"By the way, the Hall King mentioned that the Life Hall King happens to be one of his people. Are there Hall Kings who aren’t?" Tianming had keenly captured the strangeness in the Future Hall King’s words.
"You’re quite clever. And you’re right, the Decimo Dao Palace is divided into Decimo Halls. Among them are four halls that we control—the Future Hall, Sky Hall, Life Hall, and South Hall."
"Why so few?"
Tianming had assumed the Decimo Dao Palace was united.
"The Decimo Dao Palace is now a school, so there’s inevitably been infiltration by different powers. After countless years of inheritance, all major forces in Divine Capital have placed youths who gradually climb to high positions. After tens of thousands of years of intricate changes, it evolved to its present state. Although the Decimo Dao Palace is one on the surface, some halls are actually secretly controlled by other forces who inserted their own people. So, today's Decimo Dao Palace is actually made up of Divine Capital youths, major sects, ancient clans, Saint Martial Manor, and so on. They’re all competing here, even the Theocrats."
"Could you be more specific?"
"For example, the East Hall, Earth Hall, and Dead Hall Kings are all Ancient Theocrats so those three halls basically belong to their faction. Most of their disciples are descendants of the imperial clan. On the other hand, the West Hall belongs to the ancient clans, which are a group. The Ancient Qilin Clan was once the first among them. They followed the Ancient Theocrats long ago, expanding their territory and conquering their way here. At present, the West Hall King is the patriarch of the Ancient Greedwolf Clan. Descendants of the ancient clans under the age of thirty basically cultivate in the West Hall. The North Hall belongs to the Saint Martial Manor. They’re a force formed by the martial officials of the Theocracy and have existed since ancient times. Most of them are commanders in the Theocracy. Their status may not be high, but they have strong combat abilities. Their descendants don’t share the same status as the ancient clans, so they work harder to get ahead of their peers. The Past Hall belongs to the Linglong Pavilion; their background is very complicated. Women account for ninety percent of the Linglong Pavilion, so most of the Past Hall are women.”
The Future Hall King briefly introduced the Decimo Dao Palace and main forces of Divine Capital to Tianming. In short, the Decimo Dao Palace was a battleground for young geniuses under the age of thirty. Every hall was influenced and controlled by one of the top forces of the Divine Capital.
Only four halls truly belonged to Decimo Dao Palace. The struggle within the Decimo Dao Palace was a microcosm of the contention of the entire kingdom.
"Hall King, what happens after the age of thirty?" asked Tianming.
"After that, most return to their own clans, and a few undergo the screening to enter the Dark Hall, becoming the real pillar of the Decimo Dao Palace."
Tianming understood. For the Decimo Dao Palace, the Decimo Halls were a place of academia, the largest institution of higher learning for beastmasters throughout the nation. And their forces were intertwined. The Dark Hall held the Decimo Dao Palace’s real forces.
He thought to himself, No wonder! If the Decimo Dao Palace is only in control of four halls, why would the Ancient Qilin Clan fear them so?
A long time later…
“We’re almost there!" said Bai Zijin.
The four Sky Saints dragged the two juniors through the sky at lightning speed, so Tianming couldn’t see the vast Divine Capital below.
"Father, I heard the autarch beast is grieving. Did something happen?" asked Bai Zijin.
Tianming was just explaining Ye Fengling’s origins, but the Hall Kings didn’t seem to care. They stared in the direction of the Imperial City instead.
“We don’t know, but we will when we return," said the Future Hall King.
His gaze was dignified, a sign that he was certain of the changes within the Theocracy. When they descended to the ground, Tianming set his eyes on an ancient stone gate in front of him.
There were five stone gates in total, each with two pillars. Each post was a hundred meters tall and more than five meters wide. Having weathered countless years, they stood tall and majestic, covered in saintly heavenly patterns. They were obviously made of saintly spirit ores.
Such treasures were used as gates, as if the Ancient Theocrats were unafraid they would be stolen away. Perhaps there was a heavenly pattern formation on the pillars, preventing ordinary folk from stealing them. Upon closer inspection, the two pillars of the first gate were engraved with the words "East" and "West" respectively.
The second gate was also carved with similar words, that is, "South" and "North”, the third gate had the words "Sky" and "Earth", while the fourth gate was "Life" and "Death".
Past those five gates was the battlefield of the Divine Capital geniuses, the Decimo Halls. The ten pillars, known as the Decimo Gate Pillars, had stood for tens of thousands of years. Perhaps an even longer time ago, they stood at the Imperial City, on the former site of the Decimo Dao Palace.
Tianming looked up and saw the brilliant Decimo Dao Palace, with its countless geniuses. This was certainly a hot location, since the young were the most impulsive and violent. They didn’t understand what tolerance was. Only through competition could the strong stand out and rise.
"Bai Mo, over here!"
As soon as the Future Hall King returned, there was someone looking for him. Upon entering the Decimo Dao Palace, they saw an old man with green hair, standing in the corner. Despite his age, he was full of vigor and vitality, and his hair thrived like emerald green grass.
"Tianming, Xiao Feng, this is the Life Hall King," introduced the Future Hall King.
"Tianming greets the Life Hall King." Glancing at the man’s green hair, Tianming held back a smile and composed himself.
"Green grass...." Ye Lingfeng stretched out his hand, as if to pull the grass.
"This is Li Wudi’s adopted godson and Li Muyang’s son?" The Life Hall King looked Tianming up and down, smiling and nodding. "Although his cultivation level is a bit low and he has yet to reach Saint stage, he has good potential."
"What’s going on?" asked the Future Hall King.
When he turned around, he found many young people running out of the Decimo Dao Palace, most of which were Theocrats. They were in a hurry, with tears in their eyes and a sorrowful expression.
“It’s a major national event—a national mourning!"
The Life Hall King, who was usually a funny old man, was now very serious.
"Just a while ago, the autarch beast was grieving. The Primeval Autarch is dead," said the Life Hall King.
"What?! That’s impossible! Autarch Qian has at least two hundred more years. By the time we die, he should still be alive!" The Future Hall King, Bai Mo, shook his head.
"You have to believe it. The imperial family just announced it. The Ancient Theocrats are all returning for the funeral, so how can it be fake? It’s not a game."
"Was he killed?" asked the Future Hall King.
"No, there aren’t any competing empyrean saints. Apparently, he died while cultivating. God knows what he was doing. Anyway, our informant says he’s dead. Lord Virtuous led the princes into the Heavenly Trigram Palace to pay their respects. I’m afraid he’s really dead."
"Sudden death?" The three Hall Kings frowned at each other. Obviously, this matter had a great impact on them.
"What did the palace lord say?"
"He said to wait and see."
"Autarch Qian’s death is a most important event, and it’ll cause a sensation all over the nation. Who would’ve thought...." The Future Hall King looked uncertain.
"Why are you frowning? It’s a good thing for us," said the Life Hall King.
"The current situation is very delicate. In the event of war, the common people will suffer. The nation can’t go without a ruler for even a day. Did Autarch Qian leave behind an imperial decree?"
"Yes, as dictated by the autarch beast, the thirteenth prince, Dongyang Yun, will be autarch. He’ll be enthroned tomorrow, marking the beginning of the Reign of Yun. This year is exactly the two hundredth year of the Reign of Qian, but now it’s the first year of the Reign of Yun.”
"Dongyang Yun? What about the ninth prince, Dongyang Ling? "
"Make a guess."
"Just spit it out," urged the South Hall King.
"From the latest news, after seeing the Autarch’s body and listening to the imperial edict, Dongyang Ling left and disappeared with the nucleus of the nine imperial pulse,” replied the Life Hall King.
"Disappeared? What does that mean?”
"Disappeared into thin air. Perhaps he hid in a heavenly pattern formation and fled. Or maybe he’s hiding in one of the ancient clans."
"He’s smart and decisive. If he didn't leave, Dongyang Yun would’ve killed him," said the Future Hall King.
"Dongyang Yun has yet to ascend to the throne, but immediately used the autarch beast to issue an imperial decree convicting the ninth prince for the crime of treason, setting the entire nation on the hunt for him."
"One’s in a hurry to escape, while the other’s in a rush to hunt and kill the former. It seems neither prince anticipated Autarch Qian’s death. However, with Dongyang Ling gone, the nation will descend into chaos," remarked the Future Hall King.
"That's true. After all, a few months ago, I heard that Autarch Qian revealed he was going to make Dongyang Ling crown prince. How did it become the thirteenth prince who’s going to ascend to the throne?"
"Who knows? They’re all lunatics!"
"Dongyang Ling obviously refused to accept it. In the past, in order to avoid killing among the imperial siblings during ascension, the Autarch would abdicate the throne. With the Autarch’s sudden death, and both princes eligible for the throne having yet to reach Empyrean Saint, even if there’s an imperial edict, one must die."
"Can you guess what reason Dongyang Ling will use to fight against Dongyang Yun?"
"Accuse Dongyang Yun of murdering the Autarch and tampering with the imperial edict, therefore angering both gods and men?"
"Yes, it’s the only legitimate reason. After all, Autarch Qian happened to die in such a suspicious manner. Dongyang Yun certainly lacks the strength to kill the Autarch, but with the help of unorthodox means, he could."
"Leave them be. The more intense their fight, the better it is for us," said the South Hall King.
"It’s the innocent who’ll suffer. God knows how many will die in the imperial family’s fight for the throne."
"Throughout the history of the Theocracy, every time the throne was vacant and candidates refused to accept the situation, the result was always a bloodbath,” sighed the Sky Hall King.
"We’re headed for troubled times. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to make a comeback," said the Life Hall King.
"Since the palace lord has yet to mention anything, we mustn’t speak of it," warned the Future Hall King.
"You’re right. We’ll wait and see."
"Mhmm." The four nodded in unison.Previous Chapter Next Chapter