Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Ye Futian glanced at the Great Zhou Sacred King, whose eyes sparkled with mirth despite the imperial authority that radiated from him. Amongst all the saints, he seemed the hardest to approach. He was the King of the Sacred Dynasty and ruled an empire; his authority was undisputed and a word from him could determine the lives and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
“I am young, my cultivation is unrefined, and I have not belonged to the Sages for long. I dare not speak of my strength in the presence of such illustrious company,” said Ye Futian with humility.
Great Zhou Sacred King looked at him, and he could see that this young lord was not as modest as he appeared but was quite the opposite. Judging from the later performance of Yu Sheng and the others, Ye Futian was extremely confident and proud.
Ye Futian had stated that if Yu Sheng could not enter the top ten, he would bequeath a divine implement to Xihua Sacred Mountain. Great Zhou Sacred King had not quite understood the offer, but now realized that this offer was a demonstration of Ye Futian’s extreme confidence. He had thought that Yu Sheng, a disciple of the Law Palace, was certain to be among the top ten. But the Great Zhou Sacred King was also a confident and proud individual since his youth; he could feel that he and Ye Futian were two of a kind. However, he was still young, a fledgling.
“You ought to know that what I meant wasn’t just about the Plane,” said the Great Zhou Sacred King with a laugh, looking at Ye Futian. “Modesty in excess is hypocrisy.”
Many of the others looked at the Great Zhou Sacred King and saw a nonchalant smile on his face. A slight shock flickered in Ye Futian’s eyes, but he quickly smiled and nodded. “Rightly so, Sacred King,” he replied.
Behind the Great Zhou Sacred King, Zhou Ziyi watched Ye Futian coolly. She felt that Ye Futian was being insincere, only pretending to be humble and polite. And now that he had been admonished, the man was speechless.
“The Barren State has no saints and is ranked last among the Nine States. Because talented individuals are few and far in between, this explosive confluence of the Barren State’s youngest generation is particularly interesting,” said another strong cultivator. Many agreed, understanding the reasoning: the contrast of their previous slight and the current rise of Barren State astonished everyone.
“Look at the Battle of the Hundred at the Nine State Forum—seven are from the Barren State; the most out of all the holy lands. How many of the seven will make it to the top ten?” another piped up.
“If they make it to the top ten, perhaps the venerated Saint will need to prepare another divine implement,” someone joked.
Saint Xihua idly regarded Ye Futian, and then smiled. “Drink everyone, as you please.”
The banquet continued, and the mood was festive, but people from the Nine State Holy Land had thoughts of their own. At this moment, everyone anticipated that their own holy land would rank high in the Battle of the Hundred at the Nine State Forum. Ye Futian and the others were still minding themselves. The cultivators from the Barren State seemed a bit dull, as if they did not truly belong. They understood that the lack of saints in the Barren State was an original sin, which justified the superiority of all other holy lands of the Nine States above them. But for the many cultivators who came from the Barren State, to be able to have a seat here and witness Ye Futian had caused the geniuses of the younger generation from the Barren State to shine on the stage of the Nine State Forum; it was vindication itself.
Perhaps now the Barren State only needed a little more time.
As the relaxed atmosphere was maintained within the banquet, many people started to mingle and drink. Ye Futian stayed where he was but a group headed towards him, led by none other than Liu Zong, who raised a goblet in front of him and smiled. “To Lord Ye,” he toasted.
Ye Futian smiled and raised his cup, and the two drank together. Behind Liu Zong was the disciple of the Chess Saint, Yang Xiao, who laughingly said, “Lord Ye led the disciples of the Barren State to excel at the Nine State Forum! Congratulations!”
“Overstated, elder,” said Ye Futian, spying Jiu Gongzi behind the crowd as he continued, “Jiu Gongzi, we meet again.”
Jiu Gongzi shrugged. He liked Ye Futian, who was generally easygoing and free-spirited but most dedicated while cultivating. He observed that quality when Ye Futian had first started with Chess, but unfortunately the master chose Liu Zong as his apprentice instead.
“Clan leader Ye, perhaps you will consider my suggestion at Chess Saint Villa,” Liu Zong said with a grin.
“I have considered it,” replied Ye Futian.
“Good.” Liu Zong raised his cup in acknowledgment before turning to leave.
Just then another man arrived, arrayed in elaborate gold with phoenixes magnificently embroidered upon his clothing. He walked beside Ye Futian and said, “Zhou Ya of the Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to be advised by Lord Ye’s talent.”
Many people watched attentively; Liu Zong and Zhou Ya were both from the Sage Plane: one was even valued by the Three Saints of Xihua Sacred Mountain, and very likely to be named as a saint in the future. Zhou Ya, also prestigious, was rumored to possibly be the heir of the Great Zhou Sacred King of the Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty.
And both approached Ye Futian inquisitively, apparently quite curious about him. Not only them, but many other notable noble geniuses at the Nine State Forum were in attendance, with a significant number of them hailing from other holy lands. They were extremely fascinated by geniuses from other holy lands, especially those who had missed the original Nine State Forum.
After the banquet ended, everyone from the Nine States dissipated. Ye Futian and the others returned to their lodging in Huatian City.
Huatian City was now a picture of prosperity, with everyone discussing the strongest 100 in the impending and explosive Battle of the Hundred. Some gambling dens even started odds for the top ten, with the most intense interest landing on who would be the first of the Nine State Forum. Those who were in attendance of the Nine State Forum wondered who would stand on the summit of the Nine State Forum.
Hua Yunshu of Xihua Sacred Mountain?
The genius, Zhou You of the Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty?
Or even that unparalleled figure from the Xia Clan?
Of course, the Qi Clan, Vajra Region, Hall of Holy Light, Yue Clan, and every other principality would have at least one powerful figure, and these figures would all be possible candidates at the summit. Until the final battle, all there was to do was guess, and everyone had their own opinion.
Aside from that, there was one other who was mentioned frequently, and that was Yu Sheng of the Holy Zhi Palace from the Barren State. Yu Sheng plowed through his opponents in every battle even though he was from the Barren State, but until today, no one could truly fathom the depth of his strength.
Could it really be as Ye Futian had hoped, that he would step into the top ten?
Nine States had nearly 30 holy lands competing for the top ten; its power was unimaginable. No one could claim absolute confidence in Yu Sheng, even if his performance was extremely solid. No one could dare to declare his place among the top ten; they could only say that such a possibility existed.
For many people and their expectations, three days was an indeterminably long time.
Inside their palace, Ye Futian’s Barren State congregation were all present and ready to depart. Looking up at the sky, Ye Futian focused his attention to those in front of him. He surveyed Yu Sheng and the rest, then smiled. “Do you have the confidence?”
The Battle of the Hundred that followed would only be the strong versus the strong, there would be no more weak links, so any battle fought would be hard won. Out of the seven, how many would last until the end?
Even Ye Futian himself could not be sure. He knew that when he stepped out of the Sage Hall there would be no weaklings amongst them. The hundred strongest were from all holy lands in the Nine States and would be equal to them in strength.
It would be a matter of who was the strongest.
“Just wait and see.” Xu Que seemed distracted. Confidence was not something of great practicality. Naturally, the competitors all felt themselves to be the strongest, but that did not mean the others were weak.
Ye Futian glared at him, the lily-livered jellyfish.
“Seventh Brother, do not weaken the reputation of our Cottage, ” Ye Futian said to Yi Xiaoshi with a smile. Fatty puckered as he spoke, “Yu Sheng is only half a disciple of the Cottage.” So long as Yu Sheng was in the front, he did not feel overly pressured.
“Yu Sheng.” Ye Futian looked at the massive frame standing before him and laughed. “People from the Nine States are all prideful, prizing their own holy land geniuses. Let us give them a surprise.”
Naturally, Yu Sheng wasn’t concerned, but he wished the others could advance as well.
“No matter what happens at the Nine State Forum this time, we of the Barren States will not fall weaker than any other state. That is enough,” said Sage Wanxiang. His goal was simple: The Barren State had been slighted by the Nine States, and his only wish was that the Barren State wouldn’t lose to its competitors. The rest needed time; proceeding forwards would not simply be a matter of days.
“Of course not.” Ye Futian said, “Very well, it’s time. Let’s go.”
Everyone nodded and proceeded to depart, in quite a formation, towards the direction of Xihua Sacred Mountain.
Many gathered at the foot of Xihua Sacred Mountain, moving upward along the stairs. This day, all of Huatian City was exuberant thanks to the gathering of the cultivators.
Nine State Forum, the final Battle of the Hundred, was finally about to begin.
When Ye Futian and the others arrived many were already present, and cultivators from the Nine States gradually began to enter. Still at the seat he occupied the previous day, Ye Futian could hear discussions behind him about today’s Battle of the Hundred.
“Delegates from the Barren State have arrived. I heard that three days ago, Saint Xihua hosted a banquet where Lord Ye Futian performed an Imperial Ode, and Huang Jiuge, disciple of the Law Palace, challenged and defeated Qin Zhong of the Zhisheng Cliffs.”
“I heard. Zhisheng Cliffs was disgraced this time. This young generation of the Barren State is indeed excellent. If Yu Sheng can take one of the top ten, that would be an ideal result.”
“Exactly. If he can enter the top ten, Saint Xihua even agreed to apologize. But even though Yu Sheng is magnificent, entering the top ten is still a tough proposition. Perhaps he has some hidden strength that we have not yet seen.”
The crowd continued to speculate, and while many voices entered Ye Futian’s ears he only smiled indifferently.
Yu Sheng, top ten? After this battle, everyone from the Nine State would forever remember Yu Sheng’s name.
In the opposite direction, Saint Xihua arrived with the cultivators of the Xihua Sacred Mountain and the Xia State holy land. Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty, Glass Saint, and Sky Saint arrived from the expanse, and landed in the east, inciting great excitement amongst the people.
The peak battle of the Nine State Forum was about to begin!