As they reached the foxes’ rear mountain, Ye Zichen finally saw the towering ancient tree, the former symbol of their territory.
It had been ripped up by the roots, and the surrounding earth was covered in its red leaves and pink petals.
It was then that Ye Zichen noticed the young man seated before the fallen tree.
Demon Emperor Kui Lin and the kings of the South and West, Jiao Hai and Tie Tan, stood beside him. His former guardians, the Special Emissaries of the Left and Right, were there too, as well as several other experts, each strong enough to be proclaimed ‘emperor.’
Never mind the rest; just in terms of top experts, Ye Zichen’s group was at a disadvantage.
Even more eye-catching was Gu Li’s “chair.”
It wasn’t a chair at all, but rather, a horned, dragon-race expert.
“Xia Yi!” Xuan Ji and the Ocean Emperor’s eyes widened in unison. The person beneath Gu Li, the one acting as his chair, was the great elder of the dragon race, Xia Yi.
In his eyes, they saw deep bitterness and unwillingness. Such an affront to his dignity had left him shaking with indignation.
Gu Li glanced down at him and chuckled. “If you don’t want your clansmen to die, you just keep on bowing like a good little boy, got it?”
Ye Zichen and his companions’ expressions darkened, only to see Gu Li stroke his chin with his remaining arm and lean forward. “I’ve been waiting for ages! You sure took your time!”
“So, it was your idea to invade the foxes.” Ye Zichen frowned. “I was at the River Styx. If you resent me, why not just come looking for me there? Why attack the foxes?”
“Haha… Brother Ye, you’re still so naive, so unaffected. I admire you.” Gu Li let out a burst of wanton laughter, his expression utterly disdainful.
“I planned this war. Where we fight and how we do it is, naturally, all up to me. If I want to attack the River Styx, I’ll attack the River Styx. If I want to attack the foxes, I’ll attack the foxes. This… Brother Ye, don’t tell me you plan to interfere with even this?”
“I wouldn’t have guessed even the Demon Emperor would bow to another,” snorted Xue Yang.
“Ocean Emperor, are you any different?” Demon Emperor Kui Lin laughed calmly. “The heavens chose twin emperors. Following one is our only hope of survival. Haven’t you and your ilk also become Star Master Ye’s followers? Our thinking is much the same, so what need is there to say such things? Besides, the way I see it, the Star Master I’ve chosen is far, far stronger than yours.”
“Oh? So he’s the second of the heavens’ chosen emperors?” Ocean Emperor Xue Yang glanced at Gu Li. If Gu Li really was the other Emperor Star, then it wasn’t at all strange for Kui Lin to know who Ye Zichen was.
After all, both of the twin emperors knew about each other.
“Actually, I can’t help but sigh on the God Emperor’s behalf. He’s the God Emperor, yet throughout all the three races, only he’s still in the dark.” Demon Emperor Kui Lin laughed, then fixed his gaze on Su Yiyun. “The new Emperor Hades?”
“Hmph.” Su Yiyun snorted coldly.
“Tch tch tch, you’re really cut from the same mold as your predecessor, huh?” The Demon Emperor shook his head.
“Jiao Hai, Tie Tan, for the Yao Emperor to have subordinates like you… Well, I can’t help but feel sorry for him.” Xuan Ji looked at the two kings and continued, “The Eastern Emperor didn’t split his authority with you just for you to consort with demons.”
“What right does a yao who served the god race for ten thousand years have to criticize us?” snorted Jiao Hai.
“Enough!” Before they could argue any longer, Gu Li raised his hand and called for silence. He rubbed his head, licked his lips, and rose from Xia Yi’s body, then stretched leisurely. “What is there to argue? We’re all the well-known, respectable sort, so let’s not fling petty, ineffective insults like city riff-raff, okay? You’re only disrespecting your own positions. Look at Brother Ye! He might be innocent, unaffected, even naive, but at least he knows how to keep quiet. You all ought to learn from him.”
“Yes, Your Excellency.” The King of the West, Tie Tan, and the King of the South, Jiao Hai, both cupped their fists. As for Demon Emperor Kui Lin, although he’d also become Gu Li’s subordinate, he was still the master of his respective realm, and his followers were watching. He had to consider his image, so he refrained from showing his respects.
“Who the hell are you calling ‘innocent’ and ‘unaffected’? Don’t you think I’ll stuff my lance right up….”
“Yang Jian!” Just as Yang Jian was about to speak up on his behalf, Ye Zichen frowned and called him back.
He shook his head, then gazed intently at Gu Li. “What exactly is your goal? You just said you’d been waiting for quite some time, so you’re obviously targeting me. You knew I was at the River Styx, so why not just go there directly? Why attack the foxes? What… Are you trying to wear down my followers?”
“I didn’t dare go to the River Styx.” Gu Li smiled bitterly. “Brother Ye, your fortune is powerful indeed. Despite everything I’ve got up my sleeves, I can’t possibly outdo your endless stream of supporters. Who knows? If I went looking for you at the River Styx, another expert might swoop in out of nowhere and rescue you from the brink of death. I was scared, scared of your backers, so I dared not fight you head on.”
“Hah, luck’s a part of strength too,” said Ye Zichen.
“That’s for sure. I never said it didn’t!” Gu Li shrugged and laughed. “I certainly wasn’t trying to make fun of you, Brother Ye. On the contrary, I rather envy you. If I were as lucky as you, with heaven-defying good fortune, who knows? I might have transcended and unified the Three Realms long ago!”
“But you aren’t, and you don’t,” said Ye Zichen.
Obviously, despite his insistence to the contrary, Gu Li’s words were intended to mock Ye Zichen.
He was trying to say that Ye Zichen was deeply inferior to him in terms of strategy, as well as everything else. It was just that, out of sheer dumb luck, people kept swooping into save him just in the nick of time.
But Gu Li had never once wondered why exactly that was…
Why did Ye Zichen have so many people willing to help him? Why didn’t Gu Li?
People lined up to help the moral and just, but no one would go out of their way to help someone wicked.
Gu Li had never even considered this.
His words naturally didn’t embarrass or provoke Ye Zichen. Neither of them were little kids; he was past the point where he needed to fire back after every insult.
Besides, responding calmly with the facts was actually a greater blow to Gu Li.
I have good luck!
And you don’t!
As expected, Gu Li’s sinister grin froze in place.
He really didn’t.
No one could imagine how much he’d sacrificed to get where he was now. In terms of luck, he really was far inferior to Ye Zichen. He was certain that, if he had Ye Zichen’s good fortune, he would have accomplished far more than him, but….
Could it be that this was some sort of natural balance? A way of evening out the twin emperors?
That was the only thing Gu Li could think of. Otherwise, given that they were both the heavens’ chosen, why would his luck be so much worse than his counterparts? He had, of course, forgotten that when he lost, people swooped in to save him too.
Gu Li’s eyes flashed with resentment, but he quickly stabilized his emotions. A grin tugged at the corners of his lips. He hadn’t waited for Ye Zichen just to say all that.
“Brother Ye, I indeed admire your great fortune.” He narrowed his eyes, his gaze sharp and glinting. “But never mind that. Actually, I prepared a splendid gift for you in honor of your arrival. Please, take a look.”
As he spoke, Gu Li’s smile disappeared. He gestured to the person beside him. “Bring them over and show my dear Brother Ye!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter