The cultivators in the Heavenly Mandate Realm, the Buddhist monks from the Mountain Realm, the Yuanyang Clan and Xiao Clan from the Central Emperor Realm, and the Dou Tribe from the Ziwei Realm were already here. Now, Shangxiao Divine Palace came to lend a hand as well.
They made an incredibly formidable alliance. Even the menacing army coming all the way from the Hidden Land Realm became hesitant about launching their attack.
The army from the Hidden Land Realm was comprised of not only cultivators from the native forces in the Hidden Land Realm, but also people from the Outer Realms. They even had cultivators from the Dark Court, led by the Lord of the Underworld. However, as domineering as they were, they couldnt gain the upper hand in the current situation.
If the Lord of the Underworld didnt fight in the battle himself, they might even be at a disadvantage.
It was extremely difficult for them to snatch the girl from the Heavenly Mandate Academy under such circumstances.
No one could estimate how many people would lose their lives here if a battle broke out.
People from various places who had come to watch the battle were shocked and amazed that the Heavenly Mandate Academy was able to assemble such a strong defense lineup that even included the Shangxiao Divine Palace.
The Shangxiao Divine Palace was the holy land of the Higher Heavens Realm. Many people in the Nine Realms believed that three holy places were the best at imparting knowledge and training cultivators: the Tianshen Academy in the Central Emperor Realm, the Shangxiao Divine Palace in the Higher Heavens Realm, and the Heavenly Mandate Academy in the Heavenly Mandate Realm. Although the Heavenly Mandate Academy was rising to prominence and had almost surpassed the Shangxiao Divine Palace, no one could deny the great power the Shangxiao Divine Palace held.
Such a grand occasion for the Heavenly Mandate Academy and the Shangxiao Divine Palace to join hands and fight against the enemy side by side was unprecedented.
The cultivators in the Heavenly Mandate City right were witnessing history now.
Some people even envisioned how the Heavenly Mandate Academy and the Shangxiao Divine Palace could merge and become the predominant holy land in the 3,000 Realms of the Great Path. They would outstrip the Tianshen Academy altogether.
Of course, it was only a fanciful notion that would never happen in reality. The Shangxiao Divine Palace only sent reinforcement here to support the Heavenly Mandate Academy for this particular time.
The two sides reached a stalemate. While the Dark Army marched here all the way from the Hidden Land Realm, they didnt want to die in vain. They couldnt achieve their goal if they blindly jumped into the fight without having some confidence in victory.
Two menacing forces were locked in a confrontation. The entire Heavenly Mandate City was engulfed in the terrifying might of the Great Path.
Qingyao stood quietly inside of the Heavenly Mandate Academy. Yaya was next to her, holding her hand.
Except for Qingyao, Ye Futian sent away everyone who had not reached the Renhuang Plane.
He wouldnt give her up to the enemy, and he was willing to fight for her. But he could never compromise the people he sent away by hiding Qingyao among them, on the off chance that he lost the battle. He would do everything in his power to keep his promise to Qingyao. But Qingyao had to face her destiny if he was defeated in the end.
Although Qingyao was still a young girl, she understood the risk Ye Futian was taking. She was deeply moved but remained composed and tearless.
Her brother Ye and so many people hovering in the air were willing to fight for her.
She brought bad lucks to everyone and was despised and shunned everywhere until she met her brother and sister, who protected her fiercely. Nianyu played with her and regarded her as the best friend. Grandpa Xuan also took care of her.
Everyone in the Heavenly Mandate Realm treated her exceptionally well. She never experienced such kindness in her life.
Even today, she saw all of those good people from other forces who came here willingly and were ready to risk their lives for a girl like her who had a cursed fate.
Then, what about her? What should she do?
Did she really want to implicate her brother, sister, and everyone else?
Could she really stand by idly and selfishly at the expense of other peoples lives?
She lived through a lifetime of darkness and never felt as warm and loved as today.
It was because tens of thousands of extraordinary and kind people stood up for her, a cursed girl.
All of a sudden, she grinned in silence.
She didnt cry. Instead, she cracked a blissful smile.
"Sister," said Qingyao. She raised her head and looked at Yaya.
Yaya heard her voice and looked back. She grasped Qingyaos hand firmly and reassured her, "Dont be nervous. This will be over soon."
Qingyao shook her head and said with a smile, "Sister, Im not nervous. Let me go with them."
Surprised, Yaya gripped Qingyaos hand even harder and said, "Qingyao, your brother Ye and other people will protect you. No one can take you away against your will. Look, even more people are coming to help our side. They will win this fight."
Yet Qingyao was still shaking her head. "Sister, I believe that we will win. But I have made my decision. I will go with those people from the Hidden Land Realm."
"Why?" Yaya asked, staring at the girl.
"Because youre all so kind to me." Qingyao smiled radiantly. She continued, "No one has ever been nice to me before. Now that I get to know all of you, I will certainly feel terrible if bad things happen to you because of me. I dont want to see any of you being hurt. Not today, not ever."
Yaya was astounded. Looking at the smile on Qingyaos face, she was overwhelmed by mixed feelings.
She felt touched and sorrowful at the same time.
She surely understood that this matter had put tremendous pressure on both Ye Futian and the Heavenly Mandate Academy. However, Ye Futian obviously wouldnt hand Qingyao over without a fight. This was about holding ones ground and keeping ones words. It was meaningless and unnecessary to argue about right and wrong or to put a price on the level of sacrifice.
None of them would give in to the enemy and put people they cared about in danger.
To fight to the death was different from utter abandonment.
Nevertheless, Qingyao wanted to leave even when Ye Futian and the Heavenly Mandate Academy had already summoned enough people to turn the tables.
"Qingyao, take a look, those people dont dare to provoke us now" Yaya was going to speak more, yet was interrupted by Qingyao, who said, "Sister, they came here and committed such acts because of me. They wont simply give up in the future. People here in the Academy will definitely be harmed if I stay here."
Yaya looked at the girl and was at a loss for words.
She couldnt refute because she knew Qingyao was right.
These people in the Hidden Land Realm sent a large army at high costs all the way to the Heavenly Mandate Academy.
Even if they failed or retreated this time, who could tell what they would do in the future to achieve their objective?
Would they give up?
Absolutely not. The threat would always lurk in the shadows as long as Qingyao stayed in the Heavenly Mandate Academy.
"Sister, brother Ye told me that everyone has the right to determine their own fates. Isnt that right?" Qingyao smiled broadly, said, "Right now, I have made my decision."
Qingyao learned this from Ye Futian, and she was telling it to Yaya now.
"If you dont want me to go, I will leave on my own. Would you grab me against my will? You would make yourself a bad person if you did that," Qingyao chuckled. As a 12-year-old girl, she seemed to be exceptionally mature and rational.
Yayas eyes sparkled as she looked at Qingyaos innocent face. Despite Qingyaos average appearance, she seemed truly beautiful to Yaya. It was the beauty of a gentle and kind spirit.
Yaya smiled back at Qingyao.
She knew that Qingyao had grown up now.
"Qingyao, have you really decided?" Yaya asked. "Brother Ye will definitely help you as long as you want to stay."
"Sister, this is the only choice I have ever made. I will never regret it," Qingyao replied.
Yaya looked at her earnest face, said, "I support you."
"Thank you, sister." Qingyao beamed with joy. All of her fear and anxiety evaporated. She felt incredibly relaxed at the moment.
The two armies were still engaged in a standoff in the air. No one dared to act recklessly. The Dark Army seemed to be waiting for order while the Lord of the Underworld was drinking wine.
At the time, Yaya held Qingyaos hand and slowly rose into the air. They moved toward Ye Futian, who was standing on the battlefield.
No one noticed Qingyao and Yayas conversation in front of the Academy since the atmosphere was so intense.
"Yaya, why do you bring Qingyao here?" Ye Futian saw them and asked.
"Brother, Im leaving," Qingyao said to Ye Futian with a smile. Her eyes were filled with deep affection. The past few days in the Academy were the happiest time she had in her entire life.
"Youre leaving?" Ye Futian looked at Qingyao, surprised.
"Qingyao decided to leave," Yaya said to Ye Futian. Ye Futian stared at them in confusion.
"I agree with Qingyao about her decision," Yaya saw Ye Futians expression and added.
"Yaya, she is still a little girl. What does she know?" Lord Taixuan walked toward them and said to Yaya and Qingyao.
"Grandpa Xuan, if only you were my real grandpa," Qingyao smiled and replied. Lord Taixuan was puzzled and said to her, "But I am your real grandpa."
"Haha" Qingyao chuckled again when she heard Lord Taixuans reply. The laughter then turned into a muffled sob, not because she was sad, but because she was moved by their care for her.
"Grandpa Xuan, just like Nianyu, I want to play with you affectionately too. But I was not brave enough. Now that Im leaving, can I give you a hug?" Qingyao asked, smiling and crying at the same time.
"Of course you can. But who said you have to leave?" Lord Taixuan stepped forward and held the girl in his arms.
Qingyao hugged Lord Taixuan tightly, then she mimicked Nianyu and pulled Lord Taixuans beard. Lord Taixuan looked at Qingyaos smile and could feel that she was a different girl now.
"Have you really made up your mind?" Lord Taixuan suddenly asked.
"Yes," Qingyao nodded. "Maybe I wont see Grandpa Xuan again in the future, but I surely will miss you a lot."
After that, she turned around and opened her arms at Ye Futian, who was standing to the side.
Ye Futian picked up the girl and looked at her. Qingyao used her hand to cover Ye Futians mouth, said, "Brother, can you let me choose my own life, please? I made this choice on my own. I wont regret this, ever."
Ye Futian took a look at the girl, then glanced at Yaya and Lord Taixuan. Same as Lord Taixuan, he sensed how she had changed.
As if she grew up overnight.
"Brother, let Qingyao go," said Yaya. Her voice was strangled even though her face was lit up with a smile.
"Qingyao, we wont lose today," Lord Taixuan told Qingyao.
"I believe in you, Grandpa Xuan. But I really thought this through. Grandpa Xuan, brother, sister, Nianyu, and sister Loulan, I want you all to take care of yourselves," Qingyao said gently. She shifted her eyes to Ye Futian again, held his shoulders, leaned forward, and kissed him on his forehead.
"Thank you, brother!" Qingyao finally expressed her gratitude in a soft, angelic voice.