For a long moment, complete silence resounded within the corridor as six immortals, five young and one old, stared down at each other.
None of them displayed any unusual inclination or expression, but the atmosphere of the room was clearly filled to the brim with a destructive tension.
Calmly staring at the other, not issuing a single word or gesture.
The scene displayed by the six immortals was as if the passage of time had halted, a constrained tranquility manifesting in the pathway drifting aimlessly in the infinite void.
“…a marriage agreement?”
Jun Mo’s voice suddenly broke the eerie calm, his words burdened by a heavy resignation and undisguised resentment. The golden-robed youth fixated a calm, glacial gaze at the old man, his fingers slowly curling into fists.
“That girl is a mortal.” Jun Mo asserted with narrowed eyes.
“A mortal woman. You dispatched a message of an undefined opportunity that possessed the capability of overturning the balance of the Immortal Realm and the yet to be discovered frontier of the void to the Divine Palace, Demon Palace, and various other Royal Domains, causing the younger generation to fall into obstreperous chaos. Furthermore, after the atrocious inner selection within our respective organizations, you’ve made us do what, exactly?”
The youthful immortal took a step forward, the faint vestiges of golden light seeping from the tightly covered palms.
A terrifying, surging heat suddenly enveloped the corridor, yet the other immortals did not care much as they stared at the old man, not even breaking a sweat from the blistering heat.
“You’ve put us through trial after trial,” Jun Mo hissed, his voice slowly rising into a repressed roar.
“Trials and tribulations that possessed the potential of severely damaging, if not completely eradicating our immortal construct. Forcing us to explore the Eternal Blaze hidden deeply inside the Descent of Flame, withstand the assault of the Flowing Void Domain that not even the most senior of Royal Immortals dare to explore or investigate, and even risk combusting our immortal construct to escape from the accursed Heaven’s Chains, and what do you present as recompense?”
“A mortal woman’s hand in marriage!?” the golden-robed youth scoffed, the gold irises flaring with a blazing wrath.
“Does this seem like some nasty little prank for you, to whitewash the heads of the Immortal Realm into preparing for some ‘predestiny’ b******* and accumulating their forces in expectation of a divine artefact capable of bending the rules of the Realm, and all you have to offer is the marriage of a mortal woman!?”
Once Jun Mo had broken the dam restraining the youthful immortal’s courage, their voices torrented forth, swamping over the old man and eradicating the tranquil silence of the corridor of sky-blue crystal.
Not a single thought regarded the elder’s strength or realm of cultivation as rash boldness overtook their minds, even causing the cold and usually indifferent Mu Rong Yuan to burst into discussion.
“Esteemed Senior, ah, you can’t exactly be playing a joke like this, no?”
Deng Lan wiped a few droplets of sweat whilst displaying a pleading expression towards the elderly man.
“The woman in the pearl is indeed the most beautiful and attractive I have ever encountered, but a mortal woman isn’t exactly anywhere in value as a vial of Earthen Flower Essence aged more than a million years? How do you expect me to explain to my elders after wasting three vials of the divine manifest when I return and inform the hopeful elderly that everything was just a simple, nasty joke?”
“So there was indeed a reason why the Bai Clan had never discovered anything regarding this opportunity within the message you dispatched to the Divine Palace,” Bai Xing coldly uttered, threads of green light coiling around his arms.
“Everything was a cold-hearted scam to force the Royal Domains and the Two Palaces to waste their resources, no? Weaken the Royal Domains and the Two Palaces, enabling those who are ambitious to advance in strength and influence.”
“You should present an explanation.” Mu Rong Yuan’s eyes flared in disappointment and anger.
“After wasting so much of our clans’ resources, time, and even causing several deaths among the talented immortals of the younger generation, you won’t be able to shrug off the responsibility of deceiving the entire Immortal Realm. I don’t care how powerful the organization supporting your gnarled head is compared to the average Royal Domain, or how you’re stronger than any of us present, but nobody escapes the judgement of the Tianzun Imperial Court!”
Finished speaking, the azure-robed immortal drew a slender longsword, the blade reflecting an elegant and scholarly aura. Pointing the deadly tip towards the elderly man’s chest, Mu Rong Yuan released his aura at maximum capacity, inundating the pathway’s interior with an imposing and silent demeanor.
The old man took one glance at the tip of the steel longsword but paid no further head, instead deigning to gaze at the silent Dongfang Yu who leaned against the crystal wall.
“You’re not going to lose control and say anything?”
An Xiang Yang uttered in interest, an imperceptible, unknown gleam contained within the wizened pair of eyes.
“You who possessed the greatest amount of losses compared to the other four present. Three pairs of repelling arrays comprising of materials aged well over a million years, a sword capable of forcing even a Royal Immortal into a rather long slumber, and several jade tokens – I’d have assumed that if anyone were to complain, the first would be you,” the old man sighed.
“Say, she must have told you something before dispatching you to this place, no? After all, you come from that place.”
“What if she has?” Dongfang Yu gazed at the seeming exhausted An Xiang Yang with an amused expression. “What if she hasn’t? How does that change anything?”
Hearing the violet-robed youth’s words, the other four immortals all stared at the reclusive Dongfang Yu, their eyes demanding an explanation.
However, the target in question simply closed his eyes, paying them no heed as he casually questioned the old man with a slight smile on his handsome countenance.
“A Shattered Soul?”
“Yes, a Shattered Soul. I shattered the soul of my granddaughter before casting her into a mortal world,” An Xiang Yang sighed, the elderly face creasing with sorrow and sadness before barking a round of humiliating laughter.
“What? Feeling pity for this old man? That’s quite a shame, I felt pity for myself at the initial stages after the incident. Now…”
“A Shattered Soul formed from your blood descendant?”
Deng Lan suddenly interrupted, his eyes gleaming with a shrewd and intelligent light.
“What’s so important and compelling that forced you to invoke a cataclysm on an innocent soul? To break a fundamental taboo of the Immortal Realm?”
“Taboo?” the old man echoed, the flickering silver light encompassing his body receding by a margin as he drifted into thought.
“The soul of an immortal must not be shattered, and permitted to slumber in recovery? Alas, my granddaughter was mortal at the beginning, so how would that be applicable?”
“Cease your useless banter,” Mu Rong Yuan maintained his cold and detached expression as he stepped forward. The tip of the longsword continued to traverse the air until it rested a centimeter away from the elder’s chest.
“Shattering a mortal soul is impossible,” the azure-robed youth softly uttered.
“Enough. You can spin excuse after excuse before the judgement elders as much as you want. Wanting us to here them? What a joke.”
“What if I refuse to go along with you? Can you even stop me from the start?”
An Xiang Yang sneered, pushing away the steel longsword with two fingers. Turning around, the old man gloomily stared at the surface of a nearby monolith before speaking in a weary tone.
“Why do you regard this invitation as worthless? A marriage with a mortal, that may indeed be inconvenient for some, but can you truly deny the temptation of a near limitless source of heart crystal stone? That should be more than sufficient to ward off your pesky elders’ complaints, no?”
Before the youthful immortals could respond, An Xiang Yan suddenly waved his arm, his figure morphing into an amorphous cloud of silver particles of light. As the nebula of divine essence gradually dissipated, an elderly man’s weary sigh resounded within the corridor of heart crystal stone.
“Little granddaughter, this is all this old thing can do for you now. Though by the time you realize the truth, it might be a little too late for us all, ah…”
The five immortals all looked at each other for a long moment, before releasing a long sigh. The tensed atmosphere gradually returned to normal after the departure of the elderly man, but a sudden surge of depression struck them all without warning.
After sifting through his memories with a heavy frown creasing his countenance, Deng Lan was the first to react.
A sudden shriek startled the rest of the youths, causing them to stare at the pitiful scarlet-robed immortal in the midst of a mental breakdown with a mixture of pity and amusement.
“F*ck, I actually have to return and explain to those old fogeys? No, I’m going to escape, escape from this hell,” the youth muttered to himself whilst clutching his temple with both hands.
“There’s absolutely no way I’m going to escape punishment after wasting all of those precious ingredients and elixirs. At the very least, I’m going to suffer for several millennia within the Howling Abyss, there’s no way I can withstand that, there’s no way I can withstand…”
Amongst the numerous, incoherent murmurs that escaped Deng Lan’s mouth, a single phrase of words interested Mu Rong Yuan and fixated his attention.
His handsome countenance settling into a hard frown of contemplation, the azure-robed youth repeated the words in a dazed manner.
“A near limitless source of heart crystal stone…”
“Argh! No time to waste! I’ll take this chance, no matter how disappointed I may become!”
Deng Lan’s cry resounded within the corridor, the youth displaying a determined expression as he gazed at the vestiges of the crystal monolith that had confined him for a millennium.
Without any further hesitation, the immortal transformed into a wreath of scarlet flames, his presence vanishing from the indeterminate pathway of sky blue crystal.