“It was him……”
When the assembled elders heard this, their faces could no longer express the full extent of their emotions.
They’d just seen the man formerly responsible for enforcing justice throughout the clan accuse their highest-ranked elder. As the kneeling man spoke, he seemed on the verge of a mental breakdown.
“You unfilial son! You ungrateful wretch!
The elder had only just sat down; his but had yet to even warm up his seat. Even so, he hefted his cane as if to attack the kneeling figure.
Xia Yingqiu glanced meaningfully at Xia Yingda, only to see his older brother toss a handful of stones to the ground.
A cage-like structure enveloped the grand elder within. As it formed, Xia Yingda stood and said, “Great-great Grandfather, please calm down. Great-uncle only just started…..”
The cane collided against the walls of the cage with a loud bang.
“I’m impressed. Xia Yingda, you’ve really grown up! To think you’d dare cage even me, your great-great uncle!”
“I humbly request your forgiveness, but Great-uncle is currently our only lead. I can’t allow you to harm him, but of course, we can’t harm you either. Limiting your movements is the best compromise,” replied Xia Yingda politely. As he spoke, he faced the old man and bowed. “Please forgive me for offending you.”
“Fine then. This old dragon is actually rather interested to hear what exactly this unfilial son of mine has to say,” said the esteemed elder, suddenly extremely calm. He returned to his seat, then glowered fiercely at his kneeling son. “Speak.”
“That’s how it ought to be,” said Xia Yingqiu with a calm smile. He reached out and patted the kneeling figure.
“Great-great Uncle told you to speak, so finish your story. Don’t be nervous. At the moment, you’re in no danger whatsoever. You’re the one who taught my brother to use the Dragon Encircling Formation so you ought to understand its might.”
“It was him,” said the kneeling man. He suddenly seemed much calmer than before. He gulped, then continued, “it was Xia Dong who arranged for me to meet with the demons.”
The grand elder, still trapped within the Dragon Encircling Formation, started trembling furiously. Xia Yingqiu glanced at him, then back at the kneeling figure.
“Go on then,” he said, “don’t stop! Right, let’s keep it simple; just focus on the key points.”
With that, he cocked his head and smiled at the crowd.
“Everyone, you have to listen carefully as well. There’s a lot to this story.”
“It’s like this,” said the kneeling figure through gnashed teeth. “Xia Dong contacted me half a year ago and had me go meet someone on his behalf.”
“Who?” asked the former clan head.
“Gu Li!” said the kneeling figure. “He’s still very young. When we met, he told me he was sincere about cooperating with us and that once we succeeded, we would become the true overlords of the Beast Region. At the time, I was rather perplexed. We dragons already stand at the peak of the Beast Region. Why would he say something like that? Although I didn’t understand, I didn’t ask too many questions. I simply returned and told Xia Dong what we’d discussed.”
“Gu Li?” asked the former clan head. “Have any of you heard of him?”
The other elders shook their heads.
These were the highest-ranked figures of the dragon race. Most of them lived in seclusion within the mountains. They rarely left unless something big was going on. They truly had no idea who Gu Li was.
“After reporting back to Xia Dong, he told me that Gu Li worked for the demons, then asked if I wanted to cooperate with the demons alongside him. I was dumbfounded; I was once in charge of meting out punishments. I know how serious a crime betraying the clan is. I immediately rejected him, but…..”
“He said that, so long as we cooperated with the demons, in the end, the entire Dragon Race would belong to the two of us. He said everyone, from the demons to the phoenixes, nine-tailed foxes, white tigers, spiritual apes, and Xuanwu Turtles would have no choice but to lower their heads and submit before us. At that time, I’d become lord of all beasts, the master of all clans.”
“And you agreed?” asked one of the elders.
“How could I dare?” The kneeling figure laughed bitterly. “I am an elder of the criminal and penal division. Loyalty to the clan has long-since been burned deep into my consciousness. At that time, I dared not agree. I even warned him not to get in too deep. I was afraid, afraid we’d be discovered. If that happened…. Ten lives wouldn’t be enough to atone for my crimes. But he told me that we were seniors of the Dragon Race, that no one would dare harm us in any way. He said that, should we truly encounter problems, he could at least guarantee my safety. He even said that, once I became the overlord of the Beast Region, the empress of the Nine-tailed Fox Clan…… The empress…. She’d be my……”
Perhaps because he felt uncomfortable expressing such vulgar thoughts out loud, he couldn’t continue. Instead, Xia Yingqiu chose to finish speaking on his behalf.
“Empress Su Liu’er of the Nine-tailed Fox clan would become his…… and the other women of the fox clan would be his to enjoy. Hmph, you gave in to the allure of beauty. Really, how old are you? And you’re still getting worked up over something like that? Great-great Uncle, do you have anything to add?” Xia Yingqiu snorted in contempt.
Within the formation, the grand elder shook from head to toe with fury and repeatedly banged his cane against the walls of the cage.
“Well! The way I see it, the real traitor is you, Xia Yingqiu!”
“Trying to throw mud at me? Tch, Great-great Uncle, for better or worse, you’re still a member of the senior generation. Don’t forget your status,” replied Xia Yingqiu. “But I’m fine; I’ve always been righteous. The righteous needn’t fear baseless accusations. If you doubt me, I’m prepared to submit to a group investigation! Alright then, I’ve said all I have to say. The show is over. Elders, what do you think?”
Xia Yingqiu paid the grand elder's fury no need. Instead, he turned to his audience and cupped his hands respectfully at the cloud. Everyone else looked deeply troubled. They couldn’t believe their ears.
Their highest-ranked, most-accomplished senior was colluding with demons?
“Former Clan Head, Clan Head, what do you think we should do?”
“If we act according to our laws, we ought to execute them on the spot,” said Xia Yingda.
“That’s right,” agreed the former clan head.
“Do you dare?” The caged grand-elder narrowed his eyes. “This old dragon has served the clan for tens of thousands of years. Our country was built by my generation! Xia Hua, back when I was clan head, you hadn’t even been born…. And now you want to dictate my life and death? Where did you get the gall?”
He slammed his cane against the floor. The granite split and cracked under the force of the blow.
Both the former clan head and Xia Yingda hesitated.
The grand-elder was right: his generation really had built their nation. It was fair to say their military accomplishments were grander than the heavens themselves.
Mere juniors like themselves weren’t qualified to decide his fate.
This was consorting with demons!
“Hmph? You don’t dare?” When he saw that no one dared speak, the elder snorted. “If you dare not act, hurry up and let me go. Hmph, you’re just a pack of juniors, yet you want to decide my fate?”
“They are indeed just juniors. Then…. What about me?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter