Book 17, Indigo Prefecture – Chapter 22, Comfort
“Why did this Grand Elder have Forhan and Emanuel stay behind?” Linley felt suspicious. “The Grand Elder, on the surface, said that we have to be unified, but in the end, Forhan is still her son and Emanuel is still her grandson. It’s unlikely that she’ll be completely impartial.”
“Whoosh!” A cold wind blew past, interrupting Linley’s pondering.
Linley and Arhaus walked together on the stone road. There were quite a few courtyards on each side of the stone road, all seeming quite plain. Linley and Arhaus were both thinking on their own matters, and so didn’t speak to each other.
“Ah, Linley.” Arhaus suddenly laughed. “I’m sorry. I was thinking about my assignment. I’ve been neglecting you.”
“It’s fine.” Linley said with amusement. “As long as you don’t lead me the wrong way.”
“Bloodbath Gorge is only so large. There’s less than a thousand people here, all combined. How could I get lost?” Arhaud laughed. “Your Squad Thirteen has a total of ten squad members, all experts of the clan. They are all at least at the Six Star Fiend level, and some of them are approaching the Seven Star Fiend level.”
Arhaus warned, “Linley, don’t underestimate them. After all, there isn’t a huge difference between Six Star Fiends and Seven Star Fiends.”
For example, that ‘Learmonth’ he had encountered in the Redbud Continent was a Six Star Fiend, but he was very nearly at the level of a Seven Star Fiend in power.
“Some are skilled in soul attacks, others specialize in material attacks, while still others specialize in escaping. Everyone has their own special techniques as well. Some rely on sound, others rely on venom…in short, Six Star Fiends aren’t necessarily weaker than Seven Star Fiends. As long as you lead them well and give good guidance and seize the weaknesses of the enemies, it’s not impossible to overcome a deficit in power.” Arhaus said.
“Well spoken.” Linley nodded in approval.
For example, before he himself had undergone the Ancestral Baptism, he was capable of defeating a Seven Star Fiend who specialized in material attacks, but was afraid of Six Star Fiends who specialized in soul attacks.
Power wasn’t an absolute concept.
“Arhaus, look. The aura those warriors have is extraordinary.” Linley saw that in the distance, there were three blood-robed warriors walking on the road. These three had callous, grim faces. Even when smiling, they made others feel great pressure.
This was because experts like them were brimming with killing intent.
“The warriors of Bloodbath Gorge have all encountered countless life-and-death battles. Naturally, they will carry the aura of those battles with them.” Arhaus said in praise.
“We arrived at Squad Thirteen.” Arhaus suddenly said.
Linley saw as well that up ahead, there was a stone pillar, atop which was carved the word, ‘Thirteen’. At the sides of the stone pillar were carved names, quite a few of which were red.
“The names on top are those of the members of Squad Thirteen over the past ten thousand years.” Arhaus said solemnly. “A single squad usually has ten squad members. Each time a squad member dies, they will be replaced. The deceased squad members will have their names turn red.”
Linley looked carefully at each of the names.
“Squad Thirteen!” Arhaus suddenly roared.
Instantly, people came flying out from rooms nearby the stone pillar, each of them dressed in a blood-colored war-uniform. In the blink of an eye, the ten Six Star Fiend squad members had all arrived. Linley carefully looked at them.
Eight men, two women.
“These ten, just judging from their aura alone, are all extraordinary. They feel like ten Learmonths.” Linley said to himself.
When he had just entered the Infernal Realm, how could Linley have imagined that today, he would be commanding ten Six Star Fiends?
“Elder Arhaus?” A woman with short jade hair said. “Who is this person by your side?” The other Six Star Fiends also looked at Linley in puzzlement. They clearly didn’t recognize Linley.
“This is our Azure Dragon clan’s newest Elder, ‘Linley’.” Arhaus said. “He is also the captain of your Squad Thirteen.”
“Captain?” The ten Six Star Fiends looked at each other.
“He really is an Elder?” A man asked.
Laughing, Linley flipped his hand, revealing a medallion. This was the Elder’s medallion he had received after becoming an Elder. Upon seeing this medallion, the ten squad members were no longer dubious. They all said respectfully, “Captain!”
Any of the battle squads within Bloodbath Gorge had an Elder as the captain.
Thus, when they saw that Linley was an Elder, they naturally recognized him as their captain.
“Captain, my name is Melina [Mei’li’na].” The jade-haired woman laughed. “I wonder, Captain, if you can demonstrate your ultimate technique to us?”
Linley was slightly startled, then glanced at the other Six Star Fiends. None of them said anything, but from their gazes, it was apparent that they wanted Linley to give a demonstration. Linley mused to himself, “It seems that soldiers in both the material planes as well as the higher planes are all the same; to be a good commander, you first have to be able to impress your subordinates.”
How could Six Star Fiends not have their own pride?
If they didn’t personally witness Linley’s power, how could they possibly submit willingly?
“You guys…” Arhaus laughed.
“Then I’ll let you experience it for yourself.” Linley laughed calmly. Immediately, a blurry, earthen yellow light sprang up, instantly forming a large globe of light that covered all ten of the squad members within.
The sudden appearance of the Blackstone Space caused the ten Six Star Fiends to be caught completely off guard. Three of them even swayed, nearly falling before hurriedly using their hands to push off the floor in order to stand back up. In the Blackstone Space, even Six Star Fiends would still sense that astonishing gravity.
“When you are under such tremendous pressure, tell me…would it be easy for me to kill you?” Linley laughed calmly.
The ten squad members, having experienced that terrifying gravity, looked at each other then laughed.
“Captain!” The ten simultaneously fell to one knee, paying their respects to him.
They completely submitted.
Linley laughed, then withdrew his Blackstone Space. “You can all rise.”
“Captain, this is wonderful. With your Gravitational Space, when fighting against enemies, we will have a huge advantage.” A muscular man said excitedly. “In the Gravitational Space, the enemy’s movements will be restricted, but ours will not. Even if the enemy is a Seven Star Fiend, I’d still dare to give them a good fight.”
That the personal strength of the captain was strong wouldn’t cause these squad members to be too excited. After all, the strength of the captain was a personal matter.
What truly made them was when a captain was skilled at supportive techniques and able to assist all the squad members. Like Linley! As long as Linley didn’t apply the Gravitational Space to them, they could easily battle against more powerful Seven Star Fiends.
“What is your name?” Linley laughed as he looked at the muscular man in front of him.
“My name is Shanda [Shan’ta]!” The muscular man immediately laughed.
“All of you, introduce yourselves to me.” Linley laughed as he looked at his subordinates. From today onwards, as long as he wasn’t dead, he would be the leader of this squad. They would battle together and share life and death together!
Linley deeply valued these subordinates of his.
These squad members were very excited as well, now that they had a captain whose ultimate technique was a supportive ability. They naturally were very exuberant in chatting with Linley.
“Linley.” The nearby Arhaus finally spoke out.
“Oh. Apologies.” Linley immediately said. “While chatting with them, I forgot that you, Elder Arhaus, were still here.”
Arhaus shook his head and laughed. “It’s fine. However, I can’t stay here much longer. The Grand Elder has an assignment for me. I have to make a trip.”
Arhaus parted with Linley, who moved into the residence for the captain of Squad Thirteen. From this day onward, Linley had to lead these ten Six Star Fiends into battle against the eight great clans.
Time passed quickly, and in the blink of an eye, more than a year had passed.
Within that gorge in the Skyrite Mountains.
Delia was resting against Linley’s arm, leaning against him while the two took a stroll together. Linley looked at Delia by his side, and in his heart, a slow, gentle feeling emerged. Linley deeply enjoyed this sort of warm feeling.
“Linley, at first, I thought that when you became a captain at that Bloodbath Gorge, you would immediately go engage in battles and not have time to accompany me. So as it turns out, the battles are actually quite rare.” Delia especially valued the time she and Linley had to spend together.
The clan was in a crisis. Delia knew this, and she wouldn’t force Linley to do anything. It was enough for her to value what they had.
“I’ve been a captain for a year now, but I haven’t engaged in a single battle.” Linley laughed calmly. “Actually, the number of battles each squad in Bloodbath Gorge engages in is fairly low. Only, every single battle is against the top-tier experts of the enemy clans, and in each battle, life and death are separated by only a hair. We have Seven Star Fiends, but they do as well, and in fact, they have even more! We are in a position of weakness!”
Linley felt the pressure as well, while at the same time, he felt that he also wasn’t doing right by Delia.
Whether it was in the Yulan Plane or here in the Infernal Realm, Delia had always quietly supported him. Even as they roamed in every direction and faced one crisis after another, Delia had never complained.
“As long as I don’t have any missions, I’ll always be by your side.” Linley said gently into Delia’s ear, while at the same time he kissed her by her earlobe.
Delia’s face instantly turned slightly rosy.
“We’re outdoors.” Delia immediately looked around. She couldn’t help but glare at Linley, her cheeks flushed.
Linley just laughed.
No matter what sort of battles or difficulties he encountered, when he was with Delia, Linley felt incredibly relaxed. With Delia here, his soul had a harbor to return to.
The second year Linley was serving as the captain of Squad Thirteen.
Bloodbath Gorge didn’t have too many requirements of its captains, who normally were able to live in other places throughout the Skyrite Mountains. If there was an assignment, they naturally would be informed. As for those ordinary squad members, each year, they were permitted one month outside of the gorge.
As Linley walked on the stone road within Bloodbath Gorge, quite a few blood-robed warriors called out to him respectfully upon seeing him. This was true for not just the Azure Dragon clan, but also the White Tiger clan, or the other two clans. In Bloodbath Gorge, they were all the same.
After such a long period of time, they all recognized Linley.
“Arhaus.” Linley saw, to his surprise, that in the distance, there was a familiar figure. Arhaus. Only, Arhaus had a terrible look on his face. Linley immediately walked over, and Arhaus saw Linley as well.
“Linley.” Arhaus forced out a smile.
“Arhaus, it’s been a year since I saw you. Your mission is complete?” Linley laughed.
“The mission is complete.” Arhaus let out a low sigh.
“What is it?” Linley had a bad premonition.
Arhaus glanced at Linley, a bitter look in his eyes. “Linley, didn’t you notice that this body is a divine wind clone?”
“Uh…right.” Linley carefully scrutinized him, and Arhaus sighed. “The enemies for this mission were too powerful. Only four out of the ten members of my Squad Six are alive. The rest died. My most powerful clone, the divine water clone, was destroyed as well.”
Linley was stunned.
The most powerful type of divine clone for the vast majority of the Azure Dragon clansmen was a divine water clone. If Linley had lived within the Four Divine Beasts clan ever since he was young, he too would have undergone the Ancestral Baptism at an early age, and most likely he too would primarily train in water, and not in the earth, as he currently did.
“Then you…” Linley didn’t know what to say.
“My divine water clone is finished. What can I do?” Arhaus shook his head. “In the future, I won’t be an Elder any longer. I don’t have that level of power. The reason I came today was to report this to the Grand Elder.”
When Elders went forth to do battle, they would leave their useless divine clones behind.
One reason was to be able to quickly provide intelligence reports to Bloodbath Gorge; the second was to preserve a life.
“Arhaus, don’t be too dispirited.” Linley didn’t know what to say.
Arhaus took a deep breath. “What’s there to be dispirited about? When I go back, I’ll train hard. The day will come when my divine wind clone will become equally powerful. When that day comes, I’ll go seek out that group of bastards once more!” A savage light appeared in Arhaus’ eyes.
Linley, seeing the look on Arhaus’ face, couldn’t help but be astonished.
Linley suddenly realized that with this constant cycle of revenge, the hatred between the Four Divine Beasts clan and the eight great clans was growing deeper and deeper. The experts of the Four Divine Beasts clan were dying, but so too were the experts of the enemies. If this continued…
The end result definitely would be a case where one side would be wiped out.
“Linley, in battle, you cannot show any mercy. These are not ordinary battles. Between our Four Divine Beasts clan and the eight great clans, there will never be a day of reconciliation. As soon as they have a chance, they will mercilessly kill you.” Arhaus warned.
Linley had come all the way from the Yulan Plane. He knew what was an appropriate time to show mercy, and what was an appropriate time to be ruthless! To be merciful to the members of the eight great clans was the same as being ruthless to his own clansmen.
“Elder Linley!” A blood-robed warrior came running from afar.
Linley turned to look. “What is it?” Linley didn’t recognize this blood-robed warrior.
The blood-robed warrior bowed respectfully. “The Grand Elder is asking you to see her, Elder Linley.”
Linley felt a surge of excitement. He had been the captain of this Squad Thirteen for almost a year now, but this was the first time the Grand Elder had summoned him.