The scaleman king told his brother, "I have to go on this trip. Please take over my responsibilities for the time being."
The former crown prince replied, "Your Majesty, this is a tall order. The world has just evolved, and it needs you to support it."
The king replied, "Brother, if I don't go with my master, our world will be destroyed."
The former crown prince, clearly not having expected such a revelation, jumped up in shock. "What?!"
The king repeated, "Brother, our enemies are coming."
The former crown prince was bewildered. "What enemies? Haven't the death spirits been killed?"
The king replied, "The superior worlds of antiquity."
The former crown prince was stunned.
The king continued, "There are nine superior worlds in total, not just us, among the three thousand worlds. Of these worlds, six have existed since antiquity. They rear the other worlds like livestock, and slaughter them once they evolve into superior worlds."
The former crown prince's face turned serious.
Zhang Lie interrupted, "Most importantly, we're not dealing with just a single superior world of antiquity, but at least four of them. Countless years of building up strength—we newly evolved worlds can't compare to theirs."
The former crown prince began to panic. "How can this be? Our world just ascended!"
Zhang Lie finally smiled in relief upon seeing the former crown prince's antics. This was the normal response to the information he had revealed! The scaleman king had been very unusual in remaining so calm even when he learned of such news.
The ninth prince smiled. "Don't worry. My master is on our side."
The former crown prince came to his senses once more. "That's right! The grandmaster will surely have a plan, just like he did back then."
Back then, when all hope seemed lost, it was Zhang Lie's appearance who had saved the day.
Zhang Lie extended his arms. "The barest outlines of a plan, nothing more."
He sighed. "Our opponents are superior worlds that have existed since antiquity, and four of them at that. I have a strategy for dealing with them, but that doesn't mean I'll succeed."
The king informed his brother, "For the good of our world, I'll need to head toward the Zongming world in hopes of forming an alliance with the two other newly evolved superior worlds to deal with the superior worlds of antiquity together."
The former crown prince replied, "But you don't have to go there personally, do you? You're a superior king! Let me go in your stead."
The scaleman king smiled and shook his head. "Don't worry, Brother, nothing will go wrong. My master will be by my side, after all."
The former crown prince cried out, "But if anything were to happen to you, what would we do?"
The scaleman king retrieved a proof of kingship from his storage-type soulshard and tossed it over to his brother. "I'll leave our world in your safekeeping for the time being."
The king's brother was very shocked. "What are you doing, Your Majesty?!"
"It's only a precautionary measure, Brother. With my master by my side, I'll be safe and sound—and even if something were to happen, you'll still be here."
"Your Majesty, what if something really does happen?"
The king emphasized, "Nothing will happen with my master around. It's just a precaution."
"Please don't go, Your Majesty! I could never become a superior king in your stead."
The king rolled his eyes. "What in the world are you talking about, Brother? Are you really the crown prince who seemed poised to take the throne?"
The former crown prince sighed. "Over the years, I came to the realization that I really can't compare to you, Brother."
The king replied, "I have to arrange this alliance personally—not because I want to, but for the good of our world; not because I want to stay by my master's side, to accompany him to the Zongming world!
The Zongming king invited me, and I have to accept his invitation personally. This is non-negotiable."
The former crown prince replied, "I think there's room for negotiations."
The king shook his head. "We have to demonstrate our sincerity and determination. I must go personally."
The former crown prince advised, "I'm worried that the citizens will lose faith if you were to leave so quickly after the world's evolution..."
The king shrugged. "Compared to the destruction of the world, this is nothing in comparison."
The former crown prince sighed. "I suppose you're right."
The king continued, "While I'm gone, I'll leave the world for you to handle, Brother."
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The former crown prince chuckled wryly. "I just don't know if I can do a good job of it."
The king patted the former crown prince on the shoulder.
"Of course you'll be fine, Brother. You're my brother, after all."
The former crown prince sucked in a deep breath. "You're right. I'm your brother, a lord of this land."
The king looked at the proof of kingship his brother held with a complicated expression.
"Actually, the throne should have been yours to begin with. If something were to happen to me, take over in my stead—"
The former crown prince broke him off. "None of that, Brother! No one can replace you in this realm. You have to come back safe and sound."
The king nodded firmly. In that case, I'll be heading out now."
The former crown prince replied, "No—you have to announce what you're doing in court!"
The king shook his head. "There's no time left. I'll be leaving immediately with my master. If we were to stay for court, my departure would drag out for another few days. The court officials are very difficult to deal with, and they'll surely try to stop me. By the time I leave, the superior worlds of antiquity will have attacked."
The former crown prince sighed. His brother wasn't wrong.
The disaster-grade multicolored dragon spread its wings and glided overhead. The king waved a hand. "In that case, I'll be going."
Zhang Lie and the king leapt into the air, onto the dragon's back. The king waved toward his brother. "Goodbye, Brother! Farewell!"
The former crown prince couldn't help but think that his brother's smile was as though he were eloping with his lover."
The moment they left the boundary of the world, the king slumped from his chair onto the table. "I'm finally free."
Zhang Lie handed him a drink. "It looks like you've been working very hard."
The king smiled wryly. "Isn't that so? It's rare that I can have such an opportunity to take a break from my responsibilities. I have you to thank for it, Master."
Zhang Lie asked, "It must be difficult to be king—no, forget I asked." Of course it was difficult; that much was obvious...