Chapter 1352 - First Humiliation Since Antiquity
In the past few days, word of Tianming's gang defeating the top three celestial orderian youths, including the sun emperor's son, had spread throughout Orderia. The Myriad Solar Sects' morale was greatly boosted, while countless celestial orderians cursed Li Haochen for causing them to suffer humiliation. Some even called it the first humiliation their race had received since antiquity.
Li Haochen knew that if he returned now, he would only constantly be blamed. The celestial orderians tolerated no failures or setbacks. The consequences of the event were already brewing, but they couldn't be felt yet. When they were finally ready to burst, there would be endless chaos.
Tianming, Long Wanying, Yan Nuxia, Yu Ziqian, and Jiang Qingliu had gone to the Greatriver Valley in advance to make plans. That part of the divine tree was producing the most divine herbs so far. In the cities controlled by the Azuresoul Palace, there were about three hundred thousand cultivators in total. They were all harvesting the fruits alongside their lifebound beasts and transporting them back to the sect. The divine herbs ranged from grade one to the occasional six.
For now, the Supracloud Sanctuary and Azuresoul Palace stuck to picking the fruits at their own borders. Border skirmishes happened all too often, with people dying at every moment. However, no large-scale conflict like the one that almost happened over the grade-eight divine herb had occurred yet, though it was only a matter of time for the grievances from small skirmishes to accumulate to a boiling point. With how widespread the skirmishes were, there was little Tianming could do about it.
"There's only one way to prevent death on a large scale on the continent. We have to make the Supracloud Sanctuary and Azuresoul Palace evenly split the fruits." However, Tianming didn't think that could be achieved, at least not before he executed the first phase of his plan. There were still many uncertainties with the bonegnaw ants, so he had to succeed in the first phase before considering other things.
"Actually, as long as not too much of the total harvest is taken by outsiders, the divine tree should produce more than enough resources for both sects."
The Azurecloud Divine Tree was considered an amplifier of the nova source the continent received, in a sense. However, the sects themselves only got around a tenth of the harvest thanks to outsiders coming in to help. It wasn't easy to imagine how many benefits this continent-spanning tree would afford the two sects if the fruits of the harvests weren't always taken by meddling outsiders.
"The Azurecloud Continent must be united through cooperation from both sides for them to be powerful enough to receive the share that they deserve." These were the foundations of Tianming's ambitions.
When they arrived, Tianming scattered Yin Chen around the places where the divine tree stretched. The little eggs turned into nearly a million invisible cockroaches and spread out. Now the entire place was under his control. They had come rather early; it was another six hours before Ye Buzhiqiu showed up to deploy the Singularity Atlas before going back to depart with the other swordpupils.
"I bet he’d never expect that we know everything he's doing," Yu Ziqian said.
"Yeah!" Jiang Qingliu's expression was calm.
Two hours later, Ye Buzhiqiu finished setting up the atlas. Dusting off his hands with satisfaction, he smiled and left.
"I have to say, the place he picked is rather good. This valley is surrounded by cliffs on both sides and there’s a ridge down to an abyss at the rear. The only entrance is the dense forest ahead. Once the illusion formation is deployed and you enter it with him, the sounds of battle will have a hard time spreading out. There aren't any divine tree branches here, either, so nobody's standing guard," Long Wanying said.
"How is it, Ziqian?" Jiang Qingliu asked after he nodded his agreement.
"It's fine. The cauldron can expand a lot. We'll bury the lid in the ground first. When the time comes, we'll drop the cauldron from the top of a mountain to seal off these two cliffs and the atlas itself. He'll be a sitting duck. Though, we have to note the energy I have. I can only cut off the noise of battle at most. If Ye Buzhiqiu breaks out of the lid, I’ll lose control, so you can't give him any chances."
"Alright. It's only Ye Buzhiqiu alone, after all. He wouldn't even be able to move when faced with all three of us," Yan Nuxia nonchalantly said. She was from a first-rate sect, like Long Wanying. The only ones she had to be careful of were people on Gujian Qingshuang's level. "We must settle it as quickly as possible. I can already see the look on his face when he realizes he's trapped."
Though Jiang Qingliu looked calm the entire time, he was mentally prepared to go all out. He had seen every expression, every smile of glee on Ye Buzhiqiu's face as he deployed the Singularity Atlas, and every time, he felt a blow to his heart. This was a straight-out betrayal.
"Master, don't overthink this. You're just slaughtering a chicken," Yu Ziqian said as he tapped his master's shoulder.
"I only hope for the time to come sooner," Jiang Qingliu said. After that, he returned to the Azuresoul Sword Mountain alone while Tianming and the rest finished the rest of the preparations. It would take another hour for all of it to be done. After that, all that would be left was waiting.
Long Wanying and Yan Nuxia would hide somewhere near the atlas while Tianming and Yu Ziqian waited at the valley's two peaks, holding their breaths. Two days later, Yin Chen reported that Ye Buzhiqiu and Jiang Qingliu had arrived with about ten thousand swordpupils. Their group was spread out, thanks to the threat of Li Wushuang. Even Ye Buzhiqiu and Jiang Qingliu had come alone to the rendezvous point. After that, they began quietly picking the divine herbs and stationing secret guards to keep watch.
A day later, Tianming saw Ye Buzhiqiu bringing Jiang Qingliu toward the atlas. "They're almost here. Get ready!"
The black-robed Jiang Qingliu listlessly watched the yellow figure ahead of him. Ye Buzhiqiu's hair was neatly combed together and his silhouette as he walked through the forest was long and slender like a sword.
"Come on, what's with all the mystery? Why’re you asking me to come with you?" Jiang Qingliu asked.
"Don't ask so many questions. I already told you that the chief instructor wanted you to follow me," he said, turning around and giving him an annoyed look.
"I mean, if it's some kind of mission, you should at least tell me what it is beforehand, right?" Jiang Qingliu said meekly.
"If you don't want to come, you don't have to. Just stay away from me and don’t get in my way. Why would I need to tell an old fogey like you everything? Follow if you want, and do what I say instead of mumbling and complaining the whole time." That was the usual attitude Ye Buzhiqiu had when he dealt with Jiang Qingliu and he didn't dare to act any differently. If he was too polite, Jiang Qingliu might suspect that something was off.
"Fine!" Jiang Qingliu helplessly shook his head, though he still followed with a heavy heart.
Ye Buzhiqiu looked at him and thought, how could the Azuresoul Tower choose someone so meek that lets others boss him around like this? Is the artifact soul of the tower getting senile or something?
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