The day of the reselection had finally arrived!
As a remote backwater of Nephrite Major, Dusk Province was rarely visited by immortals. A spirit realm cultivator was already considered an unequalled powerhouse there, and the proportion of mortals in the general population was far higher than elsewhere. Even Nephrite Major’s immortals sometimes forgot the territory’s existence.
Like a stone thrown into the vast ocean, the reselection should’ve been a trivial affair. It shouldn’t have stirred up any ripples, but today, this pebble had splashed forth torrential waves and shaken the entire world. Countless powerful factions far and wide focused their attention on this tiny spot of the world, closely monitoring the proceedings.
Fifteen kilometers to the south of Dusk City, dazzling light shimmered around the Coretrial Arena, painting it with a majestic ambiance.
Qing Han’s figure hovered quietly in the sky above. He was once again the urbane and genteel young master from a noble family. The imperial seal in his hand enveloped him in an aura as weighty as a mountain, as though the celestial emperor were present in the flesh.
Immortals and cultivators alike crowded around Coretrial Arena from every side, representing all of the notable factions in the vast world. It was no exaggeration to state that half of the geniuses in the nine majors, ten lands, and four immortal seas had convened in the premises.
The legacy of an ancient lord was no small matter, so much so that the great factions had come to a tacit agreement. Whoever achieved a hundred successive victories would unearth the legacy and claim it as their own.
This was a grand occasion that pitted more than half of the geniuses from the world over against each other, an event unprecedented in scope for the past hundred thousand years. In fact, many hadn’t come to vie for the legacy, but simply to measure themselves against other talents from all corners of the realm.
“Tsk tsk, Little Han is coming up in the world!” In a certain corner of the crowd, a lazy youth lounged bonelessly on a recliner. Two charming female immortals stood at his sides, kneading his shoulders every now and then. “Back then, I simply gave him the token I stole from the emperor. To think His Majesty would really acknowledge him as an imperial envoy! Not bad, not bad, Little Han is really making a name for himself. What a tremendous honor to preside over such an occasion, what great glory this brings to his ancestors! This will go down in history for your Qing Clan.”
The young man was all smiles as he looked at the figure floating in midair.
“Stole? Didn’t you say His Majesty gave it to you before going into seclusion?” Beside him, a tall, stocky, and exceptionally handsome man stared at the indolent youth, his eyes wide from disbelief. “Chen Xiao, don’t you scare me!”
“Qing Buyi, are you an idiot?” Taken aback, Chen Xiao widened his eyes at the tall youth and snorted. “If I hadn’t said that, do you think Little Han would’ve accepted it? What’s all the fuss about, anyway? It’s just a stolen token, what can the emperor do to me?”
Awkwardness crept into Qing Buyi’s face.
“That Zhao Changkong is also here. I hope he’ll refrain from shaming himself this time.” A murderous glint flashed in Chen Xiao’s eyes. “That bastard released the monster that was sealed a thousand years ago on the Water Altar. What an absolute disgrace!”
Expression turning grave, Qing Buyi slowly nodded. He’d already spotted the haughty Zhao Changkong seated in the stands.
Celestial Emperor Zhao Fengyang was slated to formally abdicate after this event, making way for Zhao Changkong to be Nephrite Major’s new ruler. At that time, the major would face turbulent times.
Though the imperial envoy, Qing Han, held sway over the reselection, Zhao Changkong had come nonetheless. The message was painfully obvious: he would soon become Nephrite Major’s true master. As such, how could he be absent from such an extraordinary event?
“The hour is upon us!” In the sky, Qing Han’s eyes snapped open. His voice was bright, clear, and marked with authoritative dignity, despite a touch of gentleness. “Step forward, Governor of Dusk!”
Clad in official robes, Lu Yun walked out of the crowd and leaped onto the stage. A flash of blue radiance sealed his peak origin core cultivation back to the golden core realm.
“How odd.” He stretched out his hand and waved it gently. “If I hadn’t known the arena would seal my cultivation, I probably would’ve been scared witless.”
His cultivation had been sealed in a flawless manner. To the assessing eye, it seemed that he had only ever been, and should only be, at the golden core realm. He peeled off his official robes, revealing close-fitting black clothes.
“Whether you live or die, whatever happens in the Coretrial Arena stays in the Coretrial Arena.” Qing Han’s figure slowly descended from the sky and landed in the stands, his voice ringing through Dusk City. “Admitting defeat, losing consciousness, dying, or falling off the stage will symbolize failure. If someone can overwhelm his opponents with unsurpassed skill and achieve a hundred successive victories, he or she shall become Dusk Province’s new governor, take possession of the province seal, and summon the Sword Pagoda!
“If no one can achieve this feat, then the one with the most wins will be proclaimed the victor.”
The Sword Pagoda was the ancient lord’s supreme treasure, and contained his legacy.
“There is no limit to the number of participants and no order to the challenges. Those who believe they are strong enough may step onto the stage. But if collusion or cheating arises, an execution will be doled out in the name of the nine great celestial emperors.”
The word ‘execution’ elicited answering harmonics from heaven and earth, making the crowd snap to attention. Public knowledge that the nine celestial emperors were monitoring the situation had just been confirmed. It was merely that their august selves weren’t in the public eye, was all.
“Let us begin.”
The crowd stirred with this proclamation.
“Who’s first?” Standing at the center of the stage, Lu Yun surveyed the cultivators below, waiting for his first challenger. A hazy green curtain of light spanned a radius of three hundred meters from the center of the stage, marking the limits of the Coretrial Arena. Falling outside indicated one’s defeat.
However, the crowd just looked at each other, no one willing to take the lead. This governor was rumored to be a wastrel, but he’d been able to speak directly with the restriction a few days ago. His strength was not to be underestimated.
“He’s nothing but trash from an insignificant province! I’ll take him on first,” shouted someone from the throng. A figure landed on the stage, light as a feather. It was a young man of about eighteen years old, his face still carrying a trace of childish innocence.
“Nephrite Major’s Feng Clan, Feng Yin,” he announced.
“Feng Yin? Feng Li’s younger brother?” Lu Yun looked down to where the Feng Clan was seated. As the crown prince’s envoy, Feng Li occupied a seat near the center.
The latter sensed the governor’s gaze and fidgeted uncomfortably before giving a shallow nod. Lu Yun had only been a qi realm bug at their first meeting. But just as the governor had declared then, his cultivation had indeed reached the core realm in less than half a year, giving him the right to stand in the arena.
“Feng Li? How does trash like that deserve to be my brother?” Feng Yin sneered, his voice spreading in every direction. Feng Li’s expression turned awkward and woeful when he sensed the gazes of all his acquaintances on him.
Feng Yin was one of the young geniuses of the clan, on par with the Qing Clan’s Qing Hongchen or the Lu Clan’s Lu Yuanhou. Sadly, those two were already dead. In comparison, Feng Li was nothing but a prodigal wastrel. So even though his peer delivered a public humiliation, he dared not talk back.
“You’re not half the man he is.” Lu Yun shook his head.
“What was that?!” Feng Yin flew into a rage. “Are you saying I’m less than a good-for-nothing like him?”
“I’ve crossed paths with him. His potential might be worse than yours, but overall, you’re a far cry from him.”
Feng Li’s expression twisted with conflicting emotions, and Crown Prince Zhao Changkong assessed Lu Yun with renewed interest. No wonder imperial father chose him to help me. He does indeed possess a keen eye for people.
The crown prince smiled; he, too, thought highly of Feng Li.
The furious yell marked Feng Yin's disappearance from the stage. A light wind swirled gently by as countless sword shadows encircled Lu Yun in their midst.