It was too bad that the ten Qilin Kings and a few exalted ones came to stop the enraged crowd. Now, Tianming had a rough idea about the situation. He guessed that the reason they couldn't kill him outright was due to the Li Saint clan and Decimo Dao Palace. Though, it was also possible that they wanted to use him to bait Li Muyang into coming, so killing him would be a waste.
"Do you really not fear death?" Qin Dingtian said.
"Well, that's not quite the right question to ask. I know that you all hate me to the bone, so what difference does it make even if I were to kneel and beg for mercy?" he replied with a smile.
Qin Dingtian had to admit that Tianming really did have a point. By now, the experts of the clan had managed to stop the crowd.
"Come!" The exalted ones Chong Yang, Jing Yue, and Ling Xing picked up the branding iron and walked toward Tianming.
"We have to brand this curse on him no matter what! Let's do it together."
Immediately, they appeared before Tianming and froze him in place. Once more, the branding iron was pressed against his head so hard that he felt a little concussed. Once more, the Lifetime Curse surged and tore into his flesh, the black bugs from before now taking the form of black beasts.
But this time, Prime Tower reacted even quicker and manifested on his head. The might the tower radiated caused them to be taken aback, but they persisted. It seemed that the entire Qilin Altar was shaking.
"How could it react that hard just from attempting to apply the curse on him?"
The crowd couldn't figure out why at all. He was just a spunky brat from the Grand-Orient Realm; what was so special about him?
Finally, a loud boom was heard as the exalted ones were pushed back.
"Did it work?"
The furious crowd turned to look and saw a black mark on Tianming's head.
"Now he belongs to the Ancient Qilin Clan for real!"
"Don't even think about leaving the Infernal Soul Purgatory!"
"The pentabane is ruined! Once he goes into the purgatory, his cultivation will cease there forever!"
"Yeah! At least we get to come out for six months at a time!"
The crowd laughed and cheered.
"Let him cry to the day of his death!"
It was as if it was all over for them. The exalted ones took quite a while to recover. They looked closer and saw that the branding had succeeded, then breathed a sigh of relief.
"The branding is complete!" Chong Yang declared.
"Complete?" Tianming wondered why he didn't feel any different. With the Prime Tower in him, he didn't feel the energy of the curse eating away at him at all. The most he felt was a slight numbness on his forehead.
"Well, they know about the curse better, so I guess it worked if they say so." He didn't really think it was a big deal. At the very least, he figured that the curse wouldn't do much to his cultivation talent.
Chong Yang continued, "We’ll now banish the son of the sinner into the Infernal Soul Purgatory for eternity! Any sympathizers of his shall suffer the same fate!"
The crowd burst into laughter once more.
"Exalted one, you worry too much!"
"We hate him to the bone! Why would he sympathize with him?"
"Who cares about him? I'll be the first to kill him! Dammit! If it weren’t for his dad, I'd be cultivating and picking up girls at the Decimo Dao Palace! I would've been at least three levels higher than I am now!"
"Toss him in!"
Qin Dingtian came over and was about to grab Tianming.
"Don't touch me. I'll walk there myself," Tianming said.
"Haha...." Qin Dingtian still stretched his hand out to grab Tianming's white hair. "This hair color's pretty good. I wonder if it'll drag your body along if I pull it."
Was he going to pull Tianming into the Infernal Soul Purgatory by his hair?
"Only village girls pull hair when they fight. I didn't think that you, sir, would be such an uncultured swine," Tianming snapped.
"Why would I treat a wretch like you well?" Qin Dingtian laughed and was about to act once more. Right at that moment....
"Exalted ones! Someone from the Decimo Dao Palace demands an audience!" said a guard wearing Qilin-scale armor.
"They came rather quickly! But it's too late!" The exalted ones merely laughed.
"Tell them that we’re having a clan assembly, and will meet with them some other time," Chong Yang said.
"Exalted One, among the visitors are the South Hall King and Future Hall King of the Decimo Hall Kings!"
"Even they came? Then have them wait at the courtyard for now," Chong Yang said. He shot Qin Dingitan a look. Once Tianming was tossed into the purgatory, all they had to do was to wait for Li Muyang to come knocking.
"Halt!" A group of eight people descended upon Qilin Altar. The crowd turned their heads to them and Tianming. They were definitely from the Decimo Dao Palace. However, two of them seemed to be bursting with joy at the sight of Tianming. One of them had red hair, and the other had white hair.
"Godfather, Qingyu, why are you here?!" Tianming asked agitatedly.
The two that had come were in fact Li Qingyu and Li Wudi. They had rushed their way to the Divine Capital, but were a day slower than Tianming. In other words, Li Wudi had set out the moment he heard about Tianming's capture, completely ignoring what happened at Heaven's Elysium.
"How could I sit still after hearing that my son was taken? Tianming, you have to thank your Uncle Voidy. It's been flying so quickly for the past few days it's going mad," Li Wudi said as he swept a gaze at the Ancient Qilin Clan. 'Uncle Voidy' referred to his Ancient Infernalblood Kunpeng that used to be a Void Kunpeng. Li Wudi's gaze settled on Qin Dingtian.
"What in the world are you guys playing at? Did your mother go bald? I can't imagine why else you'd want to pull my son's hair out!" Li Wudi snapped. Tianming already knew that his godfather had a short temper. It was no surprise, considering he’d had to keep it suppressed for fourteen years.
"Nonsense! Where are you from, bumpkin? How could someone like you have come from the Decimo Dao Palace?" Qin Dingtian roared, though he loosened his grip on Tianming's hair. It would've been awkward had he not.
"Shut up! Now leave," Exalted Mo Yu said with a glare. Qin Dingtian had no choice but to swallow his rage. When she spoke, the eight exalted ones of the Ancient Qilin Clan all stepped onto the altar, seemingly wanting to greet the envoys from the Decimo Dao Palace. It was obvious that Li Wudi was the one who brought them here; he definitely knew them beforehand.
"Future Hall King, South Hall King, for what reason did the two of you trespass on our altar?" Chong Yang asked solemnly.
The group from Decimo Dao Palace was led by two people. The first was clad in white and had long, white hair that was tied up. Even though he was no doubt quite aged, he still looked rather young. His eyes were so ethereal it was hard to tell what they looked like. He was none other than the Future Hall King, one of the Decimo Hall Kings. The other, called the South Hall King, had short, needle-sharp hair and two blazing eyes. His breathing was heavy and powerful, and he had the aura of a top figure in the Divine Capital.
"Everyone, Li Shengxiao was the palace lord of Decimo Hall Palace for a hundred years. You should know what he means to us. The Li Saint Clan is under our protection, as Li Shengxiao requested we nurture any pentabane descendant of his with our full force. This is our ancestral mission, and we shall stop at nothing to execute it!
"We’ve already had our eyes on Li Tianming for quite some time, and were waiting to fetch him once the sect war was over. We didn't think you'd dare to take him. Now, we’ll bring him away," the Future Hall King resolutely declared. He hadn't come to negotiate.
"What kind of sick joke is this? He's the son of Li Muyang, so he belongs to the Ancient Qilin Clan! There's no way we'll let you take him away," Jing Yue said.
"However, he's also a member of the Li Saint Clan. Li Shengxiao is the benefactor of the Decimo Dao Palace, and we finally have a chance to repay him after thousands of years. We will not allow you to hold him. You're just trying to lure Li Muyang back to torture him and ruin his prospects! The Decimo Dao Palace will not allow this to happen!"
The exalted ones didn't seem too pleased to hear that.
"Exalted ones, if you stop us from taking him back, the Decimo Dao Palace will no longer take in any member of the Ancient Qilin Clan. We’ll also exile every member of your clan who’s currently cultivating with us!"
That finally shut up the Ancient Qilin Clan. Now that they had fallen from grace, talented people were what they lacked the most. They would easily fall into obscurity, if they couldn't continue developing their younger generation. The members of the Ancient Qilin Clan could only cultivate half of each year at the Decimo Dao Palace, but that was a good chance for them to form strong connections and network in the Divine Capital. The benefits of that were immeasurable, and if they lost the chance to cultivate there, it would be even harder for their youths to prosper.
"Future Hall King, let’s talk in private," said the representative of the exalted ones after they had a brief discussion. It seemed that they were going to make concessions, something that Chong Yang absolutely didn't want to happen at all. But the strong reaction of the Decimo Dao Palace, threats included, was far beyond his imagination.
"Let him go, first," the Future Hall King said with a gentler tone this time.
Tianming was finally allowed to reunite with Li Wudi and the rest.
On the Qilin Altar, the Hall Kings and the exalted ones spoke within the privacy of a formation.
"Hall Kings, we still don't understand why you're so insistent on this matter. Li Muyang is a fugitive of the Ancient Theocrats, and his son is definitely taboo as well. Wouldn't protecting him be an act of treason against the Ancient Theocrats? Aren't you bringing trouble to yourselves?" Chong Yang asked.
"This isn’t your matter to worry about. All you need to know is our stance on the matter," the South Hall King said.
"In other words, there's no room for negotiation at all?"
"We will not compromise. Now, it's your turn to make a choice!" the Future Hall King said.
The exalted ones exchanged glances once more.
"Let me remind you again that you're going against the Ancient Theocrats!" Ling Xing growled.
"We know," the Future Hall King said.
"The Decimo Dao Palace is bold indeed. Too bad you came too late. The Lifetime Curse has set in! In the future, he’ll have to remain in the Infernal Soul Purgatory for six months every year! That's why he can't leave either way," Chong Yang calmly said. This had been his plan from the very beginning.Previous Chapter Next Chapter