Hell Valley was a place ever shrouded in thick and eerie mist. Today, however, was an exceptionally sunny day and cleared the view somewhat.
Despite the warm glow of the sun promised joy, the Hell Valley’s denizens’ hearts were in a haze!
In the meeting hall, You Wanshan sat in his chair with elders on either side. The empty seats among the rows of elders were a dead giveaway to their sombre mood.
They were grimly reminded of their losses!
It had been two years since their wisest elder, You Guiqi, was killed. In this time, the valley sent their best in getting revenge for such a heavy blow.
The irony was, instead of the corpse of their most hated enemy, Zhuo Fan, being brought, even more losses were added to the pile!
Putting aside their very first elder losses in Windgaze City, because of Zhuo Fan as well, after You Guiqi fell, the headcount slowly included 3rd elder, 4th elder, 6th elder. Even 5th elder didn’t escape unscathed, having his arm ripped out.
Hell Valley was in a precarious situation, with half of their 12 elders gone and one crippled. All while Zhuo Fan was live and kicking. This was something hard to accept.
It was utter humiliation!
None foresaw they would take a blow as they did three centuries ago. Their thousand year old legacy, their seven houses dignity was poked and taunted at every turn.
You Wanshan slammed the table, and all could hear his grinding teeth. Everyone was filled with the same hatred, especially 5th elder. He touched his wounded shoulder as fire threatens to escape his eyes every time he cursed one name over and over in his mind.
But they were now stuck. They pushed the imperial family too far and the latter summoned Marshal Dugu to drive fear into them. If they made one wrong move, they’d soon be seeing Dugu Zhantian’s million army at their doorstep. And none could bear the brunt of such an aftermath.
Here they were, all wishing to charge into Windgaze City, to wring Luo clan and Zhuo Fan of their blood, but none had the nerve to do it.
Their very survival hanged in the balance!
This was their conundrum.
The Grand Elder looked around him and sighed. The atmosphere was stifling…
“I can’t take it anymore. I have to put that bastard down for good!”
5th elder was the one to break first. Eyes turned to him, but none replied, even though they all felt the same way. Anyone there knew the consequences of such an action.
A sudden ripple brought with it the faint sound of a flute!
“Goddammit! Who dares be cheerful at such a wretched time? I’ll rip him apart!” 5th elder was at a boil, and the music only helped to spur his anger further.
But before he could go on the hunt, Grand Elder lifted his hand, fear shaking his very core, “Wait, t-this is Divine Dragon Fang Qiubai’s flute…”
“Jade Flute Divine Sword?!”
They were all started, with hearts in their throat. Even the enraged 5th elder slowly calmed down, his mouth hanging open from shock.
“Damn it all! What is that Jade Flute Divine Sword doing here?” 5th elder turned to the rest.
You Wanshan sighed, filled with bitterness.
[Humph, why frickin’ else? Isn’t it the emperor who stuck him onto us? Just why has the decades wretched imperial family up and grown a backbone all of a sudden?]
You Wanshan felt like crying, but he braced for the meeting as he signaled for the elders to follow him outside Hell Valley.
At the entrance, the figure of the imposing and mighty Divine Dragons Fang Qiubai was playing a melodious tune on his flute!
When the sound stopped out of the blue, Fang Qiubai fiddled with the flute in his hand as he spoke coldly, “By order of the emperor, Valley Lord You is to immediately attend court!”
You Wanshan was furious.
The seven houses and imperial family were at an impasse, with both sides handling Tianyu’s affairs. Even when an edict came before to Hell Valley, it had always been presented with respect and courtesy.
It was clear that this time, the emperor sent the Divine Dragon with his edict. He even played the flute outside their valley to draw them out. It was a show of strength.
If they showed any fear, wouldn’t the emperor take an even harder stand when he saw him? No matter how sound his reason was, he still had to go. He wanted to have a long talk with the emperor. Shielding Zhuo Fan had many implications. Was the emperor setting himself the seven houses with this?
You Wanshan was filled with sudden boldness, “Mr. Fang has toiled coming here with the edict. Unfortunately, I have caught a cold and can only attend the court in a few months. Please show compassion!”
[A damn cold? This load of bull can’t get any more obvious than this!]
[Can a peak Profound Heaven expert even catch a cold? You’re clearly putting the emperor on the spot!]
The elders gave You Wanshan a nod. [That’s our Valley Lord! He’d use this excuse to tell that old goat we are Hell Valley of the seven houses! We’re not his dogs to order around…]
An explosion jarred the ears of everyone, even as they were in awe of their Valley Lord. It was then followed by a fierce wind that picked up the dust.
Once the dust settled, everyone gasped.
The mountain range on Hell Valley’s side had vanished into thin air. In mid air, Fang Qiubai put away the jade flute, “You are to set out at once, Valley Lord You!”
The next second, he vanished, leaving the Hell Valley’s elders and You Wanshan pale from fright. The disappearing mountains struck a chord in everyone!
[Is this Divine Dragon Fang Qiubai’s power? It’s too damn insane! He has the power to obliterate Hell Valley all by himself!]
Suddenly, an aged man in gray robe appeared. You Wanshan lit up at his coming, “Venerable, you arrived. Do you…”
“Of course I know. I only dared come after he left!” The Venerable sighed, “Valley Lord, we really did it this time. The emperor may be a paper tiger, but his five Divine Dragons are savage beasts by themselves! I’m saying that you… just go to court and apologize. The Emperor can no longer be offended!”
You Wanshan nodded, feeling forlorn and on the verge of tears.
[What’s wrong with us, Hell Valley? Someone barged in and yet we have to apologize…]
A week later, You Wanshan was punctual in his arrival to the imperial capital. A palace maid took him to a waiting room to await the emperor’s summon. This never ever happened before. How was it that it suddenly turned to them waiting on the emperor now?
He was helpless. Just who died and put the emperor in charge? He could only sigh, following after the maid.
And to add insult to injury, You Wanshan found two old friends in there already, Yan Bogong and Lin Rufeng.
The two smiled wryly at You Wanshan’s appearance.
The three were like children in detention, sitting there outside the director’s office, waiting for the emperor’s call!
“House Lord Lin, who came to Merry Woods?” With nothing better to do, You Wanshan started chatting.
Lin Rufeng shook his head and sighed, “Monochrome Chess Sage, Sima Hui!”
“Oh, the old guy plays chess all the time and cultivates his mind. His temper is the mildest among the five Divine Dragons. Jade Flute Divine Sword Fang Qiubai up and flattened the mountains on one of Hell Valley’s sides!”
“Mild my ass!”
Lin Rufeng started ranting with a mournful look, “That old geezer didn’t say a word as he entered Merry Woods and hurled chess pieces. Do you have any idea what that’s like? Every single strike was like a meteor impact. Doing it a few times had leveled half of Merry Woods! Now we only have half a millenia legacy! Then he pulled out the imperial decree, stating his hand slipped just then. So don’t go telling me he’s mild!”
Lin Rufeng felt sour and tearful. You Wanshan never thought there was anyone having it worse than Hell Valley!
“Ai, you two lucked out compared to Pill King Hall!”
Yan Bogong sighed, as if all his energy left him, “The ones you saw can still be called humans. While my envoy was downright savage. The entire Pill King Hall lays in ruins, with all our pills and ingredients picked clean…”
“What, eating all ingredients…”
The two cried out in shock, fear shining in their glassy eyes, “Hall Lord Yan, you truly had it worse than any of us. For the emperor to really let out that reckless little freak out means he had reached the limit of his rage…”
Yan Bogong nodded, “So painfully true!”
The three looked at each other and the room was filled with laments, puzzling the hell out of the guards outside.
Weren’t all seven house’s lords filled with brashness and contempt each time they came to the imperial capital? Why was it that this time they were like lambs going to the gallows? All they heard from the tree were wails and sighs…