The Giant Ghost King’s actual name was not Giant Ghost.
Clearly, in the Saint-Emperor Dynasty, it wouldn’t be appropriate to speak the king part of his title aloud. Actually, few people knew the Giant Ghost King’s real name, even in the Wildlands. As such, he had known all along that something like this would happen.
“My surname is Zhou, fools!” he muttered under his breath. After the imperial decree was issued, Gu Tianjun turned back to look at Bai Xiaochun. For the first time since their initial meeting, he spoke, his voice as cool as ever.
“The battleship can’t go in, Fellow Daoist Bai. Please, follow me.”
Bai Xiaochun looked at Saint-Emperor City, and especially the imperial palace on the lotus flower, and could sense that thousands of streams of divine sense were currently locked onto his position.
Taking a deep breath, he straightened out his robe, then waved his hand to send Gongsun Wan’er into his bag of holding. Followed by the Giant Ghost king, he proceeded onward toward the imperial palace.
Chuckling coldly, Gu Tianjun led the way, and soon the three of them were right outside the imperial palace. As they neared, an astonishing pressure erupted from inside, an aggressive blast that prevented Bai Xiaochun and the Giant Ghost King from entering.
It was not a deadly attack, but it was terrifying enough to make Bai Xiaochun feel like he was being crushed. At the same time, he realized that within the aura was something that reminded him of the Frigid Matriarch. It was a spirit automaton.
“A world treasure….” he thought, stopping in place. There was also a majestic divine sense that swept over him, confirming both his identity and the Giant Ghost King’s. A moment later, the divine sense vanished.
The intense pressure only lasted for a moment, but it caused the Giant Ghost King to begin to sweat profusely, and even gasp for breath. Then he and Bai Xiaochun entered the main gate of the imperial palace to find themselves at the bottom of a staircase so steep and tall it seemed like a mountain!
There were roughly 10,000 stairs, and at the top of them all… was the enormous palace hall!
A huge crowd was gathered, their backs to the staircase. A narrow path led straight through them to a location that Bai Xiaochun could not currently see. However, the aura he could sense surpassed any sort of god, as if that person were the lord of all living things!
“The Saint-Emperor… wait, no. The Paint-Emperor!” Muttering to himself in this way dispelled much of his nervousness. Having calmed himself down, he began to climb the stairs.
As for the Giant Ghost King, his cultivation base was not as high as Bai Xiaochun’s, nor did he have Bai Xiaochun’s tricks to calm his heart. However, he was one of the four heavenly kings of the Wildlands, so despite the pressure, and despite how much he was sweating, he took a few breaths and managed to calm down a bit.
As he followed Bai Xiaochun up the stairs, the palace hall was slowly revealed in full, including the huge amount of people who were gathered there.
When the two of them stepped off of the last step and into the hall, they found themselves in what was essentially a huge square. At the far end were nine columns decorated with extremely lifelike carvings of dragons and phoenixes.
In the middle of the nine columns was a gigantic green cauldron!
Green smoke curled up from the cauldron, rising into the sky to join the clouds….
There were thousands of people making up the group that filled either side of the hall, all of whom stood motionless, looking respectfully toward the front of the hall.
In front of the crowd were two stooped old men, their hands tucked into opposite sleeves, their heads bowed respectfully as they looked at… the person at the very front of the entire hall!
He did not wear imperial robes, but instead, what seemed to be an ordinary green garment. He sat on a throne, reading an ancient scroll. He was middle-aged and handsome, seemingly genial, as though his smile could cause the spring wind to blow gently through the air. In fact, he seemed so friendly that anyone who looked at him would willingly sacrifice their life for him.
Complete silence reigned. Apparently, until this man spoke, no one else in the hall would dare to do so. Not even Gu Tianjun said anything. He simply clasped hands in formal greeting, then stood off to the side, his head bowed.
No one spoke or even moved, and no one looked at Bai Xiaochun and the Giant Ghost King. Everyone was waiting for the green-robed man to look up.
“Well he certainly knows how to show off!” Bai Xiaochun thought, his heart pounding. However, he reminded himself that he couldn’t give in to fear. In fact, this Saint-Emperor seemed to be going too far in his attempt to be dazzling.
Thankfully, he didn’t keep everyone waiting for too long. Once he sensed Bai Xiaochun’s presence, his gaze shifted away from the ancient scroll. Looking at Bai Xiaochun, he smiled radiantly.
It was like the blooming of a hundred flowers, like the most refreshing of breezes. The imperial palace seemed to brighten, and the clouds up above danced in delight. The lotus flower that made up the palace seemed to stretch upward, causing an even more wonderful aroma to spread out. Out in the heavenly pond, the dragonfish swam back and forth in joy.
“I’ve heard quite a bit about you, Fellow Daoist Bai!” His words seemed to thrum with warmth and friendliness, and his eyes shone with a sincerity that made it seem impossible to doubt him.
Bai Xiaochun held his breath as he was reminded of the first time he had laid eyes on the Arch-Emperor back in the Wildlands. Taking a few steps forward, he clasped hands and bowed deeply, then spoke in a loud voice.
“Bai Xiaochun from the Heavenspan Realm is here to offer greetings, Saint-Emperor! I would also like to offer sincere thanks for your magnanimity. You have my gratitude for keeping the people of Heavenspan safe in your territory, and helping them adapt to life in the Eternal Lands.
“Being unable to pay you back for this favor, Fellow Daoist Giant Ghost and I took a trip to the Vile-Emperor Dynasty. Originally, we planned to apprehend the Vile-Emperor himself and deliver him to you. Sadly, I am too unfamiliar with the Eternal Immortal Domains, and got a bit lost. Therefore, I took a random celestial to offer you as a gift. I know the gift isn’t very impressive, but I hope you’ll deign to accept it, Saint-Emperor.”
During his speech, Bai Xiaochun made sure to add appropriate sighing where necessary, and in the end, plastered a look of deep regret on his face.
In response to Bai Xiaochun’s words, the Saint-Emperor’s smile stiffened a bit. Despite being a mighty emperor, even he was a bit taken aback by what he had just heard.
If he reacted that way, then there was little need to mention how the rest of the officials responded. Many of them couldn’t help but look over at Bai Xiaochun with strange expressions on their faces. Some seemed contemptuous, and others, leery.
They had seen shameless people before, and in fact, being sanctimonious was a key feature of the people of the Saint-Emperor Dynasty. But the way Bai Xiaochun unblinkingly bragged about himself in outrageous fashion… was something none of them had ever seen before.
“He went to capture the Vile-Emperor?!”
“But he didn’t know the way, and couldn’t find him?”
“How utterly shameless! I can handle a bit of bragging, but this is too much!”
The Giant Ghost King blinked a few times. He had been nervous a moment ago, but when he looked over and saw Bai Xiaochun standing there with a wistful expression on his face, that anxiety melted away. Looking around, he suddenly felt like he wasn’t in the Eternal Lands, but rather, back in the Wildlands….
“I bet… that it won’t be long before everyone in the Eternal Immortal Domains realizes how shameless he is, and how good he is at causing disasters….”
When Bai Xiaochun caught the reaction of the crowd, and noticed how stiff the Saint-Emperor’s smile had become, he felt very pleased with himself. He had been in a completely passive position before, but as of this moment, he had the upper hand. And that meant he had a big bargaining chip in this interchange.
Just as he was trying to decide exactly how to word his next statement, a familiar voice could be heard from the group of cultivators on the left side of the hall.
“This is the Saint-Emperor’s Palace, Bai Xiaochun. Don’t even think about trying to run your mouth here!” All of a sudden, someone stepped out from the crowd and clasped hands in formal greeting to the Saint-Emperor.
“Your Majesty the Saint-Emperor, I can list 300 crimes that this Bai Xiaochun has committed. But the worst of them is that of deceiving the sovereign! Your Majesty, please punish this Bai Xiaochun for his crimes!”
“Liu Yong!” Bai Xiaochun blurted, his jaw dropping. He hadn’t been looking very closely at the crowd earlier, and therefore hadn’t noticed that standing right there was Heavenly Marquis Liu from the Wildlands, the very same one who had once listed out 100 crimes!
Heavenly Marquis Liu didn’t even look at Bai Xiaochun. He simply stood there, heart pounding with excitement. Back when the people of Heavenspan were teleported into the Eternal Lands, he got lucky, and ended up right in Saint-Emperor City. He was also one of the first to offer his services to the dynasty. He revealed much valuable information to the Saint-Emperor, and was thus given an official position within the bureaucracy.
Although it wasn’t a very high position, he was still happy with it. And now here he was, facing the very same Bai Xiaochun who had forced him to flee to the Great Wall in fear. Now, he finally had a chance to finish what he had started in the Wildlands, and get his revenge.
“Even if a millennium passes,” he thought, “it is never too late for a gentleman to seek revenge. You slipped through my grasp in the Wildlands, Bai Xiaochun, but you won’t do the same here. I’ll list out 1,000 crimes if I have to!”
1. Liu Yong accused Bai Xiaochun of numerous crimes in