Honestly, the mandate-sensing formation of Dusk Province was pure nonsense purposefully disseminated by Lu Yun. After the alliance between the thirteen trading companies solidified, their information network covered the entire world.
He’d known early on that Sir Yu was the disciple of the Yellow Springs emperor and was still in closed door cultivation, so he hadn’t even needed to engage his brain to know what was going on when the “disciple” had suddenly arrived in Dao City.
Since the Yellow Springs emperor had come in person, why not beat him at his own game and shout it from the rooftops so that everyone knew about it?
Meanwhile, Lu Yun had to overcome one last obstacle and refine the Dao Flower projection in order to establish a sacred land. Though the projection had drifted into the North Sea, his replica had been sitting cross-legged underneath it all along.
For Lu Yun, the world inside and outside Dusk Province’s borders were two different battlefields altogether.
Inside his territory, he could rely on the human demon and newly-obtained sword formation, but once outside, he was on his own. Though he might have guardians, there were even more powerhouses waiting for him in the world at large.
However, the appearance of the Yellow Springs emperor would alleviate a great deal of pressure on his shoulders. Granted, there was no formal alliance between them, but how many would dare fully rule out the possibility?
As for the Yellow Springs emperor, he abruptly found himself astride a tiger with no way to dismount. Lords of major domains never entered another nation without good reason. For instance, only replicas were sent when the three celestial emperors visited Zhao Wushuang’s tribulation.
Though the Truespirit celestial emperor had gone to Exalted Major in person and even brought his celestial palace, he’d gone with the intent to perish together with the demon god. A return journey had never been in the plans.
The Dao Flower had gradually recovered as time went on, and Lu Yun’s tribulation drew ever closer, an event everyone had an inkling of.
But one day before the tribulation, an unexpected guest arrived in the form of Zhao Wushuang. Riddled with injuries, body and nascent spirit critically injured, she flew on the heart of the Sword of Chaos and almost crashed headlong into Dao City.
Outside the city, Sword Divine Dongfang Hao stood on empty air. He hadn’t ascended to immortality yet, but here he was, chasing a Zhao Wushuang whose phenomenon of ascension had covered the entire world of immortals!
Even so, he dared not set foot in the city itself.
“Lu Yun, hand over Zhao Wushuang.” His voice was cold and indifferent, his figure shrouded in thick sword aura, as if he’d cleave the city in two at the drop of a hat.
“Dongfang Hao, you do realize you’re in Dusk Province? Your arrogance won’t be tolerated here. Go home, I won’t kill you this time.” Lu Yun stood on the city walls, his tone relaxed and carefree.
“Lu Yun, if my calculations are correct, the Dao Flower’s recovery and your tribulation are scheduled for tomorrow. Do you really want to make an enemy of me at a time like this?”
Dongfang Hao’s voice wasn’t very loud, but it hit everyone like a clap of thunder. All kinds of transmission talismans flew out of the city the next moment to inform their various factions that Lu Yun would face his tribulation tomorrow!
Although there was no guarantee the threat was true, countless immortals prepared themselves to fight over the Dao Flower projection tomorrow all the same. In the same vein, they also wanted to disrupt Lu Yun’s tribulation!
“What, weren’t we already enemies to begin with?” Lu Yun snorted.
“Hand over Zhao Wushuang and I won’t attack you tomorrow. What say you?” Dongfang Hao’s eyes were glued to the figure of Zhao Wushuang inside the city walls, where Qing Yu was already protecting her.
“It’s all the same to me with or without you. See yourself out.” Having said his piece, Lu Yun turned on his heel and returned to the city.
A shred of hesitation appeared on Dongfang Hao’s face, and he ultimately decided not to force the issue. Streaking into sword light, he vanished beyond the horizon.
For him, the majestic Dao City was a giant beast lying in hibernation. Even now, he could feel an aura of danger emanating from it. He wasn’t afraid of coming to Dusk Province, but he dared not step into Dao City.
“Lu Yun, I hope you won’t regret this… Let us see tomorrow if you can protect those dear to you.” Dongfang Hao’s voice traveled back from far away. “After all, there are many in the world who covet your Qing Yu…”
“Dongfang Hao, you better not force me to put a bounty on your House Dongfang.” Lu Yun replied placidly. “If there’s one thing Dusk Province doesn’t lack, it’s immortal crystals!”
Outside Dusk Province, Dongfang Hao stumbled on his return trip and almost fell face first to the ground.
“Bastard!” he gnashed his teeth. He was indeed wary of such a bounty. There were many factions targeting the Dongfang Clan now, especially those whose immortals had fallen victim to soul seeds. A bounty issued by Lu Yun would exterminate the clan in no time.
However, Lu Yun also had to think twice before issuing another bounty. Recklessly smashing people with his wallet would quickly turn the entire world against him, and even the merchant alliance would be implicated.
One bounty against House Donglin was as far as he could go.
“What are you doing here? How does Dongfang Hao have the nerve to attack you inside Exalted Major?” Lu Yun frowned as he looked at Zhao Wushuang’s sorry state.
“Dongfang Hao rules Exalted Major now.” Deathly pale, the girl panted softly with a rueful smile on her lips. “In working with Dongfang Hao, the Exalted Immortal Sect let the fox into the henhouse! The moment we fell into dire straits, he swooped in and seized control of the entire major.”
“What?! But it’s only been a few days??” Lu Yun’s jaw dropped.
It hadn’t even been a month since the death of the previous celestial emperor, but Dongfang Hao had already consolidated his authority over the entire major during this time! Just what kind of power did the man wield, exactly?
“He’s not the only one hunting me down. There are also a few arcane dao immortal survivors from the Exalted Immortal Sect,” Zhao Wushuan explained with a pained face. “Mind your safety tomorrow. Dongfang Hao’s already entered the major’s land of inheritance and I don’t know what he’s obtained there.”
While Mount Exalted had been destroyed, the Exalted Divine Tribe’s land of inheritance still existed in the form of ruins teetering on the edge of collapse. The peng originated from those ruins, and it was tradition for Exalted celestial emperors to visit the land before their coronation.
So with no one else to turn to, Zhao Wushuang had had no choice but to seek asylum with Lu Yun.
“Alright, you stay here then… Wait!” Lu Yun started. “The clan that Zhao Zhicheng recently brought over from Exalted Major… can they be spies sent by Dongfang Hao?” Cold sweat dripped from his forehead at the thought.
Dusk Province’s three hundred and sixty-five cities were very important pieces that served as the foundation for the province’s great guardian formation. Nothing could be allowed to happen to them.
Lu Yun trusted Zhao Zhicheng implicitly, so hadn’t delved deeper into the matter, but now… Zhao Zhicheng hadn’t known about Sword Divine taking over Exalted Major then.
“Don’t worry, they can’t be spies.” Qing Yu smiled wryly. “The clan he welcomed is the Yin Clan. Your favorite scapegoat, Yin Qingran, is among them as well.”
Lu Yun kneaded his forehead.
He was now persona non grata in Exalted Major, and the Yin Clan had also been dragged into the mess along with him. In any case, Lu Yun had long guessed the nature of the relationship between Zhao Zhicheng and the Yin Clan, so it wasn’t a surprise that his subordinate had brought the faction to Dusk Province after obtaining his approval.
“You must be careful tomorrow, Dongfang Hao’s spread the news of your tribulation! I’m afraid that…” Qing Yu began to worry.
“Relax, a trivial tribulation won’t stump me.” Chuckling, Lu Yun gently tousled her hair.