There were ten of these gigantic pillars within the palace. There were five on each side, each filled with carvings of rows and rows of text and pictures.
Li Chengfeng went up for a better look, only to realise that the pillars were stacked using countless blocks of cut stone. There was some sort of mechanism inside so that these stone pieces moved slowly to form groups of characters and pictures.
He initially thought the text did not make any sense at all but when the mechanisms clicked to a stop, he realised that they had been rearranged to look like ordinary common characters, plus the images were easily distinguishable.
He stood before the first gigantic pillar and started to analyse the pictures on it. It was like a totem pole with flower and grass carvings on it and rows of golden text.
Li Chengfeng skimmed through them first but when he was about to read in detail, there was an abrupt rumble outside the palace. It was a terrifying sound, as if the sky had split open. The vibrations were enough to raise goosebumps all over his skin in a second.
He immediately rushed out to look outside but what he saw shocked him so deeply he felt his scalp tighten.
At this moment, the palace among the clouds was surrounded by all sorts of immortals. These immortals rode on tigers, cattle, cranes, even rare beasts he could not recognise. All of them held various treasures in their hands, either scattered above the palace or blocking the front of the palace in a formation.
There was a man standing in front of the crowd. His face was too far away to be seen clearly but with one look, Li Chengfeng felt a stifling aura of arrogance radiating off him.
This man’s hair floated around his shoulders. He was topless, and the long pants he wore were unbelievably tattered. Compared to the sky full of immortals, he looked savage. However, he stood there with empty hands and Li Chengfeng could feel his power and regality amongst the immortals!
At this moment, the doors blasted open as the beauty named Nunu rushed in. Panting, she said frantically, “My lord! Three Heavenly Kings, nine Star Lords, twelve Island Lords, forty Imperial Disciples, nine thousand Immortal Generals, a hundred thousand Immortal Soldiers… They’re all here to attack us!”
Before Li Chengfeng could reply to the beauty, he saw the man with the dishevelled hair move, then appear on the palace’s stone steps in a flash.
Li Chengfeng felt as if he was locked in place by the man’s aura. With the light shining behind him, the man’s face was in shadow but Li Chengfeng could still see his eyes burning intensely, locked in a deathly glare on… himself!
Li Chengfeng’s eyes met the man and he felt his muscles stiffen. He could not move so he was helpless as he watched the man approach slowly, getting nearer and nearer… When he could almost see the man’s face, the man suddenly lifted an arm and extended a finger at Li Chengfeng. Li Chengfeng could only watch helplessly as the tip of the finger pointed directly at his forehead.
Immediately after, the man made three mudras and slammed his palm forward. Li Chengfeng witnessed the palm inflate until it took up his entire field of vision. The palm hurled forward, seemingly taking up the entire ceiling, then came right down from the top of his head!
Tianjing City, Daqi. A bedroom within Chengxian Building at the palace.
A girl who looked about eighteen screamed shrilly as she awoke from her large bed and splendid cotton covers. She was drenched in sweat and in shock but although she was distraught, she still looked beautiful. She had an adorable round face, exquisite features and a beauty mark beneath the corner of her eye the size of a sesame seed.
The girl looked around but her large room was dark. The bed was just a boat amidst the vast ocean.
But soon after, the royal handmaidens outside who’d heard her immediately burst into the room with lanterns in their hands. The first handmaiden to arrive quietly lit the candles in the room, covered it in a pretty lampshade. The rest quickly entered behind her and the room was bathed in red candlelight and dancing shadows.
The lead handmaiden curtsied. “Princess, was it a nightmare?”
She did not speak, her eyes darting around. After a while, she peeled her cotton blanket off and said, “Comb, I’d like to speak to my father!”
“But, at this hour…” the lead handmaiden hesitated, “I’m afraid His Majesty has gone to bed.”
The princess stared coldly, a godly deity looking down on puny ants. The handmaiden trembled and sweated.
The lead handmaiden quickly bowed. “Yes, Princess!”
The group of handmaidens got busy. Sitting before the vanity, the barefaced girl did not even need to lift a finger and was soon transformed into a princess with a full face of makeup, her hair done up with golden hairpins and expensive clothing.
After a while, a carriage lifted by eight men left Chengxian building, which was situated at the back of the palace estate. The carriage travelled down a long, twisting corridor towards the Bairen Building at the front of the palace estate.
The princess’ carriage arrived in front of Bairen building. Her handmaiden went forward to talk to the guards, who looked quite hesitant. However, it lasted only for a moment because the princess herself got off the carriage and appeared in front of the gates in a flash- though she was initially a hundred meters away. Standing at the entrance, she curtsied gingerly and announced, “The daughter of the emperor, Zhao Feiyue, wishes to see His Majesty!”
After a while, candles were lit within the building. An old voice came in reply, “Come in.”
Zhao Feiyue pushed the doors to enter. There was a man in his fifties on the gigantic bed, his beard and hair were peppered with white. Next to him lied a seductive, beautiful concubine, who was looking at her, displeased.
This man was the emperor of Daqi, Zhao Bairen!
Zhao Bairen gazed lovingly at the girl, not minding the late-night intrusion at all.
When Daqi was established, the empire had participated in the violent, brutal Great Beast-Immortal War between Heavenly Emperor Zhang Zhaoyang and the Devil King, Sun Heluo. After the great war, to restore balance to the mortal realm, the immortal realm declared “Cultivators shall not participate in politics, Royals shall not be cultivators” so if any cultivators were found to be palace officials, they would be attacked by Heavenly Immortal Pavilion- in charge of watching over the mortals- immediately. If any royal member cultivated, they would also be killed by cultivators.
This law was set to ensure that there would not be any individual with too much power in the mortal realm. If a royal member comprehended immortality, then with the vast amount of resources they had access too, they would be able to rule the world and all its cultivator sects. They would forever remain king of the world, perhaps even growing strong enough to challenge the heavenly realm. It was the same for cultivators from any sect becoming palace officials. Their access to resources would exceed other sects and this could fester into a malignant growth in the mortal realm.
But nineteen years ago, this law was broken!
On the eighth year of the Tianqi Dynasty, there was an odd phenomenon in the sky and an immortal descended from the heavens in the form of a golden ray shining down on the palace. Zhao Feiyue, a previous immortal now reincarnated to the mortal realm, was born!
This seemed to be a very peculiar twist of events. While cultivators were extremely wary of her, they were forced to recognise this princess with such an extraordinary status and started to teach her the ways of the immortals.
At just nineteen, she was one of the best female cultivators of her generation. Within the youth of the realm, other than the top elites of the major sects, no one else was a match for her!
And hence, she became Zhao Bairen’s favourite daughter. He had so far refused every marriage proposal sent by princes of various kingdoms.
Gently, Zhao Bairen said to Zhao Feiyue, “Yue, it’s late. What’s the matter?”
Zhao Feiyue hung her head. She said coldly, “I had a vision from the Heavenly Realm!”
Zhao Bairen’s expression changed. “Oh? What did you see?”
She looked up and stared right at him. She sounded every word clearly, “Violence in the Heavenly Realm. The traitorous immortals have shown themselves!”