This lesser world was called Crimsonwaters Minor, named after a particular place bearing the moniker of, as one might guess, Crimsonwaters.
The region in question was a lake that stretched beyond the horizon.
Located at an extreme altitude, its waters were red rather than blue or green, hence the origin of the name. Some also called it the Heavenly Crimson Lake.
Jiang Chen was no stranger to this world. In his previous life, he’d once come sightseeing with his father. Back then, he’d been the son of a celestial emperor, an imperial prince far removed from the masses.
There were many legends about Crimsonwaters, but they left him cold once his father had revealed it was nothing but a volcanic lake.
However, it was suitable for the cultivation of those who specialized in the fire element, so its ownership had been contested since olden times. Celestial Emperor Taiyuan had been forced to mediate too many times to count, but one of his status couldn’t always stick his nose in the affairs of a lesser world. He usually turned a blind eye as long as they didn’t cause too much of a racket.
Presently sitting near the windows inside a pub, Jiang Chen watched an unending stream of bodies that were adorned in garb of every shape and form. He couldn’t help but sigh with emotion. This close to a greater world, one could spot a much greater diversity of races compared to Divine Abyss.
All kinds of strange beings could be seen going about their business, mingling with other tribes in harmony, as if long accustomed to this melting pot. Disputes only erupted over material interest, and never over racial differences.
With Jiang Huan out on an intelligence gathering mission, the young lord sat by himself, worrying about his father.
Despite Taiyuan Plane’s descent into chaos, the celestial emperor himself was still alive to this day. Where was he now? Perhaps locked up somewhere, or sealed away?
The distance between his father and him had never been this small.
Lost in thought, graceful steps suddenly sounded by his ear. They were followed by a faint voice, “Brother, please forgive the intrusion.”
He looked up, startled. The newcomer was a young cultivator dressed in the style of an exotic tribe. He wasn’t human, if his eyes and features were anything to go by, but race meant little in this place. The young lord acknowledged him with a nod.
“Brother, isn’t it boring drinking alone? Why don’t I treat you? We can have a few drinks while we chat about the state of affairs on Crimsonwaters.”
Jiang Chen smiled wryly. Pontificating about the affairs of the world? Quite the presumptuous one, wasn’t he now?
In all honesty, the young lord knew nothing of the local situation. How could he be otherwise, when he’d arrived mere days ago?
Seeing his vacant face, the fellow wondered, “Brother, are you a foreigner? First time on Crimsonwaters?”
Jiang Chen shook his head. “Not technically, but it’s been a long time since I came back, so I have little to say on this topic. Sorry to disappoint, brother.”
“It doesn’t matter. As a fresh returnee, you’ll need guidance to navigate our maze, or you might get in trouble for speaking out of turn or offending the wrong faction.” Seemingly a natural-born socializer, the fellow sat down at the table, uninvited.
Jiang Chen made no move to shoo him away.
All smiles, this fellow enlivened the atmosphere when he spoke. He didn’t seem like an evil person. Not to mention, he was merely mid divine realm and wouldn’t pose a substantial threat.
“Brother, what is your esteemed name?”
Jiang Chen chuckled. “This one is named Zhen, Zhen Shi.”
The young lord offered the name without hesitation. It wasn’t his first time borrowing it, after all. Back in Veluriyam, young lord Zhen’s name had resounded like thunder throughout the capital.
“Brother Zhen it is. Looking at your features, you must be a human through and through?” probed the fellow.
Jiang Chen smiled leisurely and stayed noncommittal.
“Alright, I’m being too nosy. Let me introduce myself, I go by Gou She. You can call me Old Gou, or Brother Gou.” The fellow immediately started behaving like a close friend.
Jiang Chen nodded. “Brother Gou, there must be a reason you picked me out of all the people here. Please state your purpose. I like cutting to the chase, so why don’t you give it to me straight?”
Gou She blinked, then laughed out loud. “Fine, you’re the direct type as I thought. Then let me be blunt. Judging from your dignified appearance, you didn’t seem like a local. So I thought I could offer you something tempting enough to recruit you.”
“What is it?” Jiang Chen smiled gently.
“You must have heard about the Heavenly Crimson Lake? If so, you must be aware of its competition that takes place every ten thousand years. At least a hundred factions will be participating, but only the top five can control the lake region and establish their sect in the vicinity. No matter how strong your sect used to be, you have to pack up and beat it the moment you lose your spot.” Words flowed like a river from Gou She’s mouth.
“It sounds like you’ll be one of the participants, Brother Gou.”
“Heh, not by myself, of course. But my faction firmly aspires to be one of the winners. Recruitment is in full swing for the major sects. Everyone’s trying to attract powerhouses, so we can’t afford to fall behind.”
“But the contest is a must-win every single time, I presume?”
“It might seem so, but the previous times, though cruel and bloody, weren’t as significant as the coming one. There are other benefits attached this time, it seems. I’ve heard the winners will be entitled to an audience with the celestial emperor.”
“The celestial emperor?” Jiang Chen froze. “Who’s Taiyuan’s emperor? Don’t they say…”
“Hush!” Gou She hurriedly made a silencing gesture, intimating at the young lord to stay quiet. “Brother, I pray you never spew this sort of nonsense on Taiyuan. The realm’s never been without a celestial emperor. Only, hehe, you get my drift.”
“I don’t.” Jiang Chen shook his head candidly.
Gou She looked at him, a little baffled. “Brother Zhen, how long have you been away?”
“A very long time, several millennia at least,” Jiang Chen responded offhandedly.
“Then you should be aware that the bloody struggles for the throne have produced a continuous string of nominal emperors. Some simply last longer than others.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Wait, so people can't speak openly of the coup?