Finding the Daughter of Yama, saving the world, and saving oneself. These were the thoughts of everyone in the world. After ascertaining that the Daughter of Yama was hiding in the Yuelun Kingdom, the Buddhism Sect would naturally want to kill her quickly.
And it was in this situation in which Ning Que hid Sangsang in Chaoyang City, visiting many of its Buddhist temples. They studied Buddhism and read scriptures, which was completely unexpected by the Taoism and Buddhism sects. It also proved the saying that the most dangerous place is also the safest.
There were things that were even more interesting compared to this.
The "Ming" Handscroll from the Tomes of the Arcane, that was read by Buddha years ago, could foresee the future of the world years later. Having seen the coming of the Everlasting night of the Dharma Ending Period, Buddha left behind many instruments and prepared many methods to suppress the Son of Yama. This would allow the world to escape from Yama's 70,000 eyes. However, not even Buddha had expected that the Dharma he left behind would be able to help Sangsang to temporarily suppress the cold aura in her body.
There were whispers in the temple. A benevolent aura spread throughout with the devout chanting of believers. Sangsang shut her eyes, palms together with a pious and serene expression, cultivating her own Buddha and reading her own scripture. She felt the benevolent aura around her, and her pale face gradually returned to normal.
The high monk from the White Tower Temple ended his preaching, and believers ended their chanting. The hundreds of people on futons inside the temple chanted the name of Buddha, but did not leave. The high monk began to lead the believers into prayer.
The content of the prayer was complicated. But if one listened carefully, there were only two things. The first was to pray for Buddha to appear and help the countries in the Central Plains to chase away the blood-thirsty Desolate Man's Tribe from the Wilderness. The second was to pray for Buddha to appear and quickly find the Daughter of Yama to trap her, so that she would not appear ever again.
After the prayer, Ning Que entered the temple and helped Sangsang up. The terrifying prayers and evil curses could be heard from the temple and all the streets in Chaoyang City. Ning Que had long grown used to it, which was why he was calm. However, he could not help feeling upset because Sangsang was the one being cursed.
Ning Que suddenly heard the chiming of bells behind him on the temple eaves, as he brought Sangsang out of the White Tower Temple. The bells chimed without stopping and lasted a long time, sounding extremely solemn.
"Which bigwig has come?"
Ning Que looked toward the depths of the White Tower Temple. He thought to himself that the person who could make the temple sound so many bells mustn't be an ordinary person. It would have to be a powerhouse from the West-Hill Divine Palace, if it wasn't someone from the Xuankong Temple.
There could only be one reason for the appearance of a high monk from the Xuankong Temple, or a powerhouse from the West-Hill Divine Palace. He frowned slightly and grew warier.
If Ning Que had known the true meaning behind those bells, he would definitely be even more vigilant. If he had heard the voice behind the chiming of those bells, he would definitely get Sangsang out of Chaoyang city immediately.
Deep inside the Buddhist temple, the chiming tapered off. In an inconspicuous corner of the temple, the White Tower Temple's abbot and a few esteemed Elders knelt respectfully as a wizened old voice rang within the hall.
"Man below clouds."
As winter ended, many countries like the Great River Kingdom and the South Jin Kingdom grew verdant in spring. At the Lanke Temple on Tile Mountain, which was in the midst of being repaired, wild flowers bloomed.
However, there were many more places waiting for the arrival of spring. For example, the capital of the Yuelun Kingdom would have already entered spring in the previous years. However, because of the clouds, temperatures were still low, and they were still experiencing the last part of winter. Further out in the northeastern regions, deep in the Wilderness, the Desolate Man's tribe were hurt by the vicious cold and betrayal.
The Wilderness which was embroiled in wars and bloodshed for the past year entered yet another war after a few days of peace. Several lives were taken by the cold once more.
During late autumn, the Desolate Man's tribe came to an agreement and allied with the Left King's Palace where both parties swore on the names of their ancestors. The senior statesman of the Desolate Man's tribe relaxed slightly. And just as they were preparing to attack the Central Plains together with the Left King's Palace come spring, they were betrayed by them. The Left King's Palace had gone against their ancestors, something unexpected by the Desolate Men.
In the middle of winter, the Left King's Palace brazenly tore up the alliance agreement that had not even dried. They joined hands with the West-Hill Divine Palace and accepted a large amount of grain from the Central Plains. They then brought the allied troops of the Central Plains to ambush the second largest settlement of the Desolate Man's tribe in the bitter cold, about 800 miles from the north.
Although the Desolate Men were courageous and strong, where every adult was born a warrior, their numbers were simply too small. After an entire year of war, their winter grain storage had been drastically reduced. It meant that they were fighting with empty stomachs. In the face of the ambush of the Left King's Palace cavalry and the allied troops of the West-Hill Divine Palace, no matter how brave they were, they could only last for three days. It was the first time so many cultivation powerhouses entered the battleground, and their methods were vicious. The Desolate Man's tribe was forced to leave, leaving behind the bodies of thousands of warriors.
The allied troops of the Left King's Palace and the West-Hill Divine Palace did not stop just because of that. They knew how strong the Desolate Men were, and how determined they were in battle. Even though they had successfully caused severe damage to the Desolate Man's tribe in this ambush, if they did not destroy them completely, the tribe might recover its strength and grow again in the future.
Under the fierce demands, or perhaps one could say cold threats, of the military adviser wearing a silver mask, the West-Hill Divine Palace coalition army followed the Left King's Palace cavalry up north.
Several generals from the Yan Kingdom and the South Jin Kingdom were shocked to find that the West-Hill Divine Palace seemed to have long discovered the identity of the military adviser and followed his strategies, just like the useless Chanyu of the Left King's Palace.
This bitter winter pursuit was too cruel for both sides. It lasted for five days and the snowy Wilderness ground was littered with the bodies of warriors from the Central Plains, the barbarians and the Desolate Men. The bodies were frozen to a degree that not even vultures were willing to take the pains to eat them. It was in death, when these men could lay side by side peacefully.
On the fifth night of the cruel battle, Tang, the World Wayfarer of the Devil's Doctrine, finally escaped the eyes of the dozens of Tactical Array Masters that the West-Hill Divine Palace placed outside the military camp. Tang successfully infiltrated the tent.
Tang did not see the panic-stricken generals from various countries, nor did he see officials screaming in fear. What he saw, were dozens of cultivation powerhouses from various countries who were long prepared. And behind them, sat the military adviser behind a desk.
The military adviser wore a silver mask and there were two bowls of clear wine on the desk. His expression was serene and natural, as if he was someone who had been waiting for his guest for a long time, but was not anxious.
Tang knew who the military adviser was. He looked at the powerhouses inside the tent and said, "It seems like you are in charge of the Left King's Palace. No wonder the barbarians dared to betray their ancestors. However, It seems like no matter what happened to you, you are still a useless coward. That is why you can never match up to Ning Que."
Long Qing did not reply. He pointed at the bowls of wine on the table and said, "I didn't drink again after leaving Chang'an. It wasn't because I was worried that it could hinder my plans, but because I couldn't find anything worth drinking in celebration. At least, that was so until I discovered that you might come to kill me."
Tang asked, "Is being killed by me something worth celebrating?"
Long Qing shook his head and replied serenely, "I had already guessed that you would try to kill me like you did with Xia Hou. Since you are still as stupid, I won't be as idiotic as Xiao Hou to take the lives of others. Then, you would definitely be killed by me. The Wayfarer of the Devil's Doctrine and the strongest Desolate Man being killed by me is indeed a matter worth celebrating."
"After your death, I will get them to prop your head on a spear and parade it around the battlegrounds. This might not shake the Desolate Men's desire to battle, but it would affect them. They would not attempt to flee up north anymore. Then, this battle would be their last."
He looked at Tang and smiled. Then, he continued, "After your death, the Devil's Doctrine would be no more. The Desolate Men would be no more. If I were you, I would not allow myself to enter dangerous waters no matter what. But I still have to thank you for allowing me to be the person who ended the Devil's Doctrine and the Desolate Men. In the history books of the future, I would be better known than Ke Haoran who broke into the Devil's Doctrine with a single sword of the Tang Empire's cavalry from a thousand years ago."
Tang looked at Long Qing who was behind the desk. He said, "I admit that your commanding abilities on the battlefield were strong. I also admit that you have more complex ideas than I do. However, your level is still too low, that is why there are many things that you'll never be able to understand. Don't even mention the Tang cavalry from a thousand years ago or Mr. Ke. You can't even be compared with Xia Hou."
Long Qing's eyes brightened and he said, "Please explain."
Tang slowly raised his right hand and clenched it into a fist. The leather that covered his iron fists creaked. He said, "If it is an assassination, then you'd have to kill me. If you can't, then it can only be called an ambush. There had been many ambushes over the years, and those that can be recorded in history are all a joke."
Long Qing's eyes grew even brighter. He said, "I know that you are powerful. That's why I have prepared for a long time. I can't think of any reason why I can't kill you with the combat capabilities I have on my side right now."
That night, a snowstorm was raging. The tent was torn into countless shreds, and the howling of the wind sounded like thunder. Bright flashes of light from the sword struck the sky like lightning. Black peach blossoms bloomed and disappeared.
The leather on Tang's iron fist fell apart. Several wounds caused by flying swords appeared on his iron-like body. He was covered in blood and was injured beyond normal people's imagination. However, he eventually broke out of the camp that was ten-mile across and escaped into the snowstorm.
In this battle, two hundred elite cavalry soldiers from the Left King's Palace died. Eleven cultivators at the peak of the Seethrough Realm from the Central Plains countries were torn into bloody shreds. Two priests from the Left King's Palace were turned into a bloody mince. A Haotian Taoism Knowing destiny State powerhouse, who had lived in seclusion in a Taoist Temple for many years, had a bloody hole the size of a bowl blown through his chest. He died without peace.
Long Qing's peach blossoms were shattered into bits by a simple iron fist. He flew into the air and vomited blood. His silver mask and the black divine robes he wore were dyed red.
Before the battle, Long Qing did not understand how Tang could be so confident in surviving, with the combat conditions he faced. After the battle, he dragged his weak and injured body back to the planning board and thought for a long time. He still did not understand why he could not kill Tang.
As Tang said, even though Long Qing's state was at the peak of the Knowing Destiny State, his plans were good and his predictions accurate, he could not match up to the Tang cavalry from a thousand years ago, nor Xia Hou. He could not even have the right be compared against Mr. Ke.
Because of his low levels, he did not understand people like Tang. Once Tang fell into a situation which made him crazy, he would make his enemies feel crazy as well. Sometimes, there was no reason to speak at all.
After this battle, the cultivators in the allied troops were mostly injured or dead and their drive was blunted. They had to stop their pursuit of the Desolate Man's tribe and returned south. The Central Plains countries and the Left King's Palace began to grow anxious. The Desolate Man's tribe had suffered heavy losses this time. There were many women and children who were killed. However, some still lived. And according to the character of the Desolate Men, once they regained their strength, they would seek revenge from the allied troops of the Left King's Palace and the Central Plains.
No matter how they looked at it, the person who benefited the most from this solemn winter battle was Long Qing.
Through the pre-war agreement with the West-Hill Divine Palace, the Left King's Palace gained many benefits and even obtained several important resources from the Yan Kingdom. Their strength grew tremendously and Long Qing's control over the Left King's Palace strengthened as well.
Most importantly, through interactions with the West-Hill Divine Palace, Long Qing sensed that the Divine Hall did not care about his betrayal at all. The Hierarch Lord even sent him important information discreetly.
Long Qing had killed the Halfman Taoist at Zhishou Abbey and took his powers. He had betrayed Haotian Taoism. Long Qing came from the West-Hill Divine Palace and knew what terrifying powers the sect possessed. That was why his greatest fear was that the Divine Hall would pursue and kill him. Now that this fear had finally been eliminated, his spirits received a boost.
However, as old fears gradually faded away, new fears were born. In that assassination attempt during the snowstorm, Tang's image had left an impression on Long Qing, growing an irrepressible fear of him. The only comfort he could indulge in was that of all those who survived that night, Tang was the most seriously injured. Logically speaking, he would definitely die. And even if he lived, he would have to recuperate for the time being and was not a threat to Long Qing.
The Desolate Men would definitely seek revenge. In preparation for the true war, the Central Plains countries began to prepare supplies and gathered troops. The royal cavalry of the South Jin Kingdom, which had not participated in the war in these years, and the Papal Cavalrymen of the Divine Hall were all preparing to enter the Wilderness. Even the two border troops of the Tang Empire began to prepare for war.
But even so, the world's attention on the Yuelun Kingdom did not weaken but grew even more so. This was especially so for the cultivators who stayed there and did not even glance at the Wilderness.
The war between the Central Plains allied troops and the Desolate Men determined the outcome between civilizations. The affairs in the Yuelun Kingdom decided the survival of the entire world. It was obvious which one was more important.
Several days passed, but there hadn't been any trace of the black horse carriage. The ascetic monks that the Xuankong Temple sent to the northeastern Wilderness gradually moved towards the Yuelun Kingdom. In a Buddhist temple more than 100 miles north of Chaoyang City, the Xuankong Temple Hall of Respect's chief monk, Master Qi Mei was listening to the voice quietly in front of Buddha.
"Man below clouds."
The undispersed clouds above Chaoyang City had long attracted the attention of many practitioners. Many Buddhist and Taoist powerhouses entered the city quietly. Qi Mei heard the message of the Chief Preaching Monk and hesitated no longer. That night, he rushed to Chaoyang City and entered the White Tower Temple.
The next morning, Luo Kedi, the commander of the West-Hill Divine Palace divine guards, brought 18 divine guards with him to Chaoyang City. At the time, a cloud in the skies outside the city was moving to join the thick clouds looming above the city.
The clouds above Chaoyang City grew thicker, and it was hard for sunlight to pass through. As such, it was rather gloomy, and it felt as if there were dark clouds pressing on the city. However, it was unknown when it would actually rain or snow.
Inside the White Tower Temple.
Qi Mei looked at the burly man and raised his hand in a Buddhist gesture. He bowed and said softly, "Greetings, Commander Luo."
Luo Kedi silently looked at the seemingly ordinary young monk in front of him. His eyes landed on the monk's two-fingered left hand, resting beside his leg. He nodded slightly as a greeting.
He was the most trusted subordinate of the West-Hill Divine Palace's Hierarch. Even though he had been tortured by the Great Divine Priest of Judgment—Ye Hongyu, for what happened in the past two years, he was still a very important bigwig in the Divine Hall. He had entered the Knowing Destiny State for many years, and he was very powerful. That was why he was unwilling to show too much respect to the high monk from the Unknown Place, Xuankong Temple and even acted aloof.
Qi Mei's expression was serene and did not change. He had long succeeded in his Buddhism cultivation and was not affected by things of the world. He said, "I heard that the Divine Priest of Judgment left Peach Mountain a hundred days ago. I wonder where she is now."
Luo Kedi frowned and said, "The Great Divine Priest has gone to the northeast."
Qi Mei sighed softly and replied, "That's not good."
Luo Kedi said, "If Ning Que and the Daughter of Yama are really in Chaoyang City, we can just find them and kill them. What's not good about that?"
Qi Mei said, "There are too few people from Haotian Taoism this time. I wonder if it's because the abbey dean is out traveling or other reasons. The way you have dealt with the appearance of the Daughter of Yama isn't right."
Luo Kedi frowned slightly and said softly, "We don't need too many people to kill Ning Que... What's more, does master think that my power along with that of 18 divine guard is too weak?"
Qi Mei said, "In the battle at the Lanke Temple, not even Senior Brother Qi Nian and Mr. Ye could subdue Ning Que and the Daughter of Yama. Commander, sir, why do you think that we can hold him down?"
Luo Kedi thought of what Mr. First and Second of the Academy had done at the Lanke Temple. He froze slightly and asked, "Can Master Qi Nian come?"
Qi Mei said, "Senior Brother Qi Nian was seriously injured while in the Lanke Temple and is still recuperating."
Luo Kedi replied, "If this is so, what shall we do when the Academy comes?"
Qi Mei answered, "If the people from the Academy come, the Xuankong Temple will deal with them. Let's continue talking about Ning Que."
Luo Kedi said coldly, "Even though not many from Haotian Taoism had come, there are many people in Chaoyang City. If this is a war, why do we have to save lives? The Hierarch sent me to ask, if the deaths of a thousand in Chaoyang City can kill the Daughter of Yama, would the Buddhism Sect still do it?"
Qi Mei was silent for a long while. Then, he said, "The world is our home. In order to stop this calamity, I don't think anyone would be unwilling to be a sacrifice. There is nothing we can do but to ask everyone to act."