through his body like molten magma. He had called Qingyu his sister and treated her like family. He said he would protect his family, so how could he just watch as his sister was about to be choked to death? No matter who stood before him, no matter how strong they were, that didn't douse Tianming's rage one bit. It wasn't just him; Feiling, Ying Huo, and Meow Meow rather liked Qingyu, too. None of them could tolerate her life coming under threat.
"Yuwen Shendu, let her go." It was Tianming’s first time meeting the legendary Yuwen Shendu, but he could tell the black-clad youth was terrifyingly powerful. Perhaps he was just like Tianming. But the moment he threatened Qingyu, he was destined to stand against Tianming. While Tianming sounded calm, he was filled with killing intent that could burst out at any moment and usher in a river of blood.
"You know better than anyone that there was a good reason Yuwen Shengcheng died. If you have any shred of dignity left, don't harm a weak girl and let me look down on you. Let her go! Direct any hatred or grudge at me!" Both of his eyes were bloodshot. Within the storm, his white hair danced as one of his eyes flared up while the other crackled with lightning.
Two critters climbed onto his shoulders: a flaming chick and a black cat with narrowed irises, staring coldly at Yuwen Shendu. While they weren't a match for a saint, their willpower didn’t waver.
"Big Brother..." Qingyu mumbled as she struggled to look at him and teared up. Her face was already pale.
"Okay!" She took a deep breath and looked down at her assailant from high up. "My Big Brother is right. So what if you kill me? I guess even you, Yuwen Shendu, is some weakling who only goes after people when they're weakened! Only bastards like you from the Yuwen Clan can do something so despicable! You may kill me today, but so what? Fight me fairly if you dare. Don't be arrogant just because daddy's here! Yuwen Shendu, I'm officially challenging you. Do you dare accept? The likes of you has no right to kill me!"
She was completely different from before. Even with her face pale from being choked, she still struggled to say all that. She was going to challenge the Yuwen Shendu as a mere sixteen-year-old girl! Other people at the brink of death would've been so badly terrified by now, but she issued her challenge with full determination.
"Yuwen Shendu, you’re trash like your brother Yuwen Shengcheng! Your whole family are bastards! Fight me! I won't yield even if you kill me underhandedly like that!"
Her hair was messed up and there were traces of blood on her face, making her usual gentle self look uncharacteristically hot blooded. She didn't reveal an ounce of fear when glaring at Yuwen Shendu.
"Shameless! Only a bully like you would take advantage of people when they're weak!"
"Li Qingyu's right! Yuwen Shendu's behavior humiliates the name of our sect!"
"What kind of prime disciple is that? And he says he wants to take the Grand-Orient Sword back? Someone of his character will definitely die once he reaches Heaven's Elysium!"
"A coward like that isn't fit to wield the sword!"
"Yuwen Shendu, let her go!"
Humans were emotional creatures. The moment Qingyu had struggled against fate despite being a petite girl, criticizing Yuwen Shendu along the way, moved the hearts of many. The whole sect had gained a completely new recognition of her.
"How did Xiaofu offend you? Just because she knew me? You killed her, and even her parents! I swear I'll let your whole clan pay the price! I swear Xiaofu will see this from the Yellow Springs! Yuwen Shendu, I want to kill you! Let me go now!" Each word burned like fire into Yuwen Shendu's ears. She had gone all out and knew Tianming would be proud of her. She had never regretted being born into the Li Saint Clan. Her will and refusal to give up was befitting of her clan.
There was once a time when the ancestors of the clan founded the Grand-Orient Sect and dominated the Grand-Orient Realm with the families of the other elders. They had relied on that undying will to establish millennia of glory.
Even though Qingyu was struggling to speak and had bit her lip, causing blood to flow from it, her eyes burned with determination. People saw the willpower of the Li Saint Clan once more. Every one of their members were heroes that climbed out of any kind of predicament!
"Let her go!" the crowd chanted. That was the kind of prestige the Li Saint Clan had. The Yuwen Clan's reputation immediately fell so hard just because of Yuwen Shengcheng alone. In contrast, it only took Qingyu to rile the crowd up. It was a huge blow to Yuwen Taiji, and even Yuwen Shendu's hand was shaking. Had the one he was choking been Tianming, he would remain resolute, but this was Qingyu. Someone like her had dared challenge him to a death battle. Her will to live moved even him.
"Shendu, don't listen to her. Kill her now and we'll deal with the rest!" Yuwen Fengtian said, tearing up every time he saw Yuwen Shengcheng's corpse from the pain. That was the grandson he had raised! He taught him to speak, walk, run, and had seen him cry and laugh. He was even waiting for him to take a wife and have a child with her. Yet he was now a cold corpse. Even if others tried stopping him, he would kill Qingyu.
"Can you shut up now?" Yuwen Fengtian had never imagined these words would come from his son.
Yuwen Taiji shot his father a cold look and continued, "Dad, you're partly at fault for Shengcheng's death."
Yuwen Fengtian's face paled and he took a step back. He clutched his chest from the pang of pain he felt. Even worse, he knew Yuwen Taiji was right. If he hadn’t spoiled Yuwen Shengcheng, the boy wouldn't have turned out to be a pathetic wretch that threw his weight around and eventually gotten what he deserved. He found it much harder to breathe.
Everyone had their gazes focused on Yuwen Taiji, knowing that he was the one who could truly decide whether Qingyu lived. By now, Huangfu Fengyun had heard about Qingyu being a pentabane. While he half doubted the veracity of it, he couldn't risk it. "This matter still requires investigation. We will apprehend Qingyu and let the council find a way to settle this. What do you think?"
The other elders were also there. However, none of them dared speak first. After all, their standing could affect the clans they represented. They all feared the Grand-Orient Sword.
Initially, they could've protected Tianming until the Realm Wars was over. But with Yuwen Shengcheng's death, even Huangfu Fengyun couldn't stay put. They wouldn't have hesitated if the Realm Wars were over. Elders behaving like that were truly undeserving of respect. Not even Yuwen Taiji cared much about what Huangfu Fengyun had to say. He stood in front of Qingyu with his different-colored eyes, looking at her. Perhaps her headstrong will reminded him of someone.
Turning back to Tianming, he said, "Li Tianming, you speak as if you're really great and courageous. I’ll give you a chance, then."
"Li Qingyu killed my son, so she must die today," Yuwen Taiji said. Him attempting to force his way caused many to grimace. It seemed that his clan’s reputation was no longer his chief concern.
"Since you seem to be acting like a good elder brother, I'll give you one chance. You may die in her place. Do you dare?" His intentions were known to all the moment he said that.
"Shameless!" cursed many. He was truly shameless. Now, only Huangfu Fengyun had been told about Qingyu being a pentabane. Not even Yuwen Taiji and the rest were aware of that. The way they saw it, trading a tribane's life for a pentabane's was much more worth it. After all, Prime Disciple Li Tianming was the true thorn in their eyes. They just lacked an opportunity to kill him. But if Tianming wanted to save her no matter what, he could trade a life for a life. Their reputation had gone down the drain anyway, so they might as well go all out to kill him, reclaim the Grand-Orient Sword, then dominate the sect all the same.
As long as Tianming was gone, they wouldn't need reputation if they had the sword. Those here, even the elders, would have to submit to the Yuwen Clan all the same. By then, taking out Qingyu, or even the entire Ye Clan would be a non issue. Killing her here and now wouldn't do much, anyway. Yuwen Taiji now understood what kind of person Tianming was and zeroed in on his weakness.
"Li Tianming, you seem to be the brave type who cares for your sister. So, I ask you whether you're willing to trade a life for a life and die for your sister." His cold voice once more resounded throughout the arena.
"Don't agree to him!"
"Don't fall for it!"
"Junior Sect Master, you still have a bright future! You bear the burden of reviving your clan!"
Quite a few people hurried to talk him out of it. They even cursed Yuwen Taiji at the same time.
"I’ll give you ten breaths of time to consider. After that, I'll send your little sister to hell," he said with a sinister smile.
"So you've dropped all pretenses, huh?" Ye Shaoqing said.
"I have indeed."
Come to think of it, for someone who was able to betray his sworn brother and force his wife to take her own life, he was definitely nothing short of shameless. He then began plainly counting down. This was someone truly hard to deal with. At least Yuwen Shendu cared about his reputation, but his father didn't. Even when Yuwen Shengcheng's head was still rolling on the ground, he hadn’t batted an eye.
"Yuwen Taiji, you disgrace the Grand-Orient Sect!" Everyone watched Tianming anxiously as his rage festered.
All of a sudden, Tianming stood up. "No need to count anymore!" He turned to Taiji and asked, "How will the trade work?"
"Any way you like, as long as you die," Yuwen Taiji said.
"Then I shall represent my sister in a battle to the death with Yuwen Shendu!" The words chilled many.
Only one would survive the battle.Previous Chapter Next Chapter