There was a cave whose interior was as spacious as a large hall and its walls glimmering with sparkling light so that the entirety of the place shined quite brightly. This cave wasn't the product of a natural process, but a product of man. The markings were quite old and had moss growing everywhere, so this cave had to have been quite old.
The strange thing about this relatively dark and deep cave was the temperature. It was dry and hot enough to make even an ordinary man start to sweat after a while.
The origin of this heat was coming from the center of the cave where an elderly person sat.
This elderly person wore black robes that looked quite spacious—especially since the elder himself was a very skinny one. He was practically a skeleton with a layer of skin almost that'd make anyone think he could easily be blown over by the wind.
But his aura was exceedingly vibrant despite his physical appearance. It had a rhythmic beat to it that filled the cave with power and heat.
White sand covered the ground around this person in a way that seemed almost jarring. This sand wasn't something that belonged to the cave and was most likely from somewhere else. What it could be used for as a mystery though. The fact that it covered the legs of the elder was proof that it had been quite some time since the elder had moved…
He wasn't the only one in the room though. There were another few white-haired elders that sat all around the cave. They were all powerfully strong and were…all Soul Kings!!
They were all seated down on the ground and were focused onto the elder. From the looks of anticipation in their eyes, they were seemingly waiting for something…
Sitting to the side of the only entrance to the cave was an elder dressed in rich-blue robes. His face had a decent amount of wrinkles and his hair and beard were both grizzly-white. He also looked similar to the head of the Qin—this was the previous head of the Qin and the father of Qin Long, Qin Tian!
Qin Tian's eyes were focused entirely on the elder seated in the center of the cave. Every so often, his eyes would wander to the entrance of the cave as if worried about something.
Then at some point, Qin Tian's eyes continued to stay at the entrance of the cave. He had noticed something that even everyone else in the cave seemed to notice.
A series of footsteps, quicker than the usual walking gait, disturbed the silence that had been in the cave. A figure in green soon came into view just a few dozen steps away from the cave before he entered it.
"My lord…my lord! Something…something bad has happened!!"
The horrified voice of the runner made its way first to the cave before the runner himself did. Concerned, Qin Tian stared at the incoming figure; an elderly person who was wheezing from fatigue. "What has happened back home?!" Qin Tian asked of the man.
This elder was the one responsible for the everyday management of the Qin and someone that had been with Qin Tian since childhood. He went into seclusion the same year when Qin Tian did but was still one of the important members of the Qin. Though a Late-stage Soul Exalt, this man was quite powerful and had watched Qin Hu and Qin Long grow up. If there was something that could make him this flustered, then there had to be something awful taking place back home.
The elder's face was deathly white as if he had just seen a ghost. "Qin…Qin Hu," He started to stammer, "Qin Hu was assassinated! And…Qin Xu, Qin Yuan, Qin Chen, Qin Lin, and Qin Gan…they were also killed!"
"What?!" Qin Tian's pupils dilated in surprise. "Repeat yourself at once!!" He flew to his feet.
"Qin Hu…Qin Hu and the five members guarding Qin Manor were…they were all killed!"
"How can that be?! How could Qin Hu be assassinated!"
The other occupants within the room were starting to cry out now, each one of them was in disbelief.
Qin Hu was a Mid-stage Soul King! How could he be assassinated within the safety of his own home! This surely had to be a farce!
"And…" But the man had more to say. "And…"
"And?!" Qin Tian's face was absolutely demonic-looking. "And what else?"
"The first and second young masters…were…" The elder was having trouble speaking now. "They were…" He winced, "They were killed by Bai Yunfei just south of Swallow City!!"
A wave of shock flew through Qin Tian's head with the ferocity as if someone had launched a soul attack on him. He staggered a few steps, "What…what did you say?" He managed to say.
"The two young masters, they were…killed by Bai Yunfei from the Crafting School!" The elder looked almost physically pained to repeat it.
"Qin Shoufeng and Qin Shouhao were killed?! Bai Yunfei from the Crafting School?! The one that came with Tang Xinyun not too long ago?! How and why? What happened?!"
Since Qin Tian was in silence for a while, another elder spoke out to voice his thoughts for him.
"We…we don't know what happened…I went back to the manor with the head and learned that Qin Hu had been assassinated. We hadn't even finished investigating when we heard that the second young master had been killed by Bai Yunfei. The head was infuriated and flew out to reach the outskirts, only to see the first young master self-destruct in front of Bai Yunfei!! I came here at once to give a report…but the head was already fighting Bai Yunfei by the time I left!" The man relayed as quickly and succinctly as he could.
It was shocking news for everyone around. Qin Tian couldn't even find within himself the proper emotions to react with. Despite him being a Soul King, he was finding it hard to accept the news of such a disturbing series of events to take place in his own family.
It was especially hard for him to accept it in fact. Not only had two of his sons been killed, but his two grandsons as well.
"The head is fighting with Bai Yunfei? That is no good! The head will kill Bai Yunfei under his grief! His death will incur the wrath of the Bai Yunfei and could mean the annihilation of our family!!"
A white-robed elder from within the cave shrieked.
But another elder nearby him sneered. "Pah!! So be it if he dies! Should he be spared if he killed two of our own?! The Crafting School may be powerful, but they are not all-mighty! The Qin will fight to the last if the need arrives!"
"We can't say that! Now is a very important time, we cannot afford any mishaps to happen!" Another elder interjected, "We don't even know the identity of whoever assassinated Qin Hu and the others. To wage war with the Crafting School would be completely unwise! We should capture Bai Yunfei, but keep him alive! Then…when the patriarch becomes a Soul Emperor, we'll have the strength to do battle with the Crafting School!"
"An excellent idea! The patriarch is close to the final 'Soul Aggregation'. If he can succeed with this, he'll definitely become a Soul Emperor! Our Qin will be heralded into a golden era for forever and ever! We must preserve!!" A scholarly middle-aged man cried out. "Brother-in-law, only you would be powerful enough to stop the head. We cannot let him kill Bai Yunfei right now!"
Varying degrees of emotions flickered across Qin Tian's face as he listened to the discussion. The last emotion had been of shock, but not because of that conversation. While everyone had been talking, the temperature within the cave rose a degree or two, and the sands at the center of the room started to vibrate violently.
Eyes-widening, Qin Tian turned to the shriveled elder near the center of the cave. "Qin Shu, Qin Jian, you two come with me! The rest of you will stay here, do not let anything go wrong with the patriarch's breakthrough!" He seemed like he had regained his calm demeanor.
Back on the surface near the foot of a mountain of primal stones, three figures suddenly stepped out from a ripple in the air.
The person in front was Qin Tian, and the scholarly middle-aged man and the bulky middle-aged man behind were cousins of his. The two of them were Early-stage Soul Kings.
Qin Tian paused briefly when they arrived onto the surface. Then with a wave of his hand, he opened up another tear in space to have the three walk through and disappear into.
The next time they reappeared in the real world was just a few kilometers away. Continuing from here on out in a streak of light, they started to fly at full speed towards the south of Swallow City. Every so often, they would teleport several kilometers at a time in order to travel as fast as they could. The city was already a blur behind them.
Teleporting once more, the three finally came to a stop onto a mountain several hundred meters tall. They started to fly again, this time without bothering to teleport.
But Qin Tian suddenly cried out in warning a short moment afterward, "Be careful!!"
The two people behind him were surprised at first, but they were quick to obey. Readying themselves with soulforce, the two prepared themselves to evade any danger that might approach.
Unfortunately for them, the danger was moving faster than they could react!
A black shadow came from the bottom of their mountain up like a jet of light a split-moment after Qin Tian's warning. The bulky man had only enough time to rally his soulforce to him before he felt the mournful aura of death prepare to enshroud him!
Qin Tian's eyes flashed dangerously as he watched the black energy move to ambush the man. Waving his right hand, he moved to attack the ambusher.
But…a transparent ripple opened up behind his back to reveal a fog of black mist to pour out. A hazy figure could be seen popping out before moving to attack him from behind!
This wasn't teleportation, but rather someone who had been hiding there all along and chose then to reveal themselves!
A black miasma flowed out from the person's figure before they reached their forefinger out to jab them into the back of Qin Tian's head!