Book 17, Indigo Prefecture – Chapter 21, The Grand Elder
Within the quiet, gloomy depths of Bloodbath Gorge.
Three human figures were descending at high speed landing on the ground.
Linley inspected his surroundings. Bloodbath Gorge was sparsely populated. As he stared straight forward, the only thing he could clearly see was an erect stone monument. As for the other buildings that could vaguely be seen through the mist, there was no way to see them clearly.
“There are so many soldiers of the Four Divine Beasts clan above the gorge, but so few people within Bloodbath Gorge itself. That makes sense. After all, everyone in here is at least a Six Star Fiend.” Linley continued to carefully inspect Bloodbath Gorge. As for Emanuel and Forhan, they strode forward with large steps.
Just as they walked away, Emanuel turned his head to look at Linley. “Linley, you’ve never been here before, right?”
“No, I’ve never been here before.” Linley didn’t have any goodwill towards Emanuel at all.
“Whooooosh.” Suddenly, a cold wind began to howl. Linley felt his body turn cold, and he couldn’t help but be startled. “The wind is actually so icy, here in Bloodbath Gorge.”
Forhan couldn’t help but laugh. “Linley. Bloodbath Gorge is at the heart of the Skyfire Mountains, and is an extremely cold location. The cold wind within the gorge would cause any Demigods who came here to immediately be frozen. However, to you, Linley, this cold wind naturally doesn’t have much impact.”
“Elder Forhan, let’s continue to move forward.”
Linley couldn’t be bothered to chat too much with this father-son pair in front of him. He immediately advanced deeper into the gorge. There were quite a few round stones located within Bloodbath Gorge, as well as some wild grass. However, the center of it was a neatly paved stone road.
In front of Bloodbath Gorge, on one side of the stone road, there was a tall, massive stone monument.
The stone monument was covered with two dark red words that were written in cursive, like flying dragons or dancing phoenixes. The two words were, ‘Blood Bath’. Linley, upon seeing these two words, sensed a bloodthirsty, murderous aura emanate from it, and he couldn’t help but feel his own murderous desires rise in response.
“Forhan, Emanuel, so it’s actually the two of you this time. Haha…” A straightforward, clear laugh rang out. Linley turned to look, and saw an amiable, friendly-looking middle-aged man laugh as he walked over. This man had long sideburns, but they were very neatly trimmed, giving him quite a fresh, sharp appearance.
Linley looked at the newcomers.
“Arhaus [Er’hao’si]!” Forhan laughed and went to greet him, giving the man with the sideburns a big hug. “Long time no see.”
“It really has been quite some time since we’ve met.” This man named ‘Arhaus’ beamed towards Forhan as well, then looked at Linley. Rather puzzled, he said, “I knew that this time, three Elders were coming, but I’ve never met this one before…oh, I know!”
Arhaus had a look of sudden understanding on his face, and he laughed as he said to Linley, “In Bloodbath Valley, I’ve heard that our Azure Dragon clan has a new Elder.”
“I am Arhaus. Elder Linley, right?” Arhaus laughed as he extended his hand.
“Right. Elder Arhaus, greetings.” Linley laughed and extended his hand as well.
Linley had a good impression of Arhaus, but as for Forhan and Emanuel, Linley, from the bottom of his heart, disliked this father-son pair. Both Emanuel and Forhan made him feel as though they were sinister and vicious. Emanuel’s actual actions, in turn, had confirmed Linley’s judgment.
“We warmly welcome the three of you. Come, let’s go meet the Grand Elder.” Arhaus laughed.
“Mother?” Forhan’s eyes couldn’t help but light up.
Linley glanced sideways, seeing the looks on Forhan and Emanuel’s faces. The two clearly were very eager to meet the Grand Elder. The Grand Elder and Patriarch ‘Gislason’ were actual siblings, brother and sister, and in the clan, her power was second only to that of the Patriarch’s.
“Linley, it’s been a long time since our clan has had a new Elder.” Arhaus said warmly. “I’ve heard that you’ve previously sparred with Emanuel, and that you are incredibly strong. In the future, when you do battle for the clan, you definitely have to win some glory for our Azure Dragon clan.”
“Definitely.” Linley laughed and nodded.
Forhan, seeing how Arhaus was continuously chatting with Linley, couldn’t help but interrupt. “Arhaus, what’s the current situation in the struggle between our Four Divine Beasts clan and the eight great clans?”
“How good can it be?” Arhaus shook his head and sighed. “The eight great clans are simply relying on superior numbers to win. All combined, their eight clans have more Seven Star Fiends than we do. If we continue fighting like this…most likely in just ten or twenty thousand years, our entire Four Divine Beasts clan will have less than ten Seven Star Fiends.”
Hearing this, Linley was shocked.
“In ten or twenty thousand years, we’ll lose that many?” Linley couldn’t help but say. “Currently, our Four Divine Beasts clan should have nearly a hundred Seven Star Fiends.”
The Azure Dragon clan alone had thirty-six. The four clans, combined, should have more than a hundred Seven Star Fiends. How could it be possible that in as short a period of time as ten or twenty thousand years, only ten would be left?
“Linley, I hear that you just joined the clan recently.” Arhaus said resignedly. “You aren’t too familiar with the situation. However, I trust that at the Conclave of Elders, you should have learned of our losses in the past thousand years.”
In the past thousand years, they had killed two enemy Seven Star Fiends, while two of their own Seven Star Fiends had been weakened as well.
“Our Azure Dragon clan alone has lost two Seven Star Fiends in the past thousand years. Of course, Jeffs, when using his original body to fuse with a divine spark, will be able to recover his strength. But still, he’ll have lost any chance to gain in strength in the future.”
Arhaus said, “In a thousand years, our Four Divine Beasts clan, all combined, has lost five. In especially brutal periods, it’s normal to lose as many as ten Elders. You do the math. How many will we lose in ten thousand years?”
Linley did the math, and he was stunned.
In ten thousand years, at least seventy or eighty Elders would be doomed.
“That’s why I said that if this continues, in ten or twenty thousand years, our clan will have lost almost all of our Seven Star Fiends.” Arhaus said bitterly. “Nothing we can do. The eight great clans…even if we exhaust all of our Elders against them, they will most likely still have half of their Seven Star Fiends remaining!”
As soon as he had arrived in the Azure Dragon clan, Linley had heard that any one of those eight great clans were comparable to the Azure Dragon clan. The number of Seven Star Fiends in the eight great clans, all combined, definitely was far greater than the number the Four Divine Beasts clan had.
“Linley, do you know how many Elders we had before the ancestor died?” Arhaus said.
“How many?” Linley asked.
“More than sixty. And that was just our Azure Dragon tribe.” Arhaus said, and Linley couldn’t help but sigh in shock. “No wonder it was said that the Four Divine Beasts clansmen dominated each of the major planes. Not only did we have a strong supporter, we ourselves had tremendous power.”
“Only, while we were regrouping, enemies attacked from every direction. Linley, you must understand that the clans which pursued us all the way to the Infernal Realm just represent the minority. We have many enemies in the other planes.” Arhaus said resignedly.
The Four Divine Beasts clan truly had too many enemies.
As many as eight clans were still in pursuit of them. Most likely, when the Four Divine Beasts clan had been spread across each of the major planes, the number of enemies they had was far more than their current number.
“All we can do is go all out.” Forhan said solemnly.
“Right. We can only go all out!” Arhaus said as well. “If we just hide in the Skyrite Mountains like turtles in a shell and don’t even fight back, most likely we’ll become the laughing stock of the major clans of the Infernal Realm. Our Four Divine Beasts clan cannot be humiliated like that!”
While they were chatting, Linley and the others were heading deeper into Bloodbath Gorge.
Within Bloodbath Gorge, there was an organized array of buildings that were arranged in rows like soldiers, divided into various areas. On the way over, Linley encountered small groups of experts as well, all of whom were at least of the Six Star Fiend level of power.
Linley couldn’t help but sigh in amazement.
“This is the true foundation of a great clan. And a great clan which has fallen, at that.” Linley was amazed, while at the same time, stunned by the savagery of the warfare between the Four Divine Beasts clan and the eight great clans.
“We’ve arrived at the Azure Dragon Palace!” Arhaus said.
Linley lifted his head. In front was a building that was at least thirty meters tall, completely dark red in color. At the tip of the building, there was something that was dimly glowing with azure light. There were four buildings of this appearance within Bloodbath Gorge.
“The Grand Elder is on the fifth floor of the Azure Dragon Palace. This palace is the place where we normally gather together.” Arhaus said.
He led Linley, Emanuel, and Forhan directly to the fifth floor. The entire Azure Dragon Palace actually didn’t even have a single maid or servant within.
The main hall on the fifth floor appeared to be rather wide and empty.
“Where is the Grand Elder?” Linley stared around the main hall, puzzled.
Linley suddenly had a feeling, and he turned to look towards the side of the hall. He saw a tall, slender human figure fly over, her entire body enveloped in a long black robe. Her graceful, jade-green hair fell down past her waist, and her face was covered by a silver mask which had a strange light flowing atop it.
As this person entered the main hall, Arhaus and the others all fell silent.
“She is the Grand Elder?” Linley looked at this person carefully.
“Whoosh!” The mysterious woman’s long robe rustled as she sat down on the head seat in the hall. She swept everyone present with her icy gaze, pausing momentarily on Linley, and then she said in a cold, clear voice, “You can all be seated.”
“Yes, Grand Elder.” The four replied respectfully.
Linley, puzzled, glanced at Forhan. Supposedly, Forhan was the son of the Grand Elder. But he, too, addressed her as ‘Grand Elder’? In his heart, he was puzzled, but Linley still sat down alongside Forhan and the others.
“Linley.” The Grand Elder suddenly said while looking at Linley.
“Grand Elder.” Linley bowed fractionally.
“I heard that you defeated Emanuel, then became an Elder.” The Grand Elder said coolly.
“Correct.” Linley immediately responded, but in his heart, he was puzzled. “What does the Grand Elder mean by this? Is she warning me, or…? Emanuel is her grandson, after all.” Although he didn’t understand, Linley remained calm.
“I know that you and Emanuel have some misgivings about each other. However, I hope that the two of you will be unified and will be able to work with each other.” The Grand Elder said.
Linley was startled. He couldn’t help but turn to look at Emanuel, who was also currently looking towards Linley.
“Work together with him?” Linley felt that this was a huge joke.
The Grand Elder’s voice was like clashing steel. “Ever since Father fell, our Four Divine Beasts clan has been in unprecedentedly dire straits. Although we are now all assembled in Indigo Prefecture, we still meet with constant challenges and provocations.”
“However, we are the Four Divine Beasts clan! We, the members of the Four Divine Beasts clan, will not allow ourselves to be humiliated!”
“Although we can hide in the Skyrite Mountains like a turtle in its shell, our proud clansmen will not submit and be humiliated. One Elder after another, leading the elites of our clan, has gone out to do battle against the enemy. Any who challenges or provokes our clan will be punished!”
“The experts of our Four Divine Beasts clan are not as numerous as those of those eight great clans. Thus, we absolutely must be unified.”
The Grand Elder swept her gaze across the people present. “Linley, I don’t care what sort of problems you and Emanuel have had in the past. From today onward, you two are not permitted to battle against each other. If such a thing happens…I will be the first to kill both of you!”
“Yes, Grand Elder.”
Linley and Emanuel replied in unison.
“Our Azure Dragon Palace has, in total, twenty squads. Currently, there are three squads that do not have a captain. They are Squad Thirteen, Squad Fifteen, and Squad Nineteen.” The Grand Elder said calmly. “I will make the arrangements. Linley…”
Linley took a step forward.
“From today onward, you will be the captain of Squad Thirteen of the Azure Dragon clan in Bloodbath Gorge!”
“Yes.” Linley acknowledged respectfully.
The Grand Elder’s gaze turned to Forhan, her voice as cold as ever. “Forhan, from today onward, you will be the captain of Squad Fifteen of the Azure Dragon clan in Bloodbath Gorge!”
“Yes.” Forhan took a step forward as well as he acknowledged respectfully.
“Emanuel, from today onward, you will be the captain of Squad Nineteen of the Azure Dragon clan in Bloodbath Gorge!”
Emanuel also strode forward and assented.
“Very good.” The Grand Elder nodded slightly, then looked at Arhaus. “Arhaus, you can now lead Linley to the location of Squad Thirteen. Afterwards, come back. I have an assignment for you.”
“An assignment?” Arhaus’ eyes lit up.
“First take Linley to his place.” The Grand Elder ordered.
“Yes.” Arhaus immediately turned and looked towards Linley, who nodded, then followed Arhaus away. As he left, Linley heard the Grand Elder’s voice. “Forhan, Emanuel, you stay here. There’s something I will discuss with you!”
And then, Linley and Arhaus left the Azure Dragon Palace.