Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
There were more and more guests arriving at the Sacred Mountain from sacred grounds of all of the nine states, yet the elder remained standing at the top of the 3,000 steps.
He looked down and said, “The ones who will participate in the Nine State Forum shall enter the Sacred Mountain. All from the Eastern State who currently possess the right to participate in the Nine State Forum shall enter with the Nine State Forum Token in their hand.”
One figure after another walked out as soon as the elder finished his announcement; all of them were participants of the forum from Eastern State. It was only natural for the number of participants from the Eastern State to be the most numerous, as the forum was held in the Eastern State. There were some from the other eight states who were reluctant to cross the Endless Regions to get there. The Eastern State was the hosting state and closest to those who were currently entering the mountain, as such, there were simply too many of the proud sons and daughters from Eastern State participating in the event.
“Father, I’ll be going up the mountain.”
“Go. I’ll be watching from outside the Sacred Mountain later. I look forward to your performance.”
“Teacher, I’ll be off.”
Sounds were heard from the crowd as many exceptional people stepped forth.
“Village chief, I’m going up.” There was one young girl who seemed to be 15 or 16 years of age and very eye-catching. She was the mysterious girl, Yaya, who sounded the bell that day. Many were able to recognize her as they saw her walking up the stairs. It was apparent that she was really going to participate in the forum, and many wonder how she trained.
The figures seen walking up the steps in droves all had their tokens in hand. Servant girls lined up beside the steps, escorting them into the Sacred Mountain. Participants from Summer State, Qi State, Cloud State, and others all walked on the steps to enter the Sacred Mountain in order.
The ones from the Barren State were the last to walk. Yu Sheng, Hua Jieyu, and the others stepped onto the steps only once everyone else went up. The rather scattered-looking group of people, numbering a little over 30, looked rather dismal.
The ones who earned the right to participate in the forum numbered in hundreds, while there were 3,000 who entered through the Sky Stairwell Battle, which meant that out of the total number of over 3,000 participants in the Nine State Forum, only about 30 came from the Barren State. The number truly seemed pitiful in comparison.
However, it had been many years since the last time the Barren State participated in the Nine State Forum. Other than the handful of elites who gathered around Ye Futian, there were probably few who came all the way from the Barren State. Everyone felt at ease at that thought, as the Barren State had only participated out of respect for Xihua Sacred Mountain’s invitation. They were actually there as little more than decorations and tokens for the event.
The elder looked at those below him after the ones from the Barren State entered the Sacred Mountain, then said, “Xihua Sacred Mountain is holding the Nine State Forum today and has prepared grandstand areas outside the stage for the event. All are welcomed to watch the event from there. However, as saints are present today and the event is a gathering of representatives of sacred grounds from all nine states, any who wish to watch the event will be required to observe the rules and refrain from wrecking havoc in any form, and are forbidden to venture outside the grandstand area and take to the air. Anyone who finds the terms acceptable shall enter the Sacred Mountain and watch the event.”
In another corner, Ye Futian walked all the way through the mountain and soon arrived at the place where the forum was held. It was an enormous forum stage which was built at the hillside. The east corner was the noblest place and had the best view for people from all over sacred grounds of all nine states to watch the event. The three saints of Xihua Sacred Mountain were seen there, while Liu Zong and other students of Xihua Sacred Mountain stood behind the saints. People from the Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty and the Lapis Lazuli Holy Temple, as well as the Sky Saint and Han Yu, all took their spots near that eastern corner of the three saints, standing in the same line. People from other states all had their own independent areas, which were extremely wide.
The ones from Summer State were assigned to the eastern corner, which made them stand on the same line as the host of the event, the people of the Eastern State.
The southern side of the grandstands of the forum state was taken by people of the sacred grounds from the three major states: Qi State, Cloud State, and War State. The northern corner was also divided into three areas, occupied by people from sacred grounds of Feng State, Ocean State, and Yu State.
Ye Futian and the ones from the Barren State were assigned to the west side of the forum stage. As the Barren State had only one sacred ground participating, there was then only one force in that area—the one from the Barren State, which made them stand out very much.
Ye Futian glanced at the mighty ones of sacred grounds in other corners. Throughout the continent of the nine states and out of the four corners of east, south, west, and north, the east was thought to be the noblest; the south and north considered the next after the east; while the west was taken to be the most mediocre, which was considered a place for servants. Such notions would have hardly mattered if the areas were not divided deliberately in such a manner. However, Xihua Sacred Mountain had divided the areas as such. The Eastern State and Summer State had to be the noblest, which was normal given that Summer State had always reigned supreme among all nine states.
The south and the north were facing each other, which meant that all the other six states had nothing to say. The Barren State, however, was assigned to the west, as if they were little more than redundant accessories. Furthermore, at the rear of the west corner was an even greater grandstand area. The rest of the people of Eastern State who went to watch the event were all assigned there, that place right behind the place assigned to the Barren State.
Barren State was considered to be of the same level as people of Eastern State not from the sacred grounds. It was probable that Xihua Sacred Mountain had never actually prepared a place for the Barren State, as they were only invited last minute.
Ye Futian, of course, felt some dissatisfaction, but he came to understand where they stood from the happenings in Chess Saint Villa, and he had gradually gotten used to it. He had thus, decided not to give it much thought, as it was probably very difficult for them to get ample respect from others before the Barren State would truly become a force to be reckoned with.
The Barren State had no saints. Other than the representatives of the hosting Eastern State, Ye Futian was probably the only one throughout all nine states who came to watch the event as a Palace Lord of a sacred ground, and it was expected for him to be assigned to the worst possible corner.
Sage Wanxiang, Zhuge Qingfeng, and the others were all, without a doubt, upset, but like Ye Futian, they knew deep down how things actually were, and they had no right to actually voice their dissatisfaction. If Ye Futian had not been here, there would have had nothing to say even if the Barren State was assigned to be at the bottom. They knew well that the Barren State was the weakest, after all.
However, things were different with Ye Futian around. He was the Palace Lord of a sacred ground in the Barren State, which meant that he should have been seen at the same level as saints of other sacred grounds, and had the right to be assigned to the noblest seat at the east. But they knew that ‘same level’ was meaningless, as there was simply no way for a sage to be of the same level as a saint. Still, Ye Futian was still a Palace Lord of a sacred ground, and with the rest of them around, they should have at least been assigned to the same seats as that of the other states. The eventual outcome, however, had them assigned the worst corner, which spoke volumes of how insignificant they were in the eyes of other states.
They naturally understood these differences deep down, but it was still impossible for them to not actually harbor any dissatisfaction about how things. It was still irksome to be disrespected, after all.
Ye Futian did not think much about it. He came to understand how things worked back when the Chess Saint chose Liu Zong in the Chess Saint Villa. In the eyes of saints of the Eastern State, he, the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace, could not even have been compared to heirs of sacred grounds, let alone at the same level as lords of other sacred grounds. As such, there was simply nothing surprising as to how things were arranged that day. It was all the same with the three saints of Xihua Sacred Mountain.
They needed to get used to all that.
Most importantly, it was now the Nine State Forum.
Ye Futian gazed forward. There was a wide area at the edge of the very vast forum stage, which too was being divided into nine areas and carved with the names of all nine state, which went in the order of Summer, Qi, Cloud… Barren. The order which the nine areas were arranged corresponded to the statuses of sacred grounds throughout all states.
At that very moment, the mighty ones from the Eastern State were being escorted forth, arriving at that area assigned to the Eastern State at the edge of the forum stage.
Mighty ones who were participating in the Nine State Forum then arrived one after another. The order they entered was the same as how the ones from sacred grounds entered before. The participants of the forum also entered in order, and they entered from the corner the spectators of their states were assigned to.
The ones from the Eastern and Summer States emerged from the east. The ones from Barren State entered last and from the west. Due to the small number appearing below Ye Futian and how they took one entire corner for themselves, they looked lonesome and dismal.
Countless people were escorted to the grandstands behind Ye Futian, filling that place up. While Ye Futian was somewhat in front of where those people were, he felt as if he was being surrounded by the spectators behind him, becoming part of the crowd. It was a far cry from the other eight states, which actually took one noble area and sat on high platforms, looking regal and imposing.
Things were getting very rowdy behind them. While the spectators all observed the rules closely, with such a massive number of people being admitted to such a wide area, even a tiny bit of sound made by one person would have been able to drown the place in an uproar due to the massive number of people. However, due to the forum stage being so enormous, those from other corners would have hardly been affected, with only Ye Futian and his peoples’ ears ringing from the noise. Sage Wanxiang and the others looked even more irked as a result. They came to think more and more that they were in an awkward situation.
Yu Sheng, Hua Jieyu, and the others stood below. They were all able to see what was happening just by lifting their heads. They looked at the people of the other states. All of those from sacred grounds looked regal, with the exception of those from the Barren State. The Barren State was the only state that looked incredibly peculiar and awkward.
“They seem to be looking down on us,” Xu Que said lazily. He squinted his eyes into a line and looked rather displeased. He was able to tolerate the time when they entered the mountain, but the scene before him made him struggle to hide his displeasure.
Coldness was seen in Hua Jieyu’s eyes as she lifted her head to look at Ye Futian, yet Ye Futian simply smiled beamingly at her, as if he had no regard about all that. She pouted a bit at Ye Futian, showing her displeasure.
Yu Sheng had always been rather short-fused. Probably due to the fact that he was practicing demonic arts, he always had a quick temper. Ye Futian was still a leader of the Barren State. It was bad enough that they were being assigned last. The scene unfolding before them made him even more irked than him. He began walking forward, leaving the area assigned to the Barren State, heading for the center of the forum stage. The spot faced Xihua Sacred Mountain of the Eastern State at the east corner.
“Back off.” At the east corner, there were several elders who were standing at the edge, managing the event. The saint lord of Xihua Sacred Mountain had yet to announce the beginning of the Nine State Forum and Yu Sheng had already walked out. Does he know anything about manners?
“Yu Sheng, get back here.” Ye Futian frowned, looking at Yu Sheng’s antics. What is this guy up to now? This is the Nine State Forum and people of sacred grounds of all the nine states are here. There is simply no meaning to offending Xihua Sacred Mountain over something so trivial.
Ye Futian knew very well that respect had to be earned through showing capability and that the Barren State, as they were, lacked such capabilities.
Yu Sheng turned around and glanced at Ye Futian. He did not return as told. He would have been fine if he was the one getting insulted. The Nine State Forum would have been the first time Ye Futian would have appeared on the stage of the nine states as a leader of the Barren State. Yu Sheng was compelled to retrieve all the face Ye Futian deserved but lost.
“Yu Sheng, student of the Holy Zhi Palace of the Barren State, greets all elders and seniors from sacred grounds,” Yu Sheng said with a powerful voice. Ye Futian took one look at Yu Sheng and stopped worrying somewhat. It seemed that Yu Sheng had changed a bit after spending so much time with him. He would no longer do something without any regard for consequences, and he knew what he stood for!