“Father…” Wei Tianxiong knew that by giving this slot to Li Tianming, they were effectively admitting how useless they were! The Wei Clan would surely become a laughing stock if the news were to spread outside. But Wei Tiancang simply waved his hand, signalling for Wei Tianxiong to stop talking.
“Yes, Potentate. What’s the deal?” Li Tianming was more eager about this than anyone else here.
“Before that, there's a prerequisite,” Wei Tiancang said.
“From now on, don’t mention your relations with the Wei Manor, and don’t you talk about the honour of the Wei Clan. No one will believe you, and you have no right to fight in the Wei Clan’s name as well. You represent yourself, and yourself only!” Wei Tiancang said.
That took Li Tianming by surprise, since according to Mu Yang, he was supposed to gain the acceptance of Wei Tiancang through his performance.
“No problem, Potentate. Just tell me the deal.” Li Tianming casually agreed, since he wasn’t interested in the Wei Clan’s honour in the first place.
“It’s not so much of a deal as to a chance I’m giving you. I will permit you to participate in the Abyssal Trials, and should you emerge victorious, I will let your mother live,” Wei Tiancang said.
That was enough to elate Li Tianming. It had taken years, but he had finally found a way for Wei Jing to live! He never imagined that Wei Tiancang would give him such a chance, and that possibility alone made his eyes water. Everyone knew how difficult it would be to attain that prize offered by Heaven’s Elysium. The Abyssal Battlefield was a dangerous place, not to mention that the Abyssal Trials was something that had never been organised before — even Wei Tiancang himself didn’t know the meaning behind it.
“But, if you are not the victor, then your mother will remain the way she is now for the rest of her life. No matter what you do, or what you say in the future, my stance is firm. Everyone here shall be my witness!” Wei Tiancang finished with a solemn promise.
For a good while, no one on the stone bridge uttered a word. None of them expected Wei Tiancang to really give Li Tianming a chance to save his mother, and Mu Yang was as excited about this as Li Tianming was. Still, it was too early to celebrate. None of them knew what Heaven’s Elysium’s purpose of holding this Abyssal Trials, or its rules, were. They didn’t even know what kind of competitors they would be facing from the Heaven’s Sanctum of the two neighboring nations.
What dangers awaited them in the Azure Domain? What were the odds that Li Tianming could possibly enter the Elysium, just like Lin Xiaoting?
If it was that easy a decision, surely the sanctum wouldn’t have taken so long to pick out the participants. The seniors treasured this opportunity as much as they feared it. Once their children entered the Abyssal Battlefield, their survival would be up to fate, and no one would even know if they died inside. Therefore, it seemed like Li Tianming’s odds of winning were infinitely close to zero. Once this chance was lost, everything would end.
“Remember, Li Tianming. Once we seal the deal, you will never bother me about your mother ever again if you lose. Promise me that, and I will let you go.”
Li Tianming might be rejoicing, but Wei Tiancang’s request was no doubt asking him to dance on a razor’s edge. This was the final chance that he had, and no matter what he did in the future, Wei Tiancang would reject him based on the promise they had today. That was crude, sure, but there was still that slim chance for Wei Jing at the very least. Perhaps one could even call it a reward for Li Tianming for his performance today!
“Deal? Or no deal?” Wei Tiancang was calm, as if everything was within his control. He expected Li Tianming to hesitate, to back off from this impossible challenge.
“Deal.” But no, Li Tianming was way calmer than the old man thought when he accepted the challenge.
“Prepare what you need. Eight days later, Mu Yang will bring you into the Abyssal Battlefield!” With that, Wei Tiancang cast one last glance at Li Tianming before turning to leave. From now on, Wei Jing’s fate was decided by the Abyssal Trials. Life or death would depend on this one battle.
“Remember to keep to your words. When you return from the Abyssal Battlefield, spend the time to accompany her for the last days of her life.” Wei Zikun sneered, before following Wei Tiancang’s steps together with the rest of the Wei Clan.
“Li Tianming, you and Jiang Qingluan can help each other out when you meet on the Abyssal Battlefield,” Supernal Mentor Qin Shi said.
“Definitely.” Li Tianming nodded.
“Then good luck to you.” Qin Shi left with the other supernal mentors. Li Tianming saw Liu Xueyao in the group too. He knew that Mu Qingqing would be entering the Battlefield, while Lin Xiaoting would be waiting outside.
“Vice-Potentate, the Azure Domain would be sealed up by Heaven’s Elysium, so no one would find out if anyone is murdered there, right?” Li Tianming asked.
“No one will know, which is why it is far more important to make it back alive. The ticket to Heaven’s Elysium is so vague and distant, it almost seems like a trap.” Mu Yang shook his head. He hadn’t expected this seemingly-normal day to take such a drastic turn.
Was it a good thing or bad? He couldn’t tell.
“You should have discussed this with me beforehand. There are many strange parts about the Abyssal Trials that you do not know. Most of us here don’t consider it to be good news, since we have no right to intervene. We can’t even spectate the Trials,” Mu Yang explained.
“No matter what, I want to give it a try.” Li Tianming was determined. He had two goals right now. First, he needed to stop Mu Qingqing from joining Lin Xiaoting in Heaven’s Elysium, and the Abyssal Battlefield was the perfect place for killing. And secondly, this was his only chance of saving Wei Jing. And yet, now he needed to just do one thing to accomplish them both. How easy was it? At any rate, nothing could stop the burning passion in his heart right now.
“Once you enter the battlefield, your life will be decided by fate. Whether you emerge as a hero or as a corpse is up to you,” Mu Yang sighed.
“Decided by fate?” Li Tianming curved his lips.
“You still have eight days to prepare, but more importantly, you need to be mentally ready. No one can tell what will be happening next. Just remember, don’t keep your mother waiting, she doesn't have much time left.” Mu Yang stared at the youth standing before him. He could see the dedication in the youth’s eyes and the fighting spirit burning in his eyes. Even though Mu Yang was pessimistic about the Trials and felt that it wasn’t just a competition of who was stronger, he didn’t want to discourage Li Tianming.
“When you see your mother later, just tell her the Abyssal Trials is nothing much. Don’t worry her too much,” Mu Yang instructed.
“Noted.” Li Tianming nodded his head.
Eight more days before he entered the real battlefield! The ranking test and fighting with cousins were nothing compared to that. The Abyssal Battlefield was a place where a single decision could mean life or death. The last time he was there, he obtained the Saintbeast War-Soul. For a while, he thought he was the chosen one, but he ended up paying a price for his naivety.
“Just call me Uncle Yang. You have yet to defeat Wei Guohao by yourself, and before you return from the battlefield, you aren't my disciple. If you succeed, you will become a member of Heaven’s Elysium and won’t need my mentoring. If you fail, however, then I’m willing to guide you in the future. My only concern is if you die there.” Mu Yang had always been quite the optimist, but he just couldn’t say that about the Abyssal Trials. Heaven’s Elysium was outside his control, and that meant that even he couldn’t protect the disciples of the sanctum.
“Alright Uncle Yang, what do you think about the Abyssal Battlefield?”
“The battlefield?” Mu Yang pondered for a moment. “Even I don’t know much more than any of you do, considering how mysterious the place is. Within Vermilion Bird Nation, there are nine passages to the Abyssal Battlefield, one of which is in the institute, and another in our sanctum. The passages are in fact bottomless pits. When you jump down the pits, you will gradually fall, until a certain point where you slow down and rise up again. Once that happens, you'll reach a world that seems to be a complete reflection of Flameyellow Continent.”
“That world shares the same landscape as our continent, and we suspect that it should be just as large. For example, we have a Mount Verm in our borders, and you will find a similar mountain in the exact same spot on the Battlefield. Other than man-made structures and damage, all else remains the same. However, there is no sun in the Abyssal Battlefield, and instead there is a black ‘Calamitous Sun’. It doesn’t give off much light, which is why it is generally quite dark in the battlefield. Other than spirit herbs, normal flora won’t grow there, and the place is covered in rocky or sandy plains. The concentration of spiritual energy in the air is about the same as in our world, but it is much more violent and not suited for normal people. Only beastmasters can walk inside there safely.”
“If one considers Flameyellow Continent to be ruled by beastmasters and lifebound beasts, then the Abyssal Battlefield is the playground of wildbeasts. You've seen the beasts there before; it's a cruel world where only the fittest survive. Even in the Vermilion Bird Domain of the Battlefield, you may find wildbeasts even stronger than me, and that'll be it for you. In comparison, areas like the Giblu Domain and the Azure Domain had been cleared by us before, and are considerably safer. Other than these allocated domains, you won’t be able to survive anywhere else. In the institute, we often organize disciples to enter the Battlefield in groups. This is to refine beast souls from wildbeasts, and obtain spiritsource abilities for their lifebound beasts,” Mu Yang explained.
Li Tianming knew about that. When he and Midas first entered Spiritsource, he was qualified to enter the Abyssal Battlefield to slay wildbeasts and select spiritsource abilities for Midas. He was quite bold back then, entering the Azure Domain alone and somehow obtaining the Saintbeast War-Soul. That was the only time he entered the Abyssal Battlefield. When he had first seen the black ‘Calamitous Sun’, his heart had skipped a beat back then.
Throughout the course of history, corpses piled plains of the Abyssal Battlefield. Wildbeasts, lifebound beasts, and even beastmasters. Who could imagine the number of lives that had been lost there?