There were twenty elders accompanying the disciples from Southsky Sect, much more than Grand-Orient Sect. The reason so many of their elders had come in the first place was to protect Tianming. The Southsky Sect, on the other hand, had fifty elders to begin with, hence their higher numbers.
The Southsky Sect had their own council of elders, but their positions and power were different from those in the Grand-Orient Sect. They mainly served the sect master instead.
This time around, Sect Master Weisheng Tianlan had personally brought twenty elders with him to the Realm Wars, a sign that he heavily prioritized this event. He was dressed all in white and had long, flowing hair. He seemed like a young man, and based on his looks, behavior, and charisma, he didn't seem too much older than Ye Shaoqing.
Weisheng Tianlan looked rather pleasant—handsome, even—much like a privileged young man from a good family. While Ye Shaoqing shared some of that bearing, he had a much sharper gaze thanks to his mastery of swordsmanship. In stark contrast, the Southsky sect master seemed like a gentleman and nothing more. Unlike the Grand-Orient Sect Master, Weisheng Tianlan was definitely a genius among geniuses for being able to become sect master at his age. At the very least, he wouldn't be any bit inferior to Yuwen Taiji. His fellow sect masters from the Onyx Sect and Cloudmist Sword School were born in the same generation as his father.
"Greetings, Grand-Orient Elders. I appreciate the hospitality."
"Sect Master Weisheng, please take a seat," Huangfu Fengyun said as the person with the most seniority in the sect. While he was much older, he still spoke respectfully. Seniority of age didn't matter in the face of actual status.
"Senior Huangfu, you're too polite," Weisheng Tianlan said as he and his elders took their seats and started chatting with old friends.
"Ruosu, you all come in as well," Weisheng Tianlan called out after he sat down. Four young disciples came in, three boys and a girl. The most elite disciples in Southsky Sect were known as the southsky disciples. They enjoyed the greatest care and guidance their sect had to offer.
Tianming's eyes fell on the girl who led them and he was immediately awed. She was dressed in an elegant white dress, and her beautiful face gave off a gentle glow and was flawlessly fair, like ivory. Beneath her fair cheeks were faint splashes of crimson.
She had a dignified aura that wouldn't tolerate any disrespect. Her eyes sparkled with a cool silence that was neither charming nor unlikeable, but just right. The white dress made Tianming think of a certain someone from his past, with the main difference being this girl's far superior family background, giving her an aloof sense that Mu Qingqing didn't possess.
"This is Ruosu. I recall that she was only eight the last time she met with Shaoqing," Weisheng Tianlan said. He seemed to be an old friend of Ye Shaoqing's.
"Girls really change a lot as they grow up. She's as beautiful as a goddess now," Ye Shaoqing praised.
"That's one thing, but yours is another. You're getting rather old. It's about time you settled down."
"Oh, that won't do. I want to play around for a few more years yet."
As they spoke, Weisheng Ruosu greeted the elders with the other three southsky disciples before they sat opposite Tianming. They were potential rivals, after all, so it couldn't hurt for them to check out their competition.
"Tianming my little bro, you've fallen for this beauty, haven't you? Are you going to cheat when Ling'er's asleep? Don't worry, I definitely won't tell," Ying Huo said from the lifebound space.
"Cut your crap. She’s at Heavenly Will. I'm only trying to get a feel for her power!" he spat back.
Only Weisheng Ruosu among the four was at the same level as Yuwen Shendu. People like them definitely had insane talent. The other three were on the level of Zhao Lingzhou.
Weisheng Ruosu introduced the other three disciples as Weisheng Qingluan, Bai Taijun and Xi Menglin, respectively. Weisheng Qingluan was Weisheng Ruosu's younger brother by a year. They were the sect master's children; he seemed to be quite the accomplished teacher. As both of his children would be participating in the Realm Wars, he felt he stood a rather good chance this time.
"Tianming, Yunfeng, Lingzhou, you all should get to know them as well," Huangfu Fengyun said after he introduced them.
Weisheng Tianlan looked at the three of them before turning to Ye Shaoqing and asking, "Where's Yuwen Taiji's son? I heard he also reached Heavenly Will. Why isn't he here?"
He had also realized that nobody from Yuwen Taiji's faction was among the elders and didn't think that Yuwen Taiji himself would be absent. He wouldn't have come to the banquet if he had known.
"Things are a little complicated. I'll tell you about it in more detail later tonight. Basically, we're only sending these three untrained kids to join the Realm Wars," he joked.
He didn't think the others would take his joke seriously. The white-haired first elder of Southsky Sect, Gu Qiuyu, couldn't hold back and said, "Is the Grand-Orient Sect so afraid of being humiliated that you intend to lose at the Throughpath before going back?"
It was a rather horrid accusation that made things rather awkward for Huangfu Fengyun.
"That's not right. I heard that Yuwen Taiji needs to get the Grand-Orient Sword to dominate their sect," said another elder.
Seeing them speculating, Huangfu Fengyun glanced at Ye Shaoqing, who had no choice but to explain what had happened.
"My disciple, Li Tianming, son of Li Wudi, killed Yuwen Shendu before he even got the chance to use the Spiritburn Tome his father had prepared." He glanced at Tianming to make sure the others knew who he was talking about. When he finished, the elders turned to look oddly at Ye Shaoqing and Tianming.
"Shaoqing, you're not joking around, right?" Weisheng Tianlan said with utter flabbergastment.
"I knew you wouldn't believe it."
"How could someone at Unity defeat someone at Heavenly Will?"
The elders of the Southsky Sect all widened their eyes. Seeing Tianming's white hair, they asked, "Are you certain?"
"Of course," Huangfu Fengyun said. "We've been paying attention to him for a few months now."
"How can a pentabane only be at Unity? Which level is he at?"
By now, Tianming was the focus of all their attention. His rise to prominence had happened right before the Realm Wars, so he was relatively unheard of outside the sect. Huangfu Fengyun and the rest explained his origins, but said he had cultivated for some two years to make the story less hyperbolic.
"So, you're saying he can face a Heavenly Will cultivator despite being only at Unity?" Weisheng Tianlan asked.
"If he manages to utilize his full potential, I guess. He might be a little weaker than that, usually," Ye Shaoqing said, having heard about Feiling. He knew she was asleep, so Tianming would be weaker than usual without her help. Even so, Tianming had had a recent breakthrough to the sixth level of Unity, so he was now about as strong as he was when he’d fought Yuwen Shendu.
"He sounds decent. Even so, I don't fully believe you yet. I guess I'll have to see how he does during the Realm Wars," Weisheng Tianlan said.
As they spoke, the first elder, Gu Qiuyu, still seemed rather doubtful. Looking at Tianming, he said, "I recall that pentabanes have bane-rings. Let me see them."
"Nope," Tianming said, as his bane-rings had transformed into words.
"You don't even dare to show your bane-rings, yet you claim to be a pentabane?" Gu Qiuyu merely smirked without saying much else, causing the atmosphere to grow awkward. He definitely thought Tianming was faking it.
"My friends of the Grand-Orient Sect, I almost believed that wild story of yours," Gu Qiuyu said with a laugh.
"Enough from you," Weisheng Tianlan strictly said, shutting him up. Even so, doubt had already set in most of the Southsky Sect elders; not that it mattered. At least the sect master seemed to believe him.
"The last time the trial at the Throughpath took place was three generations ago. Based on that time, the disciples can easily gather in groups near the end of the path. It’d be a good idea to form alliances before the trials. In recent years, the Onyx Sect has completely submitted to Heaven's Elysium, and the Cloudmist Sword School was brought into prominence by them in the first place. I worry that their disciples will take all seven positions from us.
"It's one thing for us to not be able to take the sword, but it's another thing if they gang up on our disciples." That was the reason they even held this banquet in the first place.
"Since that's the case, we should let these seven youths get to know each other so they can support each other later, right?" Ye Shaoqing said.
"That's exactly it."
"Aren't you afraid our disciples won't be strong enough to team up with yours?"
"I am, but I trust your character."
"Deal. Since that's the case, I’ll vouch for these three's abilities. If they turn out to be burdens on your disciples, you can come looking for me."
Seeing him so confident, Weisheng Tianlan felt somewhat relieved. However, some among the twenty elders didn't feel the same, such as the first elder.
The four disciples themselves looked at Tianming and the rest doubtfully, as if they were a little unhappy. The green-clad youth, Weisheng Qingluan, however, came to Tianming and asked, "Friend, are you really from the Li Saint Clan? I heard the Weisheng Clan came from the same line of descent as well."
Tianming chatted with the bloke and found him to be a decent person. He sounded really friendly and reasonable, like Weisheng Tianlan. Upbringing truly made a difference in one's character; there wasn’t a hint of sketchiness in the way he spoke and acted.
"Sis, Tianming's pretty interesting! Come and join us!"
The whole time, Weisheng Ruosu had been keeping her head lowered. She had remained quiet throughout the whole time her seniors were talking. It was only when her brother called out to her that she looked at Tianming.
"Nice to meet you, Miss Ruosu. I'm Li Tianming."
She was a cool beauty, after all.
"Oh? Are you charmed?" Ying Huo asked.
"I'm only making alliances! You bugger off!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter