The guard of honor gradually left. Led by the twelve Great Elders and escorted by three thousand imperial guards, Wu Qi and his company continued their journey along a wide road. The imperial palace of Great Yu was a big place. Apart from the main road that cut through its center, the rest of the place was filled with mountains and rivers, and not even a small path could be found between the thick growth of flowers. It seemed that the only way to travel between palaces was to fly.
There was a flavor of barbarism and primitiveness to the scenery along the way. Phoenixes made their nests atop trees hundreds of thousands of feet tall, and flood dragons dwelt in deep pools beside the road. Occasionally, groups of three to five feathermen warriors could be seen gliding across the sky, casting their fierce glances everywhere. And every so often, rare fowls and beasts jumped out of the bushes next to them, growling fearlessly at them before turning and leaving.
There were also strange-looking sentries standing guard on the top of the mountains. Some were short like dwarfs, yet their eyes were as big as fists. Standing on the mountaintops, these sentries with big eyes glanced about restlessly as bright beams of golden light shone out of their eyes, which went as far as tens of thousands of miles, allowing them to immediately see any unusual activity. Some other sentries were thin and tall like bamboos, and although their heads were small, each had a pair of ears as large as an elephant's. With their heads cocked, they were listening to every sound within tens of thousands of miles around.
Wu Qi's pupils constricted as he gave these sentries a quick glance.
Those sentries with big eyes were a kind of rare human race on Pangu Continent called the Heaven Eye Men. They were born weak, with almost no combat strength, yet they had an incredible eyesight. Untrained, they could see everything within ten thousand miles around them, and if they managed to attain a notable cultivation base, their eyes could look up into the Nine Heavens and down into the Yellow Spring. No common escape art or invisibility spell could escape their keen eyes.
The sentries with big ears were from the tribe of the Heaven Ear Men. Like the Heaven Eye Men, they were a kind of rare human race. They had extraordinary hearing, which allowed them to hear the sound of a needle dropping into the water from ten thousand miles away. If supported by strong cultivation base, they could even hear immortals explaining scriptures in the Nine Heavens, and the tragic howls let out by damnable ghosts suffering in hell. The faint sound produced by immortals when traveling underground with escape art sounded like a thunderclap in their ears.
A long time ago, some members of both extraordinary races had turned to the Heaven. As a matter of fact, the Qianliyan and Shunfeng'er 1 who watched the world from in front of the Heavenly Palace of the Heaven were their descendants. Both in Great Yu and the Heaven, the people of these two races were closely protected; in Great Yu, even a King had no right to punish them.
Wu Qi nodded silently. Along the way, he saw at least thousands of these people keeping a close watch at the surroundings. 'This is how the imperial palace of Great Yu should look like,' he thought. 'Much better than the Heaven, who only has Qianliyan and Shunfeng'er squatting in front of their front gate.' Truth be told, the roots of both races were actually in Great Yu, on Pangu Continent, and those who turned to the Heaven were only small branches from them. And, since they did not have a large population, naturally the Heaven could not have such a display of splendor like Great Yu.
As they went further, a strange mountain gradually emerged in front of them, and the road under their feet led straight to the foot of that mountain.
From a distance, the mountain looked like a giant dragon coiling on the ground. It had rugged boulders all over its body, with a massive, perfectly square palace sitting atop its head. Mixed with strong purple energy, the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky came sprinkling down in streams of silver light as the palace absorbed them like a hungry baby.
Looking carefully at it, Wu Qi felt there was something unusual about this mountain. He saw not even a single blade of grass growing on it. Standing a thousand miles tall with a base of about ten thousand miles in circumference, the mountain seemed alive to him.
As if he could tell the doubt in Wu Qi's mind, Yu Gu gently patted his shoulder and said in a low voice, "This is You Xiong Palace, the main palace used in Great Yu for deliberating on important events of the dynasty. What lies beneath is an ancient Torch Dragon!"
Wu Qi looked at Yu Gu, aghast. This mountain full of boulders was an ancient Torch Dragon? Legends had it that the Torch Dragon was one of the great ancient deities. It was said that when he looked out, there was daylight; when he shut his eyes, there was night; when he blew, it was a gale; and when he called out, it was thunder. He was the most fearsome great deity in ancient times. Great Yu's You Xiong Palace was resting atop the head of an ancient Torch Dragon?
A thick layer of rocks covered this Torch Dragon's body, concealing his actual appearance. According to Yu Gu, he had been coiling here ever since the founding of Great Yu and the construction of You Xiong Palace, and had not moved for countless eons. He was still alive, which could be told from the occasional wriggle of his body. But over the years, he had never communicated with the outside world, and his body was gradually covered with dust, which was then refined by the power of the sun, the moon, and the stars into thick layer of rocks. No one knew why this Torch Dragon was willing to carry You Xiong Palace on his head, and no one knew how strong he was now.
But, You Xiong Palace was the very heart of Liangzhu and You Xiong Plain. Across the entire Pangu Continent, it was the place with the highest concentration of natural energy, essence of the sun and the moon, and Pangu Sacred Energy. Apart from the Human Emperor, who was the only person with the right to have secluded cultivation here, only this Torch Dragon could enjoy the endless natural energy in this place. The throne of the Human Emperor had been passed down for countless generations, but this Torch Dragon was still the same one. Just from this point alone, it was not tough to figure out how mightily strong he was now. Perhaps, he was the last and the strongest defense in the entire Great Yu's imperial palace.
Along the Torch Dragon's coiling body, the craftsmen of Great Yu had built a road which spiraled from the foot of the mountain up to its peak. There was some strange magic to the road, as every step the company took brought them at least dozens of miles further. Therefore, although the mountain was a thousand miles tall, and the road that spiraled around it was hundreds of thousands of miles long, it took them less than ten minutes to reach the mountaintop.
On the other hand, the magic on this road would be a nightmare for the invading enemy. The mountain pass would become beastly long for intruders who knew nothing about it, so long that it would take a Gold Immortal years, if not countless years, to ascend to the peak.
You Xiong Palace had existed for a very, very long time, and it looked extremely ancient, with mosses spotted all over its surface. As the natural energy and the essence of the sun, the moon, and the stars was abundant here, these mosses had shown sign of transforming into demons, which, was not something the Oracles of Great Yu could tolerate. Therefore, their sentience had long been wiped out. Although the energy contained in each of the mosses here was comparable to the liquid of ganoderma immortal Wu Qi had found in the past, they never had the chance to transform into human form.
In front of the palace was a hundreds of miles wide square, on top of which stood numerous totem poles carved with runes and faces of Ghost Gods. They were arranged in positions corresponding to the stars in the sky, forming a gigantic formation of the stars. It appeared that these totem poles were once boulders randomly cut out of some mountain; but as they had been standing here for countless years, immersing in the rich natural energy and the essence of the sun and the moon, they had turned into gemstones that were countless times glossier and shinier than supreme-grade jades, full of explosive power.
The fluctuation of energy emanating from these totem poles startled Wu Qi, made his heart race, and put an unsightly expression on his face. 'So, this is Great Yu's latent power?' he thought. The energy stored in each of the poles was ten thousand times more than all the energy a peak Gold Immortal had. In other words, if the formation was activated, it was capable of instantly wiping out a Primordial Immortal with just these energies alone.
The was the latent power of Great Yu, the latent power of a fearsome race that had survived from the primitive times to the present.
Wu Qi could clearly sense that near these totem poles, various natural energies, such as earth, water, fire, and wind, were constantly being broken down into chaos. Through a subsequent complex process, they were transformed into a type of brand new energy which even he could not recognize. This proved that these totem poles possessed the power to destroy the Laws of the Heavenly Dao within a small range, an ability which was universally recognized as the sign when someone became a Primordial Immortal.
There were 36,000 such totem poles standing across the vast square. As he glanced at them, Wu Qi quickly noted down their positions and the stars they corresponded to, then came out with dozens of extremely powerful formation diagrams based on this information. Cold sweats began to break out of his back when he finally added the enormous energy stored in all the totem poles to those formations.
He could not describe the result of his calculation, because it was beyond his comprehension. Even though it was sitting right there in his divine soul, it was like the unfathomable Heavenly Dao: he knew it was there, but he could not fully understand it now.
It was not a power that Wu Qi could touch today.
He took a deep breath and calmed his mind, then followed closely after King Yang Qiu as they walked across the square.
Under each totem pole stood a group of Great Yu's officials in black robes and tall crowns. The territory of Great Yu was almost boundless, and in order to properly manage such a vast territory, it required an extremely large administrative system. Today, all the officials serving in Liangzhu had come to the square to welcome the return of King Yang Qiu, including Kings, senior ministers, and heads and officials from various departments. Standing quietly under the totem poles, hundreds of thousands of officials watched as the company passed through the square.
Far away, someone was singing an ancient ballad. The tune was simple, and so were the lyrics. It was about a woman missing her husband who had died in the war. It was repeated over and over again, echoing through the entire square. Although it was simple, it filled the atmosphere with an indescribable holiness.
Led by the twelve Great Elders, King Yang Qiu and his company came to the foot of the high steps in front of You Xiong Palace and knelt down on the mottled square.
Standing at the top of the stairs, an elderly man in a gorgeous black robe, wearing wore various jade ornaments, slowly unrolled a thick scroll with a stately expression on his face.
The conferment of Great Yu to King Yang Qiu and his company was in this scroll.Qianliyan and Shunfeng'er are both Chinese sea and door gods. The name "Qianliyan" literally means "He of the Thousand-Mile" or "League Eyes" but may be taken more generally as "Hawkeye", "Lynx-Eyed", "Far-Seeing", or even "All-Seeing" or "Clairvoyant" as a distance of 1,000 li was idiomatic in Chinese for any great distance. The name "Shunfeng'er" literally means "He with Ears that Follow the Wind" in reference to his ability to hear any sound carried upon the wind.