“I’m afraid I just saw something incredible.” As Ye Zichen admired the landscape painting, he sighed inwardly. He had a vague sense that the two men in imperial robes atop the raft were incredible figures even in the God Realm.
Everything came with karmic strings. At this point in their cultivation, he already thought it best to remove his awareness from the painting.
Right now, he could be considered peerless in the seventy-two districts, but if you considered the nine Divine Mountains as a whole, he couldn’t even be considered a small fry.
If he was marked by such unparalleled existences’ karma, it wouldn’t end well for him!
“Should I leave?” Ye Zichen repeatedly asked himself. Seizing this opportunity and leaving while he’d still only been marked by a tiny bit of their karma might very well be his best choice.
But deep in his heart, Ye Zichn wanted to watch the rest. This was a deeply hidden secret, something ordinary people never got to see.
“If you think about it, these sorts of peerless existences shouldn’t pay any attention to a minor figure like me. Darnit, I’ve already seen this much. I’m already stained with karma, so what else is there to be afraid of?”
After some brief hesitation, he decided to simply keep watching.
The image in the painting shifted rapidly. The raft shook on the river’s surface, and the oarsman in the straw hat disappeared. The distant mountains vanished as well. All that remained in the painting was the little raft, and the two peerless experts seated cross-legged atop it.
In response to the Five Elements Great Emperor's questions, the golden-robed man shook his head and laughed. He didn’t agree at all. “You say I usurped your star’s destiny, stole your good fortune, and seized your legitimate throne, but do you have any evidence?
“Hah…..” The Five Elements Great Emperor smiled bleakly. Instantly, his aura exploded around him. However, strangely, at that moment the ripples on the water’s surface froze in place.
“The heavens chose two emperors, then chose among them. I am master of all the stars of the nine heavens, yet you dare say you didn’t usurp my destiny?”
“All daos under the heavens are freely available to me. The Great Dao of the Five Elements stands beside me, yet you dare say you didn’t steal my good fortune?”
“Every race in creation bows before me and calls me emperor. I lead both yao and demons, yet you dare say you didn’t seize my legitimate throne?”
These three questions reverberated like thunder, reversing the clouds and winds’ trajectory and shaking the moon and stars. The Five Elements Great Emperor stared directly at the man in golden imperial robes, so furious, he was practically breathing fire.
Just looking at the landscape painting was enough to sense his overbearing aura. It was as if everything in creation longed to submit before him. Ye Zichen couldn’t help but admit it: he’d never seen such an imposing aura before.
In stark contrast, the golden robed man seemed to barely even notice the Five Elements Great Emperor’s fury or imposing aura. He simply raised his glass and took a sip of wine, then set it back on the table. Finally, he smiled confidently and said, “But I’m God Emperor now.
He chuckled and rose to his feet. The golden-robed man looked over the seemingly-endless river and placed his hands behind his back. “No matter how often you say it, I’m God Emperor now, aren’t I?”
“That’s exactly why I say you’re despicable,” the Five Elements Great Emperor spat through gnashed teeth.
No matter what the Five Elements Great Emperor said, the man in gold simply stood there indifferently, not reacting in the slightest. A long time passed before the river finally started rippling again. It was then that he finally turned around and looked coolly at the Five Elements Great Emperor.
“History is written by the victor, isn’t it?” he said. “You ought to know that I don’t actually want to kill you. If you give me the Great Dao of the Five Elements, I can spare your life.”
“Ha ha…...ha ha ha ha……” In response, the Five Elements Great Emperor looked up to the sky and laughed uproariously. As he laughed, the lake water exploded. Countless water droplets splashed against the raft, drenching it completely.
“You want the legitimate five elements? You must be dreaming!” With that, the Five Elements Great Emperor furrowed his brows and roared, “Fall, o rain! Howl, o winds! Crackle, o lightning! Rumble, o thunder! Burn, o fire……!”
Instantly, a raging tempest brewed above the lake and fierce winds howled relentlessly through the skies. Thunder and lightning crackled through the deep blue sky, and countless heavenly flames descended from the skies, setting the lake ablaze.
“This is the Great Dao of the Five Elements you always wanted. Unfortunately for you, Zhou Wu, in this lifetime, you can give up on ever obtaining my power of the Five Elements. Even if I have to destroy it, you’ll never master and merge all Great Daos! Give up on taking that step in this lifetime!”
Instantly, a pair of hands big enough to blot out the sky shot into the air. The golden-robed man’s expression changed dramatically as his hands rapidly formed hand seals. Soon, another comparable pair of illusory rose into the sky to meet the first, as if intent on stopping their descent.
“Ludicrous!” The Five Elements Great Emperor laughed obstinately. His right hand pushed downward, and the giant hands in the sky followed suit, slamming towards the lake’s surface.
The golden-robed man’s giant illusory hands shattered into pieces. He coughed up a mouthful of blood. A hint of fear flashed through his eyes. He shed his robes and was instantly replaced by a scarecrow.
“Five Elements, you wouldn’t dare!”
Shockingly, the “golden-robed man” was just a body double. The ends of the sky now rumbled with thunder and crackled with lightning as well.
Atop the raft, the Five Elements Great Emperor laughed obstinately and narrowed his eyes at the distant edge of the sky. By now, he looked as if he’d gone utterly mad. “Zhou Wu, give up on taking that final step! Ha ha ha…. You thought you’d defeated me, but I haven’t lost!”
The enormous hands, big enough to blot out the skies, came crashing down. Instantly, at the Five Elements Great Emperor’s orders, the physical manifestation of the Great Dao of the Five Elements vanished with a bang, taking the river, sky, and raft with it…….
Heaven and earth disappeared. All that was left was a dark and endless void.
Having witnessed all this, Ye Zichen’s heart shook and his body trembled uncontrollably. Everything had disappeared. He didn’t know what had happened in the end, but even though he'd only been looking through a painting, he still felt that the power contained in those giant hands was enough to destroy the entire world!
Did the Five Elements Great Emperor really destroy the Great Dao of the Five Elements? If so, why can I still glean enlightenment into its power?
“Junior!” At that moment, a tall and stalwart man emerged from the chaotic void. He was dressed in purplish-red imperial robes, and sat astride a terrifying draconic throne. Although his expression was placid, it was impossible to read his true emotions.
Ye Zichen was astonished. This man was none other than the Five Elements Great Emperor in the painting.
“Finding my landscape painting shows that you and I are connected by fate. I don’t know if you’re a man or a woman, or if you’ve mastered the five elements or not. But since you’ve already seen this much, you’re already marked by my karma, and by Zhou Wu’s karma.”
“This landscape painting has three strolls in total. I painted them before my death. This, too, is a key to my gravesite.”
“That thief, Zhou Wu, stole my celestial destiny, robbed me of my fortune, and seized my rightful throne. I fell prey to his schemes and died a horrible death. I cannot rest in peace until I get my revenge. If you’re fated to assemble all three paintings, you can enter my burial ground. Inside, you’ll find the good fortune I’ve left for you.”
“You can go take it, or not take it. But if you decide to accept it, remember…. Avenge me!”