A long time ago, this door was fully open. However, ever since Fu Qing submitted to Yao Sage Ji Huan, the door was never fully opened again, and entry was only allowed through the small opening. No one knew what Fu Qing meant by this.
The inside of the manor was very spacious. Lie Huan and the blue-robed man walked in, feeling incredibly small before its vastness. And indeed, there was a lot of space inside. The floors were paved with crystal-clear jade, and the ceiling was embellished with various gemstones, making the interior decor seem as though it was an entire galaxy in itself.
The dozen or so pillars that supported the entire manor were all made of wood. It was unknown what type of wood it was, but it measured almost thirty meters in height and stood perfectly straight. It would take at least five to six adults holding hands to wrap around the entirety of a single pillar. The color of the wood itself was a deep black, and it had carvings of various demonic creatures engraved upon it. It was truly a strange sight to behold.
At the center of the spacious manor, there was an old man dressed in a short-sleeved robe. The old man had blue hair tied in a top knot, blue brows, and a blue mustache. His pants and sleeves were rolled up high; he sat cross-legged with his eyes closed in meditation on the crystalline floor. There was a lot of space around him, which gave the old man an air of profoundness and solitude.
If Miao Yi saw this person, he would surely recognize him as the old man who had forced him to sweep the ground from before. However, at this moment, the old man wasn't even wearing his canvas shoes and was barefooted instead. As for this old man's identity, he was none other than a member of the Sea of Constellations Four Constellations Masters, and one who struck terror upon all those in the cultivation realm—Western Constellations Master Fu Qing.
Walking up to the old man, Lie Huan came to a stop about five meters away, then cupped his fists in greeting, "Lie Huan respectfully greets my lord!"
The blue-robed man took a few steps forward and automatically stood next to the old man, hands placed to the side.
Fu Qing sat quietly with eyes closed on the ground. Although he was not seen opening his mouth, an old, deep voice suddenly echoed within the spacious manor, "Why have you come?"
"Someone has wrecked my Supreme Fire Palace…" Lie Huan then described the current state of his home.
The old voice reverberated throughout the manor, saying, "Who is the one responsible?"
This domineering voice echoed through every corner of the spacious manor. However, not a single sound could be heard outside it. From the outside, the ancient manor was as quiet as it had always been.
Lie Huan gnashed his teeth in hatred and said, "In this period of time, who else could it be besides those participating in the Subjugation Crusade?"
The old voice echoed, "What do you intend to do?"
Lie Huan replied decisively, "I'm going to fish out the culprit and punish him severely."
"First, get the story straight. Qing Feng." The old voice echoing throughout the manor then quieted down.
"Understood!" The blue-robed man cupped his fists and bowed, then left together with Lie Huan.
And the giant doors of the ancient manor closed once again...
Yun Guang and the others were soon notified that Qing Feng, the Western Constellations Palace's Minister of the Right, wished to see them. As they were brought to the plaza of the main manor, they realized they were not the only ones that were summoned; the other five families were called upon as well, including their aides such as Zuo Nanchun and Fairy Hong Chen. All eighteen overseers who had watched over the astrolabe were present.
Qing Feng and Lie Huan stood at the top of the tall flight of steps, just outside the manor's giant tightly shut doors. Casting a downward gaze upon the six families, the two of them slowly walked down the steps.
Yun Guang and the others exchanged glances, transmitting their voices to one another and asking about the situation. However, not a single one of them knew what was going on. The six people that brought them here had them stop just before the steps, then took their places to the side.
Qing Feng and Lie Huan continued to walk down slowly, the latter furiously sizing up the crowd at the bottom of the steps.
Yun Guang and the others creased their brows at the way Lie Huan was looking down upon them. Yun Guang said, "Just cut to the chase and state your business. It's not like we're trying to seek an audience or anything. Stop putting on airs!"
As Lie Huan and Qing Feng slowly walked down the stairs, they came to a stop at the final step. Lie Huan glared at Yun Guang and snarled, "Someone has wrecked this lord's palace. Even if Yun Aotian himself is standing in front of me, I will not let this slide without a proper explanation!"
When they heard this, Yun Guang and the others couldn't help looking at each other in shock. Who would be so bold as to wreck the palace of Supreme Yao Lord Lie Huan?
Now that something like this had happened, it would be unwise of Yun Guang to continue arguing against Lie Huan. The reason he did so earlier was to let Lie Huan know that the authority of the Six Sages was not something that could be easily challenged. However, he now understood that Lie Huan's rage was fully justified. If he were to really make this old demon blow his top, then even if every one of them worked together, they wouldn't be a match for the guy.
However, Yun Guang still remarked, "I say, Lie Huan! You're not suspecting us, are you? We've been stuck inside the Western Constellations Palace for the past ten years, and we've never even set half a foot outside this place. Even if you're out for blood, you shouldn't be targeting us!"
Qing Feng replied, "You people have been standing guard before the astrolabe this whole time. I trust that you would've noticed any peculiar movements on the astrolabe. The reason why we've summoned all of you here is to ask if you've seen anyone that's been to Skyfire Mountain."
Hei Yun cast a sideways glance at Grandmaster Qi Jie. He smiled menacingly, then said, "Aren't you just asking for the impossible? There were more than a hundred thousand participants running across the astrolabe. How can you possibly expect us to remember where each of them went?!"
Lie Huan immediately roared, "Bullshit! As if anyone can easily set foot in this lord's Skyfire Mountain. Those under the Red Lotus realm will find it difficult to even get close, much less trespass into this lord's Supreme Fire Palace. And the average cultivator wouldn't be so bold that they'd set foot upon the gates of this lord's dwelling. The culprit is definitely among the members of your six families! There can be no one else!"
Even though Lie Huan was simply making his own assumptions, his words did have some sense in them. As such, Qing Feng didn't say anything and just coolly stood beside him.
"Say it! Who is the one behind this?! If you hand over the culprit now, this lord might be willing to give a lighter punishment. However, if you let this lord personally discover the culprit, then don't blame me for not giving face to the Six Sages!" Lie Huan swept a vicious gaze across the crowd.
Feeling a little guilty, Ji Meimei avoided Lie Huan's gaze. If she remembered correctly, her son did indeed go to Skyfire Mountain. And it seemed that Grandmaster Qi Jie's disciple and his comrades were there as well. However, she seemed to recall that Grandmaster Qi Jie was not present at the time and thus did not see it happen.
Everyone else kept quiet. If Ji Meimei's son was the only one who went to Skyfire Mountain, perhaps one of them would have revealed the truth to Lie Huan, in order to save themselves some trouble. However, things were more complicated now that it involved Grandmaster Qi Jie as well. A benevolent character through and through, this monk had formed countless bonds from his goodwill over the years, and he was extremely well-known in the cultivation realm. Even when up against the Six Sages, his position was highly-distinguished. All that saw him treated him with courtesy and respect. Hence, it wouldn't be too wise to offend such a person.
"Your silence indicates that you do acknowledge that the culprit is among your members!" Lie Huan laughed coldly and yelled, "Men! Bring every single one of their members over to me. This lord wishes to interrogate them personally. I want to see if they can still be this tight-lipped then!"
How could those youngsters possibly withstand this old demon's questioning? He would surely leave them crippled, if not dead. Worried about his precious son, Hei Yun immediately grew anxious, and shouted, "Lie Huan, stop being so unreasonable. My son really didn't go to your Skyfire Mountain!"
Boom! An intense blaze suddenly enveloped Lie Huan, and the temperature in the vicinity instantly shot up to astonishing heights. The symbol of a single-petaled Golden Lotus shining on his forehead, Lie Huan extended his arm and formed a claw with his hand. As they faced him, the crowd on the other side immediately felt as though they were being suffocated.
Like an arrow, Hei Yun shot out, instantly sucked over by Lie Huan. He dove straight into the flames around Lie Huan, who caught him by the neck.
"This lord likes to be unreasonable. What can you do about it?" Within the flames, Lie Huan gripped Hei Yun's neck and said menacingly, "Don't think that just because you're with the Six Sages that you can simply do as you please. One of your members has even gone as far as to wreck this lord's palace. Don't you think that's a bit too much? Why would this lord still need to be reasonable with you then?!"
Regardless of how he looked, Hei Yun was still a Purple Lotus Third Grade cultivator. However, Lie Huan could still pull him in across the air as though he was taking something out of his pocket. And now, having been caught by Lie Huan, Hei Yun couldn't even move a single muscle. Surrounded by flames, black smoke started rising from his body, and his face twisted in pain.
Lie Huan was the bane of all Ghost cultivators to begin with. He had crossed fists with Ghost Sage Situ Xiao and even lived to tell the tale. How could Hei Yun possibly be a match for him? It was simply his misfortune to have incurred Lie Huan's wrath.
The strength of one of the nine Supreme Yao Lords of the Western Star Sea left no room for doubt. Ji Meimei and the others were shocked. They never thought that Hei Yun couldn't even muster up an ounce of resistance against Lie Huan.
"Amitabha!" Grandmaster Qi Jie couldn't watch any longer. He clapped his hands in prayer and said, "Please stay your hand, Supreme Yao Lord. Let us discuss this matter slowly. I'm sure we will be able to talk it out."
"It's not that Lie Huan doesn't wish to give the Grandmaster face, but this time I've really been pushed too far. I swear I won't rest until I get to the bottom of this. Lie Huan understands the Grandmaster's character. This incident is surely unrelated to you. Just now, we weren't thinking clearly and ended up making Grandmaster come all the way here as well. But since you're already here, please just humor me for now. After this, Lie Huan shall make a formal apology to Grandmaster!" As he stood within the flame, Lie Huan nodded apologetically to Grandmaster Qi Jie.
When they heard Grandmaster Qi Jie's words, Yun Guang and the others couldn't help looking at him awkwardly. However, the person in question was still unaware of the reason why.
Lie Huan turned back to Hei Yun and said coldly, "Seeing as you're this worried for your son, he must be the one behind this. That's why you're feeling guilty! Men! Bring me his son's head!"
As he said this, the crowd secretly cursed in distress, and Ji Meimei was all the more terrified. They all knew how dearly Hei Yun thought of his son. There was no way he could tolerate the old demon's threats!
As they feared, while still in pain, Hei Yun widened his eyes, and with all his might, uttered, "I...know...who...did...it…"
These were the words Lie Huan wanted to hear all along. Like dropping a plate, he swung his arm and dismissively tossed Hei Yun down the steps.
The flames surrounding Lie Huan receded, and he ordered, "Speak!"
As he rolled on the ground, Hei Yun fumbled to his feet. With black smoke still rising from his body, he touched his neck, completely terrified as he coughed and answered, "I don't know who the actual culprit is, but what I can confirm from the astrolabe is that two groups of people have been to Skyfire Mountain."
There were only six red dots on the astrolabe, so it was easy to keep track of where each of them went. As for the tens of thousands of white dots that scrambled around, who could possibly identify which was which.
Having finally found a clue, Lie Huan made a menacing smile and asked, "Which two groups?"
Hei Yun could no longer make any excuses. Covering his throat with one hand as he coughed, he raised his other arm and pointed at Ji Meimei, then reluctantly pointed to Grandmaster Qi Jie. As he pointed to the latter, he wore an apologetic expression on his face, because the only reason his son was able to live this long was due to Grandmaster Qi Jie.
It was precisely because of this that he didn't reveal Grandmaster Qi Jie's involvement even as Lie Huan grabbed him by the throat earlier on. It was only when Lie Huan threatened to kill his son that Hei Yun had no choice but to sell out Grandmaster Qi Jie.
Grandmaster Qi Jie was taken aback and quickly turned to look at the two monks behind him, who lowered their heads when they met his gaze.
Lie Huan was shocked as well. He never thought that Grandmaster Qi Jie would also be involved in this matter. However, when he saw Grandmaster Qi Jie's expression, and as he trusted the Grandmaster's character, Lie Huan was positive that he must have been unaware of the whole incident. He quickly assured him, "Please don't worry, Grandmaster. We still haven't gotten to the bottom of this yet. I'm sure it was done by the people from the Yao Nation."
'How can he simply make assumptions like this?' Ji Meimei immediately grew anxious, and said, "Big Brother Lie, don't listen to Hei Yun's nonsense!"
Despite Lie Huan's assurance, Grandmaster Qi Jie still couldn't help feeling anxious. He wasn't worried about Kong Zhi and the others; it was his own disciple that he was most concerned about. He knew better than anyone what Ba Jie's temperament was like. 'Don't tell me Ba Jie is really behind this?'
As he was now involved in the matter as well, it was difficult for Grandmaster Qi Jie to say anything else.
"Whether he's spouting nonsense or not, all will be revealed once we interrogate the suspects!" Lie Huan barked, "Men! Go bring me the people from those two families!"
Qing Feng nodded, and the six people standing by the side of the steps immediately flew off...