Dugu Jin cracked a smile and said, "The remnant of the specter race and those within Ninefold Hell have agreed to attack the Skysource Hellshaker Barrier together from within and without twenty-four days from now. If they miss that chance, the specters will have to wait a thousand more years before the formation collapses, even if the tyrant’s divine body is destroyed. That's why Di Zang will fight the Monorigin Sect one more time. There’s no way he'll let that final chance slip. Since that's the case, let’s take the other four divine realms while they sit here and wait. I'd like to see whether Di Zang would dare to run away then."
Dugu Jin's backup plan won the trust of the others once more.
"That's right! We only have to destroy the other four divine realms first! If they don't chase us down when we leave, their divine realms will fall!"
"They can't fight us based on their own power, so they have to rely on their formation! It's too bad for them that so many of them have their own home bases to worry about."
"So if we wait here long enough, we win either way!"
Since Di Zang wasn't going to cause trouble at Taiji Peak Lake, there was nothing Dugu Jin could do. His efforts would only be hampered by the two formations that remained anyway. So all he could do was wait, though he could still try to force those within the formation to leave while he waited.
"I wonder if you'll stay cooped up inside your tortoise shell once we destroy your home bases! When you dare to leave, I'll make sure to kill you!" Dugu Jin laughed as he led the eight hundred thousand elites towards the Biritual Divine Realm, that was the nearest to where they were.
"Qing Fengyang!" Dugu Jin called out.
"Lead the way!"
The battlefield was a sight of chaos and destruction. One blackened corpse had already been covered completely by the snow. At that moment, one black tentacle after another wrapped around the corpse and dragged it deep underground.
After the Flameyellow Imperial Sect left, peace finally returned to Taiji Peak Lake. Tianming looked in the direction Dugu Jin and Fang Taiqing had left with searing killing intent. He turned around and headed to where Li Caiwei and Xuanyuan Dao were.
"Sect Masters, may I have some of your time?" he called out.
Almost immediately, a charred person on the ground stretched his shaking hands toward Tianming and cried out, "Li Tianming...."
Tianming stopped, finding the sound a little familiar. It appeared to be someone who had been blasted by the chaosblitz tome. His organs had been destroyed and he was at the brink of death; not even gods could save him now. He had come charging from the Flameyellow Imperial Sect's side.
"Fang Xingying?" Tianming asked.
"It's too late. You can't be saved," Tianming said after giving him a look. Since Fang Xingying was among the large group of fighters from the Sterling House of Fang, Tianming didn't notice him when he struck.
"There's no need. I have a secret to tell you..." he said exasperatedly.
"Alright, I'm listening."
"I... was the one who killed Fang Xingque. I turned him into meat paste, hahaha...." As he said that, some clarity seemed to return to his eyes.
Those words came as a shock to Tianming. But by the time Fang Xingying finished saying that, his breathing had stopped.
"Even though the death of Fang Xingque could have been a factor for Fang Taiqing's actions today, you only did what you had to do, so I won't blame you for it. However, you should've told me about this earlier. I always considered you a friend."
Perhaps Fang Xingying wouldn't have been among the ones killed if he had told the truth about the matter earlier. He might have stood on a different side of the conflict entirely.
"Such is life." Fang Xingying’s death was but the tip of an iceberg. All this only made Tianming hate Fang Taiqing even more, for he was the one who brought his kin to the battlefield against him in the first place. Even though those who remained at Xuanyuan Lake had a brief moment of respite after their arguable victory, none of them seemed relaxed at all.
Everyone was looking at him, the young man who wasn't even thirty yet had managed to become the moral support for everyone there. In front of Tianming were Xuanyuan Dao, Li Caiwei, Lin Yuntian, Jiang Yuanjun, and the coral and rose fairies, representing the five sects.
"Everyone, Dugu Jin has left for the Yinyang Demon Sect now. I'm sure you all know what he's going to do next, right?"
"That's right. Apologies, but we’ll have to go back as soon as possible." Li Caiwei seemed rather pale and exhausted after maintaining the Dreamheart World for such a long time.
"I'm actually rather impressed. I thought for sure that you would've joined Dugu Jin," Tianming said.
"Hmph, you were looking down on me, weren't you? I'll have you know that I have a spine!"
"Then do you trust me?"
"Of course. Making miracles happen is your thing, isn't it?" she snapped.
"Sect Masters, would you place your trust in me and let me handle everything that comes later? I’ll do all I can to make sure everyone here has a chance of prevailing," he said with the sincerest tone he could muster.
"Tianming, compared to back then, you've really grown. You’ve proven yourself time and again to be reliable and resourceful. You have my complete trust," Xuanyuan Dao said.
"You were even able to take on the twelfth-level life phase Fang Taiqing. From now on, we'll leave matters in your and Her Eminence's hands," Lin Yuntian said.
The representatives of the other two sects also assented.
"Very well!" Tianming turned to Li Caiwei and said, "From now on, everyone should stay here at Xuanyuan Lake. There's no need to go back to your sects."
"But—" Li Caiwei sounded a little worried.
"Hear me out. You should send a group of people who can travel faster than Dugu Jin's army to your sects. Have your disciples and civilians scatter and escape into the wilderness. You can still make it, since the army can only travel so quickly," Tianming said.
"You mean to say that we'll protect the people? As long as they aren’t gone, our sects won't perish even after our lands are taken?" Li Caiwei said.
"That's right. If they send their armies to deal with normal civilians, I can take them all alone if they're not samsarans. All you have to do is to have your people split up and take the treasures of the sect that you can bring with you. That way, their army won't be able to deal too much practical harm to your sect. Compared to this, if you leave Xuanyuan Lake as a group, you'll just make yourself easy targets."
"What's next then? Do we engage in a stalemate with them here for good? Dugu Jin will eventually ascend to godhood. Not to mention, Ghoul King De Cang will no doubt return within twenty-four days. As long as the ghoul king acts, they'll use that chance to cause trouble for us again. De Cang will definitely not run next time!" Li Caiwei said.
"Just leave that to me!"
'What do you mean?" she asked.
"I have a way to make us all stronger within twenty-four days. I have tomes, tribulation artifacts, and tribulation manna!"
"Are you referring to the treasures left behind by Great Emperor Xuanyuan? Is there a lot? But isn't that something your ancestors left for your sect? Can we... can we really have some too?" Li Caiwei asked. They weren't from the same sect, after all; Great Emperor Xuanyuan had left those treasures for his sect.
"Everyone, you all came here to protect our sect. Now, we’re in the same boat for survival. You’ve already given so much for us, so there's no way we can afford to be stingy now. I trust that those from my sect won't hold back either. More importantly, we have more than enough treasures. In terms of tribulation artifacts alone, we have more than enough for six hundred thousand people!" Tianming generously said.
"Now you're talking!" Li Caiwei cheered.
"Please don't hold back. It's time for us to count on one another. Whether you're doing this to help our sect or simply to ensure your own survival, we’re grateful nevertheless. Consider this as repayment for your gracious deeds!" Xuanyuan Dao said.
"Apart from distributing these treasures, there's something else... Sect Masters, please come with me," Tianming said.
The others that remained were standing guard at the perimeter to have a good grasp of the location of Dugu Jin's army. At the same time, others were being sent back to their respective divine realms to mount a resistance effort in a similar vein to Archaion's—they would abandon their homes in favor of their lives. The sect masters, on the other hand, followed Tianming to the Old Deepstar Path.
"Let's head inside."
Past the entrance of the path, they entered the starry world.
"This is... oh, right, this is Great Emperor Xuanyuan's Caelum."
"Is he going to share Great Emperor Xuanyuan's caelum with us too?"
The sect masters looked at each other with eager anticipation. This sudden change in the status quo gave them some time to take a breather, during which they could grow much stronger. Finally, the gifts left behind for the descendants of Great Emperor Xuanyuan would be put to good use!
Tianming took out the stone containing the emperor's caelum. Right away, the caeli of a human and five dragons rose into the air. They began brightly glowing like suns, thanks to the Old Deepstar Path, and burned in the sky, illuminating all the Astral Wills there. At that moment, the Old Deepstar Path itself seemed to have gained a soul.
"What powerful caeli.... I sense a really strong will coming from them. As long as we can gain some insights from it, we'll benefit a whole lot." Li Caiwei's pink eyes shone with absolute wonder.
"Great Emperor Xuanyuan truly was impressive. I refuse to believe what Dugu Jin said about him," the coral fairy said. She was the one who had suffered the most out of all of them here. However, nobody would criticize her for it; instead, they consoled and supported her.
"That's not it!" Tianming said.
"What do you mean?" Xuanyuan Dao asked.
"When I entered the Ninefold Hell and killed the specters’ crown prince, I also got a surprising gain. Everyone, take a look!"
He took out the melted eyes of the crown prince. All of a sudden, countless caeli came whooshing out of the eyes. When they were captured by the Old Deepstar Path, they immediately changed into blood-colored moons that hung near the six blinding suns, the center of which was Great Emperor Xuanyuan's. The other five suns orbited around it, and the blood moons orbited the ring of suns to form another ring.
"Great Emperor Xuanyuan's caelum is that of a god. I wonder if the caeli that came from the specters are the same..." Li Caiwei said.Previous Chapter Next Chapter