Book 17, Indigo Prefecture – Chapter 58, Unwillingness
The Skyrite Mountains. Bloodbath Gorge. The Palace of the Four Divine Beasts.
When Linley entered alongside the Second Elder into the palace, he saw that quite a few people had already arrived. Linley swept them with his gaze. “Including me, a total of forty two Elders!” But of course, as time passed, more Elders entered, one by one.
“Linley.” Elder Garvey had a good personal relationship with Linley, and so he walked over. “The clan leaders are finally willing to lower their heads.”
Linley was stunned. “Garvey. Are you saying…?”
Garvey let out a low sigh. “Last month, our Four Divine Beasts clan suffered yet another severe setback. The clan leaders primarily aren’t able to endure it any longer either. Thus, they organized this Conclave. Or perhaps the clan leaders are also irresolute and so they wish the Elders to come discuss it. If the Elders agree, then…”
Linley understood as well.
Once the Conclave concluded, most likely the Four Divine Beasts clan would choose to turtle up within the Skyrite Mountains, no longer leaving. Although by doing so, the Four Divine Beasts clan would be able to preserve its strength, the reputation of the clan, built up over countless years, would suffer a huge blow.
To the many clansmen, the honor of the clan was more important than life itself. This was a hard choice for the four clan leaders to make.
“We suffered a severe setback last month? What happened?” Linley hurriedly asked.
“You never pay attention to anything!” Garvey shook his head. “A month ago, our Four Divine Beasts clan lost another three Elders. One of the Elders belonged to our Azure Dragon clan. Factoring in the last event twenty years ago…our Azure Dragon clan has only fifteen Elders who truly possess the power of Seven Star Fiends.
Linley’s heart couldn’t help but clench in worry.
“Rumble…” The main door to the palace slowly slid closed.
Linley couldn’t help but feel startled. Garvey said in a low voice, “The Elders are all here. Soon, the four clan leaders will arrive.” Linley took a careful look about. In the hall, there were a total of fifty three Elders, including the Grand Elder.
From a side room, four figures walked out in a line, sitting down together at the front of the palace. It was Gislason and the other clan leaders.
The entire hall immediately fell silent for a time.
Gislason and the other three clan leaders swept everyone with their gaze, then looked at each other. In the end, it was Gislason who spoke. His deep, rumbling voice echoed in the hall. “Everyone, today, we have invited all of you over. I trust that all of you have already guessed what the purpose of this meeting is!”
As soon as these words came out, everyone felt misery in their hearts, and even Linley felt a surge of grief.
They no longer had the strength to save the situation!
“Ever since our four ancestors died, our Four Divine Beasts clan has suffered one heavy setback after another. Fortunately, thanks to the assistance of the Lord Prefect of Indigo Prefecture, we were able to find our footing here in the Skyrite Mountains. Otherwise, our Four Divine Beasts clan would most likely have been turned into ash and disappeared like smoke, more than ten thousand years ago.
The palace was completely silent.
“Over the past ten thousand years, the Elders of our Four Divine Beasts clan have all fought fearlessly against the enemy for the sake of the glory of the clan. Ten thousand years ago, our Four Divine Beasts clan had a total of over two hundred Elders! But today, we only have fifty three remaining! It has only been ten thousand short years, but we’ve lost nearly two hundred Elders! Two hundred!!!” A moist light flashed in Gislason’s eyes.
The Elders below, thinking back to the other Elders who had perished over these years, all felt grief in their hearts.
Linley, as well, thought of the various members of his own Squad Thirteen who had died, as well as the forlorn image of Elder Arhaus, who had lost his most powerful clone.
For the sake of the clan, far too many Elders had sacrificed their most powerful divine clones. They had previously been Seven Star Fiends, lofty and mighty individuals. But after having lost their most powerful divine clones, they were now perhaps just ordinary Highgods.
“All these years, the other three clan leaders and I have been pondering…how long will we hold out for?” Gislason’s voice was hoarse. “Especially in the past few centuries. The eight great clans seem to have gone insane. They want to kill our Elders at all cost, even if they have to die with us. According to this current rate, in another few years, our Four Divine Beasts clan will most likely not have many Elders left.”
The Vermillion Bird Matriarch spoke out as well. “Right. One month ago in particular, we lost another three Elders! We four clan leaders have discussed this carefully…if this continues, we will only be able to endure for a few more centuries at most.”
The White Tiger Patriarch spoke out in a cold voice. “Since even if we continue to hold out, the only result will be that everyone will die, what’s the point?”
The Black Tortoise Patriarch rumbled, “This is why we wish to make sure that at least some of our elites will survive. After all, it isn’t so easy for someone to become a Seven Star Fiend and an Elder.”
Gislason said in a strong, forceful voice, “And so, we four clan leaders are united in agreement that we are to no longer fight against the eight great clans…all of the members of the clan are to enter the Skyrite Mountains. We will build up our strength!”
The Elders below were all stunned.
They had thought that the clan leaders would let them discuss this matter and vote on it, but who would have thought that this came as a simple declaration?
Instantly, quite a few Elders grew frantic.
“Patriarch!” A rushed voice rang out, and a youth with silver hair and a callous-looking face raised his head towards the four clan leaders. He frantically said, “Are we supposed to just surrender, just like that? Just admit defeat?”
Linley glanced at this silver-haired, callous-looking youth. It was the ‘Genius Elder’ of the Azure Dragon clan, Elder Blue.
“You can consider it as us admitting defeat!” Gislason no longer had the imposing, majestic aura that he previously always had.
“Blue.” The Vermillion Bird Matriarch looked down at him. “Even if we continue to fight, how much longer will the forces of our Four Divine Beasts clan be able to hold out for? Can it be that you want the remaining, final fifty three Elders of the clan to also be lost?”
Blue’s gaze was unyielding.
“Four clan leaders!” Blue raised his head slightly. “I, Blue, have submitted and surrendered to others, but that was because I was too weak. Ever since I became a Seven Star Fiend, I have never surrendered to anyone. The eight great clans are worthless! When our Four Divine Beasts clan was in the height of our power, they didn’t dare to oppose us in the slightest. But now? Hmph. Have me, Blue, surrender to them? Never!”
“Blue!” Gislason felt heartsick.
In their hearts, they not only hated the eight great clans, they also looked down on them. For them to surrender…they naturally didn’t wish to, given their pride. But Gislason and the other three were acting in the best interests of the clan.
“Patriarch, I understand that this is a hard decision for you. But I am just a single person. I am willing to go out and do battle…and to die on the field of war! After I die, the Infernal Realm will no longer have the Seven Star Fiend Blue, only the ordinary Highgod Blue. By that time, even if I want to do battle, I wouldn’t have the ability to.” Blue laughed softly as he spoke.
Linley, hearing this, couldn’t help but tremble.
At this moment, a black-haired Elder stood out and said in a somber voice, “Patriarch, for our clan to flourish again, what we need is a supreme expert like Beirut or Dunnington. I know that I have no more hopes for improving…I hope that you will let me go die in battle, Patriarch! Even if we lose, I refuse to let those eight great clans get off lightly.”
“Patriarch, in my life, I’ve given many things a try, but lowering my head? Never! Not even in death!” Yet another Elder stood up.
Linley watched this scene quietly. Although to ordinary people, these Elders might appear to be too rigid and inflexible, Linley understood…these Elders had lived for countless hundreds of millions of years.
They weren’t afraid to sacrifice themselves, but they cared deeply about certain beliefs and values which they held.
Fifty three Elders. Amongst them, there were more than twenty who were willing to sacrifice their most powerful divine clones, just for the sake of making the enemies suffer. The other Elders were silent, but Linley knew that so long as the clan leaders gave the order, they wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest.
“Linley!” Suddenly, a voice rang out.
Linley was stunned.
The Grand Elder was looking at him, her eyes filled with panic. “Linley, you are on very close terms with the Lord Prefect. Can’t you just…discard your pride and go beg the Lord Prefect for him to help us? Given the Lord Prefect’s power, he is more than strong enough to force the eight great clans away. Linley, go beg him…for the sake of the clan, go beg him, just this once!”
Quite a few Elders immediately looked towards Linley.
Just now, these Elders had been in a state of despair, and many of them had been willing to throw away their most powerful divine clones in an attempt at vengeance. Even if their clan was submitting, they would make the eight great clans suffer. But hearing the words of the Grand Elder…
It seemed as though they had one last straw to clutch at for survival!
“I…” Linley didn’t know how to respond.
“Little Sis.” Gislason, seated at the front of the hall, let out a deep shout. “Having Linley do this would just make the Lord Prefect feel awkward. The Lord Prefect has already done many things for our Four Divine Beasts clan, and he has never asked for anything in return. You actually want the Lord Prefect to intervene yet again? Can it be that you think the Lord Prefect has an obligation to help us?”
The Grand Elder couldn’t help but fall silent.
“We’re able to preserve the clan, and it won’t be destroyed. We should know when to be content with what we have.” Gislason let out a sigh.
The Elders below all fell silent.
“Elders, I am unable to forcibly prevent any of you from deciding whether or not you wish to go do battle with the enemy. I just want to say…let the clan preserve a bit of power.” Gislason rose after speaking, then looked towards Linley. “Linley, no matter what, don’t go beg the Lord Prefect.”
Linley couldn’t help but raise his head and look towards Gislason.
“I know what sort of temper the Lord Prefect has. If we go too far and anger him by our actions…he doesn’t even need to personally do anything. All he needs to do is to stop caring about our Four Divine Beasts clan and allow those eight great clans to freely attack us. That…would be disastrous!”
Quite a few Elders seated below, upon hearing those words, felt their hearts tremble.
Whether or not to surrender and submit, that was a question of the clan’s honor and glory.
But angering the Lord Prefect…that was a question of the clan’s survival. If the entire Four Divine Beasts clan was eradicated, there would no longer even be a question of honor or glory.
Ever since that decision was made, the Four Divine Beasts clan no longer openly battled against the eight great clans. Even though the forces of the eight great clans continued on their predetermined patrol routes and acted provocatively, they were ignored.
The clan only needed to preserve its strength.
But although this was the order of the clan, there were still quite a few Elders who weren’t willing to accept it. They chose to go out to fight, causing the battles with the eight great clans to rise to a new crescendo…and the eight great clans, seeing that the Four Divine Beasts clansmen dared to act so brashly, couldn’t help but feel enraged and send even more people out.
A wild, savage, brutal war!
The most eye-catching of them all was the Genius Elder, Blue. Elder Blue travelled by himself, and he actually managed to kill eight enemy Elders. Afterwards, the eight great clans were enraged, and they actually sent out one of their Patriarchs, along with multiple experts.
In that battle…
Elder Blue’s most powerful divine clone…died!
Elder Blue, in those ten short years, accomplished the feat of killing nine enemy Elders.
But of course, although some did well, others did poorly. Other Elders went out to do battle as well, but some Elders weren’t able to kill anyone at all, as they were set upon by many others or were killed by enemies using Sovereign’s Might.
This sort of wild slaughter persisted for thirty years.
Twenty two Elders lost their most powerful divine clones in battle! As for the eight great clans, their losses were even greater. Thirty eight of the Elders perished. After all, the Four Divine Beasts clansmen were fighting with the intention of killing as many as they could in exchange for their own lives.
But after that, the Four Divine Beasts clan went silent, no longer seeking out battle.
For a short period of time, this actually threw the eight great clans into a period of wild speculation. After all, in thirty short years, they had lost thirty eight Elders, causing some shock to the eight great clans…after all, the Elders of their clans were the elites of their clans as well.
They, too, felt heartache at the losses!
The Skyrite Mountains returned to calmness. The roving patrols continued their patrols, but normally, very few people would come to the Skyrite Mountains. But today, a female youth flew out from a metallic lifeform.
Afterwards, that metallic lifeform flew away, while that young lady drew closer and closer to the Skyrite Mountains.
“These are the Skyrite Mountains. Outsiders are forbidden entry.” Immediately, more than ten patrolling warriors flew over from above, and one of them shouted at her.
This young lady had her hair tied into a ponytail, and she appeared very attractive. The strange thing was, she was wearing a straw hat on her head. The young lady hurriedly replied, “Hello. I am the friend of your Elder Linley. I’ve come to find him!”
“Elder Linley?” The patrolling warriors were all puzzled.
“Do you have any proof?” A patrolling warrior asked.
“Uh…” The young lady hesitated. What proof could she provide? But then, she immediately said, “How about this. Just go tell Elder Linley that my name is Nisse. He’ll know who I am.”
“Nisse?” The leader of the patrolling warriors glanced at her, then nodded. “Wait here.” After speaking, he flew away.