Chapter 761 - No Pain, No Gain

Another meeting had been held at Tribulation Peak, but Tianming wasn’t in attendance. After he returned to Soulburn Hall, Jian Wuyi and Fang Taiqing came to him. They were just about to talk about the Kilostar Domain.

Ever since Dugu Jin had made his move, the Archaic House of Xuanyuan had planned to forbid entry into Xuanyuan Lake to anyone not from the house. But since the alliance with the other sects was formed, the non-Xuanyuan sect masters had to report many things to Feiling, so they were allowed entry for convenience. Others apart from those two weren't allowed to enter the Nine Dragon Formation.

Whether Xuanyuan Dao trusted the two sect masters or not, they were still powerful and influential in the sect. The house kings were important figures in the sect, whose help would be required for many things in the future.

Based on the current situation, it seemed that the other three divine realms were willing to commit to the alliance with them, so there was no need for the Sterling House of Fang to turn their backs on Archaion at all. As for the Draconis House of Jian, they had been loyal to the sect since its founding and had fought beside the Archaic House of Xuanyuan for ages, so they were considered loyal.

The three masters were about to meet up with Feiling to discuss the matter of the Kilostar Domain. After Tianming entered, he stood to the side and listened to the discussion.

"Your Eminence, Yi Xingyin and five other third-origin tribulation elders have scoured the entire five-hundred-kilometer diameter around the Kilostar Domain and stationed scouts there. The moment the enemy is seen approaching, we will have sufficient time to retreat unscathed. Most of the tribulation elders are now of the opinion that we should take this risk to obtain the treasures within the domain, which might help us decrease the casualties we will suffer in the upcoming war," Fang Taiqing said. 

Feiling had waited a long time for Tianming to return. Now that he was here, she felt much more calm. She gave it some thought and turned to Xuanyuan Dao, who said, "All the information suggests that we can easily obtain the ultimate tribulation manna, and even attempt to unlock the domain. Our men are also ready, so it seems like there isn't any downside to this at all. However, this is a little too weird. There is no way Nonahall would let us go there just like that. They should know more about the Kilostar Domain than we do, which makes this even fishier. I believe it to be rather risky."

"I'm of the same opinion. Though, some of the tribulation elders believe we shouldn't miss this opportunity," Fang Taiqing said.

"Opinions on that are varied. They are aware of the hidden risks, but they seem to be prioritizing the potential gain from obtaining the treasures rather than the imperial son's safety," Xuanyuan Dao said.

They didn't seem to have a consensus. Feiling turned to Tianming and asked, "Tianming, are you in a rush to obtain the ultimate tribulation manna?"

"Not in particular," he said.

"Then you should not leave for now. Who knows what our enemies are plotting if they're just letting it be?"

"Yes, Your Eminence." Tianming knew that this was just her not wanting him to risk his life. The sect was split on whether to send Tianming to open the Kilostar Domain before they had sufficient information to truly determine how risky that endeavor was. That lended itself to two possibilities: either their judgment was compromised by the allure of treasures, or they didn't really care about the sect's wellbeing at all.

Since Feiling had given her decision, Fang Taiqing could only abide by it. He bowed and said, "Your Eminence's considerations are well founded. I will go to Tribulation Peak to announce the decision now."

"Good. We can have those near the Kilostar Domain continue monitoring the situation."

"Yes, Your Eminence."

The 'good news' Yi Xingyin and the others had brought back was that the sect had managed to control the area surrounding the domain and eliminated all possible dangers nearby. Logically, it was hard to imagine their enemies having other traps laid for them given those premises. Yi Xingyin and the other five third-origin tribulation elders had done their best to surveil the surroundings; however, their goddess's decree to have Tianming stay back for now was law. Ever since the announcement of her decision, Tribulation Peak no longer dissented on the matter.

The sect masters left, leaving Tianming and Feiling within the inner formation.

"Big Brother, are you unhappy that I decided myself to not let you go to Kilostar Domain?"

"Of course not. I've been thinking about it lately, too. To be honest, I think Senior Yi Xingyin's assessment on the situation is really reasonable, but it’s almost too reasonable. Fang Taiqing is right that there must be something fishy underneath the whole affair that they just somehow aren't able to detect. The enemies must have some really special method that's beyond the grasp of our imagination, just like the Archaionfiend's last-ditch effort to escape that I completely didn't see coming."

”I see. All is well then."

"Tribulation Peak is too big and has too many tribulation elders. It isn’t easy to tell who's loyal and who's a spy. If we have informants in the other eight divine realms, they no doubt have some in ours as well. From now on, we should really be careful at every step. As long as our enemy doesn't act, we shouldn't as well."

"That's right. Our informants report that the armies of the other divine realms seem to be moving toward the Pentaphase Divine Realm. Xuanyuan Dao said that they might not attack us first and instead opt to make an example out of Pentaphase, which is why they've come to discuss this with us so urgently."

The matters of war were often complicated. Given Tianming's status, all he could do was talk to her about it while the real decisions were made by the three sect masters and nine divine marshals.

"The Pentaphase Divine Realm, huh...." Tianming recalled Zhao Tianxing and Jiang Qingqing.

"Have you made it to the third-level life phase?" Feiling asked.

"Yeah."

"To be honest, I have a feeling you'll ascend much sooner than me. Most people haven't really picked up on that fact and are still worshipping me as a goddess. I believe that's your biggest asset. I hope the sect can last till the day you'll be able to call the shots."

"It won't be that simple. The Samsara stage is split into four sections, from first to third, fourth to sixth, seventh to ninth, and tenth to twelfth. Breaking through will only get progressively harder. I've been at the third-level life phase for a month and I’m feeling a little lost. The heavenly will from the Old Deepstar Path is also getting less and less useful, so there definitely isn’t an easy way forward."

First- to third-level samsarans could only become normal tribulation elders. The majority of those at that level were in the Archaion army. Those who reached the fourth to sixth levels would become first-origin tribulation elders, seventh to ninth levels second-origin tribulation elders, and third-origin elders beyond that. There were only around fifty third-origin tribulation elders in the sect, with most of the peak elites on the Flameyellow Continent, like Ouyang Jianwang and Yi Xingyin, being at that level. Currently, Tianming could be compared to a sixth-level life samsaran, as most first-origin tribulation elders were no longer his match.

After experiencing so much, his demeanor had been sufficiently tempered to the point he was able to remain sufficiently calm during such a situation. He calmed down at the sight of the snowy landscape and hoped for the best.

......

In the wilderness outside Xuanyuan Lake was a man in a starry robe, standing in the snow. He stretched out his fair and slender fingers, touching the air in front of him. It was Yi Xingyin. He smiled and turned his hand around, causing the dragon-shaped spatial heavenly patterns before him to swirl.

"The Nine Dragon Formation seems to be able to tell who I really am. I can't destroy it either, given the identity I've chosen to adopt. This is a pain indeed. As expected of the 'prestigious' Archaic House of Xuanyuan.... They’re the descendants of Great Emperor Xuanyuan, after all."

He smiled and pulled his fingers back. "This is troubling. After spending so much effort using the Dreamheart World to take Yi Xingyin's place and risk being checked by you lot twice, you're telling me I can't go wherever I please? The treasures of the first divine sect are just right there, yet they're so cowardly and cautious... how infuriating."

He stretched lazily, appearing a little more seductive than a man like him would suggest. "Dammit, and I have to shower them with praises, too. To think I thought I could take that child back.... It looks like this is a huge waste of time."

His face was filled with nothing but frustration. All of a sudden, he shook his face and smiled. "Whatever. I promised them I’d do it, so I will. Let's take a risk then."

He couldn't help but chuckle when he thought of the white-haired 'child'. "That child really is mysterious. He managed to steal the key of the Kilostar Domain from right under Nonahall's noses, and ruined their treasure-hunting plans too...."

He knew that the Kilostar Domain was Nonahall's highest priority before they launched their assault. After all, the odds would be stacked even more in their favor if they had the treasures it promised. All they needed to do was to stop Feiling's growth in the meantime, and everything else would be on track.

'Yi Xingyin' was wearing a face full of smiles. "However, I really need to thank him. If it weren’t for him obtaining the key, there's no way I'd get a starmap from Nonahall. Luring the snake out of its hole would be ideal, but since you choose to stay in that hole, I'll have to drag you out. No pain, no gain!"

......

After the Archaionfiend had vanished, the sect remained peaceful. The undercurrents of war were still brewing in the background, however, and the four sects had readied their best defenses. Nowadays, apart from the strongest elites, few could travel freely in the divine realms. Taiji Peak Lake, for instance, was defended by a nine-layered formation that didn't allow entry to any outsiders. The Nine Dragon Formation was a legacy of the founding ancestor and a symbol of their history and greatness, and was one of the cornerstones of the sect. Now, it would be operating at full capacity.

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