After Yuwen Taiji and the others left, the first battlefield finally quieted down.
"We’d better be wary of them from now on. Half of us should stay with Qingyu and Tianming the whole time to guide them," Huangfu Fengyun said.
"Now that the council of elders has fractured, the junior sect master is the cornerstone of the sect's revival. His growth will be of the highest concern for us over the next two decades and we can't take this lightly," Shangguan Jingshu said.
Whether or not they supported Yuwen Taiji, they knew better than to not support the cause in front of the public like this. Given how important Tianming was to the sect, the twenty-five elders came to a unanimous conclusion.
As hyperbolic as having half the elders around the two at all times may sound, they couldn't risk leaving the slightest opening for Yuwen Taiji to make the kill. There was no precedent of a genius being protected like this in the sect's history. This was the miracle Tianming had ushered in; nobody other than the witnesses here today would believe something like this.
But if one were privy to the details, they would know why Huangfu Fengyun and the rest chose to do so. They had also been forced to a dead end and had to make a choice. It was a choice between Yuwen Taiji, who had lost the Grand-Orient Sword, or Tianming, who was essentially the second coming of the founding ancestor. The Yuwen Clan head’s arrogance and authoritarian tendencies only made the choice even easier. Not to mention, if they managed to score brownie points with Tianming by helping him grow, the Li Saint Clan would surely treat them well if they rose back to prominence.
"That's a given. We must prioritize coming up with several measures. Ideally, Ye Shaoqing should hold the Grand-Orient Sword," Huangfu Fengyun said considerately.
While Ye Shaoqing wasn't the strongest swordsman in the sect, he was Tianming's master. Tianming would naturally be more willing to hand the sword he fought so hard to take back to his own master.
"With Shaoqing's impressive talent and growth, he might stand a chance against Yuwen Taiji if he can grasp the sword's mysteries," Shangguan Jingshu said.
Tianming didn't have any thoughts about it. It was a given that Yuwen Taiji would definitely come to take the sword from him once he got it, so handing it over to Ye Shaoqing would make him rest more soundly.
"The issue is the sword won't be easy to reclaim. It might be even harder than the feat Tianming just pulled off today," Ye Shaoqing said.
"You don't have to be humble for his sake, Shaoqing."
"I'm not trying to be humble at all. Even a Heavenly Will beastmaster like Yuwen Shendu needs the Spiritburn Tome, so his success rate might only be forty percent. That's why he wasn't willing to use it today. He wouldn't have lost otherwise."
"Shaoqing's right. With the Realm Wars about to start, Tianming doesn't have as much time to prepare for it as he did for the Prime Struggle. Tianming, you only have to try your best; don't worry about how it'll turn out. Given your rate of growth, nobody will be able to stop you in twenty years anyway, so you'll be able to take the sword back then," Ye Qing said. He and his son were the ones who cared most about Tianming.
"It's fine. I'll do my best to fight. If I luck out and get it, I'll let my master hold onto it," Tianming said.
"That's right. Just do your best, but don't overstress its importance."
"True. After all, even if we don't mention the seven Elysian Children, the other three sects have quite a number of talented disciples too."
"If we have the Spiritburn Tome, the junior sect master would have a better chance."
"But if he didn't return it, Yuwen Taiji would never back off."
"Such a shame."
For them to be able to drive Yuwen Taiji away was already a good thing.
"Is the Spiritburn Tome that strong?" Tianming asked. It appeared that he was exceedingly lucky to have managed to kill Yuwen Shendu in the first place. He reckoned that the tome should be a one-use item that didn't have a lasting effect, hence Yuwen Shendu's hesitation to use it. Thankfully, Tianming had had Soulburn to cement his victory.
He chuckled at the thought of them crying over his corpse, had he lost the battle. Having lived through this ordeal, however, his mindset had evolved yet again. It was just like the time he killed Lin Xiaoting.
"Master, what in the world is that tome?" he asked while the elders were still discussing his security arrangements.
"The Spiritburn Tome is imbued with heavenly patterns just like spirit ore, herbs, and hazards. They range through the seven rainbow colors all the way up to black, and beyond that, the saintly heavenly patterns. While heavenly patterns can be classified using these categories, even those in the same category have slight differences. For instance, each red heavenly pattern has distinct shapes and effects.
"Our ancestors in the Flameyellow Continent learned to understand and fuse the mysteries of the heavenly patterns once they reached the Heavenly Will stage. By transcribing these complex arrangements of patterns onto the world, the ancestors created heavenly pattern barriers. There’s countless varieties of these barriers, the most famous of which in our sect is the Bloodbane Barrier.
"Heavenly pattern barriers are chaotic and majestic in equal measure. They’re a phenomenon that arises from the transcription of heavenly patterns. Heavenly pattern tomes, on the other hand, concentrate the arcane effects of heavenly patterns and can be used to unleash them.
"The Spiritburn Tome, for instance, allows the user to strengthen themselves using beast ki for a time. The difference between tomes and barriers is that barriers use the natural energy in the environment to remain active, while most tomes can only be used once, or for a limited time. They’re convenient, portable consumable items.
"Most high-level Heavenly Will beastmasters can rely on certain methods to transcribe simple heavenly patterns and create barriers. However, one needs special talent with regard to spiritual matters to be able to make tomes.
"Only if you're able to make tomes will you be considered accomplished in this area and earn the title of a patternscribe. Currently, there’s no more than three patternscribes in the entire sect, and even then they're pretty average."
Ye Shaoqing knew he would be interested in this, so he quickly gave Tianming a comprehensive briefing.
"Patternscribes, huh." A new world of cultivation had opened up to him. Apart from the martial aspect, he could also delve into the study of heavenly patterns at the Heavenly Will stage. The world was truly wondrous.
"The formation of heavenly pattern barriers and tomes are the results of millennia of trial and error by our forebears. They’re just like medicinal recipes," Ye Shaoqing said.
Tianming hadn't had any interaction with this aspect before, but he had opened the Spiritburn Tome and taken a look of the complex heavenly patterns in its pages. It even contained some beast ki within. With a fuller grasp of the context of his fight, he was even more thankful that he hadn’t given Yuwen Shendu a chance to use the tome, something that he had planned to use to boost his abilities in the Realm Wars.
"The Spiritburn Tome probably costs far more than the celestial manna you got in Prime Tower. Nobody in the sect is capable of making such a tome," Ye Qing added.
By now, Huangfu Fengyun and the rest finished planning how to proceed. The twenty-five of them would be split into two groups, and take monthly shifts. Half of their time would be spent defending Tianming. While it was pretty ridiculous, Tianming didn't mind it if it meant his life was more secure. The more elders protecting him from Yuwen Taiji, the better.
"Junior Sect Master, will you and Qingyu be training at the sacred mountain from now on?" Huangfu Fengyun asked.
"Can we train at another location instead?" Tianming asked.
"Where do you have in mind? The sacred mountain comes with many benefits that will aid your training."
"I wish to train at Fatepath Peak, where the mausoleum is. For some reason, training in front of the tombstones of my ancestors works really well for me. Not to mention, it's pretty safe there, too."
"I see. Even Yuwen Taiji wouldn't be able to break through the Bloodbane Barrier. Alright. Since you want to train there, Qingyu can train at Fatepath Peak then. It's not like we have anywhere else we need to be anyway. Just ask us if you have any questions about cultivation, or need any resources or equipment. We'll provide them all to you."
For him to be able to get anything he wanted from the sect, he truly felt like the junior sect master for the first time. The elders themselves wanted to be Tianming's masters if they could. They were all powerful saints! So Tianming and a group of elders went to Fatepath Peak. It seemed that they would be staying there for quite a while. All this felt really dreamlike to Tianming.
"Big Brother," Qingyu called out.
Tianming turned and saw her with Jingyu. It seemed that Jingyu had returned after not being able to find her granddaughter.
"Tianming, my grandson, you're amazing!" She was so agitated she could barely speak, so she merely shot him a thumbs up.
"It's all thanks to your teachings, Grandma."
Qingyu seemed to be tearing up beside her as well.
"Don't cry, Qingyu. It makes you look ugly."
"I know. These are happy tears," she said with a sniffle.
"Let's go back. It's about time we enjoy what it feels like to be treated as elite disciples."
It was a great opportunity for Qingyu to let her potential as a Pentamoon Skybane flourish from now on. With all the elders guiding her, and all the resources she needs at her disposal, that was certainly possible. While her kunpeng was still an eight-star beast, it would no doubt evolve into a top-tier saint beast soon. The change in treatment the siblings would receive after Yuwen Shendu's death was unthinkable.
"Big Brother, you risked your life for me more than once. I'm not sure how to even express my thanks... I—"
She would never forget how he managed to survive today. Never had she been so floored by her emotions. Though she wanted to thank him, she couldn't find the words when she saw his happy-go-lucky face, as if nothing had happened.
"Then don't. All you need to do is to show me your potential. Remember, you have to catch up to me." He gave her a hard pat on her head, causing her to wince in pain.
"I know!" She tailed him like a brat, still looking at him like her idol. Tianming felt having a sister wasn't bad at all.
"Big Brother, where's Ling'er?"
Tianming looked at Ling'er's Love with much longing. Ye Shaoqing was already calling for him to go back to Fatepath Peak.
"I'll tell you when we get back."
"She's okay, right?"
"Well, sorta. Just think of it as her taking some time off to rest."
"I see." While she was a little relieved, she still felt a little anxious about it.Previous Chapter Next Chapter