The first to speak was none other than Lei Tao. “Elder Brother Huang Hou, why are we meeting with the House of Shadowblight this time? Is it because of the incident back in Mongoltar? Who do you think picked a fight with our agents in the Myriad Consortium branch there? Whoever it was, it's hard to believe he actually killed City Magistrate Mongolbeast.”
The holy neophyte was named Huang Hou, and he radiated an aura that seemed reminiscent of the Yore-Wilds of old. Clearly, he cultivated some sort of energy art from primeval times, and had a very profound cultivation base. Yang Qi could sense something incisively powerful on him that made him seem even stronger than Patriarch Mongolbeast. In fact, it seemed highly likely that he was either in the second or third Legendary transformation. 
“This business deal is very important to the Crown Prince Society,” Huang Hou replied coldly. “There’s a huge shipment of spirit stones coming from the Western Continent that we can use to forge the Superheaven Altar for the Crown Prince. That will be of immense help to him in his recovery, as well as his ascension to the Great Sage level. The Crown Prince said he would need five years to recover, but if we seal this deal, and get those spirit stones, we can make the altar, and help him to recover in only one year. Then he can make his comeback, and slaughter each and every one of his enemies.”
Xie Feng chuckled bitterly. “What? Really? Only a year? All of the other societies are joining forces to oppose us. The Gentlemen’s Society, the Divine Ability Society, the Five Lightnings Society, and even societies from other institutes. Considering that, and the disaster with the Myriad Consortium, we’re not exactly in a good place right now.”
“Even if things get worse off,” Lei Tao said, “even if we go broke doing it, we have to forge that Superheaven Altar. Then, only a year later, all of our enemies will be dead!”
“Elder Brother Huang Hou, what do you think of Yun Hailan?” Xie Feng said. “As her cultivation base rises, she’s earning the loyalty of more and more students. Now she’s a Nonary Lifeseizer, with the support of quite a few of the Legendary elders, such as the Patriarchs Wind and Cloud, the Seven Preheaven Masters, and the Three Pure Yang Elders. And she's using every trick in the book to try to become a Legendary herself. Should we worry about her trying to seize power?”
“None of that matters,” Huang Hou replied. “Do you really think a single conclave student who isn’t even a Legendary could possibly take over the Crown Prince Society? What do you think we holy neophytes are for? Besides, the Crown Prince has appointed her as his successor. Before long, we’ll be taking orders from her, so it would be stupid to butt heads with her now.”
“So, you believe those rumors too, Elder Brother Huang Hou?” one of the other conclave students said. He sounded somewhat angry. “Did the Crown Prince really appoint her as a successor? Is he actually grooming her for the position? He’s going to be the next chancellor of the Demi-Immortal Institute, which means our society will definitely need a new leader. But there are so many loyal holy neophytes who have performed all sorts of services. Why shouldn’t you be the next leader, Elder Brother Huang Hou? Why does it have to be Yun Hailan?”
“Shut your mouth!” Huang Hou replied icily. “There’s no way people like us can guess what the Crown Prince is thinking. Our job is to follow orders. What do you think you’re going to do, lead a revolution or something? Stay in line, and you’ll reap the rewards. Remember, the Crown Prince is a god from heaven descended into the mortal world.”
At this point, Lei Tao changed the subject. “By the way, according to my contacts, it’s highly likely that the person who slaughtered the Myriad Consortium in Mongoltar was actually Yang Qi!”
“What evidence do you have?” Huang Hou said, his eyes flashing. “How could someone like him have done that? Back in the martial arts competition, he was only in Senary Lifeseizing. You think he could kill a Legendary? Doubt he reached the Legendary level already.”
“Elder Brother Huang Hou,” Xie Feng said, “don’t forget that after the competition, he was summoned to a meeting with the chancellor. And then he went to the Heavendawn Quarry. It was in that very time period that the hellion Young Master Shroud-Heaven used his spell formation to entrap the Crown Prince. The chancellor had arranged for the Crown Prince to get the Grand Emperor's Pagoda and use it to kill Young Master Shroud-Heaven, but the treasure vanished. I'd say it’s highly likely that the chancellor ended up helping Yang Qi to get the Grand Emperor's Pagoda!”
“What?” Huang Hou said, clearly shocked. “Why would the chancellor do something like that? I've been so focused on cultivation recently that I hadn’t heard anything about this.”
“It’s just speculation on my part,” Xie Feng said with a wry smile. “But there’s been a lot of talk to that effect in the institute. Besides, I also heard that over by the Blackcorpse Mountains, Yanhaven was locked down tight for the past six months. No one was able to get even a peek of what was going on in the city. Only an unparalleled magical treasure could do something like that. To top it all off, there are whispers in other organizations that Yang Qi did get the Grand Emperor's Pagoda, and that he invited all of his sworn siblings to use it to help their cultivation.”
“What?” Huang Hou said angrily. “So the chancellor did give the Grand Emperor's Pagoda to Yang Qi! That’s ridiculous! He’s grooming the Crown Prince to be his own successor! And the Crown Prince acquired the legacy of Grand Emperor Rich-Lush! He’s the rightful owner of the Grand Emperor’s Pagoda. What is the chancellor thinking? And why didn’t the Crown Prince confront him about the situation?”
Xie Feng shrugged. “I don’t know. You’d have to ask the Crown Prince about that. But I think that’s one reason why the Crown Prince didn’t return to the Demi-Immortal Institute to rest and heal; he doesn’t trust the chancellor anymore. Originally, the Demi-Immortal Institute would have been the perfect place to avoid Young Master Shroud-Heaven. But now…. Not even the chancellor can be trusted.”
“The chancellor is trying to play both sides, but I’d say he’s pushing things too far.”
Around this time, a string of laughter interrupted the students from the Crown Prince Society as a stream of dragon-like black energy erupted from the depths of the island. Within the energy were a handful of figures wearing bronze masks carved with sinister faces, and elaborate, luxurious clothing that identified them as leaders of some sort.
“Welcome, guests from the Crown Prince Society. Please, forgive us for not coming out earlier to meet you.”
“No offense taken,” Huang Hou said. “Vice-Houselords, let’s head in to begin the discussion. I'm here on orders of the Crown Prince himself, to discuss the spirit stone shipment from the Western Continent.”
“Recent events have been unfavorable for both of our organizations,” one of the vice-houselords said. “We definitely need to get to the bottom of the matter. Someone wiped out the Myriad Consortium branch in Mongoltar, and also killed our ninth and thirty-second vice-houselords.”
“I’m fairly certain I know who did it,” Huang Hou said. “However, we still need to discuss how to get rid of him. Come, let’s get down to business.”
“After you, sir!”
The group of people then disappeared into one of the large temple halls on the enormous island.
Yang Qi had just seen everything that was happening, and had used the powers of the Grand Emperor's Pagoda to eavesdrop on the conversation, although he hadn’t been able to make out every word. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the Rich-Lush Continent any longer, so the powers of the pagoda were not as profound.
Snorting coldly, he thought, ‘If I was in the Rich-Lush Continent, I would have full access to the powers of the pagoda, and would have heard every word they spoke. Thankfully, my Physique of the Sovereign Lord is growing more powerful. New divine abilities, sharper eyes, sharper hearing….’
The news he had just received was of utmost importance.
The Crown Prince was buying a whole shipment of spirit stones from the Western Continent, which would be used to forge a Superheaven Altar. Although Yang Qi had never heard of such a thing, it seemed that it would help the Crown Prince to recover within a year, and also reach the Great Sage level.
Yang Qi had to stop that from happening. If he didn’t, he and everyone else he cared about would end up dead.
Unfortunately, the House of Shadowblight’s moving island was under tight lockdown. Furthermore, there were numerous powerful auras there, which he couldn't deal with unless he was a Legendary.
‘Spirit stones. Spirit stones….’
All of a sudden, a glimmering, violet stone appeared in Yang Qi’s hand, which swirled with spirit energy and power. It was a low-grade spirit stone he had taken from the treasure stores in Mongoltar, and compared to it, energy convergence pills were like trash from the gutter.
He actually had thousands of stones like this in his collection now.
If an ordinary energy artist used spirit stones like this in cultivation, the spirit power and spirit energy would be profoundly beneficial to that person’s meridians and sea of energy.
Even a tiny fragment of a spirit stone contained such incredible spirit power that it could propel an ordinary person into the fifth phase of the Energy Arts level, Energy Eruption, with almost no work at all. They could simply sleep with the stone in hand, and their cultivation base would rise.
Ten spirit stones could push someone into the sixth or seventh phase, and those were only low-grade spirit stones.
One could only imagine the progress that could be made with higher level stones, such as mid-, high-, supreme-, royal-, imperial-, sovereign-, or sagely-grade spirit stones.
Right now, all Yang Qi had were low-grade spirit stones, and he actually had no idea what mid-grade spirit stones looked like.
From what he had read back in the Demi-Immortal Institute, the smallest mid-grade stone contained dozens of times more spirit energy than the low-grade versions.
‘No wonder they need spirit stones to make their Superheaven Altar. And no wonder the ancient energy warriors were so strong. They used spirit stones for their cultivation, which would make it a lot easier to break through the levels and reach Lifeseizing, or possibly even the Legendary level. If I could get some high-grade spirit stones, or better yet supreme-grade, I would definitely be able to reach the Legendary level. Or what if I could get some royal-grade ones…?’
Suddenly, Yang Qi’s eyes glittered as he came up with a new idea.
‘I need to steal some spirit stones!’ It was obvious that, because of the deal between the Crown Prince Society and the House of Shadowblight, there was a huge shipment of spirit stones on the way from the Blight Legion Church in the Western Continent.
Stealing that shipment would not only wreck the Crown Prince’s plans, it would also enable him to reach the Legendary level, and slaughter the House of Shadowblight with ease.
‘That’s exactly what I need to do.’ His earlier check with true energy had confirmed that there was no huge stockpile of spirit stones on the moving island. Obviously, the shipment was still on the way.
With the power of the Grand Emperor's Pagoda, he would have sensed their fluctuations, even if they were stored in a holding item.
1. Huang Hou: Huang means “wasteland, desolate, barren, unreasonable” and other things. It’s the character I translated as “wilds” in “Yore-Wilds”, so as you can see, there is a bit of wordplay going on. Hou means “to wait, to watch, season, climate”.