"So you’re the son of that bastard Li Muyang? You think you can challenge us Ancient Theocrats just because you're a little talented? Since you have a deathwish, we'll grant it!" Dongyang Liu said.
"Have I challenged you before?" Tianming chuckled. "Oh, you're talking about the Nineshades Clan? I wasn't wrong, you know. You can't accept it because you're weak. What's the point in calling yourselves Theocrats and forgetting your origins? The Nineshades Clan will forever remain the Nineshades Clan. Your dirty origins will never change, and you'll never be true rulers even after tens of thousands of years!"
Tianming charged in with Grand-Orient Sword in hand. He would fight the two princes himself. The moment their weapons clashed, sparks flew.
"Insolence!" Dongyang Liu angrily slashed downward, leaving a trail of golden light in the wake of his blade.
"The only thing I'm 'in' is your mother!" Tianming's body surged with power as he gathered three thousand strands of Invincible Sword Ki and activated the Imperealm Sword Formation. His surroundings were filled with both Imperial and Realm Sword Ki, which his foes had to deflect before they could get to him.
His formation continued expanding and soon reached twenty meters; this was the fruit of his labor after breaking through. He managed to get even more sword ki from the Grand-Orient Sword to further reinforce the formation. It was definitely a nightmare for his enemies.
"Die!" Tianming gathered all of his strands of Invincible Sword Ki, as well as the ones from the Imperealm Sword Formation, then used the explosive fourth strike of the Shenxiao Sword Art. Coupled with the boost Feiling afforded him, he was so powerful he could destroy the heavens and the earth.
The Grand-Orient Sword came sweeping past, immediately crushing Dongyang Liu's weapon. When the sword ki followed, something terrifying happened. Dongyang Liu widened his eyes as he remained still in mid-air. He looked down and found that every part beneath his neck had been engulfed by Tianming's sword ki and instantly vaporized. It was as if he had been decapitated—no, it was more accurate to say that his head was all that remained of his body.
"Ugh..." Dongyang Liu saw his life flashing past.
"Still dare to be so arrogant? What kind of Theocrat are you? Why do you think you're inherently better than others? We are all the same in the face of death. You’ll die one day as well. Don't shoot me that look of disbelief, I'm already sick of it. So what if I kill you?"
Tianming gave him a slap on the face, causing him to widen his eyes before he stopped breathing. Tianming then grabbed his hair and yelled, "The traitorous fourth son of Dongyang Yun, Dongyang Liu, is dead! Who's next?!"
"Our boss is truly badass!" the warriors of his battalion cheered as their morale soared.
Tianming turned back and saw that the fifth prince had been frightened away by the utter slaughter of his elder brother. He even abandoned his lifebound beast to its fate.
"You think I'll let you escape?!" Tianming put his sword away and gave the Three-Thousand Starfield a swing. The whip rapidly extended three hundred meters and landed on Dongyang Feng's head.
"Agh!" Feeling the threat coming, he immediately turned back and took out his spear. He thought that once Tianming caught up to him, he could deliver a counterattack. But the moment he took out his spear, he knew it was over for him.
Tianming was still three hundred meters away. With a loud clang, the whip sent his spear flying. Tianming then lashed out with the Ninesilver Astral Art—Brilliant Stars. The whip sparkled in the dark once more, becoming a shining night sky as it rapidly wrapped around Dongyang Feng's neck a few times.
"Go away!" Dongyang Feng attempted to tear the whip apart, but to no avail. The blue rings of the whip were as sharp as blades and could even cut other weapons apart, let alone his neck.
When Tianming gave the whip a pull, Dongyang Feng’s head came with it and his body landed on the ground, kicking up quite a lot of dust. Just like that, Tianming had gotten another head. The head stared at him with terrified, bloodshot eyes.
"You truly are a coward. I thought your lot committed suicide after you lost, yet you tried to run. Are you really a Theocrat? Hahaha..." Tianming mocked him mercilessly, filling Dongyang Feng's last moments with unbearable suffering and humiliation.
This time around, everyone had clearly seen what happened. The fourth and fifth princes had perished by Tianming's hand in the most horrible way possible. His merciless and brutish way of fighting was exciting to watch. The two he had just killed were core members of the Theocrats and executors of the Primeval Autarch's will, yet Tianming had not only killed them, but also made sure to utterly crush their spirits, something the Theocrats would never tolerate. They were an unyielding clan. Even if they lost, their firm wills wouldn't perish. They would even kill themselves to be rid of the humiliation of their mistakes, yet Dongyang Feng had run away because of fear. There was nothing more embarrassing than that.
"An unyielding clan? No, you're just as fearful of death as everyone!"
The Theocrats' millennia of oppression came at the price of countless mountains of corpses. They had long earned the ire of many. If it weren’t for their hate of the Theocrats, many beastmasters wouldn't have joined the Decimo Dao Palace to avoid serving them. When they saw Tianming's awesome performance, they were filled with righteous fervor.
"Li Tianming, frankly speaking, you're nothing but a brat to me. I’m old enough to be your grandfather. However, you've earned this old one's respect! Look, brothers, these so-called Theocrats are afraid of dying too! Let's make sure to give them a good fright before killing them!"
Every one of them was instantly pumped to the max. They were filled with motivation to cull every last Theocrat from the battlefield and scare them into retreating. The ten or so sky saints were all dealt with by Tianming's subordinates, Ye Lingfeng, and the soulfiend. They then joined up with Ying Huo and Lan Huang to kill the four hydras.
"Lan Huang, take this," Tianming said as he tossed Dongyang Liu and Dongyang Feng's heads to his back. He would be taking them back with him as proof. Now that he had killed two princes, he was quite deep into the enemy camp. He decided to retreat a little with his battalion.
"I wonder how the others are doing. At least my battalion didn't suffer many casualties and got good results. Our mission is mostly accomplished."
That was the reason Tianming toned it down a bit. The Decimo Dao Palace had only come as reinforcements. Since Jiang Ling's men hadn’t broken through the defense line yet, those from the dao palace wouldn't jump into the fray and get themselves killed.
At that moment, something really abrupt occurred. Tianming received Bai Zijun's urgent order for all of them to retreat from the formation.
"It's gonna end right now? Are we not going to continue the attack?" Though Tianming was really doubtful about it, he didn't hesitate and ordered, "Dark Astral Battalion, fall back!"
Discipline was paramount in the military, and orders were to be obeyed no matter what doubts one had. All of them rapidly retreated, even though they had spared no effort to get where they were.
Even as they retreated, they had to weather the spirit hazards, as well as the pursuit of the enemies, which ended in some casualties. Tianming had done his best to protect his men, finding the safest route for them to travel and immediately saving those who were heavily injured.
"Fall back! Fall back!"
As they retreated, Tianming also noticed the Ancient Qilin Clan retreating. "Looks like something must’ve happened to break the rhythm of the two attacking armies."
Not long after the retreat, he ran into Bai Zijun, who was getting the entire Skycore Legion to retreat. "What’s going on, Astral King?" Tianming and a few other generals asked.
"Dongyang Yun has activated the defensive formation in the Abyssal Battlefield. They lured a lot of wildbeasts and are planning to send them into the Divine Capital through the abyss in the Imperial City right ahead of us. They were really secretive, this time around, and we were completely unaware of their plans. Fortunately, the beasts were quite loud and impossible to hide. When the palace lord received word of it, she immediately had us retreat from the battlefield to prevent us from clashing with the wildbeasts."
"Has Dongyang Yun gone mad? The wildbeasts are mindless creatures that kill all! Even though the Divine Capital has fallen, many are still standing guard there. If Dongyang Yun opens up the path through ot the Abyssal Battlefield to lead the wildbeasts in, wouldn't the whole Divine Capital be overrun by those monsters?"
"The spiritual energy in the Divine Capital is really attractive to the wildbeasts. Leaving the pathway open will cause more and more wildbeasts to gather. It won't just cause trouble for us, Dongyang Yun will have to deal with a huge mess too!"
"The Divine Capital will truly have no hope of being rebuilt if the beasts are allowed in."
The generals all sounded rather angry.
Bai Zijun said, "He no longer cares. By letting the beasts through, he'll be able to give us a crippling blow. Fortunately, we received word of it early and managed to retreat in time."
"Then what happens next? What's his fallback plan? He’ll be attacked by the wildbeasts himself!"
"He'll probably wait until daytime, when the Sun-Moon Imperial Formation's power will be charged by the sun. The wildbeasts will be marked by the formation. As long as they block off the pathway to the Abyssal Battlefield, they'll be able to stop the wildbeasts from coming through."
"Wouldn't the wildbeasts leave the range of the formation to avoid its attacks and cause havoc in the Divine Capital?!"
"He doesn't care about the capital at all. All he values is his position on the throne. This is a desperate move from him. At the very least, he’s forced us to retreat. He knows that we want to preserve our forces as best as we can."
"Then what do we do next?" the rest asked.
"Rest up for now. We might need to send someone to attack the Abyssal Battlefield to cut off the flow of wildbeasts. Once we gain control of the passage there, we'll be able to attack the Imperial City from within the formation. However, we might lose our opportunity tonight. The next window for us to act will be next month," Bai Zijun said.
"Don’t worry, time is on our side. Now, let's head back with our comrades."
This was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission to begin with. Not killing Autarch Yun didn't disappoint Tianming at all. The Decimo Dao Palace had to take care of their own men; there was no need for them to die in the fight between Dongyang Ling and Dongyang Yun.
"By the time we return next month, I'll only have grown stronger. By then, even fewer will be able to stop me," Tianming said. He could already hear the sound of the wildbeasts coming through.
"Looks like information is indeed important in warfare. The wildbeasts attacked as part of Dongyang Yun's plan, and it’s likely that not even Dongyang Ling received word of it. Thankfully, we heard them coming and managed to retreat in time and escaped the fate of being overrun by them. Dongyang Yun is ruthless. With this, the Divine Capital will be ruined for good."
Tianming had believed that it would be really hard to defeat the two Theocrat brothers to begin with, and this was all within expectations. He looked up and saw the edge of the Sun-Moon Imperial Formation. Once he sent them out, he would've succeeded in his mission. However...
"Dammit! Where the heck is Meow Meow?!" He felt like his head was about to explode.Previous Chapter Next Chapter