Chapter 405: The Great Void Sect’s Grand Design
Translator: Sparrow Translations Editor: Sparrow Translations
Lin Feng looked at Zhu Hongwu, his face impassive as ever. Both men’s faces were oases of calm.
The others, though, were still caught in the trap of confusion. Zhu Yi was displeased about what Zhu Hongwu had previously said about Meng Bingyun, but he also realized that there were much that he had not known about before.
About his mother, he still knew much less than there was to know.
Lin Feng, however, has came to know much of the secrets of the Great Void Sect through his previous interactions with Yan Mingyue, Miao Shihao and Chen Gang, and so he understood the implied meaning of Zhu Hongwu’s words.
Although the Great Void Sect was split internally into the Conservative Faction and the Radical Faction, but comparatively, it was the Conservative Faction that has the upper hand – or else the Great Void Sect wouldn’t have laid low until even now.
The guiding principle of the Conservative Faction of the Great Void Sect was to, as much as possible, diminish the conflicts among the major powers of the Human race, so as to preserve the strength of Human cultivators for the coming Great War with the Demonic Clan of the Barren Expanses.
Purely from this perspective, they were actually well-intentioned. However, the problem was that, even though the Great Void Sect was the foremost Holy Land of the Human world, it was impossible even for them to resolve each and every conflict with mere words.
So while striving to mediate conflicts, the Great Void Sect has many tricks up their sleeves as well.
Among those, the main one would be continuously updating their design and maintaining the balance of power between major powers.
From a certain point of view, the doings of the Great Void Sect appeared similar to using the world as a chessboard. Even the Great Thunderclap Temple and the Mount Shu Sword Sect – also among the Three Great Holy Lands – were part of the Great Void Sect’s plot.
Before the War of Buddha Annihilation, the grand design of the Great Void Sect was for the Great Thunderclap Temple to check the Great Zhou Empire and the Mount Shu Sword Sect to check the Great Qin Empire.
Two Great Holy Lands, checking the two great empires. This, was the check and balance between the strongest powers of the Divine Lands. For the weaker powers, there were other ways as well – for example, Great Void Sect involvement was suspect in the standoff between the Royal House of the Northern Tribes and the Heaven Lake Sect.
The Great Void Sect will not allow one party to totally annihilate the other, but rather, provide help to the weak at the expense of the strong to attain an overall balance, so that both sides will have reservations and would not actually go the extent of all-out war.
Since the previous Great War with the Demonic Clan, the power structure of the human world has been tending towards equilibrium. All major powers were preoccupied with recovery; apart from the occasional evil cultivator who would cause a disturbance before being wiped out, the overall situation in the Divine Lands was rather calm.
Everything changed as a result of the War of Buddha Annihilation.
As a result of a multitude of elements, with the Great Zhou Dynasty taking the lead, multiple powers, including the Mount Shu Sword Sect, formed an alliance and together, annihilated the Great Thunderclap Temple. The Radical Faction in the Great Void Sect even participated personally, with the Formation Bursting Drum aiding the Almighty Celestial Destroyer Formation to smash open the Vairocana Formation.
As for the Conservative Faction of the Great Void Sect, peculiarly, they remained silent on the sidelines during the war for some unknown reason.
After the War of Buddha Annihilation, the Great Zhou Empire – who was almost headed for mutual destruction with the Great Thunderclap Temple – successfully controlled most of the warring states, to the extent that its strength instead increased further.
This directly resulted in the demise of the Great Void Sect’s original design. With the loss of hindrance from the Great Thunderclap Temple, the Great Zhou Empire’s growth was even more rapid. As it eradicated sects and clans within its borders while invading and annexing small neighboring states, its power grew greater by the day.
Now, it was already looming over the once-stronger Great Qin Empire, even eyeing it with avarice.
This sort of situation would naturally be a source of much worry for the Great Void Sect.
But now, a new, rising power has appeared in front of the Great Void Sect and the world – Lin Feng, and the Celestial Sect of Wonders.
Especially the Battle of Mount Kunlun, when the Celestial Sect of Wonders formalized its hegemony over Mount Kunlun and became a significant power in the Divine Lands, one that was now impossible to overlook.
According to the usual principles of the Great Void Sect, something like the complete destruction of the Aeolus Sect would draw its ire the most; the death of the Immortal Soul cultivator, Heavenly Wind Holy Man, was especially intolerable.
In the war with the Demonic Clan, every single Immortal Soul cultivator was an uncountable treasure. The greater the scale of the war, the more precious high-end forces become.
This, Lin Feng certainly understood. This was why, when choosing between the Heavenly Wind Holy Man and the Xuanming Holy Man, Yu Xintao, he chose the Heavenly Wind Holy Man – because with the Heavenly Wind Holy Man as bait, he could hook a big fish, the Golden Crow Grand Sage.
The final result, from the macroscopic perspective of Human and Demon, would be equivalent to the Human side losing the Immortal Soul First Level Heavenly Wind Holy Man in exchange for the loss of the Undying Demon Soul Second Level Golden Crow Grand Sage, one of the Ten Demonic Saints, on the Demon side. Overall, a significant net profit for the Human side.
To put it another way, the Heavenly Wind Holy Man and the Golden Crow Grand Sage perished together.
It was with this result as the premise that the Great Void Sect tacitly sanctioned the fait accompli of Lin Feng eliminating the Heavenly Wind Holy Man.
Or else, they wouldn’t have helped Lin Feng stop the Lixiong Swordmaster of the Mount Shu Sword Sect.
However, Lin Feng would not thank the Great Void Sect, because this was only part of the Great Void Sect’s grand design. After the rise of the Celestial Sect of Wonders, it became a useful pawn as well in the eyes of the Great Void Sect. Still, the Celestial Sect of Wonders needed to grow further – and that was why the Great Void Sect rendered assistance.
After the Celestial Sect of Wonders has matured fully, the adversary that the Great Void Sect prepared for her was none other than the Mount Shu Sword Sect!
Lin Feng, Zhu Hongwu and a few others in the know have already recognized that the Great Void Sect has started a new round of shuffling the board.
In this new design, the two most important points were new adversaries for the Great Zhou Empire and the Great Qin Empire.
The Mount Shu Sword Sect, who had previously been checking the Great Qin Empire, was allocated to the Celestial Sect of Wonders in the Great Void Sect’s new arrangement. Meanwhile, the Great Qin Empire would be taking the place of the destroyed Great Thunderclap Temple to oppose the Great Zhou Empire.
There was room for adjustments as well. For example, when the Celestial Sect of Wonders has not yet demonstrated sufficient strength to fight to the end with the Mount Shu Sword Sect, maybe they will first lay the ground for a showdown between the two current champions, the Mount Shu Sword Sect and the Great Zhou Empire.
All in all, there was only one ultimate principle for all the machinations and designs of the Great Void Sect – overall strategic balance in the Divine Lands.
Of course, whether it were the Great Zhou Empire, the Mount Shu Sword Sect, the Great Qin Empire, Lin Feng’s Celestial Sect of Wonders, or maybe the Heaven Lake Sect, the Royal Houses of the Northern Tribes, and other powers, no one was happy to be a willing pawn of the Great Void Sect. Everyone has their own calculations, their own goals.
The Great Void Sect was not infallible either. Without need to talk about the past, in a sense, the War of the Buddha Annihilation was the best example.
Who would win, who would lose; who would be the player and who would be the piece; who could attain its expectations and plans; this, would be dependent on their individual strength and machinations.
Zhu Hongwu gazed at Lin Feng silently. Lin Feng, unperturbed, cracked a slight smile. “The Great Void Sect has its own design, but every single person has their own goals and plans as well. You and Liang Pan should be aware of this the most.”
“It is the culmination of prevailing trends and the will of fate for the Son of Heaven of the Great Zhou to rule the world,” Zhu Hongwu said calmly. “This, is the unstoppable momentum of the universe. It is not something that can be decided by some particular sect. Crooks and heretics, trying to manipulate the world and hold the yoke of the people…but a joke!”
As he was saying this, Zhu Hongwu’s gaze was incredibly indifferent, as if arguing with detractors was totally beneath him.
Zhu Yi, hearing this, felt his body shake as he gaze was fixated on Zhu Hongwu.
Although Zhu Hongwu did not lay it out in black and white, but the meaning between the lines has already revealed the cause of Meng Bingyun’s death.
Despite the existence of true love, the day of parting ways was inevitable. Because, if for nothing else, both of them had their own faith and goals – and for which they can both sacrifice their entire lives and passions, that far transcended love between man and woman.
Zhu Hongwu took a final look at the woman on the portrait in his hand. With a grip of his hand, fiery blood spirit exploded in a passionate blast; the rice paper of the painting turned a charred black, and then started burning.
He did not generate flame with his Mana, nor did he gather the surrounding Fire Spiritual Energy. He just ignited the portrait with the high temperature generated by the blood spirit of his own body, his own flesh.
The vigorous blood spirit evoked the fiery sun hanging in the sky; its brilliance was such that no man dared to look upon it directly.
Lin Feng’s eyes narrowed slightly. The Marquis of Xuanji, Zhu Hongwu – the Martial Way of his physical body was even stronger than that of the Royal Houses of the Northern Tribes’ Prince Xian of the Left. Of all the people he has met since he came to the Grand Celestial World, he, was the strongest Martial Way cultivator.
Zhu Yi, seeing Zhu Hongwu incinerating the portrait, has his fists clenched tight as fury radiated from his eyes.
He could sense that Zhu Hongwu, by burning the portrait that he had painted himself in former days, was signifying a clean break with the past – signifying a complete severing of the threads tying him to Meng Bingyun.
This caused Zhu Yi to feel some confusion amongst the fury. He sensed clearly that after burning the portrait, Zhu Hongwu’s mental state was completely different.
It was similar to when Zhu Yi half-questioned, half-accused Zhu Hongwu; it was a feeling of the breaking of old shackles, of physical and mental transcendence that brought incredible freedom and joy to the heart.
All bounds of the heart were now clear, as no thought can give him further pause.
In front of Lin Feng and the rest, Zhu Hongwu raised his head and gazed at the Heavens. The pores and xueof his body opened and shut together, as if breathing in synchronization with the stars of the sky.
Infinite, boundless strength exploded out. Previously, when Zhu Hongwu’s blood spirit was agitated, his blood spirit was almost solidifying, just like the Prince Xian of the Left of the Northern Tribes. It seemed as if a faint red halo surrounded his body, fiery hot like the blazing sun.
But at this instant, the red glow has disappeared. In Lin Feng’s senses, Zhu Hongwu’s body seemed to have became a bottomless abyss, or maybe the still, tranquil night sky. Only his pores and xue were incessantly flickering, like the countless stars in the sky.
Facing Zhu Hongwu, was like facing a miniaturized universe of stars.
Shi Tianhao’s face was solemn, while Zhuge Fengling, Tuntun and the rest appeared alarmed and frightened.
Before them, Zhu Hongwu was like the King of Gods, ruler of all that is divine in the universe, descending on the mortal world. He possessed a seemingly magical glow from head to toe, as if he has the most frightening force in the universe within his grasp.
Zhu Yi turned to face Lin Feng and asked gravely, “Master?”
Lin Feng nodded slowly. “Right now, at this very minute, before all of us, he transcended his previous bottleneck and attained Immortal Soul Second Level. Immortal Soul Second Level of the Martial Way cultivators.”
When he first laid eyes on Zhu Hongwu, Lin Feng has sensed that this man, in terms of pure strength, was already standing at the very peak of Immortal Soul First level. He was only separated from Immortal Soul Second Level by the width of a piece of paper; once that paper was broken, he was immediately Immortal Soul Second Level.
Looking at it now, that piece of paper was the final blemish on Zhu Hongwu’s soul. The blemish, caused by Meng Bingyun.
After this blemish was made up for, Zhu Hongwu immediately attained Immortal Soul Second Level.
In addition, Lin Feng could sense clearly that the actual combat prowess of this man was incredibly terrifying. Although he only just broke through his bottleneck to be promoted, his strength was considerably stronger than even veteran Immortal Soul Second Level cultivators like Shi Zongyue.
Even the Golden Crow Grand Sage would, very possibly, not be a match for him. This man, Zhu Hongwu, was also someone capable of fighting those of a higher level. While he was at Immortal Soul First Level, he was already able to match up to the Golden Crow Grand Sage and Shi Zongyue.