Having lost the battle at the Myriaddragon Mountains, Lingfeng had suffered quite a blow. He seemed a little anxious, despite his cold gaze.
"Don't worry. We'll have our chance," Tianming said, patting him on the shoulder.
"Got it." Lingfeng nodded and turned back to look at Qingyu with a hint of pain in his gaze.
"Big Brother, it looks like my dad might not be around anymore, right?" she said in a hoarse voice with her face huddled in her arms. She uncontrollably teared up as she spoke.
Tianming recalled the person that had been piloting the Divine Sun Palace while the sun emperor was out fighting. He really didn't know how to answer her question.
"It's fine," she said, gritting her teeth. "Big Brother, go do your work. I heard you were going to try to control the solar core. As long as you succeed, we'll have a chance. Dad isn't someone that’ll just submit without a fight. If he's really going to die, he'll be sure to make a huge show of it to shock the world. I believe in him."
Tianming was happy that she could at least think optimistically. Even he had expected nothing but the worst. "Alright, let's get our feelings in order as we prepare for the next fight. Let's not overthink things before we properly verify them," he said for the benefit of himself and the other two.
"If I’d refined vitae instead of just terrae I could probably break the coffin and kill him!" Lingfeng said with his head lowered.
Stunned, Tianming caught Lingfeng's gaze. He knew that Lingfeng would have his own opinions on the matter independent of his own.
"At the very least, I’d only refine the vitae of celestial orderians," Lingfeng said, calmer that time.
Tianming understood why he thought that way. Lingfeng absolutely hated the sun emperor and wanted to help Qingyu through these hard times. Tianming knew that he was the kind of person who was nice to those he cared about, but ruthless to his enemies. Either that, or it was the Primordial Demonlord's influence seeping through. The second grand battle at the Myriaddragon Mountains was the strongest Lingfeng had ever been and there might not be another chance like that in the future, hence his frustration.
"Think about it another way. If he’d died too quickly, we’d be the ones facing off against Skywolf." Tianming didn't think Lingfeng's way of thinking was necessarily wrong. Everyone factored different things into their considerations. The best Tianming could do was to share his thoughts and try steering him in an optimistic direction.
"That's right! Feng, don't be so anxious," Qingyu consoled.
"Alright. I just... Brother Tianming, forgive me for saying that nonsense," Lingfeng said.
"It's fine. This is all just part of life and cultivation. Sometimes, life and the universe just mystify us beyond comprehension. I can be just as lost as you are. Everyone's concept of the world is different. I don't know what’s right all the time, nor what the optimal action would be."
Lingfeng seemed much more relaxed upon hearing that. His path was clearly different from Tianming's, but Tianming wasn't willing to lose him. He recalled that Lingfeng had fought alongside him during the battle at the Myriaddragon Mountains. While their paths had diverged, their feelings and mutual acknowledgment wouldn't change.
"I'll be going now. Wait for my good news!" Tianming said, looking affectionately at his 'siblings'. He was the eldest, so he had to play his part.
When he was about to leave, Qingyu finally looked up. The resemblance she shared with Li Wushuang gave Tianming a start. It was no wonder Lingfeng was so mad. Love made him lose his reason from the anger he felt. It seemed like he was constantly blaming himself for her situation.
However, Tianming realized that Qingyu reacted differently from Lingfeng. She could still smile to not make Tianming worry, not to mention there was still hope and desire in her eyes. That was something that Li Wushuang hadn’t shown in the slightest. Qingyu had grown up in hardship and her spirit was forged to endure even more.
"Qingyu, you’ll definitely succeed," Tianming said. She was simply no ordinary girl.
"I'm not afraid. At least, if he ever returns, I don't want to show him that I lost myself to my fate," she said. Even now, she still had hope for Li Wudi, in some part thanks to Tianming's own infectious confidence.
"Alright." Tianming left and headed toward the wooden building as many people watched him with hopeful gazes. This time, he felt completely different as he stood before the solar core. Talking with them had helped calm him considerably. Taking a deep breath, he stepped into it.
Everyone turned and looked at the solar core to see if anything changed, yet one of the gazes seemed a little weird. It came from a purple-haired youth with a lackadaisical expression. The 'sky' character appeared on his forehead from time to time. A dangerous look flashed across his violet eyes that seemed to turn into insectoid compound eyes that contained a hint of hateful intent from time to time.
"No matter. He’ll be dealt with. Once Skywolf arrives, our Voidsky Organization will take care of the sun emperor before we deal with him. It’s quite abnormal for a world like this to have a monster like the sun emperor. However, the rest of this world’s denizens are much weaker than us Skywolves. Even if he works together with the sun emperor and raises the astralguard formation, it won't make much of a difference. He won't even necessarily be able to control the solar core," the youth said in an ancient voice.
"He can control it, as the stigma he has was granted by the will inside the core..."
The purple-haired youth wore a complex gaze as he looked around, eventually settling on a black-haired, red-eyed youth in the corner and a devilish-looking woman. "Hehe..." the ancient voice within him chuckled, "how interesting. Even though you're just a bug, you have good senses. Those two kids are the closest people to him. They also have a good relationship with Yu Ziqian. That's your opening. Once you deal with them, even if Tianming manages to control the solar core, we’ll hold his weakness..."
"I see...." The youth grit his teeth as little raised spots appeared on his eyeballs. "I said that I’d get my revenge! Once you leave the solar core, you'll be faced with despair."
The sky above was incredibly quiet. Occasionally, a few flashes of light swept across in the distance, but they eventually waned away. Perhaps they were flashes from the explosions of collapsing astral cores.
The astralscape of order was far too vast, so much so that the destruction of a world seemed like nothing more than a drop of water from a distance. To the cold and unfeeling universe, an individual's life and experiences were completely meaningless. They were just another instance of countless, repetitive permutations of arrangements of matter and energy. Only people could feel despair at the loss of life, but the universe couldn't care less.
Far in the depths of the cosmos sailed a divine astralship that looked like a bracelet. It gave off a crimson glow as it sailed ahead at high speeds, leaving a crimson tail of light behind. Within it was a group of people dressed in grand, crimson clothing. They seemed rather odd and were covered in many glittering jewels. The one who stood ahead of the rest looked far into the distant stars.
"What a desolate area this is."
"Emperor Qiang, we're almost there, right? Thank goodness for the wondersky realm. Otherwise, a journey like this would be incredibly boring," someone else said.
Emperor Qiang was the precentennial sovereign of the Crimsonjade line. His son was Long of the Celestial Beings, someone Tianming had fought in the Astraldome.
"We're almost there, but we won't be going to Violetglory yet. We'll head to the Welkin plane and look for a continent," Qiang said.
"Why? Wasn't Violetglory our initial destination? We’ll have to change our coordinates if we want to head to the continent first. It isn't exactly convenient to drive by it," said a subordinate.
"We'll have to go to both, so the order doesn’t matter. Additionally, the seniors said that the faction behind comma girl was rather insistent on leaving the grade-nine Grand-Orient Sword on the Welkin plane," Qiang said, furrowing his brows.
"The Welkin plane.... Don't tell me they come from the realm of chaos?!" said the subordinate.
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Qiang merely turned back. Though he didn't have eyes, his 'gaze' was terrifying.
"I’ll shut up," said the subordinate.
"Huh?!" One of the faceless specters looking at the star map gave a startled cry, drawing attention.
"Emperor Qiang, take a look! Two star worlds appeared near the continent of our destination. They’re probably stars of our Voidsky Organization, a binary star system. They must belong to specters as well and they’re rapidly descending, a sign that they’ve identified prey and are beginning a full-speed advance. It appears that there’s a minor star near our destination."
"Hunting, eh?" Qiang nodded, seeming rather disinterested.
"Based on their speed, we’ll arrive by the time they start the attack. In all our time at Skyway Tristar, we've only heard of hunting at the outer reaches. It's the first time we've really seen a hunt in action ourselves."
All of them looked ahead with anticipation.