Zhou Yifu was most familiar with the fall and collapse of the Star Ocean Imperium. He spoke confidently when he was talking about the history of this period. “Judging from the relics we have excavated and the historical files left by the Star Ocean Imperium, the means of communication and transportation of the Star Ocean Imperium across different Sectors were not essentially different from ours. Their starships might have been larger and possessed a higher speed, and their spiritual beacons might have been more densely distributed, but that was all.
“Based on the technology of the Star Ocean Imperium, in fact, the territory that was really in the Supreme Emperor’s control had just been the dozens of Sectors around the Empyrean Terminus Sector. As for the Sectors that were further away, his control over them plummeted!
“In order to address the problem, same as most monarchs in history, the Supreme Emperor adopted a system of enfeoffment.
“But the enfeoffment system has its own fatal drawbacks, too.
“If the central government controls the local government too strictly, the local governments will be highly inactive and even detest the central government.
“But if the central government gives more autonomy to the local governments and allows it to develop on its own, it will be very possible that the leadership will be rendered ineffectual by recalcitrant subordinates. The local governments might be a threat to the central government one day!
“The Supreme Emperor’s solution was to copy his genes and create twenty ‘clones’ with ultimate secret arts. The twenty clones led the most elite forces of the imperium and founded twenty Guilds of Provenance, which governed the strategic locations at the frontier of the imperium.
“The so-called Guilds of Provenance were just another form of a fief!
“By logic, as his clones, they should have been even more loyal to the Supreme Emperor than his children were. There should not have been a problem at all.
“However, as everybody knows, when the Supreme Emperor launched the Hundred-Million Lightyear Expedition, trying to destroy the last remaining force of the demon civilization, ten of the twenty clones—including the Blood God, the commander-in-chief of the expedition army and the strongest clone that he poured his own soul power in—betrayed him!
“Eventually, the expedition failed, and the imperium collapsed. The universe entered the post Star Ocean Imperium era!
“Many legends and tales have it that, in the Hundred-Million Lightyear Expedition, the Blood God was bewildered by the extraterrestrial devils before he slowly degraded into a devil Cultivator and directed the Armageddon Rebellion, causing the fall of the imperium as the Mad Armageddon!
“Such a story is definitely most suitable for teenagers and middle-school students.
“However, since all the fellow Cultivators are excellent persons in the Nascent Soul Stage, such a theory is definitely not convincing enough for you.
“The reason for the Blood God’s betrayal is very simple. It’s just the contradiction between an aggressive local warlord and the central government.
“In the thousand years of the Star Ocean Imperium’ rise, the Blood God, as the Supreme Emperor’s strongest clone, was fighting in the frontline all the time. While his amazing capabilities were honed, he also gathered a loyal, magnificent army and many trustworthy allies who fought side by side with him!
“After the territory of the Star Ocean Imperium gradually stabilized, the Blood God’s fief was the cold and bitter land that bordered on the last territory of the Demon Beast Empire. In order to survive in such a place, the Supreme Emperor had to give the Blood God more autonomy so that he could act expediently.
“We can assume that, during the hundreds of years of war, the clones who fought at the territory of the imperium as the Blood God had long turned into warlords who reigned over their own ‘independent kingdoms’. They were very satisfied about the current situation.
“Once the last remaining forces of the demon civilization was cleared, there would be absolutely no need to keep such ‘warlords’. The ambitious Supreme Emperor would certainly cancel the power in the hands of the twenty clones and even rid them of their fiefs. Their sects might also be migrated to the Empyreal Terminus Sector for better control.
“When the rabbits are gone, the hounds will be useless. The logic is obvious for us, for the Supreme Emperor, and also for his twenty clones, of course.
“It was something unbearable for the clones who had turned into warlords!
“Therefore, ten of the twenty clones rose up and fought against the Supreme Emperor with the Blood God as their representative. It was not just the Blood God’s own scheme but the irreconcilable conflict between the central government and the local governments!
“Even if the extraterrestrial devils were truly involved in the matter, they must’ve participated in a different way. The extraterrestrial devils didn’t corrupt the Blood God into the Armageddon Rebellion, causing the division of the expedition army and the collapse of the imperium.
“The Blood God and the other clones must have had such malicious thoughts toward the Supreme Emperor for a long time, fearing that the Supreme Emperor would take away their power, and therefore rebelled while they still could!
“They knew that they were incomparable to the Supreme Emperor and the forces that were loyal to him. That was why they allied with the demons and the extraterrestrial devils, destroying the expedition army and the Star Ocean Imperium!”
Zhou Yifu’s brand new explanation about the Imperium of True Human Beings cast the spacious hall into silence.
However, no Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators argued with him.
Everybody there was an adult. The simple theories that ‘Cultivators are good, devil Cultivators are bad, and the Blood God was good until the extraterrestrial devils corrupted him’ could only fool middle-school students. Naturally, they were not very convinced.
Zhou Yifu’s explanation about the conflict between the central government and the local governments and that between the emperor and the warlords might be the truth of what happened ten thousand years ago.
Scratching his goatee, Zhou Yifu continued. “If you consider history as a mirror, you will see your own fate in the reflection. Why can’t everything that has happened to the Star Ocean Imperium happen to the Imperium of True Human Beings again?”
“Fellow Cultivator Zhou, are you suggesting that the Imperium of True Human Beings might also be faced with the conflict between the central government and the local governments?” Jiang Hailiu asked solemnly.
“Not might, must,” Zhou Yifu said confidently. “As long as the technological level of the Imperium of True Human Beings in terms of communication and space voyage does not far exceed that of the Star Ocean Imperium, the dilemma that once disintegrated the Star Ocean Imperium will definitely be replayed in the Imperium of True Human Beings again! By my estimation, the ruler of the Imperium of True Human Beings can only enforce effective control over the dozens of Sectors around the Empyrean Terminus Sector at best. It is impossible for them to control the far-flung areas millions of lightyears away handily!
“Also, the Imperium is faced with the serious military threat from the Covenant Alliance. It is even less likely that the Imperium reigns the territory directly, which will be inefficient and unresponsive!
“If the Imperium reigns directly, the capital city of the Imperium will have to respond to every incident in the hundreds of Sectors. It is like a dinosaur dozens of meters long trying to seize control over every nerve ending. If other animals bite its tail hard, it will take quite a few seconds before the brain feels the pain. How can it work?
“Making the nerve endings act on their own—adopting the system of enfeoffment—is the only choice.
“The star child himself said that, as long as Li Yao, Luo Xingzi, and the rest were willing to surrender, the Flying Star Sector could serve as their fief, and they would be the masters of the Flying Star Sector.
“So, it must be a common practice that, after a new Sector is discovered by the Imperium of True Human Beings, it will be subinfeudated immediately, sometimes even to the local terms. Otherwise, the star child wouldn’t have made such an offer so quickly on its own initiative.
“Does the Imperium of True Human Beings not want to swallow the Flying Star Sector directly? Of course it does! But they have too many Sectors in their plate to control.
“If that is the case, we will have to reevaluate the Imperium of True Human Beings’ capability.
“According to the star child, the Imperium of True Human Beings occupies the central area of the universe and hundreds of the most prosperous Sectors.
“But when he made such a statement, he was in a context where he was trying to intimidate Li Yao, Luo Xingzi, and other fellow Cultivators so that they would surrender! Therefore, his statement must’ve been embellished.
“It is like the dynasty wars in the ancient times. When there are only slightly more than a hundred thousand people in the army, counting the cooks and their family, the commander of the army will be bold enough to say that he has an army of almost a million soldiers. It is also a way of intimidation.
“Right now, we know that there’s also the Covenant Alliance, which is on par with the Imperium, at the center of the universe. So, the ‘hundreds of most prosperous Sectors’ must be reduced by a half. Either party has under their control only two to three hundred Sectors at best.
“Of the two to three hundred Sectors, only dozens are under the effective control of the Imperium. The rest of the Sectors are all independent kingdoms reigned by, let’s call them, ‘Sector Masters’ and only provide resources, soldiers, and experts for the Imperium regularly.
“When the Imperium of True Human Beings was in its prime, the Sector Masters definitely would have been loyal to the central government and willing to provide their assets.
“However, after hundreds of years of warfare between the Imperium and the Covenant Alliance, how much loyalty will the independent kingdoms still have to the central government?
“Assuming that we can develop into a hard bone that does not carry much meat and is very hard to bite, how many of the Sector Masters of the Imperium of True Human Beings will be willing to bite us at the risk of breaking their teeth?
“By then, there will likely be such a situation, where the elite forces at the central area of the Imperium of True Human Beings, which are also the real troops of the Imperium, are too occupied in the war against the main forces of the Covenant Alliance to come at the disobedient bumpkins in a desolate region, while for the warlords at the territory of the Imperium, biting the hard bone will earn few benefits for them. So, even if they promise the central government that they will attack, it will be likely mere pretense, and they will not come for real.
“This is the awkward situation of the Imperium of True Human Beings that I have inferred from the decline of the Star Ocean Imperium! Therefore, I share the same opinion as Fellow Cultivator Jiang. The situation we are in is not as perilous as it seems. On the contrary, the expedition army of the Imperium of True Human Beings will not be the end of the Star Glory Federation but the beginning of our real rise to be the dominator of the universe!”