The night went by peacefully. Soon dawn was approaching, and Heavenly Marquis Liu remained outside of Bai Xiaochun’s blessed land, unmoving and even unblinking. Although he was exhausted, he also couldn’t suppress his exuberance.
When the sky was bright, Bai Xiaochun swaggered out of his blessed land, causing Heavenly Marquis Liu to stir in excitement. However, he quickly realized that there was something strange about Bai Xiaochun.
“Huh?” he murmured to himself.
Bai Xiaochun seemed in extremely high spirits compared to normal. He didn’t go to the edge of the lotus leaf like he had in the past, but instead, hummed a little tune as he headed toward the imperial palace.
“Something’s wrong!” Heavenly Marquis Liu thought as he began to follow stealthily. Bai Xiaochun strolled happily to the imperial palace, where a lotus banquet was going on. Although not every government official went to a banquet every day, the banquets were still lively and exciting.
Like usual, snide and derisive comments could be heard when Bai Xiaochun came, but he ignored them like usual. Laughing heartily, he sat down to enjoy the delicious alcohol and wonderful immortal fruits.
The Saint-Emperor didn’t attend every single banquet. But through his archaean powers, he would always ensure that lotus seeds were distributed.
Bai Xiaochun was in a wonderful mood. Heavenly Marquis Liu shadowed him the entire day, convinced that something fishy was going on. However, he couldn’t pin down what exactly it was, and eventually, had to settle down again outside of Bai Xiaochun’s blessed land to keep watch overnight.
“It was an act!” he thought. “He’s doing all of this just to get the people used to seeing him!!”
Five more days flew by, and the same thing happened every time. It was nearing the end of the period of lotus banquets, and Bai Xiaochun was enjoying himself to the full. During the day, he would go to the imperial palace, and in the evenings, the little turtle would get some lotus seeds for the two of them to share.
Although the seeds were all fairly small, they were numerous…. In the few short days which had passed, Bai Xiaochun had already gotten his hands on over a thousand of them.
The sheer number involved outweighed how weak they were, and pushed Bai Xiaochun’s cultivation base all the way into the great circle of the Demigod Realm.
However, he made sure to keep the aura of his breakthrough suppressed. Now, he was one step closer to being a celestial. In fact, he was sure that it would likely only take a few years to form his Daoseed and achieve his breakthrough.
Bai Xiaochun was aware that the little turtle had benefited even more than he had, although he wasn’t sure by how much. The turtle’s face glowed, and his shell looked smoother and shinier than ever. Considering how treacherous the little turtle was, Bai Xiaochun could only speculate that, if he had handed over a thousand seeds, he had most likely eaten thousands himself.
The more he thought about that fact, the more worried he got. Not that he felt bad for the Saint-Emperor, but rather, was worried that their lotus-seed-stealing activities might be discovered….
“Be careful down there, and don’t eat so many. Quit while you’re ahead!” The little turtle always agreed to comply with such repeated exhortations.
Bai Xiaochun didn’t feel any better about the situation, but… it was too late to go back now. The worst came when, a few days before the lotus banquets were to end, the little turtle didn’t return.
Bai Xiaochun was instantly on guard.
“Don’t tell me he got caught?” Considering what Bai Xiaochun knew about the little turtle, he didn’t have any confidence that he could keep a secret. Surprisingly, though, the Saint-Emperor never came knocking. A few days later, the banquets came to an end, and the turtle still was not back. Bai Xiaochun was extremely nervous at this point.
Ironically, there was one person who was even more nervous than Bai Xiaochun, and that was Heavenly Marquis Liu, who was still on watch outside of his blessed land.
“Dammit! What’s going on here? Why has Bai Xiaochun been so calm and quiet? My intuition can’t be wrong! He definitely has a secret master plan!!”
As the two of them sat there anxiously, the last formalities to end the banquets occurred.
Bells rang out from the imperial palace, drawing all of the officials for a final meeting in the palace hall. It would be the last distribution of lotus seeds by the Saint-Emperor, and would also involve a ceremonial expression of thanks by the citizens.
As people gathered, Bai Xiaochun was much quieter than everyone around him. He was in quite a perturbed state of mind, and was constantly glancing around at the expressions of the people around him, hoping to notice if anyone was looking at him strangely.
Eventually, the Saint-Emperor strode out and took his place in front of everyone. After looking around briefly, he smiled warmly.
“My dear subjects, I have already distributed 800 lotus seeds. Now, we will give all cultivators under the heavens a chance to acquire one of the final 200, by distributing them to the open market.
“It is my wish that our Saint-Emperor Dynasty will be just like lotus seeds that slowly grow into mature, beautiful lotuses that exist for all eternity!”
In response, the gathered officials all clasped hands formally and joined their voices to respond.
“May the Saint-Emperor Dynasty exist for all eternity!”
Despite how nervous he was, Bai Xiaochun joined in with them.
The Saint-Emperor’s smile grew even warmer when he heard the voices of the hosts of officials. Then he waved his hand, unleashing the power of his archaean cultivation base. Instantly, a holy aura swept out, causing an enormous hand to appear high above. The water in the heavenly pond rippled, and numerous lotus pods floated up to the surface.
The hand descended, sweeping over the pond to harvest the lotus seeds. However, this time… when the hand swept over the pods, no seeds came out!!
The pods opened to reveal… empty holes where the seeds should have been!!
The huge hand suddenly stopped moving.
“……..” The Saint-Emperor was stunned, as were all of the court officials. Eyes went wide, and numerous streams of divine sense suddenly sprang out to check the situation.
Chen Su, Gu Tianjun, and the scholarly celestial were all flabbergasted.
Bai Xiaochun’s heart was already pounding as he sent his divine sense out. When he saw all of the numerous empty seed pods, he immediately plastered a look of shock onto his face.
The Saint-Emperor’s expression slowly sank into something very grim. Waving his hand again, he caused more of the seed pods to rise to the surface and open up.
Yet again, almost no seeds could be seen, only empty holes…. The court officials all gasped, and a moment later, devolved into a hubbub.
“Where are the lotus seeds?”
“How could this be happening. Why are there no lotus seeds?!?!” All of a sudden, Bai Xiaochun’s voice rang out in extremely loud and exaggerated fashion.
“Heavens! How could this be happening!? Don't tell me the heavenly dragonfish ate them all!?!?!?”
Amid the cacophony of shocked exclamations, the Saint-Emperor’s expression turned even grimmer. Then, he performed an incantation gesture and waved his finger at the heavenly pond, sending a shocking stream of divine sense into the water. The sky went dim, and a huge wind kicked up as the water seethed and all of the lotus pods in its depths rose to the surface!
Whether they were mature or not didn’t matter. All of them rose up and then opened, over 10,000 in total. When the crowd saw the result, they were stunned.
Everyone was shaken to the core as they saw… that every single seed pod, without exception, was almost completely empty!
If that were all there were to it, it might not be a big deal. But the Saint-Emperor, the three celestials, all of the demigods, and even the devas saw… that on one of the lotus pods was the little turtle, munching away at a fist-sized lotus seed.
When Bai Xiaochun saw the little turtle, his eyes went wide, and his heart began to pound even harder. He had assumed the little turtle had secretly eaten a few thousand seeds. Never could he have imagined that he would have eaten this many.
“Dammit! What kind of turtle is that!? How dare he secretly eat the Saint-Emperor Dynasty’s immortal lotus seeds!!”
“Look at how many of the pods are empty! He must have eaten tens of thousands of seeds!”
“Dammit, I’m gonna turn him into turtle soup!!”