Floating above the center of the Blood Sea was the Sacred Island. Over the top of the island was the Cosmic Stars Formation, which covered the entire Blood Sea. Strands of the Power of Stars were shed from the formation and nourished everything on the Sacred Island. Minghe sat cross-legged on the cloud platform with his eyes closed. He seemed to be beyond all worldly affairs. His vital force was only faintly discernable, which made him invisible to other people.
Suddenly, Minghe opened his eyes and a light flashed through them. If you looked closely, you would find that his eyes reflected the entire Untainted World and nothing could escape from them. He could clearly see that the Evil Spirit between heaven and earth had accumulated to a certain quantity. Heaven began to show Menace Intent—the Cultivation Tribulation was about to begin.
Minghe stood up and looked at Untainted Land from a distance. He murmured, "Please begin quicker, Cultivation Tribulation of the God Deification Ceremony in Untainted Land! This is the last time that I'll plot in Untainted Land. After I get the thing that I want, I'll leave here. Though Untainted Land is good, it indeed restricts my development. There is a broader world outside—that will be my stage."
On Mount Shouyang, Laozi opened his eyes after he felt the change of the Evil Spirit between heaven and earth. The Cultivation Tribulation was about to start. The Tribe of Humanity was involved in the tribulation, so naturally, it could not remain immune from it. It had to face the tribulation head-on. However, the tribulation was extraordinary. The Sages did not interfere with either the Longhan Cultivation Tribulation or the Cultivation Tribulation of the Sorcerer and Demon tribes. But this time, the ones who were going to face the tribulation were the disciples of Sages.
There was a saying that went like this: "A slight change will affect everything else". Though the Sages were untouchable and disinterested, they could not totally abandon their selfish motives. Although it was the four clans, namely the Tribe of Severity, the Clan of Enlightenment, the Western Religious Sect, and the Clan of Humanity, that would face the tribulation, the situation was almost clear now. Looking at the unstable Untainted Land, Laozi revealed some sorrow in his eyes. But it disappeared all of a sudden. Later on, a determined look showed in his eyes.
In the Yuxu Palace of Mount Kunlun, Honored Lord of the Origin sat on a seat and stared at the Evil Spirit that was floating around Heaven and Earth. Mixed feelings were generated from his heart. Though the Clan of Enlightenment was involved in the Cultivation Tribulation, it could also be an opportunity to revive the clan. If he sized this chance, the Clan of Enlightenment could be the biggest clan in Untainted Land and completely cast its shadow on the Clan of Humanity, the Clan of Severity, and the Western Religious Sect.
Of course, there were other people who had the same idea as Honored Lord of the Origin, such as the Two Sages of the West—Jieyin and Zhunti. At present, Shen Gongbao and the Western Religious Sect had overwhelmed the Clan of Enlightenment in Xiqi, as there was only Jiang Ziya in the Clan of Enlightenment. If they could continually maintain these advantages in the Battle of the Gods Investiture, the Western Religious Sect would definitely be revitalized after this Cultivation Tribulation.
In the Jadeite Palace of Golden Turtle Island, Sect Leader Tongtian felt the Cultivation Tribulation of Heaven and Earth beginning. His eyes became sharp suddenly and were horrifying like Sword Aura. Behind him was a shadow, in which was a Map of Formation. Four sharp swords were hanging above the map. Evil Spirit, Killing Aura, and Sword Aura were all intermingled. They surrounded Sect Leader Tongtian and did not disappear for a long time.
Sect Leader Tongtian stretched one of his hands out and a small banner appeared. It was in the shape of a triangle and had six tails. Above it was countless Evil Spirit. Once it appeared, the Killing Intent of Heaven and Earth would immediately have the sign of gathering on it, which crept people out at the sight of it. All of this was proof that the treasure was valuable. Otherwise, Sect Leader Tongtian would not be hesitating.
Staring at the banner, Sect Leader Tongtian said with a sigh, "I hope that I don't have the chance to use it." After finishing speaking, he closed his hand and took the banner back. He then looked at Untainted Land from a distance and muttered, "Heaven has launched Menace Intent and everything is in chaos. The Cultivation Tribulation of the God Deification Ceremony is about to begin and the secrets of heaven are hard to speculate. I wonder whether the Clan of Severity will pass the tribulation safely or not?"
As time went by, Xiqi became larger year after year. Common people and refugees all went there. In the nine provinces, many vassals were attached to Xiqi. It was located in the Province of Yong, one of the nine provinces of the Human Tribe. Four vassals of other provinces were attached to Xiqi. Thus, Xiqi became the most powerful influence aside from the Shang Dynasty.
Compared to Xiqi, the Shang Dynasty was on the verge of collapse. King Zhou was fatuous and tyrannical. Daji made calamity and chaos in the court. First, Bi Gan died because his heart was scooped out and then the King of Wucheng escaped to Western Zhou. Crafty and fawning officials were rampant in the court and they all put their own safety before matters of principle. Though Grand Preceptor Wen came back to the court and met with King Zhou, it had little effect. Later on, Grand Preceptor Wen went into the battle because of the vassals' rebellion, and the court issues were abandoned by King Zhou again. The Shang Dynasty was growing weaker day by day.
While the power of Xiqi was increasing and that of the Shang Dynasty was decreasing, many people had figured out the trend. Plenty of officials in the Shang Dynasty put forward suggestions to King Zhou, stating that Xiqi was a great threat. Even Fei Zhong and You Hun could see the trend, so they reported to King Zhou as well. After hearing their words, King Zhou heeded their advice and began to suppress Xiqi. Meanwhile, he also summoned Ji Chang, the Marquis of the West, to come to Zhaoge again.
In Xiqi, after receiving King Zhou's decree, Ji Chang immediately summoned both civil and military officials to discuss this matter. In the hall, Ji Chang sat above in the front. Although he was over 90, he was radiant and looked like a man in his 50s or 60s. That was due to the longevity magic elixir that King Zhou secretly let him take according to Minghe's instruction. Otherwise, he would have died long ago.
Although Xiqi was getting stronger day by day, the court had divided into two factions because Ji Chang, the Marquis of the West, was still healthy. Both Bo Yikao and Ji Fa had made some contributions to the court and were assisted by Shen Gongbao and Jiang Ziya, respectively. Therefore, Ji Chang greatly valued both of them. But because of these reasons, he was in a dilemma when it came to choosing the successor.
As the oldest son of Ji Chang, Bo Yikao should have been the first successor. Besides that, since he rescued his father from Zhaoge, he had changed a lot. Though Su Daji had accompanied him, he did not indulge in love affairs. Instead, he began to care about court issues and learn things about how to manage state affairs. In this way, he gradually began to look like a real king.
In comparison, though Ji Fa was the second son, his ability to handle state affairs was far beyond Bo Yikao's. At the same time, Chancellor Jiang Ziya was not only his friend but also his teacher. If Bo Yikao could be a king that could guard the territory, then Ji Fa would be an explorer. Now the whole world was in chaos, so defense might not be a good choice.
Ji Chang sat above in the front and overlooked the officials standing below him. Bo Yikao and Ji Fa stood at the head of the two lines of officials. Ji Chang was delighted when he saw his two promising sons, but he had a headache at the same time. Be aware that it was not only because of the competition regarding his successor but also because of the struggle between the Clan of Enlightenment and the Western Religious Sect behind the court. It was very clear to Ji Chang that he could not offend either clan. Hence, he continued to put off the day of choosing a successor.
Luckily, Ji Chang had not shown any sign of senility all these years. His countenance was maintained at the age of around 60 and his body was as healthy as that of a man in his 40s or 50s. He had divined for himself. Though he did not know when would he die, the image of the trigrams showed that he was in his heyday and could live for at least another 20-some years. Thus, he took his time when it came to choosing a successor.
Obviously, King Zhou had generated fear for Xiqi now, otherwise, he would not have ordered Ji Chang to head toward Zhaoge again. Ji Chang had divined for himself after he received the decree. The image showed that he would have no chance to come back alive. He was nearly 100 years old and had seen through life and death. However, he was afraid of the turbulence that would be caused in Xiqi after his death and, therefore, he did not take any action.
Thus, he summoned all the officials to the court to discuss this matter. In the hall, Ji Chang held the edict of King Zhou, calmed down, and said, "Everyone, the purpose of summoning all of you here is that I've gotten an edict from Zhaoge which orders me to go meet King Zhou immediately. I want to get some advice from you on whether or not I should go to Zhaoge at this time."