Darting forward like lightning, Lu Yun grabbed the dull orb that radiated faint sword energy. A tremor passed through him as the Sugato Sword emerged to devour the pearl.
Moments later, a new pearl emerged on the unadorned hilt of the sword, plainly the weapon’s crowning glory. Somehow, it’d been lost in the underworld at some point and then fell into Ding Lei’s hands, where it’d languished all this time.
A silent cheer sounded from the sword’s spirit. The pearl was the heart of the treasure, from which weapon spirits could be nurtured. Now that it’d returned to the sword, its spirit would become more mature as well.
“Finally, the Sugato Sword is whole again!” The weapon’s power had grown by fifty percent with its completion. Only now did Lu Yun truly understand the sword’s true power, and why it could rival even the Skyturning Seal.
“Hmm?” He finally realized how tense the atmosphere in the room was. His attention had been captured by the Sugato Sword earlier, and he’d completely ignored what Ashu had said.
They stood in the main hall of Nephrite Palace, where all important business was discussed. In addition to the Art Saint, Zither Saint, and imperial uncle, the senior council of the Nephrite court was in attendance as well.
If Lu Yun was to return the Path of Ingress to Nephrite Major, he had to do so with witnesses present. After all, the treasure meant a great deal to the court. However, there was a strange tension in the room instead of the expected jubilation.
“What? What’s going on?” Baffled, Lu Yun noted the strange look on Ashu’s face and how shocked Art and Zither Saint appeared. The late Zhao Changkong’s uncle and other court members were visibly dumbfounded as well.
“Did you just say that he and I were Celestial Master Zhang of the human race from the primordial heavenly court?” It was Art Saint who broke the silence.
Ashu nodded. “That’s right. You two were indeed Celestial Master Zhang.”
That got a collective gasp out of the room. Ashu reeled in his ghostly energy and manifested in full, allowing everyone to see him.
“Celestial Master Zhang created the Panorama of Clarity with the divine celestial master’s origin.” That seemed to be addressed to Lu Yun.
Heart pounding, Lu Yun recalled what Empress Myrtlestar had once said, that the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals was the work of one of her friends. That friend must’ve been Celestial Master Zhang from the Primordial Era. Never in his wildest dreams did Lu Yun think that Wayfarer would turn out to be the human celestial master!
Wait wait wait... there’s got to be more to it! Wayfarer is more than just a celestial master...
He’d scanned Wayfarer’s shrivelled body with the Spectral Eye back in the celestial master tomb. Although he hadn’t gotten a clear look, he was certain that Wayfarer had existed since long before the Primordial Era.
“The immortal court has been destroyed and the immortal emperor reduced to ashes. What’s the point of mentioning Celestial Master Zhang?” Art Saint’s eyes glowed sharply. “Even the old man himself is left with just a piece of skin. Our ties and karmic relationship have long been cut. We are our own beings, we’re not him.”
Ashu nodded and obscured his figure again with ghostly energy.
While Art Saint was dismissive, the idea filled the immortals of Nephrite Major with great excitement.
The East Sea court hailed itself the legitimate successor of the immortal court simply because it’d acquired the heritage of the Monster Celestial Master. With Celestial Master Zhang, who’d survived from the Primordial Era to this day, personally backing Nephrite Major, wouldn’t that make the Nephrite court the true successor of the primordial heavenly court?
After all, Art and Zither Saint hadn’t denied who they were!
Moreover, Ashu had appeared abruptly and disappeared just as suddenly without a trace. Not even the peak arcane dao immortals present could sense him. He was clearly a figure of great power, and there was no reason for them to doubt what he’d said.
When one turned their thoughts to the two saints themselves, why, those two were personages who’d intimidated the entire world together. Nephrite Major remained safe under their guardianship, further proof of their identity.
“Alright, this matter has been settled. It’s time for me to take my leave.” Lu Yun raised a cupped fist salute at the two saints, placed the giant turtle back in the water jar, and was about to leave when the Nephrite imperial uncle stopped him.
“A moment! Please accept this, master of Dusk Province.” A palm-sized orb of golden light was presented, within which lay a small, slumbering golden dragon.
“A dragon vein? No, an ancestral vein!” Lu Yun was shocked to see the small dragon. Ancestral veins were higher level than even dragon veins!
Earthen veins were where the energy of the world was nurtured, giving rise to heavenly and immortal qi. Various immortal materials, spirit veins, and crystal mines were born of them as well.
That was why Dusk Province had become so impoverished after the layout of Enneawyrm Coffinbearers scattered its earthen veins. Ancestral veins were the most sophisticated category of earthen veins, outranking dragon veins, as their value was beyond the imagination of regular people.
The nine majors, ten lands, and four immortal seas were built upon their ancestral veins. These twenty-three heavenly courts were able to stand firm and superior to everything else precisely because of those twenty-three ancestral veins.
Among the other factions in the world of immortals, not even the East Sea court, who proclaimed themselves the most powerful of the world, possessed an ancestral vein. If they did, they wouldn’t fear the yin spirits rushing out of the underworld.
Witherdew Major had become a chaotic battlefield not only because of its natural resources or the great fortunes left by the top clans, but also because of its ancestral vein. And now, Nephrite’s imperial uncle, a peak arcane dao immortal, was simply handing over Nephrite’s ancestral vein!
Rooted to the spot, Lu Yun stared unblinkingly at the ancestral vein kept in the palm-sized ball of light. It was a rare occasion when he was overtaken by greed, but the fluctuation in emotion was quickly burned away by hellfire and his clarity restored.
“That will not do!”
“Imperial uncle, you can’t do this!”
Before Lu Yun could say anything, the other immortals of the major voiced their disapproval with great urgency. This was the ancestral vein of the Nephrite court, the foundation upon which everything was built! Its importance was greater than even the heavenly mandate of the Nephrite celestial emperor.
Ashu stayed silent by Lu Yun’s side, while Art and Zither Saint wordlessly collected the Path of Ingress.
“Shut up!” snapped the imperial uncle, keeping the arcane dao immortals in the room under control with a surge of great power.
“Nephrite Major is unstable, Lu Yun! Elites of the world of immortals have gathered to bicker over Witherdew Major, but who knows when they’ll set their eyes on us in turn!
“We cannot retain the ancestral vein in this state! If you still feel any gratitude for what Emperor Zhao Fengyang has done for you, accept the ancestral vein and leave us with a sliver of hope.”
The imperial uncle knelt down before Lu Yun, presenting the ancestral vein to him with both hands.
Brooding, Lu Yun glared at the old man with murderous intent in his eyes. He’d publicly offered Lu Yun this treasure so that trouble would be diverted to his doorstep instead!
I wonder if Wayfarer is like Qi Hai, someone who reincarnated over and over again? It'd be funny as hell if he was Qi Hai's rival back in the day, or something like that.