“Did you just say that I'm shameless? How could the Grand Heavenmaster appoint a shameless person to be the inspections commissioner, a position which requires uprightness and resistance to flattery? You’re basically saying that the Grand Heavenmaster is blind, aren’t you?!” Bai Xiaochun’s eyes flickered with delight. If this Zhao Xionglin had just kept his mouth shut, it would have been a lot better for him. Everything he said could be found fault with.
“Zhao Xionglin, you clearly suspect me, the Inspections Manor as a whole, and the Grand Heavenmaster himself! Could it be that you are in fact an accomplice of the traitorous heavenly marquises from the Li and Chen Clans?!?!”
With that, he waved his hand and said, “Men, take charge of the entrance to the imperial palace. Let everyone in except for this miscreant Zhao Xionglin!”
A large contingent of corpse troopers immediately rushed over to block the east gate of the imperial palace.
The other nobles and aristocrats in the area couldn’t help but gasp at the sight of Bai Xiaochun’s ruthless tactics. For many, it provided a very clear picture of this person whom they had never actually witnessed in action. It also went to further how threatening he seemed to them.
As for the city guards, they looked on with wry smiles. After all, this was not a situation they could interfere with. The only thing they could do was report the matter to their superiors.
The entire thing was a huge headache as far as Chen Haosong was concerned. To him, Bai Xiaochun was like a stick covered with thorns; although he should have been easy to snap in half, the thorns made him very difficult to deal with.
If that were all there were to it, it might not be a big deal. But Bai Xiaochun was completely sharp-tongued. He turned black into white if he wanted, and if one wasn’t extremely careful with one’s wording, he could easily twist words into weapons.
Seeing how furious Zhao Xionglin was, Chen Haosong frowned and said, “Enough!”
Waving his sleeve, he sent another blast of wind out to sweep away the corpse troopers Bai Xiaochun had just sent to block the door. Even Bai Xiaochun was hit by the wind, and was pushed backward a few dozen meters.
In the instant that Bai Xiaochun was pushed back. Chen Haosong blurred into motion, entering the east gate. As for Zhao Xionglin, he gritted his teeth and followed, casting a murderous glance at Bai Xiaochun over his shoulder as he did.
The rest of the nobility and aristocracy were all essentially on the same side in the matter, and had no good feelings regarding Bai Xiaochun whatsoever. They also took to motion, flying through the east gate.
Bai Xiaochun was not pleased at all with what was happening.
“Using a high cultivation base to trample people below you, huh?” he said loudly. “Well, if you were as tough as you think you are, then you would fight my corpse troopers!” While Bai Xiaochun grumbled to himself a bit, the city guards averted their gazes and sighed. It was really an awkward thing to hear the inspections commissioner, who was backed by the Grand Heavenmaster, complaining about people relying on high cultivation bases to accomplish things….
After everyone else entered the imperial palace, Bai Xiaochun clasped his hands behind his back, stuck his chin up, and headed toward the east gate. His corpse troopers followed. However, when the city guards saw that, one of them braced himself and stepped in the way.
Although he wasn’t very happy to have to do this, he had no choice but to say, “Exalted Inspections Commissioner… uh… on the day of ancestral sacrifices, your subordinates aren’t permitted to enter.”
With that, he stood there looking nervously at Bai Xiaochun.
“Huh?” Bai Xiaochun said, taken aback. After confirming that he had heard correctly, he stood there, flabbergasted.
“They can’t go in? Wait a second, there are a whole bunch of people in there with cultivation bases higher than me! And they all want to kill me! If I go in alone, I’ll be in way too much danger!” Nervous, he tried to negotiate with the city guard, but the man could only smile wryly and shake his head.
At this point, Bai Xiaochun’s face fell. If he had known that things would be like this, he would have just held his tongue earlier…. As he stood there hesitating, he realized that the bells were about to stop tolling. Sighing, he ordered the corpse troopers to stand guard near the gate, and then cautiously entered the imperial palace.
Once inside, he did not look like he had moments ago, like the type of person who wasn’t afraid of anything in the world…. Instead, he exercised the utmost caution, and even walked as quietly as was possible.
Thankfully, because he was actually arriving a bit late, all of the members of the nobility and aristocracy were already in the main square. Furthermore, there were plenty of guards around to show the way. As such, he arrived at the square just as the bells finished tolling.
The square was huge, and featured eighteen enormous pillars with coiling dragons on them that were so high that they seemed to touch the heavens above. The ground was covered with green limestone slabs that emanated spiritual energy. In the middle of the square was a huge bell, which was still reverberating from the tolling moments ago.
A ring of soul cultivator guards surrounded the bell, all of them wearing somber expressions. In two positions of honor on the left side of the square were Mistress Red-Dust and Zhou Hong.
In the positions of honor on the right side were the Junior Champion King Gongsun Yi, and the heir apparent of Spirit Advent City, the older brother of Xu Shan.
Clearly, these four represented the four heavenly kings. Not a single one of them acknowledged Bai Xiaochun’s presence, and merely stood in place with their eyes closed.
Behind those four were the ten heavenly dukes, including Chen Haosong, who stood third from the left.
Behind the ten heavenly dukes were the more than 100 heavenly marquises. Among them was Zhao Xionglin, who cast a frosty glance at Bai Xiaochun, and snorted coldly.
All of the heavenly marquises and heavenly dukes were organized by rank. Behind them were other important government officials, who were all high-ranking and powerful. There were several thousand of them, and each one wore an expression of devout respect.
Bai Xiaochun had a spot among the larger group. However considering that he was more important than any of the other officials, he actually stood in front of them, just behind the heavenly marquises.
Few of the important officials had ever seen Bai Xiaochun, although most had heard stories about him. They knew that he was different from the heavenly marquises and heavenly dukes, and actually, few of them had ill feelings toward him. In fact, many of them wished to ingratiate themselves to him.
When Bai Xiaochun saw that most of the officials were looking at him with goodwill in their eyes, he sighed with relief, and even gave a few smiles and nods to them. Then he looked over at the main hall of the imperial palace, and a strange feeling rose up inside of him.
“The Arch-Emperor…. Although the Grand Heavenmaster holds all of the power, the Arch-Emperor… is the true representative of the imperial clan. He is the official ruler of the Wildlands….” For all he knew, he was the first person from the Heavenspan River region to stand in this square in the imperial palace. And perhaps he would be the last.
The fact that his journey through the Wildlands had landed him in this spot caused him to sigh with pride.
“Just wait until I get back to the River-Defying Sect and recount all of my stories to Xiaomei, Junwan, Big Fatty Zhang and Uncle Li.”
Then, he blinked and refocused on the violet-colored main hall. The hall itself was built from nine golden dragon statues that looked so lifelike they seemed they might fly up into the sky at any moment.
Just looking at the place caused pressure to weigh down on Bai Xiaochun. He could also sense that those nine golden dragons were a spell formation of some sort.
“All the other times I came to the imperial palace, I visited Heavenmaster Hall. This is my first time visiting the main hall of the palace. I wonder what the Arch-Emperor actually looks like.”
After enough time passed for an incense stick to burn, the previously silent bell once again rang out loud and clear. Then, the door of the main hall slowly opened, and the nine golden dragons opened their eyes. Incredible energy surged out, and everyone in the audience could hear something like the roaring chant of dragons. Those who listened closely soon found themselves slipping into a daze.
Bai Xiaochun was no exception. Even as he looked on, the opened door revealed a dozen extremely good-looking soul cultivators. Some were men and some were women, but all of them wore extravagant robes. One of them was none other than the second prince.
These were the princes and princesses of the imperial clan, although not all of them. They were only a small group who represented the whole.
In front of that group were two old men whose hands were tucked into the opposite sleeves of their voluminous robes. They were stooped over, and didn’t seem very impressive, and yet there was something very sinister about them.
Beyond the two old men, at the very end of the hall, were two thrones, one large and one small. The large throne was completely golden in color, and was of course the dragon throne. Sitting upon it was a middle-aged man wearing imperial robes and an imperial crown.
Although it was impossible to make out his features clearly at first, there was something grand and noble about him; his appearance, coupled with the chanting roar of the dragons, made him truly seem like the most paragon entity in all creation!
This god-like figure was none other than the reigning Arch-Emperor!
Bai Xiaochun was shaken. Although he couldn’t make out the expression on the face of the Arch-Emperor, he could sense the man’s eyes. They seemed to contain stars and heavenly bodies, and were the type that would leave a person’s mind reeling to simply gaze upon them.
However, that sensation quickly passed as his gaze was drawn to the smaller throne. Although that throne was smaller, it was actually placed on a higher level than the Dragon Throne itself!
It was pitch-black, and seemingly ordinary in all aspects. It was empty at the moment, but everyone in the square, including all of the ministers and generals of the imperial court, were all looking at it!
That throne… belonged to the Grand Heavenmaster!
Even as everyone stared at that black throne, one of the stooped old men called out in a piercing voice, “Grand Heavenmaster, your presence is requested!”
As his voice rang out, the clouds above seethed, and the enormous dragon that had been so curious about Bai Xiaochun in the past suddenly lowered its head. Then it roared, a roar that suppressed the call of the nine dragons down below as, at the same time, the Grand Heavenmaster mysteriously appeared on the black throne!
Everyone present was shaken, even the heavenly dukes. Simultaneously, they all averted their gazes, clasped hands, and bowed.
“Greetings, Grand Heavenmaster! Greetings, Arch-Emperor!”