Under the blue sky and white clouds was a dense crowd. Tens of thousands of beastmasters and lifebound beasts were flying across the land. The beastmasters were split into two groups, one in platinum armor and the other clad in twilight-yellow armor that was much thicker than the former's.
All of a sudden, a sky-spanning killing intent spread across the whole place, causing the lifeforms in their path to run away in panic. Some distance ahead, the waves hummed in a steady rhythm.
The combined Heaven's Elysium and Earthorigin Sect's army was now at the edge of the landmass and about to cross the river to reach the Southsky Sect. A sense of foreboding was spreading across the remnant army; many people were staring blankly at the Elysian Emperor, still uninformed about what he had planned. They were just about to enter the battlefield on the ocean, and nobody knew whether or not they would be among the ones to get out alive.
At that moment, the Elysian Emperor raised his hand and stopped the whole army. "What place is this?" he asked.
"Elysian Emperor, this is a small archipelago in the south. There are three countries here, namely, Torch Dragon, Vermillion Bird, and Aquamarine. The land we’re now standing on is within Aquamarine's borders," someone replied.
"Oh? So this small patch of land can also be called a country, eh?" Jun Shengxiao said with a mocking laugh.
The others didn't dare speak a single word, but just looked at him blankly. By now, his image and reputation had long crumbled.
All of a sudden, his gaze burned with passion. He looked at the Elysian purifiers and announced, "Heed my orders!"
"In an hour from now, each of you is to capture three people from Aquamarine and gather here! Those who are unable to fulfill this order will be killed!"
Everyone was utterly shocked. It was far from difficult for a Heavenly Will Elysian purifier to capture three citizens of Aquamarine, who would be at Spiritsource at most. The more pressing question on their minds, however, was why.
"What are you waiting for?" the Elysian Emperor snapped.
All of Elysian purifiers scattered, while Yuan Hun and the rest merely watched coldly from the sidelines. The elysian elders looked at their leader with shocked and perplexed expressions. They had already guessed what he was about to do."Wait! Halt!" cried a white-haired youth as loud as he could all of a sudden. Most of the purifiers recognized his voice, and at least seventy thousand of them stopped in their tracks, turning back to look at Jun Niancang.
His white hair was unlike Tianming's own; it reflected the pain of his inner psyche and made him look much older than he actually was. What was he planning to do by stopping the Elysian Emperor's order? Everyone watched as he glared at his own father with bloodshot eyes.
"Nonsense! Go away!" Jun Shengxiao yelled. The power in his voice almost sent Jun Niancang flying, but he managed to hold on.
He grit his teeth and continued his furious glare. "Father, what do you intend to do by capturing more than three hundred thousand innocent citizens of Aquamarine?"
"Niancang, shut up. You have no authority here. Have him taken away!"
Jun Niancang's other siblings surrounded him and tried to calm him down, but he managed to break free from them with a loud yell.
"Father, are you going to throw the innocent citizens of Aquamarine into the Southsky Barrier and force their sect to save those innocents while we attack?!"
His words sent waves of shock through the crowd. Some had already guessed that would more or less be the case, but had simply refused to believe it. Most of the purifiers now turned back and looked at their emperor.
"Dad! Would you sacrifice all those innocent lives for your dream of uniting the Grand-Orient Realm, or to soothe your frustrations from losing the war by your own incompetence? Have you gone mad?" Jun Niancang's eyes burned with utter rage.
Jun Shengxiao looked at him squarely and said, "Enough, Niancang!"
One of Jun Niancang's sibling's said, "Dad, come with us. He's still immature, so don't hold this against him." They shot their youngest brother an ugly look.
"Three hundred thousand innocent lives...."
"What kind of devilish plan is this?"
"This is a massacre!"
"How cruel must someone be to come up with a plan that uses innocents as cannon fodder?"
"It's no wonder this plan wasn't used from the start to deal with the Southsky Sect...."
Though they voiced their doubts, they didn't dare to say them loudly, knowing that crossing Jun Shengxiao now would basically mean their deaths.
"Dad, you can't do this. This goes against the righteous will of the heavens. It's nothing short of heinous! Doing something like this will definitely invoke divine punishment! I beg of you, let's stop fighting. Real men admit when they've lost, right? Is it that hard?"
Jun Niancang's tears were flowing like rain as he knelt in desperation. Each word that came out of his mouth felt like a slap to the Elysian Emperor's face.
Everyone was dead silent. The Elysian purifiers that had spread out before had returned and were blankly watching the whole scene.
Jun Shengxiao merely smiled.
"Hahaha...." He waved and had them let Jun Niancang go. He stepped forward, stretched out his hand, and touched his son’s white hair.
Jun Niancang hugged his palm and asked, "Dad, let's go home, alright?"
"My son, you should know that we no longer have an option to turn back, now that we've reached this point," Jun Shengxiao gently said.
"No, all we have to do is admit defeat. We mustn't stray from the path our hearts point at and lose our bearings. That's what you taught me!"
"You interpreted that wrongly, my son. This is a world where the strong thrive at the weak's expense. The weak should perish, as is their duty. These people are nothing but ants to us. At least their lives will contribute to the unification of the Grand-Orient Realm. The unified realm will no longer have wars and conflict, thus their deaths would have been for a good cause. This is nothing short of an honor for them, understand?" he said with the gentle smile of a saint.
Jun Niancang's expression was bleaker than ever.
"Son, you've been to the Divine Capital before, so you should know about the Ancient Theocrats. Throughout the tens of thousands of years they've ruled the Theocracy of the Ancients, they've relied on sacrificing tens of thousands of lives to ensure the lasting strength of their bloodline. What I'm about to do today would be nothing but child's play for them. We’re in the territory of the Theocracy, so why can't I do what they do?" he said with a smile that made what he said seem as natural as the fact that the sun rises and sets every day.
However, Jun Niancang took a few steps back and gave him a slap, staring at him with disbelief the whole time. "Dad, don't make excuses like that to justify this cruelty! Have you forgotten what the name you gave me meant? Jun Niancang, 'the gentleman that cares for all life'. This was the true path in your heart for the past two decades! Are you still on that path now?"
People started to mouth his name and recalled how the Elysian Emperor seemed on the day of his youngest son's birth. He looked completely divorced from his past beneficent self now.
"Dad, you've gone mad! Turn back while you still can!" Jun Niancang said, crying and shuddering the whole time.
"Go away!" The smile had long vanished from Jun Shengxiao's face. His words sent Jun Niancang retreating backward in haste and anger.
"Your sacrifice of countless innocent lives is a sacrilege! You're not fit for the title of Elysian Emperor, and you've made a mockery of the name you gave me! Jun Shengxiao, I'm ashamed to be your son!" he screamed as he coughed out blood.
Jun Niancang was disappointed at the response he had heard over and over again, and had lost all hope. "Farewell!""
Perhaps, since the moment his father had destroyed the coffin that bore the corpse of his beloved, their relationship was already severed. They would never again be walking the same path. Jun Niancang turned and left. Even though he was shaking with sheer rage, he knew this was a decision he wouldn’t regret making before two hundred thousand eyewitnesses.
Yun Zhenzhen sighed and chose to leave with Jun Niancang in the end. Nobody would know how terribly hurt Jun Shengxiao was by saying that. Jun Niancang was his most beloved son, after all.
"Yifeng, look after him for me," Jun Shengxiao said with his eyes closed.
"Yes, Dad," said his fifth son, Jun Yifeng, then he quickly tagged along with Jun Niancang.
After that, Jun Shengxiao opened his eyes once more and exuded killing intent. "Elysian purifiers, go. Now!"
There was no longer anyone left to stop the Elysian Emperor. They charged into Aquamarine and inflicted upon them a tragedy. All of the required innocents, regardless of age or gender, were captured by the Elysian purifiers. The entire country broke down in tears, as they were helpless before the cruel adversaries.
"While the Elysian Emperor is quite harsh, we won't have a chance for revenge once the Earthorigin Sect leaves."
"Brothers, let's fight to the death!"
"The Elysian Emperor is right, what else can these weak ants do but struggle?"
The huge army captured nearly four hundred thousand fearful innocents from Aquamarine and headed for the Southsky Sect. Those who weren't aware might think that their army was six hundred thousand strong. Everywhere their army crossed caused endless blood feuds to form. But the Elysian purifiers had resolved themselves to fight to their deaths.
"Toss all of them into the Southsky Barrier! If the Southsky Sect doesn't turn the barrier off, the death of the innocents will have been on their hands, not ours, understood?!" Jun Shengxiao said with a warped sense of tranquility.
The voices of acknowledgement were interspersed with countless fearful cries.
"Mom! Mom? Where are you?!"
"Dad, don't kill my dad! Ah!"
"Why... why are you doing this? Are you all devils?!"
"Don't touch my husband, please! Forgive him!"
On that day, the skies were blue, the clouds were white, yet the sight at the oceanside was hell on earth.Previous Chapter Next Chapter