The day was just beginning. The Wanxiang Adepts who were scattered in residences throughout the imperial capital, as well as the 3600 marquises and their entourages, were all floating towards the imperial citadel.
“So many people.” Ji Ning, Yu Wei, and the Sloppy Daoist were currently flying together shoulder-to-shoulder on a cloud towards the imperial capital.
“Junior apprentice-brother, where are the others?” The Sloppy Daoist seemed to have just woken up. He asked, puzzled, “Why haven’t junior apprentice-brother Vastriver and the others shown up?”
Ning laughed, “Junior apprentice-brother Northson and senior apprentice-brother Vastriver have gone to go join with the main delegation from Stillwater Commandery. His Imperial Majesty is personally officiating over this Conclave, and delegations have come from all 3600 commanderies to pay their respects to his Imperial Majesty. They have to be alongside the Stillwater delegation; otherwise, they won’t even be able to enter the imperial citadel.”
“Oh.” The Sloppy Daoist nodded, now understanding. “I thought anyone who wanted to go watch could just go in and watch.”
“Senior apprentice-brother, all you ever do is train. You should at least read some of the intelligence reports,” Yu Wei said helplessly. “How can just anyone come and watch the Conclave of Immortal Destiny? Do you think the imperial citadel is just a place anyone can enter?”
“Well, I’m always in closed-door training, so…” the Sloppy Daoist scratched his head, grinning.
Ning explained, “There are three types of people who are entering the imperial citadel today. The first type consists of Wanxiang Adepts like us; because we are going to risk our lives in battle, we can just go in directly. The second type consists of the delegations that are led by the various marquises who are going to go pay their respects to his Imperial Majesty. The third type consists of the likes of Celestial Immortals, such as King Yan, who can take Princess Xiyue directly into the citadel. As for others? There might be some exceptional, powerful figures who can enter the citadel, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.”
The Sloppy Daoist nodded in understanding.
Right at this moment, as they were speaking, Ning’s group had flown through the clouds and arrived at a large street. In the distance, they could see those four massive Fiendgods that were thirty thousand meters tall who were guarding the gates to the imperial citadel.
Whoooooosh. One squad after another of Immortal cultivators flew past, either in groups of two or three, or in giant delegations. All of them were flying towards the imperial citadel.
However, the gates to the imperial citadel remained shut.
Soon, Ning’s group arrived as well, and they landed.
“So many people.” The Sloppy Daoist looked around at his surroundings. A vast, tightly packed cluster of more than a hundred thousand individuals had already gathered outside the imperial citadel. Some were here to participate in the Conclave, but most were here to spectate. A steady, unbroken stream of Immortal cultivators continued to descend from the heavens.
“We might as well wait patiently. When the nine gongs ring out, the citadel gates will open,” Ning said.
They waited for nearly two hours. The Golden Crow had already risen high into the sky, and the light of the sun shone down upon the entire imperial capital.
CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!
Nine consecutive gongs rang out. The sound was melodious, seeming to come down from the Nine Heavens, causing the million-plus individuals who had gathered outside the imperial citadel to all quiet down.
The tall gates of the imperial citadel suddenly swung open. The four massive Fiendgods stared down at the million-plus humans. One of them, a fire-spewing, fire-skinned Fiendgod, spoke out: “Wanxiang Adepts who wish to participate in the Conclave of Immortal Destiny, you can now enter the imperial capital. If you enter, then you must participate in the Conclave; there will be no chance to change your mind. You may now enter!”
Instantly, with a series of whooshes, a vast locust swarm of figures all began to fly towards the imperial citadel’s gates, blocking out the skies as they did so.
“How many people is this?!” The Sloppy Daoist’s eyes were completely round.
“Normally, each Conclave of Immortal Destiny will generally have twenty or thirty thousand competitors,” Ning said with a laugh. “In this Conclave… since his Imperial Majesty is personally hosting it, this Conclave is extraordinarily special, and I estimate that there should be roughly a hundred thousand or so.” Much of this information had come to Ning via his cousin.
“On average, each commandery has sent thirty individuals?” The Sloppy Daoist pondered on this. “It seems as though 99% of the formidable elites of the world have all come.”
“This Conclave of Immortal Destiny is different from normal ones,” Yu Wei said.
As they flew into the imperial capital, they saw a wide, spacious thoroughfare.
“Those who shall participate in the Conclave of Immortal Destiny, follow me!” A deep, booming voice shook the heavens. Up ahead, a squad of Imperial Guards had appeared in midair, and they were guiding the way.
They followed the wide thoroughfare and quickly arrived at an incomparably vast plaza. This plaza was so large that one couldn’t see to the end of it with the naked eye alone. It was paved with pitch-black stones, and the pavestones were all covered with incomparably complicated runes. The runes covered the entire plaza, causing it to emanate a terrifying, heart-freezing aura.
“Those who shall participate in the Conclave are all to wait in this region,” the Imperial Guards up ahead instructed.
Almost none of these geniuses and talents from around the world had ever been in the imperial capital. They were all rather awestruck, and they behaved obediently, all moving towards the designated region.
The Imperial Guards quickly split apart, forming a perimeter that completely surrounded the region. They stood there with blank faces, not moving at all. These Imperial Guards also knew that today, his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor, was going to be personally hosting the Conclave of Immortal Destiny. It was rare for Imperial Guards like them to encounter his Imperial Majesty; how could they not be extremely earnest and serious today?
“I imagine that this plaza is at least ten thousand kilometers wide.” The chubby Sloppy Daoist lowered his head, inspecting the runes. “And it contains an extremely terrifying formation, one that vastly surpasses any I have ever sensed.”
“Right.” Yu Wei had a solemn look on her face as well as she carefully inspected the plaza.
The voice of the giant yellow bear rang out in Ning’s mind. “It seems as though the roots of this Grand Xia Dynasty of yours are actually quite deep. Based on what I can tell from the runic formations covering this plaza… it should be a single formation-diagram! This formation-diagram was formed from the linkage of more than three Pure Yang magic treasures, and more than a thousand Immortal-ranked magic treasures. With but a thought, the Grand Xia Emperor could probably activate this titanic formation, formed from all those treasures. A formation formed from so many treasures… it should be a vast formation designed to safeguard his headquarters, and also to safeguard this entire major world of yours. Formidable, formidable. Incredible! I imagine that even most Pure Yang True Immortals are unable to lay such a grand formation; the person who laid out this world-guarding formation is absolutely one of the truly top powers of the Three Realms, most likely on par with Master himself!”
“What?!” Ning was shocked. Comparable with Daoist Threelives? A formation which even most Pure Yang True Immortals would not be able to establish? A world-guarding formation? Meant to protect this entire major world?
What Ning didn’t know… was that the guess of the spirit of the underwater estate was absolutely correct. Although this ancient world-guarding formation hadn’t been established by the master of the Grand Xia Emperor, and had instead been set up by another major power who was equivalent to him in power… it was indeed meant to protect this entire major world, and the headquarters of the Grand Xia Dynasty.
“If the Emperor of your Grand Xia is a Pure Yang True Immortal… with a formation like this at his back, there are extremely few figures in the entirety of the Three Realms who can do anything to him at all. The major powers who are capable of acting against him, upon seeing the world-guarding formation, would probably give face to the major power who set up the formation and stay their hands.” The giant yellow bear said. “Formidable, formidable! The background of your Grand Xia Emperor is truly exceptional. He lives up to his reputation as someone capable of controlling an entire major world.”
The spirit of the underwater estate was tremendously experienced; at a single glance, he could tell how extraordinary the Grand Xia Emperor’s background was.
“Then would his Imperial Majesty be able to discover your presence?” Ning asked.
“Don’t worry at all. Even the supreme major power who set up this formation would at most notice something unique about the underwater estate, but they can forget about trying to spy inside it. This is, after all, the treasure which Master poured all of his efforts into as his legacy.” The giant yellow bear was extremely confident.
Rumble! Rumble! Rumble!
Ning and all of the other Wanxiang Adept participants of the Conclave all turned to look. One delegation after another, in absolute perfect formation, came flying over. They came over methodically, clearly understanding quite a bit about the rules of propriety. By contrast, Ning and the other geniuses had all flown in like a horde of locusts.
“3600 commanderies, and the four seas…” Ning could immediately tell that all of these delegations were split up by commanderies. The delegations all flew in, then settled down onto the plaza.
“Stillwater Commandery.” Yu Wei pointed towards the distance. Ning and the Sloppy Daoist both looked over.
The Stillwater delegation was led by a tall, skinny, black-robed man. His aura was heroic and majestic, and his bearing was extraordinary as well. It was the Marquis of Stillwater. Behind him was a group of Northmont clansmen. Amongst them, Ning noticed Northmont Baiwei, who was obediently following within the crowd. Behind them were ten-plus individuals from the Black-White College, as well as representatives from the Dragonhunter clan, the Bluewood clan, and the other major clans of Stillwater Commandery. The entire Stillwater delegation consisted of at least hundreds of individuals.
The delegations from the 3600 commanderies and the four seas all landed in perfect unison.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!
One figure after another now began to soar in through the skies.
“Cousin.” Ning could see that the figures who were flying through the skies included King Yan, who had led Xiyue directly into the skies and through the clouds.
“Is that junior apprentice-sister Ninelotus?!” The Sloppy Daoist called out in surprise.
Ning saw her as well.
Ninelotus was currently flying through the skies alongside a blue-robed man. Ning had heard his cousin speak of this as well… only Celestial Immortals were allowed to fly directly into the main hall of the Skylight Palace and go see the Grand Xia Emperor. The others actually wouldn’t even have a chance to see him at all. Celestial Immortals were permitted to bring two followers with them, and so the blue-robed man should be a Celestial Immortal.
As Ning lifted his head, Ninelotus looked downwards with a searching gaze as well. Suddenly, their gazes intersected.
A familiar yet strange feeling resonated between their hearts.
Both of them couldn’t help but look away.
The highest point of the main hall of the Skylight Palace.
The Grand Xia Emperor, dressed in black robes, was seated on high atop his throne. The individuals below him were divided into two columns, all standing. Those standing closest to the Grand Xia Emperor were naturally the Celestial Immortals and Kings of the Xiamang clan, while those towards the rear consisted of the Celestial Immortals from other parts of the Grand Xia Empire. Although technically speaking, there had been no order for the Celestial Immortals to all attend as well, many of them were quite keen and sharp; they, too, sensed that there was something strange with the fact that the Grand Xia Emperor was going to personally officiate over this Conclave, and so quite a few of them had hurried over as well.
At a glance, one could see nearly a thousand Celestial Immortals who stood there before the Emperor.
“We bow in respect to you, your Imperial Majesty.”
King Qi led the first respectful salute. Instantly, all the other Celestial Immortals bowed as well. As for the followers who had accompanied the Celestial Immortals, they all fell to their knees.
In this moment…
Every single individual present on the vast plaza located far below the Skylight Palace, be it the hundred thousand-plus geniuses who were participating in the Conclave or the million-plus members of the delegations from the 3600 commanderies and four seas… they all knelt down in unison, kowtowing and pressing their foreheads against the ground. In unison, they called out:
“WE BOW IN RESPECT TO YOU, YOUR IMPERIAL MAJESTY!”
The sound echoed like thunder, shaking the entire world.
“ARISE!” The voice of the Grand Xia Emperor shook the world as well.