The illusionary dimension's elders or those who are familiar with the location would know that the so-called top ten elites were not necessarily the strongest people, but rather the most active or popular top ten cultivators in recent decades.
Ning Zhengfeng, Xiao Mengyu, and Luo Qianqiu, for example, were among the top ten elites. Ning Zhengfeng was crowned as one due to his status as the patriarch of the Ning clan and the Taiyi Polearm, which granted him cultivation above the pinnacle of the Ruo Water stage. Xiao Mengyue was in the middle of the Ruo Water stage, and the most powerful of them all was Luo Qianqiu.
After all, such a title was dignified, and at least 99 percent of cultivators revered them.
Yin Shouzhi was the first to gain popularity among those in the top ten elites. It was rumored that the former patriarch of the Ning clan hired him as their Taishang elder. He stayed at Mount Yinshou all year round, which was named after him.
His cultivation in the pinnacle of the Ruo Water stage placed him at the top of the pyramid. Yet, a revered figure like him wore a tattered and patched black robe. His hair was messy, and he was so lanky that his bones were visible.
That old man is in the Ruo Water stage? But he looks like he's dying soon!
Seeing the shock on Zhou Yi's face, Yan Feiyun said in disdain, "Look at how ignorant you are. The worst thing to do is judge someone by their appearance. Even though Luo Qianqiu is ranked first, there's no telling who would win if he and Yin Shouzhi fight. To think Ning Zhengfeng is willing to invite him, the situation must be grim…"
"Huh?" Zhou Yi was even more baffled. "Feiyun, what do you mean by that?"
He had initially come to butter Yan Feiyun up but was now interested in knowing more.
Could it be that Yin Shouzhi is not one to be trifled with?
To his dismay, Yan Feiyun did not speak further. At the same time, the other cultivators, too, fell silent.
That was because dozens of powerful oppression were approaching from all directions. Soon, figures landed before the cultivators.
"The Heaven-ranked elders are here!"
"They're finally here. I wonder why the patriarch of the three hidden clans came to look for the elders?"
"Well, let's just listen in. We've never been on good terms with the hidden clans, so I bet it's because of something grave…"
As the cultivators whispered among themselves, more figures appeared on the platform.
Eight elders flew to the top of the pillars.
Although there were twelve Heaven-ranked elders, four of them held the most power and were termed as the "Four Great Elders."
After the eight elders went on top of the pillars, the last four elders showed up. They were revered by the Hongmeng cultivators the most, consisting of Yan Wuchen, patriarch of the Yan clan, Master Yanyun, leader of the Buddhist cultivators, Yan Xiuming, patriarch of the Yan clan, and Liu Shiyuan, leader of the sword cultivators.
The Four Great Elders' cultivation base was at the pinnacle of the Ruo Water stage. Combined with Xiao Mengyu, Xu Shaogong, Ning Zhengfeng, Ning Ruozhu, Yin Shouzhi, and Luo Qianqiu, they made up the top ten elites in the illusionary dimension.
Of course, the disparity in cultivation was apparent. Nonetheless, those in the illusionary dimension looked up to them.
"Why have you come to Sky Island?" The first one to speak was a solemn-looking man dressed in dark blue Hanfu. Though he was going grey, his face still looked young.
That man was none other than Yan Wuchen.
Xiao Mengyu, Ning Zhengfeng, and Yin Shouzhi did not speak, all staring at Luo Qianqiu, who had his eyes closed.
As he was the only one in the Tai Qing Heavenly Lightning stage, they all regarded him with a mix of emotions.
Luo Qianqiu opened his eyes and said calmly, "Sirs, there's no need to ask such a question. I'm sure you would know the reason behind our visit."
"Heh, Patriarch Luo, how would we know what's on your mind if you don't tell us?" This time, the person who spoke was a handsome young man dressed in white. While flapping a vibrant fan with countless blooming flowers drawn on it, Yan Xiuming smirked. From his looks, it was hard to tell that he was a few hundred years old.
"Though the three major clans have not been on good terms with Hongmeng, we're all part of the illusionary dimension. Naturally, we would keep an eye on all the happenings. I reckon Hongmeng must have received news that three of our clans formed a squad consisting of a few hundred elites to take revenge on Yang Chen, yet we were attacked by three Gods and lost the battle…"
Luo Qianqiu's words caused an uproar among the ordinary cultivators of Hongmeng.
Since they did not have the authority to learn about all those, naturally, they were shocked.
The evil deeds done by Yang Chen had spread across the whole of the illusionary dimension, but they never expected him to provoke the three major hidden clans into obliterating him. Just how big was the grudge between them!
Standing behind her siblings, Yan Feiling paled. She had been worried since hearing about Yang Chen's news in Hongmeng but could do nothing to help. Upon learning that she could no longer provide him assistance, she could feel her hands trembling.
On the other hand, the Heaven-ranked elders were not particularly surprised. It was evident they had known about that matter beforehand.
"Amitabha…" The chant silenced everyone. Then, the red-haired Master Yanyun asked in a benevolent manner, "Does that have anything to do with your visit here?"
Luo Qianqiu took a few steps forward and gazed at the elders. Chuckling, he said, "Is there still a need to conceal yourselves at such a juncture? While you can probe into the internal affairs of our clans, we, too, know plenty of your doings…"
At that point, he glanced at Ning Zhengfeng, motioning him to speak.
With an amiable smile, Ning Zhengfeng uttered, "According to the information we've received, Hongmeng once hoped for Yang Chen to settle the dispute and work for China, but he rejected and killed the Hongmeng messenger…"
He was careful with his words. Instead of saying that Hongmeng wanted to hire Yang Chen, he deliberately mentioned "for China" so that Hongmeng would seem honorable and righteous. On the other hand, Yang Chen would seem like a devil who refused to repent. In that way, he would not offend the elders.
Ning Zhengfeng went on, "Furthermore, the world is experiencing a terrifying drop in temperature. Even though it is supposed to be summer, many northern regions of China are experiencing winter. In fact, the temperature dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Despite being at the pinnacle of the Tai Qing Heavenly Lightning stage, Mr. Luo Pingchao was unable to defeat the God of the Sun or Goddess of the Moon at such a critical juncture. Because you've seen the Gods' abilities before, you should know that this isn't their original power. The temperature drop must be related to their sudden increase in pow—"
"Hah, stop spouting nonsense and get to the point," a voice interrupted. It was the leader of the sword cultivators, Liu Shiyuan. Dressed in a grey-blue robe, he had thick brows, a mustache, and unfeeling features. In short, he seemed as sharp as a sword.
Ning Zhengfeng was not offended by his curtness. Still smiling, he said, "The point is if the Gods continue to become stronger, not only would we suffer, so would the population in the whole world."
Everyone fell silent. Even to the cultivators, his statement was exaggerated, yet no one dared to doubt him since he was the patriarch of the Ning clan.
Ning Zhengfeng smiled as he noticed the strange expressions on the elders' faces. "Elders, I know you won't feel anything because we lost many of our elite, not you. However, keep in mind that we have no grudge against the Gods, only against Yang Chen. You, on the other hand, had always been at odds with the Gods. Would they come after you or us when they believe the time is right?"
"Ning Zhengfeng, are you threatening us?" Yan Wuchen narrowed his eyes, exuding a cold aura.
Luo Qianqiu turned around and countered, "He's merely informing you that putting on airs would only cause you to die earlier…"