An hour later, when Li Yao returned to the deck of the airship that he had previously been on, he was still chewing on what Emperor Phoenix had told him.
Emperor Phoenix’s meaning was obvious. He wanted Li Yao to establish a sect that leaned more toward the court in order to compete with the six major sects right now and all the smaller sects.
The operation to explore the Divine Palace was the best opportunity for the cooperation of the two parties.
If Li Yao was really ‘Master Spiritual Vulture’, who had gone there to ‘gain his fame and establish his sect’, it would have been possible for him to truly be persuaded.
The young emperor is indeed quite thoughtful and has a great vision for the future. Also, I can sense his intense confidence between the lines, as if he has further support that nobody knows about!
Otherwise, with just by himself, and even counting the five of us, it would still be far from enough to control so many Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators in the six major sects!
On the other hand, if I were a spy of the Imperium of True Human Beings, and I planned to guide the Ancient Sages Sector to join the Imperium when I’m new to the place, it seems a matter of course to cooperate with the emperor of the Great Qian Dynasty!
Therefore, if a supervillain is to jump out in the exploration of the Divine Palace, it’s ten to one Emperor Phoenix!
Alternatively, it is possible that there is something wrong with Qi Zhongdao, too, considering that he is so enthusiastic about cooperating with Emperor Phoenix. He is determined to purge the world of Cultivators and establish the government of his rules. He has a strong motive to cooperate with the spies of the Imperium of True Human Beings, too!
There’s also the damn eunuch Wang Xi who has planned the whole operation to explore the Divine Palace. I feel that he still has a lot of secrets that are yet to be exposed. He is not going to be easy to deal with!
As for the other three rapscallions, namely Han Baling, Wan Mingzhu, and Qi Changsheng, they have sufficient motives to cooperate with the Imperium of True Human Beings, too. It is possible that they will suddenly go on a rampage during the exploration. I have to pay special attention to them!
As for Yan Liren, Ba Xiaoyu, and Master Bitter Cicada…
Intuitively speaking, I don’t think that they are related to the issue, but that might not necessarily be true. Based on my experiences in the past, the more innocent, plain, and righteous someone looks in the beginning, the more likely that they will be the guy behind all the schemes! It will be darn embarrassing if Master Bitter Cicada suddenly laughs hideously and chants ‘long live the Imperium of True Human Beings’ after the two parties have fought a bloody battle with everybody dying in the Divine Palace!
Wait. Does this mean that everybody involved in the exploration, both my teammates and my opponents, could be a supervillain with great schemes!
Li Yao scratched his hair hard. He had explored countless relics in his life before, but this seemed to be the most complicated one of all.
“Don’t you think that there’s more?” The mental devil crawled out of his head. “Not just everybody involved in the exploration is a suspect and can be a supervillain, are we not supervillains ourselves?”
“Huh?” Slightly dazed, Li Yao blinked.
“From our perspective, we naturally feel that those who cooperate with the Imperium of True Human Beings are supervillains.” The mental devil chuckled. “However, from the perspective of the locals of the Ancient Sages Sector, we are actually ‘alien invaders’ with ill intentions. Are we not true supervillains?
“I suggest that you do not view the whole thing and gauge our friends and foes with the simple criterion of ‘righteous’ and ‘evil’.
“Even if Ba Xiaoyu, Master Bitter Cicada, and the rest of them are truly righteous, devoted, and merciful, we are as much ‘alien invaders’ as the Imperium of True Human Beings. What makes you believe that they will certainly pick us over the Imperium?
“For example, to save the Ancient Sages Sector from the scourge of war, so that all the folks could live in peace, Ba Xiaoyu and Master Bitter Cicada might have to reach a deal with the Imperium and help the Imperium deal with the federation. Is it not a possibility?”
Li Yao took a long breath. He realized that not only was it a possibility, it was also a fairly great one.
Getting to the bottom of it, the civilization in the Ancient Sages Sector and the civilization in the Star Glory Federation had been on separate paths for hundreds of thousands of years. They had been rushing on different paths of development for such a long time that they were essentially two different civilizations.
The locals of the Ancient Sages Sector were not obliged to consider the Star Glory Federation at all.
Even for someone as merciful as Master Bitter Cicada, it was impossible for him to sacrifice millions of compatriots of the Ancient Sages Sector and help the federation fight a war that was destined to fail at the risk of the destruction of his civilization!
It would indeed be tricky to convince most of the super Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators!
Anyways, I’ll see what I should do after I reach the Divine Palace!
Looking at the gray horizon far away, Li Yao could not wait to visit the Divine Palace.
“Drop the sails! Lower the altitude! Raise the spiritual shield!”
“All Cultivators, hold your position. Devote all your spiritual energy to the defense rune arrays to resist the tempests!”
Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!
“Ah! Not good!”
“The main mast of Swooping Eagle has been broken due to the late retraction of sails. It is now involved in the swirl of wind and going out of control. Cultivators in the Nascent Soul Stage, please reinforce immediately!”
“Make sure that Swooping Eagle does not crash into Flying Tiger. Flying Tiger has stored tremendous crystals of the fire class to heat us!”
“The keel of Swooping Eagle has been broken. The airship is collapsing. Swooping Eagle is hopeless! Swooping Eagle is hopeless!”
“Everybody on Swooping Eagle, evacuate to Flying Tiger, Silver Serpent, and Jade Void immediately. Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, please try your best to control the tempests to buy more time for the crew members on Swooping Eagle to escape!”
The crazy roars that had been filled with spiritual energy, which were deafening around the deck, were immediately ripped apart by the overwhelming tempests after they left the defense range of the spiritual shield and turned into nothing more than the moans of butterflies that nobody could hear.
It was the twentieth day after the joint exploration fleet, which stood for the best forces of the Great Qian Dynasty, left the continent.
They had gone all the way to the north in a curve on the ocean with the help of the trade wind. Finally, they had bypassed the Dark Cloud Prairies five days ago and reentered the desolate, infertile land.
From then on, the wind was no longer slow and stable flowing between the sky and the earth, but chaotic, unpredictable, and devoid of any patterns.
Even the most experienced sailors had to crawl up and down on the ropes day and night without rest, adjusting the angles of dozens of sails, in order to make the best use of every wind.
Ordinary people could never be such sailors.
They were generally Cultivators raised by the main sects or the royal family, who had special connections with the spiritual energy of the wind class.
Such special talents were known as the ‘wind runners’.
The royal family and the six major sects boasted the best ‘wind runners’ in the entire Ancient Sages Sector. With their delicate control, the fleet was able to cruise forty thousand kilometers steadily after only three days.
But that was as far as their luck went.
Up ahead was the Land of Eternal Night. The roaring chaotic winds in the world had been upgraded into the tempests that were mixed with violent spiritual energy.
They were powerful gusts that could tear apart even the bodies of Cultivators!
Li Yao had never seen such rampant winds before.
Even the dust storms on the Grand Desolate Plateau did not seem as intimidating as the blizzard in the Land of Eternal Night.
It felt that all the stars in the entire universe had been turned into hail the size of fists smashing on the fleet. They rotated at lightning-like speed under the savaging tempests, mincing everything that was unfortunately involved!
As far as one’s eyes could see, pure white snow was in every direction. Only the vague silhouettes of the flying boats nearby could be seen.
There was nothing but the howling of the wind that one could hear. Everything was suppressed, and the roaring tempests seemed to never grow tired.
It was the will of nature, the wrath of the entire planet!
Even the high-level Cultivators in the Nascent Soul Stage could not compete with such power!
Under the scourge of the world-blighting tempests, none of the flying boats were able to move forward. They could only lower the sails at the highest speed and fire out the anchors toward the ground or the seemingly solid mountains nearby. With the seventy or so chains that were as thick as the thighs of human beings, the flying boasts managed to steady themselves. Then, all the Cultivators worked together to keep the defense rune array functioning properly so that the tempests would enter invade the cabins!
If the Cultivators hesitated when they dropped the sails, like Swooping Eagle had done earlier, they would be swallowed by the tempests. Those who were too slow to fly out were completely ripped apart. Even their bones were nowhere to be found!
Lowering the sails and securing themselves well did not mean that they were safe.
The hundred chains had all been pulled taut in the tempests. White frost soon condensed on them, and they squeaked crazily.
Some of the flying boats were unlucky enough to fire the anchors into relatively feeble rocks or areas on the ground that could not resist the force of the tempests. As a result, the chains were all blown away brutally after ear-splitting noises.
With the loss of the few chains, the pressure on the remaining chains would grow even greater. Many more chains crumbled from the middle, forcing the flying boat to tremble violently in midair. After only a few shakes, the flying boat would break and fall apart amid cracking noises!
After a whole day and night of tempests, other than Swooping Eagle, another three flying boats had crashed just like that.
The Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators such as Li Yao could do nothing but enhance the defense rune arrays on their ship and try to control the tempests when other ships were about to crash so that there would be more time for the victims to escape.
After witnessing countless Cultivators, including several in the Core Formation Stage, to be caught by the tempests and vanished in the overwhelming blizzard, some even being split apart before they were gone, Li Yao could not help but ponder on the cruelty of nature.
No wonder Qi Zhongdao, Ba Xiaoyu, and the rest of them had to cooperate with the court and the major sects despite their reluctance.
The losses were severe enough with such a fine fleet and when the crew members were supporting and protecting each other.
If the few Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators had decided to barge into the Land of Eternal Night because they were arrogant about their personal valor, the consequences would have been too dire for them to bear!