Tianming watched it all in shock; the twenty-five elders seemed like they were trying to protect him. He recalled that back before he had engaged in the life and death battle, he had asked them to help Qingyu and not a single one of them had bothered.
"This is just how it is. Don't think too much. Just know that from now on, they’ll fervently protect you," Ye Yuxi proudly said. She seemed to adore him more and more as her gaze seemed to suggest.
"It's simple. Back then, they were afraid of the Grand-Orient Sword. Not only could it greatly raise Yuwen Taiji's power, it’s also a symbol of authority. Once he gets the sword, the elders in his hidden faction would surface and proclaim their support for him. The elders themselves aren't even sure who belongs to the secret faction supporting Yuwen Taiji, so they're all afraid. But with Yuwen Shendu's death, it's no longer possible for him to get the sword.
"Not to mention, you're the junior sect master and you've taken Yuwen Shendu's place. Coupled with the fact that you're in the Li Saint Clan's Apex Branch, they have a reason to side with you now. A Yuwen Taiji without the Grand-Orient Sword isn't capable of facing off against the combined might of those twenty-five. Basically, you’re the key. Without you to be their beacon of hope, even they wouldn't dare strongly oppose Yuwen Taiji as long as he doesn't possess the sword."
Tianming's performance had been far too impressive lately. As long as his rate of growth could keep up, he would be the foundation upon which the sect's rise back to dominance would be built. He was far more promising than the Yuwen father and son, given that he was no doubt a person on the level of the founding ancestor. If the ancestor could achieve that much, Tianming would at least be able to match his legacy.
Given the tumultuous relations between the Yuwen and Li Saint Clans, when it came time to pick a side, they would definitely choose the rising Tianming over the Yuwen Clan that had lost two of its heirs. Thus, the council of elders had decided to resist the Yuwen Clan and protect Tianming. The eight elders on the Yuwen Clan's side stood no chance.
"Yuwen Taiji, that was a battle to the death with all the elders here as witnesses. You personally agreed to it, so you’d better not cause any commotion now!" Huangfu Fengyun said charismatically, belying his usual appearance of a relaxed old man.
"Old fool, have you gotten sick of living?" Yuwen Taiji said, stopping his movements.
"How dare you talk back to the first elder?"
"Yuwen Taiji, you’d better shake your head awake. Think about your current situation."
"It's over for the Yuwen Clan. Time to wake up."
For all anyone knew, the ones who spoke out could be the elders that secretly supported the Yuwen Clan.
"Leave, Yuwen Taiji!"
They were joined by the audience in the arena. More than their two heirs, the Yuwen Clan had lost the entire sect's respect. It was clear from the moment the audience members had dared to loudly call them out for angering the sect with their behavior.
Currently, Su Yunchi felt rather awkward. He had never imagined there would be a day he’d be asked to scram by the entire sect. It felt like the sect they had built up was crumbling to pieces all from the actions of the younger disciples. Tianming had completely turned the tables against them, causing twenty-five elders to side with him instead.
"Go back and contemplate your mistakes!"
"If you still care about your reputation, own up to your losses. At least you'll still be able to remain in the council. Otherwise you're going against the whole sect!"
"Li Tianming is the descendant of the Li Saint Clan, and his talent is truly shocking! Him being able to kill Yuwen Shendu is proof enough. From now on, he’ll train at the sacred mountain. We twenty-five elders will protect and nurture him to become the future leader of the sect. He is the one who will lead us back to glory, and nobody is to touch even a hair on him!"
These elders were rather rational. Initially, they hadn’t picked a side, wanting to wait for the Realm Wars to be over. But now, they weren’t sparing any sympathy for Yuwen Taiji. Most of them were sick of having to bow down to him over the past few years.
With the first elder leading them, they were united. Huangfu Fengyun also had another reason to defend them—he had seen that even Qingyu was a pentabane. For the sect to have two existences on the level of the founding ancestor of the Li Saint Clan in the same epoch was nothing short of a miracle that even an old man like him could never have imagined. How could he not stand out and protect Tianming at a time like this?
Currently, the whole sect stood with them. There was no need to fear Yuwen Taiji, especially when he could no longer obtain the Grand-Orient Sword.
The overturn of the status quo was so unthinkable that even Tianming hadn't expected it. He and Qingyu were now symbols of the sect’s hope. Currently, the twenty-five elders knew that she was a pentabane as well, so there was no longer a reason not to protect them. Even one person with the potential to reach the founding ancestor's level would be enough to shake the Grand-Orient Realm, let alone two.
This was the third knife to embed itself in Yuwen Taiji, with the first being Yuwen Shengcheng's death, and the second, Yuwen Shendu's. Not to mention, the Prime Struggle had just officially ended. Huangfu Feifei and the rest were already out, but there were no traces of Yuwen Zhenxing and Gongsun Chi.
"No need to look for them. I killed them," Tianming calmly said, but his words shook the First Grand-Orient Battlefield once more.
Now, the last hope for the Yuwen Clan's current generation had been extinguished before Tianming challenged a prime disciple. They finally knew why he was so reckless and made the challenge right after emerging from Prime Tower.
A genius only represented potential. When a genius died prematurely, it would all be for naught. Even then, individual geniuses wouldn't be able to affect the major matters of the sect. Yet today, Tianming alone had completely reshaped the sect. His talent caused the twenty-five elders to side with him. This was already far beyond the treatment a prime disciple deserved; only his position as junior sect master could justify it. Tianming was the first junior sect master in a millennium to not be a laughingstock, and truly deserving of his position.
All of that made it so that there was no way Yuwen Taiji could kill Tianming. Let alone the eight of them facing off against the other twenty-five elders, there were at least seventy thousand seniors, including Grand-Orient guardians, mountain lords, chiefs, exalted masters, and hall prefects among the audience. Their combined might would dwarf the eight's. It didn't help that Yuwen Kaitai was now catatonic and slumped on the ground after hearing about the death of his son.
It had only taken one Yuwen Shengcheng to cause the Yuwen Clan to come tumbling down from the high ground.
"Taiji, let's head back for now. We've lost this round," Su Yunchi advised, being the senior here.
For more than a decade of effort going down the drain, nobody could imagine what Yuwen Taiji was currently feeling.
"At least you still have your strength. You're still the strongest person in the sect, and it'll take at least ten years for Tianming to grow. We will continue supporting you."
"Most of these people are just opportunists. If we get the chance to kill Li Tianming, the sect will immediately be yours once more."
"We have all the chances in the world, so we just have to be patient now."
The others came to convince him as well. They couldn't afford to kill Tianming today.
"I don't believe the twenty-five of them will be by Li Tianming's side the whole time. There will be a chance," Yuwen Kaitai finally said, his eyes bloodshot.
"We'll kill Huangfu Fengyun and the Ye Clan first. The rest won't have a choice, and will kneel to beg us for forgiveness," Su Jiudao hatefully said.
Yuwen Taiji didn't say a word, but recalled his lifebound beasts and put away his blade. One could tell from his gaze that he wouldn't just let things go like that. Yuwen Shendu's death didn't affect his own capabilities, after all. As long as these people were still in the sect, there would be no peace. Tianming's life would always be at huge risk.
They were now a cancerous growth that the sect could still not remove, at least not before Tianming matured. But his path would be fraught with dangers. Once Tianming died, the malignant tumor would overtake the sect, sooner or later. While victory hadn't been decided yet, they were safe for the day at least, much to Tianming's relief.
At that moment, Huangfu Fengyun came to him and teared up. "Junior Sect Master, this old one greets you."
With the first elder paying respect, the others behind him followed. That marked the moment when the position of the junior sect master was held in higher esteem than the elders themselves.
"Please, seniors, there's no need for this. I should be the one paying my respects for being saved instead." Tianming turned and saw that Yuwen Taiji was preparing to head off. The last gaze he shot him filled him with a sense of danger. He would have to tread carefully from now on.
"Yuwen Shendu is now dead. Half a month from now, will you take his place in the Realm Wars and reclaim the Grand-Orient Sword?" Huangfu Fengyun asked.
Having experienced the effects of Prime Tower, there was no way he wouldn’t want the sword for himself. It was part of the founding ancestor's legacy, along with the tower, yet it had fallen into the hands of Heaven's Elysium. It was a mark of shame to the founding ancestor's legacy. The Realm Wars would start after the Prime Struggle, so there wasn't much time left. They would soon be headed toward Heaven's Elysium.
"Of course," Tianming said.
"Once you get it back, your position as junior sect master will be even more secure," said Shangguan Jingshu.
"Shaoqing, explain what the Realm War is to the junior sect master. Make sure to tell him about Heaven's Elysium's seven Elysian Children as well," Huangfu Fengyun instructed.
"Rest assured, I will," Shaoqing said as he smiled at Tianming.
"Seven Elysian Children? Is Elysian Long among them?"
"You know her? Yueling Long might be the strongest participant in the Realm Wars," Ye Shaoqing said.
Tianming recalled what she had said back then, as well as how she had taken away five of Feiling's sealed abilities.
"Yueling Long, it's been three months since I left Ignispolis. I’ll show you the new me."
She had never seen him as anything more than a minor character. But now, he was the junior sect master protected by a hundred thousand people. When they heard he would be participating in the Realm Wars, they were all rather excited. Yuwen Taiji, however, suddenly stopped in his tracks and turned back to Tianming.
"Hand the Spiritburn Tome back to me." He was probably referring to the trump card Yuwen Shendu was about to use in the battle. It was probably the key for his chance to reclaim the sword.
"Give it back," Ye Shaoqing said.
"Sure." Tianming didn't let greed consume him. He tossed the book back to Yuwen Taiji.
"All the best in reclaiming the Grand-Orient Sword," he said, then left with his entourage.Previous Chapter Next Chapter