"Brother Zhao," Tianming said.
"Tell me why you came here," Zhao Tianxing said.
"Did you see me kill the Biritual disciples on this layer?"
"Yes. I also followed you when you went up to the darkness layer to kill Heptastar's disciples. I also got two of them while I was there."
"Most of your comrades died because of Heptastar, right?"
"You can say that. They weren't strong enough."
"The remaining disciples from those sects have gathered together. They also know the location of my sect's hell tree on the swamp layer. Once they go down, they'll start a slaughter. After they wipe us out, I figure it wouldn't be hard for them to use the remaining time to get rid of you, too."
"You're bluffing. We don't have a goddess, so they won't be that merciless. Isn't not fighting an option for us?!" Jiang Qingqing snapped.
"If it were, you wouldn't have suffered any casualties at all. Normally, wouldn't being eliminated be all that happens in the Nether Battlefield? There was never a need to go so far as killing opponents. Do you think they'll let the rest of you live after killing a dozen of you?" Tianming asked.
Jiang Qingqing grimaced. Her father had actually wanted to stop her from participating, but she insisted on it. Perhaps not even her seniors had expected that those five divine realms would go so far as to kill anyone not standing on their side. The Nether Battle couldn't be stopped midway. The three sects hadn't made their choice to side with the aggressive five before the Number One Summit, so the five were intentionally trying to kill some of their disciples and make examples out of them. That would force them to join their alliance.
"I understand that the presence of the goddess is causing lots of anxiety to manifest in the other divine realms. However, many others are also trying to benefit from it. Perhaps the delicate balance between the Nine Divine Realms will be no more and the Archaion Sect won't be the only one to be destroyed. I recall that the Pentaphase Earth Sect neighbors the Nonahall Ghost Sect, with you occupying a territory only a third the size of theirs, but your territory spans half their border. I doubt it's easy to defend such a huge border, eh?" Tianming said. He had learned the geopolitics of the Nine Divine Realms for Feiling's sake, and Xuanyuan Dao had told him some details as well.
There was no doubt that there were many who would try toppling the others during the chaos caused by the return of the goddess. The reason the Pentaphase Sect didn't dare to join an alliance with the other five divine realms was because they were wary of Nonahall backstabbing them during the chaos. They stood to lose everything. The moment the conflict was brought up, Zhao Tianxing turned silent.
"And Heptastar's realm neighbors yours to the east. Do you remember how easy it was for their disciples to kill your comrades?"
Zhao Tianxing had no words to argue against that.
"Everyone, before we came, our seniors didn't tell us about this because we were too weak. All we could do was wait by our hell tree and leave the rest to fate. Now I’m offering you the chance to fight for your own divine realm. Don't blame the goddess for your misfortunes. She’s only an excuse others are using to start their own wars."
"You’re mistaken, Tianming," Zhao Tianxing said.
"What am I wrong about?" He had thought about the matter quite a lot lately and asked Xuanyuan Dao for lots of clarification, so he knew the conflicts weren't so simple as to only center around Feiling. The Hexapath Sword Sect wanted revenge for their humiliation, and the reclamation of the Sword Insight Rock. The Biritual Demon Sect wanted Taiji Peak Lake. As for Nonahall and Heptastar, they wanted to split the rest of the territory up.
"You were wrong about our seniors."
"What did they tell you then?"
"They said that if there was hope, we should fight bravely to the end. If the enemy is too ruthless, it wouldn't hurt for us to get closer to your sect," he said with a smile.
Tianming's eyes brightened. "Based on those words alone, I’ll gladly call you my brother in arms."
There was no better time to make an offer than when they were in desperate need of help. Tianming had been waiting for those exact words in his time of crisis.
"I could say that with confidence because you have proven yourself when you killed so many of their disciples," Zhao Tianxing said.
"Brother Tianxing..." Jiang Qingqing mumbled.
"Qingqing, you're still young, so you don't have a choice in this matter. But if you ever get the chance to choose, make a choice that you can live with!" he said as he gave her shoulder a pat.
"Tianqiong was killed. I want to kill them to avenge my little brother." When he said that, he seemed determined to fight to his death.
"Okay!" Jiang Qingqing recalled the peaceful days when she had played around with the young boy that liked to tease her, then the moment of his death and despair as he struggled to tell her that he loved her. Her tears started flowing once more.
"Let's go," Zhao Tianxing said.
"Alright." Tianming met his gaze with confidence. Now they would fight to the death as sworn comrades!
Tianming and the Pentaphase disciples went to the seventh layer of the battlefield. The Triflair disciples seemed to be in good shape, as they were quite far away from the top layers, not to mention that the Quadform disciples had been wiped out by Tianming. Beigong Mengmeng and Ximen Xuanzi were still there, along with a guy who just returned: Dongfang Zichong.
"Li Tianming? Oh, aren't those the Pentaphase disciples? Why are you traveling with them?" Beigong Mengmeng said, her eyes bright with joy from the reunion.
"There's something I want to discuss with you," Tianming said.
"Ah, you’d better talk to our leader, then. This is Dongfang Zichong," she said as she pulled the youth forward.
"Brother Tianming, I told him in full detail about how you saved us, as well as how you killed Long Xiaofan!" Ximen Xuanzi said.
Dongfang Zichong looked at Tianming, then at Zhao Tianxing, then said, "Gentlemen, do you expect my sect to give our lives for you?"
"No, far from it." Tianming calmly explained the situation to them. When they heard about how he had ruthlessly killed so many from the four sects, the Triflair disciples were stunned.
"Is... is that true?" Beigong Mengmeng asked.
"I can attest to that. He's telling the truth. Currently, the five sects are joining together. Soon, they’ll descend to the swamp layer. If you’re willing to join forces with us, we'll have around ninety people in total and will be able to stand a chance against them," Zhao Tianxing said.
"Of course we'll fight together! If they wipe you out, those heartless bastards will no doubt come for us next," Beigong Mengmeng said.
"Mengmeng, your uncle is a sect master of the Monorigin Sect. You're definitely biased in your decision," Dongfang Zichong said.
"This isn't about bias, it's about survival," Ximen Xuanzi said.
"Does that mean your mind is set?" he asked."What else?"
"I believe negotiating with Nonahall is a possibility."
"You're free to think that, but I doubt your seniors will agree with you. You can negotiate all you want, but your words count for nothing. Their aim is to kill you to shock your seniors into joining their side. If they were planning to negotiate at all, they wouldn't have waited till the start of the Number One Summit. It's one thing if you have a death wish, but don't drag your fellow disciples down with you," Tianming said.
"Stop being naive. If that worked, I would've done so long ago myself. They don't treat us like humans at all. While their numbers are still low, they'll try to appease you. But once we’re gone, there'll be nothing you can do if they decide to turn against you. The Coral Fairy is the wife of the Monorigin Sect's Human Branch sect master. Do you think she'd leave the decision in your hands?" Zhao Tianxing said.
Dongfang Zichong lowered his head and said, "I'll discuss it with my comrades then."
After some argument, they decided to stand with Tianming for strength in numbers. The ones who had been in the battle with the Quadform disciples were fervently in favor of the decision.
"I’ll respect the will of the majority," Dongfang Zichong said as he turned to Tianming. "The issue still remains. Even if we can match up to them in terms of numbers, we don't have a single one of us who's fifth-level life phase or above. How will we be able to take care of Chu Xiaoqi and the three minor ghoul kings of Nonahall?"
"If I had a way, would I have come asking for your help?" Tianming said.
"Stop wasting time! If we go down right away, we'll still have time to prepare! Otherwise we'll be gone for good!" Beigong Mengmeng snapped.
"Fine, let's go," Dongfang Zichong decided.
Tianming had been away from the ninth layer for quite some time, during which the swamp layer was rather quiet. Nobody had come down at all.
"I wonder if Tianming found Jiang Wuxin," Beigong Qianyu said with a look of concern.
"It's taking a little long, and there's still no word from him," Xuanyuan Yucheng said.
"Why don't I go up to check on him?"
After giving it some thought, Xuanyuan Yucheng shook his head. "Trust in him." The forty of them had been waiting right next to the hell tree, with Fang Yuewei and Fang Chenjing not far away.
"It feels a little like we're waiting for our demise. It's the first time that ten days has felt like years," Fang Yuewei said.
"That's right. If only they would end us swiftly and painlessly. Jiang Wuxin must’ve found enough helpers already, and they'll be descending soon. Try to guess how many people will be here to take our lives?" Fang Chenjing said with a resigned smile.
Fang Yuewei shook her head.
"Why don't we leave first? Even if our hell tree is destroyed, we might be able to make it through if we hide far enough away," he said.
"Enough," she said, shaking her head.
"Why aren't you listening to me anymore?"
"Li Tianming is back," she said.
"So what if he is?" He turned to look, only to be shocked at the sight of the Triflair and Pentaphase disciples. They added up to around fifty people. Now, they had a total of ninety on their side.
Xuanyuan Yucheng and the rest quickly welcomed them back.Previous Chapter Next Chapter