"Judging from the situation, the youngsters from our six nations will be bumping into each other earlier than we expected." Grandmaster Qi Jie sighed. Clapping his hands together in prayer, he recited, "Amitabha!"
Everyone was reminded of the purpose of their being there by his words, and exchanged glances with one another.
As Ji Meimei had said, the Western Star Sea was Fu Qing's territory. There was no way he wouldn't know what was happening given the huge commotion.
One man was hastily making his way into the deeper recesses of the Western Constellations Palace. All the horned pythons slithering about the palace courtyards made way to allow him passage.
There stood a lofty, spacious pavilion, antiquated and intricately decorated. It towered over ten feet tall, with an unshakeable sense of power hidden within its stillness. It was the largest building in the entire Western Constellations Palace.
Standing five feet tall, the tightly shut gates of the pavilion were a murky bronze color. On it were engravings depicting the various water tribes. It must require tremendous strength to push open such large gates. The man seemed incredibly tiny as he stood before these pavilion gates.
Standing outside the gates, the man bowed and loudly called out , "My Lord!"
A deep, old voice reverberated from deep within the pavilion, "What is the matter?" It invoked an instinctive sense of awe and respect in others.
The man replied, "I've just received reports that the perpetrator behind the bloody massacre of Brass Gong Fort all those years ago, Niu Youde, has reappeared."
The voice asked, "Where is he?"
"He is currently participating in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. His true name is Gu Sanzheng…" The man proceeded to explain the current situation of the Subjugation Crusade.
The old voice asked, "Do you think he is capable of killing Yuan Kaishan?"
The man replied, "Should we bring him over for questioning?"
The old voice didn't answer his question and instead responded with, "Regardless of whether or not this person is the culprit, we have only our own incompetence to blame for failing to apprehend him earlier. Now that he has brought himself over to our doorstep, you have the gall to overpower him with numbers still? He is here to participate in the Subjugation Crusade. Since it is being organized here on the Western Star Sea, we must at least retain a basic degree of fairness. Don't do something so shameful such as using this as a pretense to settle our personal vendetta. Send out my order! Have the water tribes stop their pursuit immediately. Tell them not to butt in if it doesn't concern them! Let the participants handle it themselves!"
"...Understood!" The man was a little reluctant to speak. In the end, he acknowledged his orders and left.
Like a ripple, news of Fu Qing's official decree soon spread from the Western Constellations Palace to the entire Western Star Sea. The various water tribes immediately heeded the order and stayed still.
However, some time was still required for the ripples to fully spread. News would not reach the scene of the incident in such a short amount of time.
At this point, the Red Scarves Alliance had gone through yet another gruesome battle. There were less than a hundred of them now. As the Thunderclap Flying Swords returned to the sword-case on his back, Gu Sanzheng himself had already lost count of how many he had killed along the way.
There was no time for him to think about these things anyway. He pointed to a nearby island and said, "Let's head to the island!"
The miserable bunch rushed to the island. Then, someone finally thought of something, and gasped, "Alliance Master. We've lost our mounts."
A commotion started to brew among the group. They scanned about and discovered that other than Gu Sanzheng, Tan Lao and Ye Xin, all the others disciples from the three major sects had died along their carnage-filled path. Everyone's mounts had been kept inside the beast sacks of the School of Imperial Beasts disciples, and now they were all lost.
What did losing their mounts mean? Not only was their battle prowess severely diminished, they also couldn't escape as quickly as they could before anymore.
"We'll talk about this later. First, let us find a place to hide!" Gu Sanzheng called everyone to head into the mountains deep within the island.
After hiding themselves in the mountains, Gu Sanzheng turned to the crowd and said, "Dragon steeds are creatures native to the Sea of Constellations to begin with. There is no shortage of them here. We can simply find more if we lost them. This is not something difficult."
Then someone voiced out, "But Alliance Master, we are being hunted down right now. Without any help from the speed of our mounts, we won't be able to run fast on land!"
"Everyone!" Gu Sanzheng cupped his fists towards the crowd and said, "I have caused you all much suffering this time! We cannot continue to run like this. If we run in such a large group, we will be unable to escape all the eyes hidden underneath the ocean surface. There is only one option available for us now. I would like to suggest we go our separate ways from now on. Otherwise, if you continue to follow behind us, it will only result in death. I do not wish to drag everyone down any longer!"
These were his heartfelt thoughts. The Red Scarves Alliance had fought by his side against strong foes throughout this entire journey. Even though they were forced to do so, he had borne witness to how hardily they fought. He had already talked it over with Tan Lao and Ye Xin before coming ashore. Since the disciples of the three major sects were already completely decimated anyway, there was no need to drag even the remaining survivors down as well.
Someone said in frustration, "They've definitely marked this island already. If we were to separate, I fear we won't be able to run far before… If we go off on our own, I fear we will die even faster."
At this point, it wasn't as if everyone desired to follow Gu Sanzheng and the other two, it was more like they had no choice but to follow the three of them. Given the trio's strengths, everyone would at least be able to stay alive a little bit longer under their protection.
Another person shouted, "When Alliance Master Miao was around, we were able to get by peacefully for three years in the Sea of Constellations. Our days then were easy and we repeatedly defeated strong enemies. We even had enough loot to share. However, it has been less than a month since we followed the three of you, and not only did we not receive any benefits, but our once mighty force numbering over a thousand has since been dwindled to such measly numbers! How many of us are left now? Whose fault is this? It is easy for you to say you wish to go your own separate ways now. Why didn't you do so when we were still fighting for you?"
Another one complained, "That's right! Back when we burned down the island, we all witnessed how close Alliance Master Miao and the others were with those demons. They even tried to stop us for the sakes of Alliance Master Miao and the others! If Alliance Master Miao was the one who brought us onto the island back then, surely nothing would have happened to us! We might even be able to form an even stronger alliance. But ever since your three major sects joined us, our Red Scarves Alliance has suffered more and more casualties. Almost everyone is dead!"
"Even after they ran around the Sea of Constellations, nothing happened to Alliance Master Miao and the others. You, on the other hand, became the public enemy of the Yao cultivators, and even dragged us down with you!"
Everyone was furious when they heard Gu Sanzheng say he was going to leave them to their fates. Since it was going to be death either way, they no longer had much to fear and spoke out their true thoughts.
Ye Xin's expression turned cold as she thought, 'Why didn't you all say these things when you wanted to kill Miao Yi and take his transcendent artifacts? You're finally remembering his nice traits now?'
Tan Lao was all the more taken with rage and was about to teach these bastards a lesson. However, Gu Sanzheng raised his hand and stopped him. He shook his head and allowed the others to vent out their frustrations.
After everyone made their complaints, Gu Sanzheng motioned with his hand and requested for them to let him speak.
"I will admit that I am no match for Miao Yi when it comes to certain things. This, I will not deny. However, it is pointless to speak of such things right now."
Gu Sanzheng was not lying. He truly lamented falling behind Miao Yi. A White Lotus Seventh Grade cultivator being able to survive in the Sea of Constellations was already a miracle in and of itself. Yet he was even able to pull together a group of people and create the Red Scarves Alliance. And after being betrayed by everyone, he still managed to escape their pursuit. Furthermore, there were still people who were willing to follow him after his White Lotus cultivation was revealed. And even now, he was still capable of running about the Sea of Constellations. Gu Sanzheng couldn't help being impressed by Miao Yi even if he didn't want to. If it were him, he would have died countless times already.
Maybe one or two incidents could be attributed to one's luck. However, with so many of them stacked together, it became a clear indication of one's capabilities. Gu Sanzheng could not deny that Miao Yi was a capable man.
Gu Sanzheng shouted, "I am not trying to throw everyone aside. I truly do not wish to cause trouble to you all any longer. Those Yao cultivators are after me. When they come here, the three of us will slaughter our way out of their formation and draw their attention away from all of you. I also would like to suggest that everyone remove the red cloth around their wrists and bury them. Otherwise, it will only attract trouble. As for whether you all plan to join forces or go your separate ways after this, I will leave that for you to decide. The point is, do not rally under the banner of the Red Scarves Alliance any longer! Just pretend as if it never existed. Of course, if you wish to continue this perilous journey with the three of us, we will not refuse you either!"
So that was what he meant. Everyone kept quiet as soon as they heard him. It was still unclear whether they would go their separate ways after this. However, with Gu Sanzheng's group willingly drawing the enemies' attention away from them, everyone definitely wouldn't choose to follow them anymore.
After the matter was resolved, Gu Sanzheng immediately ordered everyone to spread out across the island and stand guard, and to report immediately if a situation were to arise.
After the preparations were complete, Gu Sanzheng's group tossed Orbs of Will into their mouths and hurriedly began to replenish their transcendence energy. They had truly expended too much of it throughout this journey. The three of them were barely able to hang on.
Alas, after a brief four hour rest, a scout came to report that a force of about fifty people had come ashore. Judging from their attire, they must be Yao cultivators.
Gu Sanzheng and the other two stood up and summoned the Crystal-Armored Hurricane Beast, then mounted them. Gu Sanzheng turned to the crowd staring at him and cupped his fists before bidding them farewell, "Take care, everyone!"
The others all hid in the forest and watched as the three of them dashed towards the enemy. The Thunderclap Flying Swords shot out as Gu Sanzheng bellowed, "Gu Sanzheng is right here! All who stand in my way shall perish!"
The sound of battle soon rang out. Gu Sanzheng's group did not engage with the enemy and simply broke through from the center of their formation. They rushed to the seashore, then quickly stored their mounts away and leapt upon the waves, making like the wind across the mighty ocean. They truly managed to lure the Yao cultivators into pursuing them...
Miao Yi obviously had no idea that the Red Scarves Alliance he had created from scratch had now become a thing of the past.
In the end, he was the cause for both the rise of the Red Scarves Alliance, as well as its undoing. If it weren't for him, the Red Scarves Alliance would not have been reduced to such a pitiful end so quickly.
Even though he knew that by setting up Gu Sanzheng, the Red Scarves Alliance would most likely perish, he never expected it to happen so quickly. The main reason was because he never imagined that the water tribes of the Western Star Sea would also participate, making the news spread so quickly and causing the demons to gather so soon.
As he waited for Charcoal on the island, the former Alliance Master Miao originally thought that they had completely thrown Gu Sanzheng and the others off their trail after not seeing any sign of them for the past few days. However, Gu Sanzheng and the others would catch up to him first instead of Charcoal.
Tao Ruchun, the Peach Blossom Treant that was standing guard atop the mountain, immediately noticed a group of people approaching the island and quickly reverted back to his human form. He rushed down to the caves below and began frantically shouting, "This is bad. Run!"
Miao Yi and the others immediately rushed out of their caves as soon as they heard him. Miao Yi asked, "What is it?"
Tao Ruchun anxiously replied, "Those three bastards with the flying-sword user are here."
"Son of a bitch! How are they still able to find us after so long!?" Miao Yi shook his hands and shouted, "What are you standing in a daze for? Let's make a run for it!"
Miao Yi barely took a few steps before abruptly coming to a halt, and said, "Wait!" He was the one who asked them to run, and now he was the one to say stop as well.
With his hand already on the hammer, Sikong Wuwei widened his eyes and said, "What are we still waiting for? They clearly have no intention of letting you go. Are we going to wait for our deaths!?"
Miao Yi ignored him and proceeded to ask Tao Ruchun, "How many did you say were coming just now? Only three? No one else?"
Tao Ruchun nodded, "Only three. No one else."
"Only three…" Miao Yi seemed to be thinking of something. He suddenly rushed to the peak of the mountain and opened his transcendence vision. He caught sight of Gu Sanzheng and the other two approaching the shore, but there was no sign of a single person from the massive Red Scarves Alliance. He then quickly rushed back down the mountain.