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Chapter 249 - Unable to Die in Peace!
Yang Botao looked crestfallen, his smile cheerless. "If it had been anyone else, I wouldn’t have believed it, but it was my father! My blood father! My father made me check his dantian. Upon feeling it, there really was a nine-leafed plant within it. It was also in that probe that I felt my cultivation base improve quickly. If there weren’t such a magical item, how could it have been so incredible?"
"My father also said that there were two choices. One was for me to consume that herb so I can be immortal. But that rainbow herb is an item of a god’s jealousy, it has to be plucked before the host dies. In addition, the host can’t commit suicide before it is extracted. In other words, I had to kill my own father to obtain this Nine-Beam Rainbow Herb. As for the second option, it was to use the Nine-Beam Rainbow Herb in exchange for the Nine Supremes’ help. The reason my father had been stricken with the karmic injury was all because he had nourished this herb. The heavens were jealous of this herb; all nine powers had to be gathered to rid my father of this catastrophe and keep him alive. After explaining, my father asked me to choose between the two. No matter how I chose, he would understand."
The more Yang Botao spoke, the more ecstatic he became and the smoother his words flowed. His pale face was tinged pink.
Yun Yang sighed. He knew that Yang Botao was already in terminal lucidity; he would keel over at any time now.
"Speaking of which, I’m ashamed. I actually hesitated, imagining momentarily the utmost glory of being an eternal immortal…"
Yang Botao chuckled humorlessly. "However, I decided at once that I wanted to save my father, no matter what it took. I had to help him stay alive. Until then, the Nine Supremes Lords who had acquired the Nine-Beam Rainbow Herb would increase tremendously in their abilities and truly become Yutang’s legend, forever guarding Yutang…"
Yun Yang was stunned as he heard Yang Botao’s narration up to this point.
He had never expected the inception of this entire incident to have such a plot twist. Was this not an uncanny turn of events?
This was the initial intention of conspiring against us nine brothers?
"I told father my decision and father said that before I could locate the Nine Supremes for help, I needed to find a mystical medicine called the Inconsolable Odium. Once the location of the Nine Supremes was known, he’d consume the Inconsolable Odium and suppress his injury temporarily. He would then seek out the Nine Supremes to talk and once it’s done, his dantian could be cut open to retrieve the Nine-Beam Rainbow Herb when the Inconsolable Odium’s poison attacked. Nine Supremes would consume it and deliver their spiritual force to remold my father’s skeleton and blood, and to restructure his five elements. His death seal could then be discarded and everyone would have walked away happy."
"Besides, father wanted me to make an oath. If the Nine Supremes refused to help or nine of them couldn’t gather together, he wouldn't be able to live as the timeframe for Inconsolable Odium’s consumption was short, but I wasn't to blame it on the Nine Supremes. After all, we’re all Yutang’s men. The Nine Supremes are too important, I can’t resent them for a personal issue.
Yang Botao looked uneasy.
"I believed my father’s words wholeheartedly then. I was even worrying all the time that if the Nine Supremes didn’t agree to it, wouldn't my father have to die then? I’d become an orphan again, the grief of being unable to serve my father would always haunt me."
"It was from that day onwards that I began collecting all of the news and information on the Nine Supremes. It was anything and everything about them… I’ve even bribed a few people to get hold of it."
"I’ve always wanted to talk to the Nine Supremes but I didn’t have the chance after all. Finally, when I exited the palace one day, I coincidentally heard that His Majesty wanted to meet Supreme Earth…"
"I expended my means to wait in the palace to finally manage to speak to Supreme Earth, ‘Lord Supreme Earth, I wonder if it’s feasible for you to help me with something?’."
"Supreme Earth replied with shock and then said, ‘What is it that has brought Marshal Yang to me? I shall find you at your residence later.’."
"I went home happily to wait for Supreme Earth’s arrival so I could complete what had been weighing me down all this time. But Supreme Earth didn’t come that night. Instead, I received His Majesty’s decree to admonish me, penalizing half a year of my salary and contributing merit to shoulder my wrongdoing."
"That time, I finally knew that it was impractical to solely wait for a chance. Someone in the palace told me that the Nine Supremes were going to do something big in a few days time. I knew then that my chance was here; if I missed it, I wouldn't have another shot at it."
Startled by his admission, Yun Yang asked, "Who told you this?"
"Minister of Imperial Household, Jiang Zhong!"
Yang Botao gritted his teeth in resentment. "How could I have missed this ultimate opportunity? So I went around to find out where the Nine Supremes Lords were going. It was also then that someone else found me and told me that the Nine Supremes were bringing eight hundred warriors to complete this mission. It was Fu Baoguo. We were chatting at the Board of Wat and mentioned it casually, he didn’t speak anymore after saying it. I only felt thrilled then, thinking that heavens will always bless the kind, thinking that God was taking pity on me; I, who wanted to save my father so much. That was how I got the information!"
Yun Yang honestly did not know what to feel now.
All these loops surrounding Yang Botao… They were intricate and secure to a fault.
Yang Botao had been collating information about the Nine Supremes and these people were close to him; of course, they would help him. No matter if it was intentional or otherwise – even if they had leaked the information to Yang Botao, there was no proof that these particular people were spies of the Four Seasons Tower!
Such a plan was eerily disquieting.
"My only thought then was to find the Nine Supremes. Mobilizing eight hundred people is not the same as when the Nine Supremes move alone; there would be tracks left behind. I’m a marshal of a side of directions, after all, it was rather easy to know about such mobilizations. After observing the situation from several aspects, I finally confirmed that there was a squad exiting Tiantang City towards the east. That squad would definitely be where the Nine Supremes were!"
"I know that this was the only chance, one sole chance that I was sure where the Nine Supremes were going, so I went back to tell my father the information. My father had ingested the Inconsolable Odium and revival pill right away, recovering his real cultivation base of Tenth Perfection and went after them in the deep of the night."
"After that, I awaited father’s news. I hoped to wait for father to return, wholly recovered, to wait for the Nine Supremes to be renowned worldwide… to be peerless experts and to be Yutang’s eternal legends… Yutang could then let its army rest and retain its peace throughout the continent!"
"Sometimes I wondered why my father’s cultivation base was so high. I would try to convince myself that father must have some sort of enlightenment. If it weren’t for such a cultivation base, how could he cultivate and form the Nine-Beam Rainbow Herb? There were so many unknown experts anyway, I, as my father’s son, should be proud to have such a father. How could I suspect my own blood father? I was really unfilial!"
"I waited and waited… until I received the most terrible news of all. None of the Nine Supremes survived the ambush at Tianxuan Cliff!"
"The news was devastating. I broke down on the spot. I was eating then, and I crushed the entire table when my hand slipped. It was like I lost my soul, I couldn’t have dreamed of such an ending!"
"But that was my blood father. Not only did his face, sense of familiarity, and his love to me remain unchanged, he knew everything about me including how mischievous I was when I was a child, and what birthmarks I had. He was my true blood father… How could I have suspected my own father?"
"All his doings and thoughts were logical and well within reason. They were even heroic. On what basis should I suspect him?"
"If it weren’t for the fact that no one would lie about such tragic news, I wouldn’t have believed it. But the truth was right before my eyes, how could I not know that there was something wrong with my father and things had gone wrong because of the information I had provided?"
"I, Yang Botao, had become the Empire of Yutang’s most unforgivable eternal sinner just like that!"
The helplessness and no small hint of madness were evident in Yang Botao’s eyes as he mumbled repeatedly, "Eternal sinner! Eternal sinner!"
Yun Yang sighed inwardly, not knowing what to say.
As Yang Botao spoke, his pulse weakened as he turned increasingly pale. He struggled hard, pleading softly, "Lord Supreme Wind, please give me a sliver of breath to let me finish my words."
Yun Yang sighed and stretched his hand to press hard on Yang Botao’s back, where his heart was, delivering a stream of refined mystical Qi.
"I wanted to carry this entire incident with me into my grave… I didn’t even tell my wife about it. This is the shame of my lifetime. It would sound better for me to just be titled the vilest criminal… But seeing Lord Supreme Wind, when Lord Supreme Wind cast the blame on me clearly, I felt like letting it all out. It is only now that I finally decided to speak my peace. I would not want my mistress to turn away from me when I meet her down there."
"I – I don’t want my mistress to still think that her husband is a deceiving traitor and full of lies. Even though she has passed on and she remains in the underworld, I would not want her to think that I’m wicked and unforgivable, that she’d married the wrong man her whole life…"
Yang Botao’s gaze was beginning to dim; he was murmuring with forced breaths now.
"She won’t," Yun Yang sighed.
He really did not know what else to say. Was it his duty to comfort him instead when so many of his brother had died due to the information he had leaked?
Yet who could he blame?
"After a dozen days, my father returned… said he wanted to bring me high and far away… that he’d provide me a better future…" Yang Botao said weakly, "I asked him then, why? Why did he do what he did? Why?"
Even now, Yang Botao’s eyes flashed hysterically. "Actually, I could already vaguely tell then that my father was from the Four Seasons Tower… and was a higher-up of the higher-ups within the tower. If not, I would definitely have been killed to seal my mouth! But I had to ask then, question all of it! I couldn't just let it go. I’ve fought so hard all my life for Yutang only to become an eternal sinner. My father told me very frankly that the existence of the Nine Supremes was a great threat. They had to be eradicated. The deaths of the Nine Supremes would be good news for the continent. This isn’t a personal matter, it’s something to be done and should be done… But I didn’t understand him, I genuinely couldn’t!"
"Then I asked him if the Nine-Beam Rainbow Herb was real. He said it wasn’t. Everything had been a lie just to confirm the Nine Supremes’ location."
"And I, Yang Botao, was the most important link in this set-up."
"The one to push me, this link of utmost importance, had been my own father!"
Yang Botao’s voice was bitter. He was laughing but his laughter was self-depreciating; his eyes were empty and dead.
"If I died on the battlefield, or from illness or poison, I can die smiling, without fear. But dying like this – for such a reason, carrying an eternal sin that will be spat upon, unable to be cleared of such humiliation – I, Yang Botao, can’t breathe my last with a clear conscience."
"I am unable to die in peace!"