Lightford’s team arrived as quickly as possible to the Void Sacred Land.
Their airboats remained a healthy distance away from the sacred land proper, Lightford taking considerable precautions at this stage in his plans.
He knew the passivity of their current situation. If he wasn’t careful, he might even turn a winning position into complete defeat.
His prior losses were a learning experience.
“Milord, it doesn’t look like there was any fighting here.” One god examined Void from the distance, his eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
Lightford’s own eyes were as keen as an eagle’s. They swept his surroundings, attempting to find any trace or clue. Alas, nothing looked remotely out of place.
“Weren’t Teng and Huang supposed to be here? Why are they nowhere to be found? Milord, shall I go deliver a message? And get Lan Tianhao and Xu Yigu out here while I’m at it?”
Lightford thought a moment, then nodded. “Sure. Two of you should go on ahead to check things out.”
Their master’s permission prompted two gods to soar toward Void upon beams of light, coming to a still a short distance outside the defensive formation.
“Daoist Lan Tianhao,” one of them proclaimed loudly, “I am Du Zhen. I am here to investigate on Master Lightford’s orders. Show yourselves immediately!”
There was an answer very shortly from inside.
Lan Tianhao and Xu Yigu came to the edge of the formation, looking at their guests from afar. “Daoist Du,” the former cupped a fist. “How are you doing?”
Du Zhen scrutinized the two inside the formation searchingly. “Feelow daoists, didn’t you say that Daoists Teng and Huang were here? Why can’t I see them?”
Lan Tianhao’s tone was cool. “They called themselves Teng and Huang, yes, but I couldn’t confirm their identities. They couldn’t convince me that they were the real ones, so I remembered the master’s instructions and barred their entry. They’ve already left in a huff.”
“Already left?” Du Zhen’s eyes moved. “How long ago?” he pressed.
“Less than four hours,” Lan Tianhao replied after a moment.
“Hmph! Why didn’t you hold them here then?” Du Zhen was mildly displeased.
Xu Yigu glared back unhappily. “Daoist Du, it’s not your business what we do, is it? Didn’t Master Lightford assign you a task as well? Why are you here then? Are you slacking off yourselves?”
Du Zhen grew furious. “I’m here on Master Lightford’s orders. Why aren’t you out to receive him? Why are you questioning me?”
“Haha, don’t try to scare us with authority that doesn’t belong to you. Teng and Huang did the same earlier. They said they would report our insubordination to Master Lightford, but we’re only subordinate to the master himself. We’ll defend this place with our lives. Unless Master Lightford appears himself, no one can convince us to leave this place or let anyone in.”
Lan Tianhao was very resolute.
Du Zhen blinked, then burst into laughter. “Daoist Lan, do you not trust even me?”
“It’s not that. We heard that the sacred lands’ main force is coming to the Void Sacred Land next, so there’s a lot of pressure on us. We can’t determine whether you’re genuine. What if the sacred lands are trying to deceive us into leaving the formation and lure us into a trap?”
Du Zhen chuckled angrily, then remembered it wasn’t his place to rebuke their loyalty to the master’s commands. He nodded. “Ready yourselves. Master Lightford isn’t far from here and will arrive very soon.”
He wasn’t suspicious of anything awry. After informing his comrade of this, the duo returned to old Lightford and related what Du Zhen had witnessed.
Lightford was somewhat hesitant. Mulling things over didn’t reveal any obvious problems. “Lan Tianhao and Xu Yigu weren’t exactly the most loyal to me in the Boundless Prison,” he mused, “so their devotion here is surprising. I wonder if there’s a ruse?”
Du Zhen remained silent. His job was done, and he saw no reason why he should interfere in the judgment. Lightford could decide for himself.
“Tell me, what do the rest of you think?” Lightford turned to the peanut gallery.
“Sir, I doubt that those two would defect. They came out from the Boundless Prison just like us. Surely it’s better for them to side with you rather than their jailers?”
“Yes, if they had let in Daoist Du easily, that would be much fishier. If even Daoist Du wasn’t allowed in without you there, Master Lightford, it shows exactly how seriously they’re taking your word.”
Lightford nodded a little, thinking this explanation reasonable.
“Let’s all go take a look, then. Don’t let down your guard. Look alive and stay alert!” the old man wanted to see things for himself. Lan Tianhao and Xu Yigu wouldn’t be able to fool him.
He and his eight gods headed toward the edge of the formation.
“Lan Tianhao, Xu Yigu. Master Lightford is here in the flesh. Why aren’t you out to receive him now?” Du Zhen’s voice echoed forth once more.
A light appeared near their retinue, as if a portal was opening. Lan Tianhao and Xu Yigu emerged from it.
“Greetings to Master Lightford.” They saluted Lightford with cupped fists as soon as they appeared. A few followers of their own trailed them.
Lightford scanned Lan Tianhao and his men warily to see what they were up to. The fact that they were all demigods and empyrean cultivators relieved him.
If Lan Tianhao had brought only these weaklings, he couldn’t possibly be bamboozling him. They were all gods, and these demigods and empyrean cultivators were no match. Plus, there were only a handful of these add-ons in any case.
Lightford pierced Lan Tianhao and Xu Yigu with his razor-sharp gaze, seeming to pierce straight through their bodies into their souls.
“You two have proved your devotion, I see. I didn’t expect you to hold strong after Radiance and Sunrise had both fallen. Not bad, not bad.” The old man’s tone was meaningful.
The two gods he addressed murmured humble rejoinders.Previous Chapter Next Chapter