Duke Xiaoyao was in a bind.
Without the two divine forefathers, could House Xiahou’s fortress really hold? Despite his customary arrogance, the duke wasn’t be optimistic about his chances.
“You must make a decision, Your Grace,” the Tian patriarch urged.
The Cloudwave Sect head nodded as well. “Please do. We need to tell the two forefathers about what happened here, at least. They don’t even know about any of it, right?”
“Yes, the matter is too important to ignore. The two forefathers must be informed immediately. What decision they make with the information is up to them,” the Tian patriarch affirmed.
Evidently, the two men didn’t believe that House Xiahou could effect much change on its own – only the two divine experts could do that.
Duke Xiaoyao guessed at what his two supporters were thinking. If he refused their suggestion, even these two would waver. The situation was too dire to allow for much else.
After musing a few moments, he nodded. “Alright, I will send a message to the two forefathers. Perhaps they have a plan to preserve the war.”
“That would be ideal,” said the Cloudwave Sect head.
“The sooner the better. Why not do so right now? We’re surrounded, so we need to use a secret method, but…”
Duke Xiaoyao smiled coolly. He had the secret method: a communication formation. That was nothing special here on Myriad Abyss. Using a formation to contact an individual rather than a location was somewhat more difficult, but it was no problem at all for House Xiahou.
“Come with me, gentlemen.”
The duke brought the two other leaders near a formation that belonged to his house. It was very well hidden on the house’s territory. He activated it by pouring in his consciousness, reaching out for House Xiahou’s forefather gradually.
House Xiahou’s forefather was somewhat stronger than the imperial family’s, and the main force behind the sealing of the sacred land’s venerated forefather. The other was merely his assistant.
In no time at all, the formation flared to life and established a link.
In some region elsewhere in Myriad Abyss, the forefather of House Xiahou was channeling all his energy into perfecting a sealing formation.
He and the imperial family’s forefather had taken turns constructing this seal for the past while. Within was the sacred land’s venerated forefather, as well as several empyrean realm elders.
The formation had been specially set up by the Xiahou forefather as an ambush for the sacred land’s venerated forefather.
He had observed the sacred land forefather’s activities secretly for centuries, taking almost that long to figure out a pattern. He’d chosen a route that the sacred land forefather always took to create and execute a successful trap.
Alas, he couldn’t kill the forefather outright. Instead, the sealing formation had to be gradually reinforced in order to keep the sacred land forefather inside. The sacred land forefather’s strength would be drained over a long period, while they could refuel and swap out each other to rest anytime. The only thing they sacrificed was some extra time.
Even so, the two forefathers found it quite stressful to maintain the seal. The sacred land’s venerated forefather was far too strong. There had already been several instances of the seal nearly failing to hold against his breakout attempts.
They’d barely managed to keep the forefather inside the formation, but at considerable cost to themselves. Their prisoner could escape at any time – a result they simply could not sustain.
Once he did, they would no longer be able to stand against him. In fact, it was quite likely they would be hunted down themselves.
In a fair fight, the two forefathers added together was no match for the sacred land’s forefather. If the latter didn’t have such an overwhelming advantage in personal strength, he wouldn’t have taken the anti-sacred-land alliance so lightly in the first place.
“Daoist Xiahou, the old man from the sacred land is rather tenacious. He won’t yield after all the time we’ve exerted him. He’s an obstinate, stinking antique.” The divine forefather of the imperial family sighed to remark.
“Hmph, some struggling in the face of death is understandable. If you were able to kill him easily, would you feel at ease?” the Xiahou forefather harrumphed.
“Quite so. If they killed him easily, I would suspect he was a fake.”
“Exactly,” nodded the Xiahou forefather.
“I wonder how things are in the capital? Strange. In the past, the imperial family and House Xiahou would message us about their progress. How come they’ve been totally silent over the past few days? I don’t know why, but I feel somewhat uneasy.”
“Oh?” The Xiahou forefather blinked. “You’re restless as well?”
“Are you the same way, Daoist Xiahou?” the imperial forefather was shocked.
The Xiahou forefather’s expression became conflicted. “Perhaps we’ve stayed here for too long, wrapped in anxiety. Didn’t they say they would launch a penultimate assault on the sacred land a few days ago? The alliance has more than enough strength to succeed on that front. Even if they suffer some minor setbacks at first, they’ll tear down the sacred land’s defenses sooner or later by piling on the pressure.”
“I hope so. If they succeed, there should be news of it soon enough, yes?” The imperial forefather hoped for a lucky turn of events still.
Suddenly, something registered on the Xiahou forefather’s consciousness. He opened his palm to materialize a message glyph.
The forefather’s brows unfurled when he noticed the energy upon it. “Look, fresh news. The sacred land’s down, then? There’s no more cause for concern.”
The imperial forefather was overjoyed. “Very good, very good! We didn’t work in vain. As long as we can exhaust the sacred land’s forefather to death, our plan will be fulfilled to great perfection.”
“Yes. Let’s see what they have to say in the message. I’m curious as to the details of the battles.” The Xiahou forefather activated the message glyph and began to read. His face froze as soon as his eyes passed over the characters.
“Dear forefathers, the alliance is divided, the sacred land mounts a counterattack, House Xiahou is in danger? Imperial family fallen, only Cloudwave and House Tian left, defending House Xiahou’s headquarters…”
Duke Xiaoyao was the author of the description within. The Xiahou forefather was utterly bewildered.
Hadn’t they organized a large-scale attack just a few days ago? Didn’t they have the advantage? How come the tide had turned in the blink of an eye?
“Shao Yuan? A vermilion bird? House Xiahou’s Soulless Powder of Wind and Cloud was used on the day of the attack to take out a huge number of cultivators? The bird slew Xiahou Zhen and Forefather Calmdew on the spot?”
The divine forefathers almost suspected that the news they held was false.
“Could the message be fabricated by an enemy, Daoist Xiahou?”
“Impossible! This message glyph is connected to House Xiahou’s communication formation. Without our secret method, it is impossible to send the message in the first place,” the Xiahou forefather replied with certainty.
“That’s odd, then.” The imperial family’s forefather paled. “The imperial family has been eradicated? Even ole brother Calmdew is dead? How… how can this be?”
“The vermilion bird is an ancient sacred beast. Since when did Eternal Divine Nation have one of those?” House Xiahou’s forefather couldn’t quite accept the news he’d received either. He was totally perplexed.
“No, I have to go back. I can’t stay much longer here, Daoist Xiahou. No wonder I was disquieted the past two days!” The imperial family’s forefather panicked.
If the imperial family was wiped out, what would his efforts here mean? Even if he could take out the sacred land’s venerated forefather, he would be utterly alone in the world.
“Foolish! In returning, you are walking right into a trap! It’s extremely likely that they’re lying in wait for you right now.” House Xiahou’s forefather didn’t want to lose his comrade, as profit-driven as their relationship was.
Right now, he couldn’t afford to lose the help. If he did, he would absolutely be unable to maintain the seal. If the sacred land forefather made another counterattack, wouldn’t that cost him everything?
Once the venerated forefather was freed, they would be sent right back to the drawing board. Their rebellion would also end in complete failure. The only thing that awaited afterwards was the judgment of fate.
“You won’t make it in time even if you return now, fellow daoist. Why not stay here and slay the venerated forefather? We can turn the tide again then!” the Xiahou forefather advised patiently.
“Hmph, what good would it do me to remain here if the imperial bloodline is terminated? What’s the point of killing him then? I’d be an old man without any attachments to the world. Daoist Xiahou, your house is mean indeed. Why did no one rush to the imperial family’s aid when it was attacked? A brood of vipers, the lot of you! The imperial family has been thoroughly tricked this time!”
The Xiahou forefather fumed. “What’s the point of saying these stupid words now? Your decision will only please your enemies! Shall you embrace cowardice after the sacred land ends your bloodline? If you leave now, you’ll accomplish nothing on either end. What good would it do you to leave?”
The imperial forefather was not receptive to such reasoning. “If I stay, only House Xiahou stands to benefit,” he glared at the Xiahou forefather coldly. “If House Xiahou didn’t help in the imperial family’s hour of need, then you shouldn’t blame me for being callous. House Xiahou can figure out another solution!”
After saying this, he leaped into the air and flew away.