The army of people headed into Mount Tianyao together. The City of Qingzhou had never had an expedition of this level before.
Mount Tianyao covered a large area of terrain, far larger than that of the main urban areas of Qingzhou City. It was difficult to imagine how many demons and monsters lurked in these mountains. Many people had attempted to clear Mount Tianyao of demons and monsters but to no avail.
Now, because of Xia Fan, Qingzhou Academy and the city's first line of defense, the Dark Qilin Knighthood, were forced to send troops of people into the mountains. In addition, the Qingzhou Guards and Heiyan City's army were following behind them. The sheer number of people there was seemingly more impactful than the monster tide.
The Dark Qilin Knighthood charged forward on the path that Qingzhou Academy's School of Divination Arts had cleared for them using sorcery. Their advance forced the demons and monsters deeper into the mountains, but Qin Shuai was not excited about this at all. The troop was attacking at full-force, but there were still demons and monsters slipping past them left and right into the main city. All they could do now was try their best to eliminate as many demons and monsters as possible.
"Lead the way," Xia Fan ordered the middle-aged man ahead of him. His people had left markers in the mountains the last time they were here looking for the historical remains of Emperor Ye Qing.
Ye Futian and the people of Heiyan Academy were walking at the back of the group. He had already made some inquiries. Ye Futian found out that the girl beside him was named Tang Yue, twenty years old. She was definitely a flirtatious beauty. Ye Futian and Tang Yue got familiar with each other fairly quickly.
"Senior Sister, a beauty like you must have many suitors, right?" asked Ye Futian.
"Why do you ask?" laughed Tang Yue.
"Do I have a chance?" he asked her. She looked at Ye Futian and chuckled, "You do look pretty handsome but it's a shame that you're a little too young for my liking."
"Senior Sister, I'm already an adult. Sixteen is not too young," said Ye Futian. When Tang Yue saw how serious he was, she could not help but burst out in laughter. The young men of Heiyan Academy glared at Ye Futian when they heard Tang Yue laughing.
"Senior Sister, do you know why we're here?" asked Ye Futian.
"The elders say that there are historical remains in Mount Tianyao," explained Tang Yue.
Ye Futian shook his head. "Senior Sister, let me tell you a secret."
He then leaned in close to whisper softly in her ear, "In Mount Tianyao, there is a secret methods index left behind by Emperor Ye Qing.
Tang Yue's expression turned serious and she looked at Ye Futian. "Is what you said true?"
It looked like Xia Yan had, indeed, kept this information to himself. It was hard to blame him though because this had to do with Emperor Ye Qing so, of course, he would keep quiet about it.
"Of course! My master is 'THE' Hua Fengliu and I also know General Qin. It's only natural that I know this secret. Why else would they have made such a big fuss?" said Ye Futian.
"Wait for me here," Tang Yue finished her sentence and left. Ye Futian watched as she walked up to speak with the elder that had wanted to challenge Hua Fengliu and made her way back. "Come with me," she said to Ye Futian.
He followed her to stand in front of the elder who had his eyes closed. "Where did you hear this information?" the elder asked Ye Futian.
"May I ask what your position is at Heiyan Academy?" questioned Ye Futian.
The elder opened his eyes, his gaze sharp, "Why do you ask?"
"Since I'm going to pursue an education at Heiyan Academy, it's only common sense to want to learn from the best of the best," explained Ye Futian.
"I am Tang Mo, the Headmaster of Heiyan Academy. If you do well maybe I will think about teaching you myself," said the elder. Beside them, Tang Yue smiled and explained, "He's my grandfather."
Ye Futian bowed down and began to blabber baseless information. "Since you're the headmaster and Senior Sister Tang Yue's grandfather I would not dare withhold information from you. There has always been a rumor in the City of Qingzhou that our city was where Emperor Ye Qing originated and that he had left an heirloom here. To obtain the heirloom was to obtain the right to inherit his position and his secret methods index. A lot of people think it's just a legend but it's all true. The heirloom is up in Mount Tianyao; General Qin has personally seen it in the past."
"Why didn't he take it then?" Tang Mo was skeptical.
"Headmaster, do you really think Emperor Ye Qing's heirloom is that easy to obtain? If it were, why would Xia Fan do all of this?" asked Ye Futian.
Tang Mo squinted his eyes in suspicion. "Do you know what happens if you lie to me?"
"I didn't know that Headmaster was kept in the dark about this. I was simply making conversation with Senior Sister Tang Yue, why would I purposely lie to her? It's just that Xia Fan has already gathered professionals from the East Sea Prefecture but he's using people from both academies to fend off the demons and monsters instead. I think he's up to no good," answered Ye Futian.
"Are you trying to turn us against each other?" Tang Mo was extremely sharp. His great aura was suffocating Ye Futian.
"When you reach the site of the remains you'll know whether or not Xia Fan has been lying to you. If what I said was false, then my life is in your hands but if what I said was true, then you should start being wary," said Ye Futian.
"Why?" asked Tang Mo.
"I don't know what Xia Fan promised you but I'm sure you know what the inheritance of Emperor Ye Qing signifies. When the troops are done dealing with the demons and monsters, it would be easy to get his hands on the heirloom. After he accomplishes his goal, it would be a piece of cake for him to kill off all the witnesses. Headmaster, you must take caution," Ye Futian spoke solemnly. Up ahead, it was loud as the troops advanced and the boundaries of the mountain were on lockdown by the aces of Heiyan Academy. There would be no need to worry about a leak of information if worst comes to worst.
"Do you hate the Vice Chief?" Tang Mo asked suddenly.
Ye Futian lifted his head to look at Tang Mo. After a short silence, he nodded, "Of course! Xia Fan will do anything to get his way. He even started the monster tide to get us all on the mountain. The City of Qingzhou is my home, I can't allow him to bring harm to our city. If his plans succeed, it would be difficult for even me to make it out alive. If you don't believe me, then forget it; but if you choose to believe me then please join hands with us. My master is Hua Fengliu, and I'm acquainted with General Qin. Even if the two schools have always been rivals, it's not impossible to work together just this once. If we can get our hands on Emperor Ye Qing's heirloom, wouldn't it all be worth it? You would be able to do anything you want, without fearing repercussions from a prefecture chief.
"Tang Yue, take him away," Tang Mo ordered abruptly with a sullen look. Tang Yue walked towards Ye Futian.
He bowed once more to Tang Mo and left with Tang Yue, not saying another word.
"What do you think?" Tang Mo asked the eagle-eyed man at his side.
"That guy has got quite a mouth on him. We can't trust him completely. The key now is to wait and see if what we find is truly the historical remains of Emperor Ye Qing," reasoned Eagle Eyes.
"And if they really are his remains?" Tang Mo continued to question.
"Father, if it is actually the heirloom of Emperor Ye Qing, then what would a city like Qingzhou be to us? If we got our hands on the heirloom, not even the entire East Sea area would be able to stop us," said Eagle Eyes. Tang Mo went into deep thought. Even though Ye Futian's words were evidently trying to make the groups question one another, he had a point. With the heirloom in his hands, he would be unstoppable.
"Do you think he'll be of use to us?" Tang Mo asked.
Eagle Eyes thought for a while then shook his head. "Whether it be his gift or his personality, he's too hard to control."
"That's true. Yun Tianhao is naturally prideful and thinks only of cultivation but this young man is different," Tang Mo agreed with his son.
"Even though Yun Tianhao lost to this fellow, he is still a Mandate Sorcerer. Yun Tianhao will only get stronger and more powerful. He has already left for the City of Donghai to seek more knowledge. He will definitely make a glorious return. Ye Futian on the other hand, if we don't get him under control...," Eagle Eyes looked at Tang Mo and then shared an unspoken understanding.
The large group was advancing very quickly. Along the way, they stepped over countless carcasses of different types of demons and monsters but they had also suffered many attacks. Both Qingzhou Academy and the Dark Qilin Knighthood made many sacrifices, some dead, some hurt.
The fog on Mount Tianyao grew thicker. It would be impossible to locate anything in the mountains from up in the air. This was the only reason Xia Fan chose to advance on foot.
During their long expedition, Headmaster Gu Mu of Qingzhou Academy and Qin Shuai went looking for Xia Fan. When they found him, they made their intentions clear, "If everyone else continues to take a back seat while our people from the academy and the knighthood clear the way, we will leave the way we came."
"Are you threatening me?" Xia Fan stared at Qin Shuai who had just listed his terms.
"Think what you will," said Qin Shuai calmly. They were no longer in the City of Qingzhou. They had initially agreed to Xia Fan's forceful request because of the monster tide but now that they were deep into Mount Tianyao, things were different.
Xia Fan did not dare to push his luck.
"Fine," Xia Fan gave in and called out, "Headmaster Tang Mo."
"I understand," Tang Mo nodded and ordered his people to take the place of the people of Qingzhou Academy and the Dark Qilin Knighthood at the front line. Ye Futian stepped up with them. This area with the deeper fog housed more powerful demons and monsters. Sometimes, there were even high-leveled Dharma rank demons and monsters. To defeat these creatures, the elders would have to step in.
Time passed, and day by day, there were fewer and fewer people in their expedition, and a large number of those who were hurt were actually their most powerful people in the group. The weaker people were being protected in the back of the group. Nobody would send the weak out to die, so they were the safest.
Whenever Ye Futian was met with danger, he ran to hide amongst the Heiyan Academy aces so he would be safe as well. He was not about to risk his life for the Heiyan Academy. A lot of people scorned him when he did this, but he did not care at all.
Finally, when they had gotten far enough within the mountains, the fog began to clear. This area was bright, maybe even brighter than it had been off the mountains. Spiritual Qi was gathered here.
"This area is heavy with Spiritual Qi, but the surrounding areas are layered in fog. Could it be...," someone in the group spoke up.
"That's right. We're here," said an ace beside Xia Fan. He was excited. The lot continued to advance, and they started to realize that there was not a single demon or monster in this area.
"What is that?" someone pointed ahead and screamed. As they got closer, the view became clearer, and everyone's hearts began to pound. What they saw was an enormous statue. It rose from the valley below and stood in the middle of the mountains.
Everyone was shaking, but they continued to advance until they were all standing on a cliff above the valley, looking out at the statue. Spiritual Qi was flowing like crazy through the entire area.
"Look down." Someone pointed with a shaking finger down at the base of the statue. There, they saw a dragon coiled around the statue. It was an actual dragon! Right now, it had its eyes closed shut, seemingly asleep.
"That's the dragon," someone from Qingzhou Academy said. Everyone, including Ye Futian, was surprised. This dragon was the same one they saw last fall.
Around the statue and dragon, the valley was swarmed by powerful demons. They were revolving around the statue, greedily absorbing it's Spiritual Qi.
This was a valley of a million beasts.
"Emperor Ye Qing," someone said in shock as they stared at the giant statue.
Sixteen years ago, the death of Emperor Ye Qing became tabooed and it became forbidden for anything in his image to exist but right in front of their eyes was this magnificent statue of Emperor Ye Qing!