After Ao Tian Xing, Xie Zhi Qiu, and Dong Wu Lei had finished their discussion, everyone was overjoyed.
After all, for the Ao Clan to pledge their support right before this battle was akin to a free lunch for everyone else!
However, Ao Tian Xing brought with him a sobering piece of news.
"Originally, the Ao Clan did not plan on fully taking part in this fight as there're too many variables. On the Tian Clan's side, they managed to enlist the help of the Shi Clan from the Three Higher Heavens. While the Tian Clan will not send their full force, anything they do will be very problematic for us."
After Ao Tian Xing said that, everyone, except Mo Tian Ji and Chu Yang who had known about this beforehand, became slightly crestfallen.
"Furthermore, Tian Bu Hui is going to ask Li Xiong Tu for help! Once Li Xiong Tu does anything, the Li Clan will do intervene too! This is another big variable," said Ao Tian Xing with a bitter smile. "The historic enemy of the Ao Clan is the Li Clan. Everyone knows this."
"However, what you don't know is that the Li Clan… is a cadet branch of the Li Clan of the Three Higher Heavens!" Ao Tian Xing announced.
The Li Clan was related to the Li Clan of the Three Higher Heavens?
Did this mean that they have to face off against the two leading families of the Three Higher Heavens?
Before this, while everyone knew that the Li Clan shared the same surname as the Li Clan of the Three Higher Heavens, no one thought that they were related. No one would have expected that a cadet branch of the Three Higher Heaven's Li Clan would sink to the Middle Three Heavens!
Among the Nine Heavens, only those from the Three Higher Heavens were truly massive in terms of cultivation resources and the density of their spiritual qi. No family from the Middle Three Heavens could compare with them.
"If the Li Clan… is a cadet branch, why are they here?" Xie Zhi Qiu said worriedly as he stroked his white beard.
"The ancestor of the Li Clan was chased here!" Ao Tian Xing said plainly.
Everyone sighed in relief. Since they had been chased here, they were easier to deal with.
"In the past one thousand years, the Li Clan will send members of their family to the Three Higher Heavens to ask for forgiveness as they want to re-join their family. After a thousand years, I think that their relationship has become closer. From what my informants tell me, the Li Clan of the Three Higher Heavens would not even accept their gifts before chasing them back in the past. Recently, however, they not only hosted them but also accepted their gifts."
Ao Tian Xing frowned and said, "Furthermore, in the past two hundred years, the Ao Clan had many chances to destroy the Li Clan. However, at the final moment, we were stopped and our efforts were all wasted! I believe that the people stopping us were the people from the Li Clan of the Three Higher Heavens."
Xie Zhi Qiu grunted and nodded his head slowly.
"Furthermore, for this upcoming battle, I don't know why but the Nine Great Families of the Three Higher Heavens will send people down to spectate. This made the battle even more unpredictable as more variables are injected into it," said Ao Tian Xing.
Everyone was shocked to hear this.
Chu Yang and Mo Tian Ji were shocked to hear this too. However, their faces remained still and they exchanged a glance. They both saw a sense of danger in each other's eyes.
They knew why they were coming down.
They must be here for the Master of the Nine Tribulations Sword.
"Clan Head Ao, to what I know, there's a mysterious organization in the Three Higher Heavens which is even more powerful than the Nine Great Families. They are the Nine Heavens Enforcers!" Mo Tian Ji said in a refined manner. "They enforce the rules of the Nine Heavens to maintain balance in this world. They do not allow those from the Three Higher Heavens to visit those from the Middle Three Heavens and the Lower Three Heavens so easily!"
"Furthermore, a clan has to make an application to the Enforcers and receive approval before any one of them can come down. They have to complete their tasks in a timely manner and they will be monitored by the Enforcers. Once they overstep their boundaries, they will be sanctioned immediately. They have to return back, explain their actions before the Enforcers will cancel their misdeed."
Ao Tian Xing sighed and said, "Furthermore, anyone from the Three Higher Heavens cannot interfere with the Middle Three Heavens and the Lower Three Heavens over battles for supremacy or wars of annexation. Once that happens, the entire clan will be punished. I wonder if it's true?"
Ao Tian Xing's eyes flashed as he looked at Mo Tian Ji and said, "That's right!"
"If that's the case, this matter now is simple," said Mo Tian Ji. "If members from the Shi Clan really did send someone down privately, how can the Nine Heavens Enforcer ignore this transgression?"
"If this happens, where's the justice in the Nine Heavens? Any Martial Monarch from the Three Higher Heavens can cause a huge disturbance in the Middle Three Heavens."
"That's right," said Ao Tian Xing, "Two years ago, someone from the Three Higher Heavens wanted to come down, but it was extremely difficult for him to do so. If someone from the Middle Three Heavens wanted to go up, it is treacherous too as he may die at any moment… Thus, no one from the Middle Three Heavens goes up and no one from the Three Higher Heavens came down. This is indeed the case."
"Since the birth of the Master of the Nine Tribulations Sword, many unpredictable things happened in this world. Right now, no one can predict what will happen next!"
"The tremors caused by the Nine Tribulations Sword happened thrice already. The Three Stars Divine Clan was also borne in these tremors!"
"Like this, the split among the Nine Heavens will only get wider and wider… in other words, many passageways connecting the Nine Heavens have appeared and they are not just limited to those which the Nine Heavens Enforcers know about. Instead, there are… many."
"Naturally, if the Enforcers want to enforce, they can still do so. However, I don't know why but there're other reasons involved," said Ao Tian Xing ominously. "That's all I can say as of now… and these must remain secret!"
Chu Yang and Mo Tian Ji nodded their heads and fell into deep thought.
From this, it was evident that the Ao Clan had connections with a clan from the Three Higher Heavens. This was undeniable. If not, Ao Tian Xing could not have spoken with such clarity.
The reason why Mo Tian Ji said that other than to inform everyone about the Nine Heavens Enforcers, was to test the Ao Clan.
Whether Ao Tian Xing chose to reply or ignore Mo Tian Ji would reveal his bottom line.
Hence, this was why Ao Tian Xing stared at Mo Tian Ji with a complicated expression as he spoke.
Ao Tian Xing suddenly realized how terrifying the Heavenly Soldier Pavilion was.
The Heavenly Soldier Pavilion was comprised entirely of genii. Anyone of them, even if they appeared among the Nine Great Families of the Three Higher Heavens, would be raised with a lot of care like a prodigy. Furthermore, they counted among their ranks the youngest Sword Emperor and Sabre Sovereign in the history of the Nine Heavens!
This kind of potential was terrifying.
Not only that, they also had a mysterious and unpredictable King of Hell Chu. This was a commander who could determine the results of countless battles. He was sharp, shrewd, and extremely cunning!
Even he, as an experienced cultivator, had to think thrice before thinking.
The combination of the Five Great Genii and King of Hell Chu were terrifying.
Furthermore, now they also seemed to have a top-notch strategist, Mo Tian Ji!
While Mo Tian Ji was still young, his calculative abilities made even the humongous Ao Clan fearful of him. His 'curious' question just now almost made the Ao Clan reveal their bottom line…
Right now, Xie Dan Qiong… appeared to be among them.
All the genii of the Middle Three Heavens were included.
If these people grew up, how powerful would they be?
Ao Tian Xing wondered if his son, Ao Xie Yun… could join them.
After a simple pledge of alliance, which confirmed their alliance, the members of the younger generations started to talk among themselves. Ao Tian Xing took in a deep breath and said to Xie Zhi Qiu, "Elder Xie, this battle will be bloody indeed."
Xie Zhi Qiu slowly exhaled and said nothing.
"If it… becomes a stalemate, I fear that the most powerful forces of the Middle Three Heavens… will be more or less wiped out after this battle," said Ao Tian Xing with a bitter smile. He rubbed his nose and felt that he was on a sinking ship.
King of Hell Chu managed to get him to agree to participate in this battle when he was in a position of moral weakness. Then, his son, 'Ao Ao', became influenced by him… and he himself agreed rashly too…
Now that he thought about it, King of Hell Chu was making use of his son's devotion and sense of guilt!
Right now, he was in a perilous position…
If he was not careful, the entire Ao Clan may be wiped out…
King of Hell Chu was a true troublemaker!
"I have this feeling for a long time. This battle will utterly drain the Middle Three Heavens!" Xie Zhi Qiu said with a solemn look on his face. "We have 5000 men now, all of who are powerful. However, after this battle… if we can have just 1000 left, it'll already be a divine blessing! And… this is if we win!"
Ao Tian Xing frowned and sighed again as he said, "I'll get my eagle to send word to see if my clan's elders could get over… if they can…"
"Good!" Xie Zhi Qiu's eyes lit up. "If the three of them can make it, we have a bigger chance of victory!"
Ao Tian Xing sighed and walked away.
The sun gradually set, bathing the sky in a blood-red glow.
Among the whispering grasses, 50 people with ashen-gray faces lay trussed-up on the ground facing the east. They were all utterly dejected as they trembled.
Chu Yang, Mo Tian Ji, and Gu Du Xing were witnesses to this execution.
This was a cruel killing, much crueler than a battlefield! They did not want to witness it but they had no choice.
Unlike a battle in the martial world, this was… a killing conducted by someone in a position of strength!
Every slice of the sword would cut through one's heart, one's emotions, and one's attachments!
Hence, Mo Tian Ji forcibly demanded that every single one of his brothers had to watch this to get a sensing. Ji Mo, Luo Ke Zhan, and the rest cursed Mo Tian Ji furiously in their minds but they knew that he was playing the 'bad cop' for their own good.
Ao Tian Xing sat expressionlessly astride a horse. He looked at the group of 50 with a complicated look of pain.
He could not bear to lower the red flag in his hand.
Once he issued this command, he would truly become alone. An orphan!
He remembered his father pulling him to his bedside right before he died and instructed tearfully, "Tian Xing… afterward… no matter why they do, you must remember that they're your brothers! All of you share the same grandmother…"
Ao Tian Xing closed his eyes with a pained expression.
His father had three wives and 17 concubines. He raised 35 children and when Ao Tian Xing became Clan Head, 20 of them had already passed away.
Right now, those before him were the last few.
His father's wizened face appeared in his mind's eyes once more and he felt his eyelids fluttering. Ao Tian Xing gritted his teeth and said in a low voice, "I'm sorry, father. If I keep them, I won't be the only one dying. The glory and aspirations of the Ao Clan are at stake here!"
"Forgive me, father, from the afterlife! I don't want to kill them but I have no choice!"
"I have no choice!" Ao Tian Xing roared. His eyes flew open and he shouted with all his might, "Kill!"