Li Yao followed Meng Chixin and Wu Suiyun, the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators, back to the temple of the Colossi again.
At this time, the temple of the Colossi had been sealed by the barriers that the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators had set up. The other Cultivators below the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator were forbidden from entering or even observing nearby. It had become an out-and-out no man’s land.
The two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators, both being ghosts, drifted behind Li Yao soundlessly like smoke, one on the left and the other on the right, staring at the back of his head.
In the vast warehouse, Li Yao’s footsteps were the only sound echoing in the hollow hall. Together with the silent Colossi that were sitting or lying on the maintenance platforms, the place gave every feeling that it was a graveyard of the prehistoric giants and, possibly, a graveyard for Li Yao himself and the Star Glory Federation!
Have they seen through my identity?
Li Yao was very calm on the surface, only revealing a tiny bit of excitement and confusion after being ‘selected’ by the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators as company. His breathing, heartbeat, pulse, and the secretion of all the hormones in his body could not have been more normal.
However, a great flood was raging in his brain. Even the mental devil was struggling hard like someone being drowned.
Li Yao carefully reviewed his performance ever since the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators had shown up. Except for the occasional rigidity when he pretended to be ‘surprised’, there were few loopholes.
However, ‘surprise’ was a very unreliable criterion in the first place. A Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator could very possibly be an inscrutable man who might not be surprised even at the news from the deities’ realm!
Those traces alone should not have been enough to give him away to the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators.
The very identity of Master Spiritual Vulture, who had been missing for almost a hundred years until his miraculous rise in the recent half year, called for suspicion.
Judging from the interrogation that the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators had performed on Heiye Lan, the two of them, especially ‘Wolf God’ Meng Chixin, were certainly shrewd and quick-minded.
They had perhaps retrieved the detailed profiles of the top ten experts in the world of Cultivators today from Heiye Lan’s brain and grown suspicious about Master Spiritual Vulture, a new expert who had emerged rather abruptly. It was a very plausible possibility.
What should I do?
Have they determined that I am in fact an ‘alien’ and prepared to bring me to this place to ambush me?
Are they not very certain about their judgement and planning to interrogate me somewhere quiet?
Am I being too paranoid? Could they truly be meaning to discuss something with me without any suspicion about my identity?
The three different situations required different countermeasures.
Li Yao walked slowly in front of the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators, but his brain was exploding soundlessly like engines that were working at an efficiency far beyond their limits.
Should he offer to acknowledge his identity and persuade the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators, the nine Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, and the entire Ancient Sages Sector to join the federation’s side with more favorable terms?
Li Yao thought quickly and instantly vetoed the foolish idea.
The reason that it was foolish was that such a decision would mean that he was tossing away all his trump cards. He would lose the initiative, and the fate of himself and even the entire Star Glory Federation would be decided by them!
As a result, he would not be able to do anything except beg them hard and pitifully!
He would be the meat, and the Cultivators of the Ancient Sages Sector would be the chopping block!
More importantly, the ‘trump cards’ that Li Yao had were not attractive enough.
Compared with the terms that the Imperium of True Human Beings could offer, there was not much that the Star Glory Federation could give to the Ancient Sages Sector. They could not even promise that they could certainly keep the Ancient Sages Sector safe.
It had nothing to do with morals. If Li Yao was a member of the Ancient Sages Sector, it would hardly have been likely that he would die for the Star Glory Federation for some petty benefits when faced with the threat of the behemothic Imperium of True Human Beings.
Even the merciful monk Master Bitter Cicada would never make such a choice.
Therefore, however Li Yao bragged about himself and the Star Glory Federation, there was one critical question that he could never bypass, which was the Star Glory Federation’s ability to fulfil its promises to the Ancient Sages Sector.
Li Yao did not know.
His hesitation could very possibly be taken as a negative by the locals of the Ancient Sages Sector.
Then, all the secrets in his head would be dug out by the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators, just like how they had dug out all the stuff in Heiye Lan’s head.
As an Ultra-Level Federal Hero, he had many more things in his brain, which were also more important and critical than the information stored in the head of Heiye Lan, who was merely a pure warrior of the Imperium!
He knew the coordinates of the Heaven’s Origin Sector, the Flying Star Sector, and the Blood Demon Sector. He knew the subtle conflicts among the three Sectors. He knew almost all the weaknesses of the three Sectors. He also knew the military configuration and almost all the experts in the federation.
Should the intelligence be grasped by the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators and delivered to the Black Wind Fleet in exchange for their own interests, the Black Wind Fleet would be able to draft a strike plan most pertinent to the situation of the federation. They could even show up in the heartland of the federation or the orbit of the Heaven’s Origin Planet instantly!
Li Yao could not take that risk, at least not yet.
The situation was not hopeless. The two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators and the nine Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators had not made a decision yet, and he could still influence them. Moreover, the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators might not necessarily have seen through his identity!
If the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators really meant to discuss something with him, but he panicked and confessed with sweat all over his head that he was actually an alien, would it not be a spontaneous confession? It would be too foolish!
Li Yao estimated that they were just slightly suspicious about him at most.
However, it was impossible for them to prove their suspicions through violent approaches, such as attacking Li Yao’s brain directly to retrieve the information inside.
The two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators had been away from the world for more than a hundred years. Their influence and control on the mortal world were very weak. Also, they were in the form of spectral Cultivators, which meant that their combat ability could not be much higher than the peak of the Nascent Soul Stage.
Therefore, they really needed to cooperate with the ten super Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators in order to control the entire Ancient Sages Sector.
Cooperation demanded the sincerity of both parties, especially under such circumstances where everybody had not come to completely trust each other yet.
If the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators resorted to violent approaches such as the soul-searching technique on Li Yao, only to discover that there was nothing wrong about ‘Master Spiritual Vulture’ at all, the cooperation between the Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators and the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators would certainly fall apart.
Given the dire consequences, the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators would never dare to take the risk!
Hehe. My brain will not be so easily invaded. If you think that my head is as vulnerable as Heiye Lan’s, you will find yourselves terrible mistaken!
Li Yao finally regained part of his confidence.
His combat ability might not be as good as the two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators when they joined hands, but if their souls crawled into his brain, it would remain to be seen who absorbed, swallowed, and devoured whom in the end!
“Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture, you seem to be ill at ease and deep in thought all the way here. What’s troubling you?”
Meng Chixin’s creepy voice echoed above Li Yao’s head.
Li Yao’s feet slowed down for a moment before they moved forward steadily again. “Indeed, I am. Who can remain calm after hearing so much shocking information in only half a day? I didn’t know that there is such a vast world beyond the one we are living in and so many immeasurable species and forces! How should I put it? I’m feeling both uncomfortable and impatient, as if I’m back to the years when I was younger and hadn’t gained my current strength!
“Senior Meng, Senior Wu, I have been thinking this whole time. Do you think Heiye Lan was speaking the truth? Will the Black Wind Fleet and the Imperium of True Human Beings accept us sincerely, or is it just a scheme and a trap?”
The best defense was offense. Li Yao kicked the question back to them.
Meng Chixin smiled and said, “You don’t need to be too obsessed about the veracity of her speech, Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture. Sometimes, you can’t tell if something is true.
“Take your Southland of Sorcerers for example, Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture. The Great Qian Dynasty has decreed the local leader of your place to be the chieftain and granted you great autonomy. Other than respecting the Great Qian Dynasty and paying tributes, you are essentially an independent kingdom. Then, has the court been treating you sincerely or ingenuinely? Is it an ever-lasting national policy, or is it just a temporary scheme?”
Li Yao was dazed for a moment. “Well—”
“The reason is simple. The Southland of Sorcerers retains its half-independent status today and hops between the Great Qian Dynasty and Ghost Qin only because the Southland of Sorcerers is too far away with venomous fog everywhere. The Cultivators of the Southland of Sorcerers are also best known for their dark arts. So, it is extremely difficult for any army to march into the Southland of Sorcerers. The potential losses outweigh the gains!
“On the other hand, many other barbaric tribes elsewhere that do not enjoy the terrain advantages that the Southland of Sorcerers does have been annihilated by the army of the Great Qian Dynasty mercilessly, all the men higher than the wheel of a wagon killed. Local offices of the court were established in their homeland. In less than a hundred years, such tribes were blown away in the wind, never to be heard of again!
“The same barbaric tribes have vastly different destinies. Is it because the court treats the Southland of Sorcerers nicely with morals? Of course not!
“If we get to the bottom of it, it doesn’t matter at all what the enemy’s stance is. What matters is ourselves!
“If you want to forge iron, you must have something tougher than iron. As long as we are strong enough, maybe not so strong as lions and tigers but at least an iron hedgehog that nobody can bite, the enemy’s promise will be genuine. Even if it is just a means to an end in the beginning, we will come up with follow-up measures later to deal with new situations. What’s there to be scared of?
“If we are divided and feeble, why on earth will the enemy honor their words?
“The strong prey on the weak, and the fittest survive. This seems to be a law on the prairies and a truth in the sea of stars. Therefore, ‘sincerity’ is not nearly as important as ‘strength’. At the very least, Heiye Lan, as the daughter of the commander of the Black Wind Fleet, was straightforward and honest enough. After the interrogation, I do find her very admirable!”