In the current Arch-Emperor Dynasty, the Arch-Emperor was actually only a figurehead. The Grand Heavenmaster held the true power, and controlled both the Son of Heaven and the aristocracy. However, that was mostly what happened behind the scenes.
Furthermore, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter too much that the Arch-Emperor was weak; he was only the current reigning Arch-Emperor. Nobody could say for sure what would happen when the next Arch-Emperor rose up. Furthermore, the Grand Heavenmaster had not followed the example of the Celestial from Heavenspan Island, and turned himself into an emperor. As far as many people were concerned, the Grand Heavenmaster was actually being quite benevolent and merciful.
Even more people hoped to just keep their distance from the issue. Not daring to get involved, they kept their true feelings vague, allowing the Grand Heavenmaster and the Arch-Emperor to handle things on their own, as long as the Arch-Emperor Dynasty itself continued.
Therefore, the events playing out right now were like a bolt out of the blue, and had placed the problems surrounding the issue of the Grand Heavenmaster and the Arch-Emperor right smack dab in the open!
Everyone in the square was cursing Bai Xiaochun inwardly for being so vile as to drag them into a situation they had been working so hard to avoid. In fact, most of them greatly regretted having come to attend the event to begin with.
Of course, the Arch-Emperor was also caught completely unprepared by what was happening, and was aware that the events of this day would determine once and for all how powerful he was!
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times, his heart trembling with nervousness. However, he knew that his hand had been forced. The second prince and the grand prince had already made a move against him, and were it not for the Grand Heavenmaster, he would surely have been dead and buried here in the Wildlands.
“You can’t blame me for this, Arch-Emperor. If you want to blame somebody, blame those two sons of yours….” By this point, his mind was made up; his fate was now completely tied to the Grand Heavenmaster.
At the moment, the entire square was silent. The heavenly marquises and dukes were all standing there looking down at their feet. For the first time ever on the day of ancestral sacrifices, the entire imperial palace was completely silent.
It made quite the sharp contrast with the raucous, celebratory noise coming from the common people down below in the city.
The Arch-Emperor wasn't saying anything, nor was the Grand Heavenmaster. Everyone in the hall stood there without making a peep. The princes and princesses had bitter looks on their faces as they looked down at the ground, hearts filled with hatred for Bai Xiaochun at the disaster he had caused, and dread of the Grand Heavenmaster.
However, the silence didn’t last for very long. Eventually, one of the heavenly marquises gritted his teeth and stepped forward. Clasping hands, he bowed to the Arch-Emperor and Grand Heavenmaster, then spoke out in a loud voice.
“It’s very clear to me that Inspections Commissioner Bai Hao is holding a deva soul!”
Now that the first person had stepped forward to make a statement, a second followed. Then a third. One by one, more than a hundred heavenly marquises did the same.
“That’s definitely a deva soul!”
“Correct! If you look closely, it’s obviously a deva soul!”
Each and every person said the same thing; that it was a deva soul!
Some of the people who stepped forward really were loyal to the Grand Heavenmaster, but not all of them. And yet, none of them hesitated for even a moment to make their stance clear!
And of course, many of them were cursing Bai Xiaochun to death. However, their faces were covered with somber expressions as they made their statements regarding the deva soul. Even the nine heavenly marquises who had attacked Bai Xiaochun did the same, including Zhao Xionglin. Although he was swearing in his heart, it was with a booming voice that he said, “Anyone can see that it’s definitely a deva soul!”
As the heavenly marquises made their statements, the faces of the imperial princes and princesses grew paler and paler. Bitter smiles spread out on the faces of the two sinister old men. As for the Arch-Emperor, he sat there calmly, watching the heavenly marquises and dukes. The coldness in his eyes from earlier was gone, and his face was expressionless. However, deep in his eyes, it was clear that he was branding this image of Bai Xiaochun into his mind for all time.
That struck coldness into Bai Xiaochun’s heart, but he reminded himself that he was one of the Grand Heavenmaster’s men, and that the Arch-Emperor couldn’t hurt him even if he were more powerful than he already was.
“Stupid Arch-Emperor! I've smacked the Giant Ghost King across the side of the head, fool! Hmm, I wonder what it would feel like to smack an Arch-Emperor?” Swallowing hard to work up some courage, he waited for the heavenly marquises to all step forward.
Before long, all of them were finished, every single one of them having uttered the words deva soul. Next came the ten heavenly dukes, and not a single one hesitated about what to do.
“A deva soul!”
“A deva soul!”
Chen Haosong was no exception. By this point, the imperial princes and princesses were trembling, although whether from anger or fear it was impossible to tell! In terms of Mistress Red-Dust and the other representatives of the four heavenly kings, they too acknowledged that Bai Xiaochun had a deva soul. At that point, the square once again fell into silence.
It was a silence that indicated that the Grand Heavenmaster’s overall power had once again skyrocketed, surpassing his previous level of power by far. After all, this was the first time that he and the Arch-Emperor had ever clashed publicly!
One statement from the Grand Heavenmaster had caused everyone to bow their heads in submission. That was a type of power that defied description. Just as Bai Xiaochun had said, the Grand Heavenmaster didn’t need to know what everyone was thinking. He just needed everyone to fear him. That was enough.
Within the hall, the grand prince, the second prince, and everyone else present looked as ashen as death. Yet again, they were drowning in humiliation, and fear… of the Grand Heavenmaster. At this point, they knew that it didn’t matter what secret schemes they had been working on. In front of the Grand Heavenmaster, they were so weak they could be defeated with a single blow. It was truly terrifying.
More than anything though… they felt grief that the imperial clan had fallen to this level….
At this point, the Arch-Emperor looked deeply at Bai Xiaochun, then rose to his feet. Without casting a glance at anyone else, not even the Grand Heavenmaster, he walked out of the hall. The two sinister old men took deep breaths, glared at Bai Xiaochun, and then followed.
The imperial princes and princesses scrambled after him, not speaking a word. However, all of them looked over at Bai Xiaochun before departing.
The assembled officials and aristocracy were completely silent as they all looked over at the Grand Heavenmaster on his black throne, who looked back at them with a dark gleam in his eyes.
The truth was that he had been paying very close attention to everyone outside of the hall, including the heavenly marquises and the heavenly dukes. He had been studying the slight changes in their facial expressions, and even the fluctuations of their souls.
Although he didn’t say anything, that dark gleam in his eyes was very telling. At this point, he rose to his feet, prompting everyone in the square to clasp hands and bow.
“Farewell, Grand Heavenmaster, Arch-Emperor!”
“You’re all dismissed,” the Grand Heavenmaster said. Then he looked approvingly at Bai Xiaochun and said, “Bai Hao, you come with me.”
With that, he turned and headed into the back of the grand hall.
Noting the approval in the Grand Heavenmaster’s eyes, Bai Xiaochun loudly said, “You’re dismissed! All of you!”
At the same time, he sighed inwardly, and also started to get excited at the prospect of having done something so momentous!
From beginning to end, he had controlled the initiative, and that was a very thrilling thing. Although he still felt a bit of lingering fear, the fact that he had the approval of the Grand Heavenmaster had him trembling with excitement.
“I really performed some meritorious service this time! I wonder how the Grand Heavenmaster is going to reward me?!” Even as he hurried forward to follow the Grand Heavenmaster, he realized that everyone was looking at him. Turning, he saw that many of the heavenly marquises and dukes were looking at him with the contempt of someone looking at a petty person who had unexpectedly achieved a position of power.
And that wasn’t very pleasing to Bai Xiaochun at all.
That was especially true of Zhao Xionglin, who was glaring at Bai Xiaochun so fiercely that it seemed he wanted nothing more than to rip him limb from limb!
“How dare you glare at me!” Bai Xiaochun thought.
Then he flicked his sleeve, stuck his chin up, and loudly said, “Now that you’ve all confirmed that I got a deva soul, I guess that means I got really lucky today!”
With that, he suddenly threw the Foundation Establishment-level soul toward Zhao Xionglin.
“Heavenly Marquis Zhao, I have business with the Grand Heavenmaster, so I'm leaving this deva soul with you for safe keeping. Tomorrow morning at first light, I’ll go to your clan to retrieve it. Don’t lose it! After all, that’s a deva soul!”
Zhao Xionglin didn't even have a chance to react before Bai Xiaochun was gone.