Two men were in a pavilion at the foot of Fatepath Peak. One of them slumped on the long bench as he drank and ate some peanuts. He looked dirty all over, as if he hadn't bathed for a while. The other was dressed in a green robe and stood ramrod straight as he looked in the direction of Li Mausoleum.
"Be honest with me. When Yuwen Shendu lifted your daughter up by the neck, you were about to pull out the Venomdrake Spike, right?" Ye Shaoqing asked.
"Of course. She's my precious baby, you know," Li Wudi said, then took a few more swigs and burped.
"Really? I almost couldn't tell."
"You don't have a daughter, so you can’t understand. True fatherly love is formless and subdued. Most people can't spot it."
"Huh, so your skin did get thicker after all. I really have to take a page out of your book," Ye Shaoqing said, rolling his eyes.
"Looking at your stupid face really makes me think you hit the jackpot with that son you picked up. He really did well by your clan. This time, he even shattered Yuwen Taiji's ambitions. If not for him, you might’ve gained only less than a fifth of what you should if you took out the spike. It would have all been a waste."
"There can only be one explanation: the heavens are on my side. They gave me this son, after all. You, however, don't have this fortune."
"Boasting again? He's my disciple, I’ll have you know. I have a closer relationship with him than you do."
"Haha, so you say." It had been quite a long time since Li Wudi had felt this relaxed. "This child really is a walking miracle."
"That's right. You saw yourself how he dragged those old fellows like Huangfu Fengyun off their high horses. They actually willingly came to protect him." Back then, Ye Shaoqing couldn’t have imagined such a scene. Nobody would believe that so many elders would step up to protect a mere disciple.
"I don't care. He’s my son. On the day I overcome my trials, he'll be the big boss of the whole realm. Nay, the path we shall embark on as father and son will lead to the Theocracy of the Ancients!"
"Alright, stop bragging. Just make sure you don't die, trash." Ye Shaoqing rolled his eyes again.
"How dare you mock me? You're just a Shaoqing! I swear when I make my comeback...."
"I'll give you ten beauties to wait on and serve you," Li Wudi said with a snide smile.
"Oh no... the Venomdrake Spike even turned you into an idiot," he said with a chuckle.
There were some brothers who would backstab him and bring him to a state of near death, but there were also some who would secretly support him from behind and lose a finger over it without complaining. It wasn't a matter of who called who brother. It was merely a form of address and said nothing about one's true character.
Yuwen Taiji was definitely the former type.
"My son is going to Heaven's Elysium. You have to go with him," Li Wudi said.
"You don't say."
"From now on, shadow and protect him at all times. Since Qingyu won't be joining the Realm Wars, I’ll look after her," Li Wudi said.
"No problem. If your son dies, that means I'll be dead too."
"Make sure to protect them. Huangfu Fengyun and the rest are mere fence sitters. If the situation changes, they might go to the other side. They might cheer at the thought of protecting the junior sect master today, but if my son dies, they'll be nowhere to be seen. I can only trust you."
"I don't need you to tell me that. What's up with you today? You're not usually this naggy."
"At my age, you start worrying about losing your loved ones," Li Wudi sulked with his head down.
"It won't happen again," Ye Shaoqing said, patting his shoulder, "Finish your final step. The day you overcome your trials will be the day we wage the final battle of the Grand-Orient Sect. By then, I'll personally take you up the sacred mountain to retrieve the Li Saint Clan's throne and place it back in Kunpeng Sacred Hall!"
Li Wudi's eyes were filled with bloodlust. "On that day, I will step on the corpses of the Yuwen Clan, like my son has, and sit on my throne."
The dark hall was filled with nothing but a chilling atmosphere, thanks in part to what had just happened. Anyone who entered would no doubt shiver uncontrollably. To the left and right of the hall were two gigantic beasts. The left one was like a small, pure white hill, while the one to the right was entirely black. Its bloody, open mouth and pair of red eyes made it look like a feral beast.
Sitting at the very forefront of the hall was Yuwen Taiji. He sat ramrod straight and radiated black and white strands of aura that circled him like snakes, making him look even more eerie.
Before him was a dark part of the hall where one wouldn't be able to see one's outstretched fingers. However, there was a figure kneeling in the shadows.
"Based on the plans, you'll be accompanying Tianming during the Realm Wars, right?" his cold voice rang, bone chilling like a glacial stream.
"That's right," said the figure with a hint of fear in his voice.
"Did you know that I wanted to kill him on this very day?"
"Actually, I can kill him at any time I like. Do you know why?"
"Because I and some others will be able to easily approach him," said the figure.
"That's right. With you lot working for me, I’ll be able to get what I want all the same. So, now do you know why I don't want to avenge Shendu right away?"
"I know. You want Li Tianming to retrieve the Grand-Orient Sword. I’ll then take it for you, because I’ll be by his side."
"You've guessed right. That is the reason I've asked you to come today."
"I know what I have to do. Don't worry, I haven't been exposed yet. However, it doesn't seem like he stands much chance at getting the Grand-Orient Sword. After all, you took the Spiritburn Tome back."
"It would make it far too easy for Li Tianming to take the sword back if I didn't ask for something so precious back. But if I didn't take it back, Ye Shaoqing would start to suspect. He’d guess that I believe I have a good chance of getting the sword. I didn't want to risk that."
The figure was thankful that Yuwen Taiji was such a secretive, paranoid person. There was no way someone like him would simply forget to take the tome back. If he hadn’t taken it back, that would mean he was intentionally leaving it with Tianming, which would imply he was confident in getting the sword. As a result, Ye Shaoqing would make preparations for what was to come.
"I've seen how fast this Li Tianming improves, and paid the price for ignoring it. That's why, I'm going to bet that he'll be able to get the sword back even without the tome." Ironically, he was now the one who had the most confidence in Tianming. "When he gets the sword, it’ll be your turn to show."
"Do you know what awaits you if you fail me?"
"Yes, I do," the figure said with a shudder, then lowered his head begrudgingly.
"Only I can cure your poison. With Heartburn in you, you won't be able to die even if you want to. I'm sure you know the feeling better than I could ever describe it. However, I’ll remove the poison from your body on the day you give me the sword. I am a man of my word, always."
The figure teared up at the promise and nodded, all the while continuing to shake in fear. He knew better than anyone the pain he felt. If it could be brushed off that easily, he wouldn't be casting away his dignity like that and kneeling to this man.Previous Chapter Next Chapter