Chapter 2301: Fear and Unease

His face grave, Bloodreed didn’t retort for a change.

Goldenhowl stopped his tirade at this unusual reaction. In terms of pure strength, the two of them were almost unmatched in the ten tribes. No one stood above them, apart from Forefather Celestial.

Even the second or third forefathers of the celestial tribe were their equal at best.

“Old Blood, what are you thinking about?” inquired the golden demon.

“Alas.” Bloodreed sighed softly. “I feel queasy on this day. I shouldn’t have caved in to the pressure and agreed to the battle plans. I had the feeling the celestial tribe was up to no good. I just knew it! And now no one can oppose them anymore. We can only obey like meek little lambs.”

“Obey?” His breathing labored, Goldenhowl struggled to stifle his emotions. “Why should we?” 

“Do you think we’re in a position to refuse?” Bloodreed asked quietly.

“We can’t challenge them outright, but we don’t have to cooperate, do we? The other tribes must be seething right now. The titan, monster, wood, and yin demons, how many of them do you think are genuinely happy? The shadow, fire, and winged tribes are the only ones without too many complaints.”

“Heh, so what? You think you can start a revolution?” Bloodreed chuckled.

Goldenhowl’s agitation cooled off at the sight of the blood demon’s outward display of nonchalance. Mirroring his counterpart, he too smiled calmly, and murmured seemingly to himself, “What’s the hurry? Without a tribe to command, I can throw my lot with anyone. There’s no reason for me to be so upset.”

The two old foxes danced around each other, testing and probing again and again.

Bloodreed’s lips curled up in a pensive smile. “Old Golden, I feel apprehensive even now. I fear the bloodshed isn’t over yet.”

“Heh, stop indulging in flights of fancy. The human brat is strong, but he’s never acted without a plan. Do you think he’ll try to sneak inside our base so far from Winterdraw? Humans don’t have that power, nor do they have the mettle.” Goldenhowl still refused to acknowledge Jiang Chen’s worth.

“Who says I was talking about him?” Bloodreed said quietly.

Goldenhowl stared meaningfully at the blood demon, his eyes narrowed into slits. “Fellow daoist, what do you mean?”

“Heh, Old Golden, we’re both smart people. You clearly understand me.” Bloodreed retorted, unimpressed. “Don’t play dumb if you want an honest talk. If not, the exit’s right over there.”

Goldenhowl froze, his smile gradually vanishing.

“Very well, you’re evidently referring to the celestial tribe. But no matter their faults, they surely wouldn’t do anything to us? What would they have to gain by harming us? Do they think they can conquer Divine Abyss by themselves? That’s just a dream!”

Bloodreed eyed him deeply, silent for a long moment before he finally sighed. “I see. So you’re not in the know about some things.”

Goldenhowl froze. “About what?”

Bloodreed lowered his voice, a hint of fear flash across his face. “I don’t think many of us are aware of this secret. I learned of it by accident myself.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Goldenhowl asked, perplexed. Why was the blood demon looking so serious?

Something vital was at play here, but so what the celestial tribe had a few secrets? They couldn’t possibly kill other demons. Wouldn’t that be shooting themselves in the foot? 

He’d never entertained the possibility, not unless their brains turned to mush would the celestial tribe do so. For that reason, he sometimes felt emboldened to speak up against them.

Bloodreed took a deep breath and confided in an enigmatic tone, “I’ll say it once. Believe me or don’t, there won’t be a second time either way.”

“Alright, I’m listening.”

“The celestial tribe possesses a mark unique to their bloodline. A secret art is stored inside, called the Celestial Secret Art. It can absorb the bloodlines of the other tribes and merge them with their own. It allows them to steal our cultivation and obtain our abilities.”

“What?” Goldenhowl almost lost his voice. “You mean they can snatch our strength and duplicate our unique traits?”

“Correct. In fact, all of the other nine tribes descend from theirs. They can take back our bloodlines whenever they want. After a few generations, they can split into different tribes again. Through this cycle of uniting and dividing, they hold the supreme authority of our race firmly in their hands. Surely you understand me now?”

Goldenhowl’s face was twisted in a grimace.

“Is that what you meant when you spoke of bloodshed? You think they’ll kill us to absorb our powers?”

“That’s how it works in theory, at least. Furthermore, their strength will soar once they absorb us, so in the grand scheme of things, the army won’t be too weakened overall,” concluded Bloodreed, his tone sinister.

Goldenhowl’s stiffened. “And you’re saying they’re ready to use it?”

“Most likely. Think about it. The third forefather’s words were obviously meant to appease us. That old fox is as shrewd as they come. He must have been eyeing us for quite some time.”

“What should we do then?” Goldenhowl sprang from his seat, his fury exploding. “We must contact the other tribes without delay and expose the truth.”

“Do you think they’ll take us at face value?” Bloodreed retorted.

“Are you telling me to sit here and wait for death?” Goldenhowl ranted, pacing around the tent.

“The smartest option would be to leave this instant and escape far, far away. Out of Divine Abyss altogether, if possible. We should stay forever away. They’ll hound us as long as we remain in this plane. Their powers exceed our wildest imagination. With the other tribes’ abilities on top of theirs, we’ll never know a day of peace until the end of time.”

“What are we waiting for then? Let’s move right now!” Goldenhowl was fearless, but to oppose the celestial tribe would be to dig his own grave.

“Yeah, we have to go!” Boodreed nodded. But his senses suddenly tingled. Somewhere nearby, people were coming their way.

“Speak of the devil.” Goldenhowl had also noticed the visitors.

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