A few days after Su Yu had left, a beautiful nunas lovely as a fox deitysilenty cleaned the fallen leaves from a yard at a nunnery in Qingshan Town, the birthplace of Su Yu and Jiang Xueqing.
As she looked up to the familiar plains, Jiang Xueqing was at peace. She had a smile on her face, "Brother Su Yu, bon voyage."
She continued to attentively clean the nunnery.
A few days passed uneventfully until one day several women entered the nunnery. Unbeknownst to all, they are all experts sent by the Third Prince to protect Jiang Xueqing, and to ward off those who coveted her beauty.
At times, beauty was a curseeven in the nunnery.
At the palace in the capital, the Third Prince was taking care of political affairs from atop his throne. His face was full of relief and he let out a long sigh; "Su Yu, the luckiest thing that has happened in my life was meeting you. You gave me this empire!
"Bon voyage, my only friend." The Third Prince laughed. He had the empire in his hands, but he was still indescribably lonely.
Far away in the Fenglin empire, three figures descended from the sky.
Qiu Changjiang pointed in the air and a ripple appeared in the obviously desolate space before them. A black portal appeared from thin air and materialized into the shape of a door.
"Come in." Qiu Changjian entered.
Su Yu and Xia Jingyu walked through the door, their eyes shining.
They were struck by the scent of flowers and the songs of birds around them.
The passers-by were passionate and familiar as they walked between their farms. They were all farmers in their youth.
But each of their cultivation levels was at least at Level Six of the Martial Paths!
This kind of power in the mortal world would definitely be considered demon level.
But here, they were merely farmers!
On the far horizon stood a magnificent island suspended in the air, inspiring awe.
A massive series of steps descended from the island to facilitate transport.
The floating island itself exuded radiance and was surrounded by fog, it looked like a celestial scene compared to the mortal realm.
Without question, that was the Heavenly Sanctuary, and where they currently stood must have been the Mortal Sanctuary.
Heavenly and Mortal, the difference between the two was like heaven and earth.
"Oh, Junior Qiu brought back two Holy Disciples? Not bad, hurry back to the Hall of the Holy Disciples to rendezvous with the other Holy Disciples."
Their appearance had alerted a black figure who stood at guard nearby.
This figure's ability level was terrifying, he was definitely not weaker than Holy Disciple Qiu.
Another Level Nine of the Martial Path? Su Yu's pupils contracted. The Sanctuary lives up to its reputation!
Level Nine in the mortal realm was considered invincablebut in the Sanctuary, they were only hidden guards!
"Heh, so it's your turn to be on guard today, Senior Zhang," Qiu Changjian was on good terms with Senior Zhang. He gave a warm laugh before he put on a stern expression, "Senior Zhang, please escort them to the Hall of the Holy Disciples. I have to report to teacher, for the situation is urgent."
Senior Zhang gravely nodded his head and did not ask further questions. He called for another person to take over his duty and personally brought Su Yu and Xia Jingyu to the Heavenly Sanctuary.
"Senior Zhang, is it not Senior Qiu's main duty to bring people into the Sanctuary?" Su Yu did not understand; it looked like Qiu Changjian had a mission to accomplish and was anxious to report back to his teacher.
Senior Zhang had an easygoing personality, obvious from the way he smiled. "Yes. He was on a mission in the capital. Bringing you back along the way was convenient for him."
Along the way? Su Yu and Xia Jingyu locked eyes. Without Qiu Changjian's sudden presence in the capital, Su Yu would have had been in grave danger.
Qiu Changjian's expression had been grave, forced, and anxious. Su Yu could not imagine how urgent the situation was to be able to make a Level Nine this anxiousbut he did not dare ask.
In a matter of time, they had arrived at the Hall of the Holy Disciples.
There were three other youths in the empty hall.
Xia Jingyu froze for a moment, "Senior Zhang, are these people like us, new additions to the Holy Disciples? Why didn't I see them at the Holy Meet?"
Senior Zhang blinked, "Didn't Junior Qiu tell you? There are Holy Meets in every empire of the Alliance of the Nine Empires."
Alliance of the Nine Empires? Both Su Yu and Xia Jingyu were dazed. They faintly remembered hearing that the Fenglin empire was in an alliance with the surrounding eight other empires.
Xia Jingyu knew more about this whereas Su Yu, being an imposter citizen in the Shenyue Continent, was clueless. He only understood after he received a detailed explanation from Xia Jingyu.
The Alliance of the Nine Empires was to combat the Fenghuang empire. In terms of their influence, the Fenghuang empire had even more land than the Alliance of the Nine Empires had in total!
Thus the Alliance of the Nine Empires was formed to combat the huge Fenghuang Empire.
Su Yu's heart trembled as he imagined the world with ten empires.
The Fenglin empire's land was equivalent to historical China. Wouldn't nine united empires equal in size to the Fenglin Empire be about as big as China once was?
And then, add in a Fenghuang empire, which was bigger than those nine combined
Just how large was the Shenyue continent?
Su Yu's heart dropped.
The Duke of Xianyu had once said that the Fenghuang empire was controlled by Fenghuang Valley and that Fenghuang Valley's existence was taboohe had also said their influence was massive.
To see Xianer again would be even harder than Su Yu had previously imagined!
After a moment of shock, Su Yu regained his composure and listened to the explanation given by Senior Zhang.
The Sanctuary conducted a Holy Meet in each of the empires in the Alliance of the Nine Empires annually.
The Nine Great Ministers of the Sanctuary each were in charge of one empire. For example, the Fiery Minister was responsible for the Holy Meet in the Fenglin empire.
The Sanctuary protects the Alliance of the Nine Empires against outside attacks in exchange for the talents of the Alliance of the Nine Empireswho are recruited by the Sanctuary as students.
Thus, in the Hall of the Holy Disciples, there were talents from other empires who also had the right to enter the Holy Sanctuary.
Beyond the Holy Talents, there was another group who could earn entry.
Those who were first recruited into the Mortal Sanctuary then gained insight into the Holy Decree could also enter the Heavenly Sanctuary, though they were rare.
The appearance of Su Yu and Xia Jingyu had caught the attention of many.
More accurately, the beauty of Xia Jingyu had caught the attention of many.
Among martial artists, females were a minoritybeautiful females were even rarer. Xia Jingyu was like a red lily among millions of green leaves, her beauty made it hard for her to blend in.
Of the three people in the hall, one was cold and the other was slow; neither stepped forward.
Beside them was a handsome youth, sixteen years of age. He stepped forward with a smile on his face and cupped his hands as he faced Su Yu and Xia Jingyu, "I am Feng Hao, from the Luori empire. Might I ask where you guys are from? We will be together in the future, I hope that we can help each other."
While he did say 'we,' his gaze was locked on the beautiful face of Xia Jingyu.
Xia Jingyu did not say a word. Instead, she took half a step back and looked at Su Yu.
"Fenglin empire, Su Yu. She is my friend, Xia Jingyu. Let's look out for each other in the future." Su Yu calmly replied.
Feng Hao creased his brow slightly. The lady seemed to appreciate Su Yu's presence Could they be a couple?
Such a beauty would be wasted when paired with Su Yu. Feng Hao felt a little disgust toward Su Yu.
Feng Hao was Level Six Peak of the Martial Paths, while Su Yu was only Level Five Peak. Anybody could see that Feng Hao had more potential in the Martial Paths.
But there was no use being impatient. Feng Hao was patient and as time passed, Xia Jingyu would definitely see the differences between him and Su Yu.
"If everybody is here, follow me. We will assign you to your housing." A middle-aged man in black robes stepped forward. His expression was cold and was extremely stern. He was even stronger than Qiu Changjian and Senior Zhang.
Senior Zhang had a respectful expression. "Junior Su, Junior Xia, you must obey the orders of Senior Zhao. The rules in the Heavenly Sanctuary are strict and cannot be broken. He is the First Disciple of the Holy King and is in charge of miscellaneous stuff in the Heavenly Sanctuary. You must remember to not rebut him." He softly reminded them.
Su Yu and Xia Jingyu were filled with respect. The First Disciple of the Holy King! The exact limits of his abilities were hard to deduce.
Everyone followed Senior Zhao out of the Hall of the Holy Disciples, into the entry of their living quarters. There was four room in total, with their own yard. In the yard, there were many exotic plants, thick with spiritual energy. Cultivation of their techniques would be most effective here.
"This is the living quarters for the five of you. There are only four rooms, but we have an extra person. Two of you shall share a room, decide amongst yourselves who."
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh
Su Yu, Feng Hao, and the other guys were fast and had each claimed a room.
Xia Jingyu was shy and did not dare throw herself into the race. Thus, she fell behind.
Feng Hao had a glint in his eyes. He smiled, "Miss Xia, if you do not mind, we can share the yard. There are two sections in the room, enough for the both of us."
Xia Jingyu arched her eyebrows, her heart filled with disgust. How could she share a house with a male stranger?
"Jingyu, do you want the left side or the right side?" Su Yu had inspected his chosen room. He stood at the door, asking for her opinion.
Xia Jingyu let out a smile and lifted the hem of her dress as she entered the room, she floated a fluttering butterfly. She smiled, "I want the right side."
She had no hesitation in living in the same room as Su Yu, as Su Yu had always given her a feeling of peace. She was not concerned about Su Yu having any poor intentions.
The colors of Feng Hao's face changed.
Xia Jingyu had been disgusted by his proposal but had readily accepted Su Yu.
Her ready acceptance of Su Yu infuriated Feng Hao. What made Su Yu better than him? Did she not understand that, in the Martial Paths, the stronger take priority? Even though she had met Su Yu before him, she should not have rejected Feng Hao like that.
"Great. Now we will go collect your food and water. There are set times for collection and latecomers will not be served," Senior Zhao advanced coldly.
In a matter of time, they had arrived at a wide hall. The dishes inside the hall were fragrant, just a sniff seemingly boosted their cultivation level.
"Every dish in the Heavenly Sanctuary is made from treasures of heaven and earth, and are beneficial for cultivationif you would treasure the opportunity." Senior Zhao stated. He then turned to leave, leaving behind the five people.
Treasure the opportunity? What opportunity would there be while they ate?
As soon as he got his food, Su Yu was shocked.
What he got was a pickled carrot. Xia Jingyu got a dry bun, and Feng Hao only received leftovers.
This food was even worse than what a normal, mortal family would eat. This food was a beggar's meal.
Even more unbelievable was the dog which sat by the door; in its plate was a delicacy made from the finest ingredients.
Their own meals would be acceptable if the Heavenly Sanctuary had a shortage of food. But, to give a dog the finest delicacies instead of them, this
Feng Hao was livid, "This is too much! We are newly inducted disciples, but our meals are worse than the dog's!"
"Why are you shouting? If you want better food, go get it!" A senior disciple walked by as they munched on a snack, as if this upset was normal in the Heavenly Sanctuary.
The delicacies made from the finest treasures found in heaven and earth were limited to eleven servings a day.
Ten of the servings were given to the top ten strongest prospective Holy Disciples, and one was reserved for the dog.
The meaning was clear; if you want good food, make it into the top ten. Otherwise, you would eat worse than the dog.
As humiliating as it was, it was very useful for motivating people.
How could they, an undefeated champion with their empire and now disciple within the Heavenly Sanctuary, admit to eating meals worse than the dog's meal?
In the Heavenly Sanctuary, killing or injuring another person was forbidden; but the rules did not apply to creatures that were not human.
It was obvious that, if you wanted to eat better than a dog, there was only one wayusing your fists!
The top ten prospective Holy Disciples had mostly left the hall, leaving two of the prospective Holy Disciples to collect the last two servings of delicacies. Of those, the delicacies collected by the person ranked ninth out of the ten were more exquisite and harbored more energy than the food collected by the person ranked tenth.
Su Yu estimated that eating the delicacies ten times in a row would allow him to break through to Level Six of the Martial Paths!
This was unimaginable in the empire; to be able to achieve a breakthrough just by eating Only the Sanctuary could come up with such a thing.
Feng Hao had a glimmer in his eyes. Taking a big step forward, he smiled, "Junior Xia, wait for a moment. Let your senior get a serving of those delicacies for you!"
Xia Jingyu creased her brow. She did not get the chance to reject him before Feng Hao stepped forward.
The lowest ranked Holy Disciple of the top ten was a young girl, her attitude peaceful. Her abilities were at Level Six Upper Tier, similar to Feng Hao.
She had just returned home and had to be on night watch for two days, followed by being on standby after the new year.