HSSB249: As a father
Yunwu County was the ancestral ground of the Wang Family. Other than the Yunwu County, the Wang Family controlled a vast amount of surrounding territory.
The regions governed by the Wang Family neighboured those governed by the Howling Wind Sword Sect. Both were also bordered by the Great Western Desert, putting them rather close to Suzhou City.
Sending Yan Zhaoge, Feng Yunsheng and Ah Hu to the city gates of Suzhou City, Xu Fei said, “As the current Acting Elder of Suzhou City, possessing responsibilities here, I cannot accompany you this time. Be careful and stay safe.”
Yan Zhaoge lightly punched Xu Fei’s shoulder, “Rest easy, senior apprentice-brother Xu. We will pay attention; you just stay here and keep wary. The enemy may be outwardly targeting one place but actually aiming for another.”
Leaving Suzhou City, they rushed to the regions governed by the Wang Family.
Feng Yunsheng had specifically come to temper her blade as also sitting on Pan-Pan, she asked Yan Zhaoge, “If fallen practitioners appear, nothing naturally needs to be said, but what about those who harbour devilish intent but have yet to fall to the dark side?”
Ah Hu instantly also looked at Yan Zhaoge, whose figure bobbed slightly alongside Pan-Pan’s hurrying.
Yan Zhaoge said mildly, “Wanting to cause chaos, the Decimating Abyss will mostly likely be aiming for the same thing as that time at Clear Concealed Lake, setting up a Devilish Domain Grand Formation and inducing the descent of the Nine Underworlds.”
“Whether or not they have completely fallen, as long as they are opening the path for the Nine Underworlds, kill them. If our letting people off instead leads to the opening of the Nine Underworlds, the Evil Devils definitely won’t show us the same kindness. ”
Yan Zhaoge gazed into the distance, “The power of the Nine Underworlds and the Decimating Abyss to corrupt human hearts is too strong. If someone who is proficient in concealing his or her emotions does not fall, it would be very hard to tell. This precisely corroborates an old adage-you can know people’s faces, but you can never know their hearts.”
“Although we’ve been unceasingly investigating and cleaning up recently, with it having been effective to some extent, no one can guarantee that we have completely removed all the spies, especially those higher echelon experts.”
Yan Zhaoge knits his brows, his gaze rather gloomy, “While it is not nice to say, it must be noted that the higher the cultivation base of a martial practitioner, the more undetectable it would be should devilish intents arise within that martial practitioner’s heart, because they are generally much better at controlling themselves, with it very hard for bystanders to tell their authenticity.”
“Such people have firm wills, and would normally not fall to the dark side easily, but so long as devilish intent is born within their hearts, the more deeply rooted as well as stubborn they would be.”
Ah Hu and Feng Yunsheng both nodded, the latter saying softly, “The worst case scenario would be like that time at Clear Concealed Lake, with the enemy already fully aware of our preparations and arrangements. The Wang Family may just be an illusory lance or a trap.”
Yan Zhaoge said, “That’s right. Therefore, we have to raise our vigilance and promptly adapt and deal with the situation at hand as soon as we discover that something is wrong.”
Ah Hu shook his head from side to side, “The Nine Underworlds and the Decimating Abyss are really too troublesome in that regard.”
Yan Zhaoge said mildly, “There’s no ways about it. We can’t just grab every eyebrow and beard and suspect and maintain surveillance on every single person. That would not just keep everyone tense and afraid, it might very possibly also lead to countless false reports surfacing, with people being framed. At that time, the Decimating Abyss would be the happy ones.”
“We just have to stabilise our footing, moving as planned. After all, most people reject the Evil Devils and the Nine Underworlds. At the end of the day, it is just a few who are bewitched by the devils and have devilish intent arise within their hearts.”
Yan Zhaoge said, “What is most critical is that we maintain stable footing, and have absolutely dependable experts holding the fort.”
Ah Hu grinned, “Elder Shi is one of these.”
For the incident in the Wind Domain this time, Broad Creed Mountain had planned beforehand for the bigwig to specifically rush over to the Wind Domain to deal with this matter to be Yan Zhaoge’s senior apprentice-uncle, the ‘Iron Lion King’ Shi Tie.
Yan Zhaoge nodded, sighing, “Yes.”
Proceeding along the way, they very quickly neared Yunwu County.
Following the given instructions, Yan Zhaoge came to a barren hill.
At the top of the hill stood a person with a great frame that resembled a tall mountain. It was precisely Shi Tie.
“Zhaoge, you’re here.” Shi Tie didn’t look back, gazing far into the distance, at an oasis which was precisely the ancestral ground of the Wang Family.
The Wang Family had a foundation in Yunwu City, but its true core was still this oasis.
Gazing over now, black smoke that rose to the heavens could already be seen, gradually dyeing the sky above the oasis black.
Amidst the roiling black clouds, bloodred lightning flickered, mournful and terrifying.
Yan Zhaoge raised his head and looked at the gradually expanding black clouds, and the bloodred lightning amidst the cloud layer. It was like he had returned to that time at Clear Concealed Lake.
Shi Tie gazed at the distant oasis. Looking at his back, Yan Zhaoge’s gaze was a little complicated.
“Zhaoge, you have something you want to say to me?” Shi Tie did not turn as he instead suddenly asked Yan Zhaoge via sound transmission.
Hesitating slightly for a moment, Yan Zhaoge then said candidly, “Currently, it is only my personal suspicion, and has yet to be confirmed. With a great battle currently at hand, I don’t want to say it, lest it disturb eldest apprentice-uncle’s mind.”
Shi Tie’s voice halted for a moment, before it resounded once more, “There are not many things which can disturb my mind. Either it concerns the safety of Broad Creed Mountain, or…”
Yan Zhaoge sighed softly, pondering slightly before he said, “I still can’t say for sure, but senior apprentice-brother Shi, Shi Songtao, may still be alive today.”
Shi Tie’s breathing stopped slightly as he replied after a moment’s silence, “Did you see him somewhere?”
Yan Zhaoge said softly, “It was in my earlier report that in the Devilish Domain Grand Formation at Clear Concealed Lake, someone ambushed me and senior apprentice-brother Xu.”
“In that foreign dimension left behind by Loose Practitioner He of before the Great Calamity, I was attacked by that same person once more. In the process of fighting him, I sliced off a portion of his mask, with part of his face being revealed. I am unable to say for certain, but…”
Shi Tie was silent for a time before he asked, “Is there still any other proof?”
Yan Zhaoge answered, “The martial art that person cultivated in was the Dark Light Killing Art, but it could be seen that it was not something he had always been cultivating in, and rather had been learnt as a supplement.”
“He is already somewhat proficient in his Dark Light Killing Art, but according to my calculations, he should have only been cultivating in it for a few years, slightly less than the time senior apprentice-brother Shi has been missing.”
Shi Tie asked, “I remember you said that he was an early Spirit Vessel Martial Grandmaster?”
Yan Zhaoge answered, “Right. When senior apprentice-brother Shi vanished, he was in the Heavenly Connection stage. With his talent and potential, if he was not stuck at the Heavenly Connection stage bottleneck for too long, he should already be in the mid Spirit Vessel stage. Therefore, I still hold some doubt.”
“No,” Shi Tie said slowly, “Adding in time required to recuperate from his injuries, and the time lost due to beginning to cultivate in other martial arts, the early Spirit Vessel stage is more possible.”
At these words, there was nothing that Yan Zhaoge could say.
After a long time, he replied in a low tone, “I’m sorry, eldest apprentice-uncle.”
Closing his eyes, Shi Tie said slowly, “No, you did right. Letting me be prepared for it beforehand-it’s a little better.”
“I really hope that you, Zhaoge, mistook that person’s identity. However, if he truly is Songtao, it is also something that I must bear.”
“At the end of the day, I, am not a passable father.”