“What? What did you just say, son?”
The Confucian Cloud Immortals were shocked to the core. It was almost as if they didn't know their own son. “That’s your plan? When did you take Young Master Leaf as a Master?”
“Hmph! That’s none of your concern. Let me tell you, I was never in danger from that morphblight infection. Young Master Leaf had it under control, so even if Dragon Proudheaven didn't save me, I would have been fine. Young Master Leaf was in seclusion, seeking enlightenment, but he’s out now. He’s actually been negotiating with the future world, and he’s going to conquer all of the immortal worlds! No matter how strong you are, there’s always someone out there that’s stronger than you. And your Sagely Confucian Institute is just too weak. Eventually, I'm going to kill the supreme rector of the Sagely Confucian Institute, and you two can take over.”
Confucian Daoless threw his head back and laughed maniacally. “Oh Dragon Proudheaven, you’ll soon be kowtowing to me! You’ll beg for your life, and then you’ll beg to die! And I’ll get my Aeonic God Psalter back soon enough. When the time comes, Young Master Leaf will spring his trap and Dragon Proudheaven will be our slave!”
“Son, you really do have some lofty ambitions,” his father said, sounding very impressed. “We always thought you were just an ordinary silkpants. Who would have thought that you had kept your true nature so deeply hidden?”
“It’s all thanks to Young Master Leaf,” Confucian Daoless said. “He really opened my eyes to the world. Now I know that only power and superiority matter in the world. Submit to me and prosper, or oppose me and perish! Go, do your thing in the Sagely Confucian Institute. Keep grooming geniuses for the Immortal-Slayer’s Sect. When Young Master Leaf conquers the immortal worlds, we’ll be important people!”
“Alright! We’ll do everything we can to help you achieve your ambitions, son. That Dragon Proudheaven is a weakling who survives only because of the treasures given to him by his elders. I can’t believe that, with all that, he still isn’t a Godmyth yet. At first it seemed ridiculous for you to take him as Master, but now that we know you’re working for Young Master Leaf, it all makes sense. He’s a genius from the Tusita Heaven, from a very important clan. He also has some of King Immortal-Slayer's legacy medallions, which means that he’ll eventually control the Myriad Worlds Monarch Chart. Compared to him, Dragon Proudheaven is little more than a joke. Young Master Leaf will definitely outsmart him, sooner or later. In fact, if it weren’t for the support of the Nine Yangs God Sect, he would have done so already.”
They exchanged a few more words, then the Confucian Cloud Immortals vanished.
Sighing with relief, Confucian Daoless sank into some spatial tempests, where he remained in hiding, waiting. Before long, a beam of light appeared, within which was Young Master Leaf.
“I salute you, Master!” Confucian Daoless said, a look of crazed fanaticism filling his face. “Master, I did exactly as you ordered and succeeded in becoming an apprentice of Dragon Proudheaven! This is a real humiliation, Master. I can’t believe someone as weak and useless as him is trying to defy you. I’ll definitely find an opportunity to kill him!”
“Good,” Young Master Leaf said. “When heaven is about to confer a great office on a man, it first exercises his mind with suffering!  Rise. The humiliation you suffer today will be exchanged with glory and honor tomorrow. Your small show of endurance will pay off in the end. Dragon Proudheaven can cure morphblight and is backed by old-timers from the Dragonfolk. We have to make sure we take him out in one move! If one of those Dragonfolk experts actually showed up to defend him, there’s no way we could kill him. And we don’t know what other Dragonfolk tricks he has up his sleeve. Although most people don't realize it, the Dragonfolk from the Eight Tribes Heaven are extremely adept at schemes and plots. Otherwise, they would never have survived under the pressure of the legion of gods.”
“You’re right, Master,” Confucian Daoless said. “That said, we really have to kill him as quickly as possible. For me to brush shoulders with those other weak subordinates of his is a real humiliation, and I can hardly stand it.”
“You’re not having second thoughts, are you?” Young Master Leaf said. “I know that working with ants like this is a humiliation. But you have sole responsibility for luring Dragon Proudheaven out into the open! He’ll definitely come to you asking for information about the Aeonic God Psalter. For instance, he’ll definitely want to know where you acquired it. When he asks, you can offer to take him there. I’ll be lying in wait with a huge spell formation set up, one that will lead him into certain catastrophe.”
“Yes, Master!” Confucian Daoless said, turning to leave.
“Hold on! Considering how much you’re helping me, you deserve a little reward. Although Dragon Proudheaven cured you of morphblight, I still need to make sure you stay alive. After all, I've been in touch with the future world.”
Young Master Leaf threw his hands wide and space began vibrating. A moment later, a shadowy figure appeared. It was none other than a strange-looking mecha that didn’t seem to belong in this universe. Unexpectedly, it was a future warrior!
Confucian Daoless immediately felt his throat tighten. When it came to the terrifying future warriors, those who followed the dao of immortals would turn pale at the mention of the tiger.
“Greetings, Young Master Leaf, successor of King Immortal-Slayer,” the future warrior, who was clearly an officer of some sort, said. “How goes the matter we discussed? Are you really going to help us dismantle the Dao Defense League? The alliance is strong, and is a major obstacle in our path. Because of it, we are unable to expand into the rest of the universe. But with your help, perhaps we could remove this snag! We’ll reward you well if you do! I, Light Dancer, offer my solemn commitment in that regard.”
“Commitment?” Young Master Leaf said coolly. “Bullshit. I don’t trust commitments. As long as you follow through with my requests, it’s enough. We're still enemies. What’s your name again? Light Dancer? Look, you might be strong, but as far as I'm concerned, you’re middling at best. First, I want some true godhood to reach the Deathless Throne and the level of the legion of gods. Second, I know that you have some of King Immortal-Slayer's legacy medallions in the future world. Do you have one? Two? Or do you have three? In any case, I want them all.”
In response, Light Dancer simply said, “Sorry. True godhood is too expensive to manufacture. Our boundless leader has no way to fulfill that request. As for your second demand, yes, the future world is in possession of one of King Immortal-Slayer’s legacy medallions. Not three. It's currently being researched, but if you help us take out the Dao Defense League you can have it.”
Young Master Leaf laughed raucously. “What kind of an empty promise is that? You’re really not going to provide me with any compensation at all? You want me to work for you for free? Not likely. Well, since you haven’t come to me in good faith you can forget my offer of cooperation. And don't even think of going anywhere, Light Dancer. You’re staying behind as my slave.”
Seeing that Young Master Leaf was about to make a move, Light Dancer said, “Hold on a moment, Young Master Leaf. We really do come in good faith. But we can’t just hand over one of King Immortal-Slayer’s legacy medallions. We know what kind of person you are. Once you get it, you’ll turn on us without hesitation. There obviously can't be any trust between the two of us.”
“Alright, then,” Young Master Leaf growled, “what are you going to give me?”
“We know that you’re at wit’s end thanks to the morphblight virus. And we also know that someone in the Dao Defense League can cure it, except he's an enemy of yours. You want to do something about that, but are unable. First, we’ll give you an antidote to morphblight. Second, we’ll help you deal with that enemy of yours. We have a bit of information about him already. He’s a young elite from the Dragonfolk, backed by one of the Dragonfolk elders.”
This Light Dancer seemed perfectly composed, as if he weren't worried at all that Young Master Leaf might suddenly try to kill him.
Young Master Leaf smiled mysteriously. “Fine. You people from the future world are very impressive. You seem to know exactly how I think. That said, I never come to a negotiation emptyhanded myself. I’ll pitch in something as well. As soon as I get my enemy out into the open, I’ll notify you and you can take action. You’d better not send any weaklings who screw things up.”
“Don't worry about that. I'm going to call on six of the strongest Warriors of the Great Dance. Myself, Light Dancer. Also, Flame Dancer, Gloom Dancer, Lightning Dancer, and Sand Dancer. And our leader, Void Dancer, will also participate. We’ll kill that brat, and the Dragonfolk elder too, if we have to. Afterward, our leader, Void Dancer, will compare notes with you to settle accounts.”
Light Dancer threw his arms out in front of him, causing a faintly glowing sphere to appear. “This is a photonic computer that contains all sorts of information about the virus. It also contains a spatial dimension with a mecha in it. Anyone who equips that mecha will be as strong as a Shattered God. It will be a good gift to one of your disciples.”
With that, Light Dancer shrank into a streak of light and disappeared.
Young Master Leaf frowned, but then smiled viciously. “Their leader is called Void Dancer? And he's going to ‘compare notes’ with me? When the time comes, all of you are dead! I’ll use the power of your souls to cultivate my profound art from the Tusita Heaven.”
With that, he turned on the photonic computer and sent some divine will into it. Pulling out the mecha, he gave it to Confucian Daoless.
“Assimilate the mecha later,” Young Master Leaf said. “I’ve already revised the magical symbols in it to make it even stronger. And take these power stones I acquired in a god ruin. They’re actually god crystals!”
“Yes sir!” Confucian Daoless said, visibly excited. “I'm definitely going to help you put an end to that dirty little swine Dragon Proudheaven. How could a punk like him possibly deserve my Aeonic God Psalter?”
“Go!” Young Master Leaf said. After Confucian Daoless disappeared, he turned his attention back to the photonic computer, whereupon his expression turned livid. “Dammit! So that's how they want me to deal with morphblight!? It would require damaging my preheaven soul essence power! So the future world thinks they can get me to weaken myself like this, do they? Well played. Too bad I'm not so easily fooled. You people from the future world are all dead!”
1. The line “when heaven is about to confer a great office” is a direct quote from the works of Mengzi. If you’re interested in seeing it in context, scroll down to verse 35 in this free, online translation of it.