The plaza was dead silent. When everyone looked up, they saw a savage expression on the West Hall King's face. He seemed ruthless, and at the edge of his patience. Bai Mo, on the other hand, looked at them calmly, as if everything was going according to plan.
"Wei Wushang wasn't his match at all."
"Who was the one that said he wasn't strong? He was able to defeat Wei Wushang right after ascending to sainthood. If he isn't a genius, what is he?"
"He's so scary that I can't even properly fathom it."
"That was definitely a face slap, wasn’t it?"
"He used the Mountshield Tome without any blood. Given that he could almost teleport, he must be a patternscribe too."
"I don't even feel like talking anymore. Is there no one that can stand up for those of us of the clans? Are we to let him continue acting so arrogantly?"
The answer to that question was obvious: nobody could stop Tianming. Of all the Ancient Clan disciples on the ranking, Wei Wushang had been the strongest. Only the Theocrats could possibly send someone to defeat Tianming now. But with Autarch Yun's ascension, no one on the rankings still bore the Dongyang name. Above Tianming on the rankings were five Jiang Clan imperials, though.
"To be honest, Li Tianming was far too ruthless. Does that mean the Decimo Dao Palace's own four halls have completely fallen out with the six halls belonging to the Divine Capital?"
"That's right. It was a matter of time before it happened, anyway."
"I saw the Future Hall King stop the West Hall King just now."
"Come to think of it, the West Hall King broke the rules, right? They said it would be a fair fight, yet Wei Wushang was provided with a two star heavenly pattern tome. The power of a Goldspear Tome would’ve been enough to kill anyone in the top ten. Li Tianming almost lost his life."
"Thankfully, Li Tianming's cultivation isn't that high yet. If he was able to cultivate faster, there’d be nobody left to stop him."
"I feel that the chaos outside has seeped into the Decimo Dao Palace as well. I wonder if it’s related somehow."
"One of them is a power struggle in the imperial clan, while the other is a fight for the palace. They should be unrelated, right?"
"But then why are these two things happening at the same time?"
"Don’t you see? The West Hall King and Earth Hall King have both played their hands. I doubt they'll take the loss they suffered this time kindly."
"The factions of the Divine Capital should've been fighting among themselves. It seems like the Future Hall King's involvement will cause them to unite instead."
"I believe so, too. The six halls have even more disciples. I doubt the other four halls can afford to make enemies of them. The Divine Capital has managed to send their roots deep into the palace, to the point that not even the palace lord dares remove them. So, how could the four halls possibly do anything about it?"
They really didn't understand why the Future Hall King and the rest were being so daring.
"What is it?"
"Think about it. Could it be that the Dark Hall is taking advantage of the power struggle to deliver a blow to the Divine Capital's halls? Perhaps they're trying to go against the Theocrats."
"The clans and Saint Martial Manor are affiliated with the Theocrats."
"I think it's best if we leave conjecture aside. It was just a battle between the younger, more reckless disciples who act without considering the consequences. This Li Tianming is the king of mindlessness. Perhaps the Future Hall King will get in trouble because of him. He only values him because of the potential he has as a pentabane."
"That's right. Let's not overthink this. You might draw unwanted attention if you do."
"Then again, I still feel they're using the juniors as proxies to incite conflict to test the Theocrats’ patience..."
"That's right. Li Tianming is Li Muyang's son, the son of the person who fought against the Ancient Theocracy. Not to mention, he’s Li Shenxiao's descendant, someone who the Theocracy could barely handle. The Decimo Dao Palace used to be inferior to the Theocrats, and was driven to this place. I bet the Dark Hall is trying to use the ascension of the new autarch as an opportunity—"
Some of the more experienced and wise people knew the lasting implications of this battle.
"Basically, Li Tianming is their sword. I wonder how far they're willing to swing him."
Many turned and looked at the ranking board. Now, Tianming's place took the tenth place, though where would it settle after the matches were over?
Tianming and the rest left as the crowd stared at them. After the battle, Feiling undid their Spiritual Attachment and appeared before everyone. Regardless of how unique she was, Tianming felt that she didn't deserve to be forced to live in secrecy. Freedom was the right of all sentient beings, and that included her as well. It was only a matter of time before those of the dao palace recognized her anyways, so Tianming decided he would no longer hide her.
"Rumors say that Tianming was at the spiritual convergence when Su Hongyin took action. Her assassination target was a girl called Jiang Feiling, and that apparently infuriated Tianming."
"The Divine Capital is a land of romance, where heroes have saved countless beauties since ancient times. Beauties have always been fought over by many powerful people since those same ancient times. There are even many who sharpened their wits to marry into powerful clans, and wars have even been fought over beauties. There have even been cases where princes fought each other for a single beauty. The Primeval Autarch also had a harem of three thousand of the Theocracy's most beautiful. Who wouldn't envy him?"
"The reason the Theocrats are so powerful and prosperous is because of their countless descendants that the autarchial harem facilitates! If the woman is talented, their children will be even more so. If the man is powerful, their bloodline will follow suit as well."
"Quite a number of talented beauties have been fought over by the Theocrats; rivers of blood have flowed for them."
"While this Jiang Feiling girl isn't even a Beast Vein cultivator, she might grow into an existence that could threaten to overturn a nation. After all, the mysterious powers she just showed are sure to catch some attention."
"Oh, you noticed it too?"
"That's right. When she was attached to Li Tianming, I felt his power increase. Those wings and some other weird slowdown domain ability are surely thanks to her, too. There was even some kind of formless wall!"
That was a discussion among the patternscribes and seniors, not normal disciples.
"Actually, everyone is underestimating her."
"What do you mean?"
"She's already capable of toppling a nation as she is now."
There was a light drizzle in the Divine Capital that evening. The dark skies and annoying raindrops caused the citizens to scurry into shelter like ants.
Amidst the rain, Jiang Yu walked along the streets, feeling a little dazed. The sight of the young girl smiling brightly as she held Tianming's arm, and the loving gaze she showed him, played back nonstop in his head. It was enough to drive him mad. He felt his heart dripping blood as the raindrops continued falling.
"Jiang Yu, come!" someone called out all of a sudden. He looked up and saw a bunch of people passing him by. That group of people donned black hoods with hats that sported a veil, obscuring their faces. No feature of theirs was recognizable apart from their large builds. The voice that called out to him had sounded rather familiar, though. Jiang Yu shook, then hurriedly walked toward them.
The leader of the group pushed their veil away and revealed a half-black face. While it was as dark as ink, the dark part of the face didn't look ugly. In fact, a threatening sense of terror radiated from it.
"C-crown Prince!" Jiang Yu knelt in a hurry.
"Rise," said the man.
"Understood." Jiang Yu hastily stood up. He knew that the cohort was trying to travel covertly, without drawing attention.
"I heard you’re working on a piece of art called ‘Impeccable Beauty’. Let me have a look," the man said, putting his veil back down.
"Alright." He took out a scroll and handed it to the man.
"Jiang Yu, I heard that you drew all the beauties in the Divine Capital in this piece, right?" he asked with a smile as he unfurled the scroll.
"You look like the docile kind, yet you act much like one of us. You definitely have a pure bloodline," the man joked, causing the other black-clad men around him to laugh.
"Yes, Sir!" Jiang Yu lowered his head, letting the rain continue falling onto his long hair. The man had unfurled the scroll completely and given it a quick scan.
"Gu Xiyu, Gusu Yuyao, Jiang Yufei, Jiang Yutong, Zhao Kexin, Xiao Yuhe, Mu Beibei, Chi Lan... I've had my fun with half of those you consider beauties. I was about to take them into my Skysource Palace," the man said with a smile.
"Your Highness truly is amazing...." Jiang Yu didn't know how to react. Either way, his heart was still metaphorically bleeding.
"Do you like the beauty in the middle, too?" the man asked, his eyes peeking through the veil with a domineering pressure.
"The middle?" He had drawn her from memory, and she was his favorite part of the piece.
Jiang Yu's body shook when he recalled the man said 'too'. "I wouldn't dare!"
"It's fine, I was just messing with you." The others around the man laughed again. When he finished, he returned the painting to Jiang Yu and patted his shoulder.
"Your Highness, I’m honored to be of service," he said, cold sweat forming.
"Listen well. Come to my place tonight. I’ll give you something. Use it to kill Li Muyang's son on the day he challenges you," the man calmly said, as if he was talking about the most trivial of matters.
"Understood!" Jiang Yu said with bloodshot eyes.
"Wei Ji is sick in the head for giving away a two star heavenly pattern tome as a trump card. Haha, what a joke..." The rest joined the laughter once more.
Jiang Yu didn't dare say anything, for all of them were people he should avoid antagonizing as best he could. He and Wei Wushang were merely small fish in the pond, while that man was the undisputed ruler of all the juniors in the Divine Capital. In fact, he could be the one to decide the fate of the Theocracy. In terms of status, he was Jiang Yu's uncle, of sorts.
"Everyone’s seen it, right? This young lady is indeed a stunning figure. I wonder how I’ll change when she rides me instead," he said.
"We all want to know, too," said the rest.
"Your Highness, isn't this just a matter of making an edict? Why go through the trouble?" someone asked.
"That, is what you don't get. Women are prey. You need to hunt them like game. Women that are too easily obtained taste bland. That's not the case for the women of our enemies, though," said the man.
"Is Your Highness going to make her a consort?"
"That's something that merits serious consideration. While she's enchanting, she might not live for too long. While I... am fated to never perish!" The man looked toward the palace compound with a begrudging glare. He pressed Jiang Yu's head down, causing him to roll on the ground. Jiang Yu got back up and knelt without moving. He was now completely wet and muddy, but he didn't even dare spit out the mud in his mouth, choosing to swallow it instead.
His stomach felt ill and his heart still ached. By the time he looked back up, the man was already walking away. Jiang Yu's bloodshot eyes seemed like those of a ferocious beast.Previous Chapter Next Chapter