Tianming looked to the disciples of the other five divine realms and only saw around a dozen casualties. They were still casually chatting and laughing, and even provoking them from afar. The disciples from the Quadform, Heptastar, and Nonahall Divine Realms no longer hid their intentions. They had been instructed by their seniors to come here to do exactly that.
"It's still too early to cry!"
"That was only the appetizer! The main course starts in the Nether Battlefield. Anyone related to you lot won't be spared!"
"That's right. The real dishes will be served later. Only a few small fries died just now. You’d better save your tears for later."
More and more people started mocking and laughing.
"The Monorigin Sect really is delusional. They're still trying to protect their pathetic goddess."
"My dad asked me to tell you that you shouldn't waste your lives protecting a goddess who's a mere saint! She can be easily crushed like a bug! Don't let your families die over her!"
"Stop trying to persuade them. They'll know how foolish their actions are after they lose everything."
If the one who said that was only one person, it would be much easier to deal with. But nobody could tell who among the noisy crowd had said that. The brewing storm had finally come. Apart from those five divine realms, the disciples of the other three watched from afar before leaving in a hurry. Perhaps they didn't know what to do about the situation, since their seniors hadn’t told them anything in advance. When they were gone, only the hundred plus surviving disciples of the Archaion Sect remained in the snowy landscape, the ice freezing their boiling blood.
"It's over..." many echoed as they looked in the direction of Xuanyuan Lake. The many elites of the sect approached from all over and hugged their children, dead or alive. Tianming witnessed it all with bloodshot eyes before he turned to leave.
Before the first phase had even ended, the intentions of the other sects were clear.
"Those animals of the Quadform Sea Sect took the treasures and land and still know no shame!"
"Heptastar Celestial Sect, huh? I knew from the beginning that they were only playing nice on the surface! There was no way they wouldn't take advantage of our plight, those sneaky bastards!"
"Stop being so naive! I think the other three divine realms are the same. They just haven't bared their fangs yet because they're afraid of losing face by turning against us, their benefactors!"
"Nonsense. Triflair, Pentaphase, and Octagram are our close allies!"
Arguments could be heard from the tribulation elders at the Human Branch's Dimensional Battlefield.
"The troubling part is that the Nonahall Ghost Sect has joined them. Their realm isn’t far from ours, and if they declare war against us, they'll be more powerful than Biritual and Hexapath combined!"
"There's no need to be so pessimistic, right? They still haven't deployed their armies so far. They also have their own scores to settle with the others, and they're not about to send their troops and risk losing them. We’ll defend our goddess to the death, after all, whether we succeed or not."
"The best they can do is to force us to submit during the Number One Summit. That way, they won't suffer any real casualties and will also be able to neutralize the threat Her Eminence poses to them."
"As for the other three divine realms, even if they don't send their troops out against us, they're probably hoping that we’ll give up on our own accord."
"We lost so many disciples in the Skyorigin Battlefield alone.... Will we lose the rest of the generation in the Nether Battlefield?""I said that we shouldn't bother hosting the Number One Summit! These are desperate times—"
"Shut up, all of you!" someone roared. The one who spoke wasn't Fang Taiqing, but rather Xuanyuan Dao, the sect master of the Earth Branch.
"Is there anyone else who wants to surrender? If the young ones who aren't even thirty dare to fight to their deaths, who are you to say that? How could our mighty sect that’s lasted over two hundred thousand years have cowards like you?!"
The whole place gradually quieted down.
"Earth Branch Sect Master, quell your anger. The truth is plain for all to see. Among the participants in the Number One Summit, we only have around forty from the Heaven Ranking remaining. They’re the hope of our sect's future, and our lifeline. If you have any way to save them, please let us hear it," said a white-haired old man.
Xuanyuan Dao pondered for a moment. "After the first phase, the disciples will be given a few days to rest, according to the rules. That’s also when preparations for the Nether Battlefield will begin. I suggest that we extend the preparation time as the hosts."
"How long can we extend it?" Fang Taiqing asked.
"Historically, what is the longest recovery time?"
"About half a month," Jian Wuyi said.
"Then half a month it will be," Fang Taiqing said.
Everyone listened attentively to the three sect masters' discussion. They had done much to win as many allies for the sect as they could. They weren't afraid of the openly hostile Biritual Demon Sect or the Hexapath Sword Sect; what they were most fearful of were the other sects that pretended to be their allies. What if they paid them off, only to be backstabbed in the end?
"Earth Branch Sect Master, what’s the point of the extension?" someone asked, prompting everyone to look to him for an answer.
"Don't ask too many questions. Trust me on this one."
"Then we’ll do as the sect master says," Fang Taiqing said.
There were many tribulation elders in Tribulation Peak who held some semblance of authority that they could use to delay the start of the second phase of battles. At the very least, they would have some buffer time.
"But the other divine realms will have to agree to it first, right?"
"They have no say in it. If they can come late and delay the start of the summit, we are well within our rights to extend our preparation time. If they're unhappy about it, our disciples won't keep fighting in the summit," Xuanyuan Dao said. Usually, he was the least outspoken of the three sect masters, but his strong attitude, backed by the might of the Archaic House of Xuanyuan, gave his words weight.
"We’ll discuss it with them together," Fang Taiqing said.
The three sect masters then left to announce the delay of the second phase's start. As they had expected, the other divine realms didn't really care about a small matter like that.
"Sect Masters, since you have more time now, make sure to think things through carefully," said a tempting female voice from the side of the Biritual Demon Sect. The voice was so enchanting it sent tingles through anyone listening to it."We will," Xuanyuan Dao said.
And so it was decided. While the Archaion Sect used the time to recover, the other sects would take advantage of it to form alliances and optimize their combat effectiveness.
After they left, Fang Taiqing stopped and turned to Xuanyuan Dao. "Don't tell me you're making an extension to give Tianming time to cultivate."
"What? I can't do that?"
"It's not that you can't, but doing so for a single disciple is a little ridiculous. Are you going to drown him in treasures to help him grow?"
"Based on his performance today and his recent rate of growth, coupled with my evaluation of his fighting spirit and determination, I believe we should."
"Are you going to personally help him break through to the Samsara stage?"
"Even if that happens, will he be able to turn the tables single-handedly and ensure that our other disciples survive the Nether Battlefield?"
"How will we know if we don't try?"
"Let's give it a try, then," Fang Taiqing said.
"Regardless, even if all our disciples perish, the Archaion Sect will protect Her Eminence to our deaths."
"I don't need you to remind me of that. Without times when sacrifices are called for, we’d never know who our true allies and foes are," Fang Taiqing said before leaving. Only Xuanyuan Dao and Jian Wuyi remained.
"Do you have any thoughts about this?" Xuanyuan Dao asked.
"No," Jian Wuyi said with a wave.
Tianming knew that he had a few days of rest after the first phase, so he went straight to the Old Deepstar Path.
Before long, a man in a golden robe with dragon patterns called out to him. It was none other than Xuanyuan Dao.
"Sect Master," Tianming greeted.
"We lost quite a lot. Did you see it?"
"What do you plan to do?"
"I'll do my best and give it my all."
"Alright. Also, the next phase starts in half a month. You still have time to prepare."
"Wasn't the rest period only four or five days?"
"I suggested an extension."
"It'll be time enough for you to break through to the Samsara stage. Hopefully, your power will grow rapidly and you'll be able to change our sect's destiny."
"Sect Master, why are you placing so much hope in me?"
"I trust Her Eminence, as well as what I've witnessed myself. While most people have a limit to how much they can grow, that doesn't seem to apply to you."
"I appreciate the kind words, Sect Master."
"Now come with me. I'll bring you into the interior of the Heaven Cauldron. There's a method you can use to skip straight to the Samsara stage, though it'd be more accurate to call it a challenge. If you fail, you'll die on the spot, but if you succeed, you'll save lots of time."
"Right now?" Tianming said with a troubled look.
"Any problem with that?"
"Sect Master, I'm actually only at the eighth level of the Empyrean Saint stage. I'm not at the ninth yet."
Shocked, Xuanyuan Dao said, "An eighth-level empyrean saint killing a third-level life phase samsaran like Feng Daoyi? What kind of monster are you?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter