There was no spatial restriction in the You Xiong Palace. Measuring three miles from left to the right and one mile from the entrance to the wall at the far end, the hall did not even have a single beam or column. The ceiling, hanging about a thousand feet from the floor was almost transparent. The light of the sun, the moon, and the stars came sprinkling down through the transparent ceiling, fusing with the strong purple energy into a beam of silver-purple light that looked like a dragon and enveloping the tall throne placed at the far end of the hall.
Emperor Haozun, the current Human Emperor of Great Yu, was sitting straight on the throne, looking down at the crowd.
It had been three Periods since Emperor Haozun became the Human Emperor. Over the years, he was not aggressive in expanding, and did not work hard enough to protect his realm. Under his reign, itinerant immortals and cultivators were able to expand their power and influence on Pangu Continent, and his lack of actions had brought him criticism from the conservative forces of Great Yu. But thanks to the chaos caused by Myriad Immortal Alliance, a great purge was carried out upon the powers of itinerant cultivators, and the result had been good. Even the Sovereign, a mighty Primordial Immortal, was killed. It was the best achievement so far in his official career, which made him give a generous reward to Ji Ao and the others.
He had a comely face and a fair skin, with three neatly trimmed beards hanging from his lower jaw to rest upon his chest. He looked almost like a scholar: his outfit was a simple white robe of fine linen, with a pale-green belt made of unknown material strapped around his waist. Despite his simple and ordinary appearance, Emperor Haozun exhibited the demeanor of an emperor with his eyes narrowed and being shrouded in the silver-purple light.
With Wu Qi's ability to judge a person by his facial features, Emperor Haozun seemed like an indecisive ruler. But, how could anyone be indecisive if he could sit on the throne of the Human Emperor, and even hold it steadily for three Periods under the criticism of the conservative forces of Great Yu? How could he be a kind-hearted, simple man?
Moreover, the cultivation technique Emperor Haozun practiced had struck terror into Wu Qi's heart. The emperor's skin was fair and smooth, and it seemed extremely thin, almost transparent. Through it, Wu Qi could see a silver vortex, about the size of a thumb, rapidly spinning in each of the three hundred and sixty vital acupoints in his body, flickering like distant stars.
You Xiong Plain sat at the heart of Pangu Continent, and its concentration of natural energy was more than a thousand times greater than elsewhere. At its heart sat Liangzhu, where the concentration of natural energy was more than ten thousand times greater than elsewhere. The heart of Liangzhu was where the imperial palace of Great Yu was built, and therefore, the concentration of natural energy here had reached an unimaginable level. Being the absolute heart of the imperial palace, the control hub of all the formations in the imperial palace, You Xiong Palace alone received thirty percent of all the essence of the sun, the moon, and the stars that came sprinkling down from the sky.
However, there was not even a wisp of natural energy could be found in the air within this great hall. All of it, the natural energy, the Pangu Sacred Energy, and the essence of the sun, the moon, and the stars were pouring down on the throne Emperor Haozun was sitting on, and were being rapidly absorbed by the three hundred and sixty silver vortices beneath his skin without interruption.
As they were constantly absorbing the energy, these vortices emitted a faint silver gleam, shrouding Emperor Haozun in a layer of silver light that made him look mysterious and dignified. Framed by the light, the comely emperor appeared like a God sitting loftily in his throne, giving off a stately air that one dared not to face squarely.
Wu Qi had only stolen a glance at Emperor Haozun before immediately taking his eyes off him. But, the mere glance had brought him an immense pressure. He felt as if a great mountain was crushing down at his divine soul, the incredible weight making it groan. Evidently, the emperor's cultivation base had reached a level that he could not fathom at present. He dared not to look again, fearing that it would severely injure his divine soul.
Nevertheless, the quick glance at Emperor Haozun had allowed Wu Qi to figure out the secret of his cultivation technique. It was a technique that allowed him to forge an extremely strong fleshly body using Pangu Sacred Energy, just like the True Body of Heaven and Earth Scripture, and at the same time, cultivate various divine abilities and mystic arts with the essence of the sun, the moon, and the stars. By combining the essence of the sun, a pure Yang energy, the moon, a pure Yin energy, and the billions of the stars, he was able to conjure a myriad of magic. It was a supreme cultivation technique that was both complex and magical.
Clearly, Emperor Haozun had the aptitude for cultivating both fleshly body and magic. Perhaps, it was the prerequisite for anyone to take the throne of the Human Emperor, so that they could cultivate this miraculous technique. Of course, it was also possible that there were other secret cultivation techniques in the imperial clan of Great Yu, and the Human Emperor who did not have such an aptitude could choose from those.
Based on Wu Qi's estimation, the amount of natural energy that poured into You Xiong Palace every day was equal to the sum of all the energy in a large immortal energy vein. Emperor Haozun had been the Human Emperor for three Periods, and if he had only spent a third of his time cultivating here, the power he had now would be at a shocking level. Perhaps, even an ordinary Primordial Immortal would pale in comparison to him.
So, this was the privilege of being the Human Emperor!
Wu Qi thought that if a wild boar was placed on this throne and left there for three Periods, even it should also be able to achieve a pretty substantial cultivation base. Although it might be too much to compare it with a Primordial Immortal, it should be at least as strong as a peak Gold Immortal.
Led by the twelve Great Elders, Wu Qi and the others came before the throne and bowed to Emperor Haozun. Although Great Yu practiced an ancient etiquette, it had one benefit. Their people only knelt and bowed when they were praying to the heaven, the earth, and their ancestors, and they went down on their knees in some important ceremonies, such as when they were conferred titles of nobility. But when they came into the Human Emperor's presence, they only needed to bow slightly or cup their fists. After all, it was the legacy of the ancient Tribal Alliance Great Yu had inherited, and the predecessor of the Human Emperor was no more than the head of the Tribal Alliance.
Wu Qi liked such etiquette. He would have lost his interest in staying here if he were to kneel and bow every time he saw a senior official. Hundreds of high ministers slowly made their way into the palace, and all paid their respect to Emperor Haozun with bows. The great hall was packed with people now, but it was quiet as no one spoke. The elderly man, the same one who had announced the conferral outside the palace, came before the throne to finish the last step of the ceremony.
With a slight movement of his finger, the scroll of conferral flew back into Emperor Haozun's hand. Then, a group of eunuchs in black clothes came walking out from behind the palace, each holding a black tray in their hands, on top of which were placed numerous seals, ribbons, identity medallions, and official papers of appointment. At the command of the elderly man, they went before Wu Qi and the others, handing out the items on the trays accordingly.
This was also a part of Great Yu's rigid tradition.
Before they were conferred ranks of nobility, Wu Qi and the others were only ordinary military officers who had no right to enter You Xiong Palace and present themselves before Emperor Haozun. That was the reason why they had to be conferred below the high stone steps outside the palace, and only entered the great hall afterward, led by the Great Elders and accompanied by the high ministers. There, they finally and officially received the seals, ribbons, and other things that represented their ranks of nobility.
For most of the new Marquises present, this was probably the only time in their lives that they had an audience with the Human Emperor. They would never have the chance to enter the imperial palace again in their lifetime, unless they were able to achieve notable merits and be promoted, or be conferred a King through other means.
Whenever someone was given his seal, ribbon, and identity medallion by the eunuchs, Emperor Haozun would say a word of encouragement from his throne, then point his finger out and send a beam of light into the person's body.
The beam of light contained extremely strong Pangu Sacred Energy and essence of the stars. The former could strengthen the receiver's body, and the latter could strengthen the soul. To the military officers around Wu Qi, the Pangu Sacred Energy was not something particularly valuable, because they all already had pretty strong fleshly bodies. However, having their souls strengthened was equivalent to prolong their life expectancy. This was the reward all the new Marquises deserved to receive.
When he was given the beam of light, Wu Qi silently digested it, fusing the essence of the stars with his Dark Yin Celestial Tower. It was exceptionally pure, and was so strong that the power of the 360 Star Pearls in the tower immediately skyrocketed.
It was only after another busy session that everyone finished the final step of the award ceremony. According to the tradition, the Human Emperor would bestow the newly promoted nobles a grand feast, then everyone would thank him and walk out of You Xiong Palace to enjoy the feast to their heart's content before leaving the imperial place at once. But, Emperor Haozun did not follow the tradition today.
Just when the elderly man was about to announce that the award ceremony had come to an end, and that everyone should express their gratitude to the Human Emperor and leave You Xiong Palace to enjoy the feast, Emperor Haozun raised his hand slightly up. His narrowed eyes suddenly flicked open, from which came shooting out two beams of silver light and rested upon Wu Qi.
"You have the aptitude for cultivating both fleshly body and magic at the same time?" All the high ministers in the great hall looked at Emperor Haozun in astonishment, but he ignored them and went on in a slow voice, "I know you are Tan Lang, Marquis of Dong Hai Province…and you are the one who laid out the formation, lured Immortal Ding Jun into it, and eventually killed him. But, I didn't know you can cultivate both fleshly body and magic at the same time...Well, go pick yourself a Supreme Tower in the Directorate of Celestials, and after that, go to Yan Tian Palace, find three scrolls relating to the Dao of formations you like, and make yourself a copy of them."
Wu Qi was stunned. Why was Emperor Haozun giving him extra rewards?
Before Wu Qi could recover from his shock, Emperor Haozun turned to look at Ji Ao, then nodded and said, "Ji Ao, the son of King Yang Shan…Good, very good! It seems your father has passed some of his boldness to you. You have exhibited Great Yu's awe-inspiring name with your achievement, and struck fear into those immortals who are getting out of control. I am very pleased with your performance...From now on, you will stay in the imperial court and assist me in the military affairs! You will be temporarily in charge of the Right Army of You Xiong in Liangzhu. Show me that you are worthy of such an important position!"
A flush of wild joy rose in Ji Ao's face as he hurried forward a few steps, then bowed deeply to Emperor Haozun and boomed, "Ji Ao will carry out the duty wholeheartedly! Ji Ao will not disappoint Your Majesty!"
With a faint smile on his face, Emperor Haozun waved his hand. Everyone bowed, then walked out of You Xiong Palace slowly.
As he was leaving the great hall along the crowd, Wu Qi suddenly felt a pair of eyes that spat venom looking at him from behind. He spun in haste to follow the glance, just in time to see King Zhang Qiu turn his head as if nothing had happened.
A cold grin crept on Wu Qi's face. Was this the new enemy?