Miao Yi held nothing back and gave them a brutal scolding. He truly didn't give them any face at all. It was because he knew that he could not afford to come off as weak right then. He needed to show the other party that he was full of confidence.
Although the three of them felt incredibly ashamed, they had no way to refute Miao Yi. Even though his words were harsh, they were not wrong. How could they be? Gu Sanzheng, Tan Lao and Ye Xin had always felt proud of the fact that they were disciples of the three major sects, but now they felt as if a tub of cold water had been doused over their heads. When they actually considered it, they were indeed quite snobbish.
However, Gu Sanzheng then stubbornly replied, "No matter how many reasons you have, it doesn't change anything. Unless we settle our grievances, an alliance is impossible!"
Miao Yi asked, "Did your sects send you over to the Sea of Constellations just to kill me? Isn't placing within the top one hundred your top priority? Let me put it simply. Don't you wish to leave the Sea of Constellations alive? Why must you harm others and yourselves just to settle this dispute now?"
Gu Sanzheng asked, "What are you trying to imply?"
"I'm not implying anything!" Miao Yi loudly said, "As I said before, we can share life and death for nine years, and go back to being enemies in the final year! As long as we work together, with the combined strengths of our eight mighty artifacts, it is very likely that we can place within the top one hundred. We can fight to the death once we've accomplished this common objective. What do you say?"
This was not a bad idea indeed. Feeling a little tempted by the notion, Gu Sanzheng, Tan Lao and Ye Xin looked at each other. However, they were a little hesitant as they were worried that this was another one of Miao Yi's ploys. If they joined forces, they would surely be together for a long time. It would be easy for him to sabotage them if he had the thought.
Seeing as they were quiet, Miao Yi added, "You don't have to worry about me. You might not like the sound of it, but we have five mighty artifacts on our side. It is easy for us to overpower you right now. If we really wanted to kill you, we could do it straight away. I didn't have to risk anything by coming here on my own and talking to you face-to-face. I have already shown you my sincerity. For the greater good, I am willing to place my personal grievances aside. It all depends on how you think now. Are you willing to join forces for the sake of the greater good, or will you fight to the death for your personal vendetta? Peace or conflict. You choose!"
He then turned his dragon steed around and confidently returned. Gu Sanzheng's group watched as he left, but didn't try to strike him from behind. Instead, they slowly tucked away their weapons.
As soon as Miao Yi returned to the others, he dismounted the dragon steed and immediately said to Pi Junzi and Tao Ruchun in a low voice, "Why are you still holding on to them? Hurry up and keep your 'transcendent artifacts' away. Do you want to wait until they can see through our ruse?"
The two of them quickly stored their imitations away. Miao Yi couldn't help rolling his eyes and whispering, "The paint came off. Hurry up and clean the black stains on your hands."
Sikong Wuwei's eyes widened and noticed that Tao Ruchun and Pi Junzi's palms were indeed stained black. This… He quickly turned around, afraid that the other party would notice something was amiss. His cheeks were twitching hard as he almost broke out in laughter; he continued to gasp for air from the tiny gaps in his mouth.
He had always had the impression that the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade would be filled with danger, and in truth, it was. However, ever since he became Miao Yi's companion, he started feeling as though danger was nothing to be afraid of, and that it was fine for him to be a little more bold. He always felt like he was having fun instead.
On the other hand, Zhao Fei couldn't find it in himself to laugh. Although he was impressed by Miao Yi's actions earlier on, he felt more sympathetic than not. If only Miao Yi were strong enough, he wouldn't need to take such risks. This was because he had no other choice. For the sake of survival, he had to come up with many ideas. Zhao Fei didn't believe that Miao Yi was not afraid of death. Perhaps only Miao Yi himself would know best about the struggles he faced. He was a strong person who faced the obstacles in his way head-on.
On the other side, Gu Sanzheng faced his two quiet companions and said, "He is waiting for our reply!"
What he implied was was, 'What do the two of you think?'
Ye Xin asked, "How do you take this situation?"
Gu Sanzheng sighed, "He has a point. We've been too narrow-minded in the past, and were too focused on our personal vendetta. On the other hand, he is willing to make peace despite already holding the upper hand. He is much more forbearing than we are."
Ye Xin asked, "You wish to join forces with them?"
Gu Sanzheng replied, "As long as you two are fine with it. There is merit in us working together."
"I don't have anything against it," said Ye Xin as she turned to Tan Lao.
Tan Lao had been silent the entire time. Gu Sanzheng asked him, "Tan Lao, are you worried that you won't be able to answer to Elder Wu once news of you working together with Miao Yi reaches the sect?"
Tan Lao quietly nodded.
Gu Sanzheng reasoned, "Perhaps a third party is the one who has the clearest picture. To be honest, he is right. Killing him is not our top priority. The most important mission our sects assigned to us is to place within the top one hundred and make it back alive. We are clear on the current situation. Those Yao cultivators will continue to come after us. The ones we faced before were all just the tip of the iceberg. If we bump into the experts later on, I fear we won't be able to last. If news of us working together really travels back to the School of Imperial Beasts, you can try explaining it from a different perspective. We are simply trying to use Miao Yi and the others to our advantage. And in truth, I do plan to make use of them with this alliance."
Beside him, Ye Xin echoed the sentiment, "I feel the same way as well."
Gu Sanzheng tapped on Tan Lao's shoulder and said, "Rest assured. It is as Miao Yi said. We are only working together for the sake of surviving till the end. Once we reach the final stretch, we will still end up fighting him. He has killed so many disciples from my Sword Deviate Sect. You are not the only one who needs to kill him. I have a share in it too."
Ye Xin nodded, "He's killed my Senior Auntie and my fellow disciples. When we kill him, I will not simply stand by and watch."
Tan Lao finally blew out a breath and said, "Alright then!"
When he saw the three of them approaching on their Crystal-Armored Hurricane Beasts, Miao Yi glanced at his own side, then scolded in a low voice, "Can you two not look so nervous? Have a little confidence will you? Right now, they're the ones afraid of us. Not the other way around. Why are you two feeling so restless for?!"
Pi Junzi and Tao Ruchun felt rather uneasy. However, it was true that they could not slack off as it was a matter of life and death. They quickly composed themselves once more and tried their best to look like experts.
Gu Sanzheng's group came before them, then jumped off their mounts. This was already a sign that they had come here on friendly terms. Gu Sanzheng stepped forward and nodded as he said, "We will agree to working together with you."
Miao Yi laughed heartily and praised, "As expected, a great person is able to adapt in times of need. I just knew the three of you were not the narrow-minded type." He took a look behind them and asked, "Where are the members of the Red Scarves Alliance? Did they come across an even stronger group and decided to betray you guys as well? Don't tell me even your fellow disciples betrayed you too?"
Gu Sanzheng coolly replied , "Thanks to you, we've incited the wrath of people we shouldn't offend. Our fellow disciples have all perished, and most of the members of the Red Scarves Alliance have met their ends as well. There are less than a hundred of them now, and we've parted ways with them. The Red Scarves Alliance no longer exists."
Miao Yi grew slightly apprehensive as he thought, 'Don't tell me he knows about me pinning the blame of Niu Youde on him?' He pretended to be surprised and asked, "How come?"
Gu Sanzheng then briefly explained the events that transpired after they left the razed island.
Miao Yi felt relieved when he realized that the other party was still oblivious to his involvement.
Sikong Wuwei and Pi Junzi snuck a glance at the mastermind, Miao Yi. Only Tao Ruchun was unaware of the actual situation.
Zhao Fei furrowed his brows and said, "So what you are trying to say is that those Yao cultivators have been hunting you down all this while, which also means that they will be coming here very soon?"
Gu Sanzheng frankly said, "Correct!"
Miao Yi's expression froze when he realized what was going on. 'What a terrible err in judgement. This is no alliance. This is clearly bringing trouble upon ourselves. Now, we're no different than the unfortunate souls of the Red Scarves Alliance who followed their lead before. Crap! We are the ones being set up instead.'
He knew that the Red Scarves Alliance would suffer, but he never expected that all the water tribes would take part as well and act as scouts to keep tabs on the movements of Gu Sanzheng's group. Having allied together, wouldn't that mean that Miao Yi's group would also be hunted down then?
Gu Sanzheng bluntly asked, "Why? Are you scared now? Do you regret forming an alliance with us already?"
Miao Yi coughed and said, "I wouldn't go so far as to say we regret it. Though I do think this move of yours is a little cheap."
Gu Sanzheng was about to argue, but Sikong Wuwei, while gazing into the distance, suddenly spoke up, "Speak of the devil. They're already here."
Everyone turned to follow his gaze and noticed a group of people quickly approaching the island. Based on their attire, they were, without a doubt, Yao cultivators. At a rough estimate, there were about thirty to forty of them.
"There are only but a few dozen of them. We possess eight mighty artifacts in our hands. There is no need to fear them." Miao Yi turned to Gu Sanzheng's group and changed the subject, "Earlier on, I showed you my sincerity by meeting you on my own. Shouldn't the three of you show some sincerity for this alliance as well? Since you were able to kill your way here, I believe it should be easy for you to eliminate a few dozen enemies! Rest assured, if the situation worsens, we will not stand idly by."
There was no choice. He didn't expect enemies to show up the moment they formed the alliance. If all of them were to attack, the 'artifacts' that Pi Junzi and Tao Ruchun had would immediately be revealed as imitations. Miao Yi was already prepared to make a show of the two of them 'losing' their transcendent artifacts in order to avoid Gu Sanzheng's group seeing through their ruse and turning against them.
Gu Sanzheng, Tan Lao and Ye Xin were all proud individuals and disdained against pushing the responsibility around. As such, they didn't complain and simply nodded towards one another.
The three of them quickly turned their Crystal-Armored Hurricane Beasts around and waited for the Yao cultivators to come ashore. They were about to charge over, when suddenly a galloping noise could be heard coming from the other side of the forest. Everyone turned to look and noticed seven riders approaching quickly. They all widened their eyes and sucked in a breath of cold air when they noticed how fearsome the leader's mount was.
Tan Lao exclaimed in shock, "The Tempest Beast from the Realm of Ten Thousand Demons!" As a member of the School of Imperial Beasts, he was naturally able to recognize all manners of spiritual creatures.
Tao Ruchun and Pi Junzi exchanged glances because they noticed Hei Langjun was among the group as well.
Zhao Fei and the others were also shocked.
"The three of us can't guard against both sides. Since Brother Miao has arranged for us to face the larger force, we will naturally abide by it. I believe that with the transcendent artifacts in Brother Miao's possession, you should be able to handle such a small group!" Gu Sanzheng then turned around and shouted, "Attack!"
He then quickly charged towards the shore alongside Tan Lao and Ye Xin. They were no fools after all. How could it possibly be easy to deal with people from the Realm of Ten Thousand Demons? They had just formed an alliance with Miao Yi and his group, and there was barely any sentiment between them. There was no need for them to die together. Naturally, Gu Sanzheng and the other two quickly took up Miao Yi's request and rushed off as far as they could. If anything went wrong, it would be easier for them to escape as well.
"Brother Gu…" Miao Yi had only just held his hand up to ask them to wait, wanting to trade opponents. However, the three of them made like the wind, not turning their heads back even once. They just simply pretended like they hadn't heard him.
Miao Yi was lost for words. It was difficult indeed to predict what the future held. He finally understood what it meant to shoot oneself in the foot.