Chapter 2220: The Truth
"I agree with Fellow Daoist Han there," Jin Chai chimed in in agreement.
"I'm naturally willing to disclose the situation in the original sealed site to all of you, but in reality, even the information that I have is rather vague and inconclusive," Xie Lian said after a brief hesitation.
"What do you mean by that? Surely you know what's going on. Otherwise, why haven't you taken any action?" Jin Chai asked as his expression darkened slightly.
"Please don't misunderstand, Brother Jin. While it's true that we haven't taken any action after we lost contact with the original sealed site, that's only because of a piece of information that we received from the site," Xie Lian replied with a wry smile.
A smile appeared on Jin Chai's face upon hearing this. "I knew all of the Grand Ascension Stage fellow daoists in the original sealed site would be able to send some information to the outside world somehow."
"Don't celebrate too early, Brother Jin; this piece of information is very vague, and was sent out by Fellow Daoist Yuan Yan in a rushed manner using a rare secret technique. The message states that due to a sudden turn of events, the Stemborer Queen was able to break through most of the restrictions in the ancient seal, and that it was somehow able to utilize a part of the seal's power to seal everyone in the original sealed site. However, the Stemborer Queen is still restricted by the seal and unable to leave the area.
"Furthermore, it's expended a significant amount of its power and had to fall into hibernation again. The stemborers that have appeared in our holy realm were contaminated by the Stemborer Queen's aura, which it unintentionally released during its slumber," Xie Lian revealed.
"So you're saying that all of our fellow daoists have been trapped in the ancient seal. Just how fearsome is this ancient seal to be able to trap so many Grand Ascension Stage fellow daoists with just a part of its power?" Jin Chai exclaimed with an astonished expression.
"I don't know about that; all I know is that this is the only piece of information that was sent out of the original sealed site before all contact was cut off. It seems that the Stemborer Queen must've done something to make even Fellow Daoist Yuan Yan's secret technique ineffective before it went into hibernation," Xie Lian replied.
"I feel like you're hiding something, Fellow Daoist Xie Lian. According to what you just said, wouldn't it have made more sense if Sacred Ancestors outside of the original sealed site like yourself had taken action right away? Why would you wait until a month from now to meet up? On top of that, this doesn't explain why we can't simultaneously reseal the Stemborer Queen while also rescuing our brethren," Han Li countered.
Xie Lian's expression darkened slightly upon hearing this. "Do you know who was the first person to receive this information?"
"Who was it? Could it be someone other than one of the Sacred Ancestors outside the original sealed site?" Han Li asked.
"Hmph, it was none other than the person that you mistook me for earlier," Xie Lian harrumphed coldly in response.
"You mean Bao Hua?" Han Li was quite surprised to hear this.
"That's right, she was the one who received the information first, and it's most likely because Yuan Yan thinks only Bao Hua is capable of saving them," Xie Lian said with a dark expression.
"So you're saying it was Bao Hua who convinced all of you to wait until now, and that it was impossible to simultaneously stop the Stemborer Queen while rescuing our brethren," Han Li mused as his brows furrowed slightly in a contemplative manner.
"Looks like you're quite familiar with that twin sister of mine, Fellow Daoist Han. Indeed, she gathered all of us remaining Sacred Ancestors and displayed Yuan Yan's message to us for verification. Otherwise, we wouldn't have listened to her instructions, seeing as she isn't even one of the three patriarchs anymore. The final part of the message sent out by Yuan Yan was very ambiguous, and according to Bao Hua, it states that the Stemborer Queen was somehow able to draw upon a part of the seal's power to trap everyone, but there's an effective period due to instability.
"The power of the seal will be at its weakest in several decades, but it's also when the restrictions of the original sealed site will be the most potent against the Stemborer Queen. As such, that will be the perfect opportunity for us to reseal the Stemborer Queen or rescue Yuan Yan and the others. As for why those objectives can't be simultaneously achieved, that's something that Bao Hua proposed. As soon as she received Yuan Yan's message, she had ventured into the original sealed site to investigate, and that was the conclusion she had arrived at.
"As for whether this conclusion is accurate or not, that'll be for all of you to judge when the time comes. However, all of us Sacred Ancestors think that it should be accurate. All of us have guarded the original sealed site at some point, and we're all very familiar with the ancient seal. Bao Hua does indeed possess incredible powers, but it's very unlikely that she'd be able to fool us in this aspect. On top of that, we can't think of any motive for Bao Hua to hatch a plot like this. After all, she's also a member of our holy realm, and she wouldn't just stand by idly and watch as our realm falls into peril," Xie Lian elaborated.
Jin Chai and Shi Ding exchanged an astonished glance upon hearing this. It was clear that what Xie Lian had revealed was quite a surprise to them, and they needed some time to process this information.
Meanwhile, Han Li pondered the situation for a moment before breaking the silence.
"If the information was provided by Fellow Daoist Bao Hua, then it should be accurate. However, seeing as Fellow Daoist Bao Hua was able to venture into the original sealed site, surely you and the other Sacred Ancestors would be able to do the same."
"If we could venture into the original sealed site to investigate, we would've naturally done so at all costs. However, Bao Hua's intrusion had already alerted the Stemborer Queen. Even though the Stemborer Queen is hibernating, the insect swarms surrounding the original sealed site became more than 10 times as fearsome. There are some extremely formidable stemborers among them that even Sacred Ancestors wouldn't dare to engage in battle. As such, our hands are completely tied," Xie Lian said as a hint of fear surfaced in her eyes.
"There are stemborers too fearsome even for Grand Ascension Stage beings? Are these the high-grade stemborers with Body Integration Stage powers?" Jin Chai asked.
Xie Lian immediately shook her head in response. "No, it's another type of crimson stemborer that's no more than a foot in length. These stemborers have never appeared anywhere else in our holy realm, and they've only been seen around the original sealed site. Even in those areas, they're extremely rare. At the very most, there are only less than 2,000 of them in total."
Jin Chai's eyes widened with shock upon hearing this. "Could it be that these stemborers possess Grand Ascension Stage powers? Otherwise, how can they threaten you with such pitiful numbers?"
"That's not the case. Judging from their auras alone, those stemborers are only at the Spatial Tempering Stage, and they only possess two abilities. However, two abilities almost killed the two fellow daoists who had previously tried to venture into the original sealed site, and none of us dared to try again," Xie Lian replied with a wry smile.
Han Li's pupils contracted drastically upon hearing this. "They almost killed two Sacred Ancestors with just two abilities? May I ask what those abilities are?"
"It's very simple; one of them is instantaneous teleportation, while the other is self-detonation," Xie Lian replied.
A hint of enlightenment appeared in Han Li's eyes upon hearing this, but he continued, "There must be additional conditions attached to those abilities, right? Otherwise, they still wouldn't be able to pose such a major threat to Grand Ascension Stage beings."
"Indeed. The instantaneous teleportation of those stemborers is unavoidable. As soon as they catch sight of you, they'll immediately appear right beside you, and no treasures or abilities can keep them out. On top of that, once they self-detonate, no abilities or treasures can protect the target, so the force of the explosion can only be withstood using one's physical body. What's most damning of all is that the force of the explosions is somehow able to contaminate our souls, thereby inflicting severe injuries on all of our clones as well. Some of our clones with less powerful souls may even perish on the spot in the face of those explosions," Xie Lian explained with a grim expression.
"Even the souls of your clones were affected?" Jin Chai was astonished to hear this, as was Han Li.
"I'm sure you know why these stemborers are so fearsome now; even Bao Hua only managed to conduct a brief investigation before she was driven out by the swarms of stemborers," Xie Lian chuckled coldly.
At this point, it was clear to everyone that Xie Lian and Bao Hua didn't seem to be on good terms with one another.
"Will you be able to find a way to counter these new stemborers during the meeting that's going to be held in a month?" Han Li asked.
"You're a smart man, Brother Han. We chose to delay this operation to allow more powerful beings to arrive from other realms in order to bolster our forces, as well as to wait for Bao Hua to refine two types of special treasures that can counteract these self-detonating stemborers. According to Bao Hua, those two types of treasures will be able to nullify the explosions," Xie Lian replied.