Everyone else watched as the Red Scarves Alliance dove into the maze-like forest. Night soon fell, and the remaining one thousand people left on the desolate plains immediately scurried about.
Regardless of whichever palace or manor they belonged to, all the disciples of the various sects would party up with members of their respective schools. Those who were older and had a higher cultivation would take the lead. Everyone grouped up together and relied on each other for support.
A large sect would have dozens of people in a group, whereas a small one would only have a few members. Soon, over 1,200 people divided themselves into more than sixty different groups.
"Senior Uncle. Didn't that Zhao Fei say he would follow our Sect of the Three Founders?"
A few dozen green-robed individuals had gathered together. A middle-aged man asked the question towards a white-haired old man. These people were the disciples of the Sect of the Three Founders that Zhao Fei had mentioned to Miao Yi before. The white-haired old man was called Yan Baichuan, and he was also a Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivator.
"Water flows downwards; man struggles upwards. He has found a better place to serve, so naturally, he wouldn't lower himself by grouping up with us," Yan Baichuan scoffed. He was displeased that Zhao Fei didn't keep his word, but lacked the nerve to do anything to him.
The reason was simple. Anyone who wasn't blind could see that Zhao Fei had already become one of the pillars of the Red Scarves Alliance. Their forces were strong and mighty. With just a few dozen people in their party, there was no reason for the Red Scarves Alliance to care about the Sect of the Three Founders, much less fear them. Especially that terrifying Alliance Master of theirs. He'd managed to crush the three major sects in a single breath—how much more of a threat could the Sect of the Three Founders be? Since they couldn't afford to offend him, there was no need for them to go seeking trouble.
Hoofbeats resounded within their vicinity. Another disciple of the Sect of the Three Founders shouted, "Senior Uncle. Look!"
They saw small sects of various sizes charging towards a certain direction, one after another. They were heading in the same direction that the Red Scarves Alliance left. It seemed like they were chasing after the Red Scarves Alliance.
"Do they wish to submit to the Red Scarves Alliance?" one of them mumbled.
Yan Baichuan's eyes shone as he suddenly spoke to his fellow disciples, "Among the 180,000 cultivators of the six nations, not only do the large sects hold the advantage in numbers, but they're full of experts as well. Even if we could regroup with the disciples that the school personally sent over, there are only a few dozen people in our Sect of the Three Founders. It will be very difficult for us to gain a steady foothold in the Sea of Constellations. I wish to submit to the Red Scarves Alliance. What do you all think?"
"Senior Uncle. I was thinking the same thing."
"Since Senior Uncle has decided, we shall naturally follow your plan."
"I think the schools chasing after the Red Scarves Alliance are having the same thoughts as well, Senior Uncle."
Even though it wasn't nice to hear that a sect was submitting to a different group, this was a matter concerning life and death. Naturally, there would be people who would try to coax and reassert the rationality of the idea.
However, some expressed their doubts as well. "I wonder whether the Red Scarves Alliance will even accept us."
Yan Baichuan explained, "There are so many dangers within the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. Don't tell me that the Red Scarves Alliance Master will complain about gaining an extra helping hand?"
Someone else pointed out, "Why don't we contact the other schools and form an alliance instead?"
Yan Baichuan shook his head, "Each school has their own agenda to follow. We wouldn't be at ease if we formed an alliance. If this were possible, someone would have done it by now. We wouldn't even have a chance. By contrast, I'm not sure if any of you have noticed, but that Red Scarves Alliance is full of cultivators like Zhao Fei; they lack a background of a school. So even if he recruited them, it's not much of a concern. Not to mention, the motto of the Red Scarves Alliance made it very clear. Ten years in the Sea of Constellations, they would only desire to share life and death for nine. In the final year, they'll all revert back to being enemies! There's nothing wrong in submitting to them now. Even if the day comes when we go back to being enemies, our Sect of the Three Founders will still be as one, so we'll still hold an advantage even within the Red Scarves Alliance."
Many thought to themselves, 'The question is how many of us can survive till the end and still act as one. Where is the so-called advantage in that?'
However, it was true that they were just a small force right now. Everyone wished to live another day and hoped to survive, so naturally, no one objected. They all exchanged glances, then cupped their fists and shouted in unison, "We shall follow as Senior Uncle (Senior Grand-Uncle) commands!"
Yan Baichuan nodded and waved his hand, "Let's go!"
Under Yan Baichuan's lead, the Sect of the Three Founders galloped away towards the direction that the Red Scarves Alliance had disappeared off to.
One after another, the troops on the desolate plains headed towards the same direction. Some chose a different path—after all, not everyone shared the same ideas.
Aboard the ship, Wu Menglan watched the troops run off to the same direction and muttered, "Are they going to submit to the Red Scarves Alliance?"
The intermediary came down from the balcony and approached Wu Menglan with a smile. "This Red Scarves Alliance is rather interesting. I hope I'll see their forces in the 'Western Constellations Palace' in the end. Hall Master Wu. Let us finish our official business then."
Wu Menglan turned around and nodded. Both parties signed a document detailing the successful delivery of the participants, and bid their farewells.
Wu Menglan and Pang Rang quickly flew off. A red light suddenly shot out from the intermediary's sleeves and instantly destroyed the ten large ships. He then withdrew his transcendence artifact and flew off into the distance.
Countless wooden planks floated on the surface of the sea. With a swishing sound, Su Jinggong resurfaced, and with light steps, landed back on the shore. His eyes were full of grief when he saw the corpses of those from the three major sects all over the place.
There were still plenty of dragon steeds unwilling to leave their owners' side. Su Jinggong mounted one and departed alone…
Atop the vast, turquoise ocean was a certain location, its mighty reefs towering thousands of feet tall, spread out unevenly over the clear, jade ocean like a forest. At the same time, it resembled the massive fangs found in a monster's mouth. The water that flowed between the reefs were either still and quiet or raging and turbulent. The color of the water was either a clear blue or a dark black. Within these waters, sometimes sharks could be seen swimming around with their dorsal fins peeking out of the surface. Other times, some unknown claw-like object could be seen moving around. It was a horrifying sight. Normal people wouldn't even be able to get close to this place at all.
At the peak of a mountain tens of thousands of feet high, the scenery was entirely different. Lush, verdant forests plastered the area as flowers blossomed in all their splendor. It looked like spring all year round, as though they were unaffected by the weather conditions. Lofty trees surrounded a massive palace, its pavilions spread out at uneven heights, as dozens of horned pythons slithered about. They had an extremely keen sense of hearing and would turn their heads whenever they noticed signs of movement. Their red eyes gleamed dangerously as they stuck out their red tongues.
This place was the Western Constellations Palace, one of the four divine palaces belonging to the one of the four Constellations Masters of the Sea of Constellations. It was the divine palace of the Western Constellations Master, Fu Qing.
Near the gates of the palace, within one of the subsidiary halls, there was a giant golden astrolabe. This astrolabe was a transcendence artifact refined back when the Six Sages had first established the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade, and the four Constellations Masters held it for safekeeping. They took turns to guard it, and since this year the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade was held in the Western Star Sea, they placed the astrolabe here.
Two horned pythons slithered about the hall, carrying with them a fishy stench. At times, they would coil up around one of the pillars, causing many visitors to crease their brows. But alas, the Western Constellations Master intended to creep them out in the first place, so it wouldn't do them any good to chase these snakes away.
Everyone knew that Fu Qing was displeased that they were carrying out the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade in the Western Star Sea. Truth be told, no one would be happy to host such a bloody affair on their own property. If Yao Sage Ji Huan hadn't pressured him, Fu Qing would definitely kick out all the people from the hall and leave them to fend for themselves. Why should he even bother providing a hall for them?
Ever since all eighteen people had arrived in the hall, no one had caught sight of Fu Qing. Even if they wanted to go and pay their respects, he refused to grant them an audience, and simply said that he was in closed-door cultivation. He wouldn't even show his face to the people sent over by Ji Huan, and merely instructed them to look for his subordinates if they had any problems. Ji Huan's subordinates weren't offended at all and simply returned obediently.
From this, it was evident what extraordinary existences the four Constellations Masters of the Sea of Constellations were. The four of them were the mighty Demonic Behemoths after all. No one knew how many tens of thousands of years they had been cultivating. They were an existence even older than the Six Sages themselves. Unless the Six Sages personally stepped out, Fu Qing really didn't need to give face to anyone else. Most importantly, even if he didn't give face, no one would be offended by it. Anyone that dared to challenge his authority was welcome to try.
There was a good reason why the Sea of Constellations inflicted such terror in the cultivation realm. The four Constellations Masters were called as such because they were the original owners of this place. It wasn't a simple thing to chase them out.
The Six Sages had each sent three people over to observe the battle for this year's Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. The ones sent over this time were a little different from normal; they were mostly people who were relatively close to the Six Sages themselves.
It was because the nature of this year's Subjugation Crusade was a little different than normal. The new generation under the Six Sages was also participating, and so the Subjugation Crusade quickly became a platform for their respective disciples to gauge their own strengths. As such, the 180,000 cultivators in the Subjugation Crusade this year had become mere sideshows. These new participants were the main performance.
This was done to ensure the fairness of the Subjugation Crusade. But to be more accurate, everyone was simply afraid of sabotage, which was why the Six Sages had all sent over their trusted aides to oversee the situation.
The respective overseers of the six nations each stood at one side of the astrolabe. The astrolabe displayed a holographic map of the Western Sea, and the overseers were looking at the glowing dots scattered on it. Most of the dots were white, but six, in particular, were an eye-catching red. These six red dots were the participants that the six nations were truly concerned about. The other white dots were probably nothing but weeds in their eyes.
One of the Devil Nation overseers was the Devil Sage Yun Aotian's youngest son, Yun Guang. It was because Yun Guang's son—or the Devil Sage's grandson—was participating in the crusade this time. Yun Guang looked very much like his father, and his countenance carried a dominating aura. Crossing his hands behind his back, he swept a sharp gaze at the astrolabe.
Two people were standing behind Yun Guang, one of which Miao Yi was slightly familiar with. It was the man who had taken Luo Shuangfei away—Sir Zuo.
One of the Buddha Nation overseers was the Buddha Sage Cang Lei's subordinate, Grandmaster Qi Jie. The old monk was bald and had two long, snow-white eyebrows which extended all the way to his chest. His face possessed a gentle bearing, and despite being old and thin, he seemed to brim with vigor. His eyes shone with energy, but at the same time, were deep and mysterious. He garbed himself in monk's robes which were as white as snow, with a black satin cloth hanging across his sides. The black satin cloth was adorned with an elaborate branching pattern of a golden cloud design, giving him a regal and kind appearance.
Grandmaster Qi Jie's disciple was a participant as well, but he was not the main representative. He was merely here to assist the Buddha Sage's direct disciple. It was only because Grandmaster Qi Jie's disciple was also participating that the Buddha Sage had him oversee the situation.
One of the overseers of the Yao Nation was the Yao Sage Ji Huan's daughter, Ji Meimei. The main representative that they sent over was her son. As a mother, she had to personally come and give her support.
One of the overseers of the Ghost Nation was the Ghost Sage Situ Xiao's disciple, Hei Yun. The main representative was his son.
One of the overseers of the Boundless Nation was the Dao Sage Feng Beichen's disciple, Hua Yu. The main participant representing their nation was his disciple.
From the Celestial Nation, the Celestial Sage Mu Fanjun had sent two disciples over. One was called Tang Jun, and the other was the highly renowned beauty in the cultivation realm, Fairy Hong Chen. The latter had requested to come because she had a close relationship with their main representative, who was another disciple of the Celestial Sage. The girl was just as famed for her beauty as Fairy Hong Chen—Fairy Yue Yao.
The reason why the Six Sages sent their members over to participate was because of Fairy Yue Yao. Fu Manjun originally wanted to let Fairy Yue Yao participate as a form of training. Then, when the other five Sages heard of this, they were completely amused. They were all people with too much free time on their hands, so they immediately decided to take part as well. Although it was just a game to them, it was a disaster for the other 180,000 cultivators participating in the crusade.