The anger in the shouting of the crowd couldn’t have been more apparent, and the Saint-Emperor’s expression continued to turn grimmer. Suddenly, he reached out with his right hand. The little turtle was incredibly fast, and usually was able to vanish without a trace, but in this case, he was no match for the Saint-Emperor.
Even as the little turtle prepared to teleport away, a magical sealing settled down in the area surrounding him. He struggled, but to no avail. A moment passed, and then a powerful force grabbed onto him and sent him flying into the imperial palace in a beam of light, right into the outstretched hand of the Saint-Emperor!
The turtle was clearly frightened, and fought back with all four of his legs, but it did no good. As soon as he realized he had been captured by such a terrifying figure, he shrieked, “I was forced to do it! It was Bai Xiaochun! Bai Xiaochun made me do it! He's the ringleader in this whole thing! You people have no idea! He’s a walking disaster! He forced me to steal the lotus seeds! I'm completely innocent! I'm the victim!!”
When the cultivators in the infuriated crowd heard the little turtle’s words, they slowly turned to look at Bai Xiaochun.
To have so many people staring at him caused Bai Xiaochun to break out into a cold sweat. Although he knew that the little turtle was a scoundrel who wasn’t exactly the trustworthy type, he had never imagined that it would immediately sell him out.
What was worse was that the little turtle had personally taken what was likely tens of thousands of lotus seeds, and had only given a thousand to Bai Xiaochun. Inwardly, Bai Xiaochun was cursing up a storm, but on the outside, he simply looked startled. Then he leaped to his feet and pointed an accusatory finger at the little turtle.
“Who are you? And how do you know my name?! Your Majesty, this is a conspiracy! Somebody is definitely framing me!!” From the rage that seemed to echo in his voice, he was clearly furious at being unjustly accused.
If it weren’t for the matter of the heavenly dragonfish, the surrounding cultivators would likely have been convinced. But now, it seemed obvious that this little turtle was working together with Bai Xiaochun!
The turtle was accusing Bai Xiaochun, whereas Bai Xiaochun was accusing the turtle. Obviously, they were the seed-thieves, and now, they had been caught red-handed!
Worse was that the Saint-Emperor had just been about to harvest 200 lotus seeds to be sold at auction to the general populace. The Saint-Emperor himself wouldn’t benefit from the resulting auctions, but many of the officials present would have.
There were numerous factors that played into the lotus seed auctions, factors which ensured that everyone involved profited. But now… there would obviously not be any auction. With seventy percent of the lotus seeds gone, the Saint-Emperor obviously wouldn’t be doing any more harvesting. The lotus pods had been so heavily damaged that it would be a long time before there were any more lotus banquets.
That realization caused fury to boil up in the hearts of the celestials, whose clans would definitely be affected negatively by this development. Important clans like theirs had huge operating expenses, and now, they would be losing out on a very important source of income.
“How brazen and reckless of you, Bai Xiaochun! How dare you steal the immortal lotus seeds!!”
“Saint-Emperor, I would like to submit an official request to the court that Bai Xiaochun be executed!”
“Your Majesty, I second the motion! This Bai Xiaochun must be punished immediately!”
The imperial palace instantly became like a hornet’s nest, with raw killing intent surging in all directions. If it weren’t for the fact that they were actually in the imperial palace, many of the cultivators present would have already started fighting Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun was sweating hard, and gasped numerous times in response to what people were saying. Scalp tingling in fear, he was just about to open his mouth to speak when he suddenly noticed that the little turtle had just winked at him in odd fashion.
Then, the turtle cleared his throat and spoke in a high-pitched voice that cut through the crowd.
“My noble ladies and gentlemen, everything I did was on the orders of Bai Xiaochun. He is my master, and I have no choice but to follow his commands!”
Bai Xiaochun was glaring furiously at the turtle, but inside, he was actually a bit curious. After all the years of dealing with the little turtle, he had come to know him well, and could tell that there was something very odd about the way he had winked a moment ago.
And the fact that the turtle had immediately accused him in loud and public fashion seemed to indicate that he was planning something!
The entire place was in complete chaos. Numerous cultivators were submitting requests to the Saint-Emperor, the little turtle was yelling at the top of his lungs, Bai Xiaochun was shouting… it was a madhouse.
At this point, Gu Tianjun suddenly spoke in a voice as cold as ice. Killing intent was visible in his eyes as he stared at Bai Xiaochun and said, “Saint-Emperor, this Bai Xiaochun absolutely must be put to death! He has committed a capital offense of truly shocking nature! And I’d wager that the Giant Ghost fellow is in on the conspiracy! He should be killed too!!”
Heavenly Marquis Liu was there in the crowd, his eyes shining brightly. Ever since he had been put in charge of keeping an eye on Bai Xiaochun, he had been unable to find any incriminating evidence. No matter how hard he tried, not a single clue had ever turned up. But now that the little turtle had been discovered, everything made sense.
Heavenly Marquis Liu couldn’t help but get excited at the sight of Bai Xiaochun being cursed by everyone in the crowd.
“Ah, what a familiar scene!” he thought, trembling in excitement. “It’s just like what happened in the Grand Heavenmaster’s hall in Arch-Emperor City. That was also the first time I lost to Bai Xiaochun….
“The heavens do have eyes! The same thing that happened back then is happening today, but this time, I definitely won’t lose!” With that, he threw his head back and laughed maniacally.
Striding out into the open, he ignored the rest of the crowd to glare at the turtle for a moment. Then he clasped hands and bowed deeply to the Saint-Emperor.
As of this moment, Heavenly Marquis Liu felt like he was one with all creation. Raising his voice loudly, he said, “Your Majesty, I have summarized 500 crimes that this Bai Xiaochun has committed, and would like to take the opportunity today to list them out publicly. First is the crime of--”
However, before he could even speak out the first crime, the Saint-Emperor, who stood there in front of the crowd holding the little turtle, threw his head back and laughed uproariously.
His crisp, clear laughter filled all of Saint-Emperor City, causing heaven and earth to shake violently. Heavenly Marquis Liu was interrupted, and the fury of the gathered officials was suddenly suppressed.
“Good. Great! Excellent!!” The Saint-Emperor then laughed some more, his face a mask of joy and excitement as he eyed the little turtle.
Considering that he was an archaean, it was unusual to see him acting in such emotional fashion. Everyone was shocked, and had no idea what was going on, except for the three celestials. Their eyes flickered as they looked at the little turtle, and a moment later, looks of astonishment could be seen on their faces.
“The Eternal Turtle,” the Saint-Emperor said, his voice quavering a bit. “The Eternal Turtle! It’s the Eternal Turtle!! The legendary, one-of-kind, completely unique companion spirit of the Eternal Flower!
“To have the Eternal Turtle in Saint-Emperor City is a good omen! It shows that the Saint-Emperor Dynasty is the true and orthodox force in the Eternal Lands, something that will stand the test of time and endure forever!!”
Bai Xiaochun was stunned. Back when the gravekeeper had extracted blood from the little turtle to help Bai Xiaochun, he remembered hearing something about an Eternal Turtle, but he had been mostly unconscious, and had never pursued the matter.
Eventually, the Saint-Emperor flicked his sleeve and issued a proclamation!
“Let the Eternal Turtle be named the Saint-Turtle of the Saint-Emperor Dynasty! This turtle is now the symbol of our nation, and represents me wherever he goes! For offering this turtle as a gift, Bai Xiaochun will be given a seven-colored belt, and ten immortal pills!” Gasps could be heard from the gathered cultivators as they looked over at the little turtle.