The duo’s best quality was obedience. They blindly worshiped old Lightford and bent to his every whim.
They had been ordered to defend Radiance to the last and saw no reason to deviate. Despite their inclination to return to their master, they were content to rest with this new command. Furthermore, they patrolled and examined the defenses personally every day.
After conquering the Radiance Sacred Land, they immediately repaired and reinforced the defensive formation. Each person they brought was employed to their maximum.
Some of the defenders were killed, but most were imprisoned within the sacred land. There had been no gods to offer any resistance, which meant the captives were utterly helpless.
Yuxian was a burly divine and the clear leader of the two. Panyuan was short and deft, serving as his assistant.
Right now, they were patrolling just as Lightford had instructed them to. They carried out his words to the letter.
“Daoist Yuxian, Master Lightford told us that the gold and silver enforcers are both dead. The Eternal Sacred Land is just one of the ten, isn’t it? I haven’t heard of it being too remarkable other than that. Why are all our fellow daoists breaking their backs upon it? Even old Lightford seems to have suffered a minor defeat.”
“How do you know Master Lightford suffered any defeat at all?” Yuxian raised an eyebrow.
“Master Lightford didn’t say it outright, but the way he put things made it sound like that. Why would he remind us to be especially careful of enemies from Eternal otherwise? Plus, the two enforcers both died, right? They were the closest to Master Lightford. Would he not care about them at all?” Panyuan sighed softly.
The shorter cultivator was clearly the more thoughtful of the two and thought about things much more than his partner.
Yuxian waved a hand with some annoyance. “That’s none of our business. We just need to do our job. We all know what the ten sacred lands are really worth. As long as we stick together, Myriad Abyss will be ours sooner or later.”
“Yes, of course,” Panyuan smiled and agreed. Still, a hint of perplexity remained in his expression. “The Eternal Sacred Land is pretty weird though. I hear there’s a young man there who has a divine spirit creature with him – a Vermilion Bird, one of the four sacred beasts. It’s supposed to be quite fearsome.”
“Hmph! When Master Lightford has the time to attend to it personally, its meager reputation will mean nothing.” Yuxian was obviously a fanatical devotee to old Lightford.
“Yes, yes. I hope Master Lightford returns soon so we can all gather together. We’ll all feel safer that way.”
“Don’t worry. Master Lightford told us already. It’ll take anywhere from three days or so to a week. As long as we’re meticulous during that time, we’ll be fine.”
One of their empyrean subordinates rushed toward them mid-conversation.
“Honorable divines, there are two more divine seniors outside, claiming to be your old acquaintances. They would like an audience with you.”
“Old acquaintances?” Yuxian traded a confused look with Panyuan.
What old acquaintances could there be, here at Radiance?
Those worthy of being called their acquaintances were uniformly gods. The gods that they did know though, were all tasked with Lightford’s various missions. Who would have the time to come find them like this? It couldn’t be someone trying to slack off, could it?
“Sir, they have an identifying jade slip as well.” The empyrean cultivator deferentially handed over the item in question.
Yuxian and Panyuan were stunned. They did indeed know the name written upon the slip.
“Fellow daoist, weren’t these two sent to Sandplain awhile back? The battle there is over already. Why are they here, exactly?”
“Hmph, they must have hidden rather than return out of the fear of being punished. Maybe they’ve heard something that drew them out into the open.” Yuxian was much less suspicious.
“We have to be careful nonetheless. Who knows whether they’ve defected to the sacred lands?” The nimble Panyuan maintained caution.
“I suppose you’re right. Shall we ignore them then and wait for them to find Master Lightford?” Yuxian didn’t force the point.
“We’re in no hurry. Let’s discuss this awhile longer.” Panyuan stroked his chin with one hand, evidently conflicted.
If the two gods outside were still their allies, they would be welcome help indeed. Right now, manpower was a scarce resource.
Obviously, four gods would be a big step up from two. Even if the sacred lands’ main force came to their doorstep, they would have a better chance at surviving as a united group, whether in all-out combat or stalwart defense.
But what if the missing gods had actually sided with the sacred lands? Wouldn’t they be inviting disaster into their midst?
“Maybe we should test them verbally first?” Panyuan suggested.
“Sure. Let’s go,” Yuxian acquiesced readily.
The two soon reached the edge of the formation. Two airborne figures, hazy and insubstantial, awaited them outside. Their forms did indeed resemble the cultivators mentioned upon the jade slip.
“Fellow daoists, if I remember correctly, weren’t you part of the group tasked with sniping off the sacred lands’ main force? What are you doing here?” Panyuan declared.
“I’m going to be direct with you, Daoist Pan. There’s no way you haven’t gotten the newest news if you’ve captured Radiance. We ate a pretty devastating loss at Sandplain and our fellow gods either died or fled. We’ve been on the run from the sacred lands’ main force, which is how we got here in the first place. There’s no need to mock us, is there?” spoke the disguised Divine Kasyapa.
“Fellow daoists,” Panyuan mused, “I regret to say that we’ve lost contact for quite a long time. How do we know that you haven’t been bought by the ten sacred lands, or worse, joined them outright?”
“Join the sacred lands? Are you crazy? They’re hunting us everywhere. Are we supposed to make a gift to them of our own heads? Besides, Master Lightford has wondrous ability and charisma. Myriad Abyss will be his entirely sooner or later. The ten sacred lands might be animated now, but they won’t get to live much longer.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
It's always refreshing when the villain has brains!