“The two of them ganged up against Li Tianming at first and lost instantly, with the Hepta-Starred Winged Lion even taking considerable damage. Because of that, they went into hiding early, but that also managed to save them from dying at the hands of Yueling Ji. At least that was how those from Aquamarine had died.” Jiang Qingluan rolled her eyes.
“Ganged up and lost instantly?” Xue Lan took a step back in shock. Even Madam Yuan Yu was looking pale. How long had it been since they joked about him during the ranking test? And yet, Li Tianming had defeated both of their precious sons working together in such a short period of time. That definitely wasn’t a great feeling for the two mothers.
“Chen Hao, do you now understand that there are always those better than you?” Sage Chen didn’t exactly find it a shame.
“Yes, father.” Chen Hao’s head was lowered. He had thought that he could make his father apologise with his performance, but that was not going to happen any time soon.
“Can you validate their claims?” Sage Chen continued asking.
“I… That’s right, they speak the truth!” Chen Hao pursed his lips.
“I can vouch for them too. Li Tianming was a worthy opponent.” Xing Que decided to confess as well. Compared to their mothers, the twins weren’t all that bothered about losing face. That only left Xue Lan and Yuan Yu feeling numb at one side.
At that moment, Mu Yang made a conclusion.
“This should be a rigged match then, or else those two from the Yueling Clan shouldn’t have even appeared at the Abyssal Battlefield. They are quite bold about it as well, so it seems like the Abyssal Trials was designed for Yueling Ji to begin with; there is nothing we can do to change that. Be glad that none of our kids died. Murong Tianhai had it far worse, he broke down in front of the inspectors just now.” Mu Yang’s statement reflected everyone else's thoughts as well.
“Anyone heard of this Yueling Clan before?” the Vermilion Bird King asked, but the others shook their heads. If they really were such a strong hidden clan, then how was it possible for them to hide themselves for millennia? This Yueling Clan, though mysterious, was definitely not part of Torch Dragon.
“Listen, even if this is the truth, no one is allowed to gossip about this. Only those here shall know about this, or Vermilion Bird will be in danger. Understand?” the king added.
“Don’t worry, your highness. We all know the consequences. Luckily for us, we haven’t incurred much of a loss,” Minister Qin replied. Save for one exception, he was right, and that one exception was Li Tianming.
Jiang Qingluan looked anxiously at Wei Tiancang and said, “Potentate, please understand that it was impossible for Li Tianming to obtain the first place in the trials to begin with. But there was no doubt his performance was that of a real champion’s.”
“That’s enough, it’s time for us to go back. Ling’er, you too.” The emperor patted her head.
“Yes, father.” Jiang Feiling knew that she had to listen to her father, or it would be difficult for her to find Li Tianming next time. Furthermore, Jiang Qingluan was still poisoned, and the emperor clearly wanted her to have some rest.
“Farewell, your highness,” Wei Tiancang said, together with the rest from the sanctum.
“Goodbye, Potentate.” The emperor took his leave together with his two daughters and the minister. Li Tianming was saddened to part with Ling’er after being together for nearly a month, but at least she was in the palace, which wasn’t too far from the sanctum.
“Mo Lin, let’s go.” Zhao Yuanji left with Mo Lin too, knowing that whatever unsettled issues were the Wei Clan’s family matters.
Next, the Starry Sages left as well.
“All these people are trying to defend Li Tianming, they really want Wei Tiancang to save Wei Jing, don’t they?!” Xue Lan ranted the moment they walked out.
“Why else?” Sage Chen replied, but Xue Lan merely lowered her head without responding.
“Can you pull yourself together? No one is going to snatch your husband away from you.”
“Yeah sure, not like I have a say in anything.” Xue Lan rolled her eyes. Even then, she couldn’t get over her sons losing to Li Tianming. With Wei Jing's full recovery on the cards now, her mood now began to worsen. If the fragile valuables at her home were sentient, they would have made a break for it, before she broke them into pieces from sheer rage...
Well, at least she had the wealth to treat them as expendables.
With their departure, only Li Tianming, Mu Yang and the Wei Clan were left. Everyone was silently waiting for Wei Tiancang’s instructions.
“Back to the manor.” Wei Tiancang turned and stalked off without a second word, followed by the rest of the clan.
“Tianming, follow us.” Mu Yang said. The two of them trailed behind the members of the clan.
“Uncle Yang, what are our chances?” Li Tianming asked. He barely had the chance to express his opinions just now, since it was Jiang Qingluan and Mo Lin doing all the talking earlier.
“We'll know once we return,” Mu Yang said seriously.
Seems like even he couldn’t figure out what Wei Tiancang was thinking.
Strictly speaking, Li Tianming had not fulfilled his end of the deal, but it was a bad deal to begin with. In such a scenario, whatever happened next was completely up to Wei Tiancang.
“I believe you know what the key point is?” Mu Yang asked.
“It’s his second sore spot. The better I perform, the less he can ignore me,” Li Tianming answered.
“That’s right, so make sure you go all out when you get the chance later.”
“Understood!” Needless to say, this was about to be the most important day in his life.
“Uncle Yang, do you think Lin Xiaoting would leave for the Elysium straight away?” That was another of Li Tianming’s worries.
“I assumed that the inspectors would take him with them the moment they arrived. Instead, they were in no hurry, and even took the Yueling Clan to the Lightning Manor. I’d say that there’s something going on between them, and you'll still have your chance,” Mu Yang said thoughtfully. He did have his speculations on what was happening, but there was no concrete evidence.
“Looks like I have no need to worry then,” Li Tianming replied.
“Speaking of which, why did you not kill Mu Qingqing? Decided to show some mercy after all?” Mu Yang asked, his brow raised.
“Do I look like that kind, uncle Yang?”
“Well, just wait for it.”
“Hmm, I’m guessing you want her to have a taste of her own medicine then.” Mu Yang was smart enough to figure out Li Tianming’s intentions at once. How could he not notice that there was something going on between Lin Xiaoting and Yueling Ji?
“How has mother been?” Li Tianming asked.
“She’s fine, but she does miss you. And when it rains, the Lifesbane hurts a little more than usual, but I have the spirit herbs for that.”
“Come on, it’s only twenty-plus days.”
“Yeah, that’s what I told her too,” Mu Yang replied.
After a while, they finally returned to Wei Manor. Many disciples of the clan had gathered, including Wei Lingxuan and Wei Qingyi. Even Wei Guohao had gotten out of his ward just to witness this. He was hoping to hear news that Li Tianming had died in the battlefield, but it didn't take long before he saw Li Tianming and Mu Yang following behind the elders of the clan.
“He’s still alive!”
“What’s he here for?”
“Of course he failed. I heard that the winner was a girl from Torch Dragon by the name of Yueling Ji,” Wei Lingxuan said.
“Ahh, so he’s back to send his mother off,” Wei Qingyi said.
“That’s right.” Wei Guohao patted his head.
At that moment, Wei Tiancang arrived.
“Get out of my way.” Wei Tiancang sounded very annoyed, sweeping the youngsters to one side like he was chasing off flies. Even their fathers seemed to be in a bad mood. What was going on?
At the same time, Li Tianming walked past them too.
“How’s your recovery going?” Li Tianming asked Wei Guohao.
“Why should you care?” Wei Guohao gritted his teeth.
“So that I know when’s a good time to beat you up again.”
“We shall see who’s the one laughing after I make a breakthrough!” Wei Guohao snapped back.
“Shush, don’t be rude to your cousin.” Li Tianming smiled, before stepping into the manor together with Mu Yang.
Wei Tiancang seated himself in the top seat within the ‘Hall of Highcloud’, with the rest of the clan seated by his side. Li Tianming stood at the entrance of the hall with Mu Yang to his left.
Mu Yang gave Li Tianming a nudge.
“Potentate, please save my mother!” Taking the hint from Mu Yang, Li Tianming said earnestly.
“Oi.” Mu Yang reminded him.
“Grandpa, please save my mother, please save your daughter!” Li Tianming said with even more sincerity.
Wei Tianxiong and the others watched on silently. They might have their own opinions, but they were keeping it to themselves before Wei Tiancang made a decision.
“Li Tianming, I don’t have a grandson like you, and neither do I have a daughter. My relationship with Wei Jing had ended many years ago.” Wei Tiancang’s voice was like a cold rain, drowning out Li Tianming’s hopes.
“You don’t have to play the family game with me. However, the deal between us is not over!” However, what he said next made Li Tianming brighten up again. There was still hope for his mother! After everything he did to try and save his mother, was he finally going to achieve his goal?
While it felt great to defeat Mu Qingqing, he knew it would be nothing compared to helping mother overcome Lifesbane. His eyes almost swelled up, but he kept quiet and let Wei Tiancang continue.
“I do believe what everyone said about the Abyssal Trials. However, I need to see it for myself to judge if you are worthy. If you can pass my test, then we'll go ahead with the deal and I shall save your mother. If not, then you can forget about it, and you'll better not bother me from now on. Most importantly, stop saying that you are my grandson. We are not family. The only reason I’m saving your mother is because of our contract, and since the contract had issues, I’m giving you one last chance.” Wei Tiancang’s voice was as cold as ever. Yet, Li Tianming could sense that under that stubborn old man’s voice was the fact that he had provided Li Tianming the opportunity to save Wei Jing.
Wei Tiancang cared about his face, and would not let others think that he saved Wei Jing simply because she was his daughter. That would definitely be slapping him in the face, since he was the one that disowned Wei Jing back then. But Li Tianming couldn’t care less. He would do anything, as long as he could save his mother. He had emerged from the Abyssal Trials alive, so what was a mere test in the Wei Manor?
By then, many had gathered outside of the Hall of Highcloud, and the Wei Clan continued to speculate as the events unfolded.
“Father!” Wei Zikun rose to his feet.
“Get back to your seat!” Wei Tiancang commanded.
“Father, according to the deal, you don’t have to…” Wei Tianxiong interrupted as well.
Looks like these two brothers really didn’t want Wei Jing to live. Li Tianming sighed on the inside. Thankfully, Mu Yang was still on her side.
While this grandpa was stubborn as a rock, he didn’t turn out to be that heartless. When he said he would imprison Li Tianming for life, he still released the teenager when Mu Yang pleaded for him. He claimed that he would never save Wei Jing, but that changed when Li Tianming defeated Wei Guohao. And now, although Li Tianming had failed the initial challenge he proposed, he had opened up another door for Li Tianming.
No matter how much he emphasised that he wasn’t Li Tianming’s grandfather with that stone cold face, he still gave Li Tianming a final opportunity. Li Tianming found that he was liking this old man slightly more now.
It was time for Li Tianming’s test.
“Wei Qing, what level is your eldest grandson?” Wei Tiancang asked the Guardian of Sanctions.
“Wei Ziyu is twenty-five years old, ninth level Spiritsource,” Wei Qing answered.
“Very well, Li Tianming, your test is to defeat a ninth level Spiritsource. If you can defeat him, then I will save Wei Jing. But from what I know, your strength will drop without Princess Ling,” Wei Tiancang said.
Wei Tianxiong and the others changed their expression again, but this time to a gleeful grin. Even Wei Zikun smirked. It would seem that Wei Tiancang wasn’t giving him any chance after all.
Wei Ziyu was not only older than Li Tianming, but he was also at ninth level Spiritsource. Even though Li Tianming could beat a ninth level in the Abyssal Battlefield, that was with Jiang Feiling's help. Without her, how was he supposed to fight Wei Ziyu? The members of the Wei Clan smirked at this clearly impossible challenge, ready for a good show.
A young man walked out of the crowd at the same time, a mighty power flowing through his body. That young man was none other than Wei Ziyu!