When Tianming arrived, he locked eyes with the other youths. It had been a short three to four months since Tianming had risen to startling heights in the Decimo Dao Palace through the Decimo Sky and Earth Ranking battles. His fame had spread all throughout the Divine Capital. Now, the three exalted ones were more low profile about their disdain for him and no longer caused him any trouble.
"Wow, even the pavilion lord of the Dazzling Pavilion is here," Situ Yiyi exclaimed.
Tianming looked where she was looking and saw an extremely beautiful woman around the age of thirty. She seemed really alluring and was certainly among the top beauties ever to exist, especially her enticing figure. She was elegant and mysterious, yet confident in the way she carried herself, and even stood out among all the powerful people there. After all, she was no doubt among the top elites in the Divine Capital.
The Dazzling Pavilion controlled most of the trade in the Theocracy and had influence all over its territory. Their pavilion lord, Meng Tingyu, controlled a faction that was far more influential than the Ancient Clans and Saint Martial Manor. She was a powerful woman indeed. Beside her was an old crone, strict and cold. She was called Gu Suli; she was the Past Hall King of the Decimo Dao Palace and it was Tianming's first time seeing her.
"Meng Qingqing's here too," Situ Yiyi said.
"Qingqing?" The name made Tianming's heart skip a beat. He looked up and saw a completely different woman than what he was expecting. She was far more beautiful and talented than Mu Qingqing could ever be. The only thing they had in common was a name, so Tianming didn't pay too much attention to her.
"Meng Qingqing really has it hard lately. She used to be the top beauty in the Decimo Dao Palace, but now that place has been taken by your Ling'er," said Situ Yiyi.
"Who would bother ranking my Ling'er? Do they have nothing better to do?"
"There's that disciple Zhou Yuanyuan. While he isn't really talented, his ratings are top notch and well argued."
"I'll give him a sound beating and get him to raise Sister Yiyi to rank one," Tianming said.
"Not bad. You have a way with words," Situ Yiyi said.
By then, all the powerful figures in the Theocracy had arrived, and their arrival was followed by a grand announcement, "His Majesty has arrived!"
Everyone watched as Autarch Yun entered the venue with the autarchess and Dongyang Fengchen amidst gleaming lights from the fireworks that had been lit during the moment of their entrance.
"Long live His Majesty!" The loyal officials immediately knelt to show their respects. Tianming noticed that while the Hall Kings and the rest saluted them, they didn't kneel. That was a sign that the Decimo Dao Palace was seen by the Ancient Theocrats as an equal, at least to some degree.
"Everyone rise," Autarch Yun said, his face full of smiles.
Tianming gave the new autarch a good look. He seemed to resemble Dongyang Fengchen quite a bit, with his half-black face making him even more domineering. He sported a large physique and looked no older than forty, seemingly just as vigorous as Mu Yang and Li Wudi.
It was said that Autarch Yun's cultivation and achievements far surpassed those of Dongyang Ling. While he seemed to be smiling brightly today, he was actually a savage beast that was not to be crossed. There was a reason he had been able to grab hold of the Theocracy and awe the world. Compared to Bai Mo and the rest, his cultivation wasn't one bit inferior. In fact, he looked even younger and livelier.
The crown prince, Dongyang Fengchen, followed tightly behind his father. Apart from his darker half-black face, he looked and behaved just like his father. Soon, the autarch made his way to his seat.
"Everyone, on this auspicious Fireworks Festival, We are holding a grand feast for all amazing figures in the Theocracy of the Ancients. Our wish is that all of you and We stand united in our hearts and minds to usher in another age of prosperity for the Theocracy," Autarch Yun said.
When he was done, the various elites represented their factions in a congratulatory salute. Though it was nothing more than a glorified flattery session, it was comparatively high class as far as those things went.
Autarch Yun beamed, setting a good atmosphere in the whole venue. When the feast began, all kinds of delicacies were served up, filling the air with mesmerizing aromas of chef's delights and fine wine brewed from the best of spirit herbs. Li Wudi would salivate at the chance to even be allowed to breathe in the alcoholic fumes here.
The fancy dishes were mostly made from the meat of demon beasts. Most demon beasts tasted rather bad, so they had to be painstakingly prepared to be able to taste as good as these dishes did. When others weren't looking, Tianming let Feiling sneak a few bites of it.
He couldn't be bothered to listen in to the seniors exchanging praise, nor was he interested in the scathing looks the young Theocrats were giving him. All he cared about was enjoying some delicacies with Feiling, and the fireworks.
When the feast was at its most merry, the fireworks were finally ignited. The plain night sky was suddenly filled with radiant, colorful fireworks that bloomed with gorgeous beauty.
"It looks so pretty!" Feiling said in awe.
Tianming, however, wasn't looking up, for the most beautiful sight for him was right in front of him. The lights from the fireworks only further accentuated her beauty.
"You look even prettier," he subconsciously said.
"That's right," she said with a wink and leaned her head against his shoulder. It felt like time had stopped for them. Currently, the cheers outside the Imperial City could be heard even from Cyclic Mirror Lake.
The fireworks would continue all the way until midnight, decorating the skies and drawing a clear line on the horizon, separating sky and earth, beauty and savagery, the realm of man and the bloody sea of corpses.
Eventually, the pavilion lord, Meng Tingyu, said, "Your Majesty, the fireworks are pretty indeed, but they lack impact. We should take the chance during this festival to let the young ones of the Theocracy compete with one another for some entertainment. Let us witness the promising talent that our great nation has!"
"Your suggestion is most welcome," Autarch Yun said.
"Since that's the case, I’ll organize a lot-drawing. There are thirty-six youths here, but only nine spots to fight for. Let’s all witness the amazing fights that are to come." Meng Tingyu's voice was so soothing it was an absolute pleasure to hear.
As far as the seniors were concerned, the competition was merely an addition to the night's entertainment. Feiling attached herself to Tianming upon mention of the competition. Even though her abilities could be considered distinct from Tianming's own, nobody in the Theocracy had chewed him out about it, so they probably wouldn't start now. After all, Dongyang Fengchen was counting on him to be strong enough to get a spot to enter the tomb.
Meng Tingyu drew two golden balls with names carved into them from a box. She gave them a look and smiled. "The first challenger is Yang Yang from the Ancient Qilin Clan."
A youth beside Chong Yang stood up. His fierce, passionate gaze and messy hair made him seem even more formidable, even marred by the stigma of the lifetime curse suffered by those from the Ancient Qilin Clan.
It had been many years since anyone from the Ancient Qilin Clan was allowed to attend the feast; it seemed that the autarch was in a forgiving mood after his ascension to the throne.
Yang Yang mustered his resolve and prepared to give a good performance.
"Yang Yang is Exalted One Chong Yang's grandson. He’s thirty this year and an eighth-level Earth Saint. Comparatively, he isn't that talented, but if he didn't have the Lifetime Curse, he would've been a Sky Saint by now," Bai Mo said.
"Understood." Tianming made sure to remember him.
Then, Meng Tingyu announced, "Yang Yang's opponent is Li Tianming from the Future Hall of Decimo Dao Palace." She smiled and looked at the white-haired youth standing far off in the corner.
At the same time, thousands of Theocracy elites turned to him as well. With him being the son of Li Muyang and the one who called their rulers the Nineshades Clan, he drew a lot of attention. Everyone knew that his father had killed Autarch Yun's younger sister, but not even the autarch himself had brought the matter up. As far as their treatment went, they treated him like his own person, a normal disciple of Decimo Dao Palace.
Tianming stood up before the crowd. It was rather interesting that he was picked to fight first. Perhaps it was even rigged.
Letting me fight someone from the Ancient Qilin Clan, eh?
It was definitely malicious. They knew that the youths from that clan hated Tianming with a passion, but he couldn't go all out to beat them either, in fear of being chided and criticized for it. Yang Yang seemed completely unsurprised that he was facing Tianming, his reaction further proof that this was a setup.
Tianming smiled coldly and headed toward the lake, which was the battlefield for tonight's events. When Yang Yang stepped into the lake as well, a transparent heavenly pattern formation sealed the entire area. This way, the younger generation's fights wouldn’t disrupt the activities of the seniors, who could continue doing whatever they wanted as they watched the show.
When Tianming stepped into the lake, he spread his wings and hovered above it. He had made all the preparations for a good fight today. Now, the lake was his domain. Even an eighth-level earth saint that was stronger than Dongyang Zhuo wouldn’t be much of a match for him now. Without even looking back, Tianming knew that the seniors' eyes were glued to him, including those of the three exalted ones from the Ancient Qilin Clan.
A few months ago, I defeated the second-level earth saint Ning Wushuang in the Infernal Soul Purgatory. And now I'm fighting the thirty-year-old Yang Yang. Exalted Ones, get ready for a good show...
Two flaming qilins suddenly appeared on the surface of the lake. They were entirely crimson and had three bright, sun-like eyes each. There were sixty-eight stars in their eyes, marking them as sixth-order saint beasts. They were called Three-Eyed Crimsonsun Qilins.
They had almost twenty stars less than Ying Huo. Even though they were four levels higher, they still seemed a little lackluster. The two qilins stood on the surface of the lake, guardedly watching Tianming. At that moment, a gigantic two-headed dragon appeared on the surface of the lake, creating quite a lot of waves in the process. On the other hand, the phoenix and black cat stood on Tianming's shoulders.
"Is it finally time to fight? That's what we're up against?" Ying Huo said with a look of disappointment.
"I'll leave it to you," Tianming said.
Ying Huo smirked and said, "Meow Meow, Tortoise Bro, let's work up a sweat!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter