Amidst countless glares, the Elysian Emperor’s gaze fell upon Tianming and the others. His tone sounded duller than usual as he said, "The Realm War has ended. Please return."
His voice sounded gentle, as if he had no temper to speak of. This made the disciples of Heaven’s Elysium very uncomfortable. Although the Theocracy of the Ancients had left some thought-provoking words, how could they let them go without so much as a harsh word? However, anyone familiar with the Elysian Emperor knew that his calm was merely the beginning of the storm.
Besides, Jun Niancang had already spoken more than his fair share of malicious words. Heaven’s Elysium had made no secret of their desire to unify the Grand-Orient Realm, so the Elysian Emperor had little to say. However, a most ferocious storm was undoubtedly headed for the Grand-Orient Sect and Southsky Sect. Perhaps it was as Jun Niancang vowed, and millions in the Grand-Orient Sect would die to accompany Yueling Long on her journey to the underworld.
Although the Grand-Orient Sect was weak, it was once a domineering existence that had made Heaven’s Elysium tremble. In the eyes of Heaven’s Elysium, the Grand-Orient Sect was of a different significance. Therefore, even if the Southsky Sect could surrender, the Grand-Orient Sect must perish!
Regardless of whether or not Tianming had killed Yueling Long, the Grand-Orient Sect would be destroyed as long as it was breached, unless the disciples chose to flee without a fight and denounce their identities.
As the head of the Grand-Orient Realm, as appointed by the Theocracy of the Ancients, the Elysian Emperor's status was far above Weisheng Tianlan and the others. Therefore, the elders of the Southsky Sect and Grand-Orient Sect respectfully bid farewell to the Elysian Emperor at this time.
Under the cold, malicious gazes of three hundred thousand people, Huangfu Fengyun and the other members of the Grand-Orient Sect jumped onto the back of the Aircloud Godcrane, while the Southsky Sect climbed onto First Elder Gu Qiuyu’s lifebound beast, the Skycloud Seaheron. Under normal circumstances, the Onyx Sect and Cloudmist Sword School would also leave at this point, but it was obvious they had plans to stay, possibly to discuss the upcoming sect war.
Everything happened as Tianming had expected. The three sects had been ready for a long time, waiting for the end of the Realm War when the Theocracy of the Ancients would no longer be paying attention to them. Within ten years, they could clean up all opposition within the Grand-Orient Realm. When Heaven’s Elysium finally united the Grand-Orient Realm, the Theocracy of the Ancients would no longer have to waste any effort on the region, would they?
"They might go on the offensive as soon as we return to the sect. Tianming, you don't have to blame yourself. According to what we know, they would’ve begun attacking immediately after the Realm War, regardless of whether or not Yueling Long was killed." Standing on the back of the Aircloud Godcrane, Ye Shaoqing observed the majestic Heaven’s Elysium below.
The white-gold brilliance radiated through the sky and across the earth like an imperial beast with its eyes focused on the ill, aging beast that was the Grand-Orient Sect, waiting to extend its claws. And beside it were its two deadly minions.
"I understand." Tianming nodded.
This was bound to happen whether or not he participated in the Realm War. Chaos was coming to the Grand-Orient Realm. Heroes were born in troubled times; however, the Sect War wasn’t a fight between geniuses, but immeasurable, widespread slaughter. Tianming had never experienced a sect war, so he had no idea what it entailed.
"Don't worry, we’ve long expected this. The Grand-Orient Sect has existed for so many years. Even if we’ve fallen to this point, we’re not defenseless weaklings who can easily be bullied," Ye Shaoqing narrowed his eyes.
The Aircloud Godcrane took off, and soon, Heaven’s Elysium was far behind. From up above, they could clearly see the giant beast of a sect. It had awoken and was roaring in rage. From now on, the Grand-Orient Realm would be dyed with blood.
"I’ll keep the Grand-Orient Sword for you. When you have the ability to use it, I’ll return it to you," said Ye Shaoqing.
This was something they had discussed in the beginning. Tianming was well aware that the group of elders before him could snatch the sword from him at any moment. The Grand-Orient Sword was of great significance to the future war; in the hands of the strong, it could even change the outcome. The loss of the Grand-Orient Sword had weakened Heaven’s Elysium. Perhaps it was the Grand-Orient Sect’s only chance of surviving.
Since when had Tianming started trusting Ye Shaoqing? Perhaps it was the day he was hunted by Yuwen Taiji. Without the slightest hesitation, he handed the sword to Ye Shaoqing who immediately placed it in his spatial ring. The elders watching this seemed relieved.
"After a thousand years, it’s finally returned.… Hopefully, Shaoqing will be recognized by the sword and turn the tide." The elders looked to Ye Shaoqing with hope-filled gazes.
As Tianming’s master, Ye Shaoqing had been protecting his disciple ever since the beginning of his rise. Who better to hold the Grand-Orient Sword? After all, it was Tianming who had seized the sword so he had the right to decide who to give it to. With his position as junior sect master, the elders wouldn’t object.
"Congratulations, Shaoqing." Weisheng Tianlan was sincerely happy for his old friend.
The Skycloud Seaheron drew close. Led by Weisheng Tianlan, the members of the Southsky Sect boarded the Aircloud Godcrane. Both the crane and heron were traveling back to their respective sects at their fastest speed.
"Sect Master, there’s certain things that must be said. If you won’t, then I will." Gu Qiuyu stood out of the crowd looking solemn. He turned to the Grand-Orient Sect and said, "This time, Heaven’s Elysium’s intention is very obvious. Apart from fighting to our deaths, the Southsky Sect also has the choice of submission. This is the difference between us and you, especially since your junior sect master was bold enough to kill the once-in-a-millenium genius of Heaven's Elysium. They’ll never let you live. You should be very clear that our advantage lies in our defense, and that’s dependent upon the Azure Sea. We don't have the strength to support you at all. Once we leave the sea, it’s only too easy for Heaven’s Elysium to deal with us. So if you can't protect yourself, there’s nothing we can do. The Southsky Sect has existed for thousands of years and has always been peaceful. We can't ruin our ten-thousand-year history just because of you. If we can't hold out, then we’ll choose to submit! I know that our sect master won’t agree, but millions of people shouldn't have to die for the sect master's willfulness!"
The last sentence was directed at Weisheng Tianlan. This was a challenge laid at Weisheng Tianlan; as long as these elders used their ten-thousand-year existence as a basis and stood on a moral high ground with their disciples' lives, his resistance was meaningless if enough elders chose to surrender.
"Gu Qiuyu! The Southsky Sect and Grand-Orient Sect share the same origin, and a common fate. Even I know this. You kneel before the war has even begun! Are you a worthy first elder? You disgust me!" The first person to denounce Gu Qiuyu was Weisheng Qingluan.
"How dare you!" Gu Qiuyu couldn’t wait to slap the little guy. Even if he was the son of the sect master, Weisheng Qingluan wasn’t allowed to speak to him like this!
"He’s right. The past ten thousand years were won by our ancestors fighting bravely as well as their persistence, instead of begging for mercy while being humiliated, trampled upon, and dragging out an ignoble existence! Yet here you are, weak-kneed before we’ve even fought the war. How will you face the ancestral tablets in the ancestral hall!" Weisheng Ruosu backed up her brother without any fear in her eyes. The siblings were truly amazing.
Prior to this, the two had been polite, sensible children. Gu Qiuyu never imagined that they would one day anger him so.
"That’s enough!” Sikong Lingyu quickly took them aside. This wasn’t an occasion where they could speak. But even so, the siblings’ fiery gazes had made Gu Qiuyu more uncomfortable.
"Once we return to the sect, I’ll speak to the council of elders and the entire sect. When the time comes, whether we choose to fight to our death or be reduced to running dogs will naturally be decided. Gu Qiuyu, you don't have to preach in front of the Grand-Orient Sect."
Upon hearing Weisheng Tianlan's cold reply, Elder Gu finally shut up.
One man was nothing. However, how many such people would constantly circulate these kinds of remarks during battle, leading to the decline of the sect’s combat power? These were issues he had to consider. His young age was another obstruction to convincing the elders, and this matter of life and death would be the biggest test of his ability.
Weisheng Tianlan privately spoke to Ye Shaoqing for a considerable amount of time.
"Perhaps he’s our only hope,” he lamented.
"You must believe in him. He has suffered for the past fourteen years what thousands of people will never experience in an entire lifetime. The heavens will not wrong him," said Ye Shaoqing.
"After this test of life and death, I hope we’ll still be able to sit together and drink as we admire the moon," added Weisheng Tianlan.
"It's a pity that you married folk can no longer have fun. There’s plenty of fish in the sea, why settle for one?" Ye Shaoqing laughed.
Weisheng Tianlan returned to the Skycloud Seaheron. At a certain point, the crane and heron went their separate ways, one headed east and the other south.
"The day we reunite is the day we celebrate our victory!"
They had once hoped only to overturn defeat in the Realm Wars. But now they wanted to make a comeback and compete with their old rivals.
Even at the breakneck speed the Aircloud Godcrane was flying, it would still take over a day to reach their destination. But it would take a few days for Heaven’s Elysium’s army to arrive. After all, it wasn’t just a group of people, but entire hordes.
A tense atmosphere pervaded above the crane. A storm was imminent.Previous Chapter Next Chapter