The enforcers’ servants knew much more than anyone had imagined. The names listed were significantly more numerous than expected.
The ten forefathers were quite angry when they finally received it. The Flora forefather was the angriest of all.
Meanwhile Bluesmoke was in full panic mode. Several of its executives glanced around despairingly in hopes of finding a way out.
Alas, all of them were under heavy surveillance. None would get out alive.
The executives dropped to the ground as one, practically crawling toward the ten forefathers. “Forefathers, we have sinned. We confess! We confess!”
The ten forefathers glared at these newfound fugitives darkly, killing intent pouring from their eyes.
The list named five factions. Of these, four had only one or two isolated contacts.
Aside from the three who’d admitted guilt earlier, the contacts from two more factions had already died in the fighting earlier.
Whether they chose to die in lieu of being punished or had actually died in the chaos, that didn’t matter. What did matter was the fact that the majority of the names on the list came from the Bluesmoke Isles. That place was riddled with holes!
Both executives and young geniuses alike had mutinied, marking a thorough treachery across multiple generations.
“Please, forefathers, have mercy on us. We are willing to commit suicide to preserve our isles.”
“We were deceived and pressed into Lightford’s service!”
“Clemency would be met with our eternal gratitude!”
None of the forefathers were soft. They wouldn’t have attained their current heights otherwise. The begging from these executives was met with complete detachment, and near-death whimpering failed to move them.
“We gave you a chance before. You thought you’d slip by, eh? You thought we wouldn’t find you out?” The Eternal forefather’s tone was bone-chillingly cold.
“No, no! We wanted to admit our guilt, but we knew that Bluesmoke was too involved. Our faction might have been utterly crushed by the admission.”
“Forefathers, we regret our actions. Please, give us a second chance!”
The ten forefathers remained impassive at the pleas, save a furious Radiance. “You didn’t take the chance you were offered, and now you’re asking for another? It’s too late! You’re worried about some deserved punishment, but not the destruction of your heritage. What a joke!”
The executives could only keep wailing. One of them even knelt at Jiang Chen’s feet. They knew that if the young man was willing to speak up, it would be their salvation.
“Young lord Jiang Chen, you are ever kind-hearted and charitable. Please intercede for us.”
“Out of the way!” Stepping forward, Long Xiaoxuan kicked aside the kneeler. His body exploded into a cloud of bloody mist.
The dragon’s ruthless strength caused his comrades to shudder in fear. They paled and kept their distance.
“Bluesmoke’s betrayal was premeditated,” Jiang Chen declared coolly. “Your guilt cannot be absolved. During my brief time at Bluesmoke, I heard that they wanted to build a divine nation of their own – one that could rival the ten. Their ambition was plain for all to see, no? I reckon some of them might have known that Lightford was a demon too.”
Everyone looked at him with great astonishment, but he returned their looks with forthright candor. After a moment, he turned to look at the Bluesmoke geniuses who’d been chosen back in the selection.
He’d found the champion, Lan Huang, particularly suspicious even back on Sandplain. There was a fey charisma about him that Jiang Chen despised.
Suddenly, he pointed at the genius in question. “Old Brother Vermilion, please capture him for me.”
Lan Huang had tried to lie low amid the crowd, looking for an opportunity to flee while attention was focused on the executives.
Unfortunately for him, the Vermilion Bird’s pressure focused on him in a single instant.
The bird’s claws closed over him, then dropped him in front of Jiang Chen.
“Apologies, Flora forefather,” Jiang Chen cupped a fist toward the leader. “He’s supposed to be a member of your sacred land in name, but I’ve distrusted him since the start. I think that him winning first place and joining the Flora Sacred Land was prearranged.”
The Flora forefather looked rather embarrassed, but now wasn’t the time for argument. “Has Lan Huang been bought by Lightford, too?” he asked calmly.
“Not just that. He’s probably more important than these old codgers from Bluesmoke put together. I surmise that Lightford guessed Flora would become the leader of the alliance and sent Lan Huang into the sacred land accordingly. More importantly, he very likely has had a transfusion of Lightford’s bloodline.”
Jiang Chen rarely took a clear-cut stance, so the one he did take now surprised everyone.
They looked at Lan Huang with wary eyes.
Lan Huang half-crumpled, a miserable smile curling at the corner of his mouth. “What kind of monster are you, Jiang Chen?” he shouted. “How could someone worthless like you overcome Forefather Lightford’s amazing powers and planning? I can’t accept this, I can’t!”
“Examine his blood,” Jiang Chen ordered.
Lan Huang could hardly resist at this juncture.
The results were out almost instantly. Lan Huang was richly filled with demon blood, of the same line as Lightford’s.
Everyone paled at this revelation.
If Jiang Chen hadn’t mentioned the matter of traitors once more, they would have let bygones be bygones. But if that had happened, Lan Huang would have remained in Flora as a demonic infiltrator! An inheritor of Lightford’s heritage!
Flora was uniformly relieved and thankful. What little dissatisfaction they’d felt was entirely washed away.
Despite Flora and Eternal’s past disagreements, neither was stupid enough to risk anything when it came to their mutual survival. The former knew very well that Jiang Chen had saved it yet again.