To be frank, the opponents that those from the Grand-Orient Realm would face at the Fireworks Festival Feast were akin to their seniors in some capacity. Those under thirty in the Divine Capital were still considered juniors, as the period of rapid growth only ended at thirty. The ones who had trained near twenty-seven years were considered fully talented geniuses that had made rapid progress throughout their lives.
For instance, those on the sky ranking were on average ten or so years older than those on the Earth Ranking. Anyone who managed to get on the sky ranking would be considered a genius in the Theocracy, and it was indeed possible for them to far supersede the ones on the Earth Ranking with ten more years of training.
Being able to become a sky saint before thirty was the greatest measure for talent. Anyone that could achieve that feat would no doubt be a noteworthy figure in the Divine Capital. Those that managed to become Sky Saints before the age of twenty, like Li Muyang, hadn't been seen in at least ten thousand years, however.
Now, Tianming and Ye Lingfeng were much younger than their foes, who were around the age of twenty-seven. Once those people hit thirty, they would progress much slower through the Sky Saint stage. Even the most talented geniuses might need years to progress the moment they reached the first Sky Saint stage. For instance, Bai Mo and the other peak cultivators at the Sky Saint stage had only ascended to sky sainthood once they were around thirty.
Tianming knew that he and Ye Lingfeng, being rankers on the Earth Ranking, would have to attend the feast with those on the sky ranking to fight for a spot to enter the Tomb of the Ancients. Such occurrences were rare, if they ever happened at all. The last one at their age that was able to hold up against the Theocrats who were pushing thirty was Li Muyang. It was a shame that, when he was young, the tomb hadn’t opened. Otherwise, he definitely would've soared to fame during the feast like Tianming, whose name was spread all over the Divine Capital after reaching the top of the Earth Ranking. Now, the Theocrats and their allies eagerly awaited his and Lingfeng's arrival.
Soon, it was evening. The Fireworks Festival was held on the night of the full moon. Most of the disciples of Decimo Dao Palace had returned home to celebrate the festivities with their family, making the place rather tranquil and quiet. However, the streets of the Divine Capital were merrier than they had ever been, filled with sounds of laughter and cheer.
Meanwhile at Courtyard One....
"Big Brother, please be careful. The Theocrats are fuming at the mention of your name. Nowadays, people come in droves to challenge me. It's so annoying," Qingyu said worriedly.
"It's fine. I'll shut them up for good tonight."
"Ling'er, watch him and rein him in when he's about to get reckless," Qingyu said.
Feiling nodded with a smile. Soon, they would be fighting hard. She was ready to venture through the deathly path with Tianming for the sake of survival.
Later, Bai Mo arrived and Tianming told him about Ye Lingfeng's decision.
"He can go if he wants. Even though there's danger, you two are no longer rookies to be protected. Not to mention, even though his cultivation is higher than yours, he doesn't really stand a chance to get a place anyway."
The four Hall Kings, as well as the Dark Hall Lord, were also invited to the feast. Naturally, Autarch Yun had personally come to invite Weisheng Yunxi too, but she refused.
Moments later, Ye Yi, Weisheng Yumo, Qin Jiufu, and Situ Qinghe arrived. Among them, Dark Hall Lord Ye Yi no doubt was the most senior, but his power was rivalled by Bai Mo. There were three other youths that came with them.
"You young ones should get to know each other. Introduce yourselves," Bai Mo said.
The three of them were probably ranked on the sky ranking. They were close to thirty, a little younger than Bai Zijin. Eight years ago, she was a sky ranker herself, too.
"They're all famous. We’ve long heard of them. It's better if we introduce ourselves instead," said a woman in green. She seemed beautiful and lively, looking more like the optimistic type. "I'm Situ Yiyi. You may call me Sister Yiyi."
"Sister Yiyi," greeted Tianming and the rest. As their seniors were the ones protecting Tianming and the others, they quickly got acquainted.
There were two other young men, one of whom was dressed in a stylish white that contrasted against his eerie smile and gaze. He blinked at Tianming and said, "There's no need to introduce us. I'm already acquainted with Tianming, hehe."
He was Bai Xiaozhu, the grandson of Bai Mo and son of Bai Zifeng. Bai Zijin was his aunt, so they were indeed quite close. Tianming had met him a few times before, when he was being beaten up by his aunt. Come to think of it, his father, Bai Zifeng, had saved Feiling before.
The other youth was clad in black. He had a tall, slender figure and a cool gaze. He was the embodiment of all things prim and proper, and had been standing straight by Ye Yi's side since they had arrived together.
"I'm Chen Jinghong." Though he wasn’t the talkative type, he managed a slight smile during his introduction.
"Brother Jinghong here is the son of Hall Lord Ye. He ranks first on the sky ranking, and has dominated quite a number of Jiangs," Qingyu added.
Actually, Tianming also knew of Chen Jinghong, having heard quite a few legends about him in the dao palace already. For him to be able to rank first in the dao palace, where the Jiangs dominated, was a sign of immense talent and capability. Even now, he could easily be considered the strongest of the younger generation, for being first on the sky ranking meant being the strongest disciple of the Decimo Dao Palace.
"Coupled with Feng, the five of you shall go together. Feng's also on their guest list, after all," Bai Mo said.
The other seniors nodded. Sending five disciples to the feast was good enough. Usually, the dao palace wouldn't send them out to the tomb to risk themselves, if they weren't strong enough. But this time, they would've sent Chen Jinghong and the other two even if Tianming and Ye Lingfeng hadn’t planned on going.
Even so, the other six halls of the dao palace would be sending quite a number as well, though they would mostly mingle with those bearing the Dongyang name.
"Seniors, Tianming and the rest have basically never left the dao palace since arriving at the Divine Capital. Shouldn’t we travel slower so they can take in the view of the Divine Capital during the Fireworks Festival?" Situ Yiyi asked. It was already evening, so the night lights would soon be lit. The citizens of the capital were looking forward to the beautiful festival sights.
"You're the one who wants to see it the most, right?" Situ Qinghe said.
"You're already twenty-eight, but you still behave like a child...."
"It's my fault for not disciplining her well," Bai Xiaozhu said. He was her newlywed husband and they were still lovey dovey with each other.
"I don't want to hear that from you. You're even worse. Look at Tianming and see how mature he is."
"Come on, we're young at heart!" Bai Xiaozhu argued. He then turned to Tianming and sighed. "Young'uns these days really take things for granted. Yiyi and I are getting old and pining for the days of our youth...."
"To hell with your old! I'm already a hundred and fifty-eight and you don't hear me complaining!" Situ Qinghe snapped.
Once they left the dao palace, they looked to the north and saw the spiritual energy springs in the Divine Capital. They were rather hard to spot in the busy city.
"Tianming, Feng, Yiyi, you three haven't reached the sky saint stage yet, so you wouldn't be able to get a place to enter the tomb directly. I expect you’ll have to fight one or two bouts, so be prepared," Bai Mo said.
The rules of the Fireworks Festival Feast were thus: only thirty would be allowed to enter the Tomb of the Ancients, and every time, the Ancient Theocrats had decreed that only sky saints would be guaranteed spots to enter the tomb. The remaining spots would be fought over by the earth saints through fair competition. The Ancient Clans, Saint Martial Manor, Dazzling Pavilion, and other major factions like the Theocrats or the Decimo Dao Palace would send their disciples to fight for the chance.
"This time around there are twenty-one sky saints joining the feast, so there’s nine spots left for the earth saints to fight over. Based on the invitation list, there are thirty-six earth saints participating. So they'll hold two rounds of elimination matches until only nine are left. That means you'll have to fight at least twice for a spot," Bai Mo briefed.
Basically, Chen Jinghong and Bai Xiaozhu, who ranked first and seventh on the sky ranking, would automatically get a spot. They only went to the feast to enjoy the top delicacies of the Theocracy. Tianming, Situ Yiyi, and Ye Lingfeng, on the other hand, would have to fight for their place for the viewing pleasure of the rest.
"In other words, the feast is an event where the various factions show off their promising juniors to the rest. It's also where the disciples of the dao palace clash with those of the Ancient Theocrats."
"As long as it's fair," Tianming said.
"The fairness is definitely guaranteed. This feast is mainly held for the Theocrats' amusement. Everyone there is someone with a reputation they can't afford to lose by cheating," Bai Mo assured.
Soon, night fell, but it only accentuated the festive lights and mood even further. Despite how busy the streets were, Tianming and the rest managed to walk through them without being noticed by passersby, thanks to some weird technique their seniors used. Only powerful people spotted them, but they would immediately turn away after a glance.
Though the Divine Capital was large and filled with all kinds of people, Bai Mo and the rest were doubtlessly the strongest walking the streets right now. Tianming felt that the mood around them was almost like the new year's celebrations. There were those that made merry with song and dance, as well as lifebound beasts that played around on the streets.
Based on the outfits of the citizens, they seemed rather well off. There were few poor people in the Divine Capital; even the common folk could own treasures with saintly heavenly patterns. They had never experienced hardship, and as they began cultivating at the age of three, even the ones with worst talent would reach Unity by the age of ten.
"This truly is a land of prosperity. However, there’s only one Divine Capital, while there are countless small countries like Vermillion Bird. If they manage to retrieve the Cyclic Mirror, who knows when a country would be wiped out without a single trace...."
Only the strongest would survive and climb the ladder to eventually reach the Divine Capital. There was no way that other “normal” folk would be able to decide their own fates. The prosperity of the Divine Capital was a deceptive facade for the sins that had been committed to enable their lavish lifestyles. According to Bai Mo, this was a cesspool of evil. The stability and prosperity enjoyed by those here over the past thousands of years had been built upon piles of innocent corpses.
It was heaven, bought at the price of hell. All the children here grew up happily and became powerful cultivators without the slightest hitch, thanks to the riches they had gleaned from the raids of the Ancient Theocrats.
For every laughing child there were thousands of other suffering children elsewhere. If not for Li Muyang taking away the Cyclic Mirror, there would be even more suffering, as regular bloody raids would be carried out every few years, causing hundreds of thousands of corpses to be dumped into Northvoid River to be carried into the seas while the elites in the Divine Capital continued living in debauchery.
"Is the Divine Capital prosperous?" Bai Xiaozhu asked.
"It is," Tianming said. But he knew that prosperity had been built upon blood and suffering.Previous Chapter Next Chapter