The Skyrite Mountains. In the ground beneath the palace where Forhan lived. A dark, lightless underground hall.
The hall was chilly and forbidding. Currently, the only person within it was Forhan. Forhan was seated upon the throne in the hall, slouched over it like a beast in ambush, his eyes flashing with dim light, thinking thoughts only he knew.
“Inform the forces of the eight great clans?” Although Forhan did want Linley dead and to have the eight great clans do it, it was nothing more than a thought. As he seriously considered it, however…he began to hesitate.
This was because the only way to let the forces of the eight great clans know was to inform them.
As for the act of informing them, there was no way someone else could carry out this task, nor could anyone else be allowed to know of it. This was because this act would be considered a ‘betrayal of the clan’, a grave crime! Forhan, as an Elder, was confident that he would be able to easily pass this information regarding Linley to the eight great clans. If it were to leak out that he had done so, however, he, Forhan, would never have a place again amongst the Four Divine Beasts clan!
“Betrayal of the clan…is punishable by execution of all bodies.” Forhan remembered this punishment very clearly.
“For the sake of taking revenge upon Linley…to take such a great risk…is it worth it?” Forhan wanted to do it, but he still hesitated.
Without question, Forhan was deeply proud of the fact that he was a descendant of the Four Divine Beasts clan. He wouldn’t betray the clan. But he also wanted to kill Linley and worry about the consequences later!
“The Azure Dragon ring belonged to our ancestor! This Linley, of a generation that is so many times removed from us…by what right does he hold it?” Forhan’s eyes were cold. Jealousy constricted his heart, causing him to dislike Linley all the more.
“If Linley is permitted to continue to grow, there will come the day when he will be riding on my head.” Forhan still clearly remembered the conversation he had with his mother, the Grand Elder.
That time, the four clan leaders had ordered that Linley was to no longer participate in Bloodbath Gorge missions. Forhan was puzzled, and so later on, he went by himself to speak with the Grand Elder to ask her about this in detail, to try and understand why the clan leaders had made this decision.
The Grand Elder didn’t want to discuss the Redbud Sovereign, and so this is what she had said to Forhan: “Forhan, are you aware that Linley is just a God? A God who has the power of a Seven Star Fiend…when he becomes a Highgod, how powerful do you think he will be? He is the future hope of our clan. He can’t be put in danger for now!” Forhan, upon hearing the Grand Elder’s explanation, was shocked.
He had always believed that Linley was hiding his ability, but unexpectedly, Linley actually really was just a God.
Within that dark, cold, underground hall.
Forhan suddenly stood up, his gaze cold and sinister. In a low voice, he said, “This Linley is already a Seven Star Fiend. If this continues, once he becomes a Highgod, he will definitely become a trump card of our clan. His status will be even higher than mine, and he’ll be riding on my head! Can it be that in the future, I’ll have to forever watch him act so arrogantly in front of me?”
When Forhan imagined how glorious and influential Linley would be in the future, the look on Forhan’s face became all the uglier!
“No!” Forhan bellowed in a growling voice. “Absolutely not. Be beneath him for the rest of my life? I’d rather die.”
“Linley must die. He must!”
Forhan’s body was trembling slightly. “Right. I’m just getting rid of Linley. I’m not destroying the clan. This can’t be considered betraying the clan. It can’t! Also, I’m not personally killing him, I’m just letting the eight great clans kill him. Linley can be considered to have died in service to the clan, battling the eight great clans!”
“That Azure Dragon ring…”
Forhan couldn’t help but frown. “If Linley dies, wouldn’t that mean that the Azure Dragon ring would end up in the hands of the eight great clans?” Forhan was rather worried. The Azure Dragon ring was, after all, a precious treasure of the clan.
“No. It’s fine. It’ll only be Linley’s most powerful clone that dies. The other clones will remain alive in the Skyrite Mountains. Even if the eight great clans acquire the Azure Dragon ring, they won’t be able to bind it.” Forhan convinced himself. “Afterwards, when I have the chance, I’ll seize it back. And what’s more, Linley’s death won’t have a major impact on the clan. Our Four Divine Beasts clan was in a position of weakness to begin with…at most, we’ll just stay in the Skyrite Mountains. Our clan won’t be destroyed.”
After frantic pondering, Forhan finally came to a decision.
“A clan with Linley in it is a place I cannot live in, no matter how powerful the clan is. A clan without Linley in it, no matter how weak, is a place I can live comfortably.” Forhan quirked his lips. He had already made up his mind.
“Whoosh!” Forhan’s cloak fluttered as he walked out from his underground hall. He had already decided on what he was going to do.
A shadow appeared out of nowhere in the mountain villages, solidifying into a Forhan’s figure. However, this was just a divine clone of Forhan’s. Forhan let out a low chuckle, then his appearance changed, from that of a golden-haired old man to a bald youth.
Forhan, in his disguise as a ‘bald youth’, flew directly outwards…
“Rumble…” The waters of the river roiled about, and the ‘bald youth’ Forhan stood there, hovering in mid-air, sweeping the area below with his icy gaze. In a low voice, he said, “Men of the eight great clans. Come out.”
On the pre-determined routes, the people who were hidden belonged to either the intelligence networks of the Four Divine Beasts clan or of the eight great clans. Forhan knew exactly who his own clan’s agents were and where they were. If someone was present who didn’t belong to the Four Divine Beasts clan, then naturally they belonged to the enemy!
“Who are you?” A low voice transmitted down from below the river.
“Remember this. An Elder Linley of the Azure Dragon clan has already mounted an azure, phoenix-shaped metallic lifeform, and is heading to Meer City. If you want to kill him, then seize this opportunity. There’s another Elder travelling with him!” Although the metallic lifeform was in the shape of a black phoenix when they left, Elder Forhan knew that each time, when it headed out, the metallic lifeform would change to a different color and appearance. And so, Elder Forhan had investigated in advance.
This time, the transformation would be to the appearance of an azure phoenix.
At the same time, Forhan waved his hand, and a crystal ball fell down from the skies.
“In this crystal ball, there is stored the appearances of Linley’s wife Delia, as well as his good friend, ‘Bebe’.”
When the crystal ball fell to the surface of the water, a ray of azure energy appeared, wrapping around the crystal ball and pulling it underwater. Forhan, seeing this, smiled coldly, then turned and flew away at high speed.
Long after Forhan left, a green-haired figure emerged from the surface of the river.
“Elder Linley of the Azure Dragon clan?” A look of disbelief was on the face of this intelligence agent. “I didn’t expect I’d be able to render such a meritorious deed today.” The eight great clans had issued the order to find and kill Linley long ago. Naturally, they had ordered their intelligence agents to be on the lookout for him as well.
However, all these years, there had been no one who was successful in locating him.
The news from the intelligence agent came very quickly. That very day, the eight great clans were made aware of this, and immediately, the leaders of the eight great clans were all excited. None of them had expected this news to come so suddenly.
After a discussion, this mission was assigned to the Edric clan and three other clans.
The eight great clans were, after all, separately located at two different sides of Indigo Prefecture. The four clans on the west were the Edric clan who had come from the Higher Plane of Life, the Venna clan from the Divine Plane of Wind, the Dean clan from the Divine Plane of Earth, and the Reinales clan, native to the Infernal Realm.
The western borders of Indigo Prefecture. The Edric clan and the other three clans were gathered together. Below the main palace, there were eight figures dressed in gray robes.
“Although this Linley is only a God, he has the power of a Seven Star Fiend. In a few short missions, he has caused our eight great clans to lose multiple Seven Star Fiends.” A graceful, gentle voice came from a handsome, rather elfin-looking man who stood within the hall.
His long green hair fell to his waist, and his eyes seemed to glow like stars. This was Patriarch Edric, in the flesh. He had led his clan here from the Higher Plane of Life. It was he who had founded this clan.
“He isn’t a major threat to us yet, but if a few more years pass and he becomes a Highgod, then it will be terrible.”
“Thus, the eight of you must execute this Linley, no matter what the cost.” The voice was as gentle as ever.
“Yes, Patriarch.” Outside the main hall, two handsome gray-robed men bowed, while the other six gray-robed men hurriedly followed.
Within the hall, another Patriarch said calmly, “Here are three drops of Sovereign’s Might. Of the eight of you, Elder Zabu [Zha’bu], the strongest, will naturally carry one. As for the other two…Elders Tempah [Tan’pu] and Nice [Ni’si] will carry them.”
The three immediately bowed respectfully. Of the three men, one was of the elfin-looking race.
“Remember. You must be successful in this endeavor. Even if you have to spend all three drops of Sovereign’s Might. Even if all eight of you have to die. You must kill Linley!” Another voice, a forceful, hard one, rang out.
The eight Elders below couldn’t help but feel their hearts tighten.
Although they knew that this target of theirs, ‘Linley’, was just a Seven Star Fiend who was accompanied by a single other Seven Star Fiend, and that given the power the eight of them possessed, killing Linley shouldn’t be a problem…hearing the words from the Patriarchs, they couldn’t help but feel the pressure.
“Go, then! Move quickly, so that you might arrive at Meer earlier.” The gentle voice said.
The eight gray-robed Elders bowed fractionally, then immediately left.
Within the hall, the four Patriarchs began to chat amongst themselves. “This is an excellent opportunity. Failure is not an option. Only after we kill that Linley will we be able to relax slightly. I refuse to believe that the Four Divine Beasts clan will be able to produce yet another genius who has the potential to become a Highgod Paragon.”
“Don’t worry. These eight Elders are the elites which we have selected from our four clans. Linley will unquestionably die!”
“Eight mighty Elders, equipped with three drops of Sovereign’s Might. Even if I had to face them, I wouldn’t dare to resist head on.”
The metallic lifeform in the shape of an azure phoenix was currently soaring through the horizons. Within this metallic lifeform, Linley and Delia were currently holding hands, seated in front of a window, staring at the outside through the translucent metal.
“We’ve flown for so long. We should arrive at Meer City soon.” Linley laughed.
Delia looked at the window, carefully inspecting the outside area. “I came here last time. If I remember correctly…we should arrive at Meer City in half an hour.” And then, Delia glanced at Linley, saying with resignation, “Elder Tewila really is cautious. He insisted on you changing your appearance.”
Linley currently had a beard, and even his height had been reduced slightly.
Linley chuckled. “It’s not as bad for you, but for us Elders, our enemies generally know exactly what we look like…although the chances of encountering them are low, it’s always better to be careful.”
“What, do you feel uncomfortable, seeing me like this?” Linley laughed and asked.
Delia shook her head, then closed her eyes. “Even with my eyes closed, I can still sense your aura. How could I feel uncomfortable?”
On the way over, Linley and Delia enjoyed a quiet, calm life as a couple. Soon, Linley and Delia saw an ancient city appear in the distance, and an endless flow of people entering and exiting the gates of the city.
“Wow, we finally made it!” Bebe was the first to jump up, sprinting outside.
Linley and Delia stood up together, following their clansmen out of the metallic lifeform. They followed Elder Tewila towards the gates of Meer City. Because Linley was a Fiend, he didn’t have to pay the city entrance fee.
“It’s been so many years since I’ve seen Tarosse, Dylin, and the others.” Linley laughed as he strode into the city.
But what he didn’t notice was that not far away, there were people maintaining a nonstop watch on the city gates. The arrival of the metallic lifeform of the Azure Dragon clan, in particular, caused these people to grow excited.
“The Azure Dragon clan’s metallic lifeform has arrived. Have you found Linley?”
“We haven’t seen anything either!”
“I haven’t seen Linley, but I saw that Delia and Bebe. They have a man next to them. He looks like a God. That should be Linley!”
“A God? Then that should be him!”
The intelligence agents of the eight great clans conversed amongst themselves through divine sense, having already located Linley’s group.
There was no way they could be certain of the route the Azure Dragon clan’s metallic lifeform would take. The intelligence agents of the eight great clans were unable to find out, and so they had to wait at the gates of Meer City, like waiting for a rabbit to fall into their trap. After all, sooner or later, Linley’s group would have to arrive at Meer City.
Now that they entered the city, there was naturally no way for them to do anything.
But when Linley’s group exited to return to the Four Divine Beasts clan, the eight great clans would be able to make their move.