With how close Tianhun Academy and the Soothing Heart were to each other, it was inevitable that Wu Dijian and Dan Teng meet one another eventually.
And so a friendship was formed.
It all started with Wu Dijian and his innate curiosity for Dan Teng. As a carefree man who enjoyed poking his nose in things he was interested in, Wu Dijian was always asking Dan Teng about the mysterious tea he offered. There was one time where Wu Dijian tailed Dan Teng when the latter was out ‘scavenging’. That attempt turned out to be useless once Dan Teng realized he was being tailed and shook him off.
But today, Wu Dijian succeeded.
It was because of his worry for the Yao clan that Dan Teng let down his guard. He also didn’t hear about Wu Dijian returning a little earlier than expected from a battle a few provinces away. The two actually met up while Dan Teng was on the way to the Qimang Mountains and Wu Dijian managed to keep up with him until the very end…
By that point, Dan Teng didn’t even care about Wu Dijian anymore. He was far more concerned about the allied schools after he found traces of their being in the area. If anything, having Wu Dijian here with him meant having one additional ‘helper’.
Wu Dijian’s assistance proved to be extremely crucial, as things turned out. Dan Teng never could’ve imagined that such a battle was breaking out in his absence.
As for Wu Dijian, the man was having a very hard time believing that he had stumbled across the remnants of the legendary Alchemy School…
Soon, all of the Soul Kings were gathered and situated at the great halls.
Yao Wuchen didn’t bother to enter the halls when they touched down. He simply stood there with a gaze off towards the west as if waiting for something.
A few minutes later, several figures came running into the wide open space where Yao Wuchen waited. It was a group of Soul Sprites.
Three young men in their twenties ran as fast as they possibly could before saluting and greeting Yao Wuchen and everyone there. “Clan…clan elder!” One gasped, breathless from how fast they had been running. “Bad news! The enemies invaded the western repositories and….destroyed it!”
“What?!” Gasped several of the elders.
“What happened? Were any of our clansmen killed?!”
Now that the battle was over, Yao Wuchen could dedicate his time in investigating the source of that blip in aura earlier. Nothing seemed to have happened since its first occurrence, so Yao Wuchen didn’t think it was something of critical importance.
Hearing that a repository was destroyed, however, was something of great concern.
“No! No one from our clan was killed! Only a trainee was situated there. He’s…he’s in a heavily injured state right now. The young master is treating his wounds as we speak…”
“A trainee? Feiyun is there?! Where are the intruders? Did they escape?”
“N-no…” Gulped the male. “The intruders were…all killed by the trainee…”
“Excuse me?” Yao Wuchen blinked. Were the intruders flies? How did a trainee of all people kill them? He could’ve sworn he felt the aura of a Soul King!
“How many intruders were there? How strong were they?”
“There was fiv—four in total…three were Late-stage Soul Exalts, and one…one was an Early-stage Soul King…”
This time, Yao Wuchen wasn't the only one to look visibly shocked. Everyone else with him stared at the man in disbelief.
“I’ll go take a look.” Yao Tianji spoke.
“Please. I’ll go inside and coordinate our future efforts then.”
Now was the time to heal. Plenty of their clansmen and familiars were heavily wounded by the war, and time would be needed for them to heal. Most of them were already back in their places of residence to wait. With the clan distributing the pills, it wouldn’t take long for anyone to recover from their wounds.
Everyone but Wu Tianji headed inside the halls and sat down on their chairs with a sigh. As short as the battle was, the amount of effort they expended was disproportionately large. Some of the Soul Kings were feeling very fatigued in fact.
“Seventh uncle, this person is…” Yao Wuchen motioned towards Wu Dijian.
“He is the assistant headmaster of Tianhun Academy, Wu Dijian.”
Wu Dijian bowed to everyone there. “Hello everyone. This one is named Wu Dijian. I am very pleased to be acquainted with the legendary Alchemy School.”
“We thank you for your assistance in our affairs today, sire.” Yao Wuchen confessed.
“It was nothing much. Dan Teng is a friend of mine. A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Dan Teng took a moment to introduce Wu Dijian to everyone there before asking Yao Wuchen about the crux of the matter. “What is going on within the clan? When did the Soul Refining School arrive?”
“They arrived at the Qimang Mountains over a month ago, but it took only now for them to find this city. This was their first attempt to besiege us…”
Dan Teng grew silent to ponder about what he was told. “They’re prepared, those three schools. I shudder to think of what would happen had we not all those familiars tamed. But even if they’re gone now, they’ll be back soon. Things do not look very optimistic…”
Yao Wuchen nodded. “Our enemies know we are here now. Even if they have no way to invade our city, they won’t let up the assault. Should they receive any reinforcements…”
“The way I see things, there’s no point in ‘hiding’ away from the world anymore. There’s nowhere left to hide. We might as well ask for reinforcements of our own, such as the Tianhun School, Crafting School, the Fire and Water Schools…They’re all powerful in their own rights. Perhaps they’ll be enough to drive off the enemy schools.”
Certainly, this was a very enticing idea to think about. Many of the elders were already very keen about this option; it might be their only saving grace, after all.
“I’m afraid time is of the essence. We have no time to spare to wait for reinforcements to come…”
“Then…we might as well fight our way out! Rather than wait for them to come, we should strike and kill them all first!”
“Absolutely not!” An elder shot to his feet. “That is not something we can easily do! Let us say we follow this plan and fight our way out. What happens to those without power in our clans? And the civilians within the city. What would happen to them?”
Wu Dijian had no answer for that. To have the clan abandon the lives of everyone within the city just so they could make it out was very distasteful.
Things grew silent in the hall as people sat there. No one knew what the proper thing was in this case.
Someone entering the hall caught everyone’s attention. Standing there at the entrance were two figures who had just teleported into the area.
One was Yao Tianji. And at his side was a dazed elder Cheng.
Yao Wuchen looked almost surprised at the stern look on his father’s face. The dazed look on elder Cheng’s face didn’t help either.
It worried him that elder Cheng was still completely catatonic. “Elder Cheng? What’s wrong?”
Yao Tianji didn’t answer his son. It was Wu Dijian that gave the answer.
“You know what this is?” Yao Tianji rounded on Wu Dijian, “What is this Soul Puppetry?”
The two words seemed to worry Dan Teng. “Brother Wu…are you saying elder Cheng was afflicted with Soul Puppetry?!”
“That is exactly what I’m saying. A very elementary form of it.”
“Soul Puppetry is a nefarious technique from the Soul Refining School.” Dan Teng began to explain to the rest of the clan upon seeing their confusion. “To put it simply, a person’s soul becomes controlled, effectively turning them into an existence like a puppet!”
“What?! How could there be such a technique like that!?”
An aghast expression appeared on Yao Wuchen’s face. “Are you saying elder Cheng is being controlled? Then wouldn’t that mean…”
“Yes,” Yao Tianji nodded, “the reports mention elder Cheng being the one to bring those intruders in….”
“That’s…” Yao Wuchen was shocked. He never imagined that the intruders would’ve used one of their own to enter the city.
“How is elder Cheng then, right now?” He looked to Wu Dijian. He was perhaps the only person that knew the answer to that here.
“The usage of Soul Puppetry means destroying the consciousness of a person. Any person afflicted by it is effectively dead. There is no saving him…”
Everyone grew silent again. This was a terrible piece of information to hear.
“There was one other important matter I found in addition to elder Cheng!” Yao Tianji spoke after a moment’s silence.
“What matter is it?” His son was confused, what other matter could there be as important as this?
“The one who killed the intruders, the guard of that repository, is the outsider Feiyun brought back with him. There…is something wrong with him!!”