Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
After three days, an oppressive atmosphere hung over the vast Barren State.
This was a result of the terrifying battle that had happened a few days ago. Many places within Xuanwu City had been blasted to smithereens. There had been many casualties as a result of that earth-shattering battle as well, with many dead or injured.
Within the ranks of all the great powers, like the Zhuge Family, Taihang Mountain, Sword Saint Villa, Nantian House, and the Sacred Fire Sect, there had been many who were killed in the chaos. Even several of the most influential characters from those groups had not been able to escape injury.
But in the end, Zhuge Qingfeng and Yuan Hong had still managed to hold off several incredibly powerful opponents. The insane fight had caused the Sacred Fire Sect and Nantian House to retreat. And after the two opposing sides sustained some damage, they had also decided to pull back for now.
This epic battle that would be the talk of an era was named the Battle of Xuanwu City. It would go down in the history of the Barren State and be remembered for having an impact on future developments in the state.
Other than Xuanwu City, a fierce battle had broken out over at Taihang Mountain as well. The City Lord of White Cloud City was engaged in a showdown with Xu Shang, the top swordsman in the Barren State who was dubbed the Slaughtering Sword.
Many of the influential characters on the side of the City Lord had been killed in that battle, which had ended with Xu Que sustaining serious injuries and the City Lord getting stabbed once. That wild attack made the City Lord decide to halt the battle. Though the City Lord was definitely superior to Xu Shang in terms of ability, he did not want to engage in a life-and-death struggle fighting him. Xu Shang, the number one killer in the Barren State, was too dangerous. With his injuries, the City Lord was not a hundred percent confident of leaving this battle unscathed.
It was said that Xu Shang had shut himself away in Tingxue House after that battle. No one knew the extent of his injuries, but one could guess at the severity of it. Even so, Xu Shang had still managed to force the City Lord of White Cloud City to retreat. The City Lord of White Cloud City probably knows better than anyone how dangerous the number one killer of the Barren State really is, many people thought to themselves.
Other than the battle between those two, many of the Zhisheng Cliffs cultivators that Zhan Xiao had taken to Taihang Mountain had met their demise there. Similarly, many Demon Apes had also been killed, and their blood stained the ground of the mountain. However, the most shocking news that had arisen out of the battle at Taihang Mountain was that Zhan Xiao, who had come to the Barren State to take Gu Dongliu away, had been killed there. Zhan Xiao was one of the Nine Warriors of Zhisheng Cliffs and had caused a terrifying ruckus soon after arriving in the Barren State. It was completely unexpected to everyone from the Barren State and Zhisheng Cliffs that Zhan Xiao would die in the Barren State in this way. Once the news had spread, many people were shocked, even those at the top in the Holy Zhi Palace.
Everyone knew there was a possibility that a greater crisis was about to befall the Barren State. Gu Dongliu had admitted that he was the one who killed Zhan Xiao. If Crouching Dragon Mountain were to still insist on sheltering Gu Dongliu, then all the holy items in Yuan Hong and Zhuge Qingfeng’s possession would not be able to save them.
A Son of Zhisheng Cliffs had died here at the hands of Gu Dongliu. Even if a Saint from Yu State did not take action, it was unlikely that Zhisheng Cliffs would just let this go.
But Kong Yao never did come to Crouching Dragon Mountain to hunt anyone down. Instead, there was a strange peace within the Barren State. It was as if a hush had fallen upon everyone. But everyone in the Barren State knew that this was but the peace before the imminent storm.
Everyone from Nantian House, the Sacred Fire Sect, and the other powers who had been involved with Kong Yao all heaved a sigh of relief. Zhan Xiao had died at an opportune time. Now that he had been killed, did it mean that all hope was lost for Crouching Dragon Mountain and Taihang Mountain?
Over at Mingyue’s quarters at Crouching Dragon Mountain, many people often came to ask Gu Dongliu about the situation at Taihang Mountain, and a greater number of them were interested to know Ye Futian’s whereabouts. The only reply Gu Dongliu gave them was that his Youngest Brother was injured and that he had been sent away to avoid the situation here.
Though there was some suspicion over Gu Dongliu’s words, most people did not think too much about it. It was better that Ye Futian wasn’t at Crouching Dragon Mountain. The atmosphere at Crouching Dragon Mountain was incredibly uneasy now that Gu Dongliu had killed Zhan Xiao. No one knew what the future would bring. The fact that Ye Futian was alive presented a sliver of hope. But it was evident that Gu Dongliu’s explanation had failed to convince Zhuge Mingyue. Looking at him, she asked, “You know very well the kind of person Youngest Brother is, and I know him as well as you do. He’s not the kind of person who would just up and leave like that. What are you hiding from me?”
“Mingyue,” Gu Dongliu looked at Zhuge Mingyue, and reaching out to touch the hair by the side of her face, he whispered, “promise me something.”
“That I’ll carry on with life if you were to die?” Zhuge Mingyue returned his gaze. Over the past few months, though she had asked Gu Dongliu about this matter many times, he had never once given her a direct reply. It was obvious that he didn’t want to lie to her, which was why he intentionally did not give an answer.
Gu Dongliu nodded at her words, and Zhuge Mingyue then replied, “Then can you promise me something as well?”
“What is it?” Gu Dongliu asked.
“Don’t say things like this to me again in future,” Zhuge Mingyue said softly. “Since you don’t want to talk about Youngest Brother, then I won’t ask any further. But no matter what happens in the future, I won’t run. Didn’t we already agree on this on the day you came back to me?”
Looking at the woman before him, Gu Dongliu had nothing to say. What was he to do with a strong-willed woman like her?
A storm was brewing over at the Holy Zhi Palace as well. While Zhan Xiao’s death seemed to have no connection to the Holy Zhi Palace, anything that happened within the Barren State was unavoidably linked to the Palace, given that it was a symbol of the state. Besides, Kong Yao and Zhan Xiao had requested the Palace’s assistance many times, only to be refused by them.
Furthermore, with all the various incidents that had occurred recently, like Bai Ze’s death as well as the battle between the City Lord of White Cloud City and Xu Que, Liu Chan and everyone else at the Palace had a strange feeling that things were really about to change in the Barren State.
Right now, Sage Wanxiang had come to the Holy Sage Pavilion to see Liu Chan about something seemingly important.
“What is it?” Liu Chan asked, noticing Sage Wanxiang’s expression. He could tell that Sage Wanxiang had something urgent to tell him.
“A crisis is going to befall the Palace,” Sage Wanxiang replied solemnly. Since receiving the divination of crisis in the Palace, he had spent this period of time doing further calculations regarding the divination. And with the recent events that had left the Barren State shaken, he had not dared to let his guard down at all.
Not long ago, Sage Wanxiang had encountered a frightening prophecy. A crisis was about to befall the Palace, which meant that the divination of crisis he had received earlier was about to come to pass.
“Are you sure?” Liu Chan’s expression instantly turned solemn as well. From Sage Wanxiang’s face, Liu Chan could deduce that the crisis the Palace was facing this time was no ordinary one. It was highly possible that this would be a massive crisis.
“How could one be wrong about this sort of thing?” Sage Wanxiang replied, “There are laws according to which everything in this world functions. If this sort of prophecy is appearing, then it must have been caused by something. And major incidents have been happening in the Barren State over the past few days. There is a high possibility that these incidents will eventually lead to the crisis that the Palace is going to face.”
“Over at Xuanwu City, Kong Yao from Zhisheng Cliffs led several big powers in a faceoff against Crouching Dragon Mountain and Taihang Mountain. Bai Ze was killed, and Zhan Xiao lost his life as well. All these incidents may add up to become a crisis for the Palace,” Liu Chan guessed. “Zhisheng Cliffs probably will not let Zhan Xiao’s death pass just like that.”
All the incidents that occurred within the past few days had caused the divination to change for the worse. Zhan Xiao’s death undoubtedly had the greatest influence on the way things would turn out in the Barren State. It could potentially have directly affected the divination itself.
Sage Wanxiang nodded lightly. He could not determine the exact event that would push this prophecy into fruition, but judging the magnitude of everything that had happened so far, he could deduce that Zhan Xiao’s death played the largest part in all of this.
As of today, Kong Yao was still in the Barren State, while some of his men from Zhisheng Cliffs had left. They had to go back and report that a Son of Zhisheng Cliffs had been killed in the Barren State.
Qin Zhong had left with the other powerful individuals from Zhisheng Cliffs as well. But the next party sent from Zhisheng Cliffs probably would not be made up of Nobles like Qin Zhong anymore. Zhisheng Cliffs probably had not expected that things would turn out like this either.
“Were there any other omens in the prophecy?” Liu Chan questioned further.
Sage Wanxiang shook his head. Since the prophecy was one that foretold crisis, something disastrous was definitely going to happen. No one knew how things would turn out in the future, and it was not possible for Sage Wanxiang to make any predictions about it either. It was unclear whether the Holy Zhi Palace would make a breakthrough in this upcoming crisis, or be overwhelmed beyond rescue.
“Summon the heads of the six palaces,” Liu Chan ordered. “Everyone has a right to know about this, and we need to discuss what the Palace should do when this crisis finally arises.”
Sage Wanxiang nodded in response to Liu Chan’s words. Indeed, they had to start preparations for the upcoming crisis now. However, at this very moment, Liu Chan suddenly lifted his head to gaze into the distance before sighing internally. Those who were expected to return to the Palace had finally come back, though he was hoping that they wouldn’t.
A man with an incredible aura walked towards them from afar. In a flash, he had landed directly before them. There weren’t many people who could behave so impudently in the Holy Sage Pavilion of the Holy Zhi Palace, but Liu Chan did not scold him. Instead, he remained silent, as though this was something absolutely normal to witness.
This man who had just returned to the Palace was Bai Luli. Bai Ze, his younger brother, had been killed not long ago.
“Teacher, have they been captured?” Bai Luli asked. He could never have expected that his final parting from his brother would be when he had left to train after the incident at Crouching Dragon Mountain. His younger brother had been killed in the Holy Zhi Palace afterward.
Though Bai Ze really had been a little too arrogant for his own good and had many flaws that even Bai Luli had criticized, he was still his younger brother, and blood was thicker than water. Now that Bai Ze had been killed, the pain that Bai Luli felt was understandable. Bai Ze had been in the wrong for what he did, and he did deserve to be punished, but did it really warrant him being killed?
Liu Chan shook his head gently. Xu Que was also on the run now. Liu Chan knew of the influence Tingxue House had. It was probably part of the reason why they were still unable to capture Xu Que and Ye Futian even now.
“We’re still investigating,” Liu Chan replied. “Luli, now that the Barren State is in chaos, protect your own frame of mind against disturbances from the outside world.”
Bai Luli was the hope and future of the Holy Zhi Palace. No matter what happened, those at the Palace were hoping that Bai Luli could remain unaffected by it all.
“I understand.” Bai Luli nodded. He understood Liu Chan’s intentions.
“Wanxiang has predicted that a crisis will befall the Palace,” Liu Chan told Bai Luli. “It is still unknown whether the Palace will be able to tide through this crisis. But if the Palace really is destroyed, you must live, and carry on the work of the Palace.”
“Nothing will happen to the Palace,” Bai Luli replied.
“I hope so as well,” Liu Chan murmured. However, his worries remained. Now that Bai Luli had returned, and the prophecy was about to come to pass, what would become of the Barren State? And what would the Palace eventually have to face?
No one knew the answer to these questions. All may have seemed calm in the Barren State for the time being, but there was already an army of people making their way from the Yu State to the Barren State.
Zhan Xiao, one of the Nine Warriors of Zhisheng Cliffs, had died in the Barren State. This definitely was no small matter!