Chapter 203 - How Dare You, Matriarch!
The little chick felt burned. It was one thing to be ignored by Mu Wan; he didn't think he'd even be left out in favor of the cat here. His jealousy for Meow Meow grew.
Currently, Meow Meow was nestling in Qingyu's bosom and napping comfortably without the slightest care in the world. Women were nothing for it but a different mount where it could comfortably nap. The two girls were stroking its soft fur and discussing how cute it was, completely oblivious to the brewing storm.
Tianming merely smiled. To him, the storm was just another fact of life. What was life without risks and challenges? All he had to do was face them bravely! There was no need to sigh or worry before the storm came. With a sword in his heart, he feared no death.
Actually, the girls were rather fond of Ying Huo, too. It didn't take long before they were laughing at its little antics. Tianming smiled like a doting father, looking at the girl he loved, his new sworn sister, and his two brothers. He felt like his responsibilities were only continuing to grow heavier.
From now on, I’m a member of the Apex Branch and the junior sect master. This will be my second home. He would fight for it, both for his sake and theirs!
If he wasn't strong enough, how would he fulfill his boastful claim of going to Heaven's Elysium, taking Lady Long's head, and retrieving Feiling’s five seals? If he didn't fight, how would he repay Li Jingyu and Li Wudi for the generous help they had given him? If he didn't struggle, how would he ever be able to show his face to the Li Saint Clan's ancestors again?
He would live as a member of the clan, and he would die as one. Only cowards would run and cultivate in hiding. Truly powerful people should fearlessly face the storms and find the true path of defying fate as they thread the line between life and death!
As the rest were playing around, Tianming stood in the corner and took out the gift Mu Yang had given him before he left for the clan. He hadn’t managed to find time to give it a look before now. He put the box on the ground, but before he opened it, he could already feel a terrifying aura coming from it.
There was a note on the box left by Mu Yang. It read, “Tianming, one doesn't yearn for life on the path of cultivation, but rather mastery over their arts, not doing anything against their conscience, and repaying favors and grudges. From now on, you must be staunch and resolute; you can't just do as you like. A righteous man will eradicate all the evils in the world in pursuit of his personal justice! Only those who walk the right path will gain endless strength.”
Tianming took those teachings to heart. "Uncle Yang, I will never disappoint you."
A man had to be righteous and resolute. Mu Yang felt the need to highlight that, as he had sent him a demonic weapon. Demonic weapons weren’t taboo, but one had to be able to control the evil within, or risk being drowned by it.
The letter continued, “This weapon is called Archfiend. I found it by chance in the Abyssal Battlefield. I’m not certain whether it's a seventh-grade beastial weapon; it could be far stronger. The heavenly patterns on it are rather chaotic, and there’s some variance in its strength. At least, there are some black heavenly patterns hidden within. This is a savage tool made for killing. I hope you’ll be able to maintain control over the innate malefic force without letting it distort your path.”
Archfiend? Tianming remembered its name well. He kept the note in his spatial ring, resolving himself to treasure it well. He also kept the only feather he had to remember Midas by; it was something he would take to his grave. After putting the note away, he opened the box.
The moment he set his eyes on Archfiend, he felt dazed and strongly discomfited. It was just like the first time he had looked at the third eye on his arm. In the box, hundreds of bloody eyes could be seen, all smashed together! He felt his mind being torn apart when the eyes turned to look at him in unison as the box was opened. It was nothing short of a nightmarish sight.
This was the gift Mu Yang handed him during his departure from Vermillion Bird? He couldn't have personally plucked the eyeballs off other people to make it, right? It would take at least a hundred people for that many eyes! Was Mu Yang insane!?
It took quite a while for Tianming's mind to clear. He looked at the weapon with his third eye this time, only to notice that he’d been mistaken. In the box wasn’t hundreds of bloody eyeballs, but rather a chain weapon. It was black, and about twenty meters in length, much longer than the Blazing Dragon Chainblade. Each individual chain was round and black, but they weren't smooth. Instead, each of the circles had seven or eight spikes protruding out of them, with the longest of them measuring five centimeters in length. There was a total of a few hundred spikes across the whole chain, giving it a rather dense silhouette. It was hard to imagine what kind of damage it would deal once it was pulled after completely coiling around the enemy.
It was no wonder it was named Archfiend.
It seemed much more threatening than the Blazing Dragon Chainblade, but the black spikes weren’t what took the cake. Instead, each of the chain circles were empty in the middle, where a black miasma trapped quite a bit of fresh blood. The blood that flowed within each of the links made each one look like a bloody spiky eyeball, the reason behind the initial optical illusion Tianming had experienced. It took him quite a while to get used to how it looked.
A seventh-grade beastial weapon, huh.... He believed it was much stronger than that. I already have Bewildering Eye and Soulless Seven Howls, which can affect my enemies' mental states quite strongly. Coupled with Archfiend, the effects will only compound and become more terrifying. That combination was an external distraction to the enemy, divorced from beast ki. Coupled with the support Feiling gave him in combat, Tianming believed that he had more than enough tools in his non-beast-ki arsenal.
That night, he decided to familiarize himself with Archfiend. In the darkness, black and crimson flashes intersected. The weapon that looked like skewered eyeballs danced about unhindered. The twirling chain looked like a venomous snake.
With a mere tug, a whole boulder was reduced to powder.
At the very tip of Archfiend was a sharp spike, about half a meter long. At its thickest point, it had a diameter of one centimeter, while its tip was thin as a needle. It wouldn't be a problem for it to pierce straight through a body in an instant. Having used swords for a while, Tianming felt really refreshed to use a chain again.
He wielded both the righteous and straight in one hand and the crooked and evil in the other. Archfiend couldn't control him; he controlled Archfiend. All he had to do was wait for the three bloodlines to come to him!
Day broke, and Fatepath Peak was getting rather busy.
"Granny." Outside Kunpeng Sacred Hall stood Tianming and Qingyu. As for Feiling, she was already attached to him. Spiritual Attachment didn't feel any more uncomfortable than usual, so she was happy as long as they could be close to each other no matter what form she took. Sometimes, she would link hearts with Tianming and understand him better. At other times, she would show up in front of him to let him see her real, flesh-and-blood self. After all, she was someone as beautifully moving as Lady Long.
Currently, Tianming still didn't want to reveal Feiling's ability to the rest. Most people might think she was a mere mortal, his possession even. But they were ignorant of her true power, not to mention her potential for even more growth. The four unsealed abilities could still become stronger!
Now, Tianming needed her to help him fight. Those from the other three bloodlines must have come to take the Kunpeng Sacred Seal for themselves, which was no different than wanting to kill him.
"Tianming, I went to the sect yesterday and spoke to the council Elder, Ye Qing, about you being a pentabane. He said he would come here and see for himself. You are really brave to have sealed off your path of retreat by assimilating the seal. I wonder if you know how you should resolve this situation today," Jingyu said.
"I know. I have to prove my identity as a pentabane to Elder Ye Qing. As long as I do that, I'll be safe."
"That's right. Currently, none of the members of the Li Saint Clan can enter the council of elders. That's why the three bloodlines will have to obey whatever Elder Ye Qing says."
Tianming nodded. Someone from the council of elders still being willing to help the Li Saint Clan was the best news he’d heard so far. As Jingyu had said, there were heroes and crooks alike in this world, and the aforementioned elder was probably the former. For someone to be able to join the council of elders meant that he was an impressive character indeed. However, Tianming hadn’t seen him so far. Perhaps he was the kind of person who observed from afar, rather than showing himself in person.
"Tianming, just like before, you only have to show your natural talent. Only by proving yourself as a pentabane will you be able to retain the position of junior sect master. There’s quite a number of capable youths among the three bloodlines. If you go all out fighting them, it won't be worth it if you get hurt yourself," Jingyu advised.
Tianming nodded. She was worried about him, at the end of the day, and worried that his opponents wouldn't show him any mercy. Since Tianming had embarked on the most extreme path, he would either succeed in keeping the seal for himself, or face death. The enemy was sure to not show him mercy. Having just received the blessing of Li Shenxiao's tombstone, how could he allow himself to die here? He still hadn't checked out the other ancestors' tombstones yet.
Just then, those from the Li Saint Clan's other three bloodlines were mostly there already. Yet not a single one from the Seven Starry Wind Branches were present. They had really left Li Jingyu alone to face off the youths of the three bloodlines. Each of those bloodlines easily had two or three times the number of people of the Seven Starry Wind Branches. In total, they had ten times as many talented young beastmasters—and this was the Li Saint Clan in their fallen state!
The three bloodlines were the Metal, Fire, and Lightning Bloodlines. Each and every one of them had separate branches—usually around seven—each with their own branch heads. Among them, the Metal Bloodline was considered the second most powerful branch in the clan. Their leader was the second patriarch, and that position was now held by the leader of the Metal Bloodline, Li Xuanyi. The patriarch of the whole clan was obviously Li Wudi.
The head of the Fire Bloodline was called the third patriarch, and the head of the Lightning Bloodline was the fourth patriarch.
All four bloodlines of the Li Saint Clan had, in total, four patriarchs and twenty-eight branch heads. Ten thousand years ago, each of those people would be amazing figures. But now, not a single one of them was in the council of elders. So far, the Metal Bloodline was the one that had managed to preserve themselves the best.
Ever since Li Wudi gave up on managing the clan, the affairs and disputes were all handled by Second Patriarch Li Xuanyi, so he held the most sway among them. He seemed middle-aged and was clad in a gold robe. His hair was neatly tied up, without the slightest flaw. There seemed to be a golden glow coming from his eyes that colored his skin a slight golden sheen. His sharp gaze made him seem really domineering, so much so that most of the younger generation couldn’t help but shudder in his presence. It was said that Li Xuanyi was the strongest person in the entire Li Saint Clan, being someone who had ventured into the Saint Realm. His existence was the last bastion of prestige for the clan.
It was said that he alone had carried the clan in recent days, and without him, the clan would be even worse off. That was why the third and fourth patriarchs followed his lead. This time, Li Xuanyi came with the other two patriarchs, and the rest. It didn't take long before they were all right before Li Jingyu. They obviously wanted to intimidate Jingyu and the rest with their staggering numbers.
However, even Qingyu was unmoved. It was a fool's errand to try making them budge using lowbrow tactics like these. However, their gazes seemed to suggest that what would happen next was sure to be chaotic.
"How dare you, Matriarch!" the third patriarch, Li Yansheng, yelled the moment he arrived.