Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
It was an old custom for the new saints to head to the Upper Worlds and pay a visit to Emperor Xia. Despite the Nine States being ruled under Emperor Xia’s orthodoxy, only those who had proved their worthiness and became saints were deemed qualified to meet Emperor Xia himself. It was also a ritual of sorts in itself.
The news washed all over the Nine States before they returned. It was especially so in the case of the Barren State, where the news was all the rage at the moment. Five saints emerged from the Barren State and all of them hailed from the Holy Zhi Palace. It was deemed an insane achievement. The Holy Zhi Palace had once poured just about everything into nurturing one saint, as they had been forgotten by the rest of the Nine States for having no saints in their midst.
There were now five new saints emerging from the Battle of Proving Holiness. That was further boosted with the addition of the four saints already residing within the Holy Zhi Palace, and the Glass Saint, who had now joined the ranks of the Lapis Lazuli Palace of the Holy Zhi Palace.
The Holy Zhi Palace had ten saints in their midst, making them the number one state in all of the Nine States. Furthermore, Ye Futian, Yu Sheng, the Sword Saint, Gu Dongliu, and the others had yet to become saints, yet they were nonetheless deemed to be people who would attain sainthood in the future. Many were wondering if their misfortunes had ended and if their glory days had finally come.
A grand Sacred War fought before involved ten holy lands in it. Many mighty ones perished in that war, yet it nonetheless tempered and baptized the victors of the war. All the others who were not going to be proving holiness headed back to the Holy Zhi Palace.
The five saints of the Barren State were:
You Chi, City Lord of the Alchemy City, who formerly ranked eighth on the Barren Sky Ranking.
Yun Shang, the Lord of the Ice Temple, who formerly ranked second on the Barren Sky Ranking.
Zhuge Qingfeng, clan leader of the Zhuge family, who formerly ranked sixth on the Barren Sky Ranking.
Xu Shang of the Tingxue House, who formerly ranked ninth on the Barren Sky Ranking.
Yuan Hong, leader of the golden great apes, who formerly ranked 18th on the Barren Sky Ranking.
It went without saying that all of the first four mentioned were lords of the Holy Zhi Palace, while Yuan Hong was a guardian elder of the Holy Sage Pavilion. Their former ranking on the Barren Sky Ranking was simply what their powers had been once. They had grown stronger since experiencing the Sacred War firsthand, especially Yuan Hong, who took control of the Heavenly Battle Matrix, which had been all fury and rage.
Since then, among the former ten ranked on the Barren Sky Ranking, the ones who ranked first and third had been the two previous Palace Lords, who had perished. The City Lord of the White Cloud City and Bai Luli both had yet to become saints, while Huang Yi perished in the war.
Four others and Douzhan had all became saints. It was an outcome that would have definitely caused a storm in the Barren State. It was also one that had rendered the ones who were ranked at the back end of the Barren Sky Ranking incredibly frustrated.
They had also participated in the Battle of Proving Holiness, yet, in actual fact, those five from the Holy Zhi Palace were not actually the strongest. Yu Sheng, the Sword Saint, Qin Zhuang, and Gu Dongliu were just as powerful than any of the five. However, the path to sainthood was not one that was measured solely through combat capacity.
All five of them had stopped at the pinnacle of Sage Plane for many years and their levels were stable. Their states of mind became increasingly whole and flawless after experiencing the Sacred War. Yu Sheng, the Sword Saint, and the others were able to get their hands on some encounters that would further their journey to sainthood, in the battlefield of the Battle of Proving Holiness, which enabled the older generations of the Holy Zhi Palace to truly get their hands on the key factors of becoming saints. Thus, the five saints from the Barren State emerged.
Many mighty ones from the other holy lands cursed the Holy Zhi Palace after the event, for hoarding all sainthood resources to themselves, sharing between those who hailed from the Barren State. All of the other holy lands of the Nine States were bullied. It was especially so in the case of Yu Sheng, who happened to irk them the most.
But then again, they had only grumbled and did not truly hold grudges against the Holy Zhi Palace. The ones from the Barren State had indeed brought overwhelming power onto the others in that year’s Battle of Proving Holiness after all. But then again, all of them had been merciful enough to go on to kill their opponents.
Killing was common in the past Battle of Proving Holiness. Furthermore, none of the holy lands would have held grudges against anyone. It was an unwritten rule. The opportunity to sainthood was destined to be one filled with blood and gore. If one chose to be a part of it, one had to be ready to fight with blood on their hands.
The lineup from the Holy Zhi Palace that time was truly invincible and the others had nothing to say about them. The emergence of the five saints had actually robbed the opportunities of attaining sainthood from other top-notch figures from other holy lands.
The reason why the Barren State had not been able to have even one saint emerge in their midst probably had to do with some being unstable in mind or plane level. But that was not to say that it was the case for every single participant of theirs.
The previous Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace, Chunyang, actually had stable foundations for becoming a saint, yet he was unable to get his hands on such opportunities and was unable to make that one key step. He had even acquired irreparable injuries from the Battle of Proving Holiness. The opportunities for sainthood had been taken by and shared among the other holy lands of the Nine States.
It was finally the time for the Holy Zhi Palace of the Barren State to reign supreme.
When news of five saints emerging in the Battle of Proving Holiness spread throughout the Nine States, countless flocked to the five major palaces of the Holy Zhi Palace, wanting to train within the palaces. Four of the five palaces came to have a new saint among them as lords, making all of the palaces true holy lands. It was indeed an auspicious occasion like no other.
The Crouching Dragon Mountain of the Barren State, which housed the Zhuge Family, had transformed into the Zhuge Academic Palace. Countless went up the mountain and came before the Zhuge Academic Palace, wanting to enroll and train within the palace. Among those people, there was a huge group coming before the academic palace. They said, “We’re of the Zhuge family in the past, and we would like to study in the academic palace.” Their leader was named Zhuge Ji, who was one of the leaders of the branch. However, Zhuge Ji looked incredibly aged at the moment. He cupped his fists even when facing the guards of the Zhuge Academic Palace.
“The people of the Zhuge family followed the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace to carve a new era of glory and prosperity. The clan leader of the Zhuge family, Zhuge Qingfeng, is now a saint and is on his way to visit Emperor Xia. So please do come again. The people of the clan are all studying within the academic palace and we have never heard of other branches of the family,” a student outside the palace turned to look at Zhuge Ji and said plainly.
“There were two branches of the Zhuge family. The clan leader being of one branch and we of the other. We truly are the people of the Zhuge family,” Zhuge Ji was not angry and continued to explain.
“Since the family has split into two branches, what are you people doing here?” the youth asked coldly. It was apparent that they knew of the history pertaining to the matter.
“We intend to return to the family properly. We shall offer our apologies when the clan leader returns,” Zhuge Ji said.
“Well, you people just keep waiting outside then.” The youth sounded rather disdainful. They had abandoned the clan leader when the family was in trouble all those years ago and had formed their own branch to save their own skin. With the Holy Zhi Palace now getting glorious and Zhuge Qingfeng becoming a saint, they wanted to come back and reap the benefits.
If you people think that this is how things in the world work, think again. If I were Zhuge Qingfeng, I’d tell you people get the hell out of my face.
“We shall wait outside then,” Zhuge Ji said. The group sat somewhere not far away from the academic palace. Zhuge Xing was among the group. He lowered his head and said nothing. All of the others looked dejected.
Sainthood, eh? While they had been shocked by the achievements of the Barren State at the Nine States Forum all those years ago, they still had no intention of returning. However, their former clan leader, Zhuge Qingfeng, had become a saint.
It was the saint in the legends. If Zhuge Qingfeng was able to look after them in their training, some among their younger generations might have been able to grasp such opportunities as well. The shock of five saints emerging from the Holy Zhi Palace rocked not only them.
“Zhuge Ji, there is only the Zhuge Academic Palace on the Crouching Dragon Mountain now and the Zhuge family is no more. There is no way the clan leader will let you people study within the palace due to what did in the past. The academic palace is a branch of the Holy Zhi Palace after all, and the Holy Zhi Palace won’t bother with people who forfeited honor and trust for their own benefit like you people. It’s best that you just get off the mountain.”
A voice was heard in the academic palace. It was from an old man of the Zhuge family. Zhuge Ji shuddered slightly hearing his words. He looked in that direction and finally realized that there was no hope for them. He stood up and took a good look at the Zhuge Academic Palace on the Crouching Dragon Mountain, before kneeling on the ground and bowing as if he was expressing all the pain and suffering in his heart.
Zhuge Ji stood up and then said, “It’s best that you all leave. There will only be the Zhuge Academic Palace from here on out.” He knew that there was no hope for their branch. No one would have bothered with them and the world would only know the Zhuge Academic Palace of the Crouching Dragon Mountain, which was helmed by the leader of what was once the Zhuge family, Zhuge Qingfeng, who had attained sainthood.
Zhuge Ji also knew that the ones from Zhuge Qingfeng’s branch would become the symbol of the Academic Palace, as Zhuge Qingfeng, who had become a saint, would be the gleaming symbol of the Academic Palace. The people of the Zhuge family would live better lives than before with him around.
Furthermore, Zhuge Qingfeng had his daughter, Zhuge Mingyue, and his son-in-law, Gu Dongliu, by his side. They both were brothers and sisters in training to Ye Futian, the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace.
A group of people was seen standing on the golden steps before the main mountain where the Holy Sage Pavilion was housed in the Holy Zhi Palace. The one who took the lead, who was dressed in white and had grey hair, was none other than Ye Futian. Yu Sheng, the Sword Saint, Qin Zhuang, Gu Dongliu and the others were at his side. They all looked at the sky and were seemingly waiting to receive someone.
The presence of saintly might in the sky became increasingly clear as they neared the Holy Zhi Palace. A group of people was within sight, and they were none other than You Chi, Zhuge Qingfeng and the others.
A beaming smile was seen in Ye Futian’s eyes. Countless figures from the Holy Zhi Palace took to their sky and received the saints who had returned, saying loudly, “Welcome home, saints.” The voice reverberated throughout the heavens and there were no words to describe how excited the people of the Holy Zhi Palace were at the moment.
The five saints walked up to Ye Futian. Their bearing changed and they felt more surreal. Beaming smiles were seen from the eyes of all five of them, who then bowed and said, “Palace Lord.” It was a surreal scene to have five saints bowing to the Palace Lord. Many of the Holy Zhi Palace looked in their direction, and there were some with tears in their eyes.
It was respect that Ye Futian truly deserved.
Ye Futian’s eyes reddened somewhat and he felt something welling up deep down. He looked at the five figures he was so familiar with and bowed while saying, “Good work, everyone.” It was a line to express his gratitude for all they had done for him and for the Holy Zhi Palace. They spent the past years threading the line between life and death and they have finally attained sainthood. They truly deserved it indeed.
Ye Futian walked up and opened his arms, hugging You Chi. He then hugged Zhuge Qingfeng, Xu Shang, Yuan Hong, and Yu Shang. They put the fates of the Zhuge family, the Alchemy City, the Ice Temple, the golden great apes, and the Tingxue House on the line and followed him to war. They finally managed to attain sainthood. It was a pity that Huang Yi of the Sovereign family had perished. There would have been six saints emerging.
“Palace Lord, we have good news for you,” You Chi looked at Ye Futian and said.
“What news?” Ye Futian smiled and asked. The best news there was at the moment, to him, was seeing them return.
“Princess Xia Qingyuan asked us to bring word to you when we were there to meet Emperor Xia. She looked into the places that she had brought the people of the Nine States on pilgrimages before, and the princess claimed that there was a chance that your wife lived,” You Chi looked at Ye Futian and said.
Ye Futian felt his body shuddering violently and his heart racing.
“Is there more?” Ye Futian inquired with a shuddering voice.
Is it true that Jieyu could still be alive?
“The princess didn’t say much. I’m guessing that what she meant by all that was for you to ask her personally up in the Upper Worlds,” Xu Shang smiled and said to Ye Futian.
“Xia Qingyuan.” Ye Futian’s heart continued to race and he felt like beating her to a pulp. He looked at the sky and wanted to head there right there and then.
“Futian, get the matters of the Holy Zhi Palace settled first.” Zhuge Qingfeng did not address him as Palace Lord but had instead addressed him by name. He knew that the day for Ye Futian to leave was near. He was too good to stay behind in the Nine States!