Over the years in the Bluesmoke Isles, Ling Bi’er had improved rapidly in martial dao, thanks to an admittedly large amount of resources from the royal family. She was never completely at ease, but she was grateful to the emperor.
Even after she had found out about the emperor’s true intentions, she couldn’t find it in herself to hate him. After all, she’d been saved by the royal family and had gained a lot from them. She wasn’t the ungrateful sort who would bite the hand that fed her.
Even though she was vehemently against the tournament for her hand, she didn’t resent the royal family as a result. She was a clever woman. She put her mind to finding solution once she’d calmed down.
What Jigonggong said made a lot of sense. It wouldn’t do her any good to disobey the royal family and embarrass them now. She had to cooperate with them to some extent during the tournament.
Should the winner be a cultivator from the Ten Divine Nations, as long she refused to accede on pain of death, it wasn’t in the divine nations’ nature to force her into marriage. Even if it did come to that, she would sooner die than concede.
Ling Bi’er had made up her mind.
She would take things one step at a time and cross the bridge when she came to it. There was no changing the fact that she was trapped. What she should do was to wait for an opportunity rather than lose herself in anger.
She’d grown resilient after the destruction of her sect and being on the run without a place to call home. There was still a pillar of faith supporting her throughout the trials of life. It prevented her from losing all hope and just giving up.
That faith came from her connection to the faraway human domain, to the Myriad Domain, and to the Regal Pill Palace. It was her bond with her father, her sister, and of course, her junior brother, whose smile and voice remained vivid in her memory even after ten years.
The junior brother who’d gone through hell with her in the Paramount Realm, the one who’d saved her father many years ago.
Years had passed. Had the tragedy befalling the Regal Pill Palace come to an end? Were those she cared about alive and well? She didn’t have a clue, and there was nothing she wanted more than to find answers.
With the resources from the Bluesmoke Isles, her martial dao progressed at amazing speed and she reached initial great emperor.
She might not stand out among the youths on Myriad Abyss Island, but she’d started cultivating later than those geniuses. She’d broken through from sage realm to great emperor in only a few years, which was nothing short of a miracle.
Even though she was far from peerless in the human domain, she looked forward to the day she reached peak great emperor or even half-step empyrean. Nothing would stop her from returning to the human domain then.
She wanted revenge, but what she wanted more was to find those she cared about.
Yan Qingsang came to Jiang Chen in high spirits. “You can’t achieve your goals overnight, brother. Stop cultivating for a day and fight in the tournament with me.”
“You’ve finally decided to participate?”
“Of course. It’s been more than twenty days and it’ll be too late if I don’t partake now. I hear that two hundred or so have already won ten matches in a row.”
“Can I refuse?” Jiang Chen smiled wryly.
“You can’t,” Yan Qingsang responded without hesitation. “You’ve got to come with me.”
Jiang Chen sighed inwardly. The choice was out of his hand. He was getting a little bored after many days of cultivating, anyway. This could be a break to let off some steam.
Besides, Yan Qingsang had been babbling about the mysterious princess of Bluesmoke Isles every day. It was getting on his nerves.
The princess was finally going to make an appearance. Even Jiang Chen was somewhat curious about how beautiful she must be, to willfully refuse to make an appearance until so many days into the event.
As soon as he walked out of the door, a chipper voice sounded from behind him. “I hear that you’re going to fight in the tournament today, cousin Qingsang. May I join in the fun?”
Huang’er’s voice gave Jiang Chen pause. Yan Qingsang chuckled, but both gaped in unison when they turned around.
Huang’er was dressed in men’s clothes! The vigor of her expression completed the look of a handsome man. The only problem was her face. She still looked a little too beautiful as a man.
“What? Can’t I go?” She beamed merrily at Yan Qingsang.
“Uh, Huang’er, are you gonna fight as well? Why are you dressed like this?”
She gave him a lazy smile. “If I join the fight, you’ll never stand a chance of winning.”
Yan Qingsang shrugged. “I’m fine as long as the elders agree to let you go. Come on.” He threw Jiang Chen a glance, silently telling him to leave Huang’er alone.
Jiang Chen was exasperated by Yan Qingsang’s guarded reaction, but didn’t comment on it. He knew there were still several people watching Huang’er’s every move. It would be unwise for him to say anything.
The three of them arrived at the arena. Jiang Chen noticed that there were several new rules. Participants who hadn’t fought before needed to earn ten consecutive wins in the preliminary contest, after which they could enter the intermediary stage.
Only then were they considered worthy of the princess’ consideration.
For geniuses from the Ten Divine Nations like Yan Qingsang, it wasn’t difficult to earn ten consecutive wins. After only a few hours, he’d won five matches in a row.
At that moment, the tournament was put on hold. The crowd surrounding the arena increased considerably. The Bluesmoke’s royal family walked out on an elevated platform. A middle-aged imperial prince pressed his palms down, silently indiciating for the crowd to quiet and let him speak.
The chatter died down.
“Is the princess coming out?” Most of them were here for her. After days of petitioning and waiting on their part, was the princess finally going to put in an appearance?
Anticipation was clear on their faces.
Yan Qingsang jumped off the stage and stood by Jiang Chen, winking at his brother. “The princess is coming.”
“Alright, I know you’ve been looking forward to this moment.” Jiang Chen shrugged nonchalantly. He’d only come to keep Yan Qingsang company. He wasn’t interested in the princess at all.
Surprisingly, it was Huang’er who seemed to anticipate the development more. She had an amused smile on her face and her arms crossed before her chest.
Yan Qingsang glanced at her and asked curiously, “Why do you look more excited than me?”
He was puzzled as Huang’er had always been sullenly unhappy. It usually looked like nothing in the world interested her. Why had the princess piqued her interest so?
In fact, Huang’er had significantly lightened up after the jade festival. She seemed like a completely different person; Yan Qingsang couldn’t figure out what could have caused her change.
Perhaps getting some fresh air at the festival had brightened her mood. That was his only guess.
The imperial prince announced, “Thank you all for your enthusiastic participation, honored guests. The tournament allows us to see how remarkable the young geniuses of Myriad Abyss are. Your passion surprises and delights us in the Blusesmoke Isles. I know you’ve been looking forward to the day that our princess finally agrees to make an appearance. She’s coming to cheer on all of the young geniuses!”
A thunderous cheer erupted beneath the stage.
“All hail the princess!”
“Your Highness! We want to see the princess!” The level of excitement went off the charts. After all, everyone was here to fight for her.
Days had passed without even a glimpse of her. Speculations were exchanged and passed around in her absence. The mysterious princess was finally here!
Their riled-up curiosity was finally going to be sated. The contestants couldn’t be more excited.
“Let us welcome the beautiful and irresistible Princess Bi!” The imperial prince declared in a dramatic tone, making a flourish with his arm.
“Ohhh!” The crowd was exploded with enthusiasm, bodies tensed with anticipation.
Guided by imperial prince’s outstretched arm, a number of uniformly and finely dressed maids took the stage first. Every one of the maids was stunning, captivating the crowd’s attention.
If even the maids were this beautiful, how striking must the princess be? Even Yan Qingsang stared at the stage, his neck craning and eyes unblinking.
A thin layer of smoke rose from behind the elevated stage, covering the floor with a silver glow, soft and elegant like moonlight. A woman dressed in white slowly sashayed onto the stage, bringing with her the fragrance of an osmanthus tree.
Her dress was whiter than snow, wrapping around her body like a blossoming orchid. She held herself like a plum blossom flowering proudly in winter...
Everyone sucked in a breath, hearts contracting violently. They couldn’t peel their eyes away from the princess. More than ninety percent of the people present felt inferior at the sight of her.
Jiang Chen’s eyes widened. A peal of lightning struck him when he got a good look at her face.
It’s her! His head spun and almost stopped functioning. He didn’t expect the princess to be his senior sister, Ling Bi’er! He’d been worried about her all these years.
When the Regal Pill Palace fell, she’d escaped and disappeared without a trace. Even after the sect was rebuilt and the news of its reconstruction got out, she never showed up again. Sometimes, even Jiang Chen wondered if she’d passed away, but now...