Jiang Chen was having a good time chilling on the sides as the battle was way above his level. He therefore retreated far out of the way once he’d paved the road to victory for the Vermillion Bird.
He was certain Senior Vermillion would gain the upper hand, but whether it’d be able to kill the forefather would depend on luck. After all, the forefather was a divine cultivator. A god’s rise and fall were both monumental on the Divine Abyss Continent.
His speculation was proven right. The Vermilion Bird held the upper hand, but the forefather was strong enough to stay alive.
Three days passed...
The bird had no troubles with the prolonged fight, while the forefather struggled to keep up. Him being kept from his clan was the worst thing that could happen to House Xiahou.
Another three days passed...
The forefather had exhausted all options, but still wasn’t able to escape from his opponent.
On the sixth day, the sacred land finally broke into House Xiahou’s fortress.
At first, the clan members had fought with great conviction since they were told their forefather was already on his way back. They believed everything would be fine as soon as he returned.
Day after day, however, the forefather was still nowhere to be seen.
The sacred land recognized that the forefather was House Xiahou’s only remaining hope. Therefore, they turned to psychological warfare, claiming that the forefather had been trapped and would soon die.
In the beginning, House Xiahou denied and even scoffed at the claim. They didn’t think anyone from the sacred land would be able to trap their forefather.
However, the sacred land boasted that the Vermilion Bird had led the attack itself. The forefather was on his own and had fallen into their trap. He was on the brink of his death and could die anytime.
Such statements might not work if made only once or twice. However, after a few days of repeats, on top of the fact that the forefather still hadn’t shown up, House Xiahou started to waver.
On the fifth day, morale in House Xiahou had plummeted despite the senior executives’ effort to maintain it. Even without the sacred land’s further prompting, the clan members had come to believe that their forefather was trapped and dying.
Otherwise, why hadn’t he returned long after Duke Xiaoyao’s claim that he would soon? The only explanation was that he couldn’t.
House Xiahou was able to hang on for so long mainly because of their drive.
The head of the Cloudwave Sect and House Tian had come to heavily doubt House Xiahou’s ability to turn things around. The thought of defecting briefly crossed their minds a few times.
If Duke Xiaoyao hadn’t told them that Forefather Xiahou was going to return soon, they wouldn’t stay put and keep fighting for the house at the risk of their own lives.
They were fighting for a spark of hope, for a winning chance.
The longer it was since the forefather’s promised arrival, the antsier they became.
On the fifth day, even House Xiahou’s two most devoted supporters had lost their hope. As despair spread through the alliance, their defenses cracked.
Meanwhile, every wave of sacred land’s attack was more powerful than the last.
On the sixth day, House Tian finally lost all confidence in the alliance. Their senior executives made the radical decision to defect and give up their post, welcoming the sacred land army with open arms.
The area they were stationed at wasn’t particularly important, but their action had opened the floodgates, which struck a serious blow at House Xiahou’s defenses.
The sacred land’s army swarmed to the opening House Tian made. The fort’s great formation cracked and inched to collapsing.
As soon as House Tian betrayed the alliance, the Cloudwave Sect followed suit. The war was lost already. There was no reason for them to stick with House Xiahou and get themselves killed as well.
The sacred land had promised to execute only members of the imperial family and House Xiahou - the two main culprits. The other factions could surrender and have the red wiped out from their ledger.
As a result, members of House Xiahou were left to defend themselves while their will dwindled.
Like wind sweeping away the clouds, the sacred land army charged into the fortress, eliminating everything and everyone in their way.
Duke Xiaoyao barely had any time to prepare himself mentally before he came face to face with the three primes. Other top empyrean experts in the capital followed after the primes, including the head of the Starlight Sect and the patriarch of House Beigong.
Large swathes of House Xiahou experts were crushed like ants. Duke Xiaoyao felt a sharp pain in his chest. He knew his house was going to fall.
Their multiple attempts to break out of the siege failed, having been met by aggressive counterattack and besiegement from the factions re-defected to the sacred land. They fought recklessly and mercilessly in order to prove their worth to their new masters.
It wasn’t so much a battle as a one-sided slaughter. Each of House Xiahou’s members was pitted against several enemies equal to or above their level. One after another, Duke Xiaoyao’s confidantes died in battle.
He had no way to retreat, himself. The three primes pursued him like hounds. In their eyes, House Xiahou was the real force and foundation behind the uprising, and Duke Xiaoyao the head of the usurpers. The emperor had been executed, which left the patriarch of House Xiahou the only evil they must exterminate.
Duke Xiaoyao lost his air of superiority as he surveyed his surroundings. Experts within the family who were powerful enough to help him were either trapped, surrounded, or killed. He was truly on his own.
“House Xiahou was still basking in our glory a few months ago. To think that we would fall from grace in such a short period of time and end up on the brink of destruction! Is it the heaven’s will for us to be eliminated??”
His expression was dejected and sorrowful. The abruptness of the clan’s fall made it impossible for him to calmly face cruel reality. How could a powerful and prospering family fell apart in only a few months?
He couldn’t identify the reason. Was it chance, perhaps?
He thought carefully and traced their decline to the death of Xiahou Zong. The family fortunes had gone downhill ever since.
At first, it seemed impossible that the uprising could fail, but that was only an illusion. The tide turned immediately after Shao Yuan and the Vermilion Bird showed up.
Duke Xiaoyao had started out as a patriarch who would go down in history as a great leader, but was now one of the biggest failures among all of House Xiahou’s patriarchs.
“There’s no way for you to go, Duke Xiaoyao.” The three primes had left him with no option.
“Who would’ve thought that the sacred land would have the last laugh?” Duke Xiaoyao sighed. “I won’t accept this!”
“House Xiahou deserves your fate for the atrocities you’ve committed. You’re a prominent figure in the capital, Duke Xiaoyao. This seat will give you a chance to take your own life and die with dignity.”
Duke Xiaoyao flew into rage. “Take my own life? I’ll rather die in battle than kill myself! Come at me together! I’ll fight back with all I’ve got. I’ll consider it a fair trade if I can get one of you. It’s a great bargain if I get two!”
The first prime’s expression darkened. “Then be prepared! My fellow daoists, House Xiahou is a millipede. Even after its death, the legs continue to move. We must eliminate the house once and for all this time!”
The second prime was just as furious, if not more so. He’d been severely injured and almost died. If the sacred land hadn’t reclaimed the vault of spirit herbs and treated him in time, his injury would have left him permanently crippled.
His resentment to House Xiahou ran deepest out of the three primes.
Duke Xiaoyao felt overwhelmed as soon as the three primes attacked him. Moreover, a few other figureheads who could almost rival the three primes were watching the fight closely, ready to join at anytime. Duke Xiaoyao was essentially facing seven opponents at his level at the same time.
He was about as powerful as the first prime, but with the other two primes joining the fray, it was only a matter of time before he was defeated.
While House Xiahou engaged in intense warfare, House Yan was embroiled in another one of their endless arguments.
The patriarch had changed his tune and rejoined the sacred land’s side. But, not every one of House Yan’s most powerful members had joined the assault against House Xiahou. There wasn’t even an overall consensus within the family yet.
Yan Wanjun wasn’t there to give advice, and Yan Wanchong had had a falling out with the patriarch after receiving his punishment. WIthout the two venerated forefathers’ guidance, House Yan had trouble coming to an agreement.
“Patriarch, the sacred land is now neck and neck with House Xiahou. In this subordinate’s opinion, the battle will end in less than three days. If we don’t seize the opportunity to prove ourselves to the sacred land, there may be no House Yan in the future. The other factions are atoning for their wrongdoings with real action, while we stay here and do nothing. How are we going to earn the sacred land’s forgiveness this way?”
“Hmph, House Xiahou is no easy prey. Besides, I hear that their forefather is going to return.”
“That’s right. Once the divine forefather returns and reclaims the battle, it’s not impossible for them to strike back at the sacred land. Who knows how it will end for us after rejoining the sacred land’s side?”
House Yan was now split into three groups. One supported the patriarch in his decision to defect to the sacred land for the house’s survival, which accounted for about forty percent of all of House Yan.
A small group of people remained neutral.
The rest were on friendly terms with House Xiahou and stubbornly insisted on supporting the house.