Dugu Jin's voice rang out through the entire Xuanyuan Lake. "So long as Her Eminence is alive, Archaion will eventually meet its end. I, Dugu Jin, am willing to take up the mantle as the ultimate sinner to spare you from that fate, yet you’re trying to stop me from making this sacrifice. You won't be able to regret it when it's too late! Fang Taiqing, Xuanyuan Dao, Jian Wuyi, you three are so incompetent that the sect will eventually perish at your hands!"
Even though he had immediately vanished, his voice still echoed through the area. Soon after, two figures gave chase alongside their lifebound beasts, zipping away just as quickly. They seemed to be Fang Taiqing and Jian Wuyi.
Dugu Jin had temporarily made his escape. It sounded like he hadn’t managed to make the kill, which made Tianming slightly relieved. Even so, the rage in his heart still hadn't been quenched.
"How long will it take until I’m able to control whether we live or die?"
The vortex of conspiracies seemed to be growing deeper and deeper. Tianming watched as Dugu Jin escaped, heavily injured. All of a sudden, he saw a golden light coming off of his body. "Why does it look like the flames of Soulburn?"
Shocked, he saw the light turn into a spiritform as it lost its heat and approached Tianming, then melded into his body. It was Feiling using Spiritual Attachment!
"Ling'er, you're out here?" he asked telepathically.
"I had no choice! Granny Fang wasn't able to stop him, so I left my body and attacked him with Soulburn so she’d be able to take my divine body to safety," she said in a weak, fatigued voice.
"You used Soulburn? Are you alright?" He felt the rage in him burn even more. If only he was there to see how dangerous it was. There was no doubt her life was at risk for her to resort to using Soulburn.
"I'm fine, Big Brother. I'm much stronger than before, now I’m at the Empyrean Saint stage, so the side effects of Soulburn aren't as serious. Not to mention, I wasn't going all out, so all I need is some time to recover. Bring me back to my body," she quickly explained, not wanting him to worry.
After a long time of not having used Spiritual Attachment, Tianming felt his tribulation force grow by leaps and bounds when she entered his body. Soon after, the Nine Dragon Formation began attacking him, but Xuanyuan Dao quickly deactivated it.
"Ouyang, you should leave first," Xuanyuan Dao said.
"Yes! Apologies, Sect Master." Ouyang Jianwang hurriedly left, leaving only the elites of the Xuanyuan house, Fang Taiqing, and Jian Wuyi within the formation. Given Ouyang Jianwang and Dugu Jin's relationship, Xuanyuan Dao wanted to give him a chance to leave for now.
With a grim expression, Xuanyuan Dao asked, "Did he open the formation to let you in?"
"I did it myself."
"Yes, it's a unique talent of mine."
"Whew..." Xuanyuan Dao heaved a sigh of relief and waved for Tianming to follow. "This is getting troublesome. Fang Qingli said that Her Eminence split in two. One part of her turned into flames that entered Dugu Jin's body while the other seemed to have lost her soul," he said in a hoarse voice.
"Sect Master, it's fine. Her Eminence has returned to my body."
"What do you mean?"
"You'll find out soon."
They entered the ruins of Soulburn Hall. There were a few tribulation elders of the Xuanyuan house, some injured and others just looking defeated. The whole place was a mess. The fact that they had defended the goddess, however, was a sign of their loyalty. No matter what the others thought of Feiling, at the very least, those within the formation were earnestly trying to protect her.
When Tianming entered with Xuanyuan Dao, he saw Fang Qingli's green phoenix bleeding profusely. One of its wings seemed to have been broken and it was heavily injured. Fang Qingli was right beneath it with blood-colored flames still burning on her. She was holding on with the last of her endurance, defending the innate godchild body behind her.
"Your Eminence, your old servant shall bear the sin of not being able to protect you properly!" Her tears fell like rain, mixing with her blood as her shoulders shook.
While she was kneeling and kowtowing nonstop to the body, a spiritform left Tianming's body and transferred to the godchild body. Feiling rubbed her eyes and was helped up by Tianming. "What are you panicking about? Do you think a little junior like that would be able to kill me so easily? Hehe," she said with a cold, haughty smile.
"Your Eminence!" Fang Qingli was overjoyed. Xuanyuan Dao immediately knelt.
"Your Eminence's wondrous methods aren't anything that we can fathom. It's no wonder Dugu Jin didn't succeed!" Now, Fang Qingli's eyes were filled with worship. As far as they were concerned, splitting the body and soul was a fresh, albeit weird, concept, not to mention Feiling had ten abilities sealed in her nails. However, no records of them had been made. Xuanyuan Xi had existed a hundred thousand years ago, after all. Dugu Jin's failed assassination attempt only added to her myth in modern times.
As a real worshipped goddess, she really needed some kind of miracle that would shock the world. Tianming felt that leaving her by Fang Qingli's side wasn't too appropriate. After all, she believed he had killed her beloved grandson. Though he had told Xuanyuan Dao about his thoughts, Xuanyuan Dao could only vouch for her loyalty to Feiling. And today, she had proven herself by defending her and almost dying from it. While Tianming didn't understand Godservant Hall that well, they did seem to be quite the loyal bunch.
The other elites of the Xuanyuan house were even more impressed at Feiling's methods and grew to worship her even more. They seemed far more resolute to defend her than before.
Feiling decided to strike while the iron was still hot. "It's not really a big deal. Some people are of a rather lowly character and can't see the bigger picture. It's even better that they've exposed themselves. I've come back to life after a hundred thousand years, so there's no way an insect like that would really be able to end me. One of these days, I’ll learn who is truly loyal, and who isn't, and pay them back in kind."
"All hail Her Eminence!"
Everyone knelt. Feiling had never gotten truly angry before, so the others felt an oppressive pressure that made it hard to breathe. Fang Taiqing and Jian Wuyi just happened to enter when she said that and heard her.
"Your Eminence, Dugu Jin had a treasure ready for his escape, so we weren't able to catch up." The two of them knelt with their heads down.
"What happens now?" Feiling asked.
"From now on, all of Dugu Jin's positions will be stripped and he will be chased out of the sect. He will also be a lifetime fugitive!" Fang Taiqing said.
"That isn't necessary. When the time comes, I'll personally deal with him."
"Everyone, we are the first divine realm. We can't behave like cowardly rats and shame our forebears' legacy. I'm sure you all know what you need to do. I will not mistreat anyone who contributes to our cause, nor will I forgive anyone that dares cross us!" Though her voice wasn't loud, it carried a weight that moved others' hearts. She was their goddess, after all, and she’d managed to use her mysterious abilities to fend off Dugu Jin, revealing a hint of the limitless potential she had.
Tianming had gone over what she said today with her before. If she had a chance, she was to demonstrate her authority and power to win some of their confidence. Given their current situation, running off to somewhere far away wasn't an option. If they wanted to survive, they would have to fight alongside the sect, and everyone was looking out for a chance. The Archaion Sect wasn't as weak as many imagined it to be, especially after Tianming had wiped out the top disciples of the five enemy sects during the summit.
"Understood!" Fang Taiqing, Xuanyuan Dao, Jian Wuyi and the others knelt and nodded. As for who truly felt awe and respect, there wasn't really a way to tell. While some might think their goddess was a little too much like a little girl, the composure she had shown during the assassination attempt and what she’d said right after had surely demonstrated that she was in control. Perhaps it had been part of her plan as well.
"Deal with the aftermath," Feiling instructed, then turned to Tianming. "You, come with me."
"Yes, Your Eminence." Tianming was impressed; she managed to grab the opportunity to give Fang Taiqing and the rest a stern warning. The whole time, she had been thinking hard about how she could increase her and Tianming's chances of survival. Now, one of the hidden threats had revealed itself, but nobody could say for sure whether anyone else who shared Dugu Jin’s thoughts existed.
If the goddess was dead, the five divine realms would lose their excuse to fight a war. Without proper justification, their troops' morale would be severely affected. Dugu Jin was only able to do such a thing because he had no familial ties weighing him down. Other people would think twice before risking their family’s extermination in the event of failure. Even so, he was one of the top three most powerful members of the sect, so other people who tried harming her would have even lower odds of succeeding.
Tianming followed Feiling as she returned to her still-intact bedroom. The others were already used to seeing the two of them alone. Once they left, the rest turned to each other.
"From today onward, we will not leave Soulburn Hall. Apart from the Archaic House of Xuanyuan and the lord of Godservant Hall, nobody else is to be allowed within the Nine Dragon Formation. Sect Masters Jian Wuyi and Fang Taiqing, your loyalty will be clear for Her Eminence to see, even outside Xuanyuan Lake," Xuanyuan Dao said.
"Understood. You should also make thorough investigations of your own house as well," Fang Taiqing said.
"What about you?" Xuanyuan Dao asked Jian Wuyi.
"I have no qualms about the arrangement."
"The summit is still ongoing, so we have to go back and manage it. Remember to take Tianming back," Fang Taiqing reminded.
"Do wait for a bit."
"Is there anything else?"
"A goddess that has come back to life after a hundred thousand years wouldn't fear the actions of an ant. Sect Master Fang, you might want to reexamine your allegiances."
"There's no need for that. The Sterling House of Fang will defend Her Eminence to the end. As long as our house survives, the sect will not be exterminated!" Fang Taiqing said resolutely.
"Well said." Xuanyuan Dao turned to Jian Wuyi again. "What about you?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter