Chapter 407: Grand Assembly
The Qilin Altar was a wide sacrificial altar that was half the size of Heaven's Elysium, located at the very center of the city. It was three meters tall, and in its middle was a deep, round hole, within which the hottest of fires burned, considerably warming the surroundings. The hole was none other than the entrance to the Infernal Soul Purgatory.
There was also another large space in front of the altar where the packed crowds consisting of members from the Ancient Qilin Clan were gathered. They easily numbered over a hundred thousand people. Even with the Ancient Qilin Clan having fallen from grace, their size and prestige still far outclassed those of the Li Saint Clan.
Most elders above fifty years of age of average talent were already saints. In the whole of the Grand-Orient Realm, there were only two sky saints, but there was a considerable number of them in the Ancient Qilin Clan.
The large crowd didn't curse, or even so much as chatter. They all looked in the direction of the altar with a burning, angry gaze. They saw Mo Yu of the Mo Clan descending from the sky with a white-haired youth dressed in black.
Almost immediately, countless glares of anger shot toward Tianming. He could immediately hear angry voices muttering like the low growl of a wildbeast. What kind of pressure was this? Anyone without sufficient mental fortitude would no doubt be so terrified by the situation they wouldn't be able to move. These gazes came from many sky saints as well. Though they didn't say a single word, Tianming knew how much they hated Li Muyang, and now, he was going to pay the price for his father. Their hate and rage swept over him like a storm and weighed down on his soul.
"What a life. I didn't think I’d be capable of inciting so much hate. Guess I underestimated myself once again," Tianming said, standing straight and upright on the altar without looking away from the crowd even once.
"Your mental state seems to be good. However, you'll be able to do nothing but cry later," said a tall, bearded, middle-aged man that was walking toward him. He wore a dark smile and looked down imposingly on Tianming.
"Who are you?" Tianming asked.
"The one who’ll apply the lifetime curse on you. I'm the Qilin King of the Ink Qilin Clan, Qin Dingtian!"
Tianming figured that the Qilin King was definitely stronger than Li Wudi. The Ink Branch of the Ancient Qilin Clan had ten Qilin Kings, which was about on par with the other branches. They were among the top branches in the clan.
Qin Dingtian stood beside Tianming and turned to the rest of his clansfolk. "Everyone, this is the son of the sinner, Li Muyang. Come, tell everyone what your name is."
Qin Dingtian intentionally used his voice to pressure Tianming into telling them what he was called. Tianming simply answered, "I will not change anything about my name. I am Li Tianming."
The moment he said that, everyone felt silent.
"Good. Now that you've angered the imperial family of the Theocracy, you're definitely doomed." Qin Dingtian smirked at seeing Tianming invite trouble for himself. The mere mention of his name had shaken the entire clan.
"Tianming? As in the fate of the sky? Isn't that just like the princess' sobriquet, Skyfate?"
"Li Muyang, that madman, naming his son that way!"
"He really doesn't know what's good for himself!"
"And the kid here thinks he's really brave or something."
"I think he's already accepted it. He knows his days are numbered, so he might as well put up a strong front to make himself feel better."
Though many of the crowd chattered nonstop, one thing was for sure: they all hated him, and none of them would stand out to defend him.
"Silence!" Qin Dingtian yelled, quieting the crowd down. Turning to Tianming, he announced, "Li Muyang's sins are horrendous and unforgivable. Now that you’ve returned to the Ancient Qilin Clan, you’ll suffer punishment on your father's behalf. Based on a unanimous decision from the exalted ones and Qilin Kings, you’re to be given a lifetime curse and banished to the Infernal Soul Purgatory for eternity. Everyone, is this satisfactory?"
"It's too light on him. You should cripple his cultivation and kill his lifebound beasts first!"
"That's right! It's too light! I think we should throw him into the Infernal Soul Barrier and let him burn as punishment!"
"Cut off his limbs and tongue! Blind him! Remove his nose and ears and hang him up at the altar! I want to hear him cry in agony!"
The crowd was completely fueled by rage. They had to vent to feel some semblance of relief. It was one thing for all of them to have to enter the Infernal Soul Purgatory for half a year, every year, to suffer. But even for them, they wouldn't be satisfied even if he was thrown into it for life. Though, they were completely unaware of the tricky nuances of the situation that the exalted ones had to face.
"What's the rush? We have more than enough time to mess with him," Qin Dingtian said.
"We'll force Li Muyang out first, then kill the father and son together!"
"That's right. Li Muyang is the true sinner! We have to prepare a great show for him to watch!"
"There's no way for us to vent our hate otherwise!"
The rage all of them felt was far worse than Tianming could've imagined, but it still made him feel quite displeased.
"I’ll find out the truth myself. I'll also make sure to remember every single word you said," Tianming said.
"Stop dreaming. I'll let you have a taste of the curse first," Qin Dingtian said. He took out a large black branding implement that emanated a kind of miasma. There were seventy saintly heavenly patterns on the branding iron; it appeared that it was a peak-grade beastial weapon.
The mystical shimmering of the saintly heavenly patterns could actually be used to give someone the curse. It was yet another wondrous aspect of heavenly patterns that Tianming discovered. It appeared that the path of a patternscribe was almost as complicated as that of a beastmaster. This very branding iron was the one the Primeval Autarch had 'bequeathed' the Ancient Qilin Clan.
"Brand him with the cursed seal!" the crowd chanted fervently.
Qin Dingtian stepped forward and pressed a hand onto Tianming's shoulder. With his saint ki, he was able to stop Tianming from resisting even the slightest bit. Then, he snickered and branded the curse onto his forehead.
Tianming shot a dangerous glare at Qin Dingtian; the same one he had shot Sikong Jiansheng before the Realm War. It was one thing for him to administer the curse, but another for him to use his saint ki to harm him like that and cause his internal organs to bleed. There was no other explanation for his action but venting a personal grudge.
The moment the branding iron marked his forehead, he felt thousands of venomous bugs burrowing their way into his head.
"Qin Feng is a member of your household, right?" Tianming asked.
"You guessed right. You're quite capable, after all. It's a shame that with the curse, half of your talent as a pentabane will be suppressed," Qin Dingtian said smugly.
"Phew...." Tianming exhaled and furrowed his brow. Like Qin Dingtian had said the Lifetime Curse was truly unbearable. The stream of energy that penetrated him felt like countless bugs gnawing away at his body.
At that moment, the Prime Tower in his lifebound space released a white glow that turned into liquid and permeated his innards. The moment the black miasma from the curse touched the liquid from the Prime Tower, it was vaporized into nothing. That stimulation caused the tower to shake once more, sending even more white liquid throughout Tianming's body.
The energy from the Lifetime Curse was immediately reduced to nothing by Prime Tower. All of a sudden, the tower manifested on his body and immediately shattered the curse.
Qin Dingtian cried out from the backlash and took a few steps back. The branding iron in his hand was sent flying off from Qilin Altar. The whole crowd also managed to catch sight of the white tower's projection, and the well-informed ones immediately recognized it.
"What's going on?"
"How could this be?"
Everyone's eyes widened as they witnessed an unbelievable sight. Qin Dingtian felt so much rage at the sight of Tianming's blank forehead—the Lifetime Curse had failed to take hold!
"This is the first time in four decades that this happened, right?" many people murmured. Just then, they had been cheering for this event, but now they felt a little troubled.
"It's Li Shenxiao's Prime Tower! It's actually inside his body!"
"He seems to wield the Grand-Orient Sword, too...."
"It truly is a waste for him to be holding those divine artifacts! If not for the Decimo Dao Palace's edict, and the fact that others aren't able to truly utilize those artifacts, there's no way someone like him would’ve come into possession of them!"
The crowd's gaze grew even more savage as the discussion raged on.
"Is there a way to temporarily take those divine artifacts from him?"
"The sword can be taken, but the Prime Tower seems to be inside his body."
"Dig it out!"
Tianming chuckled when he heard that. "What's with this trash of a branding iron? It wasn't able to leave a mark on me at all. I'm sorry to see you fail. How embarrassing."
The crowd was shocked at the audacity of the sinner's son to say such things, and their rage skyrocketed.
Many of them couldn't control themselves and were about to charge up to kill him. If all of them really acted, not a single trace of Tianming would be left.
"Stop!" some among them cried.
"Don't stop! Come if you dare! It's not like you're ashamed of ganging up on me, after all," Tianming mocked once more.
The crowd stirred from the insult, all of their eyes bloodshot, and the vessels in their temples about to burst.