Silence prevailed for a long moment as everyone nearby looked over at Bai Xiaochun, strange expressions on their faces. Bragging was nothing uncommon, but not this level of fakery….
Furthermore, he said it with such a completely straight face that it seemed very convincing. Then people started thinking back to how he had bragged that the Vile-Emperor essentially got lucky to not be kidnapped by him. At this point, Chen Su cleared his throat and changed the conversation topic, striking up a conversation about cultivation with Gu Tianjun.
The others present looked away, and began to chat and laugh amongst themselves again. No one brought up the lotus seeds again, apparently not wanting to give Bai Xiaochun a chance to brag. His boasting left them with goosebumps.
“A 100,000-year-old snow lotus…? I guess it got lucky to not be picked for that long!”
“Heaven-destroying, earth-extinguishing spirit tail chickens…? Bragging is fine, but does he really need to take it so seriously? That name is certainly fancy enough! If that were true, then I bet if they had heavenly dragonfish, they would call them starry sky invincible immortal realm paragon unmatchable heavenly dragonfish!”
“The worst was the 500,000-year-old immortal peppers. Dammit! I've never heard of anything that's 500,000 years old!!”
Cursing silently, everyone ignored Bai Xiaochun, which left him feeling quite pleased. Looking proudly over the crowd, he snorted in his heart. Although he didn’t feel himself to be an accomplished braggart, if he was pushed far enough, he could unleash boasts the likes of which the Eternal Lands could likely not withstand.
More excited cultivators began to arrive, including Preceptor Seadeep.
Although Preceptor Seadeep hated Bai Xiaochun with a passion, he smiled and offered a polite greeting. Other people who Bai Xiaochun had given heavenly dragonfish also came up to chat a bit.
They all despised him with a prejudice that their smiles could not hide. However, considering how much time Bai Xiaochun had spent in Saint-Emperor City so far, he was used to it. In fact, if they ever changed their ways, he would find it odd.
Since he was used to their way of interacting, he plastered a smile onto his own face and chatted amiably, taking every chance he was given to brag and boast.
Soon, the seats were mostly full, and more bells tolled. Everyone went quiet as the Saint-Emperor entered, smiling warmly as the crowd rose to their feet and bowed in greeting.
After taking his place at the seat of honor, he looked around at the crowd and even gave Bai Xiaochun a nod.
“Sit, everyone. Ladies and gentlemen, today is the lotus banquet, in which I will bestow immortal lotus seeds upon many of you.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!” everyone said in unison, and then sat.
Bai Xiaochun followed along, then looked around in anticipation as he waited for the Saint-Emperor to start doling out the rewards.
He didn’t have to wait long. Smiling, the Saint-Emperor waved his hand, causing a powerful wind to kick up as a huge, illusory hand appeared up in the sky.
It radiated a holy glow that caused shock to fill Bai Xiaochun’s heart. As everyone looked on, the huge hand began to descend toward the heavenly pond.
As it swept over the lotus pods that floated on the surface, they opened, allowing golden lotus seeds to fly out of them!
The pods which had been harvested remained intact after the seeds were taken out of them, and slowly sank back down into the heavenly pond.
The largest of the seeds were fist-sized, and the smallest were more like a walnut, or even smaller. In total, only a few dozen appeared within the palace in front of the Saint-Emperor.
The dozens of lotus seeds shone with golden light, and filled the entire hall with their fragrant aroma. At the same time, a thin mist appeared, making the imperial palace seem exactly like a celestial paradise.
The aroma lifted the spirits of everyone present, and as for Bai Xiaochun, it caused his cultivation base to vibrate in anticipation.
“Celestial Chen Su, Celestial Gu, Celestial Sima. You three are the protectors of the Saint-Emperor Dynasty. Without you, the dynasty would not exist. As I once said, it is important to share with those around us in creation, measly immortal lotus seeds included.” The three celestials all rose to their feet and clasped hands formally, then accepted the large collection of lotus seeds that flew their way.
“The heavenly kings defend the dynasty, assisted by the various dukes under their command. As I have sworn, the blessings of heaven will most certainly be shared with you as well!” The Saint-Emperor waved his hand, sending another group of immortal lotus seeds out. Those who received them all bowed deeply in thanks.
Of the first group of lotus seeds, only five remained, most of them smaller than a walnut. Clearly, these seeds were not fully ripe.
As Bai Xiaochun saw the lotus seeds disappearing without a single one going to him, he started to get anxious. Feeling a bit jealous, he held his head high and his chest out, hoping to attract the attention of the Saint-Emperor.
“Hey, I’m a duke too!” he thought. Apparently, his actions worked. The Saint-Emperor’s eyes flickered, and after looking over at Bai Xiaochun for a moment, he hesitated, then waved his right hand.
“The other dukes and marquises who have performed services for the Saint-Emperor Dynasty will not be left out!”
The five remaining lotus seeds flew out, with one of them heading toward Bai Xiaochun. He reached out excitedly and grabbed it, but afterward, frowned slightly.
It was impossible to tell if it was a coincidence or not, but it seemed like his lotus seed was the smallest and least ripe.
The truth was that because of the heavenly dragonfish incident, the Saint-Emperor didn’t have a good impression of Bai Xiaochun at all. However, because of his title, and the loyalty the Heavenspan cultivators showed toward him, the Saint-Emperor had to at least make a show of treating him well.
“On this first day, 49 immortal lotus seeds have been bestowed upon my dear subjects. There is no need to be anxious. All those who have performed services for the Saint-Emperor Dynasty will eventually be rewarded.” The Saint-Emperor didn’t actually need to be present for the entire banquet. After offering a few more words of encouragement, he turned and left.
After his departure, the buzz of conversation grew loud. Those who had received lotus seeds were of course congratulated by the cultivators around them, and before long, the sound of laughter filled the air.
People crowded around Bai Xiaochun as well, and when they saw how small his lotus seed was, they mocked him in their hearts. On the surface, though, they offered perfunctory congratulations.
Bai Xiaochun was feeling a bit depressed, but there was nothing he could do about it. After those around him finished with their congratulations, he looked around and noticed how some people were already consuming the lotus seeds they had been given. Therefore, he looked down at his and, seeing no reason not to, popped it into his mouth. Instantly, a pleasant aroma filled him, accompanied by a scorching heat.
All of the energy passageways in his body thrummed for a full ten breaths of time. After that, the heat vanished. And yet, he could sense that his cultivation base had risen with volcanic speed during that short time!
Although he wasn't quite yet in the late Demigod Realm, the progress he had just made surpassed anything from the heavenly dragonfish.
“So incredible!” he thought, shocked. He had known that the lotus seeds were extraordinarily effective, but could never have guessed that they would provide all those benefits in only ten breaths of time.
Furthermore, the seeds contained no impurities whatsoever, and also conformed automatically to whatever techniques were used by the cultivator who consumed them. They were like consummate medicinal pills that didn’t contain even the slightest toxic element!
“Ten more… or maybe even five! With that many, I could reach the late Demigod Realm!” His heart pounded and burned at how effective the lotus seeds were, and he couldn’t stop pondering how to get more.
Eventually, the banquet ended, and he went back home, where he sat down to think.
“The Saint-Emperor definitely won't give me any more….
“There are plenty to be had in the heavenly pond. But getting my hands on them would cause a huge scene…. If only I could harvest them secretly….” Frowning anxiously, he looked out at all the lotus pods on the heavenly pond, filled with seeds… that he couldn’t eat.
“I ate thousands of fish. I refuse to believe… that these lotus seeds will stump me!”